Monday, February 11, 2019

January 2019 Recap


January was pretty quiet, which I'm completely happy about because it's rare for that to happen! Compared to all the events in November and December, it was nice to just be at home and not worry about much. For the past couple of months, Joe and I have been looking for a new church to attend (the one we were previously part of is too far from us now) and we've finally found a good fit. This one just started a women's bible study on Saturday mornings, so I've been going to that. It's been really good so far, different than what I'm used to but not in a bad way. Around the same time, I started my masters program! I'm studying library and information science so I can be a librarian one day. I'd love to work in teen services!

BOOKS I READ THIS MONTH



Best book of January: Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills

Books read in January: 7*/100
Pages read in January: 2,267 pages

I was going to participate in the Buzzword Readathon, which I did for the first two days ... and then I realized I just really wanted to finish Siege and Storm and Famous in a Small Town. I kind of knew this would happen, so I just went with it. I'm a big mood reader, and one of the quickest ways for me to get in a reading slump is when I force myself to read something I don't feel like reading right then. And especially with school starting, I want to maximize my reading time.

*Note: I'll be tracking comics and graphic novels separately, so this number will not be the same as the one on my Goodreads page!

BLOG POSTS FROM JANUARY


Also wanted to throw in something I wrote in January four years ago, Explaining YA to the Non-Bookish, and how it's still somewhat relevant? At least with people still turning their noses up at YA, thinking they're better than it SMH ... like this one patron I had a conversation with, who gave me a stink face after I told him it's what I mostly read.

GOALS CHECK-IN  

I was serious about checking in every month! As I mentioned above, I got a good start during the first month of this year reading seven books. I've separated some books (this was before 2019 though) but I haven't brought them to Half Price Books yet ... I think I'll bring one bag every time I visit, so I don't have to carry so much in one go. No series completed yet, but I'm hoping to finish Ruin and Rising this month. I haven't tweeted about a single book I read yet, and I only posted about my first book on Instagram. Might have to change this one ... I'll think about it this month. Posts are looking good, yay! I predict this won't be the case with the rest of this year because of school, but I'm going to try my best. No blog work done yet, in terms of fixing older posts. If you're confused about this paragraph, you can check out my bookish and blogging goals here.

One goal I'm adding = read through my most anticipated releases list! For this month, I finished two: Cold Day in the Sun by Sara Biren (thank you for the early e-ARC, Amulet Books!) and Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills. Twenty-two to go! Well, it's actually 21 instead because I found out The Map from Here to There by Emery Lord isn't coming out until 2020 😢

MOVIES WATCHED

SMALLFOOT (2018)
Definitely a movie created for young children, but my husband and I still thought it was cute and funny. We're not hard to please, to be completely honest, and we were just looking for something recent to watch while we ate dinner. I didn't know it was a musical, so that was a happy surprise! No matter how cheesy it is, I love it when characters burst out in song. Of course, only when it's appropriate ... well, it was okay in this one and we knew what we were getting ourselves into. Fun fact: Common does an EXCELLENT rap in this 🔥

TAYLOR SWIFT: REPUTATION STADIUM TOUR (2018)
I finally took some time to watch this and I'm really happy it has been memorialized. I was lucky enough to attend one of her stops in May last year, and it should come as no surprise to anyone that I think Taylor is an excellent songwriter and performer. She's very personal at her tours and it's one of the reasons why I enjoy being there so much. I wish there was more of that added into this concert recording, but it doesn't change the fact that I'll be coming back to this over and over again. Now I want to watch/re-watch her older shows!

I talked about Bandersnatch and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse in my Week Notes post from earlier this month, so check that out if you want my thoughts :)

FAVORITE MUSIC FROM JANUARY 🎵

Psycho (cover) - Danielle Bradbery
when the party's over - Billie Eilish
Speechless - Dan + Shay
Dancing with a Stranger - Sam Smith and Normani
Nights Like This (feat. Ty Dolla $ign)
You Say - Lauren Daigle
i'm so tired ... - Lauv and Troye Sivan
Nobody Else - Backstreet Boys
Ruin My Life - Zara Larsson

🖤🖤🖤

Friday, February 1, 2019

February TBR + New Releases

Hi friends! Welcome to that time of the month where we chat all about the books I hope to read. It's not so much a "strict reading plan," but more of a ... what would happen in an ~ideal~ world. I'm not as optimistic with this selection as I was with January's, but that is only because I don't have as much time to read. Either way, I will still try and complete all four books. Gotta keep it going strong 👍🏽

JANUARY CHECK-IN
It's a miracle, y'all. I read THREE out of the four books from my January TBR, plus one new release!!! I had a lot of time before I started school on the 24th, so that's a huge reason why it worked out. I'm on the fourth book right now (Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, if you're curious) so it'll be 100% completed by the end of this weekend!


I have to be honest, I don't *really* want to read The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness ........... but I bought it a long time ago, along with the rest of the series, and I want to give it a try before the movie comes out next month. I have a really bad track record with book to movie adaptations—if I don't read it before I watch it, I'll never read it. But it helps that Tom Holland is in the film, so maybe I will actually get around to it 😂

I went back and forth on my decision to add Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo to this list because I'm not that desperate to read this book ... but I really gotta get a move on with these series I'm taking forever to finish. I do not want to wait another three years to read the last book!!! This'll be the best time to do it, since all the characters are fresh in my mind. Plus, King of Scars (the first book in the spin-off duology) just came out and all the hype is helping to push and motivate me.

One of my friends wanted to read Pachinko by Min Jin Lee together, so this is my "intimidating book" pick of the month. One of my goals this year, that I never mentioned, was to read more adult fiction, so this one will be good for me. And the accountability helps!

If all goes well, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi will be my first re-read this year! I still haven't read Restore Me yet (I know, I'm slackin') but I can't do that without going back and revisiting this world. I read Shatter Me FIVE YEARS AGO when I was in college (and wrote a review on this blog, which you can read but don't come at me lol) but I don't remember anything. WHAT ELSE IS NEW. Fun fact: it was one of the first books I read after discovering BookTube! Let's see if I still like it the same.

NEW RELEASES I'LL PROBABLY READ  


On the Come Up by Angie Thomas // February 5, 2019
"Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least win her first battle. As the daughter of an underground hip hop legend who died right before he hit big, Bri's got massive shoes to fill. But it's hard to get your come up when you're labeled a hoodlum at school, and your fridge at home is empty after your mom loses her job. So Bri pours her anger and frustration into her first song, which goes viral ... for all the wrong reasons. Bri soon finds herself at the center of a controversy, portrayed by the media as more menace than MC. But with an eviction notice staring her family down, Bri doesn't just want to make it—she has to. Even if it means becoming the very thing the public has made her out to be."

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West // February 5, 2019
"Lacey Barnes has dreamed of being an actress for as long as she can remember. So when she gets the opportunity to star in a movie alongside one of Hollywood's hottest actors, she doesn't hesitate to accept the part. But Lacey quickly learns that life in the spotlight isn't as picture perfect as she imagined. She's having trouble bonding with her costars, her father has hired the definition of a choir boy, Donavan Lake, to tutor her, and somewhere along the way she's lost her acting mojo. And just when it seems like things couldn't get any worse, it looks like someone on set is deliberately trying to sabotage her. As Lacey's world spins out of control, it feels like the only person she can count on—whether it's helping her try to unravel the mystery of who is out to get her or snap her out of her acting funk—is Donavan. But what she doesn't count on is this straight-laced boy becoming another distraction."

I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella // February 5, 2019
"Fixie Farr has always lived by her father's motto: "Family first." And since her dad passed away, leaving his charming housewares store in the hands of his wife and children, Fixie spends all her time picking up the slack from her siblings instead of striking out on her own. The way Fixie sees it, if she doesn't take care of her father’s legacy, who will? It's simply not in Fixie's nature to say no to people. So when a handsome stranger in a coffee shop asks her to watch his laptop for a moment, she not only agrees—she ends up saving it from certain disaster. To thank Fixie for her quick thinking, the computer's owner, Sebastian, an investment manager, scribbles an IOU on a coffee sleeve and attaches his business card. Fixie laughs it off—she'd never actually claim an IOU from a stranger. Would she? But then Fixie's childhood crush, Ryan, comes back into her life, and his lack of a profession pushes all of Fixie's buttons. As always, she wants nothing for herself—but she'd love Seb to give Ryan a job. No sooner has Seb agreed than the tables are turned once more and a new series of IOUs between Seb and Fixie—from small favors to life-changing moments—ensues. Soon Fixie, Ms. Fixit for everyone else, is torn between her family and the life she really wants. Does she have the courage to take a stand? Will she finally grab the life, and love, she really wants?"

The Test by Sylvain Neuvel // February 12, 2019
"Britain, the not-too-distant future. Idir is sitting the British Citizenship Test. He wants his family to belong. Twenty-five questions to determine their fate. Twenty-five chances to impress. When the test takes an unexpected and tragic turn, Idir is handed the power of life and death. How do you value a life when all you have is multiple choice?"

Last of Her Name by Jessica Khoury // February 26, 2019
"Sixteen years ago, rebellion swept the galaxy known as the Belt of Jewels. Every member of the Leonov royal family was murdered—down to their youngest child, Princess Anya—making way for the Union government to seize power. But Stacia doesn't think much about politics. She spends her days half-wild, rambling her father's vineyard with her friends, Clio and Pol. That all changes when a Union ship appears burning through the sky, bearing the leader of the Union, the Direktor Eminent himself, who declares that Stacia's sleepy village is a den of empire loyalists. Even more shocking, the Direktor claims that Princess Anya Leonova is alive—and Stacia is the lost princess. As their home explodes into chaos, Pol smuggles Stacia to a hidden escape ship, leaving Clio in the hands of the Union. With everything she knows threading away into the stars, Stacia sets her heart on a single mission: She will find and rescue Clio, even with the whole galaxy on her trail."

🖤🖤🖤

I didn't add The Art of Losing by Lizzy Mason to this month's new releases (it comes out on February 19th) because I was lucky enough to read an early copy two months ago! But if I didn't, it would 100% be on this list. And it should be on yours too! It was SO GOOD and it definitely made my all-time favorites :)

What are you planning to read in February?

Monday, January 28, 2019

Reading Statistics of 2018

Photo from unsplash.com

OVERVIEW OF 2018

Number of re-reads: 1
Number of books read: 35 (this includes comics, graphic novels, and one picture book)
Number of pages read: 9,293

Shortest book read: James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl (113 pages)
Longest book read: The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken (488 pages)

Average number of books per month: 2.5
Average number of pages per month: 752 pages
Average pages per book: 310 pages

Number of new-to-me authors: 15 (this doesn't include any of the authors in the anthology I read)


Most books and pages read in a month: March — 5 books // 1,643 pages
Least books and pages read in a month: February and July tied with 0 books 🙈

Average number of pages per month: 802 pages


As expected, most of my books were from the library. It's so easy to browse their catalog for new releases, and I'd much rather borrow than buy. (But on some occasions, I will pre-order!) I'm hoping I can read more from my shelves this year, but I won't be disappointed if the majority comes from the library again. I'll be reading more 2019 releases this year, so I expect my data to stay roughly the same.


I've been loving ebooks more and more because it's portable and easy to access. I wrote a post about four years ago on why I love ebooks and why you should try them, and almost everything still rings true! (Except for the fact that they are so much more expensive now, but I usually borrow them for free on Overdrive through my library.) The only reason why I mostly read in physical form is because there's a visual representation of how far I've read, and that's motivating to me. I predict I'll be listening to a lot more audiobooks in 2019 because I enjoy doing so for my non-fiction reads.


I love YA, as you probably already know, but I want to work on reading more adult fiction! There are many of them I want to get to, but I am so INTIMIDATED 🤦🏻‍♀️

This chart includes both fiction and non-fiction, so that's the reason why the adult chunk is larger than I thought.


I got nothing to say about this chart, I just thought it would be interesting to look at :p


Most read genre: Contemporary (11 books)

I wanted to include the genres I didn't read to make myself aware and better my efforts this year. My strategy, now that I've been able to test it out a little this month, is to sandwich all my reads with contemporary novels! It's my favorite genre, as you can probably see from this chart, and it's one I can easily jump into. Also, moving forward, I definitely want to read more historical fiction and literary fiction this year. So I'll be adjusting my future TBRs with this in mind!

   

Number of books read that are part of a series: 10
Number of standalone books read: 20

Eight of the ten "series" books I managed to read were first installments, so I'm kind of disappointed that I didn't finish any of the ones I'm in the middle of. This is a big reason why one of my goals this year is to finish five series. I'm actually hoping to complete more, but I want to keep things practical. And it doesn't matter how many standalones I read in comparison, I just want to be more mindful of finishing series before starting new ones.

Average star rating: 4.4 stars

I am so surprised at this because I felt like I rated a lot of books around 3-3.5 stars! The chart above represents all 35 books I read (including graphic novels, comics, and picture books) but I did not include those in my average star rating. That one only includes full length novels. For this year, I think I will track graphic novels/comics separately, since my rating scale differs greatly.

I guess I actually shouldn't be surprised at my average star rating because 1) I'd say I was easygoing, and 2) I was more intentional with the books I chose to read. Instead of picking up something random, which I have done in the past couple of years ... I mean, I still did it from time to time. But not as often as before!

🖤🖤🖤

Now that I have a dedicated spreadsheet for tracking these stats this year, I'm excited to see how 2019 will compare!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Book Reviews: To Read or Not to Read? (And How it Impacts the Way I Write My Reviews)

Photo from unsplash.com

Hi friends! Just to warn you, this post is gonna be much longer than usual ... so prepare yourselves 😅

The idea for this came into my mind when I read Bee's post ("Do People Actually Read Reviews?") on Novel Ink almost a year ago. This post is a response to the question she poses, but I wanted to share it with all of you and see if you approach book reviews the same way I do! I'm curious to learn when you read book reviews, how often you write 'em, who you read and/or watch reviews from, EVERYTHING. Tell me what you think!


REVIEWS I READ


ON BOOKS I HAVE READ
When a review for a book I've read shows up on my Feedly page, I try and read it right then and there. I don't have to worry about spoilers, and I can leave a meaningful note—ideally. I tend to only share a response if something in the review prompts me. I want to say something other than just "I LOVED THIS BOOK TOO!" so sometimes I refrain from commenting if I can't think of anything else. But the weird thing is, I love comments like that. I WANT to know if you loved the same story. And I want to know what you didn't like about it, too. I'm just happy to know you stopped by, read through my thoughts, and cared enough to respond. So why don't I do that for other bloggers? (Note to self: start doing this.)


REVIEWS I DON'T READ


ON BOOKS I HAVEN'T BUT PLAN TO READ
I rarely read reviews for books on my "to read" list because I *really* don't want to be spoiled in any way. One of the things I don't like is when people are talking about a suspense/thriller book and they mention there's a plot twist. It doesn't matter how vague they are about it because, when I eventually pick up the book, I end up reading too much into the text and it ruins my experience. But I love watching reading wrap-ups on YouTube. I always assume that I won't be spoiled for anything, since each review is fairly brief. And if, for some reason, whoever I'm watching goes into spoilers, I've found that there's always a warning.

So what do I do with these reviews that show up in my feed on books I really want to read? I save the links in a Google document! When I'm done with a book, however long it takes me, I look it up and read the reviews then. One of my favorite things to do after finishing a book is to read all of the related posts I've saved and look up all of the videos on YouTube. It's kind of like having a book club! And I never comment on these reviews because it's almost always YEARS later when I finally get to it. But ... I think it would be cool if I found a response on one of my old reviews. (Not like this one though ... lol.) It means people are still reading and/or interested in backlist books.

ON BOOKS I HAVEN'T AND DON'T PLAN TO READ
These are the reviews I tend to ignore, unless it's from a reviewer who I share reading tastes with or just someone I follow and like what they have to say. Well, not so much what they have to say, but HOW they say it. Sometimes I'll do a quick read, just to see if it'll change my mind—and if it did, I'll usually leave a comment.


HOW THIS IMPACTS THE WAY I WRITE REVIEWS


Although I've been blogging about books for a little over five years now, I have only written a total of 32 full reviews. It's mainly related to how difficult I find writing to be, but part of it is also because I'm not sure how helpful they are. I'm more likely to skip or save a review than read it, so I automatically assume my readers are the same way.

But knowing all this? It doesn't hold me back from wanting to write reviews. I would love nothing more than to interact with you all and discuss the many details of my latest read, but I have to be honest—I write a lot of these reviews for myself, too. I love going back to my old reviews, no matter how cringy they are, because it reminds me of who I was during that time and allows me to see how my writing has developed.

If I've written a review, I am more likely to remember the book since I spent a lot of time taking notes and thinking about what I have to say. Most are spoiler-free, but I love sharing my favorite parts of older/well-loved books like To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han and City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. For the stories that aren't as popular, I've stuck to mentioning them in recaps and briefly sharing some thoughts in "books I read" posts. If I could, I'd review every single book I read in full—but sometimes I just don't have much to say.

It feels like some sort of accomplishment when people (online and in real life) read and actually love the books I recommend. I know there's a level of trust and respect when that type of follow-through happens, especially when there are millions of books out there to choose from. Thank you for following my blog and being my friend :)

And, of course, I can't talk about all this without mentioning some of my favorite bloggers and YouTubers who review and recommend books. I hope you end up loving them too 😊

Alexa from Alexa Loves Books
Morgan from The Bookish Beagle
Lala from BooksandLala
Cristina from Girl in the Pages
Rachel from Hello, Chelly
Jane from It's Jane Lindsey
Kelsey from KelseyReads
Alexa from Library of Alexa
Monica from monica kim
Marines from mynameismarines
Madalyn from Novel Ink
Jamie from The Perpetual Page-Turner
Emily from Possibly Literate
Cindy from readwithcindy
Rincey from rincey reads
Sara from sarawithoutanH
Hannah from So Obsessed With
Joce from squibblesreads
Kristin from Super Space Chick
Whitney from Whitty Novels

🖤🖤🖤

I'd love to hear from you! How often do you read and/or comment on reviews?
What compels you to do so? Who are your favorite reviewers?

And another interesting thought: are you less likely to comment on the actual post than reply to a tweet with the link shared? I used to save all my comments on a Google document (when I read blogs at work and didn't want to sign into my accounts) and go back when I had time to get on a computer!