September Wrap-Up!

Fall is officially here in my part of the world, but I've been loving the crisp, cool, sunny days!  We've also had our fair share of rain, which was long overdue and greatly needed.  School is back in session -- but more on that later in this post.  First, the books!

The Books

Books Read: 8 (Never Too Far, Forever Too Far, Something Strange & Deadly, Queen of Shadows)
One of these books was an older book off my shelves, but the rest were purchased this year.  I took my time with Queen of Shadows (it took me almost all month to read!) but I enjoyed just savouring it, especially knowing that I'm going to be waiting another year for the next installment of this incredible story!

Books Acquired: 2 (Queen of Shadows and Lux: Consequences)
I have acquired a total of 25 books so far this year, and have already read 16 of them, so only 9 acquired and unread books -- still pretty proud of myself!  Next year, I may have to count my e-books in this total as well, because that might make the total a bit higher ... eeek!

The Challenges

Prequel & Sequel Challenge: +16 (two points for each of the series books that I read, plus I'm giving myself 10 points for completing Blaire and Rush's story, even though I know that the series still goes on and on -- I don't plan to read any more, so I'm giving myself the points!)
Flights of Fantasy: +1 for Queen of Shadows!
TBR Challenge: +1 for Something Strange and Deadly for a total of 15 books so far this year.  I had been aiming for 30, but I don't think I'm going to make it there this year.  I'm going to focus on books that I own for the rest of the year, and see what happens.  

The Blog

It was a pretty quiet month blog-wise, and most of my posts were Top Ten Tuesday lists (authors that I've read the most, finished series that I haven't read yet, and, of course, my fall TBR pile!)   I also shared a small book haul.

I've also been struggling with the direction in which to take my blog.  As soon as I start to write a post that takes my blog in a different direction, I start to worry about where my blog has been and how I'm going to tie it all together.  In this cathartic post about new beginnings, I vowed to stop worrying about all that, and just approach each new blog post as a new start, rather than worrying about what came before.

The Other Stuff

Work is still busy, but starting to calm down.  We have our performance reviews next month, so I'm excited!  Plus, I started a new course that is part of a certificate in Human Resources Management, which will ultimately allow me to get into HR.  I've had a complicated career path thus far (I should totally write a blog post about that!), but I've basically spent the last eight years in office administration, and I want to get into more of a management role which will ultimately mean a higher income.  I live in the most expensive part of Canada, and we want to buy a house one day, so I'm focusing my efforts on increasing my earning potential.

Otherwise, we've just been enjoying the crisp sunny days by spending as many evenings and weekends outside as humanly possible.  Once "winter" hits in my part of the world, it's just dreary rainy days for weeks on end, which means we'll have lots of puddle jumping and indoor time ahead of us.

What's happened in your life this past month?  Are you back at school this month?  Have you read anything interesting lately?  Let's chat in the comments below, and thanks for stopping by!

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Marko Monday [17]

It's been quite a few months since I shared one of these posts, but Marko had a few months where he was less into reading than he used to be.  It's likely due to the warmer summer months and we were spending more time outside and less time at home, but now that the weather's turning colder and the days are getting shorter, he's happy to curl up with a pile of books when we get home from work.  I also re-arranged some of his things in our house, and I find that his interest is reinvigorated when his toys and things are in different spots.  I moved his little chair and added a bin full of books, and he was content to sit in his chair and read book after book.  Then, we came home from Costco with a big box which, of course, had to be transformed into a car with his chair inside as the driver's seat.  Now, he's perfectly content to read inside his new car!  Forgive the terrible lighting, but I had to snap a quick pic to share...

As I shared in my August wrap-up, we finished with potty training last month, and Marko has done incredibly well!  We're still a ways away from him being diaper-free at night as well, but I'm just blown away by how quickly he picked it all up.

Marko has been back into dinosaurs lately, and his current favourite bedtime story is Jane Yolen's How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?  This book has gorgeous illustrations, and I love that there are so many details for him to look at in the pictures.  The dinosaurs start off naughty and not wanting to go to bed, but then finally settle down and say goodnight.  It's perfect for this stage in his life, where we're really working on listening and doing what has been asked.  Marko always says, "That a bad dinosaur, not listening to Mama!" when we read the story -- it's super cute.

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Top Ten Books on My Fall TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is, as always, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Although I almost never read what I had planned to read, I do enjoy putting these posts together.  As summer draws to a close, I find my attention shifting away from the fun, summery contemporaries and towards some more fall-ish titles.  I crave fantasy, mystery, thriller, paranormal and scary stories as the days get shorter and the nights get chilly.  My sister bought me a Harry Potter snuggie this year, and I can't wait to curl up underneath its coziness with a big mug of tea and one of these delicious reads...

1. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
2. The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
3. The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
I loved the first book when I read it back in 2012, but I can barely remember the plot at all.  I would like to re-read the first book, and then binge read the rest of the series.  

4. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
5. Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness
These books have been calling my name from the shelf for a few months now, but I wanted to wait until fall to really savour them.  Of course, if I love them as much I hope that I will, I will definitely rush out to the bookstore to pick up the third book, but I only have these two on my shelves at the moment.

6. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
I gobbled up the entire Grisha trilogy earlier this year, and I can't wait for more of this work and Leigh's beautiful writing.

7. Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris
I've had this book sitting on my shelves for over a year, and I need an unputdownable read in my life.

8. Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
I'm a bit scared to try this one out, since I couldn't get into Jellicoe Road and so many people love all things Melina Marchetta.  But I'm also hopeful that I'll love this series too, so I want to give it a try.

9. Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
I started reading this before my copy of Queen of Shadows arrived, and I want to finish it before the year is over.  I'm enjoying it -- it's not blowing me away, but still a fun contemporary.

10. The Young Elites by Marie Lu
This is another one that I started, but haven't finished yet.  It was too summery and nice for this darker story, so I set it aside, but I was liking it and definitely want to pick it back up.  Plus, I think the sequel is out soon-ish?

Do you find that your reading tastes change when the weather gets colder?  If so, what kind of books do you like to read in the fall?  Let me know in the comments below, and thanks for stopping by!

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Book Haul [20]

It's been quite a long time since I last did a book haul, and the last haul featured almost exclusively library books!  This time, it's a mix of purchased and borrowed books, but I'm excited for them all!

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
I pre-ordered this one, but was really bummed when it didn't arrive before the long weekend.  Well, technically, it arrived on Friday morning, but we'd already headed for the ferry, so I didn't get to start it until we got home.  I'm still slowly making my way through this book, and enjoying every moment of it!

Consequences (Opal & Origin) by Jennifer L. Armentrout
I read, and enjoyed the first two books in this series, and also picked up the final book on my last Book Outlet order.  I needed to add one more book to my order in order to get free shipping on Queen of Shadows, so figured I'd grab this one and hopefully finish the series soon!

Saga Volumes 3, 4 and 5 - Brian K. Vaughn (illustrated by Fiona Staples)
I read, and enjoyed, the first book in this graphic novel series at the beginning of this year, but was recently nudged towards picking up the rest of this series when Lauren @ Lose Time Reading told me that she had loved them too.  I feel like I'm a bit behind in my fantasy and series reading this year, due to months of so many standalones, so banging out this series will help me catch up a bit, plus I'm looking forward to getting back into a graphic novel again!

What's new on your shelves this week?  Let me know in the comments below, and leave me a link to your hauls if you have posted some!  Also, this is totally random, but I just noticed that all of these authors have middle initials -- is that a new thing these days?  Or just a coincidence?

Hope you've all had a great weekend!

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On My Nightstand - September 16

Although I'm not really writing reviews these days, On My Nightstand is a weekly-ish feature that allows me to share what I'm currently reading, some thoughts on what I just finished reading and what's coming up next from my TBR pile!

Recently shelved as read:

I've tucked A Feast of Crows aside for the next while, since my audiobook expired and the weather was too summery for such a heavy fantasy.  I'll pick this one up again soon though!  I also couldn't get into Sophie Kinsella's Finding Audrey -- maybe because I'm used to her adult books?  I just found it a bit too juvenile and silly.

With the continuation of the summery weather into September (but the evenings are chilly and wonderful!), I gobbled up the first three books in Abbi Glines' Rosemary Beach series.  I haven't read books that fast in a long, long time -- three books in four days!  They were such fun, lighthearted reads.

I also finished I Am Malala for my September book club meeting -- so good!  I listened to it on audio, which led an excellent authenticity to the story.  I can't wait to talk about this one with the rest of my book club.

Finally, I finished Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard, which I started about a month ago (but put down in favour of the Rosemary Beach books).  It was good, not amazing, but good.  I'm on the fence about continuing with the rest of the series.  I feel like I did about The Madman's Daughter -- everyone else loved it, but I was kind of underwhelmed?  I think it might be the fact that books set in the Victorian era aren't really my thing?

On my nightstand:

I realize that September is half over, but I am still savouring Queen of Shadows.  When I first picked it up, I had planned to just devour it, but then realized that I'd rather savour the story since it's going to be at least a year until I get to enjoy more of this wonderful story.

Calling my name from the shelf:

I have been wanting to pick up Leah Raeder's Black Iris for a couple of months now, and I think it'll be a good change in genre after what I imagine will be the ultimate heartbreak/book hangover that Queen of Shadows will provide.  Plus, this cover?  GORGEOUS!

How about you?  What are you reading this week!  Let's chat in the comments below and thanks for stopping by!

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Ten Finished Series I Have YET to Finish

Top Ten Tuesday is, as always, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  I participated in this Top Ten Tuesday topic back in 2012, and it was interesting to look back at my list of unfinished series.  As of now, there's only two of those ten series that I actually have finished and, now that my reading tastes have shifted quite a bit, there's a few of those series that I don't think I'll ever finish!  This post was actually supposed to go up last week, but I didn't finish it in time -- oops!

1. The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare
This series is making yet another list -- I need to just finish this already.

2. The Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle Hodkin
I own all three books, but have only read the first one.  This series will be on my fall TBR for SURE!

3. His Fair Assassin Trilogy by Robin LaFevers
I read Grave Mercy earlier this year, and own the rest of the books, but haven't read 'em yet.  Soon, SOON!

4. Something Strange & Deadly by Susan Dennard
When I started drafting this post, I had just started reading the first book, and added this series to the list; however, now that I've finished the book, I'm not sure that I'll actually finish this series.  I liked it, but didn't love it, and I'm on the fence about reading on.

5. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
This is another series that I'm not 100% committed to finishing, as I'm only halfway through the first book.  It's good, but not amazing, but I actually do own the entire series, so I think I'll definitely try to read them all.

6. Everneath Trilogy by Brodi Ashton
I absolutely adored the first book, but have picked up the next two from the library (and returned them unread) TWICE now.

7. Pure Trilogy by Julianna Baggot
Same goes for this series, although I only have Burn left to read.  I've even paid late fines on this book, and have borrowed it an embarrassing number of times!

8. UnWind Series by Neale Shusterman
Again, I adored the first book and own the rest of this four-book series.  I'm thinking that I might tackle this one in October this year.

9. Lux Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout
I've read the first two books this year, and just picked up the second bind-up.  If I don't get to this one next year, it'll be early in 2016 for sure!

10. The Cemetery of Forgotten Books Series by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
I read The Shadow of the Wind on my honeymoon in 2011, and own the other two books in hardcover, but just haven't picked them up yet.  My challenge with series is often that the longer I wait after reading the first book, the more unlikely I am to come back to the series.  Anyone else in the same boat?

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On New Beginnings

In July, I shared a post about making some changes on my blog and writing about more than just reading because, ultimately, my life is about more than just books.  Originally, I was fired up and posted more than I usually do in the summer but, in the past few weeks, I've slipped back into mainly just On My Nightstand and Top Ten Tuesdays posts.  Every time I start to fire up my computer to do some blogging, I just think about how I've let the blog slide and my content is inconsistent.  Then, I see that the page views are going down for each blog post that I share, most of which have no comments.  And, in a world where we constantly strive for approval from one another, this leads to feelings of being irrelevant in the big wide world of the internet and, quite honestly, moments of thinking that I'll just stop altogether.

But I invested in this beautiful new blog design last year, and have committed to continuing on with this blog because it does make me happy and it's a fun hobby.  I like writing these posts and sharing my thoughts.  Once upon a time, I used to scribble away in my journal on a daily basis and now I turn to Blogger to write my thoughts.

So I thought that instead of worrying about what my blog has become, I will instead approach each blog post as a new beginning.  Worrying about what has and hasn't happened on my blog will not make me a happy blogger, but starting each post with fresh ideas and a new perspective will.

I hope you will stay with me on this journey!

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August Wrap-Up!

I know that I say this every month, but where is 2015 going?  I feel like summer just started, and now it's over...although, I can't say that I'll miss the heat.  We've had one of the hottest summers ever (so hot that we actually caved and bought an A/C!) and I can't wait for the sunny days and crisp cold nights that come with fall.  Plus, I've been craving some more fall-ish reads (i.e. darker plots, paranormal, thrillers, mysteries, that kind of thing!)

The Books

Books Read: 8 (The War That Saved My Life, Every Last Word, After I Do, Leaving Time, Onyx, Yes Please, I Am Malala, Fallen Too Far)
Two of these were books off my own shelves, both of which were purchased this year, and the rest were library books.

Books Acquired: None!
I have acquired a total of 23 books so far this year, and have already read 15 of them, so only 8 acquired and unread books -- pretty proud of myself for that one!  I pre-ordered Queen of Shadows and had to add a second book to my order in order to get free shipping, so stay tuned for a book haul!

The Challenges

Prequel & Sequel Challenge: +2 for reading Onyx, the second book in the Lux series.
Flights of Fantasy: None again this month, but I'm counting down the minutes until I have Queen of Shadows in my hands!
TBR Challenge: Most of my books were library books this month, plus a couple that I acquired this year, so I'm holding strong at 14 books this year.  I would definitely like to work on reading more of the books that I own, especially those acquired this year, for the rest of this year.  

The Blog

I started the month off with my August TBR, which was ambitious, but I actually managed to read three books off that stack, as well as half of a fourth one.  Although I didn't read all of the books that I had tentatively picked for the challenges, I did manage to fulfill six of the seven challenges (I came close to reading a book without putting it down, but still had 23% left to read when Marko woke up from his nap).

I shared the Reading Habits Tag, as well as my top ten auto-buy authors and books that I'd put on the syllabus for Bullying 101.

I also started a new series of posts about my reading journey, starting in elementary school where it all began.

The Other Stuff

Work has been crazy crazy busy these past few months, but is finally starting to calm down a bit.  I've worked a lot of overtime in the past few months, but have banked the extra hours and am taking a couple of days off to make this coming weekend extra long!

We had an insanely hot summer with very little rain, to the point where there were Stage 3 water restrictions imposed (no sprinklers, only hand watering, no car washing) in an effort to conserve our water.  Finally, last week, the weather turned and we had some much needed rainfall.  Then, we had a huge windstorm on Saturday morning, which knocked our power out for almost 24 hours!  I'm loving the cooler weather, and am already planning out which fall reads to pair with this chilly weather.  A good book + rain pattering on the window + a big mug of tea + a cozy blanket = perfection and bliss.

I was going to get a Marko Monday post together at the end of August, but just didn't have a moment.  We've had family in town on and off for the entire month of August, plus we've spent the past couple of weeks potty training!  My husband has been home with Marko and decided that he would take on the daunting task of potty training.  I was honestly not sure if Marko was even ready, nor did I think that he could train in three weeks -- but he surpassed my expectations and rocked it in less than two weeks!  I might be a little biased, but I think my son is crazy, crazy smart =P

What's happened in your life this past month?  Do you love fall like I do?  Do your reading tastes change when the weather turns colder?  Have you read anything interesting lately?  Let's chat in the comments below, and thanks for stopping by!

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Top Ten Authors That I've Read The Most Books From

Top Ten Tuesday is, as always, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  Today's topic is a freebie, and I was bummed that I missed out on posting this a few weeks ago, so better late than never!  I'm going to exclude the obvious ones from my childhood (Francine Pascal, Ann M. Martin, Carolyn Keene, etc.) and focus on authors that I have read in the last 20ish years.

This list took an incredibly long time to piece together, as I scrolled through all of

1. James Patterson - 41 Books
I'm not surprised that this is my #1 read author, but I am surprised at this super high number!  I don't read his books at all anymore (as I shared last year) but these are definitely some of the defining reads of my 20s.

2. Cecily von Ziegesar - 26 Books
Although I didn't finish the It Girl series (my library didn't have any more at the time), I've read almost everything she's written!

3. Margaret Atwood & Jodi Picoult - 14 Books Each
I have some of Margaret's Atwoods books left on my TBR, but I feel like she requires a lot of time and mental commitment, neither of which I have right now =P  I have loved almost everything of hers that I've read so far.  Jodi's latest books have been a bit disappointing, but I have a couple of her older titles on my shelf.

4. Sophie Kinsella & Francesca Lia Block - 12 Books Each
Two very different authors!  I've read most of Sophie's books, and love them especially when I feel like a funny chick lit book with heart.  I haven't read any Francesca Lia Block books in years, but I devoured her beautiful writing in my late teens/early 20s.

5. Sarah Dessen & Stephen King - 10 Books Each
Again, two very different authors!  I've read all but one of Sarah's books, but only a few of King's vast collection.

6. Sara Shepard - 11 Books
I almost didn't include Sara on this list because I don't like her books anymore, but the reality of the situation is that I read a lot of her books prior to coming to that decision.

7. Jennifer Weiner & P.C. Cast - 9 Books Each
I still love Jennifer's books, but have given up on the House of Night series.

8. Janet Evanovich, Nicholas Sparks, Colleen Hoover - 8 Books Each
I binge read the first 7 books in Janet's Stephanie Plum series before burning out and not liking the next book of hers that I picked up.  I'm not the biggest Nicholas Sparks fan, but I'm surprised that I've read so many!  And Colleen Hoover -- need I say more?  I wish she'd written more.

9 J.R. Ward, J.K. Rowling, Lauren Oliver, Stephanie Meyer, Ann Brashares, Laurie Halse Anderson and Cassandra Clare - 7 Books Each
I still have to finish the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, so J.R. Ward's numbers will go higher.  I'm not sure if I'll ever pick up more books by Stephanie Meyer, but I still have unread books by Lauren Oliver and Cassandra Clare that I want to read ASAP.  I have such fond memories of Ann Brashare and Laurie Halse Anderson's works that I know I'll read anything that these ladies write.

10. Julie Kagawa & Maureen Johnson - 6 Books Each
It's funny that both these ladies finish off the list, as I've basically decided that neither of them are on my favourites list, but it took me six books each to reach that understanding =P

And the runners up, with 5 books each...Sarah J. Maas, E. Lockhart, John Green, Emily Giffin and
Paulo Coehlo.

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