1/31/17

January Wrap-up

A new year, and a new round of monthly round-ups!

The Books

Books Read: 9 (Heartless, The Invention of Wings, Scrappy Little Nobody, The Hate U Give, Fireworks, Literally, A Day of Signs and Wonders, By Your Side, The Princess Saves Herself in This One)
I'm not doing well with any of my challenges so far, but I've been ROCKING my ARC pile!

Books Acquired: 4 (The Marriage Plot, Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, Inside the O'Briens)
One Chapters trip and one trip to a used bookstore (but in all honesty, I went there to unhaul books -- that's gotta count for something, right?)

The Challenges

Prequel & Sequel Challenge: 0 -- not a strong start series-wise, but I've read some great standalones!
TBR Challenge: +1 (Heartless)
Flights of Fantasy: +1 (Heartless)

I'm definitely going to focus harder on some series books and the book on my shelves next month, but I am proud of myself for making a big dent in my spring ARCs, even if none of them counted for challenges.

The Blog

I started the year off with my reading resolutions for 2017, as well as the 17 books and 10 series that I'd like to read this year.  I wrapped up last year's challenges and signed up for this year's challenges.  I'm also going to do seasonal TBR lists, but only five books at a time, and I'm actually doing quite well already with my winter TBR.  I shared one On My Nightstand post, but only to chat about what I'm currently reading and what I've recently completed.  And, finally, if you've missed it, the sign-up (finally!) went live for the 2017 Prequel & Sequel Challenge.

 The Other Stuff

I feel like New Year's Day was yesterday, but yet somehow we're at the end of the month already!  January was cold and snowy for the first half of the month, but thankfully we had a solid week of rain and the snow is now gone!  I'm not a fan of the cold, white winters and much prefer our usual grey, rainy winter days.

We spent most of the month unpacking, organizing and settling into our new house.  We officially moved in on December 14th, after a week of painting and cleaning and carpet installation.  My mother-in-law and her husband were here over the holidays so we were busy with family.  It was wonderful to be able to host Christmas dinner in our home, which we were never able to do in our small condo.  I'm happier that I ever thought possible in our new home, and looking forward to enjoying many happy years here.  Plus, this girl doesn't want to pack her books again.  Like, ever.

I'm also slowly getting back into yoga.  It's hard to find the energy during the week, but I've been averaging about three times per week, which is a HUGE improvement over last year (but, then again, I was moving and packing and cleaning almost every day -- that totally counts as physical activity, just not yoga).  I find that I'm in a better head space with yoga in my life, and I plan to continue this trend throughout 2017.  I'm also slowly working on changes in my life that will enable me to have more time in the day for the things that I love.  I still have yet to see what those changes may be, but I'm confident that they'll be good ones.  Keep your fingers crossed for me, but good things are coming.

How about your?  How has your 2017 been so far?  Let me know if you've read something amazing so far this year, or if you're still on board the new year's resolutions train?  Thank you for stopping by =)

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By Your Side - Kasie West

Confession: I've never read a Kasie West book before.  Or, at least, I hadn't read one yet when I chose to download an e-galley of By Your Side.  Kasie West is a well-loved author around the blogosphere, so I knew that I had to give her books a try.

This book started off strong when Autumn gets locked in the library with a boy.  After the first few chapters, I found the pacing of the book slowing way down, as not much happened while they whiled away their time in the library.  Since I read this close to publication date, I had to push through in order to finish in time, and by the 2/3 mark I could barely put the book down!

From the beginning of the story, I was expecting a cute love story, especially because of the cutesy cover.  I wasn't expecting the story to have as much heart as it did, and I was truly surprised that the book addressed anxiety.  I wasn't sure that I really understood anxiety, but I found this book to be quite eye-opening and showed me what it would be like to struggle with an anxiety disorder.  I can't say if the book addressed this well or accurately, since I don't have any point of reference, but I felt that it was handled well.  It wasn't the primary focus of the book but it also wasn't completely glossed over as a minor sub-plot.

If you like your contemporaries cute but also heartfelt, then add By Your Side to your TBR.  I'll definitely be checking out some of Kasie's other work after reading this one!

Note: A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  This did not affect my opinion of this book in any way.

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1/23/17

2017 Prequel & Sequel Challenge Sign-up


This is horrendously late, but better late than never, right?  Jessi and I were so busy last year that we didn't do a very good job at keeping up with the challenge (even though I did meet my reading goal -- wahoo!).  We're both planning to do better this year but, you know, life happens sometimes.

Welcome to the 2017 Sequel & Prequel Challenge, hosted by Novel Heartbeat and Writer Grrl Reads! The goal: To read as many prequels and sequels as you can. You set your goal at whatever number works for you.

Guidelines

  1. The challenge runs from January 1st to December 31st.
  2. Any books started before Jan. 1 will not count.
  3. All books in a series count for points (see below)
  4. Novellas count, either prequels or sequels (i.e. #0.5, #1.5, #2.5, etc).
  5. Books can be of any publication date. They don’t have to be released in 2017.
  6. In order to get 10 points for a completed series, there must be at least 3 full-length books in the series.
  7. You can still get sequel points for a duology, you just can't get the 10 bonus points for finishing it.
  8. Sign-ups will be open until December 1st, 2017.
  9. To join, add the URL of your challenge post to the linky widget. (If you’d like to wait, it’s ok to use your blog URL and send us your link as soon you get the post up)
  10. At the end of each quarter (every three months), we will post a linky for you to add your sequel reviews to. The linky will rotate between our blogs on alternate quarters, so you can link up at Novel Heartbeat at the end of March and September, and over at Writer Grrl Reads at the end of June and December. If you have a ton of reviews for the quarter, you can always link to wherever you're keeping track of your progress. This will make it much easier for us - not only is it less posting, but it will be easier to keep track of how many points everyone has.
  11. We will try to do some giveaways throughout the year for participants (as long as we can afford it), as well as some mini-challenges and read-alongs ... so stay tuned for further details!
  12. There will be a giveaway at the end of the year for all participants who completed the challenge!

The Point System

For each prequel and sequel read this year, points will be awarded as follows:
  • 1 point for each prequel or sequel novella read and reviewed
  • 2 points for each full-length sequel read and reviewed
  • 10 points for completing and reviewing a full series (doesn't require novellas)*†
  • **You do not get points for the first book in a series
To get points, you must review the book/novella somewhere. If you want to earn points, please link up your reviews at the end of each month, and enter the number of points earned (we will give examples in the linky). Each point earned is an entry into the giveaway at the end of the year for all participants who completed the challenge. So, the more sequels you read, the better your chances of winning the giveaway! Plus, we are also considering one prize for the "overacheiver award" -- the person who gets the most points!

*The 10 bonus points is for finishing a FULL series. That means that all books must be published (unless you got an advance reader copy early). i.e. If you are completely caught up on a series, and the next book is not releasing until 2018 (and you do not have an advance reader copy), that does not count toward the 10 bonus points.

If you started the series before 2017, you can still get the bonus points for finishing it if you reviewed the other books in the series at some point. For example: You read The Hunger Games in 2016, but read Catching Fire and Mockingjay in 2017 - you would get 2 points for both sequels and 10 bonus points for finishing the series (14 points total). You don't have to start the series in 2017 to get the bonus points.
10-25 points: Newbie
25-50 points: Amateur
51-75 points: Advanced
76-100 points: Professional
101+ points: Veteran

Please head on over to Jessi's blog to sign up with the Linky:  http://novelheartbeat.com/2017/01/2017-prequel-sequel-challenge-sign-ups/ 

So let this year be the year that we stop whining about how many sequels are sitting on our TBRs or cluttering up our shelves! Take control of your reading destinies and sign up to read with us!

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1/21/17

On My Nightstand - January 21

I'm bring back this series of posts this year, because I enjoy providing a brief update on what I've read and what I'm currently reading.  I'm discontinuing the part about the next book calling my name from the shelf, as I've often changed my mind about what I plan to read by the time I finish my current book =P  Ahh, the woes of a mood reader!

Recently Shelved...


It took me a little while to get into Heartless by Marissa Meyer.  The story wasn't instantly captivating, but Marissa's writing kept me going and soon I had been drawn into Cath's story and couldn't put it down.  While the book isn't as amazing as the Lunar Chronicles, it's definitely still a solid read.


I LOVED Pitch Perfect.  Loved, loved, LOVED it and I was super pumped about listening to Anna's memoir, but this one fell flat for me (ha ha, no pun intended!)  Anna's story had some funny moments but I felt like she was very whiny and immature throughout most of it, and I didn't feel like there was really a message that she was trying to portray with this book.


I love going into a book with zero expectations and no idea what the book is even about, especially when it pays off like Sue Monk Kidd's The Invention of Wings.  I was blown away by this story and, even though it had excruciating and heart-wrenching moments, I couldn't put it down.

Currently Reading...


I've never read a Kasie West book, but I downloaded By Your Side on a whim from Edelweiss one evening.  I'm only a couple of chapters in, but the premise of being locked inside a library is an interesting one!


Kit Pearson is one of my favourite middle grade writers and one of my favourite Canadian authors.  She wrote one of my favourite books of all time, Awake and Dreaming, which is also set in my hometown.  When I saw that she has a new book, I immediately put it on hold at the library.  Then I got sucked into reading ARCs (seriously, I read three in a week!) so I might end up paying some late fines on this one, but I'm determined to read it.

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1/12/17

Winter TBR

Last year, I did monthly TBR lists.  I picked two books per month and actually completed almost all of my monthly TBR lists!  I've also participated in Top Ten Tuesdays when they've had their seasonal TBR lists but I rarely ever get through all ten books that I say I'll read.

So this year, I've decided to switch it up a little, and pick five books per season.  It's a little less commitment than two books per month, and a lot less commitment than ten books per season, but I do love making lists of books to read regardless.

Without any further ado, these are the five books that I plan to read over the coming months...

1. Heartless by Marissa Meyer
I'm currently reading this book, and loving it so far.  It's also one of the books on my list of 17 books to read in 2017 so I'm starting the year off strong.

2. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
This is also on my 2017 list, and the series wraps up soon so there's a lot of people reading and re-reading the series at the moment.  I want to read it while it's a big thing online, even though part of me is a little nervous for a repeat Raven Boys experience.  Low expectations, gotta keep those expectations low.

3. Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
This is my book club's January pick, and I'm hosting the meeting for the first time in my new home!  I LOVED The Secret Life of Bees when I read it a million years ago, and I can't wait to read another one of hers.  Also, it's an Oprah book -- I didn't realize that Oprah had brought her book club back!

4. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Another book club pick -- I'm choosing this one of our next read, and it also happens to be one of the 17 books that I had planned to read this year.

5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
I have a few e-galleys from Edelweiss that I need to get cracking on and this one is at the top of my oh-my-goodness-I-want-to-read-it-now list.  So I'm just gonna read it.

How about you?  What's on your TBR list this winter?  Have you read any of these books?  Let's chat in the comments below =)

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1/9/17

2017 Reading Challenge Sign-up

Another year, another round of reading challenges!  This year, I'm keeping things simple(r), and participating in three challenges, in addition to the Goodreads challenge.  I've set my Goodreads challenge at 50 books, which should be no problem as I read 73 books last year.  I just don't want to be pressured by a number, or to see how many books I'm behind whenever I log into Goodreads =P


I've always participated in Evie @ Bookish's TBR pile challenge; however, it doesn't look like she's hosting it this year, so I've decided to join the Rock my TBR challenge instead.  Same idea, but I like that this challenge also encourages buddy reads as a motivator to get those TBR books read.  I'm going to set a goal of 30 TBR books.

I'm going to participate in the Prequel & Sequel Challenge again this year (obviously!) and am indebted to Jessi @ Novel Heartbeat for not kicking me off, as I'm an awful co-host (and the sign-up post is coming guys, promise!).  Hopefully, life will be a little quieter this year, which will allow more time and focus on blogging and reading!  My goal for this year will be the same as last year, Professional (76 to 100 points).


Last year, I signed up for the Around the Year in 52 Books challenge as a means of broadening my reading choices, but found that I spent the latter part of the year ignoring the books and series that I had planned to read because none of the books fit the challenges that were left.  I was incredibly proud of myself for finishing the challenge, but this year I'm just going to broaden my reading by reading more fantasy, in addition to my usual reading choices.  I'm going to set myself a goal of 12 books.

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1/6/17

2016 Reading Challenges Wrap-up

Last year, I participated in four reading challenges and, for the first time EVER, I completed each and every one of my goals!

Goodreads Challenge

Goal: 52 books
Read: 73 books
I set my goal at 52 books because of the Around the Year challenge, and blew it out of the water!

TBR Pile Challenge

Goal: Sweet Summer Fling (31-40 points)
Result: 32 books
I'm super proud of myself for acheiving this goal, even though I had to go to the library to borrow books that I own, but had packed, in order to fulfill my goal.

Prequel & Sequel Challenge

Goal: Professional (76-100 points)
Result: 108 points
Last year, I aimed for the top category (101+ points) and missed it by a long shot.  This year, I played it safe, but still managed to achieve the top category!  Re-reading the Harry Potter series really helped, as well as the Among the Hidden series.

Around the Year in 52 Books Challenge

Goal: Wasn't aiming to complete all challenges
Result: Actually completed all challenges!
I honestly didn't plan to complete this challenge, and didn't even think that I could complete it.  But when I realized that I had only ten challenges left towards the ned of the year, I decided to go for it, and I'm proud of myself for finishing it.

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1/4/17

2017 Series TBR

Like I shared in my bookish resolutions, I am planning to finish/catch up on ten series this year.  Similar to last year, this is a mix of newer and older series.  Hopefully I can stick to this list, but ultimately, I'd just like to check ten series off my TBR list, even if they aren't the ones on this list.  But here goes...

1. Lux (Opal, Origin and Opposition)
2. ACOTAR (ACOWAR)
3. TOG (Empire of Storms and Book #6)
4. Magyk (Flyte, Physik, Queste, Syren, Darke, and Fyre)
5. Unwind (UnWholly, UnSouled and UnDivided)
6. Everneath (Everbound and Evertrue)
7. The Young Elites (The Midnight Star)
8. A Discovery of Witches (Shadow of the Night and Book of Life)
9. Grave Mercy (Dark Triumph and Mortal Heart)
10. Pure (Burn)

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1/2/17

17 Books to Read in 2017

I came up with the idea of 16 books to read in 2016 after watching several BookTubers' videos with the same title.  I didn't end up read all 16 books on my list, but I am proud of reading nine of them!  I've decided to try this again, so here are the 17 books that I plan to read in 2017...

1. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
This series wraps up this year, and I've had the first book sitting on my shelf for over a year.  

2. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Reading this book scares the crap out of me because it's so loved, it's HUGE and it's fantasy.  2017 will be the year of pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and this book meets that criteria.

3. Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas
I thought I would read this one right away, but I was in a bit of a reading slump for the latter part of 2016 simply because I had so much going on with two moves in four months.  BUT, I can't let Throne of Glass descend into one of those series that I just never got around to finishing, so I WILL continue on.

4. Heartless by Marissa Meyer
I'm currently reading this, but only a few chapters in, so it can still be included on this list.  Marissa Meyer can't sit on my shelves unread for too long.

5. Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris
I would like to try reading all of the unread books on my 2016 list, in addition to these, but I didn't want to fill up my who list with all the books that I didn't get to last year.  Instead, I've chosen to just include this book because I feel like it just HAS to happen this year.  It just MUST.

6. Burn by Julianna Baggott
Per the above, this series will also get knocked off my TBR list this year.  For SURE.

7. The Midnight Star by Marie Lu
I read the first two books in this series towards the end of 2016, and I must pick up the final installment before I forget what's happening in the series!

8. Graceling by Kristin Cashore
I started reading this book with Jessi @ Novel Heartbeat a couple of years ago, but I got distracted with other things and never finished it.  I own all three books in the series, so I need to finish it and love it, and then binge the series, or finish it and unhaul the series.

9. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
This is another book that I started, but never finished, due to my pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel and the fact that this book is HEAVY.  It's another book that scares me a little, but this will be the year.

10. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
My Secret Santa sent me this book this year, and I want to make an effort to read gifted books a little quicker.  She said that it's one of her favourite books too, so I can't wait to let her know what I think of the book.

11. Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnson
This book is on my list for the same reason as Station Eleven.  My secret sister sent this to me over the summer, and she loves the book and the author so much.  I can't wait to experience her writing.

12. The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey
This is the latest book sent to me by my current secret sister, and it was read and loved by Jessi @ Novel Heartbeat.  I've had my eye on it since its release, and I have very high expectations!

13. Mistborn or The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
I'm not promising to read both, or even to finish one, but this year I'd like to try Brandon Sanderson's writing, and I have two of his books on my shelves.  This is the third book on my list that scares the crap out of me, but hey, let's do this thing!

14. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
In conjunction with my resolution to clear off my e-book TBR, this is one that I have had my eye on for a while, and I think I'm going to love it.

15. The Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall
I re-read the entire Harry Potter series this year on audio, and stumbled across this book while I was unpacking last week.  I seem to recall a controversy a while ago where it seemed like J.K. Rowling had copied some elements from this book because they're very similar to Harry Potter, but I think it was proven to be untrue.  Anything that's described as being just like Harry Potter always piques my interest, but also makes me wary because nothing can be just like Harry Potter.  I haven't read much middle grade in recent years, so this will be a fun read too.

16. The Glass Arrow by Kristin Simmons
I pre-ordered this almost two years ago, and haven't read it.  I think I'm going to love it too, but I just need to read it already.

17. Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood
One of my bookstore co-workers recommended this to me shortly before I left the store, and I think she even described it as life-changing and her favourite book of all time.  High praise from a bookworm!  I haven't read any Atwood in a LONG time, and I have loved most of her books.

Have you read any of these books?  Which book should I start with?  Let me know in the comments below, and thank you for visiting my blog =)

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1/1/17

... And Looking Forward to 2017!

I looked back at my reading resolutions from last year, and one of the things that I noticed was that it was hard to qualify whether or not I had succeeded at any of my resolutions because there wasn't any tangible proof.  I've purposely kept my resolutions vague for this very reason -- I can decide if I did a good job at reading the books from my own shelves, even without knowing whether or not my physical TBR pile shrunk and, if so, by how many volumes.  

But for this year, I'm opting to do something a little different.  I'm going to attach some tangible numbers to these resolutions, just to see how it works this year.  Shaking it up a little, ya know?   So, 2017, let's do this thing!

1. Reduce my physical TBR to less than 100 books.
When I counted up all of my unread books, I was sitting around 130.  I know that I've acquired a fair number of books this year, but I also feel like I've read more than I acquired, or at the very least I've broken even.  If that's the case (worst case scenario), I will have to read what I own, but also what I buy in order to achieve this goal.

2. Reduce my e-book TBR to less than 20 books.
I've bought SO MANY cheap e-books over the past year, but haven't read many of them!  So my e-book TBR is 30ish books.  It's nice to have that many e-books on hand for travelling, but I really need to read some as I buy.  So this year, I'd like to read a third of what I own.

3. Finish 10 series.
Last year, I picked out five old series and five newer series.  I did okay with that list, but part of the struggle was that most of my books were packed for the entirety of the year.  This year, I'm determined to make a dent in that series TBR, especially since I've decided to separate my read and unread books on my shelves -- it's the only way to reunite them!

4. Blog whenever hubby plays video games.
When we packed up the majority of our possessions in February, the video games were put away.  I used to get lots of blogging done while hubby gamed, since I find it hard to read with the flickering glow of the TV beside me.  We just unpacked his video games, and he's excited about getting into another game.  I want to make good use of this time to work on my blog, visit/comment on others' blogs and just be more present online.

5. Participate in three online events.
Last year, I participated in more than three, so this should be an easy resolution.  I thought of five, but I don't know how busy life will be in 2017, and thought I'd be better to aim for three events where I can give it my all, rather than scrambling to complete five.  I'm thinking, at the very least, the Broke & Bookish Secret Santa, a readathon and one other event.

How about you?  Did you have reading resolutions and, if so, did you complete them?  Let me know in the comments below, and Happy New Year!

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