2018 End of Year Book Survey

This year kind of fell apart for me in terms of getting my reading challenges done. It is the first year where I really feel like I have to scramble to get things done on time! I first came across this post last year on PerpetualPageTurner and thought it was the perfect way to summarize an entire year’s worth of reading. All credit goes to her for the questions and any of the graphics. I haven’t yet been able to find a version that has a title graphic updated for 2018 yet, but I will edit to add that in if possible. Overall, despite the scramble to finish everything on time, I’ve had a great reading year and I’ve read many amazing new books! I’m really looking forward to getting started on next year’s challenges!

Reading Stats

Number Of Books You Read:  176
Number of Re-Reads: 4
Genre You Read The Most From: Probably YA Fantasy since I had several series to finish off, but also quite a few YA Contemporary

best-YA-books-2014

1. Best Book You Read In 2017?

Like last year, it’s really hard to pick just one so I’ll have to settle for one per genre, excluding re-reads:

Best YA Contemporary – Tie between Starfish and Autoboyography
Best YA Fantasy – Very difficult choice! I’ll have to go with A Court of Mist and Fury
Best Graphic Novel – Wires and Nerve (both volumes)
Best Fiction – The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Best Horror or Thriller – I Let You Go
Best Adult Contemporary – Still Me

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

There were quite a few books that I expected to be easy 5-star reads, but many of them ended up being a bit underwhelming. I think the most disappointing overall was Immaculate, which had such a cool concept but I really didn’t like the way it was executed. It ended up being a 3-star read.

In terms of my 4-star reads, I think the one I was most disappointed by was The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty. Big Little Lies is one of my favourite books and I’ve enjoyed all the books that I’ve read by this author, but I found The Last Anniversary slow, a bit confusing, and hard to get through.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo! I only read this one at all because of the hype surrounding it, so I was surprised when it became an instant favourite.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

I haven’t really pushed anyone to read anything, but I’ve been highly recommending Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson and Bang by Barry Lyga.

 5. Best series you started in 2018? Best Sequel of 2018? Best Series Ender of 2018?

Best series started – Vicious (with Six of Crows in a close second)
Best sequel – A Court of Mist and Fury
Best series ender – A Court of Wings and Ruin

 5. Favourite new author you discovered in 2018

I was surprised to realize that many of the books I read this year were by authors that I’d already read. Some of my new favourites would have to be: Taylor Jenkins Reid, Leigh Bardugo, Christina Lauren, Clare Mackintosh, and Akemi Dawn Bowman.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Beartown. I never read books that have a heavy focus on sports, but this one was definitely worth all the hype.

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

Both Monday’s Not Coming and The Takedown were very hard for me to put down!

 9. Book You Read In 2018 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I’m not planning on re-reading any of this year’s books next year, but if I had to pick one, it would probably be Vicious.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?

New to me character: Victor Vale from Vicious and Evelyn Hugo from The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Character from a series I continued: Rhysand from the ACOTAR series, and Gansey from The Raven Cycle

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2018?

I have to stick with the same series that I chose last year, and go for Laini Taylor’s Days of Blood and Starlight and Dreams of Gods and Monsters.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2018?

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. It was very different from what I expected, but it was definitely thought-provoking.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2018 to finally read? 

Crosstalk! I really wanted to read this one last year also but had a hard time getting a copy of it, so I was glad to find an inexpensive copy online this year!

Also, this year I finally finished the Chronicles of Narnia series, and the With the Light manga series, both of which I’d been meaning to read for years.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2017?

Like last year, this is a hard question because I don’t really keep track of quotes very well. I looked back at some of the quotes that I had saved on Goodreads, but I don’t save quotes from every book.

“It wasn’t that Henry was less of himself in English. He was less of himself out loud. His native language was thought.” — Maggie Stiefvater, The Raven King

“Plenty of humans were monstrous, and plenty of monsters knew how to play at being human” — Victoria Schwab, Vicious

“What we think to be our greatest weakness can sometimes be our biggest strength”  — Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Wings and Ruin

“People are messy, and love can be ugly. I’m inclined to always err on the side of compassion” — Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

“And when enough people are quiet for long enough, a handful of voices can give the impression that everyone is screaming” — Fredrik Backman, Beartown

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2017?

Shortest – Pygmalion (82 pages)
Longest – A Court of Wings and Ruin (699 pages)

17. Book That Shocked You The Most

Beside Myself by Ann Morgan. I expected a straightforward thriller, and it ended up being a lot more literary and had a lot more depth than I expected.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Both main relationships from The Raven Cycle.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Blue’s relationships with the other Raven Boys, and the 4 boys dynamics with each other.

Also, I have to give special mention to Isaac Grant from The Illuminae Files series, for becoming essentially the father figure to the entire group, and especially his bond with Ella.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2018 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Excluding books from series, since it would be hard to limit myself to just one, I’d have to go with Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia. I liked Made You Up last year, but I loved this one a lot more.

21. Best Book You Read In 2018 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2018?

I don’t know if I’d call him a fictional crush, and I’ve only read the first book in the series so far, so I don’t know if I’ll still like him by the end, but I really liked Chaol from Throne of Glass.

23. Best 2018 debut you read?

Well, I was going to pick either Starfish or The Takedown, but apparently both of those debuted in 2017.

Turns out that while I read several books that were published in 2018, very few of them were debuts. The four 2018 debuts I read were 4-star reads, whereas the two listed above were immediate 5-stars. If I had to pick one favourite of the 4 I read, it would probably be Let’s Talk About Love, although I’d much rather pick the two books I listed above.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The courts of the ACOTAR series stand out, as does the world Laini Taylor developed through both Days of Blood and Starlight and Dreams of Gods and Monsters.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Fowl Language: Welcome to Parenting was a lot of fun!

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2018?

Bang by Barry Lyga, especially one chapter toward the end.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Heartless by Marissa Meyer. I’d heard very mixed reviews for this one so I wasn’t sure how much I would enjoy it, but I ended up loving it! I also have to mention Monday’s Not Coming, Meddling Kids, and I Was Anastasia.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

I’m still not entirely sure what this means, but I assume it has to do with a book that had a strong impact or that was most upsetting. I think I’d have to go with Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2018?

I think I have to give this one to Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too, which was quite weird but very interesting.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline made me mad because it had a very unsatisfying and disappointing ending!

book-blogging

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2018?

I haven’t been very good at keeping up with the blogs I already follow, many of which have now gone on hiatus for a bit anyway. I can’t think of any new blogs that I discovered this year.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2018?

I only wrote two reviews this year, for Season 2 of A Series of Unfortunate Events, and for Season 2 of Thirteen Reasons Why.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

I really liked the post I made about “The Challenge Police” or people who put way too much time and effort trying to control how other people manage their own reading challenges.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

None. I don’t go to these kinds of events.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2018?

Accomplishing my goal of finishing off all 12 of the series I had identified as high priority for this year, which included some huge books! I read close to 20 books this year that were 500 pages or more, including 6 that were 600 pages or more.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

I completely failed to properly prioritize my reading challenges this year! I ended up with 11(!!!) books remaining in my highest priority challenge by the start of December, which was literally 1/5 of the total number of books needed for that challenge. In general, I did a very poor job of balancing out my reading this year since I often ended up with too many long books in a row, or too many similar books in a row. Trying to balance things out better has become a top goal for 2019.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

As far as I can tell, the post that got the most views was my Top 10 Tuesday post: Books that Awaken the Travel Bug in me. I’m having a lot of trouble figuring out how to find my stats. If this really is the post that got the most views, it’s ironic since I didn’t really like it. It was a difficult topic for me to find books that fit, and my choices felt kind of random to me.

The Best Books I’ve Read this Year So Far from Early July was in a very close second, which was a post I was much happier with.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Many of them, honestly. Last year I had a post that somehow reached over 100 views, and this year I was nowhere near that total on any of my posts. I know that I tend to write much longer posts that most bloggers and I’m sure that puts people off, but I’d love to get a bit more views for the amount of time I put in!

If I had to pick just one post that I wish would get a bit more attention, it was my discussion post “Sequels, Prequels and Everything In Between” which is about the trend to add more books to a series, even when it’s not always necessary.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

I want to say BookOutlet, but I technically discovered that late last year and it was my choice for 2017’s best discovery. Instead, I think I’ll go for BookBub, which I discovered just last week. More specifically, I discovered their blog which has so many posts with recommendations for a huge variety of themes!

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I actually accomplished many more of my goals than I originally expected, and even managed to complete my two highest priority challenges in time. I did not finish all of the challenges that I picked, but to be fair, I set the deadline for some of those as March 31, 2019 so I’m still technically on track if I choose to continue them.

looking-ahead-books-2015

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2018 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2019?

City of Bones. I was on the fence about whether I wanted to read this one at all because the entire series seems a bit overwhelming, but I’ve really enjoyed all the other fantasy series that I tried based on the hype, so I’m hoping this one will be just as good.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2019 (non-debut)?

Technically, I want to say The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern but I highly doubt I will end up reading it within the year, since it won’t be out until November.

If I had to pick a book I knew for sure I was going to read, it would be Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson. I’ve really enjoyed both other books I’ve read by this author, so I’m looking forward to trying the next one.

3. 2019 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Quarantine: A Love Story. That title caught my attention immediately, and just seemed so different.

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2019?

I’m not 100% sure if I will be able to fit this one in next year, but I’m looking forward to King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2018?

To read as much as I can, and do a much better job of balancing out my reading this year so I don’t run into the same problems this year with having too many similar books too close together.

6. A 2018 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable):

I haven’t read any yet!

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Top 5 Wednesday: Books You Didn’t Get to In 2018

I’m very slowly coming to terms with the idea that I will not be able to finish my reading challenges within the year like I had planned. I originally knew that I’d bitten off more than I could chew and set the deadline for myself to the end of March for some of my challenges, but I’m not even sure that will happen. There is one challenge specifically (Book Riot) where I definitely can’t finish the books by the end of this year, and I’ve mostly lost interest in the books I picked so I’m not even sure I will finish by March. I technically could finish it by the deadline I set, but I’m much more excited about the books I have in mind for 2019 that I’m not sure I really want to carry any remaining books over. I’ll see how I feel by the start of January, but right now I’m thinking I’m probably just going to leave those books and move on. There are several books I had down as options for this year that I ultimately decided against, and a few others that I switched out in favour or something that interested me more (or that was a little quicker to read, sometimes), and I’m also getting used to the idea that it is not “cheating” to switch books.

Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.

1) Gretel and the Dark by Eliza Granville

18242996This is the one book that I’m most upset about not finishing this year. I originally added it to my list for a prompt requiring a gothic novel for the Goodreads Around the Year challenge, and also because it had been on my TBR since 2015. I even asked the library to purchase a copy for me, before ultimately finding a copy (albeit with a much uglier cover) on Book Outlet. As I think I’ve mentioned in another post recently, I did a pretty poor job of balancing out my reading this year and I think that’s reflected most in how I have so many books left for my highest priority challenges by this last week of 2018. This was a book that I kept putting off because I owned a copy and I originally prioritized my books from the library, to the point where I now don’t have enough time to finish it. The book is about a psychoanalyst in 1899 who has encountered a strange case of a woman who claims to have no name and to not even be human. It also focuses on Kyrsta, a girl whose father is working with the “animal people” in the infirmary and entertains herself with fairytales. I still really want to read this book and I’m upset that I didn’t prioritize it more during the year. I’m definitely going to look for a place to add it into my plans for 2019, and make sure I get to it early on.

2) The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

29283884I’m not a huge fan of books that take place on a boat in general, but this one caught my attention because I saw so much hype around the characters. I tentatively chose this book for a challenge prompt that asked for a book that related to one of the seven deadly sins, although I was never sure exactly how well this book fit. I think I just took it as a good fit because of the word “vice” in the title. I ended up passing on this book because I just didn’t have enough time to read a book of this size before the end of the year, and I’m considering adding it into my plans for next year instead. I also read another book by Mackenzi Lee earlier this year, and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t really love it either. I think that also put me off a tiny bit because I’d been expecting to love both of her books. I think I assumed that because I didn’t really love Mackenzi Lee’s writing style in This Monstrous Thing that I wouldn’t love this one either, but I’m still interested in eventually giving this one a chance.

3) More Than This by Patrick Ness

21969786To be fair, I was on the fence about this book from the time I put it into my challenge plan to begin with. I absolutely adored A Monster Calls and I also really enjoyed The Rest of Us Just Live Here, so I was looking forward to trying another Patrick Ness book. Unfortunately, I found myself continuously putting this one off every single time I released holds from the library, until I ultimately decided that I just wasn’t interested enough to read it right now. I’ve seen some amazing reviews for this one and I’m definitely open to trying it at some point, but I got put off a bit because it seemed very confusing. The book is about a boy who dies and then wakes up in his childhood home, thinking that he is now in hell, at least from what I can gather from the reviews. The synopsis is extremely vague, which is part of why I kept putting it off. I was never sure what it was about, so I never really felt like I was in the mood for it. I’m not sure if I’ll read it in 2019 either, but I would like to read it at some point.

4) The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

25489134I only had a mild interest in reading this one this year to begin with, so I’m not very surprised that I ended up putting it off. I chose it for a prompt that asked for a book relating to my ancestors. I really struggled to find something suitable for this one. My grandparents are all from various parts of Eastern Europe, but left there well before WWII. Most of the books I found about these countries were set during the Holocaust, which didn’t quite seem right since my ancestors had already left by then, so it was hard to find anything that fit better. I ultimately ended up considering this book, which is set in Russia and focuses on a girl named Vasilisa whose new stepmother forbids the family from honouring their household’s spirits, which Vasilisa believe protect her home from evil. The family gives in to the stepmother’s wishes, but as things start to go wrong, Vasilisa must decide whether she will defy her family in order to protect them from a threat that seems to come straight out of the fairytales she used to love. Looking at the synopsis now, I’m not really sure why I lost interest in this one because it sounds amazing. I think it was just the fact that I wasn’t particularly invested in it when I added it to my plan in the first place that kept putting me off. I currently have no plans to read it in 2019, but I may see if I can fit it in somewhere.

5) The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

24388326I feel like this book makes my “almost read but didn’t” list ever year! At the very least, I strongly consider reading it each year but end up deciding against it even though I think the concept is very interesting. I had this book in mind for a prompt involving a local author, since there are very few Canadian authors that actually interest me. I was completely put off reading anything by Margaret Atwood for years because I had a very strict high school English teacher who was absolutely obsessed with her, and the idea of even reading one of her books intimidated me. I eventually read and really loved The Handmaid’s Tale (ironically, not in that teacher’s class nor even for school at all), so I’ve become a little more open to trying more of Margaret Atwood’s books. This book is about a married couple, Stan and Charmaine, who decide to take part in The Positron Project which provides them with homes and jobs for six months out of the year, on the condition that they live as inmates in the prison system for the other half, on alternating months. At first, the arrangement seems to solve all of their problems and does not seem like much of a sacrifice, but things start to unravel the longer they are part of this system. I’ve actually seen very mixed reviews for this book, which is probably part of why I keep delaying picking it up, and I’m still on the fence about whether to even attempt to include it in my plans for next year.

 

Top 10 Tuesdays: Ten Books I Hope to Receive as a Gift

This is always a tricky topic for me, since I don’t really celebrate too many gift-giving holidays. This year, I received quite a few books already for my birthday, and bought many of the others that I wanted for myself already. Looking back at my list for the same prompt last year, I realized that many of the same books are still on my wishlist! I only have copies of 4 out of the 10 books or series that I’d listed, but I didn’t want to end up with another list of the same books again even though I still really want them! I’ve also had people tell me before that even though they know I love to read, they’d have no idea where to start if it came to choosing a book for me. I’m always happy to get gift cards to Indigo or Amazon so I can choose for myself! Because I’ve bought so many books in the past year, it’s actually hard to imagine getting any more at this point because I literally don’t know where I would even put them. If I had to choose though, aside from the remaining books on last year’s list, these are the books I’d want most.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

1) Vicious and Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

Vicious (Villains, #1)26856502This is probably not much of a surprise given how much I’ve mentioned these books recently. Vicious is definitely one of my favourites of the year, and I’m really looking forward to finding out what happens next. I’ve only read three books in total by Victoria Schwab so far, but I’ve loved every single one of them and she is now one of my favourite authors.  I’d also be very happy to get her Shades of Magic trilogy, which I considered prioritizing for my reading challenges next year but ultimately decided against it because I have so many series in progress already.

2) Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)22299763To be honest, I went into Six of Crows not really expecting too much since I’m not usually a big fan of heist stories, but the characters immediately won me over. I liked the Grisha trilogy when I read it this year but wasn’t completely blown away by it, but I really loved Six of Crows! I definitely think it helped me to read the trilogy first so I had a better understanding of the world-building in general, and I’d also love to have a copy of that series too. I’m really looking forward to reading Crooked Kingdom early on in 2019! I also very recently heard that Leigh Bardugo is eventually planning to put out a third book in this series, but I have no idea when that will be happening.

3) All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater

30025336I actually had this book on my wishlist for my birthday this year, but it was not one of the books that I received. I fell in love with Maggie Stiefvater’s writing in the Raven Cycle series, and I’d love to try something else that she’s written. I’m mildly interested in trying the Wolves of Mercy Falls series, since I think if anyone can get me to enjoy a werewolf story, it would be Maggie Stiefvater, but this is the book that I’m much more interested in. It’s a magical realism book, which is a genre I theoretically enjoy but often end up struggling with when I actually read them, but I’ve heard such great things about this one that I’d really like to give it a try. If I’m honest, I don’t really understand what this book is actually about but I felt the same way going into the Raven Cycle and ended up loving it, so I’m not too worried.

4) Renegades and Archenemies by Marissa Meyer

2842116835425827Technically, I’m still missing a few books from my Lunar Chronicles too. I got the first three books for free from library donations, but I don’t have my own copy of Winter. I also haven’t read Fairest or Stars Above, and although I’m not usually interested in short stories or “between the numbers” books, those two really do interest me. I’d also love to have my own copies of the Wires and Nerve graphic novels. So basically, anything and everything by Marissa Meyer. I decided to focus here on her newest series because of how much I adored the Lunar Chronicles, even though I was really apprehensive about it at first. The Renegades series is probably not something I would have been interested in if I didn’t already know that I loved Marissa Meyer’s writing, and I’m now very excited for it!

5) The Illuminae Files by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

23395680This is a series that I actually have read and completed, and I really enjoyed it! I loved the unique style of telling the story through a dossier of various different documents. It was another series that was a bit outside my comfort zone since I’m not very interested in sci-fi or space books, but this series captured my attention from the start because of the amazing cast of characters (including AIDAN). I would love to have my own copies of the entire trilogy so I can read through it all again. There is a lot of information packed into it, and I feel like it’s the kind of series that I’d get something new from each time I read it. I’ve often considered buying copies of these books for myself, but always end up putting them back because they seem so expensive, especially because I specifically want the hardcover versions of them. I’m hoping they will eventually come down in price so I can get them.

6) The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

25883848I never would have imagined that this would be the kind of book I’d enjoy enough to want my own copy of, but even a year after reading it, it is still one of my favourites. This book was so much fun to read! I picked it up last year really not expecting to like it very much, so I was surprised when it ended up being one of the best books of the year for me. The banter between the two characters was so well-done, and both Lucy and Josh seemed very realistic. It’s very rare for me to read a book that’s entirely romance like this, but it convinced me to give the genre more of a chance. I think it says a lot that so many reviewers who say they rarely read this kind of book end up absolutely loving it. I’d love to have my own copy of this book because I think it would be a fun one to re-read sometimes, and I can’t wait to see what the author comes out with next.

7) The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

32620332I think this book will end up making a lot of people’s end-of-year lists in a variety of ways, but it is worth it. It’s another book that I went into really not expecting much since I have so little interest in celebrities or Hollywood, and it completely blew me away. I can’t emphasize enough how strong the writing and the characters were in this one, and it drew me in from the very first pages. This is one of a few books that really convinced me that I need to start listening to the hype around books a little more often sometimes, because it may genuinely pay off. This book reminds me quite a bit of The Thirteenth Tale (another favourite that I have yet to get my own copy of) because of the whole element of a younger woman helping an older woman share her story. I am so glad I decided to give this book a chance.

8) Night of Cake and Puppets by Laini Taylor

34733250Again, this one goes against my usual dislike for short stories and novellas in series, but I really think this one will be worth it. This book is a companion to the Daughter of Smoke & Bones series, which I loved, following the beginning of the relationship between Karou’s friends Zuzana and Mik. I thought these two characters brought so much life and personality to the series, and their relationship was just adorable. There were a couple of hints throughout the other books about how they first got together, enough to keep me interested in reading the full story. It’s not too often that I find a series where even the side characters are memorable, but this was definitely one of them. It’s the kind of book that I think would be perfect for a gift wishlist for me since I may not want to buy a novella for myself, but I’d be very happy to have it.

9) Slayer by Kiersten White

34723130I feel like I’ve talked about this book a lot lately, but it is one that I am very excited for and I really hope it lives up to all the hype. I love anything Buffy-related, and I really hope that this book will do the series justice. When I was younger, I avoided watching Buffy for years when it first came out because I thought it would be too scary, but when I finally started to watch, it became my all-time favourite show. I loved the humour, and I especially loved the complex and compelling characters. I’m obviously not expecting this book to be the same since it is about a completely different cast of characters by a completely different writer, but I’m hoping it at least captures the spirit of the original series. I’m a bit worried that I’m going to miss something because I haven’t read all the graphic novel seasons, so I’m hoping that won’t make too much of a difference for this story. I read all of Season 8 and I liked it, but I also found it really weird. I just haven’t had the time to keep up with the rest of the graphic novels.

10) The Wayward Children series by Seanan McGuire

25526296This is another series that I really want, but I’m not sure I’d necessarily want to buy for myself since they are pretty expensive considering that they are novellas. Hardcover editions (which I’d prefer) are currently between $20 and $25 each, and it’s hard for me to justify spending that much on books that are under 200 pages. I’ve only read Every Heart a Doorway so far, and I absolutely loved it. I think the concept behind this entire series is so intriguing and I’m very interested in seeing how the story develops. I generally find novellas frustrating because I always end up wanting more than the limited story allows, so I’m interested in seeing how that will play out as a series. The first book already had some very interesting characters that I want to know more about.

 

 

 

Reading & Reading Challenge Goals for 2019!

I’m still feeling quite behind on where I would normally be at this point of the year when it comes to planning for next year’s reading challenges. At the back of my mind, I was holding out a bit to see the 2019 Book Riot list and Bookish’s 2019 challenge, both of which came out in the past couple of weeks. Even though the challenges I had in mind are already calling for a total of well over 200 books, I was curious to see these ones and see if I could shuffle things around a bit and condense some of my challenges down. Unfortunately for me, neither of these challenges really caught my attention this year and I ultimately decided against both of them. I found Bookish’s challenge a bit too repetitive with what I’ve already done this year and what I already had planned for next year, and Book Riot was just too far off from what I’m currently interested in reading. It’s a bit weird for me that 2019 will be the first year in a long time that I haven’t taken on Book Riot, but I’d rather focus on the challenges I’m more excited for.

When I recently did a wrap-up on my goals for this year, I was surprised to find that I had actually accomplished more of them than I thought. I’m still not finished with any of the reading challenges that I’ve taken on this year, but I’m hoping to finish off at least the Goodreads Around the Year challenge and PopSugar challenge before December 31. I think the fact that I felt so behind on these gave me the overall impression that I hadn’t done very well on my goals in general, so it was nice to see that I’ve actually accomplished the majority. Looking ahead to next year, I think many of my goals are actually going to be fairly similar to this year’s, but I’m fully okay with that since many of those are goals that are ongoing anyway. Here are my goals for 2019:

1) Finish all of my challenges by the deadlines I set

I’m a little hesitant to set myself deadlines at all because it creates a logistical nightmare for me to try and track my reading on Goodreads when the goals extend past a year. I really wish the site would give us an option to set our own timeline on our reading challenges, although I can understand why they want to keep it to a year at a time. For 2019, I will be taking on a total of 5 challenges:

  • Goodreads Around the Year (52 books plus 1 extra wild card) – by December 31
  • PopSugar (50 books) – by December 31
  • Bookish’s 2018 #KillYourTBR challenge (52 books) – by March 31, 2020
  • (Modified) Mommy Mannegren Challenge (currently set at 58 books, but may change before the start of January) – by March 31, 2020. This was a challenge that I randomly found midway through 2018, which is from a parenting blog. I liked many of the prompts from her 2018 and 2019 lists, so I decided to combine my favourites to make my own list, hence the “modified” title
  • ATY Top Picks (36 books) – by March 31, 2010. Consists of the prompts that I voted for that didn’t make the list, eliminating any that were repetitive.

As it stands right now, that would bring me to a total of 249 books, which is overwhelming. To finish all of that in one year, I would need to read a total of just over 20 items per month. If I spread it over 15 months instead, it comes down to a somewhat more realistic 16 per month. I’ve decided to really prioritize the Goodreads Around the Year and PopSugar challenges, so those are the only two that I expect to fully finish by the end of the year. In the next week or so, I’m going to look through my final lists again and see if there is anywhere to cut back, but somehow I doubt it since there are so many books that I’m really excited for!

2) Read some series!

I unofficially dubbed 2018 my “year of series” because I came into it with a list of 12 series that I wanted to prioritize since I had so many in progress. This is the one goal that I am most proud of completing, and it led me to some of my favourite books of the year! For 2019, I thought I’d have fewer series to prioritize, but I ended up somehow with just as many. On the one hand, these series might be easier to finish since two of them are entirely graphic novels, and many are duologies, but on the other hand, many of the other books are quite long!

  • Re-read the entire Harry Potter series, including Cursed Child (8 books)
  • Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas (7 books remaining)
  • The Mortal Instruments (5 books remaining, possibly 6 if I don’t get to City of Bones before the end of this year)
  • The Infernal Devices series (3 books)
  • Vengeful by V.E. Schwab
  • Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
  • The Conqueror’s Saga by Kiersten White (2 books remaining)
  • Three Dark Crowns series (3 books)
  • Giant Days (10 books, but all are graphic novels)
  • Lumberjanes (8 – 10 books, depending on availability from library, but all are graphic novels)
  • Wildcard by Marie Lu
  • Strange the Dreamer & Muse of Nightmares
  • Renegades and Archenemies by Marissa Meyer
  • The Wayward Children series by Seanan Maguire (3 books)

This gives me a total of 59 books coming from series, assuming the maximum number of books for each series, with about a third of those being graphic novels. I still have other series in progress that I’ve now been putting off for years, but they’ve fallen pretty low on my priority list by now.

3) Balance my reading better

This was one of the few goals that I did not think I did particularly well on this year, and I would love to continue to improve upon it. As I mentioned in my goal wrap-up for this year, there were several times this year that I really felt like I didn’t balance things out properly. Even looking back at my original posts about my goals early on in 2018, as of the second week of January I’d commented that I made the mistake of reading 4 long books back-to-back. I find the quickest way to burn myself out is to read too many similar books in a row or too many very long books in a row. Considering the fact that I have three very lengthy series in mind for 2019, balancing out my reading is even more important. I also had a month late this year where I somehow left myself all YA fantasy books, and I very quickly got bored of them even though they were books that I otherwise might have enjoyed. I’m not entirely sure how I plan to tackle this goal, since I’ve found that monthly TBRs don’t really work for me, but I’m hoping to find a system to keep everything balanced so I don’t start to feel like reading is a chore.

4) Read more graphic novels

This was also a goal for 2018, although I’d left is as an incredibly vague “read some graphic novels.” As of my goal wrap-up, I’d read 19 graphic novels and I still have a couple more lined up to read by the end of the year. The two graphic novel series alone that are on my priority list will bring me to about the same total, but I’ve also made a conscious effort to weave more graphic novels into my plan in general. Part of that is for the sake of balancing out many of the longer books, and part is because it is a kind of book that I’ve really started to get into in the past couple of years. I have many graphic novels on my TBR list that I’ve been meaning to get to, so I want to make an effort to do that. Plus I tend to read graphic novels very quickly, so it will definitely help bring me closer to my massive overall total!

5) Read more thrillers

This is another repeated goal from 2018, but it was one that I didn’t feel that I had fully accomplished. Since I’d again left it as a vague “read more” goal, it’s hard to say whether I actually have. Out of my 182 books total planned for this year, only about 10 or so of them were thrillers, despite it being one of my favourite genres. That is a very low overall percentage, especially considering how many thrillers I have on my TBR. I think one of the reasons that I end up not reading too many is because after too many in a row, they all start to feel very similar, but I definitely want to add some more in this year. There are several very popular thrillers that I have not read yet that I really want to get to.

6) Read more of the books that I own

This is kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy of a goal. In 2018, my goal was to buy more books because I really hadn’t bought very many in years. I’ve now bought a ton of books from Book Outlet, bought some of the series I was most interested in, and received some of books as gifts. As much as I love relying on the library for most of my books, I definitely feel like I need to prioritize reading many of the books that I spent my own money on first. This should be an easy goal to accomplish because many of the books that I’ve chosen for various challenge prompts came from my Book Outlet orders anyway.

7) Read some books that have been on my TBR for since 2016 or earlier

This is another repeated goal, but it is one that I would still really like to continue working on. I started my Goodreads account in 2015, and I’ve had several books that haven’t left my TBR since then. To be fair, many of the books from 2015 are long-term goals (ie. classics, many of which are low-priority) or very difficult to get copies of, but the many books I added in 2016 are also starting to feel like they’ve been there quite a while. I’m obviously not expecting to read every book that I added in those two years, but I would like to make a conscious effort to read at least some books that have been on my TBR since 2016 or earlier, and try to slowly work my way through some of those books that I’ve been wanting to try for a long time. I’m intentionally leaving this one as a vague “read some” again because I don’t have a set number in mind, nor do I know how many of the books will be easily accessible.

8) Read more recent releases

I think I said the same thing last year, but this seems like an almost contradictory goal to reading books that have been on my TBR for a long time. It feels a bit weird to try and prioritize new books at the same time as I’m prioritizing books that I’ve been waiting to read for a while, but I think this all ties into the overall goal of balancing things out. I don’t want to start exclusively from the back of my TBR list and miss out on all the new releases that I’m excited for, and I also don’t want to focus only on new books and leave the rest sitting on my TBR list indefinitely. By “recent” releases, I mean anything that was published in 2018 or 2019, and I think my current plans have a good number of those already incorporated.

 9) Read the 10 stand-alone books that are highest on my priority list

In a way this is probably a silly goal to set because if these books are highest on my priority list, I’m sure that I will get to them pretty early on in the year and I definitely already have them in my plans. The only reason I’m a bit hesitant about that is because in the interest of balancing things out, I tend to put off some of my highest priority books to make sure I have something I really want to read later on in the year. I want to make sure to prioritize some of the standalones that I’m most excited for so they don’t get lost in the shuffle of all the series that I’m planning on reading. I actually had a list of books to prioritize in mind as of mid-July this year, so I definitely want to get to these. Just for the fun of it, I will list the top 19 books I want to read in 2019:

  • The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
  • The Perfect Mother by Aimee Malloy
  • Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
  • A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult
  • The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
  • Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey
  • Our House by Louise Candlish
  • The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
  • Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman
  • Ghosted by Rosie Walsh
  • Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
  • The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani
  • Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman
  • 500 Words or Less by Juleah del Rosario
  • Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin
  • Anger is a Gift by Mark Oshiro
  • The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine
  • The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
  • All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin

10) Enjoy what I’m reading!

It’s another goal that is a repeat from previous years, but I think it is ultimately the most important one. I never want to feel like reading is a chore or a homework assignment for me. I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself to finish off my challenges “on time” but I don’t want to have so much pressure that I feel like all the fun is taken out of it. Part of the reasons I do challenges in general is because I love to read and I found they gave me the push I needed to make reading a consistent part of my life again. I’ve become pretty good at picking books that I’ll be interested in, with the majority each year being in the 4 or 5 star range. It’s safe to say that I generally enjoy the books that I’m choosing, and I definitely want to keep that streak going in 2019 too.

Top 5 Wednesdays: Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2019

There are so many new books coming out next year that I’m really looking forward to reading, and it’s hard to narrow it down to just 5! I spent way too long this year browsing through lists of upcoming releases for 2019 (and even 2020!) and adding new books to my TBR list. The one downside of doing that is it makes it hard sometimes to remember when books are actually coming out, so I end up thinking that a book has already been released when it hasn’t. It doesn’t help that so many of the channels I watch and reviewers I follow talk a lot about ARCs, so they are reading books long before I even think about picking them up. It’s been a while since I’ve really wanted to include a lot more than 5 books on a Top 5 Wednesday, but it was really hard to limit myself this time! In a way, there are so many books that I would like to read that I’m not sure how many of them I am especially excited about more than others, if that makes sense.

As a side note, I would also like to mention that I will not be doing my usual Monthly Recommendations post this month. This month’s topic is a mash-up of the previous months’ prompts for the year, and since I’ve kept up-to-date with them, it seems a bit redundant to do them again, especially when there will likely be plenty of recommendations/best books of the year posts coming up.

Top 5 Wednesday is a meme created by Gingerreadslainey on Youtube, and is now hosted by Sam at ThoughtsOnTomes. The official GoodReads group with the weekly topics can be found here.

1) Slayer by Kiersten White

34723130I just finished my first ever Kiersten White book (And I Darken) just last night, and I really enjoyed it. I don’t think I was quite as into her writing style as I expected, but the story was very good and the characters were fascinating. I’m especially excited to try Slayer because it is based on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, one of my all-time favourite TV series. This book is set in the same world as Buffy, focusing on a brand-new character named Nina who has grown up at the Watcher’s Academy despite having little interest in being a Watcher due to the violent lifestyle it entails. When Nina becomes the new Chosen One, she is thrown into a life that she never expected and has to deal with the difficult choices that come with being the Slayer. My one small worry about this book is that I am not up-to-date on the graphic novel series that came after the end of the TV series, and I’ve heard that there are a few references into it. I’m hoping that it doesn’t make anything here too hard to follow. I read the Season 8 graphic novels but don’t remember them well, and never continued the series because I just didn’t have the time. I’m really looking forward to reading this one!

2) King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

36307634I’d heard about this book long before I ever read anything by Leigh Bardugo, so it initially wasn’t something that I was too excited about. I ended up squeezing in the entire Grisha trilogy this year because I decided I wanted to read it before Six of Crows, and I was intrigued by all the online buzz I’d seen about Nikolai specifically. It was definitely justified because he quickly became one of my favourite characters in the entire series, so I’m very interested in seeing a book that follows his story a little more closely. This book is due out in late January, and it is about Nikolai’s struggles as the new king of Ravka, including a fight to overcome the “terrible legacy inside him” (according to the Goodreads synopsis). If I’m being honest, I don’t remember the Grisha trilogy in too much detail at this point. I read all three in a row in July and although I loved them all, it’s a bit hard for me to remember what happened. I’ll definitely need to refresh myself on them before going into this book, but I’m very excited to read more about Nikolai.

3) On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

35068618I’m sure this book will be on many people’s lists today, but I’m very excited to try Angie Thomas’s new book. I avoided The Hate U Give for a while because it seemed way too overhyped, but when I finally decided to give it a chance, I loved it! This book is not something that would usually catch my attention, but I’m interested in it because of how much I loved Angie Thomas’s writing style. This book is about a 16-year-old girl named Bri who wants to become a rapper, especially when her family hits some financial difficulties, making it that much more important for Bri to get her big break. I’m not really a fan of rap in general, nor do I often read books that focus on music because I find it hard to translate music well onto the page where it can’t actually be heard. I think this book has a very interesting angle on the story and I’m definitely interested in it because of the author alone.

4) Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

40554142I mentioned this book very recently in my Stacking the Shelves post at the beginning of December, where I commented that I initially wasn’t sure about it because it seemed like essentially the same story as The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. In the end, this book has moved pretty high up on my priority list simply because of how much I loved Evelyn Hugo. That was also a book that I was very apprehensive about because it was not the kind of thing I’d often read, but it ended up being a favourite of the year. I’m hoping that this one will be along the same lines. I also think this one is interesting because it is told in the format of interviews with the band members. Looking at the early reviews, there is quite the mix of rave 5-star reviews, and people who DNF’d it very early on. I’m hoping that my experience with it is closer to that of the people who really enjoyed it, but I’m a little worried that it can’t possibly live up to Evelyn Hugo.

5) Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson

36285129This book is not due out until the end of May, but it is one of the books that I’m most looking forward to. I read both of Tiffany D. Jackson’s previous books, Allegedly and Monday’s Not Coming, and I really enjoyed them both. I especially liked how she chooses topics and storylines that are a little more unique than the average YA story. This book is about two friends, Quadir and Jarrell, whose best friend Steph has been killed, leaving behind the rap songs that he was working on. With the help of Steph’s younger sister, the boys decide to promote Steph’s music under the name The Architect, and put together mixtapes that soon catch the attention of music producers, forcing the three teens to keep the secret of who is behind the songs and confront the truth about what happened to Steph. Tiffany D. Jackson is quickly becoming one of my favourite YA authors, and this book sounds very interesting. I love how she ties in some kind of mystery/suspense to all of her books so far, and although (as mentioned above) rap is not usually something that interests me, this one sounds so intriguing that I have to give it a try!

 

 

 

Top 10 Tuesdays: Books on my Winter 2018/2019

I’m feeling surprisingly unprepared for this week’s topic! Normally by this time of year, I have a pretty set idea in mind of what books I’m planning on reading for next year’s challenges, and I usually would have ordered many of them from the library. I’m incredibly behind on the process this year though! I was waiting around for a few reading challenge lists to be released before fully committing to which challenges I wanted to do, and it’s left me with way too many books that I want to read! The problem with me “tentatively” filling in lists of prompts is I end up getting so excited about them that I want to do the challenge, whether it’s realistically possible or not. With a few exceptions, I also don’t have a very strong idea of the order in which I’m going to read books next year, so I’m not sure which ones I will read in winter! I usually try to use a few of the Book of the Month picks for my Goodreads groups, but unfortunately, I’ve already read most of those. I decided to focus mostly on the books I have left for the rest of the month, and a few that I’m fairly certain I will get to early next year.

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

1) Friend Request by Laura Marshall

33785151I’m actually really annoyed with myself for putting this book off for so long! I got an ARC copy for free a long time ago and put it aside without giving it much thought, but as soon as I realized what it was about, it moved right up to the top of my list. I kept putting it off this year because I was prioritizing books from the library instead of the books I owned, and now that it’s getting close to the end of the year, I’m regretting not picking it up sooner! Embarrassingly enough, I had this one on my Fall TBR for this year as well, expecting to read it in October along with several other thrillers and Halloween-themed books. It is about a woman named Louise who receives a friend request from someone she used to know in high school — but Louise thought that person had died. The friend request forces her to dig into her past and try to uncover what really happened. I love thrillers and I love books involving social media, so I’m definitely planning on getting to this one in the next week!

2) Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

14866This is another book that was on my Fall TBR, but I don’t feel quite as bad about not getting to this one yet because I have read it once before. I decided to pick this one up again this year because it is one of the few Jodi Picoult books that I’ve read that I have literally no memory of at all. I know for a fact that I’ve read it, but can’t remember a single detail about the characters or the story, aside from the basic premise that it revolves around a school shooting. I chose this book for a challenge prompt this year involving a bestseller from the year that I graduated, and I’ve been really looking forward to trying it again. I also put this one off because I own it and partly because I’ve read it before, but I really want to get to it before the end of the year. I know that I really enjoyed it last time, and Jodi Picoult is my favourite author for good reason, so I’m hoping to like it just as much again.

3) Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline

25773504I chose this book for a prompt requiring a medical or legal thriller, although I’m starting to think it may be a bit of a stretch to consider it a thriller. I’ve decided to stick with it anyway since it is a book I’ve been looking forward to reading. This book is about a couple, Christine and Marcus, who are desperate to have a baby and ultimately decide to use a donor to conceive. After Christine gets pregnant, the couple is shocked to see a man on the evening news who is under arrest for several brutal murders — and who looks a lot like their donor! Looking at it again, I think this one could have some medical/legal thriller elements, and I’m very interested in seeing how the author tackles the topic. I have not read very many books that have to do with babies conceived with the help of a donor, and definitely none that have dealt with a complex issue like this one. I have enjoyed several other Lisa Scottoline books, so I’m hoping to get to this one too before the end of the year.

4) The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert

I chose this book because I thought the title was a lot of fun to say! It is set for a prompt requiring a book with alliteration in the title, and I don’t think you can get much more alliterative than this. It is about a woman named Lou who meets and connects with a food critic named Al, not knowing that this was the man whose review nearly got her restaurant shut down. It sounds like such a fun book to read, especially after I saw it compared to You’ve Got Mail. I wouldn’t say that movie is one of my favourites, but it is fun to watch and an adorable rom-com. I’m hoping for the same kind of feeling from this book, although I’m expecting that it will be pretty predictable. I ended up buying an inexpensive copy of this one from Book Outlet because I was so excited to read it, and kept putting it off ever since. I’m looking forward to finally getting to read it, and hopefully will be able to finish it before the end of this year.

5) Love and Miss Communication by Elyssa Friedland

23131103If it’s embarrassing that I haven’t read two of the books from my Fall TBR, it’s that much worse to realize that I’d put this book on my Summer TBR and then ignored it for almost 6 months! The main reason I put this one off is because it was for one of my lower-priority challenges, so as we get closer to the end of the year, I keep putting this one off in favour of books that count toward my ATY or PopSugar challenges. This book is about a woman named Evie who, after a series of unfortunate events, decides to take a break from social media and soon discovers that she likes being “unplugged.” I think this book is such an interesting idea because of how much we all tend to rely on the Internet and social media. It’s become such an integral part of most of our lives that it is hard to now imagine choosing not to use it. I’m very interested to see how the author handles Evie’s choice and the reactions of the others around her. I’ve seen quite mixed reviews for this one, so I’m a little hesitant to try it, but I’ve been meaning to read it for so long that I’ll have to get to it soon.

6) City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

256683The plan is to read this one before the end of December, but there is a chance it will get pushed back into early next year instead. This is one of those books that I actively avoided for a long time because it seemed to overhyped, and later because the length of the series seemed very overwhelming. I’ve owned a copy of City of Bones and City of Ashes for years without ever picking them up, although I have seen the movie version of City of Bones and I liked it. The longer I put this series off, the less likely I thought I was to try it because there seemed to be so many books to catch up on, but I keep hearing about how good it is. I’ve finally bought into the hype with several other big YA fantasy series and ended up loving those books, so I’m hoping this one will be the same. I think the key deciding factor about whether I’ll read it this year or next year is just how much time I have to read over the next couple of weeks. I want to give this one my full attention so I can judge it fairly, especially after waiting so long.

7) Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

28374007This is another one that is most likely going to be read by the end of this year, but might get pushed into early 2019 instead. It is another series that I’ve heard a lot of hype around in the past couple of years, and I’d love to give it a try. I especially liked that the plot seemed a bit different from the usual YA fantasy story. In this book, there are three sisters who are all equal heirs to the throne of Fennbirn, and who must compete in a game of life or death to find out who will ultimately rule. Each of the sisters has a special ability or talent, including elemental powers, poisons, and the ability to control nature. It sounds like such a great concept, and I like that it does not seem to be heading toward the usual YA romance/love triangle. Although I’ve always been a fan of fantasy as a genre, I feel like it’s something I’ve strayed away from a bit over the years because so many fantasy books were part of longer series, and I didn’t feel like I had the time to devote to series. I’m now trying to catch up on some of the series that I feel like I’ve missed out on, and I’ve heard some really great things about this one.

8) The entire Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

8I think it’s just impossible to go a single week without mentioning Harry Potter in at least one of my posts, but this time it is because I want to re-read the whole series for the first time in about 4 or 5 years. The only Harry Potter book I’ve read recently is Cursed Child, mainly because I was hesitant to include the rest in my reading challenges since I’d read them all repeatedly. I was focused more on using my challenges to read books that I hadn’t read it. As soon as I realized it had been such a long time since my last read-through of the series, I decided that it was about time to pick them all up again! I’m planning on making this series my first reads of the new year as a fun way to “reset” between reading challenges. All of the 8 books in the series fit nicely into my challenge prompts for next year, and to be honest it helped quite a bit to knock out a few prompts that otherwise would not have been so exciting for me. I’m really looking forward to revisiting this since it is my all-time favourite series!

9) Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo and Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

2229976326856502I devoured four of Leigh Bardugo’s books this year, after deciding that I needed to read the Grisha trilogy before Six of Crows, which was the only Leigh Bardugo book I’d originally planned to try. I really liked the Grisha trilogy, but I absolutely adored Six of Crows. It’s not absolutely essential to read the Grisha books first, but I definitely found it helpful. Vicious was one of my most anticipated books for the year and I knew upfront that I would read it and get to the sequel as soon as possible afterwards. I purposely put off both Six of Crows and Vicious until closer to the end of the year with the intent of reading their sequels very early on next year. I don’t want to leave it too long to get to either of these because I enjoyed the first book in the pair so much, and I want to read the next one before I forget too much about the story or the characters. I’m probably not going to read them immediately after Harry Potter so I don’t overwhelm myself with too much fantasy in a row, but I definitely want to get to them in the first couple of months.

10) Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

23308087I’m not 100% sure if I will read this one in the winter, but it is definitely a high priority for next year because I intended to read it in 2018 and ended up putting it off because I just ran out of time. I was first interested in reading this one because I’d heard it compared to Mulan, one of my favourite Disney movies, but I was put off a bit after seeing so many mixed reviews for it. It is about a teenage girl named Mariko who has always been raised to be a wife. While en route to meet the man she will be betrothed to, her convoy is attacked and Mariko is the only survivor, dressing as a peasant boy to infiltrate the attackers and take revenge on them. I have never read anything by Renee Ahdieh although I have so many of her books on my TBR and keep meaning to try them. This book was actually one of my birthday presents in 2017, so it’s also a little embarrassing that I didn’t read it within the year like I planned. It seems like a lot of negative reviews were disappointment over the book not being the Mulan retelling that it was advertised to be, but I’m interested in seeing what it actually is.

 

 

Reading Challenge and Goals (Early) Wrap-Up

I started this year with quite a long list of goals, partly because I had two almost back-to-back blog prompts (here and here) that asked for my goals for the year. There was a Top 5 Wednesday prompt in early January asking for our reading resolutions, and a Top 10 Tuesday prompt a couple of weeks later asking for the same thing. When I remembered that I had set myself a total of 15 goals for the year, many of which I didn’t remember off the top of my head, I was worried that I wouldn’t have done to well. I was pleasantly surprised to realize that I actually had accomplished many of my goals! To be fair, several of the goals were quite vague so it’s completely up to my discretion whether I felt it had been accomplished or not, especially when the goal was to read “more” of a certain kind of book, without specifying how many exactly would be “more.” I was originally planning on doing a wrap-up a little closer to the end of the month because I’m still working toward my reading challenges, but I think I’m at a good enough point now to have an idea of where they stand.

The Top 5 Wednesday Goals:

I’m starting with the 5 goals I set within the first week of January since these are the ones that were a little more specific, and they were my five highest priority goals for the year.

1) Finish all of my reading challenges by the deadlines I set — (Almost) Done!

This year, I took on a total of 5 challenges, with a total of 182 books needed. At the time, I calculated out that in order to finish everything by December 31, I would need to read 15 books per month which seemed a bit too high. I decided to take some of the pressure off by splitting the challenges. I wanted to finish the Goodreads Around the Year challenge (55 books total, including a wild card and 2 extra books I added by splitting a prompt into 3) and PopSugar challenge (52 books total) for sure by December 31. I was hoping to finish Book Riot (24 books) by December 31 as well, but left the deadline for that one flexible. The Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 challenge (24 books) and ATY Top Picks challenge (25 books, consisting of the prompts I’d voted for in the ATY challenge that didn’t make the final list) were set for the end of March 2019.

As of right now, I think I am on track to finish both ATY and PopSugar by the end of this month. I have 6 books remaining for ATY, and 5 for PopSugar. Those two challenges have become my top priority, to the point of excluding the others for now. Technically, I don’t know yet whether I have finished those two challenges by the deadline, but I think I will. I have 4 books remaining for BookRiot, just one for Modern Mrs. Darcy, and 2 for ATY Top Picks. What I’m not sure about is whether I’m going to follow through with finishing these books by March, since I have so many books already planned for challenges next year. I’m counting this goal as accomplished since I *would* be able to finish all those books easily by the end of March.

2) Balance my reading better — Half-Accomplished

I would say over the course of the whole year, I balanced out my reading fairly well. I knew I had some very long books in mind, so I tried to balance them out with some shorter books for other prompts. Looking at my list as a whole, I had quite a variety of books. Toward the first half of the year, I think I did a pretty good job of balancing things out so I was reading enough variety of genres and formats, but I think this is a goal that I still need to work on. Toward the end of the year, I found myself with a month where almost all I had lined up was YA fantasy books, and another span of several weeks where I read too many lengthy series in a row. These are two things that I find cause myself a lot of burnout — too much similarity in storylines, and too many long books in a row. Part of this is because my local library closed for several months, so that completely threw off my plans for which books I was going to read at certain points. I thought I’d have a span of weeks over the summer where I wouldn’t be able to get any books from the library, but it turned out that I could. Part of the reason I have so many books remaining for ATY and PopSugar in general is because I ended up putting off the books I owned in favour of library books, and many of those books I owned were for these two challenges. This is a goal I definitely want to continue next year, so I can balance things out a bit more smoothly!

3) Learn to use Instagram to document my reading — Done!

Up until this year, I would post my books only on Facebook and Goodreads, and I was finding that Facebook was becoming impossible since it didn’t recognize many of the books I picked. I’ve definitely been more consistent about keeping my Goodreads page up-to-date and remembering to post each book either as I start or as I finish. I started using Instagram to take a picture of each book and caption it, with that post linked to my Facebook page, instead of trying to work exclusively through Facebook, and I find this system so much easier to manage!

4) Find a better system for tracking my thoughts about each book — Done!

Even though I don’t really write reviews, I like to keep track of my thoughts about each book because I find it helps to write blog posts and participate in discussions on Goodreads. Up until this year, I would keep a list of all the books I read and which prompts they were for, with a short paragraph about why I chose it, a basic plot outline, and my opinions. This is a document that is really just for me because it becomes way too long for anyone else to be interested in reading. This year, I tried to simplify the process a bit by writing point-form notes for each book instead of proper paragraphs, and I found that worked much better. I’m actually probably writing the exact same amount, but it feels much faster and easier.

5) Finish the series I have in progress — Done!

I think of all the goals I’ve accomplished this year, this is the one I’m most proud of. I had a list of 12 series that I was hoping to finish by the end of this year, and I managed to complete them all! The only slight exception is that I think I had included Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi in my original plan, and I only finished the original Shatter Me trilogy. I’m especially proud of accomplishing this goal because it involved several very long books! The series I finished included The Raven Cycle, Red Queen, ACOTAR, Illuminae, and Daughter of Smoke & Bone, along with a few other YA dystopians. I also finally finished the Chronicles of Narnia series and the With the Light manga series, which I’d been meaning to finish off for a long time. This was by biggest accomplishment of the year!

The Top 10 Tuesday Goals

For these goals, it is much harder to definitively say whether they have been accomplished or not because many of them were intentionally left quite vague. The five goals above were my main priority, and these ones were goals I always saw as extras.

1) Read more recent releases — Done!

Many of these goals include a very vague “read more” without quantifying at all what that means. I specified in my original post that by recent, I meant books that had been published in the past 3-4 years, and part of that was to intended to include the series that I had in mind. I never calculated how many recent books I read in previous years, but this year about half of the books I read were published in 2015 or later, and 59 books in total were published in 2017 or 2018. That’s just over third of all the books that I’ve read so far, which I would say is a pretty good proportion! I think it’s safe to say I read quite a few recent releases this year.

2) Read more books that have been on my TBR for more than 2 years — Done!

Again, this is a very tricky one to keep track of because I never made note of which books fell into this category. I wanted to put this as a goal to motivate myself to dig back into the first few pages of my Goodreads TBR and prioritize some of the books that I’ve been meaning read for a long time. According to Goodreads, about 27 of the books I’ve read so far have been on my TBR since 2015, which is the year that I first started using Goodreads. Another 37 have been on my TBR since 2016, which makes it a total of 64 books, or about 40% of the books I read. This is actually a much higher percentage than I thought! I made a conscious effort to try and choose some books that I’ve been meaning to read for a while, but didn’t realize that it was quite so many.

3) Read more thrillers — Kind of Done!

At the beginning of the year, I commented that I don’t keep track of how many books that I read per genre. I wanted to read more thrillers because it is a genre that I really enjoy, but somehow end up not picking up too often. I purposely didn’t attach a specific number because I wanted the freedom to be flexible with the books I picked, although I’ve been steadily reading more thrillers each year as I do more reading challenges. This year, I read a total of 9 books that can be classified as thrillers (or at least mystery-thrillers) and I have at least one more planned before the end of the year. This is a very small increase from the 8 that I read last year,  so I would consider this goal partly accomplished. Since I didn’t have a set number in mind, I would say that reading about the same as last year is a pretty good start, but it’s less than I thought I’d read.

4) Read some graphic novels — Done!

Again, what does “some” really mean?? Through doing reading challenges the past few years, I’ve become a lot more open to graphic novels as a genre, and I make a conscious effort to build a few into my challenges each year. I knew this year that I’d have at least a few because of the With the Light manga series (which I know is not exactly the same as a graphic novel, but it’s along the same lines). This year, I read a total of 19 graphic novels, which is a lot more than I expected! It’s still a relatively small proportion of my overall total of books, but it’s definitely more graphic novels than I’ve read in the past.

5) Be less intimidated by longer books — Done!

This is another very vague goal, but I’m counting it as accomplished because I had several very long books (War Storm and A Court of Wings and Ruin, for example) on my list for this year, and I didn’t get scared off reading them even though I read too many long books almost back-to-back. I defined “long” as books over 500 pages, since my average pages per day is somewhere around 100. Of the books I’ve read so far this year, I read 6 books that had more than 600 pages, and 9 books that had more than 500 pages (although to be fair, many of those were the manga series). I also read another 9 or so books that were between 450 and 500 pages, which are still quite lengthy! I would say I’ve accomplished this one because I was not afraid to add other long books to my plans for next year’s challenges.

6) Participate more actively on my Goodreads challenge groups — Failed!

This was a very low priority goal for me, so I don’t feel too badly about not being able to do it. At the beginning of the year, I did pretty well with posting about the books I’d read or contributing to the threads that existed for them, but after a while it became too much work. I found that many of the books I read didn’t have a thread already active, and if I didn’t have the time to start one myself right away, I ended up forgetting about it. The one thing I did fairly consistently was keep up (almost) with the weekly check-ins for the PopSugar group, where I posted how many books I read each week and answered the question of the week. I did participate actively in the voting process for the ATY challenge, although I definitely didn’t post as often as I had in the past because once again, there seemed to be a lot of defensiveness when it came to asking questions or making suggestions. No one complained about an overall negative atmosphere like last year, but there were definitely some aspects that made it feel less welcoming.

7) Keep blogging consistently — Done!

I think this is the one thing that I was able to do most consistently all year. I’ve kept up with doing Top 10 Tuesday, Top 5 Wednesday, and at least one other post every week. Honestly, it does feel like a chore at times, which is what I was worried about in the first place, but I’m not at a point yet where I feel like it’s more work than fun, so it’s not a problem.

8) Get more variety in my blog content — Partly Done?

I’m leaving this one as a “?” because I’m not really sure what my intent was. Aside from Top 10 Tuesday and Top 5 Wednesday, I also tend to do book tags, Monthly Recommendations, and (my personal favourite) Stacking the Shelves. I had a Reader Struggles series going too, but the original list of memes I was using ran out, and I haven’t had a chance to find more yet (although I’m completely open to that). I also occasionally write a discussion post about different topics, although probably not as often as I should. I don’t quite want to say I’ve failed this one because I’ve at least made an effort to have some variety, but I don’t quite think it’s completely done either.

9) Buy some books! — Done!

This was a very easy goal to accomplish, thanks to Book Outlet. When I made my goals post in January, I had just received my first ever order with Book Outlet, and was very impressed with them. Throughout the year, I ordered tons more books from them, and also bought quite a few brand new books for myself (including the Throne of Glass series!). I have way more books than I have space for, but it was totally worth it.

10) Enjoy what I’m reading! — Done!

I noted in my original post that I have a pretty good record for picking books that I know I’m going to enjoy, and the majority of my books generally get 4 stars or higher from me. This year was no exception. So far, I have 71 books that I rated 5 stars, 85 books that I rated 4 stars, and only 8 books that I rated 3 stars. I didn’t give anything lower than 3. I think compared to many other readers, I tend to be a bit on the generous side when it comes to rating books, especially when it comes to giving a 4, but I genuinely enjoyed the vast majority of the books I read this year. I would even arguably say that I enjoyed my books overall more this year than I did last year, and last year I liked what I read a lot! This goal is probably the least-defined, but the most important for me, so I’m really glad that I accomplished it!