Second Quarter Challenge Check-In (2022)

I feel like I’m a little late to post this check-in this year, but the start of the second half of my year generally was a bit weird because I was sick twice within the last week of June/first week of July. I didn’t quite feel like this year has flown by as much as I have the past couple of years, which was a surprise given how everything has relatively returned to normal. I would have expected that being at work full time in-person again all year with very few disruptions due to lockdowns would have made the year seem that much faster, but somehow it wasn’t. I still find my reading patterns have been impacted a bit. Lately I’ve noticed that no matter how much time I have in a day, I can’t seem to settle into reading anything until late in the evening, even when it’s a book that I’m very excited to pick up. Luckily, that hasn’t seemed to affect my overall progress that much. I do wonder how much further ahead I would be by now if I could change my pattern up a bit and start a little earlier, but I’ve been pretty good about not putting too much pressure on myself.

So far, I think I’ve made good progress on my challenges overall. By the end of June, I had read a total of 89 books, meaning that I read a total of 51 books this quarter! I was pleasantly surprised to have read so many more books in the second quarter than the first, although to be fair, a big contributor to that was the fact that I read a bunch of graphic novels while I was sick. I was also surprised to see that I was a bit further ahead than where I was at the same point last year (83 books by the halfway point of 2021), because in many ways, I feel like I’ve been slower this year. By the halfway point of this year, I was read 44.5% of my goal for this year of 200 books, or 18.9% of my overall total of 472 books for all of my challenges together. It’s quite a big jump from where I was at the end of the first quarter (19% of my yearly goal or 8% of my overall goal by the end of March this year), so I was very happy to see that! I’m still a tiny bit disappointed that I didn’t quite reach the halfway mark, but I was glad that I got so close. In this quarter, I read another 26 books that I rated 5 stars, 24 books that I rated 4 stars and just one that was 3 stars. Compared to the first quarter, that’s a few more 5 stars, and quite a few more 4 star books. In total for the year, I’ve read 48 5-star books and 40 books that were 4 stars, and just the one book that was 3 stars so it’s been a great year overall in terms of the quality of the books!

Series Goals and Standalone Goals

My series goal was a little complicated this year because I had a ton of series that I wanted to finish, some of which were already completed and some are still in progress. I also had so many duologies that I wanted to get to as well. To make it a little easier on myself, I divided the series into a few different lists and set myself a specific minimum total to reach for each. It was definitely the most logistically complicated this goal has ever been.

From the list of series that are already fully published, I broke it down between series that were leftover from my goals last year, and other series that I hadn’t included in my plans yet. I had 4 series on my list that were already completed which were leftover from my goals from last year. By the end of the first quarter, I had finished one and a half of those series. This quarter, I finished the second half of the Ember in the Ashes quartet, but did not get to either of the other series. It’s still not bad though, since it means I’d finished 2 out of the 4 by the halfway point of the year. Since my goal for that list was to finish all 4, it makes sense that I’m halfway by the time the year was half over. My second list of series was completed series that have never been on my goals list before. I had 7 series on that list, and this quarter, I finished off all 11 of the remaining Lumberjanes books (which definitely contributed a lot to my overall total for the year!). My goal was to read at least 5 out of the 7 series on that list, and so far I have only read 1.

For series that are not yet completed, I made a list of 7 with the goal of reading at least 3. This quarter, I read the two books that are currently out in the Infinity Courts series, which was the first series that I tackled off of this list. I definitely think it’s realistic to read at least 2 more of these series sometime this year, but I will have to make sure to prioritize them. I also had a whopping list of 17 duologies with the goal of reading at least half of them. By the end of the first quarter, I had only read 1. Unfortunately, this quarter I did not read any! To be fair, I did read one duology that I’d thought was one the list, but it turned out that I hadn’t included it because it was by one of my priority authors, and I counted it toward that goal instead. This is the goal that I’m most worried about accomplishing because there are just so many books involved, but I really want to make an effort to reach my goal of half.

In terms of my standalone goals, I also set myself a list of my Top 22 Books to Read in 2022, and another list of 22 5-Star Predictions, with the goal of completing both of those lists in full. By the end of the first quarter, I had read three books toward my Top 22 list, and this quarter, I read another 2 books from this list. I read The House in the Cerulean Sea and 56 Days, bringing me to a total of 5 books off this list so far. I definitely would have liked to be a little further ahead on this goal, but at least I’m making some progress. Similarly, I made a very small amount of progress on my 5-Star Predictions as well. In the first quarter I had read only one, and this quarter I read two more. I read House of Sky and Breath and  Wish You Were Here. I definitely want to invest a little more time into picking up the books on this list since they are books that I’m obviously expecting to love. There are a few that I don’t own yet, so I may need to buy a copy or at least borrow from the library to make sure I prioritize them.

Priority Authors

This goal has consistently been one of my favourite to work on since I started compiling these lists over the past couple of years. It’s actually getting to the point where it’s becoming a little more challenging to think of authors to add since I’ve now read from many of the ones who had been on my list forever. At some point, I may need to add a goal or change this goal a bit to also include authors that I’ve read only once and would like to read from again.

By the end of the first quarter, I had read 4 out of 11 authors on my non-YA list, but just 1 of my priority YA authors. This quarter, I managed to reach the halfway point on both of these lists! I read just one book by Rachel Hawkins, which brought me to 5 non-YA authors from my list in total. I also read one book each from Emery Lee, Adiba Jagirdar, and Margeret Rogerson, and two books by Bethany C. Morrow, bringing me up to a total of 5 authors read from that list as well. I was very happy to have done so well with this goal so far, especially since I didn’t put too much conscious effort into it. I do want to make sure I actively prioritize the rest of the authors, and ideally I’d love to read more than one book by each by the end of the year if possible.

Prioritizing Better

This goal is such a struggle ever year, and the only reason I can think of is because I have so many challenges on the go. It’s hard to prioritize everything, but I also don’t really want to give any of them up either! Like last year, I tried setting myself a loose structure of reading 3-4 books per month toward my ATY and PopSugar challenges, and I still haven’t done so well with that. I have read a total of 11 books toward ATY so far this year (1.8 books per month on average), and only 8 toward PopSugar (1.3 books per month on average). I really badly want to avoid having 30 books left on each of these challenges by the start of December, so I’ll have to actively make sure to prioritize these going forward.

My other challenges have been a bit all over the place, but I’ve made some decent progress toward all of them. This quarter, I read another 5 books toward my ATY Top Picks and Leftovers challenge for a total of 12 out of a list of 90 (13.5%). I also read only 3 more books toward the 52 Book Challenge for a total of 7 (13.5%), and another 5 books toward Flourish & Blotts for a total of 6 books so far this year (10%) . On the other hand, I made some great progress on BookList Queen with another 9 books read this quarter for a total of 14 (26.9%), and I read another 20 books toward Pick Your Poison for a total of 31 books so far (28.4%). It’s a little ironic that my lower priority challenges are the ones where I’m doing the best, and I want to make sure I balance things out a bit more for the rest of the year.

Read Some Non-Fiction

Like last year, this has become the goal that was somehow easiest for me to achieve. By the end of March, I had already read a total of 7 non-fiction books, which was about halfway to my goal of 15 for the year. By the end of June, I had read a total of 18 non-fiction books! To be fair, a couple of them are a little questionable since they are graphic novels like In Love and Pajamas which are technically based on the author’s own life, but seem a bit strange to include. Even removing the three books that I found a bit questionable to classify as non-fiction, I still read a total of 15 so the goal is achieved either way. This goal ends up being pretty easy for me because I mostly use audiobooks or graphic memoirs, but I’m not sure I’d really want to up the total going forward either.

Read More Thrillers

I have such a bad habit of adding a ton of thrillers to my list, and then reading very few of them. I love thrillers, but I don’t like to read too many of them in a row because they sometimes tend to blend together. By the end of the first quarter, I’d read a total of 11 thrillers. This quarter, I read an embarrassingly low total of just 2! I had so many thrillers that I was planning to read, but kept putting them aside to prioritize other goals instead. This is definitely a goal I want to focus on more in the next quarter since I have so many thrillers on my list and many of them are books I’ve been meaning to read for a long time. It also helps that several of my remaining priority authors write thrillers, so that’s an easy way to kill two birds with one stone.

Read More Historical Fiction and More Adult Contemporary Romances

Ironically, I set myself a goal to read more historical fiction because I wanted the extra push to pick some up, and somehow I still find myself procrastinating on it. I have so many historical fiction books that I want to read, including many that are YA, but I just keep passing over them to pick something else. I read only one book that could even remotely be considered historical fiction this quarter, which was The Song of Achilles. Technically, I’m not even sure it can really be classified as historical, but it is tagged as such on Goodreads so I’ll count it. That brings me to a total of just 3 out of my goal of 10, which is not great.

I did a tiny bit better with my goal of reading more adult contemporary romances. My goal was to read 15-20 by the end of the year, and so far I have read a total of 6, although only 3 of those were read this quarter. I read Weather Girl, Second First Impressions, and The Ex Talk. I guess it’s not so bad since I’m about a third of the way through my goal, but I have so many romances on my list that I expected to be a bit further ahead with this as well. It does seem to be a bit of a pattern for all of my genre goals that I add a whole bunch to my list, but end up reading very few. I suspect part of this is because these books get pushed aside a little to make room for series, so that might be a good thing to keep in mind for next year’s goals.

Reader’s Choice Awards

As always, I wanted to end with the Reader’s Choice Awards to wrap-up my reading for this quarter. It always bugs me a bit that it overlaps a bit with the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag, but both give such a good opportunity to reflect on the books that I read, that I don’t want to skip either of them.

Breakout Read: A book that was surprisingly good or exceeded expectations

I have to repeat my answer from the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag and pick The House in the Cerulean Sea. I went into this one with relatively low expectations because it was so overhyped, and instead it became my favourite book of the year so far. I’ve already mentioned this book several times before so I won’t repeat it all again, but I generally loved everything about this.

Biggest Let Down: A book you thought would be brilliant but was a total disappointment

I chose Five Feet Apart for a similar question in the Mid-Year Book Freak Out, and that still holds true, but for the sake of variety I also wanted to mention another book. My second biggest disappointment would have to be Recommended For You by Laura Silverman. While I definitely didn’t hate this book, it was not at all what I expected. I found the main character immature and obnoxious, and she came across so much younger than she was meant to be. I had a really hard time buying into the romance, and also didn’t care at all for the subplots about Shoshanna meddling into other people’s problems. I fully expected this book to be an easy favourite, so I was pretty let down when it wasn’t.

Best Dressed: The book with the most attractive cover

Best Characters: A book with characters you couldn’t get enough of

Definitely The House in the Cerulean Sea! I think House of Sky and Breath would be in a close second, although those characters weren’t new-to-me.

Best Place: A book that was set in an interesting place (fictional or not)

To be honest, I could easily pick The House in the Cerulean Sea for most of these questions, but for the sake of variety I’ll pick something else. I think the Infinity Courts was set in a very interesting place since it takes place in a version of the afterlife which has been taken over by an evil AI. This book was extremely different from what I expected, but the setting was really cool!

Best Story: A book with a great storyline

Definitely House of Sky and Breath! There was a lot going on in this book, but the overall storyline was amazing, especially the ending!

Best Feelings: A book that made you really emotional

I didn’t think of this one at the time when I did the Mid-Year Book Freak Out, but I’d actually say Wish You Were Here had some very emotional moments, especially Diana’s relationship with her mother. I wouldn’t say this book literally made me cry or anything, but it definitely had some very impactful moments.

Best Love: A book with a romance worth swooning for (does not have to be a romance book)

I think I would have to go with The Ex Talk. I just loved Shay and Dominic’s relationship, and I thought it felt so natural. I loved their banter and dynamics throughout the book.

Best Shock: A book that made your jaw drop in surprise

I think I would have to go with 56 Days. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s the most shocking thriller I’ve ever read, but there were some pretty good surprising moments in it.

Best Author: An author whose writing you really clicked with

TJ Klune! Also, I really liked Emery Lee’s writing in Meet Cute Diary! That’s a book that hasn’t come up yet, but I really loved it.

Best Series: A book from a series you either can’t get enough of or can’t wait to indulge in more

I didn’t read a ton of series this quarter, but I think I’ll take this opportunity to pick A Sky Beyond the Storm as a stand-in for any of the books in the Ember in the Ashes series. I was only halfway through the series in my first quarter wrap-up so I felt a bit weird choosing it for any of the categories in case I didn’t like the direction it took, but I loved this series and the characters in it!

Best Read: The book you read in April, May and June that topped all the others

No surprise here, but I have to choose The House in the Cerulean Sea

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