Monday, March 5, 2018

February 2018 Wrap-Up

February just disappeared, so I've been meaning to do this, but finally have some time! So, let's just dive in. 

Books Acquired

Barnes and Noble/Strand/Books of Wonder/Book Boxes

American Panda by Gloria Chao
You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Last Star Burning by Caitlin Sangster
Like Water by Rebecca Podos
Shadowsong by S. Jae Jones
The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson
Beneath the Haunting Sea by Joanna Ruth Meyer
Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston
The Bloodprint by Ausma Zehanat Khan
Markswoman by Rati Mehrotra
Bygone Badass Broads by Mackenzi Lee
The Queen's Rising by Rebecca Ross

For Work/From Publishers

Final Draft by Riley Redgate
Emma by Jane Austen, Stacy King, and Po Tse
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, Stacy King, and Po Tse
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Stacy King, and Po Tse improvement over January? Honestly, the Barnes and Noble 3 for $30 YA deal really got me. But my goal in March isn't to buy any books except for two I had been planning to order when some payments came in, but those payments haven't come in yet (they both came out at the end of February, so it's not like I've been waiting ages) (I might grab a third book to get free shipping but we'll see) and what comes in book boxes this month since...I ordered two. But both of the books in boxes are ones I've read and loved. That should count for something.

Books I Read

American Panda by Gloria Chao - I LOVED this book. It was super cute and funny, while still having a lot of serious moments about family expectations and being a daughter of immigrants and I just. Loved every moment. Hence why I bought a copy.

Herding Cats by Sarah Andersen - I had no plans to read this, but I finally got me Adobe Reader to work again and this was like 100 pages, so I flew through it. It was...okay. I love Sarah's comics, but there wasn't a lot of cohesion in the collection, which was disappointing.

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton - This is beautifully written and full of complicated relationships, which are always my jam. I also really appreciate the lack of romance, but there were a few things that kept me from LOVING this book. I'm still excited to pick up the sequel in 2019 (I hope 2019, anyway).

What Girls Are Made Of by Elana K. Arnold - This wasn't what I thought it was going to be? The voice was fantastic and the writing style was really unique for YA. I really enjoyed the idea of the book, but the actual plot was lacking for me. 

The Traitor Prince by C.J. Redwine - I always enjoy C.J.'s books. They're fun and fast paced and have well done romances and this one was just as fun as the others I've read. Still not my favorite, but really enjoyable.

Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones - You may have noticed above that I bought Shadowsong. I made that purchase within hours of finishing Wintersong because I LOVED it. So beautifully written, a really amazing main character, a soft love interest. I know it's a Labyrinth retelling, but it reminded me a lot of Persephone retellings and I just. Loved it a lot. I'm hoping to dig into the sequel this month.

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough - This historical novel in verse was something that intrigued me - I love historical fiction, but I'm iffy on verse. But this one really worked for me since it wasn't too abstract. It was dark and gritty and honest about the way women have always been treated. I also loved that it was based on the real story of an artist, Artemisia. Definitely pick this one up since it comes out March 6.

Lady Be Bad by Megan Frampton - After a lot of really heavy reads, I needed to take my time reading a historical romance. This was so fun and delightful and Megan Frampton deserves so much love.

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo - So, in January The Queen's Rising was my surprise favorite and new obsession. In February, it's To Kill a Kingdom. I absolutely LOVED this really dark, brutal fantasy. It's a stand a lone and our main character is evil and hard to love. And the writing was stunning and this is one of the books joining my shelves in March.

Bygone Badass Broads by Mackenzi Lee - This is a really fun, quick read that introduced me to a lot of amazing ladies, but also reminded me of some amazing ladies I've learned about in the past. The artwork by Petra Eriksson is also absolutely gorgeous and such a perfect fit for the book. I had a couple of hold ups about this one too, but it's a really great starting place for learning more about incredible women of history.

Can we appreciate how well I did at sticking to my February TBR? I'm proud of me.

March TBR

Marked by Jenny Martin
Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Lost Crow Conspiracy by Rosalyn Eves
Along the Indigo by Elsie Chapman
Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
Rosemarked by Livia Blackburne

I'm almost half way through Children of Blood and Bone now, so that's obviously first. I also just started Rosemarked since I had the ebook on Hoopla.

So, that's where we're starting! March will be another wrap-up and it'll also be a quarterly wrap-up to check in on how my goals are going.


Thursday, February 1, 2018

January 2018 Wrap-Up

I said I was going to do this quarterly, but I realized I also wanted to talk about the books I took IN, not just what I read. Plus, the biggest deterrent from blogging for me is formatting - I hate it so much and already do so much of it for work - but...this is my blog and I don't have to do loads of formatting!

Without further ado, let's talk about books.

Books I Acquired

The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn
The Bride Wore Pearls by Liz Carlyle
Maid of Deception by Jennifer McGowan
Maid of Wonder by Jennifer McGowan
Girl Up by Laura Bates
These Ruthless Deeds by Tarun Shaker and Kelly Zekas
Vampire Academy 10th Anniversary Edition by Richelle Mead
In the Country We Love by Diane Guerrero
The Season by Sarah MacLean
What Goes Up by Katie Kennedy
Amid Stars and Darkness by Chani Lynn Feener
Sasquatch, Love, and Other Imaginary Things by Betsy Aldredge and Carrie DuBois-Shaw
Why Do Dukes Fall in Love? by Meg Frampton
The Earl Takes All by Lorraine Heath
If I Only Had a Duke by Lenora Bell
The Duke of Dark Desires by Miranda Neville

Book Depository/Amazon/Book Boxes
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann
A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi
Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Books of Wonder/Strand
Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
Rebel Angels by Libba Bray

Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kacyznski
Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp
Chainbreaker by Tara Sim
Puddin' by Julie Murphy
Royals by Rachel Hawkins

For Work/Projects
Bookish Boyfriends by Tiffany Schmidt
MunMun by Jesse Andrews
Along the Indigo by Elsie Chapman
The Accidental Bad Girl by Maxine Kaplan
Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann (ARC) resolution to get rid of more books than I acquire is...not going great so far. BUT I'm doing a huge clean out this week. Maybe it'll start to balance more when I'm done? I think February is going to be a MUCH slower book month for me. Maybe.

Books I Read

I had a really good reading month, honestly. I was kinda surprised by it!

Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh - This was SO good and such a fantastic dark fantasy. I wanted to read it because I knew it was going to be in Shelf Love Crate (and it was coming out this month) and I wanted to be sure I wanted the box. It took me a while to get into it because I was in a reading slump, but it's unlike any YA book I've read before and I'm so glad to add it to my shelf.

Unearthed by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner - This was another one that had a slow start for me, but I had to power through because I was going to their NYC signing with a friend and I had to know if I was into it...and I really was. Some aspects of it were predictable, but there are also things that totally threw me. There was also a fantastic relationship arc that I really loved.

Turn It Up by Jen Calonita - After struggling with books, I just wanted something quick and fun, so I picked up this book. It's really cute, but it's also a little young for me and VERY predictable. The girl friendships were cute and the a cappella bits were fun, but this is pretty forgettable for me. I think it's better for younger YA.

The Lady of Royale Street by Thea de Salle - I finally caved and gave up on YA to read a romance novel. This is the third in a series and it was just as fun and silly and sexy as the other two. I loved the main plot - best man and maid of honor step in to help a couple when their wedding planner suddenly dies a week before the wedding - and the characters involved. I loved this book loads.

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers and Shawn Harris - We got to the Unearthed signing early, so my friend and I camped out at a table and read picture books. This was the first one and it was educational and moving and such a good read for elementary school kids.

Love by Matt de la Pena and Loren Long - I had to see what the hype was about and it is a really cute, sweet, touching picture book that'll work for younger audiences than Her Right Foot.

Murder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones - This was SO fun. It's mostly historical with a touch of magic and all about a girl who wants to be a spy so she can find out what happened to her father. There's really minimal romance and I think this is perfect for fans of The Season.

Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann - I'm doing a fuller review for this one on another website, but this is a fantastic, voice-y book featuring a biromantic asexual main character figuring out her sexuality and what to do with her life in the summer before her third year of college. It straddles the line between YA and NA since Alice is still figuring out what she wants in love and growing up, but she's also making serious plans for her future. There's friendship and family dynamics and a sweet romance.

Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oekle - This was a DNF for me. It's an incredible voice and Jane Sinner is so snarky, it's fantastic. But I just wasn't inspired to pick it back up and I'm trying to be more honest with myself in 2018 about what books I really care about finishing.

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare - I picked this up when I still wanted to give Nice Try, Jane Sinner a chance, but thought I just needed a break from it. And I DEVOURED this book in two sittings. It was just a really delightful historical romance with some nods to the resistance and the next one is a governess/rake match up and YES PLEASE GET IT IN MY FACE.

Academy 7 by Anne Osterlund - This is a sci-fi that's been on my shelf for AGES because I loved Anne's debut (which I also...never got to the sequel of). I picked it up on a whim and again, just wasn't excited to pick it up, so I DNFed it. I think it's a book a lot of people would love - there's two POV, a guy and a girl going to an elite school and space and such. Just wasn't digging it.

The Queen's Rising by Rebecca Ross - This fantasy YA comes out on February 6 and I kind of thought it'd be a generic fantasy YA and I'd DNF it, but I ended up totally falling in love. It was a slower paced fantasy, but it had a fantastic, really unique plot and I loved all of the main characters, the romance was more subtle and other relationships were more at the forefront - parent relationships, sibling relationships, friendships. I just...ended up loving this a lot. 

I also officially DNFed, All I Know Now, which I started reading in fall 2015 and...I just gotta accept that's not happening. I also read a manuscript for work, so my technical number of books read in January is 14. 

February TBR

I don't like keeping a strict TBR because I'm a mood reader, but some books I'm hoping to get to/finish are:

Among the Red Stars by Gwen Katz
What Girls Are Made Of by Elana Arnold
American Panda by Gloria Chao
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
The Traitor Prince by C.J. Redwine
The Serpent's Secret by Sayantani DasGupta
Honor Among Thieves by Ann Aguirre and Rachel Caine
Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough
Lost Crow Conspiracy by Rosalyn Eves

Monday, January 29, 2018

Best Books of 2017

It's...way past time! This has been sitting in my drafts for a month just has been. But I wanted to do a January wrap-up (after I said...I wouldn't do monthly wrap-ups? Whatever) and realized I hadn't posted this. So...ta-da!

These are the books that I keep thinking about, the books that challenged me, the books I want to collect merchandise for. I'm going to make a couple of categories, just for total transparency, and I'm listing in alphabetical order using the author's last name, so don't read in to the order I'm listing them.

2017 Books Read in 2016

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves
Shadow Run by Michael Miller and AdriAnne Strickland
Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee
Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin
The Wish Granter by C.J. Redwine

2018 Books Read in 2017

Love, Hate, and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
Let's Talk About Love by Claire Kann
Heart of Iron by Ashley Poston
Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang


The Morning They Came for Us by Janine di Giovanni
Irena's Children by Tilar Mazzeo
The Radium Girls by Kate Moore
Code Girls by Liza Mundy
Shrill by Lindy West

Adult Fiction

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
The King of Bourbon Street by Thea de Salle
The Queen of Dauphine Street by Thea de Salle
Wicked Sexy Liar by Christina Lauren
The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Backlist YA Books

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Maid of Secrets by Jennifer McGowan
The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler

Picture Books, Graphic Novels, and Comics

Beauty and the Beast by Agnese Baruzzi
Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
Julia's House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke
Faith, Volume 2 by Jody House
Dear Yeti by James Kwan
Not Quite Narwhal by Jessie Sima

2017 YA Books

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi
The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana
Autoboyography by Christina Lauren
The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke
The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord
Warcross by Marie Lu
Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Mask of Shadows by Linsey Miller
Geekerella by Ashley Poston
An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson
Dear Martin by Nic Stone

Monday, January 1, 2018

A Reading Review of 2017 and 2018 Reading Goals

I thought it'd be good to not just review my favorite books of 2017, but also to look at some statistics to really dig into my 2017 reading now that the year's officially over and review some of my goals! All of these numbers could be a little bit off - I don't have complete information (I didn't even try to count queer authors) or I just miscounted - but I did my best.

One of my goals was to read 150 books, but I topped out at 138.
  • 10 of my reads were books I was working on
  • 2 of my reads were sensitivity reads
  • 16 of my reads were non-fiction
  • 35 of my reads were by PoC, Jewish, or Muslim authors
  • 18 of my reads I did not finish
  • 5 books I put down, but plan to come back to
  • 14 were picture books
  • 11 were graphic novels/comics
  • 12 were romance novels
  • 12 were adult fiction 
  • 14 books were about queer people
  • 31 books were about PoC, Jewish, or Muslim characters (not including non-fiction)
I have all kinds of other statistics that I've been working through - I started crunching numbers before the year was over and read several books after that, but I don't remember how many. But I am pleased with how I branched out to non-fiction, my ability to get better at recognizing a book isn't for me, and the number of books I read that were a little different from my norm.

On the other hand, I'm disappointed with my diverse reading, though. I felt like I had been doing really well in reading diverse books from diverse authors, but numbers don't lie. It's definitely an improvement over last year, when I only read 11, but it's still not where I want it to be. Same for books about characters of color.  My goal last year was 50% of my books read to be by or about marginalized people and I didn't hit that - around 50 of the books I read fit this bill, so around 37%. But I made some really big strides in that direction. I'm really glad I already have quite a few books on my shelves to get me even closer to reaching 50%.

I also had a goal to get rid of more books than I acquired and I came close! The final count I have is that I acquired 323 books and got rid of 313 books. I didn't meet my goal, but I came really close and I think knowing how close I came will be a good motivator for hitting that goal in 2018.

2018 Goals

My 2018 goals are a bit of a challenge without being overwhelming. I want to read 130 books this year - preferably books I can count towards my Goodreads goal since that was definitely an issue this year. Goodreads thinks I only read 121 books. 

My more challenging goals include reading more backlist. Of the 130 books I read in 2018, I want 1/3 of them to be backlist. Too many books have been sitting on my shelf for too long and I want to at least try to read a lot of them. I even have a list of books that I HAVE to read in 2018 or they need to go because I never will.

As I mentioned, I once again want to try to get rid of more books than I acquire. I also again want to try to read at least 50% diversely. I just wanted to repeat that in the 2018 section of this post.

On top of that, I want to finish at least one series per month. I have SO MANY unfinished series on my shelf and that's just an extra stress on me, knowing I haven't finished them. If I finish - or catch up on - at least one series a month, that can get me really far through my TBR. Similarly, I'm debating either not taking on any new series or trying to read first-in-a-series books per month so I can decide if I actually want to be invested in that series or just move on. We'll see how I feel as I start finishing series.

Again I want to try to increase the non-fiction I read. I want to read two a month. There are SO MANY books I want to check out that are non-fiction, but there are also SO MANY sitting unread on my shelf that I don't want to keep acquiring more until I've made a bigger dent. 

These are kind of lofty, genuinely challenging goals, which is why I'm also challenging myself to read for at least an hour a day and 3 hours on Sundays (which will hopefully be my designated "off" day). I read at a rate of about 100 pages an hour - slower if I'm reading non-fiction or adult fiction - so theoretically if I read an hour a day, I finish a book every 3-4 days and likely an entire book on Sundays, so I'll read 3 books a week, which would take me to 156 books in the year, and that doesn't even factor in comics and graphic novels and picture books. And I want that hour a day to be separate from any work-related reading too. This particular goal has an added bonus of taking me off the internet and social media and maybe even getting me to bed earlier.

So, those are my rather lofty reading goals. Some may need to be adjusted as the year goes on and my life changes, but I'm hoping not to sacrifice too much. Last year I promised monthly updates and UTTERLY failed at that, so we're going to try quarterly updates this year. More doable and gives me a better chance to look at how I'm doing with some of my goals.