2016 Recap and 2017 Goals

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I can’t believe that 2016 is already over! This year flew by and I was able to get so much accomplished while also having lots of fun. When I set my goals for this year I wanted to get in a better variety of books. I was able to accomplish some goals but not as many as I had planned. I find it hard sometimes to do the reading challenges that I’d like to do. I sign up for too many reviews between all the ARC sites and email requests, and I end up barely being able to keep up with that review schedule. It doesn’t end up leaving much room for reading specific books to fit requirements of a reading challenge. I couldn’t even really keep up all year, I have about 30 books from summer-ish that I still have to read for NetGalley. I ended up kind of giving up on some goals that I had set for 2016 in order to keep up with my reading schedule and also to keep my sanity!

So! To recap on the goals I had set for 2016:

  1. PopSugar 2016 Reading Challenge – Read at least 20 books off this checklist. I really enjoyed doing this checklist for 2015 so I decided to participate again for 2016 – I ended up completing this one, you can browse through the ones I used to check off the list here.
  2. Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016 – I heard a lot about this checklist this past year at the Book Riot Live conference and online and I’m excited to try this checklist this year! – I was able to check off 8 out of the 24 boxes, not as much as I would have liked but you can see the books I used for this checklist here.
  3. Penguin Random House Challenge Your Shelf: Books A-Z Challenge – This was technically a 2015 challenge but I liked the list so much that I’m going to use it for 2016 just for my own purposes. I’m going to try and read at least 10 books off this list. – Unfortunately I didn’t get to read any of the books on this list, maybe some other year!
  4. Participate in one shorter reading challenge per quarter. And since I’m a planner by nature I’ve already picked out which ones I plan to participate in:
    1. Quarter 1 – I’m currently participating in Bookish Bingo: Holiday edition which runs through end of February 2016 so this one will be my Quarter 1 reading challenge – Seems like a running theme but I didn’t do well with this reading challenge this past winter, I didn’t even get a real bingo. I did the best I could though, and you can see my bingo square and the books I read here.
    2. Quarter 2 – I’ve been wanting to participate in a Bout of Books challenge for a while now but the timing never lined up for me in 2015 so I am planning on definitely participating in the one in May 2016. – I did participate in a Bout of Books this past May and it was great fun! This one worked really well for me since I just had to read as much as possible. You can see my posts from this challenge here.
    3. Quarter 3 – I really liked participating in the ARC August challenge this past August and I am sure I will have a bunch of ARC’s on my schedule at that point so I am planning to participate again this year. – This one also went fairly well for me, I had some time off in August and I was able to devote a good amount of time to reading. You can see which ARCs I was able to read and review during this challenge here
    4. Quarter 4 – I found this listing of the 24 Best Books About Witches to Get You in the Halloween Spirit and I noticed a lot of the books on the list were already in my TBR list so for Sept/Oct I am gong to work my way through this listing (this will be my own reading challenge hosted by my site). – I didn’t end up having time to do this, maybe some other year. 
  5. Other general goals that are less defined but are just overall goals I’d like to work on:
    1. Establishing contacts/relationships with publishers – I think I made some good progress on doing this, I have been participating more in Blog Tours through the books I request on NetGalley and I have made a couple contacts through these requests. Definitely lots more room to grow here though!
    2. Continue to review ARC’s from authors – Check, did it. Lots. Almost every book I read this year was an ARC or author request.
    3. Try doing some shorter reviews on books that I don’t necessarily have as much to say on. I’ve been having trouble keeping up with all the reviews I have to do and I’m hoping to write some shorter reviews this year for the books I’m just reading on my own – I maybe did a couple but I could definitely do more of these shorter reviews next year.
    4. Try to wrap up some of the series that I’m in the middle of, I feel like there are just so many and I lose track of the characters. I know its unreasonable but I almost wish authors would release a full series at the same time and be like “ok that’s it I’m not doing anymore.” I’ll start reading a series because the “finale” is out and then there’s somehow another sequel released and while excited it is also incredibly frustrating. – I probably didn’t do these well, I read mostly ARC’s so unless I got an ARC for a book in my series then it probably didn’t get read.

So overall I set a TON of goals and accomplished a few and passed on a few. I definitely read A LOT. I read some books that I never would have picked out on my own, and some of these I really loved too. I made connections with some wonderful authors, I’d consider some of them friends at this point even. I also continued participating in a local book club this year, that also has introduced me to books I might not have read otherwise. You can see the books we read for book club this year here. And there were also a couple books I read for an online book club this year, you can see those here. I also started doing Monthly Status Update posts on my reading progress throughout the year.

I ended up reading 122 books in 2016, below is a chart showing # of books read per month for this year and also the last 3 years. I peaked this year in May, I think I burned myself out a little. I slowed down during the summer as life got in the way.

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And now onto 2017!! I am excited to see what the next year will bring. For my goals for 2017, my main focus will be on trying to finish all the ARC’s that I wasn’t able to read during 2016. Other than that I hope to do a couple reading challenges again that I enjoy and continue to work on my relationships.

  1. Finish any ARC’s from 2016 that I missed from NetGalley.
  2. Participate in 2 reading challenges:
    1. Bout of Books 19 in May 2017
    2. ARC August in August 2017
  3. Other general goals:
    1. Writing shorter reviews
    2. Continuing to establish relationships

Short and simple! That’s pretty much my plan in essence this year, to keep it simple and just accomplish as much as I can. And that’s it! Hopefully 2017 is a productive and happy year for me and for all of you as well! Happy new year to everyone!!

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2016 Monthly Status Update: October

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A few days late but I’m catching up on my blogging! I meant to post this a few days ago but my work schedule has been just insane this week. October was a busy month for me between work and all the reading I’ve been getting done. Also went to Pennsylvania for the weekend. Lots going on in the next month as well, going to Florida next weekend and then Thanksgiving is just around the bend. But I am getting a good amount of reading done and reading some great things!

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 10
# pages read this month: 3,305
# books read year-to-date: 102
# pages read year-to-date: 31,138

Favorite Books I Read:

Wow October was a great month for reading. This was such a hard choice for me to pick my favorites, I read so many good books.

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris – 4.25 stars
The Boy Is Back by Meg Cabot – 4.5 stars
Faithful by Alice Hoffman – 4.5 stars

Books I Didn’t Particularly Enjoy: 

I had a great month and really didn’t dislike anything I read, which is great!

Other Posts this month:

My Brown-Eyed Earl BLOG TOUR AND GIVEAWAY
Christmas Joy BLOG TOUR

Status of 2016 Reading Challenges:

PopSugar Reading Challenge 2016 Checklist – 20/20 books read
Book Riot Read Harder Reading Challenge – 8/24 books read
Penguin Random House: Challenge Your Shelf A-Z Reading Challenge – 0/26 books read

November TBR list:

-Melody’s Key by Dallas Coryell
-The Legendary Lord by Valerie Bowman
-When a Laird Finds a Lass by Lecia Cornwall
-Picture Perfect Wedding by Lynnette Austin
-The Amateurs by Sara Shepard
-Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
-The Danger of Desire by Sabrina Jeffries
-Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt
-Mistletoe, Mischief and the Marquis by Amelia Grey

There are a lot of books on my backlog too so I’m hoping to have some time to dig into some of those but we will see how the month goes. Happy reading everyone!

2016 Book #101 – Christmas Joy by Nancy Naigle

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Author: Nancy Naigle
Date finished: 10/24/16
Genre: Contemporary romance, holiday
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: October 18, 2016
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Joy Holbrook might be all work and no play, but that changes when her Aunt Ruby takes a fall that lands her in a rehabilitation center before the holidays. Joy takes a leave of absence from her job as a market researcher to run the family farm, even though the timing may hinder her chance at garnering the promotion of her dreams.
Ben Andrews isn’t your average accountant. He also happens to be the handiest man in Crystal Falls. He’s helped his elderly neighbor, Ruby Johnson, decorate for the annual Christmas Home Tour―and win―the last several years. He’s not about to let some drop-in niece break their winning streak.
Ruby seems overly concerned about Joy being able to handle Molly. Under the impression she’s referring Molly the bunny that is one of the menagerie of animals, Joy’s not worried at all until the next morning when a little girl named Molly shows up. For the sake of her aunt, Joy is forced to partner with Ben while Ruby is on the mend to help with preparation for the Christmas tour and, in the process finds her career-focused heart dreaming of a family.
Will the magic of Christmas help her to open her heart and find her everlasting joy?

My rating:  3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book will count towards my “PopSugar 2016 Checklist” reading challenge, marking off the “a book with a protagonist who has your occupation” square, since the male lead in the story is an accountant just like me! This book is about Joy Holbrook, a woman with an exciting career in marketing with a firm in D.C. She is up for a promotion and has been working extremely hard towards this goal. When she gets a call about her Aunt Ruby being in the hospital, she drops everything and drives the 5 hours home to Crystal Falls to make sure she’s ok. While her aunt is in a rehab center for her broken ankle, Joy (eventually) accepts the help of Ben Andrews in getting Ruby’s house set up for a big Christmas event taking place in a few week’s time. Joy was able to get some time off work to take care of things in Crystal Falls, and between getting the house ready, taking care of Ruby’s vast variety of animals (its pretty much a literal zoo there on the farm) and watching after Molly (a young girl Ruby helps to take care of) Joy’s days are jam-packed and surprisingly joyful. Joy finds herself happier than she can remember being in some time, which makes her begin to wonder if she could leave the life of the city behind and be happy in this small town?
Overall I liked this book. The description of the festival and of the community that made up the small town of Crystal Falls was heart-warming and really helped to get me into the holiday spirit. It was a little cheesier than I usually go for but cheesy is sometimes exactly what you’re looking for! I thought this was very similar to how I feel while I’m watching one of those Hallmark Christmas movies, and I honestly hope it gets picked up as one because I would love to see it! This was definitely a light read and some of the conversations seemed a bit forced but it was a sweet read that is sure to get you dreaming of a white Christmas. And the lessons that the reader can take away from the book are ones that are most important this time of year: to work a little less, spend more time with family, and to appreciate the moments we’re given with our loved ones.

The bottom line: I thought this was a good read, definitely a little cheesy but also heart-warming and cheerful. This is a great one to get you into the Christmas spirit!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Monthly Status Update: September

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I can’t believe how fast September flew by. September is a big month for me since both my Mom’s and my birthdays are in the middle of the month. This past month we also went to Block Island, 2 weddings, and 2 birthday parties. Lots of events this month meant unfortunately less time for reading. Work is also starting to pick up for me so I will be reading even less in the next couple months but I’m hoping to keep active with my overwhelming reading schedule!

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 11
# pages read this month: 2,530
# books read year-to-date: 92
# pages read year-to-date: 27,833

Favorite Books I Read:

At Risk by S.G. Redling – 4.25 stars
Now That It’s You by Tawna Feske – 4.25 stars

Books I Didn’t Particularly Enjoy: 

I read My Husband’s Son by Deborah O’Connor this month and I didn’t particularly care for it, it was just a little out there for me.

Other Posts this month:

I was pretty busy this past month so I didn’t get a chance to do any other posts! Stay tuned for next month, I’ll have at least one author Q&A post.

Status of 2016 Reading Challenges:

PopSugar Reading Challenge 2016 Checklist – 19/20 books read
Book Riot Read Harder Reading Challenge – 8/24 books read
Penguin Random House: Challenge Your Shelf A-Z Reading Challenge – 0/26 books read

October TBR list:

If I have extra time I’ll be working on my back list of ARC’s but I will also be trying to get some specific October books read:

-My Brown-Eyed Earl by Anna Bennett
-Hero in the Highlands by Suzanne Enoch
-Till I Kissed You by Laura Trentham
-The Peculiar Miracles of Antoinette Martin by Stephanie Knipper
-Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
-The Boy Is Back by Meg Cabot
-To Love and To Cherish by Lauren Layne
-Faithful by Alice Hoffman
-Melody’s Key by Dallas Coryell
-The Legendary Lord by Valerie Bowman
-When a Laird Finds a Lass by Lecia Cornwall

 

2016 Monthly Status Update: August

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August is over, I can hardly believe it. Before you know it will be the dreaded tax season again. I’m gearing up for one of my busier times of the year anyways since I audit towns, which for me usually means less reading. I am hoping to at least keep it closer to even this year since I haven’t been reading much lately to begin with, I’ve been so busy there’s hardly been time. August overall was a good month though, I feel like I got a lot done and I had a lot of fun this month!

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 10
# pages read this month: 3,050
# books read year-to-date: 81
# pages read year-to-date: 25,303

Favorite Books I Read:

Results May Vary by Bethany Chase – 4.75 stars
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion – 4.5 stars
Sting by Sandra Brown – 4.25 stars
All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda – 4.75 stars
Circling the Sun by Paula McLain – 4.75 stars

Books I Didn’t Particularly Enjoy: 

I didn’t care for I’ve Got Sand in All the Wrong Places by Lisa Scottline and Francesca Serritella. Not that it was a bad book, just wasn’t my usual style of book that I enjoy.

Other Posts this month:

ARC August – Check in #1 – 8/1-8/6
ARC August – Check in #2 – 8/7-8/12
ARC August – Check in #3 – 8/13-8/20
Cook Books Galore!

Status of 2016 Reading Challenges:

PopSugar Reading Challenge 2016 Checklist – 19/20 books read
Book Riot Read Harder Reading Challenge – 8/24 books read
Penguin Random House: Challenge Your Shelf A-Z Reading Challenge – 0/26 books read

September TBR list:

There are a few books that I have to read in September but I’ll still mostly just be working off my back list of ARC’s that I need to get through. Some of the September ARC’s I’m more excited about are the new YA release by Natasha Preston and the 2nd book in a trilogy by Joe Hart. Stay tuned for some great reviews this month!

ARC August 2016 – Check in #4 (8/21-8/31) and Wrap Up Post

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I can’t believe August is over already, this past month just flew by. Between vacations and working at the Fair, I barely had time to take a breath! I did take a few nice deep breaths while in Maine though, was very quiet and relaxing. So anyways, I think I got a good amount of reading done this month and I was able to take a few ARC’s off the list.

My Progress:

I didn’t really have an exact plan for what I would read but I will go off the original list posted and just disclose any variations from said original list:

-The Secret Ingredient of Wishes by Susan Elizabeth Crispell – Read and reviewed – Week 2
-Results May Vary by Bethany Chase – Read and reviewed – Week 2
-Sting by Sandra Brown – Read and reviewed – Week 3
-The Form of Things Unknown by Robin Bridges – Read and reviewed – Week 3
-Quarter Life Poetry by Samantha Jayne – Read and reviewed – Week 3
-Behave by Andromeda Romano-Lax
-Thirty Days to Thirty by Courtney Psak
-All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda – Read and reviewed – Week 3
-Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan
-The Killing Game by Nancy Bush
-Luck, Love, and Lemon Pie by Amy E. Reichert
-The Singles Game by Lauren Weisberger
-If You Left by Ashley Prentice Norton
-All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker
-To Have and To Hold by Laura McHugh
-The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood
-My Husband’s Son by Deborah O’Connor
-First Comes Love by Emily Giffin
-Stormswept by Sabrina Jeffries
-Once a Soldier by Mary Jo Putney
Additions to original list:
-I’ve Got Sand In All the Wrong Places by Lisa Scottline and Francesca Serritella – Read and reviewed – Week 3
-The 24-Hour Wine Expert by Jancis Robinson – Read and reviewed
-Butter and Scotch by Allison Kave and Keavy Landreth – Read and reviewed
-I Take You by Eliza Kennedy – Currently reading

Books Read August 21st-31st

The 24 Hour Wine Expert by Jancis Robinson – 3.5 stars
Butter & Scotch by Allison Kave and Keavy Landreth – 4.0 stars

So that is the end of ARC August! I was very grateful for the timing of this challenge since I had such a long backlist of ARC’s and I definitely was happy to get a few of them off the list. I still have a lot to go but that is ok, I will just keep reading 🙂

Cook Books Galore!!

So I have some cookbooks that I was approved to review through NetGalley recently. I don’t really count these as “books read” since when I read a cookbook I don’t read every single page. But I thought I would still share these books with you guys in case something snags your interest!

Butter & Scotch by Allison Kave and Keavy Landreth – 4.0 stars

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I really liked this book, the recipes in it were great. This book was written by the owners of a dessert and drinks bar in NYC. Recipes consisted of: cupcakes, cocktails, brunch food and drinks, pies, cookies, boozy shakes, etc. I liked a lot of the recipes, I was especially intrigued by the Lemon Lavender cupcakes, which I would love to make sometime. Dessert and drinks are two of my favorite things so this one was right up my ally!

 

 

Everything I Want to Eat by Jessica Koslow – 3.25 stars

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Most of the recipes in this book I don’t think I would try. They seemed complicated. I mean they all looked delicious and very healthy but I prefer quick and easy recipes. There were a couple items that caught my interest including the Raspberry cardamom jam and the Rhubarb lemonade. I also really liked that the book had pictures from actual farms showing production/growing of the ingredients. If I had a personal chef, I would want them to use only this book because the recipes all seem so fresh and healthy.

The Good Fork Cookbook by Sohui Kim and Burcu Avsar – 4.25 stars

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Manchego Cheese Fritters? Freaking yes please. I loved a bunch of the recipes in this cookbook. Many of the recipes had a Korean flair/were Korean recipes (the author of the book and owner of the restaurant is Korean) but these recipes will appeal to all readers, regardless of their ethnicity. I especially like the recipe for gnocchi with sauteed mushrooms and spring vegetables, I thought that sounded delicious! I think this would be a great cookbook for trying something new and fresh and delicious, I would like to purchase this one for myself and family members!

The Short Stack Cookbook by Nick Fauchald and Kaitlyn Goalen – 4.25 stars

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This book is set up like a series of “short stack” cookbooks, each section features an ingredient, like apples, shrimp, yogurt, etc. I thought that was a interesting approach and I like the convenience of it. Like the apple section contains breakfast, dinner, dessert and drink recipes all within that one section.The pictures in this book were great too and I loved how colorful it was. There were a lot of great recipes, this is a book that you need to work through slowly though since there are just so many delicious items to make. I would love to purchase this one for myself and family members!