2019 Recap and 2020 Goals!

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I can’t believe 2019 is over already! This year absolutely flew by, I feel like I looked up and all of a sudden it was December. This year I spent some time trying to find balance – between my work and home life and my reading and time spent with my husband / family. There’s always room for more improvement but I did the best I could this year. As the year draws to a close there is more than ever developing at work and I’m hoping I’ll be able to overcome the challenges I face there. I’m also hoping to spend time where I can continuing to read – and not only read some great books published in 2020 but also read more off my backlog and from my personal library.

So anyways! On to the meat of this post – to recap on the goals list that I had set for 2019:

  1. Participate in certain reading challenges:
    1. ARC August Check! I participated in ARC August 2019 and got a lot of ARC’s read – see my posts on this challenge here  
    2. Bout of Books Challenges (2)
      1. BOB 24 January 2019 Check! I participated in this one, though I didn’t find it as productive as the May one so I’m cutting it from the list in 2020. See my posts on this challenge here
      2. BOB 25 May 2019 Check! I participated in this one, see my posts on this challenge here
    3. Bookish Bingo challenges! I’d like to participate in bingo challenges for certain months for fun: February, June, September and October Half check – I ended up participating for February and October but couldn’t fit it into the other months 
    4. Bookish 2019 Reading Challenge – 52 Ways to Kill Your TBR! Check! Read a few on the list, though not as many as I wanted. See my posts on this challenge here
  2. Keep reading my backlog list! Check! I used the 52 Ways to Kill Your TBR reading challenge to start tackling some of my backlog lists – hoping to continue hacking at these lists over the next year!
  3. Also read some of the books I own (there are too many) Check! I read probably a handful of books that I own, though I bought a lot more – oh well!
  4. And some personal goals! Lose weight, focus on healthier eating, exercise more often, more time at home, more time with Kris, and finish some house projects! Mostly check – I wasn’t really great with most of these but, again, did the best I could. Hoping to make more progress in 2020.

As I mentioned with finding balance, I think I was able to mete out a good amount of time for myself to read this year. I also discovered PODCASTS this year, which are fantastic and they’ve really helped me develop my knowledge (and my TBR list) within the romance genre. I’m hoping to have a post up within the next week or so on what podcasts I’ve been listening to and what I’ve enjoyed so far. Any readers who have a favorite podcast definitely let me know, I’m always interested in checking out a new one! I also attended a couple book related events this year (including KissCon New England), all of which I enjoyed immensely. I just love being able to talk about books and listen to people talk about books and everything related to that. I’m hoping to make it to an RWA  or other romance writers conference sometime soon.

In looking back on my year of reading this year, I was able to read a comparable amount related to previous years. Below is a chart of the books I read by month this year vs previous years:

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I also really like the functionality of the Goodreads Year in Books summary for giving an overview of what happened during my year for reading. I don’t record 100% of the books I read on here so it doesn’t always match up with my own figures but I love having all the covers in one place, it makes for a neat graphic.

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And just for fun! Here are a few of my favorites from 2019:

Favorite Reads from 2019

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden – 5.0 stars
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang – 4.75 stars
Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night (OMG IAD IS THE BEST!) by Kresley Cole – 5.0 stars
The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell – 4.75 stars

Favorite New Series

Pretty obviously this is the Immortals After Dark series. I have mentioned this series in a number of posts, it is bananas (to coin Sarah MacLean’s term) and amazing and a roller coaster of awesome. I would definitely recommend it if you haven’t read it already!

Favorite Podcasts

(Obviously) Fated Mates is great. I love the IAD discussions but also love the interstitial episodes where Sarah and Jen talk about recommended reads. I’ve also really been enjoying Learning the Tropes (Erin and Clayton are hilarious!) and Not Your Mom’s Romance Book Club (I love their back and forths and Ellen and her Mom remind me so much of me and my mom!).

Best New Author I Read in 2019

Has to be Helen Hoang – I should have read The Kiss Quotient last year but didn’t get to it til this year after I read The Bride Test. Both are amazing books and I’m so impressed by her writing and her as a person! I can’t wait for the next book!

Here we close out the 2019 year and we look ahead to the New Year!!

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Looking ahead to 2020 I can not help but be less hopeful than I was last year. I have found it hard to find enough time to devote myself to both blogging and reading while also doing everything else I need to do. So I’m hoping to change that this year. Slow down with my tasks and actually enjoy them and expand on them. I’m hoping to rediscover my hope in some areas and create happiness where I’m able. Overall I’m looking to be a little more creative and do a little more writing outside of my comfortable review box I’ve narrowed myself to. I used to really enjoy the “Top Ten Tuesday” posts and the “Waiting on Wednesday” posts I did in the past. My schedule has been squeezed so tight in recent years that I haven’t made time to do them but I’d like to dabble a little more in these again this year. There are so many different fun activities within the land of book bloggers and I’m hoping to find some of that fun again this year!

Looking ahead to 2020, here are some of the goals I plan to achieve:

  1. Participate in certain reading challenges:
    1. ARC August
    2. Bout of Books Challenge – BOB 25 (May 2020)
    3. Bookish Bingo challenges! I’d like to participate in bingo challenges for certain months for fun: February and October. I don’t think that the Bookish site is doing Book Bingo sheets anymore but I’m hoping I can find another site that has one for these two months.
  2. Keep reading my backlog list! At least one book per month
  3. Keep reading from my personal library! At least one book per month
  4. Write at least one non-review and non-blog tour post a month – can be one of the structured posts like Top Ten Tuesday or it can be informative or whatever I feel like!

 

I wish everyone strength and happiness in 2020, Happy Reading!

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2017 Recap and 2018 Goals

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Well 2017 was one hell of a year. I had a lot of new challenges at work and was pretty distracted from reading for most of the year. I did enjoy more concentrated reading time on a couple vacations but unfortunately I didn’t meet my overall reading goal this year. And I had hoped it wasn’t possible but I fell even more behind with the schedule, one of my goals next year is going to be to concentrate on getting through some of the backlog.

So! To recap on the goals I had set for 2017:

  1. Finish any ARC’s from 2016 that I missed from NetGalley – I only managed to read one off the list from 2016, plus I added an additional 30 of books I didn’t read from 2017. One of my main goals for next year is going to be concentrating on reading these and getting back on track! 
  2. Participate in 2 reading challenges:
    1. Bout of Books 19 in May 2017 – Done! I had a great time participating in the Bout of Books 19 and I was able to focus on my reading for a week
    2. ARC August in August 2017 – ARC August 2017 was pretty successful (though a tad less successful than last year)
  3. Other general goals:
    1. Writing shorter reviews – I managed this a little but this is something I’ll still  continue to work on!
    2. Continuing to establish relationships – I definitely accomplished this! I was able to establish some relationships with publishers that I’ve enjoyed working with and get notified on titles available for review that I really enjoy! I’m hoping to continue establishing my presence over the next year. 

I think I did pretty well with the goals this past year, though my work schedule did create some conflicts. Also I have to learn how to be more selective and not sign up for more reviews than I can handle. Anyways, here’s a chart for the books I read in 2017 versus 2016 and 2015.

Books Read by year 15-17

And I figured I’d share a couple of my favorites from this past year:

Top Five Books Read in 2017

5. Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia – 4.75 stars
4. The Simplicity of Apple Cider by Amy E. Reichert – 4.5 stars
3. The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers – 4.75 stars
2. Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker – 5.0 stars
1. Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza – 5.0 stars

Favorite Cover in 2017

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The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden – I loved this cover I thought it was beautifully mysterious and intriguing and really fit with the story. I loved it and the story as well!

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And so we move on to the New Year! 2018 is here and this year is going to be all about getting things back on track and organized. I’ve simplified my goals this year (even more) and also have a few non-reading things I’m hoping to also focus on this year.

  1. Participate in all the Bout of Books challenges this year – I’m hoping this will help me have more concentrated reading time this year
  2. Do any available ARC challenges I can find, including my regularly scheduled ARC August
  3. Read as many off my backlog as possible (right now there’s 52!)
  4. Write shorter but also more creative blog posts – I’ve gotten stuck in a sort of outline lately for my review and it gets wordy and I think boring. Hopefully I’ll be able to branch out a little more this year
  5. Also some personal goals! Eat healthier, lose weight, spend more time at home, spend more time with my husband and finish some of the house projects we have going on (including the library!)

 

So here’s looking forward to 2018 – hope you all had a wonderful holiday and are enjoying the New Year so far!

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2015 Recap and 2016 Goals

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When I set my goals for 2015 at the beginning of the year, I knew I had a lot to accomplish but I thought that the extra motivation would help me stay focused. My goals overall were more about trying new things and being more open to different types of books. And I can honestly say that I’ve read some books in 2015 that I would not have picked up on my own volition and I think I am a better reader for it. I just had no idea that becoming a book blogger was going to end up as a part-time job for me. I am so grateful to all of the authors and publishers and other media outlets that have allowed my blog to grow this past year and allowed me to grow as a reader.

So to recap how I did for my 2015 goals, I didn’t complete all of them but I think I did a fairly good job and I accomplished some extra things that a) distracted me and b) I never even knew existed. One lesson learned this year is that NetGalley approves most, if not all, of your review requests, so don’t request like 15 that are all being published in the same month (August & September were BIG NetGalley months for me, ha!). Another thing I learned this year is that if you have a blog where you review books, eventually authors and publishers will start contacting you asking you to review something for them. I was very honored to review a number of books for authors and publishers this past year and it was a great learning experience for me. Not only that but I read a lot of books I might not have heard of otherwise and I would have missed out on some great reads! So anyways, my original post about my 2015 goals you can find here. Below I’ll talk about how I did!

1. Read at least 20 different types of the books on the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge 2015 checklist – This one I did manage to finish! I read over 20 of the checklist items, you can browse through the ones I used to check off on this list here.

2. Post at least 2 non-book review related posts per month – I think I did pretty darn good on this one, though I have to admit I was better about coming up with ideas at the beginning of the year. Some of my favorite posts from this goal include my post about Gretna Green, post on my annual Reading Retreat, and my Author Interview with Andrea Lochen who is such a sweetheart!! I did end up skipping multiple months on this goal because I just ran out of time but I’m glad I tried writing about different topics and expanding my knowledge on certain areas.

3. Participate in one book reading challenge (on an external site) per quarter – Did this one too! For Q1 I did the Bookish Bingo challenge, Q2 I participated in #ReadingMyLibrary, Q3 I participated in ARC August challenge, and Q4 I am currently doing the Bookish Bingo holiday edition!

4. Post at least two posts per month concerning various book memes – Oh gosh I only missed one on this!!! Ugh if I knew it would end up this way I would’ve just done that one so I could check this one off. Anyways the one I missed was my second October post, monkeys! As you can probably tell by my posts I tend to favor the Top Ten Tuesday posts, followed closely by Friday Finds and Waiting on Wednesday ends in third. If anyone has suggestions for fun book memes that they participate in I am open to new ones!

5. Read at least 5 books from Amazon’s 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime – I don’t think I ended up doing this at all, which is unfortunate but I have a lifetime (ha) still to read them so I’m sure it will happen someday!

6. Participate in Roof Beam Reader’s 2015 TBR Pile Reading Challenge – I ended up only reading 7 of the 12 in my pile for this challenge, but I am still really glad I participated since I read some books that I had on my book shelf for quite a while! You can see the books I read for this challenge here.

So overall I think I ended up accomplishing A LOT this year, though the things I accomplished didn’t end up all being things I had planned at the beginning of the year as my goals. I had no idea that I would get so involved in NetGalley and also in author/publisher requests, and while they definitely side-tracked me from my original goals, I think that I grew a lot as a reader and a blogger because of these events. Another thing that came into my life this year that I’m really enjoying is joining a book club! I’ve found some great reads so far through my library’s fiction book club and I’m looking forward to the books we’re reading in 2016! You can see the books we read this past year for the book club here.

I ended up reading 125 books during 2015, which was an increase over my last year’s number. And I hadn’t really set a number goal for 2015 since i didn’t think I could read more than I did last year but I ended up doing just that. I’ve summarized the number of books I read per month for not only 2015 but also 2014 & 2013, below is a depiction of the data:

Per month chart for end of year post

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And so on we move to 2016!! Very excited to embrace the coming New Year and continue on my reading journey. I’m going to be trying to consolidate some of my 2016 goals so that I’m more able to achieve them while also tying in requests from authors/publishers and my NetGalley reads. I am also hoping to expand my reach in 2016 in terms of Advanced Reader Copies and hopefully establish a couple contacts/relationships with some of the publishers that I like. Below is a summarized listing of what my goals are 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
  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!
  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.
  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
    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.
    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.
    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).
  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
    2. Continue to review ARC’s from authors
    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
    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.

SO! That is everything. Gosh that was a lot of typing but that is my 2015 wrap up and my 2016 beginning. I will also be posting my WordPress summary in a separate post as well. And for anyone interested here is a link to my Goodreads summary for the year. I hope everyone had a successful 2015 and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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