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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Immortals After Dark series

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So this year I caught on to the Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole. I heard about this series because I started listening to the Fated Mates podcast (see my other post on how I fell onto the podcast – up later this week). I had no idea it was a read-a-long with a romance series but I decided to give the first book a try and see how things went.

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So the first book in the series is A Hunger Like No Other, featuring Emmaline and Lachlain. Amazon says it’s actually the second in the series but on Fated Mates this is the first one we read. The one Amazon considers first is really a novella that we read later in the podcasts. Anyways, this book was BANANAS. I was hooked on the series right from the start and I DEVOURED it once I started it. At first I tried to use it as a reward, like read 2 of my scheduled books and I get to read an IAD book. But then I gave up on that and just read IAD books because I couldn’t WAIT to get to the next person’s story. I read the whole series as it stands now (18 books) in less than 3 months.

Obviously there were some books within the series that I liked more than others. I mean the whole series is amazing, I think the lowest rating I gave any of the books in the series was like a 3.5, which means I still liked it. Most of the books in the series I rated a 4 or above. Some of my favorites are the ones below:

I didn’t post individual reviews of the books since the series was one that I was just reading for fun and not for my reading schedule. I did post individual reviews on my Goodreads page though. I wanted to do an overall post on the series though since I’ve loved it so much. It was especially enjoyable to read the books along with the Fated Mates podcast. The next book in the series, Munro, is coming out in the summer I think and I can’t wait. I would definitely recommend the whole series – it is so interesting and complicated and amazing. Go read it now!

2019 Monthly Status Update: December

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December was BUSY. Work was a struggle for me this month but luckily I had some time off at the end of the month and I was able to catch up with my reading. I wish I could have more vacations like this, where I get to read a book a day and get some things done around the house and not do much else. So anyways, here are some highlights from December for me:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 10
# pages read this month: 3,437
# books read year-to-date: 102
# pages read year-to-date: 36,251

Favorite Books I Read this Month:

Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison – 4.5 stars
Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn – 4.0 stars

Other Posts this month:

Nothing else for this month!

Next Month TBR List:

  • The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
  • Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey
  • Hunting for a Highlander by Lynsay Sands
  • Marriage on Madison Avenue by Lauren Layne
  • Scot Under the Covers by Suzanne Enoch

2019 Monthly Status Update: November

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November was a great month. I got some reading done, I got some work done, and I had a great holiday with family. I tried to devote as much time to reading as possible, though there’s always too much to get done! I read some new things this month, some of which I really enjoyed. So anyways, here are some highlights from November for me:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 10
# pages read this month: 3,597
# books read year-to-date: 92
# pages read year-to-date: 32,814

Favorite Books I Read this Month:

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I LOVED The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell – it was creepy and mysterious and had some great plot twists. I didn’t want to put this one down! (4.75 stars)

Other Posts this month:

Nothing else for this month!

Next Month TBR List:

  • The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
  • The Prince of Broadway by Joanna Shupe
  • Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn
  • Forever My Duke by Olivia Drake

UPDATE – October Reading Challenge: Booktober Reading Bookish Bingo!!

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I unfortunately did not get bingo this month. I still had a ton of fun reading – I especially loved the bingo board for this month (see below). I wish I had been able to devote more time to reading – then I’m sure I would’ve been able to get bingo! Maybe next year.

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2019 Monthly Status Update: October

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October was a busy month for me work wise (as per the usual lately if I’m honest). I was doing a reading challenge and I only wish I had been able to devote more time to reading since I missed getting book bingo by only a couple books. Even so, I had a great time reading during October and since Halloween is my favorite holiday I tried to allow myself some spooky reads for the month! So anyways, here are some highlights from October for me:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 7
# pages read this month: 2,501
# books read year-to-date: 82
# pages read year-to-date: 29,217

Favorite Books I Read this Month:

 

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Pestilence by Laura Thalassa – did not post a review on this but it was so different and fun and it was one of my favorite books of the month! (4.0 stars)

Other Posts this month:

October Reading Challenge – Bookish Bingo!
The Widow of Rose House BLOG TOUR!! 

Next Month TBR List:

-The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
-Not the Girl You Marry by Andie J. Christopher
-The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
-Don’t Close Your Eyes by Christie Craig
-Don’t Breathe a Word by Christie Craig
-The Princess Plan by Julia London

That’s a fairly manageable TBR list for me over a month so i’m also hoping to read something else among either my backlog, my owned books, or the next book from the Fated Mates podcast, which I’m trying to keep up with! Over the next month I’ll be trying to get a lot done at work while also gearing up for the holidays and getting ready for lots of family time, which I love! Here’s hoping you all had a colorful October and are looking ahead to a warm and loving November.

2019 Book #82 – The Lady’s Deception by Susanna Craig

51dl92DyeEL (1).jpgTitle: The Lady’s Deception
Author: Susanna Craig
Date finished: 10/27/19
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Publication Date: October 29, 2019
Pages in book: 288
Stand alone or series: Rogues & Rebels #3
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:

Can a runaway English bride find love with a haunted Irish rebel?
 
Paris Burke, Dublin’s most charismatic barrister, has enough on his mind without the worries of looking after his two youngest sisters. The aftermath of a failed rebellion weighs on his conscience, so when the young English gentlewoman with an unwavering gaze arrives, he asks far too few questions before hiring her on as governess. But her quick wit and mysterious past prove an unexpected temptation.

Rosamund Gorse knows she should not have let Mr. Burke think her the candidate from the employment bureau. But after her midnight escape from a brother bent on marrying her off to a scoundrel, honesty is a luxury she can no longer afford. With his clever mind and persuasive skill, Paris could soon have her spilling her secrets freely just to lift the sorrow from his face. And if words won’t work, perhaps kisses would be better?

Hiding under her brother’s nose, Rosamund knows she shouldn’t take risks. If Paris learns the truth, she might lose her freedom for good. But if she can learn to trust him with her heart, she might discover just the champion she desires . . .

My rating:  2.5 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. Also I’m reading this book as part of my October Bookish Bingo Reading Challenge, checking of the “protagonist has a cat” box since a kitten played a big part of the interactions between the two main characters.

I haven’t read anything by this author before but I really liked the cover and was interested in giving it a try. I liked the book a good amount but there was a lot that I wasn’t thrilled with also. Rosamund was so very strong willed and I really liked that about her character, but at the same time she was so unbearably naive. And Paris was in some ways a great example of a romance novel hero but he was also very selfish and self-absorbed. There was a lot in this book too that seemed to be related to characters from previous novels in the series – I think I would’ve felt more connected to the story line if I had had some involvement in those story lines as well. And their relationship felt like it was progressing slowly but then it went warp speed when they started getting physical and it just didn’t feel developed enough for what was happening. Overall I liked the book ok but wasn’t especially excited about it.

Link to author website

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