2021 (Low Pressure) Reading / Blogging Goals

After experiencing 2020, the bar is set so low as far as reading and blogging goes.

I had my reading goal set to 90 on Goodreads last year, and you can bet that my goals dropped down to 60 this year. It seems like a manageable number, and I’m not too worried about surpassing it or not hitting it. I’m pivoting my view of reading this year, and I’m excited to enjoy reading again. I think we can all agree that I need to diversify my reading, so that’s also on my list. Other than chipping away at the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge, that’s all for my reading goals.

Alright, blogging goals. Do I have any? No, not really. This is obviously a hobby for me, an escape. This doesn’t need to be a chore. I think my biggest goal is to work on the quality of my work rather than the quantity of blog posts. I also want to review every book I read this year, but I’m not going to beat myself up if I don’t accomplish that.

That’s it. I just want to work on being a quality reader and blogger. I want to focus on really thinking about what I read, so my reviews can be better. I know this wasn’t a very long post, but I just wanted to update you all.

P.S. This isn’t a reading/blogging goal, but I want to do more puzzles this year. I completed one I had for four years, and I had so much fun.

What are some of your 2021 goals?


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Book Review of The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

374 pages

ISBN: 9780316421997

Published: 9/10/19 by Redhook

Genre: Portal Fantasy

Rating: 3 out of 5.

B&N | Book Depository

*click on photos to view original sources*

“In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.”


Doors, he told her, are change, and change is a dangerous necessity. Doors are revolutions and upheavals, uncertainties and mysteries, axis points around which entire worlds can be turned. They are the beginnings and endings of every true story, the passages between that lead to adventures and madness and—here he smiled—even love. Without doors the worlds would grow stagnant, calcified, storyless.

Whew, I actually finished this an entire month later. Unfortunately, it didn’t do much for me except prove to me how much I’m not a fan of portal fantasies. An example of another portal fantasy would be Seanan McGuire’s The Wayward Children Series, which I tend to not enjoy as the novels are published. This one, however, is more whimsical, so I figured I would enjoy it a little more. And I did, but not by a landslide.

› The story itself is very creative and original. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever read before. January finds a book that leads her to other worlds on the other side of doors. It slowly takes you through her discoveries as she reads this book, and they even involve her. I won’t spoil the how and the why. There are a lot of intricacies that I can definitely appreciate. I can tell that a lot of time and thought went into the book.

› However, the writing isn’t balanced. Too much whimsy within long passages. I want even amounts of character development and dialogue, description, and action. There’s not enough description of the worlds that the characters travel to through the doorways. They enter and they’re immediately speaking to another character. There is a brief description of the first door she steps through, but even then it was a short paragraph. I’d say it would make for an even longer book, but there are other parts that could be cut out to make room.

› I wanted to share a line in the novel that actually made me stop for a minute. It’s a quote that I’ll remember for a long time. It’s one of the few lines that I still think of, even though I started this a month ago.

Sometimes I feel there are doors lurking in the creases of every sentence, with periods for knobs and verbs for hinges.

Tell me that’s not a well-crafted sentence. It paints a weird picture in my head of a door. I loved this so much, and I searched the rest of the book for that. Nothing else wowed me like this single line. It’s beautiful. It’s what makes me not want to give up on this author.

› Would I recommend this book? I would recommend it to a certain group of people, but I know it won’t be for everyone. I think if you enjoy portals, the search for family, secrets, and beautiful / whimsical writing, then you’ll probably like this. It just didn’t all mesh together for me.

› I ended up needing the audiobook to get me through this, and I ended up becoming a member of Libro.fm—an audiobook company that supports indie bookstores. I’m obviously not sponsored, but I wanted to give them love and support. When you become a member, you get a 30% discount on the audiobooks, you get a credit each month for the same price as audible, and you can refer friends so they can get a free audiobook. If any of you are interested, here is my referral code lfm215615.

Let me know down in the comments what you thought about this book! If you haven’t read, then is it on your tbr?

“I’ve been a student and a teacher, a farm-worker and a cashier, an ice-cream-scooper and a 9-to-5 office-dweller. I’ve lived in tents and cars, cramped city apartments and lonely cabins, and spent a summer in a really sweet ’79 VW Vanagon. I have library cards in at least five states. Now I’m a full-time writer living in with my husband and two semi-feral kids in Berea, Kentucky. It is, I’m very sure, the best of all possible worlds.”


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Book Review: The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren

The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren

308 pages

Published 3/24/20 by Gallery Books

ISBN: 9781982123918

Genre: Romance

Rating: 3 out of 5.

B&N | Amazon

Thank you to Gallery Books and NetGalley for the early digital copy in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads Synopsis:

Carey Douglas has worked for home remodeling and design gurus Melissa and Rusty Tripp for nearly a decade. A country girl at heart, Carey started in their first store at sixteen, and—more than anyone would suspect—has helped them build an empire. With a new show and a book about to launch, the Tripps are on the verge of superstardom. There’s only one problem: America’s favorite couple can’t stand each other.

James McCann, MIT graduate and engineering genius, was originally hired as a structural engineer, but the job isn’t all he thought it’d be. The last straw? Both he and Carey must go on book tour with the Tripps and keep the wheels from falling off the proverbial bus.

Unfortunately, neither of them is in any position to quit. Carey needs health insurance, and James has been promised the role of a lifetime if he can just keep the couple on track for a few more weeks. While road-tripping with the Tripps up the West Coast, Carey and James vow to work together to keep their bosses’ secrets hidden, and their own jobs secure. But if they stop playing along—and start playing for keeps—they may have the chance to build something beautiful together…

Review:

Trigger warnings: Cheating

I enjoyed this one more than their previous book, but I don’t think I would have finished it if not for the audiobook. 


This one is told in two different perspectives, James McCann and Carey Douglas. They work for Rusty and Melissa Tripp, the Chip and Joanna Gaines of this world. Carey has worked for the Tripps for ten years, specifically Melissa, helping them build an empire. James recently started working for Chip, but it wasn’t the job he expected it to be—it was worse. It definitely wasn’t a structural engineer, which is what he was hired as. Their new television show and book is about to be released, so they all go on tour together. The only reason James and Carey go is to keep Rusty and Melissa from killing each other. They need to keep their perfect reputation. 


This one is pretty slow-going. I didn’t really care for any of the characters except for James. He is such a wonderful man, and he takes such good care of Carey. Because of him, the (very few) sex scenes are consensual. If you want rough and dirty, this won’t be for you.


Carey is just another basic character to me. She’s not memorable at all. I don’t have a lot to say about her.


Rusty and Melissa constantly get on my nerves. I didn’t want to hear about them because all they did is fight. I didn’t like their morals, and why they were staying together. Rusty is also extremely insulting at the end. I just wasn’t a fan. That’s one of the main reasons why this is a three-star book for me.


If you want something easy to read, then this would be something you could pick up. This isn’t the best Christina Lauren, but it’s still cute and somewhat fun. Even though I keep giving their books three-stars they’ll forever be an auto-read duo. I’m hoping the next one is better. 


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December 2019 Reading Wrap Up!

My December was not full of quality reading. A lot of the books were very average. I did have a lot of four stars, but nothing incredible. I clearly didn’t write many reviews either. My five-star read is a graphic novel, which is actually pretty exciting. That doesn’t happen often.

December reading stats:

Read: 13 total. 6 graphic novels; 7 full-length novels.

Page count: 2,960

5 – 1

4 – 6

3 – 4

2 – 2

1 – 0


Giant Days vols 3 by John Allison: 11/25/19-12/2/19

Instagram Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Giant Days vol. 4 by John Allison: 12/4/19-12/7/19

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James: 12/4/19-12/8/19

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren: 12/2/19-12/8/19

Instagram Review | Blog Review

Giant Days vol. 5 by John Allison: 12/10/19-12/12/19

Rating: 4 out of 5.

One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski: 12/10/19-12/14/19

Goodreads Review | Instagram Review | Blog Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Giant Days vol. 6 by John Allison: 12/9/19-12/18/19

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand: 12/21/19-12/22/19

Rating: 4 out of 5.

On the Corner of Love and Hate by Nina Bocci: 12/23/19-12/25/19

Blog Review | Instagram Review | Goodreads Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Giant Days vol. 7 by John Allison: 12/19/19-12/25/19

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid: 12/13/19-12/30/19

Instagram Review | Blog Review | Goodreads Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Giant Days vol. 8 by John Allison: 12/31/19-12/31/19

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Well Met by Jen DeLuca: 12/26/19-12/31/19

Instagram Review | Goodreads Review

Rating: 2 out of 5.

If you enjoyed this, then give it a like and follow my blog. Be respectful and happy reading!

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Blogmas Day 7: Favorite Book Quotes

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Happy BLOGMAS day 7!

I’ve posted in the past about my favorite book quotes. Many a book has been read since then, and I’m excited to give you all an updated list! I still stick by the old quotes though. Here are the old posts, if you’re interested:

Top Ten Tuesday (3/6/18)

Top Ten Tuesday (4/30/19)

“Of all that we’re asked to give others in this life, the most difficult to offer may be forgiveness.” – This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

“Love comes in many forms, and pain is no different.” – This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger

“Never underestimate the passion of a lonely mind.” – The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish

“We therefore are creatures determined by nature, lacking will of our own.” – The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish

“There is a hole where my heart once was. In its place, your history.” – The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish

“I think we should all work hard to ensure that substance matters more than labels—that’s the society I strive to live in.” – Letters from an Astrophysicist by Neil deGrasse Tyson

“One can be ready to give up the children one always wanted, one can be ready to withstand remarks about one’s past, or one’s clothes, but then-a tiny remark and the soul deflates and says: Oh.” – My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

“It may be the luckiest and purest thing of all to see time sharpen to a single point. To feel the world rise up and shake you hard, insisting that you rise, too, somehow. Someway. That you come awake and stretch, painfully. That you change, completely and irrevocably—with whatever means are at your disposal—into the person you were always meant to be.” – Love and Ruin by Paula McLain

“So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?” – All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

“You could go to war with the world, but the world would always win.” – The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

“If reassurances could dull pain, nobody would ever go to the trouble of pressing grapes.” – The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

Share your favorite quotes down in the comments!


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Blogmas Day 3 – Top Ten Tuesday: Holiday Reads

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Happy BLOGMAS day 3!

Rules for Top Ten Tuesday:

Every Tuesday there is a new topic that you will find over at That Artsy Reader Girl.

The goal is to give your top ten answers, but you can give as many as you want. Put a twist on the topic to make it work for you!

Most importantly, make sure you link to the host (That Artsy Reader Girl ↑).

Happy Blogmas day 3, friends! I don’t typically read books during a specific time of year. This was meant to be books I love to read during the holiday season, but I’m going to give you all holiday book options. I can’t tell you a single holiday book that I have read. These are just some on my radar, or ones I think a lot of people would be interested in.

One Day in December by Josie Silver

Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

Snowflakes at Mistletoe Cottage by Katie Ginger

We Met in December by Rosie Curtis

One Week ‘Til Christmas by Belinda Missen

Single All the Way by Karen King

10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston


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Blogmas Day 2: December 2019 TBR

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Happy BLOGMAS day 2! I just wanted to make it clear to everyone that not every day is going to be a post relating to Christmas. I would go absolutely insane. I’m just putting out a post every day—some are holiday themed and some aren’t.

Anyway, December is the first month where I make use of my TBR jars! I have one for my physical books and one for my NetGalley ARCs. I also need to pick a library book but that isn’t hard to do at all. I have thirty books checked out at any given time.

Physical Book Pick:

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James: This is very short and hopefully easy to get through. Have any of you read this one? Did you enjoy it (no spoilers, please!)

NetGalley Book Pick:

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid: This was perfect because it comes out on December 31st. I’ll probably start this sooner rather than later.

Library Book Pick:

Where do I start?

These are the three main options:

– Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren: I have this on NetGalley—never got around to it, unfortunately.

– The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin: I’ve heard so many good things about this.

– One Night Gone by Tara Laskowski: I did get this one on NetGalley as well, but I never got around to it, so now I have it out from my library.

Extras:

These will be ones I read if I just so happen to finish all of those or ones I have already started. I like to start the month off fresh and that usually means I put things down from the previous month. Don’t judge.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern: I’m a little over 100 pages into this one. I was really enjoying it, but it’s not keeping my interest.

Giant Days Vol. 3 & Giant Days Vol. 4 by John Allison: I’m a little less than half way into volume 3, and I am hoping to start/finish volume 4.

The Light After the War by Anita Abriel: I’m 30% of the way into this one. It’s very easy to read, so I’m sure I can finish this one. This is also a NetGalley ARC—releases 2/4/20.

I would like to stick to just these books. I hate not having structure to my reading. This will also help me keep up with my NetGalley books. I’m very behind and I feel so bad. I have hit 80% before, and I would love to get back up there. December will be the catalyst for a successful 2020.


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ARC Book Review: The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

Thank you to Berkley / NetGalley for allowing me to read a digital copy in exchange for an honest review! 

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

Published 11/5/2019 by Berkley

ISBN: 9781984806093

339 pages (Goodreads says there is 320 pages, but the copy I’m reading goes to 339)

Genre: Contemporary Romance | Rom-Com

Rating: ★★★★☆

Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis:

The first rule of this book club:
You don’t talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him.

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.

Review:

*I am late with my review, but any quote(s) used are from the finished copy.

“I’m the kind of baseball wife who still isn’t sure the difference between a no-hitter and a perfect game, and you know what? It doesn’t matter. Because I didn’t marry baseball. I married Gavin, a man with more integrity than you could ever dream of having.”

I’m quite behind on writing reviews. I’ve hit some sort of reading sprint, and I can’t stop. I finished two books in one weekend, which never happens to me. I’m slowly getting all of my thoughts together for each book.

Characters | 

The characters were all pretty interesting. I thought that the members of the book club were funny. They all had their flaws though, and some bothered me more than others.

I started out hating Gavin, then Thea started showing her true colors. Her mothering skills were fantastic. She treats her daughters like they matter, which I don’t see very often in novels. She has a semi-strong bond with her sister, which is great. I just don’t like how she treats Gavin. If you don’t want to give him the light of day, then just end it right then and there. Instead, she eggs it on. That kills me! The reader understands why, like, right at the end of the book. I get that she has a depressing past, but that doesn’t mean you need to take it out on other people. I just didn’t end up liking her that much, unfortunately.

I didn’t care for Liv and the way she treated Gavin. It wasn’t any of her business as to why Gavin was still staying at the house. I understand she was trying to take care of her sister but, there are boundaries. She was probably my least favorite character, other than Mack, who is part of the book club.

Story |

I would consider this a slow-burn romance. Nothing steamy happens until closer to the end, but I’m into the rom-com novels. This could totally be a movie! I would watch it.

The story focuses on Gavin and his desire to keep his marriage together after he supposedly tore it apart. The issue is that they both play a pretty big role in what path their marriage is going down. The reader learns a lot about Thea’s past and her relationship with her parents. I won’t spoil that for you since it’s a significant piece of information in the novel. I’m sure it won’t be a surprise to anyone who reads/watches rom-coms.

I loved this so much. This is romantic, but it also has a lot of familial dynamics. Thea and Gavin have two twin daughters, Ava and Amelia, who make it even harder to make a decision regarding their marriage. Oh yeah, did I also mention Thea’s sister, Liv? She plays a role in the whole ordeal too. She also has a lot of turmoil with their parents. Thea and Liv stick together. Let’s just say that Liv isn’t a fan of Gavin and vice versa.

My issues with the story: There was a point that I just wanted it to come to an end. This isn’t a very long book, but it does get redundant, I guess. It is still very fast-paced, regardless. It was a five-star read up until around page 260. I found myself not wanting to continue on, or just skipping to the end to see what happens.

I also found myself not wanting to read the excerpts of the novel. Obviously, the two stories are similar to one another, except one is from the 1800s and one is present day. The situations are different. I just didn’t care about those characters. Thank God that doesn’t show up too often.

Writing | 

I found the sex scenes to be very well done! They are scarce and short-lived, but they were 10/10. Good description of everything!
This is a romance novel, so don’t go into this expecting it to blow your mind. I found it to be a bit more sophisticated. The book club members have a very diverse vocabulary, which surprised me.

Overall | 

I would totally buy this for my shelves! I enjoyed it a lot, and I recommend it if you’re interested or if you need a funny, steamy, fast-paced read. This is the type of book that will lift you out of your reading slump, for sure! Go pick it up and show it some love.

“Love is enough.”
“It’s always enough.”


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Top Ten Tuesday: Changes in My Reading Life

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Rules for Top Ten Tuesday:

Every Tuesday there is a new topic that you will find over at That Artsy Reader Girl.

The goal is to give your top ten answers, but you can give as many as you want. Put a twist on the topic to make it work for you!

Most importantly, make sure you link to the host (That Artsy Reader Girl ↑).

1. The biggest change is that I don’t really read YA anymore (I’m not saying there is anything wrong with it, it’s just not my cup of tea). When I first started reading on a daily basis, I thought I would only be able to comprehend YA. Now my comprehension struggle is with literary fiction and some SF/F.
2. I have an e-reader now, so e-books are a thing. The big reason I started reading e-books is because I started using NetGalley. It’s such an awesome website, and I am very thankful that it exists!
3. I fell in love with historical fiction. I used to think it was a boring genre that nobody wanted to read.
4. I have started to create TBRs each month. This is a recent change in my reading life.
5. I would never buy books, and now I have two big bookshelves almost full.
6. I read multiple books at once. It’s quite difficult for me to only focus on one book at a time. Life is too short to only read one book lol.
7. I listen to audio books A LOT now.
8. I buddy read sometimes.
9. I do read a little bit faster.
10. I participate in the Goodreads Reading Challenge every year.


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Genre Spotlight | Historical Fiction

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I’m sure this has been done a thousand times, but I wanted to start a little series on my blog where I talk about some of my favorite genres to read. I don’t really know how many of these I’ll do, but I thought it would be fun! I hope you enjoy it too.

I never talk about my favorite genres that much, and I figured now is the time. My all-time favorite genre is historical fiction. It always seems to get me out of reading slumps. This post will give you a few reasons why I love it, and why you should at least give it a shot.

There are so many different perspectives that an author can write from. 

I can go into most historical fiction novels and expect a new perspective. I can learn about another little percentage of a different era. Think about all the people who aren’t talked about to this day. We could all write a novel about someone different. Isn’t that super cool to think about? Learning about what they did, and how they impacted the future—our grandparents’ generation, our parents’ generation, and our generation. Just take a second and think about that.

If you choose the correct author, you can learn so much from just a single novel.

There are wonderful authors that do their research (e.g. Ken Follett, Philippa Gregory, etc…). I haven’t read from either of them, but I have heard such great things that they are definitely on my list. I have learned a lot from other books not written by those authors. Love and Ruin by Paula McLain taught me a little about the Spanish Civil War. I Googled a lot while reading that novel. There was so much I didn’t even know, and now I do!

I find the dialogue to be more complex and interesting.

There is nothing worse than boring dialogue! That’s all I really have to say about that. Some books can pull off simple dialogue, but it’s pretty rare. That’s all I really have to say about that.

Lives of ordinary people are brought to light.

This is one of my favorite aspects of historical fiction. There are so many characters based on real people from the past. I know that not a lot of people enjoy that, but I definitely do. A few good examples: Love and Ruin by Paula McLain (Martha Gellhorn) and The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (Sarah Grimke). Love and Ruin is one of my favorite books to date.

I never would have learned about these interesting people of history if it weren’t for my love of historical fiction. I can’t thank the genre enough for that.

Conflicts during that time are different compared to today. 

The twenty-first century has its own conflicts, but that past was especially different, and dare I say, more compelling. WWI and WWII were such substantial fragments of history that are perhaps overrated at this point, but I still love reading about it. There is so much to discuss, and so much light to shed on that generation! It’s also fun to see how far we have come, or ways we have fallen backward. I think a lot of it is my urge to learn something new. Books are my favorite way to do that!

– Disclaimer –

I’m not saying that all historical fiction novels are amazing. Yes, there are a ton out there that misrepresent the genre, but you just can’t focus on those. I know this genre won’t be for everyone, but I think it’s worth a shot. These are my opinions, so if you hate historical fiction, then that is 100% okay.

What’s your favorite genre?


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