January 2021 TBR

This month’s TBR is probably just going to be super basic as I continue reading romance books. We’ll see.

monthly tbr

This month I will also probably continue to ignore the pile of ARCs that I’ve accumulated. At least I stopped requesting things from NetGalley so…progress, right?

What are you guys reading this month? Let me know in the comments!

November 2020 TBR

I’m really not planning on holding myself to this TBR. I’ve been such a mood reader lately so we’ll just see how this month goes.

monthly tbr
What are you guys reading this month? Let me know in the comments!

October 2020 Wrap-Up/TBR Update

I had high hopes for this month, but I ended up feeling so slumpy. Nothing sounded good and I had no motivation to actually read. On the other hand, I did catch up on some graphic novel series and ended up doing some rereads so I read more than it felt like I did.

monthly tbr

Also read/reading:

Books finished this month: 12
Books currently reading:
3

Overall TBR:

TBR at the beginning of the year = 296
TBR at the beginning of October = 319
Books added to TBR = 14
Books read/deleted from TBR = 8
Total on TBR now = 325

How did your reading go this month?

MINI-REVIEWS: American Royals & Majesty by Katharine McGee

American Royals

This is the perfect book if you’re obsessed with the royal family and have always wondered what it would be like if America had one as well. I liked most of the characters (the ones we’re supposed to like anyway), but I didn’t love all of the relationships.  I thought there were just too many of them and wished that it had been cut back to maybe two of the four. Not everybody needs to have a romance or a romantic partner. The relationships were also a tad contrived in my opinion. They were basically all the same: “Here’s a character and here’s their love interest, but they can’t be together because of [blank] reason”. With that being said, I liked all of the relationships on an individual level. It was just the fact that they were all bundled together and were so similar to each other. Overall, this was a really enjoyable read and I would recommend it as a YA version of The Royal We.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Mild

Violence: None
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Mild

Order: Hardcover | Paperback | eBook

Majesty

*NOTE* This will probably contain slight spoilers.

This book picks up essentially right where the last one left off. I found this one just as enjoyable as the first, but also had the same exact issue, funny enough. Again, all of the relationships felt eerily similar and seemed to face the same obstacles. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised with how each of the relationships turned out, and again, I liked them all individually, but as a complete package it was too much for me. With that being said, I did still really enjoy this book and I just hope that in the third book (I assume there will be a third) Jeff finally finds a nice girl to be with.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Mild
Violence: None
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild

Order: Hardcover | eBook

New-ish Release Mini-Reviews

The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes

I went into this book kind of wondering why it was necessary, but I was sucked back into Panem right away. I forgot how engaging Collins is as a writer and this book brought to mind everything I loved about The Hunger Games in the first place. I thought it was really interesting to see what the early Games were like and how Coriolanus introduced some things that lasted even until Katniss played. In a lot of ways, this book is really reminiscent of Marissa Meyer’s Heartless. In both books, we know that our main character will eventually become a horrible person, but it’s not immediately clear how they get there. I felt my feelings towards Coriolanus slowly changing as the book went on. He was someone I could sympathize with at the beginning, but over time he turned into someone I really didn’t like. I’m curious to know how much of his backstory already existed while Collins wrote The Hunger Games and how much she pulled together for this book. I thought it was so interesting how Collins weaved in all the things in his background that explain just why he hates Katniss so much. Almost everything about her must remind him of Lucy Gray. Overall, if you were a fan of the original trilogy, I would definitely recommend this. I didn’t feel like it was a waste of time at all. 4/5

Order: Hardcover | eBook

Big Summer

I had no idea what this book was about when I started it so I was STUNNED that it turned into a murder mystery. Despite that somewhat pleasant surprise, I only found this book to be okay. There were so many flashbacks to the point where I was getting confused about what was actually happening in the current timeline. I kept losing track of where my character was supposed to be while she was thinking about the past. The ending was okay if not the most satisfying–it didn’t totally make sense to me. I didn’t find Nick and Daphne to be very convincing as a couple. I felt like they needed to have more of a confrontation than they did regarding Nick’s ulterior motives. My main takeaway, however, is that Darshi is an amazing angel friend and Daphne doesn’t deserve her. 3/5

Order: Hardcover | eBook

Happy & You Know It

This book also wasn’t quite what I wanted it to be. I didn’t find Claire to be a very likable character. A lot of the time I felt a little impatient with her. I also didn’t understand the depth of the betrayal she felt when she learned certain facts about the group–I thought she wildly overreacted. This book definitely had some Big Little Lies vibes to it almost where we have a group of mom and their secrets. I thought the prologue at the beginning of the book did a really great job of keeping the momentum going towards the end (again, similar to BLL). I thought the ending was a bit unexpected, but interesting and in retrospect, I can see the seeds that were planted along the way. Overall, I didn’t love the characters or the book as a whole, but I appreciated the frank depiction of what it’s like to be a new mother. I can testify that all those feelings about motherhood are real and accurate. 3/5

Order: Hardcover | eBook

Oona Out of Order

I was so disappointed by this book! My main problem was just that I didn’t care for Oona. I don’t think she made a single decision that I agreed with. Seriously. Not a single one. It’s so hard for me to connect with a character when I don’t agree with their decision-making. I just can’t separate myself like that. I didn’t totally understand her obsession with Dale. I understand that he was her high school boyfriend and first love and she didn’t really get closure on their relationship right away, but she’s as hung up on him after seven years (and other relationships) as she was in the first year. It just didn’t ring authentic to me. But what do I know? I never had a high school boyfriend. I also thought the pacing of the book was off. Each year, we would spend a lot of time on just a few days and then the rest of the year would take up like two paragraphs and we’d be on to the next. My last issue is the fact that we never really get to see Oona turn into “future Oona”. They felt like two completely separate characters and I really wanted to see Oona turn into that person who is “future Oona”, but we never do. There were definitely some twists that I didn’t see coming, but they weren’t enough to redeem this book. 2/5

The Vanishing Half

Oh gosh, I really feel like I’m in the minority with this one, but I thought it was just okay. The premise itself is pretty intriguing, but something about the pacing was off to me. The different narratives all felt really long and I think it could have benefited from alternating narratives or something. The whole story just seemed to move really slow. I’m not necessarily opposed to a leisurely paced story, but I really wasn’t getting anything out of this one. Despite the slow pace, I never felt connected to any of the character. It made it so I just didn’t really care much what was going on. Honestly, there were a couple of times that I almost set this book down for good. In the end, I think the relationship between Jude and Desiree was compelling and encouraging, but it was kind of offset by Stella and Kennedy’s relationship. 3/5

Order: Hardcover | eBook

On Slow and Steady Blog Growth | My Book Blogging Journey

Hello everyone! Some of you have been on this journey with me since practically the beginning, but I think most of you are pretty new (to me, at least). I’ve officially been a book blogger since March 2015 which means I’ve been doing this for almost 4.5 years (yikes). I originally started my blog because I was at a time in my life when I was reading A TON of books, but not retaining much about them. I had just graduated with my undergrad and was working part-time, but my husband was still in school/doing homework, so I had a lot of free time on my hands (thus the much reading).

I was frustrated that I would read a book, but then couldn’t remember anything about it. So I started this blog so I could have a place for my reviews and could hopefully remember more about what I was reading. I had (briefly) run a personal blog before this (super embarrassing and long deleted) so I sort of knew what I was doing, but not really.

My blogging journey since then has had a lot of ups and downs. I would go through spurts where I would post EVERY DAY (sometimes more than once) but then others where I wouldn’t post for weeks. This is what my yearly blog stats currently look like:

Yearly

2016 was clearly my most productive year, but that’s also when I started Library School and I had to do blog posts for some of my classes. Thus, a lot of those views are actually from classmates and don’t really count since, you know, they were doing it for a grade.

My next (and biggest) dip came right after I had my baby in April 2018. Some of you might remember that he came 5.5 weeks early and then we promptly moved up to live with my parents in Seattle for an internship. That summer was a HUGE dip in reading and blogging and it’s been hard to get back in a rhythm since. As soon as I whip out a book, my baby MUST come over and see what I’m doing, so it’s been harder to get reading time in. Despite that, in the beginning of 2019 I recommitted to this blog.

But then, life happens again. Another turbulent April. My grandmother unexpectedly passed away, we had three weddings around that time as well, plus my husband was graduating from Grad School, and then the next month I was trying to wrap everything up at work since we were moving to a completely different state…it was a lot.

Now we’re here. Life has calmed down significantly as we find our new rhythm in California and as I figure out what it’s like to be a full-time stay-at-home mom. I’m hoping to be able to dedicate time to reading and this blog again on a more consistent basis (fitting blogging and reading in at naptime/bedtime).

From a mildly seasoned blogger, I just want to convey the message that it’s okay if your blog isn’t growing as fast as you want it to or think it should. I cannot count the number of posts I’ve seen where someone is like, “OMG I’ve been blogging for 6 months and just hit 1,000 followers thxsomuch!!!” Which is fine, good for them. Honestly, I have no idea how they do it. I’ve been blogging for years and currently have 918 followers–at least half of which I’m SURE are either bots or inactive accounts. Here’s a look at my monthly views since this blog’s inception:

Monthly

So if you’re a new (or old) blogger and you feel like things aren’t happening for you just…don’t get discouraged, okay? Remember why you started your blog in the first place. It’s a journey and it can be frustrating, but in the end you started your blog for a reason and I’ve found significant comfort in regrounding myself in that reason.

I have no idea how my stats compare to other blogs, but those are real numbers and I’m only looking to compare my blog to where I’ve been in the past. This June has been looking much better than last June, so that’s enough for me.

Enter John Ambrose

Late this last week, Netflix made the announcement of who would be playing John Ambrose McClaren in the second To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before movie. Spoiler: It isn’t the guy from the end of the last movie. How would it feel to be that guy? Geez. I wasn’t a huge fan of that guy’s look in the first place, but I still feel bad for him.

Anyway, John Ambrose will be played by…drumroll…Jordan Fisher!

11633250-6865605-image-m-199_15538868887244917332711594932967.jpg

So there we go. I’ve been a fan of Jordan Fisher since his Teen Beach Movie days, but especially after Grease Live. I’m actually super excited about this casting and I continue to be, as ever, #teamJohnAmbrose. We welcome any and all new recruits.

How do you guys feel about this casting announcement? Are there any other actors you had in mind for John Ambrose?

11 Best Book Deals for 3/2/19: The Vacationers; Alex, Approximately; Seabiscuit; and more

As of this posting, all of these deals are active, but I don’t know for how long!
Free

Reign of Queens by Melissa Wright

A Throne for Sisters by Morgan Rice

Less than $2

The Vacationers by Emma Straub

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine & Ann Aguirre

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

Less than $3

Beautiful Boy by David Sheff

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Seabiscuit by Lauren Hillenbrand

Less than $5

Timebound by Rysa Walker


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January Wrap-Up & TBR Update

I did an okay job sticking to my TBR. Not fantastic (I should have known I couldn’t stop at the first book in a series) but I did alright. And I even did a good job of posting reviews for the books I read this month!

monthly tbr

Also read/reading:

Overall TBR:

TBR at the beginning of the year = 383
TBR at the beginning of January = 383
Books added to TBR = 31
Books deleted from TBR = 0 (I didn’t keep track, but I hope to track this stat in the future)
Total on TBR now = 411

Let’s just say it’s been a while since I’ve read some of these books [Mini-Reviews]

There are so many books that I read last year that I still haven’t gotten around to reviewing. Hopefully, this post can make a (small) dent in that list.

mini-reviews

The Conspiracy of Us and Map of Fates by Maggie Hall

map of fates

conspiracy of us

I really thought I was going to like these books because it seemed like it was going to be one massive treasure hunt. Instead, we’re gifted with insta-love and a completely unnecessary love triangle. I also don’t really understand why there’s this slight magical element? I mean, one of the characters is literally fireproof and I don’t know how that can be explained without magic. The main character is so naive and very annoying. I never understand why protagonists have such a hard time being left behind on “missions” when they have no training and would clearly only get in the way. I, personally, would be happy to sit on my behind in the hotel room and let people with ACTUAL TRAINING take care of the dangerous stuff. I honestly don’t know why I even bothered with the second book, but I am definitely NOT going to be reading the third one. 3/5

Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen

Orphan Monster SpyI wasn’t super impressed by this book. I thought it actually started off pretty strong, but it didn’t maintain that excitement through to the end. While I felt like it had a different tone from most books, that didn’t really make things any more interesting. The plot was fine, but not super engaging and I had a hard time figuring out what the end goal was supposed to be. Our main character is going through a bunch of stuff, but for what? I also didn’t find myself connecting to any of the characters. The main character was…fine. Kind of bland–you really don’t get to know her that well. The author also chose to include some pretty messed up characters, but I didn’t really feel like they added to the story. 3/5

The Archived by Victoria Schwab

The ArchivedThis book had been on my TBR forever because I really liked the Monsters of Verity duology. Also, I love any kind of twist on the “library” so if you know any good alternate library books, let me know in the comments! To get into my review, I felt like the world was pretty complex and didn’t really get explained very well at the beginning, which just left me feeling confused. I was also very confused for the first three chapters because I didn’t realize that Da and Dad were not both Mackenzie’s father. I liked Mackenzie as a main character, but she made some really questionable decisions. I never really understood her resistance for sharing information with the librarians, but especially Roland. He seemed to obviously be on her side and some things could have been prevented if she had been more transparent. I thought Wesley was a bit much as a character, but I did like watching his relationship with Mackenzie develop. Owen, on the other hand…that relationship seemed to come out of nowhere. In the end, there was a twist that I did NOT see coming and I’m just left with so many questions. Like, what is up with Ms. Angelli? Such a mystery. 4/5

ebook | Paperback

The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher

The ChristmasaurusThis is such a fun middle grade Christmas book. The language was pretty silly throughout, so I would definitely recommend for younger middle grade readers, but I think that age will find the silly language really enjoyable. This book has wheelchair representation which I don’t think I’ve seen in any other books–let alone middle grade. I’m no expert, but it felt like it was portrayed accurately and definitely felt super respectful. I also thought that the characters developed in a realistic way. Even though Brenda is horrible, I felt like I understood her and that’s not always the case with antagonists. I loved all of the illustrations throughout and the Christmas feels were SO STRONG. There’s a twist at the end that I didn’t see coming (am I just oblivious???) which was such a fun surprise. I recommend getting the version of the book that comes with the soundtrack–not necessary, but a really fun and festive bonus. 4/5

ebook | Hardcover | Musical Edition

Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake

Two Dark ReignsOkay, I’m hoping to get through this review without any spoilers, but it’s book three in the series, so I’m really sorry if I reveal anything from the first two books–unintentional. After the second book I wasn’t sure how invested I would be in the rest of the story–I didn’t really see where Blake could take it from there. However, the third book got me reinvested real quick. I found myself liking this book much more than the second one and the different POVs continued to be a nice change of pace. I enjoyed each POV equally. There continue to be many, many questions and I need the next book asap. The ending took me by surprise and I’m still not sure exactly what’s going on or what’s going to happen. There’s some interesting things going on on the island and I guess we’ll just have to see what happens next. 4/5

ebook | Hardcover

My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, & Brodi Ashton

my plain janeI love this series! The tone is fun and light and easy to enjoy. Once again, I thought the rotating perspective worked well, but Jane’s sections were probably my least favorite. I do wish that I’d read Jane Eyre first, though, because there are certain plot points that were so strange and I don’t know if they were extra or if they’re part of the original text. This is partly why one of my 2019 reading goals is to read Jane Eyre. I also liked that this is somewhat of a “Jane Eyre origin story”. The plot itself was good, but not completely thought out or explained. Why do the talismans work on ghosts? What really determines if a ghost moves on or not? Is a special “moving on” room really necessary? I also felt like red rooms were mentioned several times and I don’t really know why. Despite all that, the tone of the book is so enjoyable that I happily overlooked the times when things weren’t fully explained and I’m excited to continue on with this series. 4/5

ebook | Hardcover


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