2021 Monthly Status Update: April

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April has brought its ups and downs. There is still (as always) lots of work to do. But I was able to get off some time at the end of the month and that was a great break from reality. Spent a lot of that time watching TV but I was also able to fit in some time for reading! Anyways, here is my progress for reading in April:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 9
# pages read this month: 3,386
# books read year-to-date: 32
# pages read year-to-date: 11,352

Other Posts this month:

A look into the different Romance Genres

Favorite books from this month:

The Invited by Jennifer McMahon – 4.75 stars

Next Month TBR List:

  • The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren
  • Heartbreak for Hire by Sonia Hartl (not out til July but I’ll be busy then so I’m reading a little early!)

I don’t have a lot on the list for this month but I will be trying to get a lot done with both work and my personal life so I’m ok with a light list this month! We have a lot of house projects this month that we’ll be having to deal with and the preparation related to those will I think take up a good amount of my free time. I’m trying to decide whether or not to participate in the Bout of Books read-a-thon in a week or so.

Happy reading everyone!

A look into the different Romance Genres

I started reading romance when I was 12 or 13 years old. I was an avid reader prior to (and after) that and a regular library patron, and when I found the romance paperback section it was a whole new world that opened for me. The young adult books that I had read before – I was always drawn to any books that included a romance sub-plot or a love story. Finding out there were books based entirely around the romance piece was eye opening. I’ve read a lot of different types of fiction over the years, both before and after I discovered romance. But I am drawn back to romance novels time and time again because I love that the novels always have a happy ending, and that they’re always bringing a message of hope for those that are searching for true love. The stories, even though they’re not always realistic, give readers examples of true love and happiness. I think they also have some great lessons hidden in their plots – your partner should always treat you with kindness and respect being the foremost, but there are so many others that delve into other types relationships as part of their sub-plots, including familial relationships and friendships.

Romance is one of the highest-selling genres in the book industry, with sales consistently exceeding $1billion per year. It’s evident from the sales that romance novels are a wide-spread phenomenon that appeals to many groups of people. Even with that though, there is a stigma attached to the genre that has it labeled as “trashy”, “smut”, or “garbage.” There’s an assumption by many other readers that anyone who enjoys the romance genre is a “lesser-class” of reader. But I have found through my experience over the last few years that romance readers are some of the best community of people. They’re so supportive of new authors, of other readers, and of the overall fan base. And they are all such avid readers! These romance novels get devoured by readers, and they’re still always looking for the next great read. And the demand has started to make it’s way onto the big screen, with productions like The Bridgertons being such a huge success, as well as the increase in productions on upcoming releases, like The Hating Game and The Kiss Quotient.

Over the years I’ve read many romance novels across all different types of genres, and while there are some I like more than others, I like that the romance genre has something for everyone in the different types of novels that are produced. Even as a person changes through their different life stages and goes through different phases over time, there are so many choices that the romance genre can grow and change with the reader. So I thought for this month I’d do a feature post about the different genres and tropes and everything romance! I’ve been looking for a good poster that really illustrates the different branches of the romance tree. I haven’t found a good example yet, though there are some good resources online to learn more about the different genres.

To start with – romance is really a wide-spread genre that covers many different age groups and interests. Just like any other genre there are many different topics that can be covered and different fan groups to be a part of. Below is a picture of different genres under the general fiction umbrella, including the romance genre and examples of some of the subgenres:

Harlequin has some great guides of the subgenres with lots of examples of reads that you can pick up should there be a particular interest that catches your eye. RWA also has a great listing which would be a handy reference for those looking for additional information on both subgenres and some stats on the romance genre as a whole.

Romance as a genre appeals to multiple age groups, people are drawn to love stories no matter what their age is. The main age groups that books can fall into with romance included would be young adult, new age, and adult. New Age is a newer subgenre that has gained in popularity in the last few years I think that really focuses on adults in more of a college age group. Young adult usually is around 15 to 18 or 19, I’d say New Age is around 19 to 24ish, and then everything over that really is the adult group.

Beyond age groups, there are many subgenres of topics. Some tend to fall into a timeline in terms of years. I’ll get into some of the subgenres and even some specific tropes. There’s another romance blog that did a post on this topic also – All the Kissing did a post on the 7 Different Types of Romance Subgenres. They did a great summary so I’d recommend reading their post also if you’re interested in the topic. Beyond the types of subgenres too there’s stand alone novels and then there’s category romances. Harlequin is always the first thing I think of when it comes to category romance as they have different title series including Desire, Inspiration, Intrigue, etc that give the reader exactly what they’re looking for.

The subgenres that I consider to be the main ones are Contemporary, Historical, Erotic, Religious/Inspirational, Romantic Suspense, and Paranormal. These are fairly general labels for subgenres and really are somewhat subjective. As an example, I’ve heard many times on the Fated Mates podcast a discussion around whether or not Priest by Sierra Simone is really an inspirational novel because of the role that God plays in the book. There’s not necessary one right answer – some love the book and could agree with the assessment that it’s an inspirational novel, some really don’t like the novel and call it blasphemy. But the point is – there’s something for everyone! There are more beyond this too – either with less popular subgenres or kind of hybrids: chick-lit and gothic being two that I can think of.

I’ve included a list below with the 4 main subgenres that I tend to read and what I think are some great recommendation / examples for each:

Under these subgenres there even more layers, some having more defined sublayers than others. Historical romance for example, has multiple subgenres for different time periods – Regency during 1811-1820(ish), Gilded Age, Vikings/early Middle Ages, etc. Paranormal romance can delve into different subtopics: aliens, vampire, time travel, ghosts, etc. Inspirational separates into some of the different religious sects. I’ve found that with contemporary romance there aren’t necessarily too many sublayers, but within this subgenre there are many different tropes that can be featured.

Beyond the subgenres and their multiple subtopics beyond that, there’s also different tropes. Tropes can present themselves in any of the genres, although some are more popular in certain niches than others. Some examples include: forced proximity, arranged marriages, enemies to lovers, secret baby, kidnapping, first love, forbidden love, military, damsel in distress, brooding hero, and so so many more. This article has a list of over 100 romance tropes and I’m sure they haven’t even covered everything that’s out there.

And that’s some information for my readers out there on the romance genre! I’d love to be able to find an aesthetically pleasing poster that focuses on the Romance fiction genre as a whole, mapping out all the subgenres and the branches under the romance umbrella. I haven’t found one yet but if anyone knows of a good one, please let me know!

Happy reading everyone!!

2021 Monthly Status Update: March

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My traditional “busy” season at work is finally drawing to a close (maybe) and I’m hoping some of my time will start to free up for more reading! Time has flown by so far this year and we’re already to April, I’m just looking forward for July to get here! Anyways, here is my progress for reading in March:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 7
# pages read this month: 2,456
# books read year-to-date: 23
# pages read year-to-date: 7,966

Other Posts this month:

Girl scout cookie, wine and book pairings!

Favorite books from this month:

Nothing amazing this month, had some solid reads but nothing I’d say was a favorite!

Next Month TBR List:

  • The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon
  • Twin Games in Music City by Jules Bennett
  • Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian
  • How to Train Your Earl by Amelia Grey

I have a good mix of books for this month, which I’m looking forward to. I want to try and fit in a couple backlog books still since I’ve been doing pretty well with that lately. I have some vacation time coming up at the end of April and no where to go so I’m hoping to get a bunch of reading done!

Happy reading everyone!

Girl Scout cookie, wine and book pairings!

It’s that time of year again! I always think of March when I think of girl scout cookies since that is when they usually come in and get delivered to us. This year is a little different since you could get them delivered to your house as early as last month I think, but I still think of the start of spring as Girl Scout cookie season. In that line of thinking I thought it would be fun to do a Girl Scout cookie pairing! And obviously we need to have a book pairing, but I wanted to throw in a wine pairing too just because I’m not able to drink wine right now and I can’t wait to be able to have some again (in a few months).

Cookie: Samoas
Flavor profile: coconut, chocolate, caramel, weird combo but works for some people (does NOT work for me personally, but this tends to be a popular cookie so I’m including it)
Wine pairing: Sauternes, hands down
Book pairing: Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa – this was somewhat of an opposites attract while also having a lot of tension, drama, and sweetness.

Cookie: Do-si-do’s
Flavor profile: classic peanut butter flavor, crunchy, nutty, next best peanut butter cookie (after Tagalongs)
Wine pairing: Lambrusco – it’s a sweet and bubbly red and I think it would be interesting with the do-si-do flavor
Book pairing: Either the Undead series by MaryJanice Davidson or the Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole – I like the idea of the cookie and wine pairing with either of these series, it’s a little different but its some great material you can really sink your teeth into (ha)

Cookie: Trefoils
Flavor profile: classic, shortbread, not too sweet, easy to eat, not overly addictive so they last longer on your shelf
Wine pairing: I’d go with Riesling on this one – I’d be interested to try it with both a sweet and a dry Riesling too!
Book pairing: Now You See Her by Linda Howard – staying in the realm of “classics”, this is one of my all-time favorite books and one that I can leave on the shelf and pick up when I need it.

Cookie: Smores cookies
Flavor profile: chocolate, graham cracker, marshmallow, reminiscent of a campfire, sweet, delicious
Wine pairing: I would try these with a port, I’d also be interested to see how it pairs with maybe a buttery Chardonnay
Book pairing: One Night at the Lake by Bethany Chase – mostly because they have campfires outside and it seems like a great book to pair with a smores cookie!

Cookie: Thin Mints
Flavor profile: Minty, refreshing, crispy, thin, chocolatey, not-overpowering, could eat a whole sleeve
Wine pairing: I would try these with either a Moscato or a Zinfandel
Book pairing: Winternight trilogy by Katherine Arden – set in Russia, this book really transports you to a magical (and often snowy) world. It was so refreshing and I really enjoyed the whole series.

Cookie: Tagalongs
Flavor profile: Nutty, smooth, creamy, delicious! (these are my favorite!)
Wine pairing: I think this could actually pair with a variety but I’d try it with either a Pinot Noir or a Tawny Port
Book pairing: Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey – She’s a little nutty, he’s a stable cookie that helps support the whole thing, and together they find the perfect balance and are a perfect match! Plus this one was one of my FAVORITE reads from recent times, so it fits that it would pair with my favorite cookie.

I’d love to hear from you readers, what cookie/wine pairings or cookie/book pairings are you tempted to try? Or any other suggestions for good pairings you have?

Happy reading and hope you all get to enjoy some Girl Scout cookies soon!

2021 Monthly Status Update: February

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The months fly by during my traditional “busy season” and here we are already into March. It’s been almost a year now since the world basically turned upside down – and things finally seem to be getting back to normal. People are starting to get the vaccine, things are opening up more again. I expect I’ll still be working from home most of the rest of the year but I kind of like working from home. I’m looking forward to some warmer spring weather in March and getting some home projects done after April 15th! Anyways, here is my progress for reading in February:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 6
# pages read this month: 1,784
# books read year-to-date: 16
# pages read year-to-date: 5,510

Other Posts this month:

February Spotlight: Valentine’s Day

Favorite books from this month:

Nothing amazing this month, had some solid reads but nothing I’d say was a favorite!

Next Month TBR List:

I don’t have any scheduled reads for March. I did this kind of on purpose as March is one of my busiest months for work and I am not sure how much reading I’ll actually be able to get done. I am still planning to read a backlog book and one from my library to keep up with my goals for this year but other than that we’ll see where the month leads me! Happy reading everyone!

February spotlight: Valentine’s Day!

In honor of this day of romance, and obviously based on my generally high regard for the romance genre, I started doing a little thinking about Valentine’s Day and the meaning behind the cultural significance of the day. There’s a various amount of history behind the day, both involving the original romantic history we are all familiar with and also many other types of events that have happened since.

St. Valentine’s Day has been around since approximately 500 AD. The day has Catholic origins, and Saint Valentine is still considered a saint in the Catholic church to this day. He is the patron saint of lovers, epileptics and beekeepers. Supposedly, he went against the Roman emperor and married couples that were in love. He was condemned and beaten to death and beheaded (which seems like overkill to me). There are a number of theories as to why he was marrying people in secret, seemingly romance is the first thing that comes to mind, but why was it done in secret in the first place? Well, during this time period the emperor Claudius had banned marriages in Rome to try and recruit more soldiers for his numerous wars. People in love don’t want to be kept apart though and so Valentine risked his life to continue to unite people in love.

Due to the original history of the day, with it’s obviously romantic if somewhat gruesome beginnings, it started being commercialized as a romantic celebration in the 19th century. Prior to that, many authors capitalized on the romanticism of the day, including both Chaucer and Shakespeare, but it was really the production of massive amounts of Valentine’s Day cards that pushed this day into becoming what it is today. Hallmark began mass-producing Valentine’s Day cards in 1913 and today there are 190 million Valentine’s Day cards sent each year – not even including those exchanged by kids in school. In the U.S. alone, in 2017 there was a whopping $18.2 Million spent on celebrating this holiday. Some think of this day as Singles Awareness Day just because of how much of a spotlight there is on couples and romantic love. And while many are celebrating in couples, there are so many kinds of love to celebrate that the commercialized aspect of it has expanded to celebration of love within friendship and family also.

One of the more common symbols used on Valentine’s Day cards and decorations is cupid, a familiar cherub with wings and a bow and arrow. Cupid is a figure from classical mythology – he’s the son of the love goddess Venus and war god Mars. He is the god of desire, erotic love, attraction and affection, which makes it odd to me that he is often depicted as a baby.

Fun fact too – Valentine’s Day is the most common wedding anniversary in the Philippines! There are many people who share an anniversary date, as this highly romantic holiday is so commonly picked for wedding day celebrations.

I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day this year, whether you were celebrating with a significant other, with other loved ones, or just celebrating love for your self! If anyone has any fun facts or stories about Valentine’s Day, please feel free to share!

2021 Monthly Status Update: January

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And so we begin the new year! 2020 definitely had it’s ups and downs but I’m excited to see the start of 2021 and we have lots of plans for this year! So far we’ve been busy meeting goals and working on projects, but I’ve had time here and there for reading. Here is my progress for reading in January:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 10
# pages read this month: 3,726

Other Posts this month:

From Books to the Big Screen!

Favorite books from this month:

The Hating Game – 5.0 stars

Next Month TBR List:

  • Hit Me with Your Best Scot by Suzanne Enoch
  • Love at First by Kate Clayborn

Things will be very busy over the next few months as I try to keep up with busy season. I’m hoping to still find time to read at least a few books a month but we’ll see how the next few months go! In addition to my scheduled reads each month I’m also trying to read at least one book from my backlog and from my personal library. I’m looking forward to Valentine’s Day in a couple weeks and hopefully getting some Valentine’s Day chocolates. It’s chilly where I live and it’s snowing today so we’re hunkering down and trying to keep warm. Happy reading everyone!

From Books to the Big Screen!

There’s been a lot of activity lately with books being made into TV series or movies, or in some cases there’s been talk about some books being made or hopefully being made. So I wanted to feature some of my favorites! I was especially inspired for this with the very exciting recent release (which I’ll mention below!).

So to start, here are some of my favorites that are already out – this is a mix of recent and not so recent but some of these are absolute favorites that I’ll watch over and over again

  1. Ella Enchanted – I read this book a LOOONG time ago, back in middle school I think. And the movie version they made with Annie Hathaway was so great, it was funny and cute and had great music. Love this one!
  2. Crazy Rich Asians – I almost skipped this one because to be honest I haven’t read the book yet but the movie was just so good. The production of that movie was fantastic and the scenery and outfits were stunning.
  3. Gone Girl – I know some people don’t like this story line but the movie was so true to the book and I really love the plot twist.
  4. Pride and Prejudice (the one with Kiera Knightley) – I love this movie! The music and imagery is so soothing to me, I find it so calming. And obviously its a great romance!
  5. Austenland – For anyone who hasn’t seen this movie, go watch it now! It is adorable and I love pretty much everything about it – the music and the dresses and the story overall. Really cute movie.
  6. Last but not least! The recently released Bridgerton show! It’s definitely different from the novel so prepare yourself for that but it was still really good. I can’t wait for season 2! (Though it seems like I’m going to have to since I don’t think season 2 is coming out until 2022)

There are also a few movies that I’ve either heard are in production currently or were optioned but no word on a release yet – and I can not wait to see how these translate to the screen.

  1. The Hating Game – I just read this book this month and LOVED it. I know they’re currently wrapping up production on this one, though I don’t know if there’s a release date yet. I can’t wait to see this one and I hope they stay pretty true to the book.
  2. The Selection series – I’ll have to read this series before it comes out but I can’t wait to see what they do with this one. I think they’re making it into a Netflix movie.
  3. The Kiss Quotient – I think this one would be interesting to see how it translates to the screen, especially with one of the characters being autistic. Not sure if this will end up happening but I’m excited by the idea.
  4. Wicked – I CAN’T WAIT for this one. I did read the book and didn’t necessarily love it but I did LOVE the musical so I’m hoping the basically produce the musical. I’d watch it every day.

As I was compiling the other lists I realized there were so many books that I’d really want to become movies too. These ones I haven’t heard anything about them potentially become movies/TV shows but a girl can dream!

  1. The Winternight Trilogy – I think that if this one is done correctly it could be fascinating. There is so much that could be done with this one with the right special effects.
  2. The Evil Queen – I think it might be a little difficult with such a variety of mythical creatures – but again with the right special effects I think this could be a great film. I love fairy-tale retellings and others seem to love them as well.
  3. My Lady’s Choosing with the choose your adventure option – I heard about something like this being done on a Netflix show where they made it so it was like a choose your own adventure novel – you select the option you want next and Netflix plays that scene. I thought this would be a great grown-up version of that!
  4. One to Watch – I think this would be a great one to translate to the screen, especially since the dating shows are all so popular on TV. I loved this story and would love to see it made into a movie!

What about you all out there? What are some of your favorite book to movie/TV adaptations? Any amazing ones I missed?

2020 Recap and 2021 Goals!

2020

Well. 2020 was definitely a different year. There were many challenges but there was also many benefits. Transitioning to working from home was easier than I expected – I spent more time at home than I ever have and it’s been great to have so much time with my husband. There was admittedly less time with other family members since we’re trying to be careful with the pandemic but it’s been great having so much time at home and we’ve been working on some house projects and have more to come!

So anyways! On to the meat of this post – to recap on the goals list that I had set for 2020:

  1. Participate in certain reading challenges:
    1. ARC August – Done! You can see my posts related to this challenge here
    2. Bout of Books Challenge – BOB 28 (May 2020) – Done! You can see my posts related to this challenge here
    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. – So I couldn’t find a bingo to do for February and October that were new/appealing ones. I did participate in the Ripped Bodice Summer Romance Bingo challenge, which was fun!
  2. Keep reading my backlog list! At least one book per month – I didn’t quite make a book a month but I did read a number of books from my backlog list, which is great! I also read 100% of my 2020 reading list so I didn’t add any to my backlog. I’ll be continuing to work on reducing my backlog even further in 2021.
  3. Keep reading from my personal library! At least one book per month – I also didn’t quite make a book a month but I was close! I read a lot more from my personal library in 2020 and it was great to read random reads (not scheduled) for a little
  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! – Did not do this at all. I’d like to do it in 2021 but I just didn’t have time over the last year to do it.

This year was definitely different – due to the pandemic so many events were cancelled or done just virtually. I participated in a couple Zoom events for podcasts that I enjoy but other than that there weren’t as many events to participate in. The additional time at home gave me more time to spend with my husband and plenty of time for reading. I read a record-setting 12 books during my week in Maine.

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.

And just for fun! Here are a few of my favorites from 2020:

Favorite Reads from 2020

After Sundown by Linda Jones and Linda Howard – 4.5 stars
One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London – 4.75 stars
Thick as Thieves by Sandra Brown – 4.75 stars
The Roommate by Rosie Danan –  4.25 stars
Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey –  5.0 stars
The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter – 4.75 stars
One by One by Ruth Ware –  5.0 stars

Favorite New Series

I really enjoyed Gena Showalter’s series The Forest of Good and Evil this year. The Evil Queen was my favorite of the two that I read this year but I also really liked The Glass Queen. I can’t wait for the next book in the series to come out! The series is such a fun mix of supernatural, fairy tale, and romance and also reminds me a lot of the favorite series I discovered last year, Immortals After Dark.

Best New Author I Read in 2020

Has to be Tessa Bailey – I actually read a couple books by her in 2020 but her book Tools of Engagement really just hit me so hard and struck such a personal note for me. I had heard a lot of buzz about her books prior to reading, and with good reason since she’s a fabulous writer. I can’t wait to read more by her in the future!

Most Emotional Read from 2020

I had heard a lot about Long Shot by Kennedy Ryan and finally had a chance to read it this year. Man that book is a RIDE. I was so sucked into the story and I cried a lot reading that book. I’m looking forward to reading the other books in the series too but trying to make sure I have the emotional space to read them.

Here we close out the 2020 year and we look ahead to the New Year!!

2021

Looking ahead to 2021, I have so many things to look forward to but some of those things will take me away from blogging. More of my 2021 goals are going to be personal goals for outside the blog, but there are some reading goals that I’m still hoping to achieve. I may have to take a hiatus later in 2021 or I may have to figure out a way to reduce my time commitment overall to the blog but I’m planning on crossing that bridge once I get to it. I have so many blessings and exciting things happening this coming year and I just can’t wait to see what the future holds!

Looking ahead to 2021, here are some of the goals I plan to work on:

  1. Participate in certain reading challenges:
    1. Bout of Books Challenge – BOB 31 (May 2021)
    2. Book Bingo challenges! I’d like to participate in at least one bingo challenge again this year. Maybe the Ripped Bodice summer bingo but I’ll be busy in July and August so I’m not sure if that’ll work. We’ll see how things pan out but I do so much enjoy those so I’d like to participate in at least one.
  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 love and joy in 2021, Happy Reading!

2020 Monthly Status Update: December

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December was a great month! Lot of work to do plus the holidays so there were some definite distractions but I read some great books and had a nice relaxing holiday! I’ll also be posting a post reviewing my reading for the year but for now, here are some reading highlights from December:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 8
# pages read this month: 2,744
# books read year-to-date: 98
# pages read year-to-date: 32,738

Other Posts this month:

Top 5 Favorite Holiday Romances! 

Favorite books from this month:

The Princess and the Rogue by Kate Bateman – 4.75 stars

Next Month TBR List:

  • In the Garden of Spite by Camille Bruce
  • Shipped by Angie Hockman
  • Highland Treasure by Lynsay Sands
  • The Survivors by Jane Harper

I’m going right into the next busy season at work so I’m not sure how much time I’ll have for reading but we’ll see. Christmas and New Years was great – hope everyone had a great holiday season! Hope everyone is doing well and staying safe. Happy reading everyone!