Bout of Books 28 Update – Day 7 & Wrap Up

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I’ve participated in the Bout of Books reading challenges in the past few years and I’m usually able to get a good amount of reading done – I’ve found it’s a great way to help me focus on reading and have concentrated reading time. I was especially excited for this month’s Bout of Books since 1) I have a lot of time to relax at home right now (welcome to the pandemic) 2) I had a pretty bad reading slump this year and didn’t read for almost two months so I’m looking forward to diving into some great reads and 3) work this year has been intense so I was more eager than ever for some relaxation time!! I got a good amount of reading done this week and it was great to spend some time focused on the blog and participating in the challenges.

First let’s do my Day 7 (Sunday) update on reading.

Update

Sunday

Time spent reading: (Approximately) 2.5 hours
Number of pages I’ve read today: 146 pages
Total number of pages I’ve read: 1,412 pages
Books read: Started Salvation Station by Kathryn Schleich
Challenges: I did tweet about Sunday’s challenge which was just a stretch goal challenge!

And now let’s look at how I fared for my overall Bout of Books 28 wrap up:

Time Devoted to Reading

I plan to read at least an hour Monday and Tuesday and then from there I’m hoping to read at least 3 hours a day, hopefully more.
I met the daily reading goal all of the days! Overall the pandemic really helped me since I can’t exactly go anywhere. I honestly probably would’ve gotten more reading done but I started playing a game in an app on my phone and it quickly got me addicted so I was distracted for some of the days. Overall I read over 23 hours for the challenge so I’d call that a success!

My Goals

My goals for this read-a-thon are that I’d like to participate in as much as I can: the daily posts plus reading every day. I’d really like to just focus on getting back into reading and devouring my books. My traditional busy season at work goes from January to April and it was a killer this year, especially with all the additional issues presented with the pandemic. I gave up on reading for pretty much February through the beginning of April since all I was doing was making myself more tired staying up too late reading. I’ve just recently picked up reading again and it’s been going well but I need to get back on board with my reading schedule and catch up on books I missed over the last couple months!

I was able to read every day, which was probably easier than normal since I took the second half of the week off of work.  I also participated in 5 out of the 7 daily challenges, the two that I missed were logistical issues.

Books to Read

  • Finish Outfox by Sandra Brown – Done! Review will be posted later this week
  • Read Close Up by Amanda Quick – Read and reviewed
  • Read BuzzBooks Romance sampler – Read and reviewed
  • Read Strike Me Down by Mindy Mejia – Read and reviewed
  • Read Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson – Read and reviewed
  • Read a book I own (TBD) – Skipped
  • Read Salvation Station by Kathryn Schleich – Started on last day of challenge but haven’t finished yet

Overall I thought I did super well with this challenge and made a lot of time for reading! I’m hoping to also participate in the August Bout of Books this year but that will be dependent on a few scheduling items. Either way, I had a great time this past week! Happy reading everyone!

Bout of Books 28 Update – Day 1

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I’m so happy to be reading again! This challenge is really just such a good way to make sure I have some dedicated reading time during the week. I’m looking forward to reading all day tomorrow too. So anyways my Monday’s progress is below:

Update

Monday

Time spent reading: (Approximately) 2.5 hours
Number of pages I’ve read today: 145 pages
Total number of pages I’ve read: 145 pages (Day one! Ha)
Books read: Continued reading Close Up by Amanda Quick
Challenges: I participated in the challenge for yesterday!

 

Stay tuned for continued progress (hopefully!) made in tomorrow’s post on my Tuesday update!!

Bout of Books 28 – Sign Up Post!!

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WOO HOO It’s time for BOUT OF BOOKS! I’ve participated in the Bout of Books reading challenges in the past few years and I’m usually able to get a good amount of reading done – I’ve found it’s a great way to help me focus on reading and have concentrated reading time. I’m especially excited for this year’s Bout of Books since 1) I have a lot of time to relax at home right now (welcome to the pandemic) 2) I had a pretty bad reading slump this year and didn’t read for almost two months so I’m looking forward to diving into some great reads and 3) work this year has been intense so I am more eager than ever for some relaxation time!

Even though things continue to be busy at work (as always), they’re encouraging us to take some vacation time so I’ll be taking at least a couple days off next week to devote my time to reading!

For those of you who don’t really know much about Bout of Books, it is basically a week-long, no pressure read-a-thon that has been going strong since 2011! Here is a description directly from the Bout of Books blog:

The Bout of Books readathon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It’s a weeklong readathon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 11th and runs through Sunday, May 17th in YOUR time zone. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are daily challenges, Twitter chats, and exclusive Instagram challenges, but they’re all completely optional. For Bout of Books 28 information and updates, visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

The Bout of Books Read-a-Thon was created by Amanda @ On a Book Bender on a complete whim in August 2011. It took on a life of its own and was such a hit that Amanda decided to do it again and turn it into a somewhat regular occurrence.

  • Bout of Books is a week long read-a-thon, usually from 12:01am on a Monday through 11:59pm on a Sunday in whatever time zone you are in.
  • It is low pressure, meaning participants are only asked to push themselves to read more than they normally would during any given week. There is no competition between readers.
  • How much time a reader wants, and can commit, to read, tweet, or network with fellow bloggers is left to individual preference. All challenges and giveaways are optional.
  • Networking with fellow bloggers is actively encouraged, though never required.
  • Use Twitter to post updates throughout the read-a-thon. Everyone will be tweeting with the #boutofbooks hashtag.

I’ve been reading pretty close to on schedule lately and I’m hoping to continue that trend over the next week!

Time Devoted to Reading

I plan to read at least an hour Monday and Tuesday and then from there I’m hoping to read at least 3 hours a day, hopefully more! .

My Goals

My goals for this read-a-thon are that I’d like to participate in as much as I can: the daily posts plus reading every day. I’d really like to just focus on getting back into reading and devouring my books. My traditional busy season at work goes from January to April and it was a killer this year, especially with all the additional issues presented with the pandemic. I gave up on reading for pretty much February through the beginning of April since all I was doing was making myself more tired staying up too late reading. I’ve just recently picked up reading again and it’s been going well but I need to get back on board with my reading schedule and catch up on books I missed over the last couple months!

Books to Read

  • Finish Outfox by Sandra Brown
  • Read Close Up by Amanda Quick
  • Read BuzzBooks Romance sampler
  • Read Strike Me Down by Mindy Mejia
  • Read Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson
  • Read a book I own (TBD)
  • Read Salvation Station by Kathryn Schleich

It’s a good sized list but I’m really looking forward to this week-long reading challenge devoted to reading! If you do want to join make sure to add yourself to the page’s Sign Up Post by Tuesday, May 12th at 11:59pm CST! Happy reading!

2020 Monthly Status Update: January

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And so the first month of the year has come to a close! Time has been flying by lately – I’m doing the best I can to keep up! Here are some reading highlights from January for me:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 8
# pages read this month: 2,408
# books read year-to-date: 8 (ha)
# pages read year-to-date: 2,408

Favorite Books I Read this Month:

I read a couple good books but nothing I’d say is a favorite!

Other Posts this month:

Immortals After Dark Series
2019 Recap and 2020 Goals! 
Podcasts Galore! Romance Novel edition

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Next Month TBR List:

  • Witness Protection Widow by Debra Webb
  • The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa
  • Her Homecoming Wish by Jo McNally
  • Been There, Married That by Gigi Levangie
  • The Bachelor by Sabrina Jeffries

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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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: 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.

ARC August 2019 – Final Update and Wrap Up!

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And so wraps up another ARC August! I thought this one went really well for me. I definitely pushed myself and tried to get as much reading done as possible. I lost traction a little bit over the last week of the challenge but overall was still very pleased with how much I got read! Here’s how I ended up on the ARC Reading challenge for 2019:

MY PROGRESS

July & August 2019 ARC’s 

-Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson
-The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins – Read & Reviewed – Week 2
-The Arrangement by Robyn Harding – Read & Reviewed – Week 3
-A Highlander Walks Into a Bar by Laura Trentham – Read & Reviewed – Week 1 
-The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney
-The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware – Read & Reviewed – Week 3
-The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai – Read & Reviewed – Week 2
-Outfox by Sandra Brown
-To the Stars and Back by Camilla Isley – Read & Reviewed – Week 2

Additions to the list:

– Conversations with a Fat Girl by Liza Palmer – Read & Reviewed – Week 4
– As Good as the First Time by K. M. Jackson – Read & Reviewed – Week 3

Books Read August 25th – 31st

Unfortunately didn’t get any books read this week!

ARC August 2019 Reading Bingo!!

I was so excited to play bingo again as part of this month’s challenge. I unfortunately didn’t get bingo but I still had fun playing. Here’s how I ended up:

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I also liked that there were some new games to play – including a word search, crossword puzzle, and a guess the cover challenge. I did all the challenges but didn’t get a chance to submit them unfortunately. I’m still super interested to find out what the answers are though so I hope they post them!

And so that is a wrap for this year’s ARC August! I had a great time reading and I am already looking forward to next year’s challenge!

ARC August 2019 – Update #3

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And so ARC August continues! I’ve been doing pretty darn well (if I do say so myself) keeping up with my reading schedule this time, I’m hopeful I’ll be able to meet my overall goal this month! Anyways, so here’s where I stand right now:

MY PROGRESS

July & August 2019 ARC’s 

-Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson
-The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins – Read & Reviewed – Week 2
-The Arrangement by Robyn Harding – Read & Reviewed – Week 3
-A Highlander Walks Into a Bar by Laura Trentham – Read & Reviewed – Week 1 
-The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney
-The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware – Read & Reviewed – Week 3
-The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai – Read & Reviewed – Week 2
-Outfox by Sandra Brown
-To the Stars and Back by Camilla Isley – Read & Reviewed – Week 2

Additions to the list: 

– Conversations with a Fat Girl by Liza Palmer
– As Good as the First Time by K. M. Jackson – Read & Reviewed – Week 3

Books Read August 11th – 17th

Plan for Upcoming Week

The upcoming week is a very busy week for me! Every year my family and I work at the Terryville Fair over the whole weekend while the Fair is going on, which takes up a good amount of reading time during the weekend. Also this year my husband and I are going to see Ron White on Saturday night (exciting!). Hoping to find some time here and there to keep up with the great progress I’ve made so far, but also looking forward to one of my favorite events of the year! Happy reading everyone!

Summary post – NERCA 2019

Last winter I had the opportunity to participate as a reader in the Romance Writer’s of America New England Reader’s Choice Awards. I read 10 books as part of the process, and I won’t post on all of them here but wanted to briefly highlight a couple that I enjoyed.

51B4Jp4cJQLInnocent Target by Katie Reus – 4.0 stars

I thought this book had great chemistry between Axel and Hadley – their relationship developed fast but the tension between them lept off the page. There were a lot of side characters mentioned – I’m fairly sure that they would have starred in their own novels in the series but I didn’t find that not having read them took away from my enjoyment of the book at all. This was a good read and I would recommend it.

 

51mlyPJrCoLEnter the Duke by Grace Callaway – 4.75 stars

I really liked this novel! Maggie was so nuanced and such a strong character, but also loving and vulnerable. And her daughter Glory was perfectly precocious. I just loved all the characters in this novel, and the plot was so exciting. There was action and adventure (a kick butt treasure hunt!) and lots of love. Both love through family interactions and relationship development but also through the hero and heroine’s romance unfolding. This book had an engaging story and a great cast of characters. I enjoyed it a lot and I’d recommend it!

 

41MsyU+JKaLFree to Dream by Tracey Jerald – 4.0 stars

This was a much darker story than I usually read but I did end up lot it. The story was engaging and ultimately a sweet read. I didn’t want to put it down! Cassidy had an interesting family also – I’m guessing at least some of them have their own stories eventually as well. And I loved that the ending of this book was realistic and involved the hero and heroine being in couple’s therapy to work through their issues. I also loved how climactic the ending was – I didn’t piece some of it together until the end (always nice to have a surprising plot twist included. This was a good read and I’d recommend it (be warned though that the book has some very dark pieces to it).

 

I had a great time participating in this and I hope I get to be a reader for it again next year.