Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Meant to Read In 2020 but Didn’t Get To

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at Jana's blog That Artsy Reader Girl

I love to participate in readathons and reading challenges each year and each month.  I also really learned this past year that I am not good at setting a restrictive TBR for the month--I liked to have some flexibility when I am not on my award committees or studying for my classes. While I have both going at the moment, I am working on balancing a lower key award committee reading that fluctuates, CYBILS reading for my category I am category chair, as well as work for my graduate certificate program at Harvard. With my class beginning at the end of January (first assignments have opened up), I am sure that is going to be taking more time away from my reading time, but CYBILS will be winding down soon for this season. 

Both of these instances--participating in readathons/reading challenges as well as learning I do not like to have a restrictive TBR when not working on award committee/class reading lists--inevitably leaves me with titles I do not get finished each month. I stopped setting restrictive TBRs partway through 2020, but even with this, I still have some titles I wanted to read last year, but sadly did not get to read. Here are some of those titles below:

   

1. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo: I received this for Christmas 2020 and still have not read it yet. I have a coworker who keeps asking me about it--I think that is part of the reason why I have not yet. I am thinking about getting it read this month so I can answer her question at our next book group meeting in February. :)

2. 11/22/63 by Stephen King: I still have not picked up this tome toppler--I am debating on listening to it since I hear that the audio is fantastic. If you have read it, let me know. 

3. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson: I know this one gets mixed reviews, but I am intrigued by it--I am a librarian afterall.

4. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen: This was one of my favorite movies growing up and I have yet to read the novel that inspired. Again, I have been enjoying listening to classics so I will probably listen to this one as well at some point this year (maybe February).

   

5. Flatshare by Beth O'Leary: This has been on my TBR list for awhile now. I read The Switch this last year and liked it (I know I am in the minority it seems with that opinion) that I really do want to read this one even more so now.

6. The Girls by Abigail Pesta: This books has been on my radar since I read about it in the publisher's prepublication notice. I love watching gymnastics and have followed in horror the shocking Nassar cover up and trial. I watched the Netflix documentary Athlete A this summer and have wanted to pick up this book since.

7. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer: Again, another that has been recommended as an audiobook to me but I did not make it a priority. I hope to fix that this year. 

8. The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver: Another one that has gotten shifted to the bottom after the lackluster feedback, I want to read it as it was gifted to me and appreciate that they would send it to me from my wishlist.

 

9. The House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1) by Sarah Maas: Obviously a darling of last year, this is one that has been on my list as one to try. I do have a confession in that I did not really like Throne of Glass--I know, you probably dislike me now and will never come back. It just did not work for me. BUT I want to give this one a shot to see if I like this one more.

10. The Secret History by Donna Tartt: One last book that seems to be decisive either you love it or dislike it. Where do you sit with this one if you have read it? Also did you read it or listen to it? I am debating on listening to it. 

--Final Thoughts--
I went back and counted, five out of ten of these books I have plans to listen to this year as oppose to physically reading them. I hope that means I can knock these off this year. Of course I have plans to read 21 Books for 2021, along with making progress on 21 series as well. This year is shaping up to be a busy reading year!

I would love to know your opinions on any of the titles above you are familiar with--have you read and loved them or read and think they are not worth my reading/listening time? Please do let me know in the comments below. If you are participating please do also drop your link below so I can visit you this week. Have a great week!


Monday, January 18, 2021

Review: The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins


The Wife Upstairs
By Rachel Hawkins
My Rating 3 out of 5 Stars

Jane is living a lie: having fled Arizona, she is seeking a better life under an alias in Alabama. She is working as a dog walker, living with someone she knew from one of her stints in foster care, despite him being creepy. She knows that this is just a temporary stepping stone to a better spot. Enter Eddie, a grieving widower, having lost his wife in a tragic boating accident some months back. He and Jane are instantly attracted to each other, and soon they are involved in a whirlwind romance.

His first wife was Bea, they met on vacation in Hawaii. She had a less than ideal childhood, but she made something of herself becoming a successful business owner. She and Eddie along with her best friend and her husband Tripp lived in Thornfield Estates, an exclusive gated community with custom built homes. From the outside, everything seemed perfect, but as readers we are quick to learn that looks are deceptive.

This book is told through multiple points-of-view, including Jane, Bea, and Eddie. It jumps back and forth leading readers to the ending, which may or may not feel ambiguous to some. If you are not fan of these type of endings, then you may want stir clear of this one, but if you are fan of these type of ambiguous endings then you would probably like this one--especially if you are a fan of multiple points-of-view. As far as the characters go, I cannot say I like any of them, but again, this feel intentional on the author’s part—I was not sure who I wanted to ultimately “succeed” at the end of the story. 

For those of you like who are school librarians, this is not overly graphic in sexual content--it is there, but not explicit. There is some violence, drinking (again all adults in this one), and frank conversations dealing with mature content--murder for instance--but even with all this, I am leaning towards putting this in my high school collection as I have some adult fiction in it and I do have teachers who check books out from my collection frequently at the minimum. If one of my middle school students happen upon it (I am in a 7th-12th grade building), I would let them know that it is only adult characters, slower pace, deals with marriage troubles--just so they know what they are taking out. Overall, this is one of those books that I liked, but it was not a home run for me--but who knows, it may be for you. 

Do you agree or disagree? Let me know your thoughts below. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Resolutions for 2021

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at Jana's blog That Artsy Reader Girl


We are starting week two of 2021 and after 2020, I am sure like many of you I know I am relieved to be moving onto a new year. I am not na├»ve enough to know that when the clock magically struck midnight on 1-1-2021, our world would be in a better spot. If anything, I think we can all agree (at least in the United States), that does not seem to be the case. But I have hope that it will slowly improve--it will not go as fast as I would like I am sure, because I am impatient especially during the colder months of the year. 

This week we are discussing our resolutions/hopes for 2021--bookish or not. I always start with my GoodReads Reading Goal at 100 books. It is usually always attainable for me, as long as I remember to update it.  For the rest I listed below, I have some specific ones, those I guess are what I would refer to as my resolutions. Then, I have some goals that I striving to meet--these are ambitions and may or may not happen, but they are more like guideposts. 

-Resolutions-
Resolution #1: Get a handle on my bookcases
One of my main goals this year reading wise is to get my bookcases under control. I am to a point that I want to start slimming down what I own. I wrote a blog post about this recently: Getting My Bookcases Under Control: A 3 Step Process (Unshelf Project, 21 in 2021, and 21 Series in 2021)Part of this includes my plan to be sure to focus on books I have had for over three years and also series that I need to make decisions on: do I continue reading them or am I done, or am I even interested in reading them? I will have one more post about this resolution about my participating in the Unshelf Project Reading Challenge.

Resolution #2: Diversify my reading
Diversify my reading is such an important goal--I know so many of us are focusing on this. I started keeping a more detailed reading spreadsheet last year, after having kept loose statistics the previous years. I want to make sure I am reading more broadly, including BIPOC and countries of origins and settings. 

Resolution #3: Read everyday
I managed this last year so I am making it a priority again this year. I have it as a goal to make sure I read or listen to a book at least every day. I shoot for at least 15 minutes and usually what I find, is once I hit 15 minutes I find that it is easy to stretch it beyond the 15 minutes to at least 30 minutes. 

-Goals-
Goals #1: Read 12 Classics
I want to read (or listen) to 12 classics--this can be modern classics or they can be traditional classics.

Goal #2: Listen to 36 Audiobooks
Obviously this averages out to 3 a month, seems obtainable to me but unless I am on Odyssey, there are times when this does not happen. This year I want to focus on being consistent with my audiobooks as well.

Goal #3: Read 24 Nonfiction Titles
I love nonfiction when I read it and I want to prioritize reading nonfiction more this year.

After the resolutions and goals above, I have these additional ones that I am working on meeting as well this year. Some of these are habits, that are easily met each year (spreadsheets and bullet journal for instance) and others take work--reading challenges and blogging.

-Additional Goals-

Additional Goal: Reading Challenges:
After my resolutions and goals, I am also working on participating in several reading challenges: GoodReads' group Around the Year, Popsugar Reading Challenge, BookRiot's Read Harder Challenge, Modern Mrs. Darcy, and as previously mentioned Unshelf Project. I would like to loosely try to meet most of these prompts, as many as I can. I have set the following as the goals for them as follows:
  • Around the Year: 40
  • Popsugar: 40
  • BookRiot's Read Harder: 30
  • Modern Mrs. Darcy: 24
  • Unshelf Project: 24
I am counting overlaps--any book that can do double duty is just fine with me. :)

Additional Goal: Reading Journals and Spreadsheets
After the reading challenges, the only other reading related things I have to say I would like to accomplish this year is to keep up with my reading journals: both my bullet journal that I track all of reading challenges, stats, etc. in each month and yearly type spreads. I also am keeping a written journal for my notes. There is something soothing about writing out notes--even though I have messy handwriting. 

Along with my journals, I also keep a thorough Reading Spreadsheet--two actually. One is my Reading Log and Stats sheet. By logging in all my book information, it creates statistics and charts from the data. It is great for me to be able to quickly check to see if I am meeting my other resolutions and goals listed  above.

The second spreadsheet is one where I compile the books that I know fit my Reading Challenge prompts. I take the first five books I know hat fit the prompts, record them under each prompt. I transfer the titles into a spreadsheet, then sort them by title. This allows me to see which books are duplicated across the challenges, essentially letting me see quickly which books will serve as a double (or triple) duty in some cases. 

Additional Goal: Blogging
Lastly, the final thing I want to keep working on this year is continuing to blog. I have to make a conscious effort to remember to do it because I got out of practice and even with starting again last year, I have ebbs and flows with it. I want to work on being more consistent. I want to try to post full length reviews, I want to post more collective mini reviews, and also bibliography style posts. I do not mind doing tags as well every so often. I am not going to participate in any blog hops or such. I would like to also like to work on including school librarian content.

Wow this turned out to be a much longer post than I intended. Thank you for hanging in there and reading or skimming it if you did. If you answered this post, please do leave me your link below so I can pop over and see what you listed as your resolutions and goals for 2021. I hope you have an amazing reading year! Happy New Year!

Monday, January 11, 2021

Making Progress on Series: 21 Series in 2021 (Unhaul Project)


On Saturday this past weekend, I posted my bookish confession: I own a lot of unread books. I know it is probably not an earth shattering confession--many bookish people--bloggers, bookstagrammers, and BookTubers can all relate. On Sunday, I gave you my 21 Books for 2021: These Books will Shelf Destruct, the first part of my plan to get my bookcases and owned TBR under control this year. I am back today with with the second part of how I plan on meeting  2021 plan/goal/resolution of getting my owned TBR/bookcases under control is by tackling some of my outstanding series. Surely I am not alone in not finishing series or having many other series I want to start, only to not to pick them up--despite them sitting on my bookcase.  

Since I am trying hard to get my bookcases under control this year, I counted out 21 series I would like to make progress on this year. I am not doing a penalty with them as I am with my 21 Books in 2021, though if by the end of June I may have to institute some type of penalty if I am not making progress. I have it on my radar to do a midyear goals check in so I will take some time to check in with all of them, and make adjustments as appropriate. 

Clicking on the photos will take you to the GoodReads page for the book shown, then you navigate to the series outline. Under the cover image lineup, I list the series name and in parenthesis, I give any relevant notes. I will continue to make notes as needed. 

21 Series I Want to Make Progress On This Year:

   


1. Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
2. Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare 
  • City of Bones (re-read it so I can decide if I want to finish the series or unhaul it this year)
3. The Great Library by Rachel Caine
  • Ink and Bone
4. The Field Party by Abbi Glines
  • Until Friday Night
   

5. The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall
6. American Royals by Katharine McGee
7. The Dark Elements by Jennifer L Armentrout
  • Stone Cold Touch (book #2)
8. Empirium by Claire Legrand
  • Furyborn 
   



9. Crave by Tracy Wolff
10. Caster Chronicles by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
  • Beautiful Creatures 
11. Hundred Oaks by Miranda Kenneally
  • Jesse's Girl (book 6)  
12. The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman

   

13. The Graces by Laure Eve
14. Origin by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  • The Darkest Star 
15. The Lone City by Amy Ewing
  • The Jewel
16. Cursebreakers by Brigid Kemmerer
  • A Heart So Fierce and Broken 
   



17. Debutantes by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
  • Deadly Little Scandals (book 2)
18. The Harbinger by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  • Rage and Ruin (book 2)
19. The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
  • The Everlasting Rose (book 2)
 


20. The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh
21. Clue Mystery by Diana Peterfreund 
  • In the Hall With the Knife 

These are all books I have on my shelves so I would love your input. Which of these do you love and recommend I bump up to the top of my list? Please keep in mind, these are not in any specific order--just how I pulled them off my bookcases, then up on one specific shelf. Which one(s) do you recommend I skip? I look forward to chatting with you in the comments!

Sunday, January 10, 2021

21 in 2021: These Books Will Shelf Destruct (Unhaul Project)


If you read this post, you will know that one of my main goals this year is to help cull my bookcases to be filled with books I truly want to read or ones that I love and want to keep to possibly re-read again. 

The following list of books I have on my bookcases for over three years. These books have languishing, not being picked up since I put them onto it, many being moved halfway across the country since I moved from Michigan almost five years ago. It is so easy to get caught up reading the books that are recently published--especially when I have been on award committees, but I was not last year and this year is not a high demand one. Yet I still have not picked up these books--so I have to think that maybe their time has past and they would be better suited to someone else.  

So I went through picked titles that stuck out to me when I saw them, I pulled them off my shelves, not second guessing myself. Then, I sorted that pile down to these 21. If they are not picked up this year, then I am going to unhaul them in January 2022--no negotiating, no doubts.  I have given myself 4 substitutions as well, but my hope is either not to use them or to put them into mix too. 

Rules:
  • The book must be started before 11:59 p.m. December 31, 2021. Started is being defined as at least one chapter into the book for this challenge.
  • At any point, I can substitute one of the 4 substitutes in for one of the 21 books. 
  • Any DNF book counts as a decision, the point is to make a decision on the book--whether it is read completely, stopped partway through, or even ultimately decided that the book is not for me

21 Books:

   

1. Landline by Rainbow Rowell
2. The Start of You and Me by Emery Lord
3. American Street by Ibi Zoboi
4. Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

   

5. First We Were IV by Alexandra Sirowy
6. Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
7. Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu
8. Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

   

9. A List of Cages by Robin Roe
10. The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
11. There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
12. Chemistry by Weike Wang

   

13. Wildalone by Krassi Zourkova 
14. We Were on a Break by Lindsey Kelk
15. Pulp by Robin Talley
16. Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios

  

17. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
18. That Inevitable Victorian Thing by E.K. Johnston
19. Julie and Julia by Julie Powell

 

20. The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy 
21. When We Collided by Emery Lord


4 Substitutions:
   

1. Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia
2. Little Monsters by Kara Thomas
3. Love & Gelato by Jenna Welch
4. How to Love by Kate Cotugno

So these are the books I have highlighted as ones I have held on my shelves now for three years or longer. Are there any that you highly recommend I read? Or are the ones that you think I should say goodbye or bump down to the very bottom of my list? Be sure to let me know your thoughts below! Come back on Monday for the second part of my plan: Making Progress on Series: 21 Series in 2021.