Category: Books/Writing

Jan 04

Beat the Backlist 2018

Books/Writing 3

beat the backlist

I’m participating in Austine’s awesome Beat the Backlist challenge again this year! Even if I was woefully short of my goal last year…at least according to the reviews I posted. I actually think I was reeeeally close to making it, but I didn’t take time to go back through my GoodReads list and add them all up. So this year I’m trying to be more realistic with my goal…no moves on the horizon this year (knock on wood), but I am starting school again, so there’s that. Also I’m not feeling super motivated at the moment even though I desperately WANT to be motivated…so yeah. I’m just aiming for 40 backlist books this year. I haven’t decided on ALL the titles, but there are quite a few on my physical TBR that have been screaming at me so those are on the top. Sorry, I’m not taking time to link every single book…but  I DO hope to review 90% of the books I read this year, so keep an eye out!

  1. All the Crooked Saints, by Maggie Stiefvater
  2. Wild Beauty, by Anna-Marie McLemore
  3. The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daugher, by Theodora Goss
  4. Monstress, Vol 2, by Marie Lu
  5. The Aeronaut’s Windlass, by Jim Butcher
  6. A Darker Shade of Magic, by V.E. Schwab
  7. Romancing the Inventor, by Gail Carriger
  8. Romancing the Werewolf, by Gail Carriger
  9. The Upside of Unrequited, by Becky Albertalli
  10. Truthwitch, by Susan Dennard
  11. How to Hang a Witch, by Adriana Mather
  12. Hounded, by Kevin Hearne
  13. The Fiery Cross, by Diana Gabaldon
  14. Three Dark Crowns, by Kendare Blake
  15. The Serpent King, by Jeff Zentner
  16. .
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Yes, I’m leaving a bunch of those blank. While I have MORE than enough books on my TBR shelf to cover 40, I know from previous experience that I don’t do so well with strict lists and schedules. So I’m leaving this open to wherever the book muse should take me in 2018!

Are you participating in Beat the Backlist 2018? Be sure to check out the full signup details and think about it if you’re not already!

ETA: Oh, so I was assigned to the Story Sorcerers team! I’m really excited to see the different teams this year, I love the names so much. <3

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Jan 01

Happy New Year 2018! And a life update

Books/Writing, Life 9

Happy New Year, everyone!

Why yes, I did fall off the face of the planet. Why yes, life has run me over since about September. Why yes, it has been a struggle to just get out of bed and take a shower. Why yes, I did manage to continue to go to work and slap on a smile. Why yes, I turned into a zombie as soon as I got home. Why yes, it kind of sucked.

However.

I am finished with my old job and I moved back to Virginia (husband had already been here for several weeks due to his new job starting before mine ended) right before Christmas. Like, literally RIGHT before. I put up our tree 2 days before Christmas. I start school on January 15. I am super, super excited about that, but I’m still struggling a little – ok, maybe more than a little – with the transition. I’ve worked full time for 8 years. I am suddenly…kind of adrift, feeling very ill at ease. I have really felt unable to deal with anyone or anything for weeks. If it weren’t for people asking me to go places or do things I probably wouldn’t leave the house much. Speaking of…

I love our new place – it’s an actual HOUSE, the first of my adult life, and even though we are only renting I love it to pieces. It’s older, with plenty of room for us, a couple of pets, anyone who wants to come visit for a night or even a week, a fenced yard, and a creek right down the hill. I absolutely love it.

As far as reading…I sadly did not actually finish a SINGLE ONE of my reading challenges this past year. About August I started struggling with a reading slump. The Halloween Read-a-thon of October helped some, but after that I went into even a bigger slump and I think I finished 1 or 2 books in November and December. It sucked. Again, HOWEVER. I have high hopes that things are turning around. I’m setting new goals for this year, but in MODERATION. I knew when I started my eleven-billion challenges last year that I wouldn’t finish them all. I did think I would finish at least the 75 books in 2017 challenge, but I underestimated the effect of 2 moves on my reading mojo and life in general. Moderation is going to be key for me this year, in adjusting to school, lack of a job (at least a full time one), managing my Etsy shop, blogging, and some other things I have dreams of starting. I’m working on my sign-up posts for the THREE challenges I have decided to do for books this year, and also some brand new plans for the blog.

2017 really taught me that I can’t neglect myself. My mental health, my physical health, my heart. It was as a struggle of a year, I’m not going to lie. The last couple of months especially. I truly felt like I could barely function and like I had nothing more to give, to anyone, and wanted nothing more than to be left alone. I know that’s not normal or healthy, and I’m happy to say I am starting to feel better. I do think that a lot of those feelings had to do with neglecting myself, not listening to my heart and body when I needed rest. Hopefully 2018 will be better for that!

Expect a few more posts this week on reading challenges, goals, etc…after this week there won’t be quite so many in a week!

I wish you all the very best in 2018! Happy new year, everyone!

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Nov 11

So How About Life?

Books/Writing, Crafting, Life, Pets 4

Time for a life update! I’ve been posting significantly less lately, even though I’ve actually, FINALLY, been reading more. My problem right now is actually FINISHING the books I’m starting, but that’s an entirely different post. 😛

IN LIMBO

Lately, I’m just…in a lot of limbo. We knew when we moved into this house that – much as we LOVE it – we wouldn’t be staying here long. My job contract is up in December and I am going BACK TO COLLEGE FULL TIME in January. Just a lee-tle bit excited about that. Yes, this is for my 2nd bachelor’s degree instead of doing the normal thing and getting a master’s, but due to an English degree not having ANY of the required classes to apply to any sort of graduate medical program…yeah. So, bachelor’s degree #2 it is. I don’t really mind – I am DYING to start classes, and actually be studying all this super cool stuff (I should be able to skip most of the super BORING classes since they transfer from the first degree, say what). I am having a little anxiety over the fact that I won’t be working a full time job. First time in like…7 years? 8 years (yes, I am OLD)? Eeeeeep. That’s super freaking scary. And is causing me a lot of stress. To where I feel like this on the inside:

Just…terrified.

And probably look something like this on the outside:

I don’t know what I’m doing buuuut I’ll pretend it’s all good.

Because everything is GOING TO BE OK. JUST BREATHE. Heh. Easier said then done, but I’m trying.

Cool Things:

  • Tomorrow I’m going to a Maggie Stiefvater book signing at Parnassus Books in Nashville!!!!! There are not enough exclamation points in the WORLD. Not only is this my first EVER author event, but, um, HELLO this woman wrote the Raven Cycle – which, no, I have not finished yet, but the first two books of which connected with me on such a deep soul level that I am ready to call Henrietta my hometown (partially because I am CONVINCED she patterned it off of my ACTUAL hometown, but I digress). I might be on a Raven Cycle re-read/reading binge at the moment.
  • NaNoWriMo is going…ehhh, ok. I am behind, but not so far behind that I couldn’t feasibly catch up. Just shy of 12K at the moment. So why am I writing a blog post instead of my novel? Because COME ON, people, this is NaNo. 😛
  • I have some SUPER CUTE new book sleeves up in the shop! I am just in love with these little winter forest animals in their adorable scarves and hats. <3 I don’t know why this photo is fuzzy here, it is not fuzzy anywhere else, I promise.
  • I went to my first drag show. It was awesome and I was awkward but I had so much fun. I was NOT drunk enough for some of those songs, though, haha! Naturally I have no good pictures, because club lighting.
  • I’m thinking about starting a YouTube channel! But not book-related. More animal/pet related. Because I adore animals and am extremely passionate about not only them and their care, but on educating people and debunking myths/false information spread by pet stores and the general public with regards to those topics. Once we move, I plan to have fish again, and hopefully husband will be getting his service dog puppy. Fingers crossed. I would, of course, love to have another cat, as well as maybe a chameleon and some other things, but I am ALSO a strong believer in taking things slow when it comes to adding animals to your household, so. We shall see.

    “What’s that, Mom? A kitty TV (i.e., aquarium) and a new brother or sister for me?”

     

So that’s my life for right now! How about you? If you’re doing NaNo, how’s it going? What do you think of a pet themed YouTube channel?

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Oct 10

NaNoWriMo 2017

Books/Writing 5

Yessssssss my friends, it is here again!! Last year, instead of stressing myself out trying to finish a 50K word novel, my goal was to completely plot my novel (in case you’re not familiar, check out National Novel Writing Month 2017). AND I SUCCEEDED. There was SUCH a happy dance! So naturally, I’m doing it again this year! If you have already decided or are on the fence, check out the main page and then hop over and add me as a writing buddy!

I did not, however, succeed at finishing said novel this year. Currently “Rising of the Sun” sits at 18,598 words, according to my Scrivener file. Just a leeeeetle bit short of my goal of 120K. But, not to be deterred, today I sat down to figure out my goals and plans for NaNoWriMo 2017. First up was reading over my (FINISHED! I just have to keep pointing that out, I’m so proud of myself) outline.

And this was my face, because I seriously HAVE NO MEMORY of writing some of this stuff. Like where TF did this come from? Did this actually come out of my brain? I mean, it must have…right?

Well, regardless – my goal for NaNo this year is to add 50,000 words to my novel. Based on the size of my outline, I would say the finished word count goal of 120K is probably a gross UNDERestimate, haha. For this month of #Preptober my plan is:

  • Re-read outline in entirety
  • Read already written 18,000 words – DO NOT EDIT! Inner editor, now is not your time…
  • Fill in major character sketches for both MCs
  • Fill in major character sketches for 4 other characters
  • Fill in DETAILED plot outline for next 3 chapters
  • Find or put together writing playlists (Apple Music? Spotify?)

Do you have plans for NaNoWriMo 2017? Have you participated before? Do you think it helps you as a writer? What are you doing for #Preptober?

Links to Help Prep for NaNoWriMo 2017:

 

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Oct 08

Halloween Read-A-Thon 2017

Books/Writing 9

It’s that time of year again, everyone!!! Halloween is one of my favorite holidays!  Wonderless Reviews is hosting the Halloween Read-A-Thon over on her blog again this year. If you haven’t seen it already go over, check it out, and sign up! This year she’s offering a giveaway and I’ve decided to contribute as well (if you’re in a hurry, scroll to the bottom of this post for details). My TBR this year is mostly encapsulated in this picture.

  • Girl of Nightmares, by Kendare Blake – I read Anna Dressed in Blood last year for the read-a-thon
  • The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, by Theodora Goss – I meant to read this a couple of months ago, but it didn’t happen.
  • Hunting Price Dracula, by Kerri Maniscalco – Another sequel, look at me go! I read the first book in this series for the Halloween Read-A-Thon last year as well…I sense a trend.
  • The Diabolic, by S.J. Kincaid – This has been out for ages and now the sequel to IT is about to be released, so it’s about time!

I’m not sure what else if anything I will get to this month, so I’m going to leave it there for now. And now for…*drumroll please*

I’m giving away a Halloween book sleeve (yes, made by yours truly)! I took pre-orders for these but they are no longer available in the store, so you’ll be getting the only one I have left!

I’m totally stealing rules from Lauren here:

  • The giveaway opens NOW and closes on the 30th October. You can enter anytime between those dates. The winner will be announced on the 31st October (or as soon as I can get to it).
  • The giveaway is international – I really hate leaving folks out, so even though shipping is outrageous I’m spreading the love!
  • You don’t have to complete the challenges to be eligible for the giveaway. You DO have to have signed up on Lauren’s Halloween Read-A-Thon announcement post (yes, I *will* check).
  • 18+ or a parent/guardian’s permission. Sorry, folks.
  • I accept no responsibility for lost or damaged packages.
  • Enter the Rafflecopter below! Or click the picture above. 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy reading, everyone!! And a happy, spooky October to you. 😉 😀

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Sep 28

How to Get Over a Reading Slump

Books/Writing 6

Granted, this title is super pretentious, because no matter how many strategies you have to get over your reading slump – they happen. We’ve all been there. I think a big part of the key is to not FREAK OUT when they happen, because there are a lot of things we can do to ride it out and get back to the books we know we love! Slumps happen for a lot of reasons. You may be completely blindsided by your sudden lack of interest in (or just inability to concentrate on) that book you’ve been anticipating for months, or you may know exactly what is bothering you. Through the years I’ve become a lot better at pinpointing the cause of my slumps, but I still find myself in the depths of book despair at times. Regardless of the reasons for your reading slump, here are some ideas to help you break out of it!

1.  Re-read your favorite books. My go-to re-reads of late have been the Harry Potter series. I’m on #4. There’s something very comforting and reassuring about re-reads. Whether you like HEA endings or something else, re-read a book that left you satisfied and proud to have on your shelf.

2.  Listen to audiobooks. There’s something about the change in format that really helps my brain. I’m actually combining these first two for my Harry Potter re-read. I love the narrator (Jim Dale), his voices for the different characters are AMAZING!

3.  Go to the library. Libraries help assuage my need to BUY ALL THE BOOKS that kicks into overdrive when I go to an actual bookstore. I can walk out with an entire armful JUST BECAUSE THEY LOOK PRETTY, with no guilt at all over whether or not I read them. I can take them home if I want to. I can read them (or not) if I want to. And then, for the love of all that’s sacred, return them.

4.  Organize (re-organize) your bookshelves. Or stacks. Obviously, if you don’t own physical books, this might not help. But I’ve found many times that going through all my books I inevitably find one that piques my interest – either by re-reading it (please tell me I’m not the only one who occasionally finds a book that I know I have read but can’t remember a thing about it upon seeing it again) or being motivated to finally read it.

5.  Give some books away! Share the love. Introduce a child to the wonderful world of books! Or, simply remove them from your virtual TBR. Sometimes we get overwhelmed by that towering TBR and just need some space. If you have stacks of physical unread books, go through them and be honest – are you actually still interested in that book, or do you just feel guilty when you look at it? If all you feel is guilt – GET RID OF IT! Donate it to a library, a thrift store, or to someone you know who might enjoy it. Go through your GoodReads TBR and kick off books that you don’t remember or that don’t interest you anymore. It’s very freeing.

These are just a few things that have helped me through reading slumps. I still sort of feel like I’m in one now, but I am still reading (albeit slowly) by using some of these ideas. What are ways you break out of your reading slump? Book hangovers?

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Sep 15

Presenting: Bent Needle Designs BOOK SLEEVES!

Books/Writing, Crafting 6

book sleeves

Makers and dreamers. Readers and artists. So often we are one and the same. People who read, dream. And people who dream usually have one or more creative outlets.

Introducing my creative outlet: Bent Needle Designs Etsy store! I started off making organizer and project bags for OTHER makers, but recently expanded into making the ever-so-popular book sleeves! I’m very proud of these and after using them myself for several weeks think any on-the-go reader will love them as well. The books I’ve been dragging around with me during my reading slump are still in pristine condition, no bumped edges or bent pages. It really is the best thing I’ve done for myself and the condition of my library in ages, haha.

I am especially excited about these Halloween themed prints! Some of you might remember from last year’s Halloween Read-a-thon, I LOVE HALLOWEEN.

Right now there are both hardcover and paperback sleeves in stock, so check it out and see what you think! More will be listed this weekend, in the gorgeous Rifle Paper Company fabrics. 🙂

There is also a special, instant coupon when you subscribe to the shop newsletter, so definitely sign up – not only will you get the coupon, but advance notice of sales, new designs, etc.

Don’t worry, I won’t be turning this into a sales blog – but I did have to share and will post new bookish stuffs every now and then. Happy reading!

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Sep 11

Down the TBR Hole #24

Books/Writing 3

down the tbr hole

Time to wield the axe again – I’m mercilessly culling my TBR list on GoodReads with the amazing Down the TBR Hole meme by Lia at Lost in a Story (who has, somehow, already made it completely through his own TBR)!

Most of you probably know this feeling. Your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well, that’s going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books.
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

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When I started this series of posts, I had 604 books on my TBR list. I’m now up to 636 (life of a bookworm, haha), but I’m still making progress!

Title/Author: The Bone Season (The Bone Season #1) by Samantha Shannon

Date Added: June 14, 2015

Thoughts: This sounds interesting but not at the same time.

Judgment: Go.

Title/Author: Shadow and Bone (Shadow and Bone #1), by Leigh Bardugo

Date Added: June 14, 2015

Thoughts: Still sounds cool, still want to read at some point!

Judgment: Keep.

Title/Author: Into the Wilderness (Wilderness #1), by Sara Donati

Date Added: June 18, 2015

Thoughts: Sounds a lot like Outlander…and funny enough, has an endorsement from Gabaldon on the cover!

Judgment: Keep!

Title/Author: The Deerslayer, by James Fenimore Cooper

Date Added: June 18, 2015

Thoughts: This is one of those classic works I feel obligated to read. Sometime.

Judgment: Keep.

Title/Author: Last of the Mohicans, by James Fenimore Cooper

Date Added: June 18, 2015

Thoughts: This is what I actually wanted to read, but since it’s the sequel to the one above I put them both on the list.

Judgment: Go, since I really feel like I need to read the first one before…

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2/5 this week! Not too bad. Just 5 this week – hopefully more interesting things later this week!

 

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Sep 10

Sunday Post #4 – The Miracle Morning and Getting Back to Myself

Book Reviews, Books/Writing, Life 2 ★★★★★

Hey everyone! Back with another Sunday Post update, via Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

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Bear with me folks, this post is part weekly update and part book review! This week I focused really hard on something I’ve been lacking a lot of lately – taking care of myself. I am always taking care of other people. At work, I not only take care of patients, I take care of co-workers that work under me or are less experienced. I also seem to attract anyone with problems and everyone likes to talk to me – which I find very ironic, since I am generally very quiet and keep to myself. At home, I take care of my husband – which is, of course, a mutual thing, but I still feel like I need to make sure he is happy and not starving, etc. etc. I do things for myself, of course, but I never completely immerse myself in any of them. I always have one eye and ear out on the people around me (even when I try my hardest to at least APPEAR like I am ignoring them in hopes I won’t be interrupted).

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Sunday Post #4 – The Miracle Morning and Getting Back to MyselfThe Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM) by Hal Elrod
Published by Hal Elrod on December 7th 2012
Pages: 140
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads five-stars

What if you could miraculously wake up tomorrow and any-or every area of your life was transformed? What would be different? Would you be happier? Healthier? More successful? In better shape? Would you have more energy? Less Stress? More Money? Better relationships? Which of your problems would be solved? What if I told you that there is a "not-so-obvious" secret that is guaranteed to transform any-or literally every area of your life, faster than you ever thought possible? What if I told you it would only take 6 minutes a day? Enter The Miracle Morning. What's now being practiced by thousands of people around the world could perhaps be the simplest approach to creating the life you've always wanted. It's been right there in front of us, but this book has finally brought it to life. Are you ready? The next chapter of your life-the most extraordinary life you've ever imagined-is about to begin. IT'S TIME TO WAKE UP TO YOUR FULL POTENTIAL...

Last weekend, I read The Miracle Morning after hearing it much raved about, particularly by Kara over at Boho Berry. I was dubious, not going to lie. I already get up super early in the morning and the idea of voluntarily getting up even earlier wasn’t very appealing. However, I decided to give Mr. Elrod and his S.A.V.E.R.S. (Silence, Affirmation, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, Scribing) a try. The book in and of itself was inspiring, with all kinds of motivating quotes.

I’m on my sixth day of The Miracle Morning, and while I’m not sure my actual productivity has increased or anything like that – I feel better. I feel better about myself, more motivated, more relaxed, more confident. I can’t recommend this book enough, and for EVERYONE – students, entrepeneurs, professionals – wherever you are, the principles in this book are applicable. Are they new? No. But, if you’re like me, maybe it had never occurred to you how to string all these things together for your own maximum benefit. Hal also has a way of writing that just makes you want to GO DO THINGS and also makes you think you can conquer the world – all very invigorating.

I want to point out that I was initially rather sketch on this whole idea, because I thought for sure it would be a gimmick to get you to buy more of Hal’s products. Actually, anything he references in the book as far as handouts, online community, etc – is FREE. I was very pleasantly surprised. I joined the Miracle Morning FB group, but haven’t really participated as to be honest I really prefer the bullet journal-centric Boho Berry Tribe group! It seems to have a lot of the same vibe – positive, energetic, uplifting, motivating – all while being just as obsessed with bullet journals and art stuff as I am. Haha.

Let me know if you read and give this a try! I’d love to hear how it works out for you. Or if you’ve already tried it, I’d love to hear about that too!

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With all that said, I am still trying to find a schedule that really works for me. Getting up early and having some “me time” has definitely helped, but I am still struggling to balance writing, work, and family commitments. I’ll figure it out eventually. In the meantime…

Next Week on the Blog:

Down the TBR Hole #25
A Super Almost-Secret Squirrel Announcement
Maybe a book review?

Yeah, see. Not so organized. But still here, and feeling hopeful and like I might actually start swimming soon, as opposed to just treading water!

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Sep 05

Down the TBR Hole #23

Books/Writing 0

down the tbr hole

Time to wield the axe again – I’m mercilessly culling my TBR list on GoodReads with the amazing Down the TBR Hole meme by Lia at Lost in a Story (who has, somehow, already made it completely through his own TBR)!

Most of you probably know this feeling. Your Goodreads TBR pile keeps growing and growing and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You keep adding, but you add more than you actually read. And then when you’re scrolling through your list, you realize that you have no idea what half the books are about and why you added them. Well, that’s going to change!

It works like this:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books.
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

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When I started this series of posts, I had 604 books on my TBR list. Last week I made quite a bit of progress through sheer organization, and I this week I haven’t added that many so I am at 638. Off we go again!

Title/Author: Marley & Me, by John Grogan

Date Added: June 9, 2015

Thoughts: Because of course I want to bawl my eyes out on a dog book.

Judgment: Keep.

Title/Author: Hands of Light, by Barbara Ann Brennan

Date Added: June 9, 2015

Thoughts: Still not sure what I think of this subject, but am particularly intrigued by this book because the author is a physicist by profession.

Judgment: Keep.

Title/Author: The Highly Sensitive Person, by Elaine N. Aron

Date Added: June 9, 2015

Thoughts: Recommended by a good friend. Bought a copy. Unread on the shelf because I’m afraid of finding out more about myself.

Judgment: Keep.

Title/Author: Essential Reiki, by Diane Stein

Date Added: June 9, 2015

Thoughts: I actually ended up taking a class on Reiki.

Judgment: Go.

  

Title/Author: Insurgent, Allegiant, and Four (Divergent series), by Veronica Roth

Date Added: June 11, 2015

Thoughts: Despite having the end of the series MASSIVELY SPOILED for me after I read the first one, I’d still like to finish it at some point.

Judgment: Keep.

Title/Author: Inceptio, by Alison Morton

Date Added: June 11, 2015

Thoughts: I have no memory AT ALL of this, and no one I know how read it…where did this come from?

Judgment: Go.

Title/Author: Shadow Wolf (Wolves of the Beyond #2), by Kathryn Lasky

Date Added: June 13, 2015

Thoughts: Yes, at some point I want to finish reading this adorable little series…I read the first one but never picked up the rest!

Judgment: Keep.

Title/Author: The Aeronaut’s Windlass (The Cinder Spires #1), by Jim Butcher

Date Added: June 14, 2015

Thoughts: I pre-ordered this book. HOW HAVE I NOT READ IT YET??

Judgment: Keep. Obviously.

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Well, down by 2 this week. Not great, but better than none. Now if I could just read more! Until next time…

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