Year in Review (…and some plans going forward)

year in review

I wasn’t sure if I was going to still write this considering a week has already past since the start of this new year, but then again, I think I needed to write this for myself. I have made it known in this blog a number of times just how busy work has been the last couple of months. It continued to be up to the very end, even now I have work-related stuff I need to take care of. But if I’m being honest, it’s not the only reason why I  have decreased my blogging presence.

Truth is I’m feeling really discouraged right now and struggling to continue blogging. I know I shouldn’t compare my journey with other bloggers but it’s hard not to. My numbers have gone down – readership, followers – and I continuously questioned myself if it’s even smart to continue doing this if I don’t have an audience.

But I love reading, and writing about books is my way of expressing my love for this precious thing that has saved me countless of times. I have also met and interacted with really amazing people this past year – fellow bloggers, readers, writers and publishers – people I have met because of this blog. I just can’t leave it.

And that’s when it hit me.

The reason I created this blog was, when I look at it more closely, was me. Yes, I write to share my love for books, I write to get these stories I love and enjoyed to more hands so more people will love and enjoy them, but in the end, this blog is for me, my outlet. It may sound selfish, so be it.

2018 has been wonderful for my reading life. I have read a lot of books that made me feel a whole range of emotions – happy, sad, angry. I have beat my Goodreads challenge for the third year in a row, something I’m really happy about.

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I have enjoyed, even loved most of these books. Among those who stood out for me this year were Sadie (Courtney Summers), Darius the Great is Not Okay (Adib Khorram), The Deepest Roots (Miranda Asebedo), and This is What it Feels Like (Rebecca Barrow). I have also started and finished several book series last year: I finally read His Fair Assassin trilogy (Robin LaFevers) which has been on my TBR for the longest time; the Red Queen series (Victoria Aveyard) concluded this year with the publishing of War Storm, which I enjoyed a whole though it was bittersweet [I’m going to miss all those characters, especially Mare and Cal]; The Gilded Wolves (Roshani Chokshi) which is coming out mid-January, is a promising new series I’m really excited for and you can expect me to talk about it nonstop here on the blog and on Twitter.

I also participated in blog tours for the first time, and got the chance to interview some really awesome authors. My interview, though short, with Sarah Bird and writing duo Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz are some of the highlights of my blogging year.

All these may sound small, but these are achievements for me and I’m kind of proud of myself now that I’m seeing them all laid out like this. I’m not yet sure what this year, what 2019 has in store for me. I’m pretty excited to discover it myself, but rest assured I’m staying and will continue to write.

I’m planning to add a few more feature content just as soon as I think up a theme [or something]. I’m also going to put myself out there more, which scares the crap out of me because if you know me in real life you know that I can be awkward as hell. Requesting more author interviews [please let it work and don’t think I’m weird] and requesting books I really want from publishers are also in my agenda this year. Hey, maybe I’ll even go back to bookstragram, if perfecting and editing my shots won’t take to much of my time.

All these plans are still tentative, except the feature content thing because I’m already writing down ideas for that. I don’t know if they’ll pan out, it’s scary and exciting at the same time, but I think my keyword for this year is “Try” and that’s just what I’ll do. No pressure, whatsoever, just try to do what I intend to do because, after all, I wouldn’t know what’ll happen if I don’t and the guessing, the what-ifs will only end up making me more anxious which never does me any good.

So, anyway [because as usual I don’t know how to properly end a post AGAIN!] I’ll leave you with a song I love. It’s something I tell myself whenever I feel like the world’s crashing on me. Dramatic, yes, but that’s just how the last couple of months felt like for me.

💗💗💗

Rachel

let's chat

How was 2018 for you? Link up your year-in-review posts in the comment section so I can read them 🙂

 

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October (AKA The Month of the Book Slump) Monthly Wrap-up

Better late than never. That’s what I always tell myself whenever I write something that should have been posted days (even weeks) before. It’s a trick to make myself feel less guilty, but it doesn’t always work.

October has been a hell of a month for me. Two of my colleagues quit, leaving our clinic understaffed. While we could ask reliever nurses to take on some of the work, they are not always available since they, themselves, also have their own full time jobs and they can only take vacant shifts if it falls on their days off. Because of this, I had to take on extra shifts just so the clinic won’t be unmanned.

It has been exhausting. Even with careful time management, work still ate away most of my time. I may sound ungrateful ranting away like I am doing now, but no amount of overtime pay will get me back those times – time I should have freely to spend time with my family, friends; time I should had have to do things I love.

As it is, reading was the first thing to be affected. Writing came next, then sleep. I went down on a book slump and struggled to finish the books I picked up. Still, I managed to read for books. You don’t know how happy I was to finally get to J.D. Robb’s newest, Leverage in Death. I sure put it off so much in favor of the newer books on my list. Then there’s Rebecca Barrow’s This is What it Feels Like, the book that rebooted my book slumping brain. I loved it! That one has got to be one of the best books I’ve read this year. (This is me pushing you to go pick the book and give it a try! And yes, I’m totally screaming!) That makes half of my October reading, but the other two books I read were also great and I encourage you to check them out.

Books I’ve Finished:

37638161Leverage in Death (In Death #47) by J.D. Robb
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ 1/2

I haven’t yet written my review for this yet, but it was an okay installment. Take note, I rated this in comparison to its predecessors. The In Death series deserves a different rating system from me, because its length just demands it.

 

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Broken Things by Lauren Oliver
My Rating:
⭐⭐⭐ // Review: “Broken Things” by Lauren Oliver

 

 

 

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A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts by Therese Anne Fowler
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ // Review: “A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of the Vanderbilts” by Therese Anne Fowler

 

 

 

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This is What it Feels Like by Rebecca Barrow
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ // Review: “This is What it Feels Like” by Rebecca Barrow

 

 

 

Books I’ve started:

🍂 Insurrecto by Gina Apostol

My TBR for November:

I only have a few books for this month (also for the next) since I wanted to have time to get to the books I skipped the past month. Also, I really need to tackle my backlist TBR pile.

Nov TBR.jpg

I already started on Insurrecto last week and I’m about 39-40% into the book. I will read Outrun the Wind next since it’s releasing on the 27th. I missed Shadow of the Fox last month, so I’m going to try to get to it this month. Carve the Mark, meanwhile, has been on my TBR since its release last year, but the trauma Allegiant left on me made me wary. I’m going to get into it this month though so, yeah, let’s see.

Now for my monthly discovery…

Want to combine your love of reading with playing mobile games? Hey, I got a recommendation for you.

Choices: Stories You Play

I’m totally addicted to this game! It’s like reading but you get to choose a bit of how the story goes. I’ve already finished several books and am playing several more all at the same time. It has everything a book lover wants – love Fantasy, try The Crown and The Flame, then there’s It Lives in the Woods for those brave souls who love the Horror genre. Of course, thee’s loads of Romance available. I personally love The Royal Romance and Red Carpet Diaries. Definitely, definitely recommend it!

Also, since Tumblr has is all abuzz about it, I decided to start on A Discovery of Witches. It’s based on Deborah Harkness’s The All Souls trilogy, and while I have yet to read the books, the show looks great.

If you decide to give it a whirl, go and hit me up. Let’s fangirl together!

Alright, that’s it for me for now. I’m gonna go back to reading and TV series bingeing and playing mobile games.

 

 

 

 

September (AKA The Month of 5-star Reads Streak) Monthly Wrap-up

Monthly Wrap up

I don’t know about you, but September just blurred by for me, its days bleeding together in a confused haze. It’s been a busy month for me, probably busier than July though I didn’t much feel it because by now I’ve adjusted to the grind of home, work, patients, reports then home again. Wash, repeat the cycle.

A number of good things happened last month. I was sent by our company to a week-long post-graduate course, and now I have a new certificate under my belt. I soon have to renew my BLS & ACLS certification though it’s not due ’til the end of the year. I’m thinking of maybe reserving my slot in a class some time this month or the next.

I also joined my first blog tour (3 actually!) and had my first giveaway. I had the chance to chat with my winner, Michelle, a couple of days ago and she told me she already received her prize – a hardcover of Sarah Bird’s Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen – courtesy of the good people at St. Martin’s Press.

And here’s another thing I’m really happy about.

goodread done

goodreads

When I stopped blogging in 2015, I was stuck in a rut, not just reading-wise but also personal. I just stopped reading all together, but I came back to it, bit by bit. I initially set a goal of 20 books in 2016, completed that, then added 10 more books to make 30 in 2017, surpassed that by 50+ books, so I added 10 more books to my goal for this year, and, well, hit that earlier than expected. This is something I’m really happy about, not just because I’ve managed to complete my reading challenge for the third year in a row, but because it means so much to me to be back doing the things I love – reading and writing – after not having even the energy and the will to even pick up a book three years ago. I’ve come a long way.

All right, well, enough of that. Here’s a little snapshot of my September in books.

Books I’ve finished:

I’ve had a great month reading really good books. I actually think this is the most 5-star ratings I’ve given, not to mention my 4-star ratings.

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Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird (Historical Fiction – Post American Civil War)
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ // 
Review: “Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen” by Sarah Bird

Also check out my quick Q&A with Sarah Bird here.

 

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I Do Not Trust You by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐ 1/2 // Review + Author Q&A: “I Do Not Trust You” by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz

 

 

cover - White as Silence 9780785217060.jpg_1

 

White as Silence, Red as Song by Alessandro D’Avenia
My rating: ⭐⭐ // Review: “White as Silence, Red as Song” by Alessandro D’Avenia

 

 

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Strange Grace by Tessa Graton
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ // Review: “Strange Grace” by Tessa Graton

 

 

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The Deepest Roots by Miranda Asebedo
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ // Review: “The Deepest Roots” by Miranda Asebedo

 

 

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Give the Dark My Love by Beth Revis
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ // Review: “Give the Dark My Love” by Beth Revis

 

 

Books I’ve started:

🍂 Leverage in Death by J.D. Robb

🍂 Broken Things by Lauren Oliver

My TBR for October (aka The “Are you seriously going to be able to finish all these books” Pile):

Oct TBR

Release dates:

October 2

Broken Things – Lauren Oliver

Shadow of the Fox – Julie Kagawa

When We Caught Fire – Anna Godbersen

October 9

The Witch Elm – Tana French

October 16

A Well-behaved Woman – Therese Anne Fowler

A new discovery:

If you want to know more about your reading habits – your most read genres, etc. – try Book SirensI signed up and it was so easy. I just linked it with my Goodreads profile, then they do the rest. Apparently, I’m a strict reviewer (what?!?) but that I can definitely be impressed. Anyway, I recommend that you at least give it a try. I was pretty surprised by the info it gleaned from my Goodreads profile.

P.S. There’s also a widget for the profile they make for you. I already have mine up on my sidebar. It’s pretty cool.

 

 

August Monthly Wrap-up aka The “Rachel Panics for September” Post

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As cliché as it sounds, I can’t believe August is over. It just came and went, then, like magic, it’s already September.

And I’m in a state of panic!!!

I have a couple of blog tours this month. It was all fine and dandy when I took them on a couple of months earlier, but then I realized that two of those blog tours are scheduled the first week of this month. (Imagine me running around, screaming in panic)

I am not joking about panicking. I really am, but I’m just going to have to read like a maniac in the following days. I mean, I have always been reading like a maniac but I have to somehow step it up some more. (Wish me luck!)

Enough with that, you’ll hear more about it anyway throughout the month. Let’s talk about August.

August was, generally, a good month for me. There were a few bumps – a book that I thought would plunge me into another reading slump, co-workers calling in sick super late which led to me doing overtime at the clinic and decreasing my reading time – but, overall, August treated me well. I read some pretty great books, and may have even found one a new favorite. Truly, it has been one productive month! Here’s how August went down for me.

Books I’ve finished:

🍂 The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis (Historical Fiction – late 20s, The Great Depression, mid-70s // Mystery)

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ // Review: “The Masterpiece” by Fiona Davis

I can’t believe I waited this long to read a Fiona Davis book. I fell in love with The Masterpiece! The way Davis described things both in the late 1920s and the mid-70s was amazing. She also gave me two incredible women to cheer for. I absolutely recommend this book.

🍂 A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan (Young Adult Fiction // Fantasy // Re-telling)

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐ // Review: “A Touch of Gold” by Annie Sullivan

I enjoyed A Touch of Gold, though somehow it fell just a bit short for me. It has an interesting premise and great writing by Annie Sullivan, but the characters felt bland for me. Still, this book put Sullivan on my radar. I’m certainly going to look forward to more of her writing.

🍂 See All the Stars by Kit Frick (Young Adult Fiction // Contemporary)

My rating: ⭐⭐ // Review: “See All the Stars” by Kit Frick

This one didn’t quite fit me. It’s not the writing, Frick did well on that front. I think it’s partly the characters, which I found bland and underdeveloped, and the plot itself, which was shallow. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad book, I’m sure there are many readers who’ll love it, but it just wasn’t for me.

🍂 Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram (Young Adult Fiction // Contemporary)

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ // Review: “Darius the Great is Not Okay” by Adib Khorram

Now, I cannot state enough just how much I adore this book. It definitely saved me from going into a reading slump, and gave me a new character to root for. Darius the Great is Not Okay is an incredible, heartwarming and heartbreaking coming-of-age. It’s very character-driven, so if that’s also your thing, you’ll love this book.

🍂 Wait for Me and In Another Time by Caroline Leech (Young Adult Fiction // Historical Romance – WWII)

My rating: Wait for Me – ⭐⭐⭐ // In Another Time – ⭐ // Mini-reviews: “Wait for Me” and “In Another Time” by Caroline Leech

Both of these books are just so sweet I wouldn’t mind re-reading them sometime in the future. Though, I have to say, I loved In Another Time more.

Also, these two books gave me information about WWII I’ve never known before. Like that German POWs were brought to Scotland to work on farms, and that women took up much of the work the men left when war broke out. This is one of the many reasons historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. I learn and enjoy at the same time.

Books I’ve Started:

🍂 Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen by Sarah Bird (Historical Fiction – American Civil War, post-American Civil War)

I’m almost at the halfway mark of this book, and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read of it so far. Cathy Williams is one character most people are sure to root for – brave, determined and proud. If you don’t hear from me in the coming days, then you know this book still has me under its spell.

🍂 I Do Not Trust You by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz (Young Adult Fiction // Fantasy, Mythology)

I cannot tell you much about this one yet as I’ve only cracked the book ’til the end of its first chapter. Nevertheless, I’m pretty excited for this because, hey, Egyptian mythology!

Forthcoming Releases I’m Looking Forward to (aka My September TBR):

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Release dates:

September 4

Leverage in Death – J.D. Robb

Sadie – Courtney Summers // Review: “Sadie” by Courtney Summers

Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen – Sarah Bird

White as Silence, Red as Song – Alessandro D’Avenia

September 11

I Do Not Trust You – Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz

September 18

Wildcard – Marie Lu

Strange Grace – Tessa Graton

The Deepest Roots – Miranda Asebedo

September 28

Give the Dark My Love – Beth Revis

I don’t know how I’ll do it, but I will try my best to read all these books this month. I mean, I almost hit my target last month, missing only 2 books on my TBR list. That’s a great track record, right? So, maybe I can do it this month. Crossed fingers.

Non-bookish stuff I’m into right now:

I’m a history nerd. I don’t know, it’s a boring subject for some people, but I’m continually fascinated by what happened in the past – people, events, stuff like that. So, naturally, historical documentaries are part of my diet, and I stumbled upon some really interesting ones last month. Here are some I recommend:

Buried: Knights Templar and The Holy Grail (History Channel)

Elizabeth I (Channel 5)

All four episodes of Elizabeth I are available on YouTube, that’s how I stumbled upon it. I’m not really sure abut Buried: Knights Templar and the Holy Grail. I was able to catch it on History (one of the reasons why I am willing to pay for cable).

Anyway, with all that said, September’s going to be a very busy month for me. Not really complaining, I mean, hey, I got my books and as long as I have books I’ll be happy.

💗💗💗

Rachel

let's chat

How’s your August been and what are you planning to read this month?

July Monthly Wrap-up and August TBR

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If you have been following my blog for a while now, you’ll know that July has been a rather busy month for me at work and it proved itself up to its very last day. The number of patients who visited us doubled this month, and this affected my other duties as the clinic’s most tenured member. I had to take home some of my work (aka reports) because I just can’t seem to finish them while I’m at work, and it decreased my reading time.

On happier, less stressful side of things, our family celebrated my nephew’s first birthday and christening recently, which was a ton of fun. He’s very fascinated with dinosaurs so his mom and my brother-in-law set up a dinosaur themed christening reception. I wasn’t able to take many pictures because my phone’s battery got drained halfway through the event, but here are some that I took just before my phone shut down.

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My reading time woes aside, I think I still had a wonderful July. Here’s a quick snapshot of what the month has been for me:

Books I’ve finished:

🍂 Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Pèrez (Young Adult Fiction // Series, Fantasy, Re-telling)

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐ 1/2  // Review: “Sweet Black Waves” Kristina Pèrez

I really enjoyed this book despite the little problems I had with it, mainly its slow pacing in the middle and unrealized secondary character. It’s the first book in what is to be a trilogy so I’m sticking. I mean, hey, this book got me at Tristan and Iseult re-telling.

🍂 Ghosted by Rosie Walsh (General Adult Fiction // Contemporary, Romance)

My rating: ⭐⭐ // Review: “Ghosted” by Rosie Walsh

This is one book I really wanted to love but just couldn’t. I thought it was interesting as it centered around the topic of ‘ghosting’ so I went on and requested it from Penguin’s First to Read reader program. The first few chapters were okay, but as it progressed it just became tedious. This book ultimately failed to live up to its promise.

🍂 Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win by Jo Piazza (General Adult Fiction // Women’s Fiction, Political Satire)

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ // Review: “Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win” by Jo Piazza

Now, this book is the total opposite of Ghosted for me in that I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. Jo Piazza took some of the most important issues we all face in our regular lives and weaved it through her narrative. Though, I have to say, the best part of this book is the titular character herself, Charlotte Walsh. I don’t have any political ambitions (why would I put such stress on myself?!?) but I saw a lot of myself in her – determined, flawed and conflicted – and that’s something that is so rare for me, so this book really earned its gold stars.

Books I’ve started:

🍂 Wait For Me by Caroline Leech (Young Adult Fiction // Series, Historical Romance, WWII)

I borrowed this from the library at the start of July and had to return it because my 21-day loan was up. I was already 63% into the story and I really want to finish it because I enjoyed what parts of it I finished. I’m second in line for it though, which translates to about a 2-week wait.

🍂 The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis (General Adult Fiction // Historical Mystery, Prohibition, mid-70s)

Have you noticed I’ve been on a historical fiction kick lately? Well, I certainly have though I didn’t really notice it not until I was reading them one after the other.

I’m already about 70% through The Masterpiece and I’m loving it. I think I can finish it today, or maybe tomorrow, and have the review for it up by Sunday. That’s all tentative though as my work week is only starting tonight.

July Book Haul:

I kind of splurged on books this month. My local bookstore was celebrating it’s anniversary and they had this massive sale. 20% to 70% discount anyone? So, of course, yours truly broke out her wallet, picked up a basket and filled it. I’ve already read three of these five books, (bought their e-books first because I just don’t want to wait!) but still wanted physical copies so I’m pretty happy to get them on discounted prices.

I also bought a couple of second hand mass market paperback of books from the In Death series. They are hard to find, owing to the length and the age (is that the right term?) of the series, and I made it into a sort of treasure hunt for myself. It’s fun sifting through secondhand books and finding gems. Here’s a photo of my July haul (featuring my hand).

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Book hauling and lifting are valid forms of exercise!!!

August TBR:

I have a couple of books lined up for this month, almost all of them releasing on the same day (a reason to freak out, I know) so I’m really going to try to get my act together and carve some reading time.

36575823A Touch of Gold (Annie Sullivan)
Publisher: Blink/HarperCollins Christian Publishing
Release Date: August 14

 

 

 

 

32718970See All the Stars (Kit Frick)
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster
Release Date: August 14

 

 

 

 

39897647The Learning Year (Pam McGaffin)
Publisher: SparkPress/Ingram Publisher Services
Release Date: August 14

 

 

 

 

37506437Darius the Great is Not Okay (Adib Khorram)
Publisher: Dial Books/Penguin Publishing Group
Release Date: August 28

 

 

 

 

36911793White as Silence, Red as Song (Alessandro D’Avenia)
Publisher: Thomas Nelson/HarperCollins Christian
Release Date: September 4

 

 

 

 

I’m hoping that August eases up a bit work-wise. I could really use a break, honestly. Anyway, I think that’s it for me today.

💗💗💗

Rachel

let's chat

How’s your July been and what are you planning to read this August?