Magical Readathon TBR

I participated in the Magical Readathon for the first time in 2020 … and I loved it! Then the world started hating on Harry Potter because of JKR’s actions, and G. decided to not continue with the traditional O.W.L.S. and N.E.W.T.S. approach and re-invented the readathon to still be magical, but held in an entirely new world of her creation.

The first part of the readathon began last September with the Novice Path, where we had a series of challenges to complete, as listed above. I tried to read them all, but I missed one. I read:

  • Dark Triumph
  • Gutter Child
  • The Heart Principle
  • (skipped the Ruin of Skye prompt)
  • The Guilt Trip
  • The Chicken Sisters
  • Legendborn

We then had until April to read our character prompts.

ID: My character for the magical readathon. She has long purple hair, blue skin with a stripes on her neck and arms and pointed ears. She’s wearing a blue top and a necklace with a crescent moon.

This is my character, an urban elf from Kerador. For the character prompts, I read the following books:

  • Urban: a book set in a city or town (When the Stars Go Dark)
  • Kerador: a book from an ongoing series (Lover Unleashed)
  • Elf: moon or stars on the cover or title (House of Sky and Breath)

Then, in March, there was a Gear Up mini magical readathon to get ready for the official start of the readathon in April. I had previously decided to be a member of the Order of the Crescent (simply because it reminded me of Crescent City), so I chose a quarterstaff as my conduit. For this challenge, I had to read a book that’s part of a quartet — and I’ve been itching to get back to the UnWind dystology (not to mention that it’s one of my Unread Shelf challenges this year), so it was the perfect time to pick up UnSouled. Order of the Crescent members were also challenged to pick a familiar and read a book with that animal on it. I have Hollowpox on my 22 books to read in 2022 list, but I knew I needed to start with reread of Nevermoor. Listening to it on audio was an absolutely delightful experience, and I know I’ll do the same with the next two books. What better familiar to have than, not just a cat, but a magnificat!

This month, the readathon officially begins with the Spring Equinox (announcement video is linked here) and I love that G. is still keeping the same exams format that there was in the previous version of the Magical Readathon (I still miss the Harry Potter theme, and I’m a bit sad that I only joined it during the last year it was held). For this readathon, we are challenged to pick a calling and, depending on which one we pick, we have to sit a series of exams related to that calling. I’ve chosen Story Weaver (it reminds me closely of Trader of Magical Tomes, which I had picked during the 2020 Magical Readathon).

ID: The exams required for the Story Weaver calling.

For the Spring Equinox (the month of April), I will need to sit four exams:

  • Inscription:
  • Art of Illusion:
  • Psionics & Divination:
  • Lore:

The challenge for Inscription is to read an intimidating book and, as Tome Topple also falls during the last half of April, I can think of no better book than A Little Life, a book that I have started twice and put down because I’m afraid of how much it will break my heart.

Art of Illusion will be an easy challenge to check off the list because it’s to read a book with a trope I like. I have quite a few romance egalleys for May, and I’m sure at least one of them will contain a trope that I enjoy, because I honestly don’t think there’s any romance trope that I don’t like, other than a love triangle, but that is more of YA trope than a contemporary romance trope.

For Psionics & Divination, I have to read a book set in the future and I think I will finish off the UnWind dystology (and check that Unread Shelf challenge off at the same time).

Finally, the challenge for Lore is to read a mythology book and this was a trickier one for me. I was going to bend the rules and pick something that’s more fairytale inspired, until I realized that the Grishaverse is based on Russian mythology and folklore and I have the audiobook for King of Scars as well as the physical copy. It will also be the perfect time to (finally!) finish watching the show.

For the Autumn Equinox (which will be in August), I will need to need to read six books because of the grades that I need to achieve:

O = 1 book
Q = 2 books
D = 3 books

As I’ll be on vacation for a big part of August, this feels more than achievable.

I’m excited to dig into my Spring Equinox books this month and start my educational journey towards becoming a Story Weaver!

Spring TBR

ID: A stack of the books listed below sits atop my book cart.

I’m generally not much of a TBR person … I find as soon as I say, “These are the books I will read,” my mood immediately changes her mind and I lose all interest in those books. At the same time, I thoroughly enjoyed my summer TBR that I set last year … and I think I read all but three of those books? So, let’s give this a shot.

A few new books from my shelves…

The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith
The Fastest Way to Fall by Denise Williams
The Maid by Nita Prose
More Than Us by Ryan Jones

A few of my 22 books to read in 2022

Will by Will Smith
Goodbye for Now by Laurie Frankel
In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

A few pre-orders…

Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez
Books Lovers by Emily Henry
Something Wilder by Christina Lauren

Books that are calling to me…

The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker

What I’ve Read (and loved) So Far

ID: A book stack comprised of the titles that made my top reads of the year so far list.

Almost a quarter of the way through the year, and I’ve been feeling reflective on some of the amazing books that I’ve read this year … which means it’s time for another blog post.

Greenwood by Michael Christie. It’s a really special feeling when you pick up a book the first week of January and get that feeling like you might be reading your favourite book of the year. This book was beautifully written and structured like the rings of a tree, going backwards in time through generations and then forwards again, layering the story together in a way that was absolute perfection. I loved that parts of the book were set in and around British Columbia and the whole book felt infused with the landscape that I call home.

Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult. It was tough to follow-up Greenwood, but Jodi’s latest book blew me away. I wasn’t sure how my heart could handle a book about the pandemic when the Omicron wave was ramping up, but she handled the early days of the pandemic with her typical grace and I found myself swept up the story and shocked by the twist that she threw at us.

House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J. Maas. This book is going to make so many 2022 top ten lists, and it’ll definitely be on mine. I devoured almost all of it over the Family Day weekend, and I absolutely loved being immersed in the world and the characters. I even deleted social media off my phone for the week that I was reading it, fearful of accidental spoilers, but also wanting to enjoy a highly anticipated reading experience without the backdrop of social media.

One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle. I read In Five Years last summer, and loved it, so I requested her new book on a whim from Netgalley. I loved it so much that I’d pre-ordered a copy before I was even halfway through reading it, simply because I needed to hug it in person. I love how Rebecca infuses her stories with just a touch of magical realism.

The Suite Spot by Trish Doller. Float Plan was everywhere last summer, a definite Bookstagram darling. I read it, and liked it, liked it a lot I suppose, but I don’t think I adored it as much as many others did. I requested this one on a whim from Netgalley too, and was blown away by how much I enjoyed it. I think I resonated more with the main character of this one, as a mom, and I was so invested in her story.

A Brush with Love by Mazey Eddings. 2022 is already shaping up to be another year of amazing contemporaries, and I’m not sad about it. My dear friend Ginger (or @greadsbooks on Instagram) recommends the best romance novels, so when she started raving about this one last year, I knew I had to pick up a copy. It had amazing mental health representation and I adored it.

I’ve read some other great books this year, but these ones are all contenders for my top books of the year … but it also makes me excited for the months of reading ahead, and the great books that have yet to be added to this list!

Goodbye 2021, Hello 2022

The wind is blowing the edges of the pages of an open book against a backdrop of e lake with the sun setting on the horizon.

I’ve been slowly getting back into blogging in the past few weeks, and I hope to keep this rhythm going in 2022. I already know that monthly TBRs and wrap-ups are not my thing (and I love that it’s taken me a decade to realize this) but I think seasonal TBRs and quarterly wrap-ups (or highlights of the past quarter) are my jam, so that’s what you’ll see from me on the blog this year. I’m also going to be patient with myself when I feel like blogging a lot, and then go through periods of posting barely anything. This is my own little corner of the internet, and therefore my own rules about when to post or not post.

Is it still a New Year’s post when it’s February already? Although January felt like it dragged by, I also can’t believe that we’re already this far into 2022. Since I’ve had these posts up the past two years, I did still want to share this, even if it’s been sitting in my drafts since early January and I am just finishing it now.

I started off the past two years by sharing a word for the coming year. In 2020, that word was RECONNECT and I didn’t know how valuable that word would be throughout the beginning of the pandemic, as working from home gifted me back three hours in my day and gave me the time to reconnect with so many things that my lengthy commute just didn’t allow for. In 2021, I chose the word BALANCE as my word of the year. I was originally going to go with FOCUS but recognized that sometimes I need a night of mindless scrolling, which other times I can be more focused with my time – BALANCE was where it was at in 2021.

Looking back at 2021, I was definitely balanced. I read more books last year than I have ever read in a single year, at least since I started tracking my reading, ending the year with 154 books read. While I prioritized reading, I definitely still fall down the rabbit hole of Instagram now and then. I’ve chosen a word for 2022 that will enable me to continue the pursuit of BALANCE but with a twist.

My word for 2022 is INTENTIONAL. I want to be intentional with how I spend my time, whether it’s being with family and friends, sitting down to read a book instead of scrolling on the ‘gram, or popping in earbuds to listen to an audiobook while I work on a puzzle (my new hobby so far this year!)

I say this every year, but I really would like to get back to writing more. I’d like to start with posting a bit more regularly, as this is an ‘easy’ way to get words on the page, but I’d also like to actually write. I participated in NaNoWriMo last year (or maybe it was the year before?) and started a story that’s been rattling around in my head for a long, long time and I’ve been itching to get back to it. I had set a goal of 40 goals to accomplish before I turn 40 (which is next month) and one of them was completing The Artist’s Way. While I still have a few goals left on that list (and I’ll probably create a 50 goals to accomplish before I turn 50 list, because why not?), this is one that I would like to do in my 40th year. It feels like the right time.

The biggest intentional goal is with my reading and books that I add to my shelves. I want to indulge in less of the bookish hype and be more intentional about the books that I pick up this year. While 2021 saw me reading more books than I have ever read in a single year, I honestly don’t care how many books I read in 2022 because I want to enjoy every last one of them, and only read what I’m in the mood to read, not what I think I should be reading. Alongside that, I also want to be respectful to the publishers who have given me the opportunity to read and review advanced copies, and close out the year with no 2022 titles left to review (or any older titles either). Finally, there’s my Unread Shelf Project – I closed out the year with less books that I had on January 1, 2021, and I’m proud of continuing the work that I had done in 2020. I will continue to be intentional about the books that I acquire, buying what I know I’ll love instead of what’s popular and trending online. I started the year at 134 books, and hope to close out the year with double digits left to go, even being at 99 would be a win. For the first time ever, I also plan to read my entire 22 books to read in 2022 list (I usually manage about half that goal) — I knocked off four in January, so it feels reasonable? We shall see.

Happy New Year friends, and may you be happy and healthy in 2022.

My Intimidating TBR Pile

This was originally created by Lindsey Rey (whose channel is no longer available). I originally posted this tag on my old blog, and I thought it would be fun to revisit my answers and provide some new ones. I think I originally posted in 2014 or 2015.

1) What book have you been unable to finish?
My original answer: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts.

I have finished Shantaram, which was my original July Book (a fun project I started a few years ago, where I took an intimidating book’s total page count and divided it by 31 and then read that number of pages each day in July. Shantaram takes place in India and the heat of India made this a perfect July read.

Today I would choose A Little Life for this challenge. I’ve started this book twice and, on one occasion, read about 300 pages. I think I’m hesitant because I know that it will tear my heart out but those are my favourite types of books to read. It’s on my list of 22 books to read in 2022, so hopefully I can finish it this year!

What book have you yet to read because…
2) …you just haven’t had the time?
My original answer: Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson.

I have read not only Mistborn but the entire trilogy! I loved them all and it was my love for this series that pushed me into starting to collect some of Brandon Sanderson’s other series, only to discover this summer that The Way of Kings was not my cup of tea. So we’ll see if I can find another of his books to enjoy as much as this series — I have quite a few to choose from now.

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak was on my list of 21 books to read in 2021 but I didn’t read it last year. I started listening to the audiobook early in the year but I got lost and realized that I need to spend some quality time getting into the story before I can switch over to the audiobook. So it’ll still happen one day – especially if I’ve got a few days where I’m driving to and from the office, as this book is a chunker.

3) …it’s a sequel?
My original answer: A Dance of Dragons by George R.R. Martin.

Three for three so far! I listened to this one as another July Book and it was a SLOG. As much I as enjoyed the TV show, I won’t be reading any more of these books — if/when the series is ever finished.

The Labyrinth of Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I think this might be the longest of the books in the series and as much as I adored The Shadow of the Wind, I was on a beach on my honeymoon with nothing to do but lay in the sun and get lost in this story. I know that I’ll love it … but I also still have The Prisoner of Heaven to read first (another of my 21 books to read in 2021 that I didn’t get to!). It takes place in December so I think it’s a perfect winter read.

4) …it’s brand new?
My original answer: A Court of Mist and Fury.

Another one that’s read! It’s hard for me to leave a Sarah J. Maas on my shelf unread for long.

Rule of Wolves is probably my newest intimidating book and that’s only because I haven’t read King of Scars yet. I wanted to finish the TV show first – better get on that!

5) …you read a book by the same author and didn’t enjoy it?
My original answer: Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta.

Wow, I’m rocking this list – another one read! I buddy read this one with a friend and didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped, but I also read it while moving and I know that being busy can often dampen a reading experience.

Rooms by Lauren Oliver is my new pick for this category, and another one that I will hopefully check off this year. Before I Fall and Delirium are probably two of my favourite books of all time, but others of hers have not worked for me at all. I think Rooms is her only adult book, so I’m intrigued but also keeping my expectations super low.

6) …you’re just not in the mood for it?
My original answer: The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

I’m never in the mood for this book. I did start it as a buddy read with a friend and I just couldn’t get into it. I recently decided to unhaul it and figured I can borrow it from the library if I’m ever in the mood to try again.

The Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield. This book is probably the opposite of my reading tastes, but I love that my mother-in-law saw that it was a signed copy and bought it for me. We’ve been watching a lot of space TV and moves (Lost in Space, The Martian, and Interstellar and, of course, the Star Wars universe) and I feel like I might possibly be in the mood for this book?

7) …it’s humongous?
My original answer: Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry.

Another July Book that was a SUCCESS! This one is one of my husband’s favourite books and he has yet to recommend a book that I didn’t like. It was perfect reading a western in the summer too.

Whitethorn by Bryce Courtenay. I loved The Power of One (and Tandia) so my mom bought me this book … in hardcover and it’s over 600 pages and it’s HEAVY.

8) …because it was a cover buy that turned out to have poor reviews?
My original answer: Halo by Alexandra Adornetto.

I did try reading this one (on audio) and I couldn’t get into it so I donated it.

Although it doesn’t have super poor reviews (3.73 on Goodreads ain’t bad), Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano was definitely a cover buy and I got worried when I didn’t enjoy The Glass Spare. Yet, I wasn’t so worried that it stopped me from buying books two and three in the trilogy without reading book one.

9) What is the most intimidating book in your TBR pile?
My original answer: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.

Last book on the list is the only one I haven’t read yet, and I would have to say that this remains the most intimidating book on my TBR pile. One of these days, I’ll tackle it.

What about you? Is there a book on your TBR pile that scares you silly?

2021 End of Year Survey

This is one of my favourite things about the end of the year, looking back over my past year of reading and forward to next year as well!  This annual survey is hosted by the incredibly talented Jamie @ The Perpetual Page Turner.

2021 Reading Stats

Number of Books You Read: 153 (but I may finish one or two more by the end of the year)

Number of Books You Re-Read: 8

Genre You Read The Most From: Definitely contemporary

1. Best Book You Read in 2021?

When I read Anxious People in February, I knew I’d read my favourite book of the year. A few books came close to stealing the title, but it held strong and is my favourite book of the year.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus – this series is so beloved by so many. It started off strong, but was ultimately a struggle to finish.

3. Most Surprising (in a good or bad way!) Book of 2021?

Heartstopper (volumes 1 to 3). I’m generally not much of a graphic novel person, but when I read the first volume over the summer, the next two couldn’t come in at the library faster! I’m eagerly anticipating the fourth volume next year.

4. Book You “Pushed” the Most People to Read (and they did) in 2021?

It’s a toss up between the Bromance series (which three friends have picked up) or The Friend Zone (which another three friends are currently reading or have just finished reading). I love these books with my whole heart.

5. Best Series you Started in 2021?  Best Sequel of 2021?  Best Series Ender of 2021?

For best series, I’ll go with Abby Jimenez’ books – The Friend Zone was SO awesome, but the other two books fully lived up to the first book. Best sequel goes to Undercover Bromance because I liked the first book well enough, but it was this book that propelled me to devour the next three. Although I don’t think it’s the end of the series yet, A Court of Silver Flames was incredible – I wasn’t the biggest fan of Nesta throughout the previous books, but I fell in love with her story in this installment.

6. Favorite New Author You Discovered in 2021?

Rebecca Serle – I absolutely devoured In Five Years over the summer, and I’m looking forward to reading her backlist (and I have an egalley for her new book for 2022!)

7. Best Book From a Genre You Don’t Typically Read/Was Out of Your Comfort Zone?

Disfigured by Amanda Leduc – I picked this one up as part of the Reading to Sweep Away Barriers challenge and I loved it! It reminded me of the texts that I read in university – full of so many thought provoking ideas that kept me thinking long after I’d finished it.

8. Most Action-Packed, Thrilling, Unputdownable Book in 2021?

I read so many great thrillers this year, but I’m not sure that any of them had quite the same un-put-down-able quality as my re-read of Unwind by Neal Shusterman. I loved it so much I threw out the rest of my TBR that month to read the next one in the series, and I’m eager to finish up the dystology in 2022.

9. Book You Read in 2021 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

If the fourth volume of Heartstopper isn’t out in early 2022, I will probably re-read the first three before the fourth volume.

10. Favorite Cover of a Book You Read in 2021?

And the story inside matched the beautiful cover – just INCREDIBLE.

11. Most Memorable Character in 2021?

Anna from The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang. I LOVED HER.

12. Most Beautifully Written Book Read in 2021?

One Two Three by Laurie Frankel. I alternated between the print and the audio versions, and the book is beautifully written and equally beautifully narrated.

13. Most Thought-Provoking / Life-Changing Book of 2021?

I found myself thinking about The Push by Ashley Audrain long after I’d finished it – I lent my copy to a co-worker too, who had a very different reading experience, and we had such an interesting conversation about it.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2021 to finally read?

Continuing on with the Unwind dystology — I read the first book in 2009!

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2021?

I didn’t jot down any quotes in 2021 – I need to be better with this next year.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2021?

How I did this: Went to my read books on Goodreads and sorted by page number and just looked for what I knew I read this year that was the shortest and longest.

Longest — Father Mine by J.R. Ward (GR says 3 pages, which I know isn’t right, but it’s a novella and the audiobook was only 2 hours)

Shortest — A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas (757 pages)

17. Book that shocked you the most?

Verity by Colleen Hoover – I knew it would be weird or disturbing because I’ve seen others post about it on Bookstagram, but that opening scene made me realize that I was in for a wild ride.

18. OTP of the year (you will go down with this ship!)

All my Bromance boys ❤

19. Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year?

The relationship between the three sisters in One Two Three.

20. Favorite book you read in 2021 from an author you’ve read previously?

Both of Laurie Frankel’s books that I read this year, and I asked Santa for the one book of hers that I was missing, which is at the top of my 2022 TBR list.

21. Best book you read in 2021 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else?

Another year where I read a lot of Lauren’s (@losetimereading) recommendations! Dark Places, Save Me, Half Broke Horses, Sharp Objects, and A Slow Fire Burning are all books that I picked up because of her.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2021?

My Bromance boys! Oh, and Josh from The Friend Zone.

23. Best 2021 debut you read?

Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano – I can’t wait for the next book! (Although now that I’ve just looked her up on Goodreads, this wasn’t a debut???) So I’ll go with Angeline Boulley instead.

24. Best worldbuilding / most vivid setting you read this year?

Gutter Child – although it’s a dystopia, it’s frighteningly similar to our own world.

25. Book that put a smile on your face / was the most FUN to read?

The Bromance series, but specifically Undercover Bromance. I rarely laugh out loud while reading books, but I was chuckling while listening to this one on audio.

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2021?

Finding Chika by Mitch Albom – if you haven’t read this one, do yourself a favour and pick up the audiobook. It has real audio clips of Chika’s voice sprinkled through it and it really adds an extra layer of authenticity to the story, as well as upping the heartbreak factor.

27. Hidden gem of the year?

My most recent read, Several People are Typing by Calvin Kasulke, has popped up in my Bookstagram feed a couple of times, but I was pleasantly surprised by how delightfully funny this little book was. It felt like The Office WFH style.

28. Book that crushed your soul?

I don’t know if I really had any soul-crushing books this year! Anxious People is the one that has stuck with me the longest – but it was in more of an uplifting way than a soul-crushing way.

29. Most unique book you read in 2021?

Continuing on with the Unwind dystology … I’ve had this series in my Netgalley profile since I joined the site, talking about how I love books that are unique and different from anything else I’ve ever read. Going back to this series to re-read the first one, and then continuing on with book 2 cemented that feeling that Neal Shusterman is a freakin’ genius – it truly is a series that is unlike anything else that I have ever read … in a creepy, icky, but really really good kind of way.

30. Book that made you the most mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Know My Name by Chanel Miller – I knew going into this book what I was signing up for, but Chanel’s experience in the criminal justice system made me rage over how messed up the world is.

1. New favourite book blog/Bookstagram/Booktube channel you discovered in 2021?

I didn’t do too much blog/bookstagram discovering in 2021, but I did start faithfully listening to the Books Unbound podcast. I have been a podcast dabbler, listening to the odd episode here and there, but I tune in every week to this one. Ariel and Raeleen are two of my favourite Booktubers from when I watched more Booktube than I read (haha) and hearing them banter back and forth is just the best.

2. Favourite post you wrote in 2021?

I got a bit more into blogging in 2021 than I did in 2020, but still not too many posts to choose from – but bringing back Once Upon a Time in a Bookstore (which was originally posted on my old blog) made me so happy. It’s the story of how my husband and I met, and I love our story so much.

3. Favourite bookish related photo you took in 2021?

Scrolling through was a trip through memory lane, so many great books! But this one was a fan favourite and, just like the story above, I love sharing my love for my husband.

4.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I purposely set my Goodreads challenge low (who needs an app telling me I’m behind on my hobby) but I actually read more books that I have ever read in a year (at least since I started tracking my reading). I also ended the year with less books on my unread shelf than I started with, despite adding over 70 books to my shelves this year. I also participated in a number of readathons, completed a few series (although less than the 10 that I had aimed for) and read almost all of my 12 reads from 12 friends list.

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2021 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2022?

I love that Les Mis was the answer to this question on last year’s survey – ooops! Some of the newer additions to my shelves will be at the top of my TBR for 2022, probably starting with Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2022 (non-debut)?

So many yet again! House of Sky and Breath for sure. Then mostly new contemporaries by some of my favourite authors: Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez, Something Wilder by Christina Lauren, The Summer Place by Jennifer Wiener, Book Lovers by Emily Henry and A Very Merry Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams.

3. 2022 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

I haven’t seen any that caught my eye yet…

4. Series Ending / Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2022?

A House of Sky and Breath again, and I suppose Chain of Thorns by Cassandra Clare? It’s funny because Chain of Iron was my answer to this question last year, but I haven’t read it yet.

5. One Thing You Hope to Accomplish or Do in Your Reading/Blogging in 2022?

Continue along the path of being more intentional with my book purchases (same as last year) and I will absolutely stay devoted to reading primarily from my own shelves. I put a twist on the 12 reads from 12 friends challenge and asked people to pick from my unread shelves … and I ended up with so many recommendations that it’s created my 22 to read in 2022 list. I would love for this to be the year that I read ALL of the list (something I’ve never done!) I would also like to clear off the final few expired egalleys from my Netgalley shelves and stay current with reading my 2022 egalleys as they release.

6. A 2022 Relase You’ve Already Read & Recommend to Everyone:

I spent November trying to clear out my 2021 and prior egalleys, and I actually haven’t dipped into any 2022 releases just yet. I have some on my TBR that I’m super excited about though.

If you filled out this survey, please leave me a link to your post and I’ll stop by!  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to visit my little corner of the internet.

Once Upon a Time in a Bookstore

Once upon a time there was a boy who was looking for a book about cats. Even though he had three cats living in his house, he wanted to find some more information on these sleek and furry creatures for the story he was writing. In the city of Victoria, there was no better place to go looking for a book than Bolen Books. He looked down at his ratty T-shirt and shorts and wondered if he should put on something nicer for this outing. Running a hand over his scruffy chin, he shrugged and slipped on a pair of flip-flops, figuring that he’d be back home in an hour to keep working on his story.

Five minutes later, he pulled his old Mustang into the parking lot of Hillside Mall. Pushing his orange sunglasses on top of his head, he strode into the store. He made his way towards to the centre of the store, into the children’s section, and started browsing through the titles on the shelves.

“Can I help you find something?” a voice asked to his left. He turned his head and saw a girl with dark brown ringlets, smiling at him.

“Umm…yeah,” he stammered, wishing that he had taken at least the time to shave before leaving the house. “I’m looking for a book. A book about cats.”

The girl smiled brightly and led him towards the end of the aisle, where she began slowly turning a rotating shelf, scanning the rack as she turned it around. “I’m sure that there’s a book about cats in the Eyewitness series,” she said. She selected a book, passed it to the boy and asked, “Is this the type of book that you’re looking for?”

“Yes, I think so,” he replied and then explained that he was writing a story about his cat and his publishing advisor had suggested that he do some research before writing. In the sunlit aisles of the children’s section, they discussed the use of animals as narrators in children’s literature and the marketing appeal of his idea for a novel. Customers and other booksellers passed by them, arms laden with books, but for these two it seemed like they were the only ones in the store.

It wasn’t the only time that the girl would see the boy in the aisles of Bolen Books. Although, the next time he came by the store, he made sure that he was nicely dressed and clean-shaven. Sometimes he came in to pick up his special ordered magazine; other times, he picked up a new novel to read. While he was in the store, he always found the girl, whether she was shelving a cart of books or ringing up a customer’s purchases, and stopped to chat for a few moments.

One busy December day, at the height of the Christmas shopping season, the girl was up at the front desk at the store, helping a co-worker bag books for a customer’s purchase. She saw the boy waiting in line and smiled. He came up to the counter and said that he needed help finding a book.

“Can you help me to find The Power of Now?” he asked.

“Certainly,” she replied. “Follow me; it’s in the psychology section.” He followed her to the bookshelf and she passed the book into his outstretched hands. He looked down at the title, The Power of Now, and the title, the immediacy of the word NOW filled him with a type of courage that he needed. Taking a deep breath, he raised his head to look into the girl’s big brown eyes and asked, “Would you like to have coffee with me sometime?”

“Sure,” she replied.

Maybe it was the nerves, or the noisy bustling of the seasonal shoppers, but he pressed on as if he hadn’t heard her. “Or, if you don’t like coffee, we could go for ice cream? Or milkshakes? Do you like milkshakes?”

She smiled and placed a hand on his arm. “I said yes. To coffee, ice cream or milkshakes.”

He smiled too, relieved, and they exchanged numbers before the frenzy of last-minute shoppers pulled her back to work.

After an evening of discussing their favourite books over coffee and cheesecake, the boy and the girl knew that they were falling in love. Finally, the day came where they merged their book collections into one library in their new home together. After arranging the bookshelves, in alphabetical order of course, they discovered that they had four boxes of duplicate books. The boy wanted to tuck the books into storage, on the off chance that their new living arrangements didn’t work out and they decided to go their separate ways. The girl took his hands in hers and looked solemnly into his hazel eyes. “But that will never happen,” she said. So the boxes of books were dropped off at the used bookstore and exchanged for some new titles.

Five years later, on their anniversary, the boy and the girl planned a trip back to Victoria, to reminisce about how their relationship had begun. After a stroll around the University of Victoria and lunch at their favourite Chinese restaurant, they strolled through the doors of Bolen Books. Hand-in-hand, they walked to the psychology section, where it had all begun. As the boy held a copy of The Power of Now in one hand, he asked the girl if she remembered what he’d asked her in that same spot five years before.

“Of course,” she replied. “You asked me if I’d like to go for coffee. Or ice cream. Or milkshakes.” They laughed together and, as the laughter faded away, he turned to her, his expression serious.

“Now, I’m going to ask you something else,” the boy said, as he reached into his jacket pocket. Holding a small box in one hand, he dropped to one knee. Just like that first day in the heat of summer, the bustling Christmas shoppers melted away into the background. The boy’s green eyes met the girl’s brown ones. “Now I’m going to ask you to marry me.”

So here’s our story, about a love that blossomed in the aisles of Victoria’s favourite bookstore. So maybe next time you’re standing in the fiction section, trying to choose your next book to read, you might think about approaching that cute stranger down the aisle. You never know what you can find in a bookstore: a great new book to read, a new friend or maybe, just maybe, true love.

A Year Well Read

We’re down to the final two months of the year, and while I had intended to post monthly wrap-ups on the blog, after March and April disappeared in a bit of a blur, it felt overwhelming to start trying to catch up on what I’d read.

It’s been a truly amazing year for reading for me, with a total of already 120 books read with still two full months left to go. I’ve read some shorter books, like poetry and graphic novels, and have also counted the chapter book read-a-louds with my son, but I’ve also really prioritized reading this year (FINALLY learning to be better at putting my phone down!)

I’m already thinking ahead to 2022 and how I think I’d like to incorporate more blogging and writing into my reading life. I just purchased a Stalogy notebook, based on the recommendation of an Instagram friend, and I am excited about journaling about my reading. While I don’t think monthly wrap-ups are really my jam, I like the idea of coming back to this page on a quarterly basis, maybe setting some intentions for the coming season and wrapping up the best of my reading over the past quarter. We shall see.

I did want to take a few moments and highlight the best of the best this year so far…

Anxious People by Frederick Backman. When I read this in February, I knew without a doubt that I’d already read my favourite book of the year … almost ten months later that feeling still holds true. This book is truly special and one that I will treasure forever.

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J Maas. I didn’t think that I would love this one as Nesta wasn’t my favourite the first or second time through the series. Seeing the world through her eyes changed my mind and I found myself head over heels in love with her story.

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang. I loved The Kiss Quotient and The Bride Test but there was something extra incredible about Anna and Quan’s story that had me holding the book to my heart and sighing happily.

One Two Three by Laurie Frankel (and an honourable mention to Atlas of Love). Laurie’s other novel (This is How it Always Is) was my favourite book of 2017 (or 2018, I can’t remember which year I read it) but reading both of these books this year cemented my love of her storytelling. I still need to track down a copy of her other book, but I already know that she’s an auto-buy author for me.

Take Me Home Tonight by Morgan Matson. Over the past few years, my reading tastes have been shifting slowly away from YA and more towards adult fiction, but a new Morgan Matson in my life was just what I needed. I DEVOURED this book as soon as it arrived on my doorstep and it was absolute perfection.

Heartstopper Vols 1, 2 and 3 by Alice Oseman. I am not a graphic novel person – I’ve read a few that I enjoyed, but on the whole I’m usually underwhelmed. I’m still not sure what compelled me to borrow the first volume over the summer, but I have never inhaled a series as quickly as I did with these three. The fourth volume can’t arrive fast enough.

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams. Speaking of series I inhaled, I could NOT put these books down and I listened when I couldn’t read and read when I couldn’t listen until I had binged all four in the series. I cannot wait for the next installment to be released!

I read quite a few other stellar novels (Gutter Child by Jael Richardson, In Five Years by Rebecca Serle, People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry and Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid immediately jump to mind, and I’m sure I’m missing others) but the ones above are the true standouts of the year so far. With still two more months left to read, I can’t wait to see how many more incredible books will be part of my reading life.

25 Bookish Facts About Me

I thought it would be fun to share some bookish facts about me!

  1. My name is literary, so I feel like I was destined to become a reader. My parents picked Melissa because they were watching Little House on the Prairie while my mom was pregnant, and they liked Melissa Gilbert’s name (the actress who played Laura on the show). My mom’s middle name is Ann, which she wanted to pass along to me, but she preferred “Anne with an E” from Anne of Green Gables, so that’s how she spelled it.
  2. My all time favourite books and series is Harry Potter, always and forever. I was a Girl Guide leader when I picked up the first book because the girls were OBSESSED with talking about Harry’s adventures and I had to figure out what Quidditch was. I had only planned on reading the first book, just so that I’d understand what the fuss was about, but quickly binge read the four books that were released at that point … and never looked back.
  3. Speaking of Harry Potter, I worked at the launch of the sixth book and was in line for the seventh book at midnight. I have yet to find another series that has impacted me so profoundly (although, if Crescent City progresses as epically as the first book, I can see that series coming pretty close!)
  4. I don’t write in my books or dogear pages, but I haul my books around in my bag and they get pretty beaten up while I’m reading them. I even own a couple of book sleeves, but if I do carry a sleeve, I’ll often forget that it’s in my bag and shove my book in right next to it!
  5. Clearly, I’m not too concerned about regular wear and tear on my books, but I despise it when I lend a book out and people don’t care about how they treat the borrowed book. I once lent a book to a coworker who spilled a glass of water on it, and then returned it without either acknowledging the damage or even apologizing. I’m not super concerned about my books being worn, especially as a book has been read multiple times from loaning, but I think that people should be super considerate and careful with borrowed books, and if accidents happen at least say sorry!
  6. It bothers me a little when my series don’t match, but I would never really consider spending the money on books that I already own. In that vein, I don’t own multiple copies of beloved books.
  7. Further to number 6 above, Harry Potter is the only exception! My series was mismatched, but I slowly collected all of the original Canadian hardcovers because I needed to have one beautiful matching set, and in the covers that I originally read them (with the exception of #5 because I originally read it while I was in the US – and although the US covers are pretty, I like the Canadian ones best).
  8. Again, further to number 6 above, I have purchased the illustrated versions of Harry Potter – so I do own more than one copy of those. I also recently re-purchased The Neverending Story because it’s one of my all-time favourite books and my original copy has completely fallen apart. I can’t quite part with my original copy though — so many memories!
  9. I can’t WAIT to read the Harry Potter series aloud to my son!!! This is the main reason that I’ve purchased the illustrated versions. Reading them aloud with the pictures is going to be MAGICAL.
  10. When I originally wrote this list (it was previously posted on my old blog), I stated that I didn’t own any Funko Pops, nor did I want to. I then started purchasing the Harry Potter ones, and I haven’t looked back! They were originally for my desk at work, to add some character to my workspace, but they’re now in my library at home.
  11. I have yet to find a bookshelf organization system that works for me. I’ve organized my shelves purely alphabetical, but later reorganized by genre so that my husband’s sci-fi and horror wouldn’t be sitting with my books. I later shuffled by size so that I could fit everything together, and lost the alphabetical order. My books are currently divided into read and unread with my read books (mostly) in rainbow, but favourite series and authors on their own shelf — but sometimes I get the urge to go back to alphabetical again. Once my books are closer to almost all read, I think I’ll go back to alphabetical — but only once all my unread books will fit onto my book cart.
  12. Again, when I last wrote this list I shared that “I sometimes wish that I could start my Goodreads shelves all over again, but I have way to many books on my shelves and it would take HOURS to reorganize it all.” I subsequently invested the time and it was SO WORTH IT. I love having my ‘unread shelf’ as the books that I own and haven’t read yet.
  13. Speaking of my unread shelf, I have a lofty goal of reducing my unread books to double digits by the end of the year. I’m currently at 126, so it feels do-able. Ultimately, I would love to have my unread books fit on my book cart, or be at or under 50 total.
  14. I met my husband in a bookstore! He was a customer and I worked in the store. And we lived happily ever after. I’m going to bring back my ‘Once Upon a Time in a Bookstore’ post next month for our wedding anniversary, so stay tuned!
  15. We had a bookish wedding too – with decorative books as our centrepieces and bookmarks as our wedding favours and we took photos in a used bookstore.
  16. I used to spend an hour and a half commuting to work, and another hour and a half commuting home. The way Vancouver is laid out, the only place to make a decent salary is downtown, and the only place one can afford to purchase a home is waaaaay east, so most people have a similar commute. But since COVID, I work mostly from home and it took me most of 2020 to figure out how to prioritize finding as much time to read at home once I removed my commute. In 2020 I didn’t hit 100 books for the first time since I started that commute, but I’ve shattered previous reading records in 2021!
  17. Although I’ve read close to or over 100 books every year since 2017, I still set my Goodreads reading goal at 50 every year — no one needs to tell me that I’m behind on my hobby, thankyouverymuch.
  18. I once stumbled across a video of myself explaining my 2010 New Year’s Resolutions. In the video, I explained that the previous year I’d planned to read one book a month, but in 2010 I was planning to read two books a month. In consideration of the item noted above, my first thought was WHO IS THIS GIRL AND HOW IS SHE POSSIBLY A PAST ME?
  19. I used to subscribe to Owlcrate and, although it was been fun getting bookish mail, I’m not 100% sure I knew what to do with all the “stuff” that comes in the box. After I cancelled my subscription, I’ve opted for the occasional fandom purchase from Etsy or other site and I love supporting small businesses, but choosing items that I will actually use. I have my eye on a Get Happy Tees order next … just as soon as I can narrow down which one(s) I want.
  20. In November, I will have been blogging for TEN YEARS. While I’ve had some starts and stops, especially in the last couple of years, it has been fun to have my own little nerdy corner of the internet to talk books.
  21. When I stumble across a new blog, the first thing I do is read the blogger’s very first post. I like to see where people began, and I especially love it when the first post is a “welcome to my blog” or similar introductory post, rather than a review.
  22. My son is turning into a super avid reader and is currently chewing through chapter books. While I would have loved him regardless of whether he became a reader, the fact that he is a reader just warms my mama’s heart.
  23. I totally judge books by their covers. (Shhh, I won’t tell anyone that you do too). As a result, there are a few books that I probably would have totally passed over because the covers didn’t wow me (like Me Before You or Turtles All the Way Down), so thank goodness for people raving about these books online and convincing me to give them a shot!
  24. Speaking of covers, my biggest cover pet peeve is putting a real person’s face on the cover. I don’t want the publisher to tell me what the character looks like; I want to imagine it for myself.
  25. For the very reason noted above, I will search high and low for the original printing of a book in order to avoid buying a movie tie-in cover. NO THANK YOU to Hollywood actors on the front of this girl’s books!

Well, there you have it — 25 random bookish facts about me! Let me know some bookish facts about you in the comments below, or leave a link to your post and I’ll stop by! I love learning about other people’s weird (or totally normal) bookish idiosyncrasies!

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

I’ve been wanting to get back into blogging and doing a tag feels like the right way to do it .. is it still a mid-year book freak out if it’s September already? This just feels exemplary for how darn fast this year is flying by, so we’ll roll with it.

This tag was originally created by Earl Grey Books and ReadLikeWildfire (whose channel I can’t find).

  1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2021.
    SO MANY GOOD BOOKS this year. When I read Anxious People by Fredrik Backman in February this year, I felt like I’d found my favourite book of 2021 and I’m not sure I’ve topped it yet (but I’ve come very very close with a few others!)

  2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2021.
    I haven’t read many series books this year at all, but A Court of Silver Flames certainly takes top prize. I reread the series in preparation for this book and went in with very low expectations because Nesta wasn’t my favourite character and this feeling was reinforced during my reread. But the book BLEW ME AWAY and I absolutely loved getting to know Nesta through her own eyes and learn more about her struggles. Basically, she made more sense to me when I saw the world through her eyes, not Feyre’s, and I loved her more for it.

  3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to.
    I’ve been pretty good about reading my pre-ordered books as soon as I buy them, but I do have two 2021 releases on my shelves that I haven’t read yet: Gutter Child (which I just started reading) and We Begin at the End.

  4. Most anticipated release for the second half (or four months) of the year.
    Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult. Although my heart isn’t sure I can handle a pandemic book while we’re still in the midst of a pandemic, I love how Jodi can write an issue with such heart so I’m really looking forward to seeing how her story encapsulates what we’ve spent the last year and half living through.

  5. Biggest disappointment.
    One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus – this book is all over bookstagram and the series is so beloved. When it was selected for my bookclub, I was excited, but I found the book so boring and didn’t enjoy it at all.

  6. Biggest surprise.
    The Heartstopper series by Alice Osman. I’m not a graphic novel person at all, but I devoured the first three volumes as quickly as the library would deliver them, and now I’m (im)patiently waiting for the release of the fourth volume.

  7. Favourite new author. (Debut or new to you)
    Lyssa Kay Adams. I haven’t binge read a series back-to-back in years, but I couldn’t stop with the Bromance books … I need moooooooore in my life!

  8. Newest fictional crush.
    I’m not a book boyfriend kind of girl, but Vlad from Isn’t He Bromantic? is my favourite.

  9. Newest favourite character.
    Anna from The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang. This is the book that came close to stealing Anxious People’s top spot.

  10. Book that made you cry.
    Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah. I was warned that it would make me cry, but the ending still tore my heart open.

  11. Book that made you happy.
    People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry. Alex and Poppy’s story was just the perfect friends to lovers romance and I absolutely loved that one of their first vacation destinations was Vancouver Island, where I grew up.

  12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)
    Probably Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo – both books in this series are positively stunning, but I have yet to read them both.

  13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?
    My answer to this every year: OH MY GOSH. So many. I’m doing well at reading from my own shelves this year, but have already purchased more books in 2021 than I did in 2020 and I’ve also read more from the library than I did last year. I will be definitely focusing more on my physical TBR for the latter part of this year. I’m also close to being fully caught up with ARCs and reviews for the first time in YEARS, so I’m hoping to stay that way. I only have eight books left off my 21 books to read in 2021 list and I feel somewhat hopeful that this might be the year that I actually do it!

How’s your reading going so far this year? Anything you’d like to prioritize for the remaining months of the year?