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text 2016-01-31 13:00
2016 Bookish Resolutions -- January Progress Report

2016 Bookish Resolutions

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Because Reading and trips down imagination road

 

My 2016 Bookish Resolutions Summary post

  

 

I think the biggest set back in my bookish life were some personal health issues that made it hard for me to want to do anything, period.  That being said, I still think I was fairly productive this month concerning all things bookish as well as some things non-bookish.

 

I typically don't like to mention much about my personal life on my book blog, but even I have to admit that the two cannot one hundred percent be separate lives.  I haven't had as much energy to want to do anything at all these past few weeks, be it bookish or in real life.  But things are starting to look up now and so I can get back into doing whatever it is I want to do or need to do, in general.

 

I think I owe a lot of my published posts (this one included) in part to having pre-planned several blog posts way in advance--I then only needed to tweak and edit them slightly in order to get them posted.

 

Otherwise, there were at least two book reviews I haven't even gotten around to starting their writing process, and one book I should have already finished reading by now... according to my pre-planning.

 

But all-in-all, I still think I did quite well this month and I need to remind myself to ease off on the strict scheduling, sit back, and just enjoy my reading and blogging.

 

 

Blogging Goals

 - 1 - Participate in at least 50% of the Top Ten Tuesday meme (@ The Broke and the Bookish) topics for 2016--that's 26 of the TTT topics.  

 

  • January:  3 Top Ten Tuesday posts written this month

1/5/2016:  Top Ten Resolutions We Have in 2016

1/12/2016:  Top Ten 2015 Releases I Meant to Get to But Didn't

1/19/2016:  Top Ten Books I've Recently Added to My TBR

 

 

 - 2 - Continue to post Monthly Reading Wrap-ups... with a slightly less overwhelmingly bulky form.

 

I usually post my monthly reading wrap-ups on the first of the next month, so there will be no update yet this month.  However, I HAVE made an attempt at de-cluttering my monthly wrap-up posts and hopefully they don't look so overwhelming now... not that I got rid of much.

 

 

 - 3 - Create and try to maintain a blogging schedule.

 

I might have gotten a bit more obsessive about keeping track of my stuff with this new blogging schedule thing.

 

I know these aren't the best pictures in the world, but it's the best I could do with my limited tech skills.  Just know, there's a legend for colors and stuff. 

 

But basically, what's going on here, is I intended to just lightly plan some monthly or weekly stuff, pre-schedule some posts/reviews, and make note of when I finish reading a book... but it spiraled out of control with colors and to-do lists, and some other stuff...

 

 

I've even got a legend for colors going on for when I publish any post (green), plan posts (light yellow, light orange, or light purple), finish reading a book (dark blue), start reading a book (light blue), or have other Bookish Activities to contend with (cyan).  There's a To Do list, a list of pre-planned posts to work on, my monthly Reading Assignment books, and even a count of all the posts written and books read each week.

 

 

I've even got a bright green color code for any personal, non-bookish activities so that I can plan my blogging stuff around Real Life.  Holidays are in bright blue and significant birthdays are in purple.

 

I have the distinct feeling this might have ended up a little out of control.

 

But I'm actually having fun with this.  I kind of like it because I can see a good spread of my usual bookish activities "on paper" (I say this, but it's technically digital) on my Google Doc spreadsheets: how often I post reviews, how often I post random posts, how often I finish or start reading books, etc....

 

I can even try to plan around my nights off from work or other personal, non-bookish activities, such as family gatherings, doctor's appointments, work meetings... stuff like that.  And I can allow myself to make sure I don't overdo the posting in one day, both overwhelming myself AND others who might be following my ramblings.

 

Also, I can hold myself accountable for making sure a review gets published in a timely (in my own personal "timely" definition) fashion.  I'm also able to kind of determine if I'm going to actually write a review for a book or not by how often I have to "reschedule" a review post--sort of a date of book finished to date of review publication ratio.

 

 

 - Bonus Goal - Attempt participating in at least two other monthly/weekly bookish memes.  

 

I have decided on one particular monthly meme so far, but haven't quite put much thought into it yet.  We shall see.  Until then, here's a teaser linky to what little I've planned already.

 

 

Reading Goals

See Also: 2016 Bookish Resolutions shelf

 

 - 1 - Finish reading 10 completed series that I have already started reading.

 

  • January: 1 series finished // Running Total: 1 series finished

 

The Elemental Trilogy by Sherry Thomas -- Completed 1/5/2016

Already Read:  The Burning Sky, The Perilous Sea

#3:  The Immortal Heights -- 1/5/2016 -- Review to come

 

 

 - 2 - Catch up with 5 ongoing series that I have already started reading.

 

One-Eyed Jacks is still a series in progress that I hope to have caught up with by the time March rolls around.  I will be reading Running Blind as part of my February Reading Assignment book picks.  And if things go right, I'll be able to read Taking Fire before the end of February--otherwise, it'll get read first thing in March as soon as I can get my hands on the book.

 

  • January: 0 series caught up // Running Total: 0 series caught up

 

One-Eyed Jacks by Cindy Gerard

Already Read:  Killing Time

#2:  The Way Home -- 1/4/2016

#3:  Running Blind -- To Read

#4  Taking Fire -- To Read -- Publication on 2/23/2016

 

 

 - 3 - Read 5 completed series that are new to me.

 

Just one this month--I hadn't been planning on finishing all of the Sky High series, but it happened.  I would also like to read and finish the rest of Addison Fox's Alaskan Nights series, but I'm not sure when I'll actually get to it.  I might just wait a bit before posting anything about it.

 

  • January: 1 series read // Running Total: 1 series read

 

Sky High Air by Jill Shalvis

#1:  Smart and Sexy -- 1/19/2016

#2: Strong and Sexy -- 1/24/2016

#3:  Superb and Sexy -- 1/29/2016

 

 

 - 4 - Participate in at least one Read-a-thon in 2016 (Bout of Books, Dewey's 24 Hour, any personal or community improv/unofficial read-a-thon, etc.)

 

-- GOAL COMPLETED -- 1/10/2016 --

  • January:  1 Read-a-thon participated // Running Total: 1 Read-a-thon

 

Since my goal technically states that I need to participate in "at least one" read-a-thon for 2016, then having participated in the Bout of Books read-a-thon, I'm done with this goal.  But I'll keep listing other read-a-thons when and if I participate in others.

 

Bout of Books 15 -- 1/4/2016 to 1/10/2016

Read-a-thon: Bout of Books 15

Bout of Books 15: Starting Day 1

Bout of Books 15: Day 1 Update

Bout of Books 15: Day 2 Update

Bout of Books 15: Day 3 Update

Bout of Books 15: Day 4 Update

Bout of Books 15: Day 5 Update

Bout of Books 15: Day 6 Update

Bout of Books 15: Day 7 Update and Overall Read-a-thon Wrap-Up

 

 

 - 5 - Pick up at least 10 new to me authors (books not pre-listed for my 2016 Reading Assignment Challenge).

 

  • January: 3 new-to-me authors // Running Total: 3 new-to-me authors

 

Author name // Book(s) Read

1.  Beverly Long // Dead by Wednesday

2.  Addison Fox // Baby It's Cold Outside

3.  Haruki Murakami // The Strange Library

 

 

 - 6 - Accomplish my 2016 Mount TBR Reading Challenge goals.  Tackle those books already on my shelves pre-2016!

 

  • January: 6 books read // Running Total: 6 books read

 

1.  The Way Home by Cindy Gerard -- 1/4/2016

2.  The Immortal Heights by Sherry Thomas -- 1/5/2016 - to be reviewed

3.  Hungry Like the Wolf by Paige Tyler -- 1/10/2016 - to be reviewed

4.  The Wide-Awake Princess by E.D. Baker -- 1/20/2016

5.  Deadly Strain by Julie Rowe -- 1/24/2016

6.  Snow Baby by Brenda Novak -- 1/29/2016 - to be reviewed

 

See also My 2016 Mount TBR Challenge summary post for complete listing.

 

 

Personal Goals

 

 - 1 - Clock at least 2 hours of cardio workout each month.

 

  • January: 0 hours cardio // Running Total: 0 hours cardio

 

This goal was not quite accomplished the way I had been hoping due to some personal health issues I was experiencing over the course of the month.  But now that everything is being resolved, I'm going to try to pick up this whole New Year's Resolution work out thing for the months to come.

 

Wish me luck!

 

 

 - 2 - Attempt to work out at least twice a week.  Failing that, attempt to work out at least 8 times a month (which will be met if I can get my lazy ass to work out at least twice a week).

 

  • January: 0 times worked out // Running Total: 0 work outs

 

See first personal goal above.

 

 

 - 3 - Learn 12 new recipes.  Actually make said recipes.  And take pictures.  For evidence. 

 

  • January: 1  new recipe // Running Total: 1 new recipe

Tomato Basil Soup -- attempted on 1/2/2016

 

 

 - Bonus Goal -  Be better at being sociable, in general.  

 

I think I've been pretty good about commenting on other's posts.  I also went along with my brother and his friends to play in a Room Escape scenario, which was pretty fun.  Unfortunately, the most social I've been seemed to reach its limits in the interwebz world... and chit-chatting with coworkers... which is nothing new.

 

I will continue to persevere, I guess.

 

 

***

 

Previous Update Posts

None here yet.

 

***

 

 

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review 2016-01-29 06:46
Thoughts: Superb and Sexy
Superb and Sexy - Jill Shalvis

Superb and Sexy -- Jill Shalvis

Book 3 (final) of Sky High Air

 

 

 

This Sky High book was clearly supposed to have been the big bang to end off the trilogy. It felt like it was supposed to be the best of the three books, but apparently I'm delusional and come up with weird ideas all the time.

That being said, Superb and Sexy was still, most certainly, enjoyable and entertaining. And then it started getting a little bit deliberate in its endeavor to be big and bad and better than the previous two books. Or, once again, maybe it wasn't really trying, but I felt like it was trying.

Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is:

Maddie Stone is a wonderful, kickass, strong female character that I can totally stand behind and love. Brody is the typical broody, main male character with Neanderthal thoughts even if no Neanderthal tendencies--the usual. And because this couple was actually pretty entertaining with a great romantic development and lots of fun, Jill Shalvis-level banter, I absolutely wanted them to be my favorite of the three Sky High couples. And they would have been, except for that all too familiar back-and-forth Noble Idiot™ device that kept lurking its way back into the plot time and time again.

Basically, Maddie's continued insistence on sacrificing her life for her sister while running away from Brody to keep him safe would have worked for me as part of the story's Suspense attractiveness. But then it kept getting reused throughout the whole book that it started getting annoyingly tiresome. Using that device once was enough; twice is pushing it; three or four times is just frustrating.

Nonetheless, the book was still very enjoyable and I still DID love Maddie a lot, if only because she's so kickass. Brody was a breath of fresh air in some aspects, but let's face it, he's the usual Jill Shalvis main male hero: big, muscled, broody, alpha, clueless. He's a great guy; he just doesn't stand out.

The rest of the book's story and the rest of the characters weren't bad either. I appreciate bringing Noah, Shayne, and Dani into the book, even if just briefly. I even enjoyed Leena's presence and the brief side tangent with her and Ben, even if it was also quite brief. And the story's build-up of suspense as a semi-crime thriller made a very valiant attempt as well.

In light of not wanting to ruin anything with spoilers, however, the only thing I'll say about the ending, was that it could have been better outlined. Instead, the conclusion came about like some cheesy family movie flick ending wherein we rush to some half-assed resolution that would really only make sense if we weren't really trying hard enough to think about it. And then we get a short epilogue sequence slash character curtain call that felt extremely narrated to death.

And some story tangents, once again, got left in the dust. I'm not even sure the underlying conflict between Leena and Ben got resolved so much as scrapped with a universal "love conquers all" stamp.

I'm not gonna lie--as much as I love HEAs, this one was a little pathetic. Granted, it was a nice little HEA. I don't dislike it. I guess I just kind of accepted it as the best that I'd get out of this trilogy.

In the meantime, I guess I'll just go back to the Lucky Harbor series. Maybe Ms. Shalvis was really meant to write contemporary more than anything else. After all, even with a Romantic Suspense tag on these three Sky High books, they really DID feel like they were more in the vein of a Contemporary Romance that just so happened to use a crime thriller base board to jump off of.

Not that that's a problem or anything, because I still enjoyed them. These were still enjoyable books with lovely characters and lots of steamy, hot sex. The Jill Shalvis charm is definitely there.

Except for Smart and Sexy. I might have to pretend that first book didn't happen the way that it did, Jill Shalvis charm or no.



***

2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Bookish Resolutions Challenge

 

 

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review 2016-01-26 12:45
Thoughts: Deadly Strain
Deadly Strain - Julie Rowe

Deadly Strain -- Julie Rowe

Book 1 of Biological Response Team

 

 

Deadly Strain is a great start to a series with lots of potential and Julie Rowe handles it quite well. I would call this a Romantic Suspense/Military Romance/Medical Thriller type of book... sort of. The ideas and the premise are promising, the characters are created well, and I love me some good action and page-turning progression with fun character banter between all the characters.

But the story seems to fall a little short in the romance area despite the great bond and relationship development between Grace and Sharp.

Otherwise, I'm intent on continuing with the rest of the series as there seems to be a nice little underlying, ongoing conflict traversing each installment of the Biological Response Team series.


The Story
Grace Samuels is a military medical personnel--a trauma surgeon and a specialist on the Biological Response Team. It is her job to see to the health status of soldiers on the field and to identify potential hazardous biological entities. Jacob "Sharp" Foster is a Special Forces Green Beret; a sharpshooter who is part of the team assigned to oversee the protection of their Biological Response Team specialist.

A weaponized strain of Anthrax found in a village of Afghanistan propels Grace and her Special Forces team into a race against time. They need to find out why this new strain of Anthrax kills so quickly. They need to find the culprit who released the bioweapon. And they need to figure out this terrorist plan and stop it.

Meanwhile, other chaotic meltdowns are going on within the military base Grace has been assigned to, and an old tragedy continues to haunt her even as she does her best to remain collected in the face of danger.


My Thoughts
Again, this book has a lot of potential and the only thing I would have liked would be to see more of the chemistry between Sharp and Grace as their romance develops. Sure, they have a great relationship and bond. Sure, they read each others' minds like soul mates and watch each others' backs like a perfect team. The banter is great, the friendship is great... But I feel like I'm missing some significant detail into how their relationship grew to be so strong in the first place.

You get to see some of it happening as the book progresses, but I still feel like I'm missing something.

In the same sense, I also feel like I had missed something in the bond between Sharp and his fellow A-Team members as well--running jokes are passed around casually, but it almost makes me wonder if there had been another book somewhere where all of this started.

Or maybe the book was just so fast-paced that I missed what I need to see when I blinked a few times.

Other than that, the rest of the book was pretty entertaining and enjoyable. There were a heck of a lot more deaths than I would have preferred, but the gritty, realistic stance on the casualties of war and battle were appreciated. This is war--not everyone is going miraculously come out in one piece.

Although, even with that, there's a lot of feels and significant emotions missing from the narration itself.

Apparently, I can't be pleased. Whatever, Deadly Strain was an enjoyable read and I liked it.

***

2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Reading Assignment Challenge
Bookish Resolutions Challenge
Mount TBR Challenge

 

 

 

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review 2016-01-25 00:29
Thoughts: Strong and Sexy
Strong and Sexy - Jill Shalvis

Strong and Sexy -- Jill Shalvis

Book 2 of Sky High Air

 

 

This second installment to the Sky High Air trilogy is definitely loads more enjoyable than the first. Jill Shalvis' humor and charm has its chance to shine in a much better fashion with a better set of main characters in Shayne and Dani.

The story's plot itself was a bit flimsy, but I overall enjoyed the character interactions better and liked the heroine more. It's still not Lucky Harbor caliber, but it'll do.


The Story in Brief:
Between seeing disappearing dead bodies and having an invisible stalker, Dani Peterson's reputation for being crazy is certainly catching up to her. Fortunately for her, Shayne Mahoney is willing to believe that she is genuinely terrified about something that's happening around her and sticks by her side.

In the meantime, there's sizzling chemistry between them and they can't seem to keep their hands off of each other.


My Thoughts:
So the entirety of this book really centered around whether Dani is really witnessing random acts of crime (a murder in the parking lot, an unwelcome presence in her apartment, a gun planted in her coat, a shooter firing at her at work, another disappearing dead body...), and the Friends-With-Benefits relationship she develops with Shayne.

Every other issue that might have been brought up throughout the course of this book ended up as loose ends in the scheme of a haphazard crime thriller and lots of steamy sex.

So basically, this book really WAS all about the sex.

Of course, the part that kept my attention, really, was the almost non-standard female heroine's penchant for klutziness and her inability to NOT look like a disheveled mess 24/7. Dani Peterson is the classic clumsy female lead who has trouble setting one foot in front of the other without tripping over herself, who manages to drip ketchup on her blouse all the time, and who inadvertently stabs her lover in the eye whilst trying to caress his face. She's that heroine we all lover to hate because, who's really THAT clumsy and socially awkward.

Except that Dani really isn't that socially awkward and her klutzy personality somehow comes off kind of endearing. Because Jill Shalvis is a genius and managed to insert all of Dani's disheveled, clumsy moments at all the most likely moments--they aren't randomly forced to insert said disheveled, clumsy personality onto the heroine to deliberately make her seem endearingly klutzy and socially awkward.

In other words, this kind of a heroine may not work for a lot of people. But the way in which Dani was portrayed kind of works for me. Top that with the every perfect boyfriend and protector Shayne Mahoney who's willing to stick by her side despite his own reserves about whether or not she's really crazy... I kind of found myself loving the antics and bond and steamy chemistry this couple presented.

It's certainly still not the healthiest relationship in the world, but a vast improvement from the previous couple's love story in Smart and Sexy.

The only problems I had with this book were fairly straight forward: we left a lot of tangent story lines unresolved. And the one tangent story line that felt like it had been resolved was kind of unsatisfying--the relationship between Dani and her step siblings could have been expanded upon just a bit more. The relationship between Dani and her coworkers were background set-up that felt like it could have been expanded upon, especially her friendship with Reena, or even the unrequited interest between Dani and her neighbor, Alan.

It just felt like we were so focused on the somewhat flimsy suspense part of the book and the relationship between Dani and Shayne that we've forgotten that there are other people in this world and other conflicts needing tending to.

Nonetheless, Strong and Sexy was enjoyable enough that I liked it a lot.

***

2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Bookish Resolutions Challenge

 

 

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review 2016-01-21 14:55
Brief Thoughts: The Wide-Awake Princess
The Wide-Awake Princess - E.D. Baker

The Wide-Awake Princess -- E.D. Baker

Book 1 of The Wide-Awake Princess

 

**This book is based on Sleeping Beauty

 

 

Hmm…

This was really a simple, cute little princess story with a cornucopia of fairy tale tangents strung together as part of our Princess Annabelle’s adventure. It wasn’t exactly the most exciting adventure, and I’d even say that it was just a little scattered, but there was a story, a good progression, a nice little fairy tale history, some inspirational ideals, a unique twist for the conclusion, and a strong princess who saves the day.


The Story:
Annie is the younger sister to Gwendolyn. Gwendolyn is the resident “Sleeping Beauty” of this fairy tale story, and despite everyone’s resilience in keeping spinning wheels out of Gwennie’s reach, the elder princess still manages to prick her finger and cast the hundred year sleep upon the entire castle.

But Annie had been given the gift of being unaffected by magic--no magic can ever harm nor hurt her--and so she is the only one still standing. Knowing that she cannot leave her family in this vulnerable sleep for the next hundred years, she sets off on a journey to find a prince to kiss her sister awake and break the sleeping curse.

Along the way, she is partnered with a young guard named Liam who appoints himself her protector and travels with her to find Gwendolyn’s true love.... But just to be certain, Annie decides to collect several princes from different areas and even hunts down the fairies who had been responsible for Gwennie’s curse so she can get some insight on Curse Loopholes 101, a la, “Does Gwennie really have to sleep for a hundred years before the curse can be broken, or can we get around that and just satisfy the Prince as True Love detail?”

With a determination worthy of a great princess, Annie swears to find a way to wake her sister and her family and keep them awake.


Some Thoughts:
I’d say that The Wide-Awake Princess is a good read for young girls, in a way. Despite the looming need for girls to find their true loves and get married, I guess, at least our heroine was strong and resourceful and smart and able to take care of herself and save the day, time and time again. Her little gift of not being affected by magic in anyway has its perks, especially when it also comes with sapping away the magic from other people when they are around her: beautiful princesses lose their enchanted beauty and handsome princes start to show their physical flaws; curses on princes turned into bears are temporarily lifted; and even fairies lose their powers when she touches them for too long.

It’s an interesting way to turn the “Sleeping Beauty” story around.

As a middle grade novel, however, it did blur by in a way that had me blinking twice and missing the whole book altogether. I mean, sure, it was a short book, but it really DID just kind of end as abruptly as it started. I figure it’s because I’ve never really been able to get into middle grade books very well, so it’s not the book’s fault.

Really, The Wide-Awake Princess is a very cute and enjoyable story.

The emphasis on physical beauty DID get old pretty quickly though. And the way everything just conveniently fell into place for Annie made it kind of hard to take the book as more than just a child’s hero tale of a princess who saves the day and defeats all evil.

Like I said, a very cute book. A good one for the kiddies.

***

2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
Reading Assignment Challenge
Bookish Resolutions Challenge
Mount TBR Challenge

 

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