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Tackling the TBR [34]: May 2018

tackling the TBR

It’s once again time for my favorite feature: Tackling the TBR! There’s nothing I love more than picking out which books to read next, and this slightly organized method of reading has really amped my enjoyment to the next level. Bring on the mantras!

Read the best books first.
&
Life is too short to read books you’re not enjoying.

However you put together your TBR for the next month, the goal is to reduce the amount of obligation in reading and increase the fun.


Here’s a look at how the system works:

1. Identify the titles that take top priority in your TBR.
2. Combine them all in your own Tackling the TBR post.
3. Throughout the month pick from that pile as the mood strikes you.

Here’s what mine looks like:

May 2018 TBR Tackler Shelf:

Last month I finished 9/10 books on my list!!! I’m not quite as optimistic about May, but that’s okay because I’m thrilled with my lineup. Half of these titles are scheduled Buddy Reads over at my Goodreads group and I’ll admit to feeling a little “overbooked” (bwahaha) even thought they’re BRs I’ve been looking forward to. Garden of Stones is the official book club pick for the group and I decided I wanted to get back into participating. Reading outside my set TBR is sometimes difficult for my OCD, but it seems worth it because I’ve found so many amazing reads that I probably would’ve have picked up otherwise if not for a book club (specfic, anyway. You won’t find me anywhere near a non-fiction or classics book club lol). Other than that, I’m looking forward to finally making progress with Malazan – I’m determined to keep going this time. I’m even more excited for Unclean Spirits written by M.L.N. Hanover, which is a pen name for Daniel Abraham – aka 1/2 of James S.A. Corey. This is the only series by his brilliance I haven’t tried yet and I’m stoked. :)

Do any of you ever feel overwhelmed at a reading schedule? How do you deal? :)

by Niki Hawkes

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Niki’s Book Journal [April 2018]

Niki’s Book Journal [April 2018]

This book journal idea may have just revolutionized my reviewing process. I open up the draft for this post after finishing a book (motivated by the fact that I only have to write a paragraph or so), and before I know it I have a full-length review that merits its own post. The combination of retraining my brain to open WordPress right after finishing a book along with a couple other reading trackers have definitely made a positive impact on my reviewing process. Long story short: I only have two books reviewed in this format for April, but I’m okay with that.

I love this new change in my habits because I’m finding myself drawn to writing more throughout the day (which will hopefully culminate into actually working on one of my novels). And as a HUGE bonus, I’m producing more book content both here and on Goodreads, which is in line with making me the consistent book reviewer I’ve always aspired to be.

During this process, I started a tracker in my bullet journal and discovered that on average I’m finishing 2.5 books per week, but generally I’m only reviewing about 1 pw. I don’t think I’d wrapped my head around that particular disconnect of why I never seemed to catch up on reviews (I mean, really, it’s not rocket science). I knew my efforts weren’t enough, I just didn’t realize precisely how ineffective I was being. No more! I have a new system in place to help me even out that ratio.

I created some tracker in my bullet journal. I’ve had several (basically unused) tracking methods over the years, usually just a list on Goodreads, but a couple of months ago I started a bullet journal and it has drastically improved how I organize all the things. I start with a book progress status bar tracker at the top of my weekly spread:

As you can see, I finished three books that week. Then I take those finished titles and put them into my (ugly but functional) new review tracker:

They key here has been creating a category at the top for each step in the process. Composing a review can take a couple hours, so if I just write “write review for x” I have to be able to commit a lot of time to it before I can check anything off. As I’m super motivated by striking things off lists, having each step listed separately allows me to do just one component of it at a time without getting overwhelmed. It’s definitely making a difference. My next step is to beatify the tracker. :)

Journaling done. On to the books!


Carpe Corpus (Morganville #6) by Rachel Caine [3/5 stars]

I always enjoy the atmosphere and mood Morganville books create, so Carpe Corpus gets a decent rating for that alone. I went into this series (a bit late than most) under the impression that there are a few different story arcs within it. With this novel, I fully expected that supposed culmination of events to really wow me… yeah, not so much. The story seemed to resolve itself so quickly that I was left feeling like I missed something. I mean, I know the books are super short, but still. What I did like about this novel in particular was the stellar character dynamics and relationship progressions. I maintain that these characters feel a lot more rounded and realistic compared to many other YA. I’m definitely still looking forward to continuing the series because reading each one feels like coming home, but overall Carpe Corpus didn’t make much of an impression.

The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus #2) by Rick Riordan [3.5/5 stars]

Son of Neptune was a solid sequel to The Lost Hero and an improvement on all accounts. My biggest complaint of the first novel was the senseless repetition, so it was refreshing for book 2 to have a consice plot where everything had a purpose in building towards the overall arc of the novel. There were still lots of “tangent” monsters to fight, but I thought the encounters were integrated much more seamlessly. And as an added bonus, the main POV was a familiar face that I’ve missed (Percy!!). Son of Neptune also introduced some brand new characters who have the potential to land among my favorites for this author. I’m finding myself eager to pick up Mark of Athena sooner than later, which is an excellent sign.

by Niki Hawkes

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Tackling the TBR [33]: April 2018

tackling the TBR

It’s once again time for my favorite feature: Tackling the TBR! There’s nothing I love more than picking out which books to read next, and this slightly organized method of reading has really amped my enjoyment to the next level. Bring on the mantras!

Read the best books first.
&
Life is too short to read books you’re not enjoying.

However you put together your TBR for the next month, the goal is to reduce the amount of obligation in reading and increase the fun.


Here’s a look at how the system works:

1. Identify the titles that take top priority in your TBR.
2. Combine them all in your own Tackling the TBR post.
3. Throughout the month pick from that pile as the mood strikes you. <-November 2017 I’m trying something new and reading them in a specific, carefully pre-determined order. <-Going back to how I was doing it before.

Here’s what mine looks like:

April 2018 TBR Tackler Shelf:

Due to some unfortunate medical issues, I’m only just now getting into the swing of things for April. Even so, I feel directionless without my trusted TBR Tackler shelf, so getting it set up feels good for my soul. I read 8/10 books from last month’s lineup and have already made decent headway with these titles. I’ve been working so hard on my Incomplete Series Challenge over at Fantasy Buddy Reads that at one point last month I was down to just 9 open series (from 129 about a year and a half ago). I’m excited this month to start cashing in some new series credits I “earned” while completing the challenge. My next focus (which I’ll probably start including an update for) is the Overflowing Bookshelf Challenge which means I finally have the opportunity to dig into some of the potentially awesome books that have been sharing space with me for 10+ years. The goal is to streamline my library down to just the books I’ve read and loved (and a manageable TBR section).

What books are you tackling this month? Are the any from my list I need to read ASAP?!! :)

by Niki Hawkes

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Tackling the TBR [32]: March 2018

tackling the TBR

It’s once again time for my favorite feature: Tackling the TBR! There’s nothing I love more than picking out which books to read next, and this slightly organized method of reading has really amped my enjoyment to the next level. Bring on the mantras!

Read the best books first.
&
Life is too short to read books you’re not enjoying.

However you put together your TBR for the next month, the goal is to reduce the amount of obligation in reading and increase the fun.


Here’s a look at how the system works:

1. Identify the titles that take top priority in your TBR.
2. Combine them all in your own Tackling the TBR post.
3. Throughout the month pick from that pile as the mood strikes you. <-November 2017 I’m trying something new and reading them in a specific, carefully pre-determined order. <-Going back to how I was doing it before.

Here’s what mine looks like:

March 2018 TBR Tackler Shelf:

My new strategy of reading high-priority books in a carefully pre-determined order is … not working. Surprisingly, it wasn’t the highly structured nature of the system that let me down (I actually liked not having the pressure of choosing my next reads), but the sporadic availably of most of the books. Because I was reliant on library checkouts for at least 75% of my titles, that means I was at the mercy of those in line ahead of me (where they would either keep the books the max time, or return them early… either way they screwed up my system constantly). I’m the type of personality that if I set my mind to a system, I want to stick to it perfectly. So after the 5th or 6th book I had to start out of order, I realized the only way I could get this to work was if I was only reading owned books… not going to happen. Not to mention many of my titles were for Buddy Reads, which start on specific dates. Long story short, I’m back to setting my list for high priorities and reading them as they become available. :D I’m very excited for Nyxia Unleashed, so between that and finishing out the Unhewn Throne series, March has a lot to look forward to.  


Niki’s Incomplete Series Challenge [Via Fantasy Buddy Reads]

Niki’s February 2018 Progress Update:

Series Finished: 2
Darkest Mercy – Melissa Marr
The Girl of Fire and Thorns Stories – Rae Carson

Series Brought UTD: 2
Spectacle – Rachel Vincent
Child of a Mad God – R.A. Salvatore

Series Progressed: 5
The Providence of Fire – Brian Staveley
Tricked – Kevin Hearne
The Demon Spirit – R.A. Salvatore
Teckla – Steven Brust
Dime Store Magic – Kelley Armstrong

New Series Started: 1
Child of a Mad God – R.A. Salvatore
Dayfall – Michael David Ares

Abandoned: 1
Dayfall – Michael David Ares

YTD Totals:
Finished Series: 3
Up To Date Series: 5
Series Progressed: 10
New Series Started: 3
Abandoned: 2

Because I’ve been focused on my goal of getting under 20 open series (by July 2018, which I slaughtered), I’m now sitting pretty with 15 open series (not counting the UTD stuff). My next goal is to get under 10. :)


What books are you Tackling this month? Even if you don’t specifically use my system, feel free to share your versions of how you manage your TBR pile (and the links to your posts if applicable) in the comments. :)

by Niki Hawkes

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Tackling the TBR [31]: February 2018

tackling the TBR

It’s once again time for my favorite feature: Tackling the TBR! There’s nothing I love more than picking out which books to read next, and this slightly organized method of reading has really amped my enjoyment to the next level. Bring on the mantras!

Read the best books first.
&
Life is too short to read books you’re not enjoying.

However you put together your TBR for the next month, the goal is to reduce the amount of obligation in reading and increase the fun.


Here’s a look at how the system works:

1. Identify the titles that take top priority in your TBR.
2. Combine them all in your own Tackling the TBR post.
3. Throughout the month pick from that pile as the mood strikes you. <-November 2017 I’m trying something new and reading them in a specific, carefully pre-determined order.

Here’s what mine looks like:

February 2018 TBR Tackler Shelf:

My new strategy of reading high-priority books in a carefully pre-determined order is definitely working for me. As long as I continue to prioritize the best books first, I can jump into the next book on my list with confidence (and zero lag time). I’m now rotating books within 5 series, and throwing in ARCs or impulse reads in the 6th spot to keep things interesting (the 6th spot is also where I’m tacking my slightly lower priority books). I have a detailed “schedule” of books laid out on this Goodreads Bookshelf, and it delights me to no end to see all the TBR books from each series in a solid line down the page (it’s also really fun to see the books move up the list as I complete them… I’m such a nerd). Anyway, the book I’m currently most excited to get to on this list is Spectacle by Rachel Vincent. :) 


Niki’s Incomplete Series Challenge [Via Fantasy Buddy Reads]

Niki’s January 2018 Progress Update:

Series Finished: 1
Naamah’s Blessing – Jacqueline Carey

Series Brought UTD: 3
Magic Binds – Ilona Andrews
Burn Bright – Patricia Briggs
Persepolis Rising – James S.A. Corey

Series Progressed: 5
Lady of Misrule – T.A. Pratt
Radiant Shadows – Melissa Marr
Dragon Hunters – Marc Turner
High Rhulain – Brian Jacques
The Shadow Rising – Robert Jordan

New Series Started: 1
Menagerie – Rachel Vincent

Abandoned: 1
Lady of Misrule [8/10] – T.A. Pratt

YTD Totals:
Finished Series: 1
Up To Date Series: 3
Series Progressed: 5
New Series Started: 1
Abandoned: 1

Because I’ve been focused on my goal of getting under 20 open series (by July 2018, which I slaughtered), I’m now sitting pretty with 16 open series (not counting the UTD stuff). My next goal is to get under 10. :)


What books are you Tackling this month? Even if you don’t specifically use my system, feel free to share your versions of how you manage your TBR pile (and the links to your posts if applicable) in the comments. :)

by Niki Hawkes

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Top Three Thursday [3]: Top Three New Releases for the First Half of 2018?

Top Three New Releases for the First Half of 2018?

This is a new feature hosted by Fantasy Buddy Reads over at Goodreads. :)


Being a book lover wouldn’t be nearly as much fun without new releases on the horizon to look forward to. Although I’m anticipating many in 2018, these are the three titles at the top of my list:

Guardian is book three in the Alternate Detective series by A.J. Hartley. The covers are what first caught my attention, and then I was lucky enough to receive a copy of the second book from TOR Teen, and from there I was hooked! Everything about it screams originality to me, because I can’t say as though I’ve read anything quite like it before. I am eager to see what mystery unfolds next in this third book.

Starless is the latest from Jacqueline Carey, one of my all-time favorite authors (famous for her Kushiel Saga, which I love). It appears to be a stand-alone novel. I can’t wait to get back into this writer’s beautiful prose and immersive world building. She’s one of the most lovely writers I’ve ever read and I will continue to devour anything she chooses to write.

Nyxia Unleashed is the second book in Scott Reintgen’s Nyxia Triad series, and even I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the first book. It had great elements of competition and an interesting concept, and I think it’ll only get better as the series progresses.

Honorable Mentions: Burn Bright by Patricia Briggs (not included because I’ve already read it :D), Iron Gold by Pierce Brown, Last Dragon Standing by Rachel Aaron, and Child of a Mad God by R.A. Salvatore (currently reading).


What 2018 releases are you eager for? :-)