Monthly Wrap-Up: May 2021

Hello, everyone! This month has been a whirlwind. I crossed 1000 views and 500 likes here on the blog. Thank you all so much for the support! I’ve managed to post daily for the entire month, which was more difficult to keep up with than I thought it would be. I’ll probably slow down a bit for a while, but I have some great things planned for June, as well. So, we’ll see. It will probably depend on how busy work is in the near future. I made quite a bit of progress on my reading goals this month, and I actually finished my monthly TBR for the first time! Check out all the details below:

Progress On My 2021 Reading Goal

May 2021 Reviews

In total, I completed 13 full-length book reviews, 4 mini book reviews, and 2 comic book reviews this month. I participated in a blog tour and completed one requested review. I reviewed the following books:

Original Work & Blog Posts

I participated in a couple of memes throughout the month, including First Lines Fridays and Stacking the Shelves. I’ve found both of these to be fun to do, especially Stacking the Shelves. I love getting to show the ridiculous amount of books I pick up each week.

I also wrote several blog posts this month detailing my favorite Star Wars books, my most anticipated releases for next month, and ways COVID-19 has impacted my reading habits.

Upcoming Reviews

I read a couple books this month that I haven’t gotten around to reviewing yet, and I don’t want to leave them out! So, here they are:

  • Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
  • Flash Fire by TJ Klune

Final Thoughts

Looking back on my TBR for May, I exceeded all of my expectations. I finished reading all the books on my TBR and read three more books than I initially planned. I got my first award for my blog tour review (Reality Testing), which made me really happy. Comic books also made a big comeback this month for me, and I made a dent in my years-long backlog. I’m actually completely caught up on several of my favorite ongoing books, which I would never have guessed would happen. I also made significant progress on the ARCs I have and am slowly improving my NetGalley feedback ratio. Overall, I’m satisfied with what I read this month and have had a lot of fun with the books and posts I was able to do.

Stacking the Shelves (7) – 5/29/2021

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks! The meme is hosted by Reading Reality.

Weekly Wrap-Up

This has been a pretty slow reading week for me. I’ve been a bit tired and have had trouble focusing. I got some housework finished and spent a lot of time vegetating. But I honestly don’t even know what I did with most of this week…other than buy some new books.

Amazon Purchases

Amazon sucked me in with an offer this week. I bought four new ebooks so that I could get some credit back to buy even more ebooks. I’ve had my eye on each of these books because I’ve seen great things about all of them. The credit was just the perfect excuse to pick them up. 😊

Library Acquisition

I used Hoopla this week to borrow this new (to me) audio book. I’ve wanted to read this one for a while, and I was excited to see the library had the digital audio available. I’m already approximately a quarter of the way through it, and I’ve enjoyed it so far. It has made me laugh a lot, and the interaction between the main characters is adorable.

Barnes & Noble Purchases

I went to B&N this week specifically to pick up these two books. I think I did good on this trip considering I walked out with only what I intended to buy.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I’m satisfied with what I’ve added to my shelves this week, and I’m looking forward to reading it all. I’m also excited that there are no new galleys to report. Maybe my NetGalley feedback ratio will actually rebound at some point.

Have you read any of the books I picked up? If so, what did you think? Are any of these on your TBR? Let me know in the comments below!

First Lines Fridays (7) – 5/28/2021

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Today’s First Lines:

“”Nicky, yes,” Seth Gray groaned, and Nick had never been prouder of himself in his entire life. Granted, he’d also never been more turned-on, and he couldn’t quite focus because all the blood had left his brain and traveled south, but still. Hearing his name come from Seth’s mouth in that way was apparently enough to fry all the remaining circuits in Nicholas Bell’s brain.”

Do you know which book this is from? Scroll down to find out!

Title: Flash Fire

Author: TJ Klune

Publication Date: July 13, 2021

Goodreads Synopsis

Flash Fire is the explosive sequel to The Extraordinaries by USA Today bestselling author TJ Klune!

Nick landed himself the superhero boyfriend of his dreams, but with new heroes arriving in Nova City it’s up to Nick and his friends to determine who is virtuous and who is villainous. Which is a lot to handle for a guy who just wants to finish his self-insert bakery AU fanfic.

Thoughts & Comments

I was so excited to get an eARC of this from NetGalley. I was approved while in the middle of reading The Extraordinaries, and I almost jumped for joy. I can’t wait to start this one, and if the first sentences are anything to go by, it seems this book will be getting steamier in the romance department while still being snarky and hilarious. Check out my review for the first book in this series, The Extraordinaries, here!

Does this book sound like something you would like? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments!

My 6 Most Anticipated June 2021 Releases

Hello, everyone! Today I am going to be counting down my six most anticipated releases of June 2021. I plan to add each of these to my bookshelves next month (unless I’ve been lucky enough to get an advanced copy).

#6This Poison Heart by Kalynn Bayron

Release Date: June 29, 2021

Goodreads Rating: 4.30 out of 5 Stars

What Caught My Eye: The beautiful cover grabbed my attention on NetGalley, and the description for the book piqued my interest. This is the book I’m currently reading since I was lucky enough to get an eARC through NetGalley. The premise is interesting, and I love the mystery surrounding the MC’s power so far.

#5Seven Deaths of an Empire by G. R. Matthews

Release Date: June 22, 2021

Goodreads Rating: 3.97 out of 5 stars

What Caught My Eye: I saw other people talking about this one on Twitter. It seems to have lots of politics, scheming, magic, and action, which makes me excited about it as those are all things I love reading.

#4The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid

Release Date: June 8, 2021

Goodreads Rating: 4.07 out of 5 stars

What Caught My Eye: Once again, a gorgeous cover pulled me in to read more about it. After I read the synopsis, I knew there was no way this was not going on my TBR. I love historical fiction, fantasy, and mythology, and this book looks like an interesting blend of all three.

#3Daughter of Sparta by Claire M. Andrews

Release Date: June 8, 2021

Goodreads Rating: 4.42 out of 5 stars

What Caught My Eye: The word Sparta. Seriously, though. I love history, especially the Greco-Roman time period. And it is a retelling of a myth. I’m sold.

#2The Darkness Outside Us by Eliot Schrefer

Release Date: June 1, 2021

Goodreads Rating: 4.49 out of 5 stars

What Caught My Eye: I wanted the ARC of this from NetGalley so bad. Unfortunately, I was declined (most likely due to my abysmal feedback ratio). I was sold after the first words of the synopsis: “Two boys, alone in space.” So, I’m definitely going to be picking this one up next week.

#1Star Wars: The High Republic: The Rising Storm by Cavan Scott

Release Date: June 29, 2021

Goodreads Rating: 3.53 out of 5 stars

What Caught My Eye: Um. The words Star Wars. 🙂 I read pretty much everything Star Wars, and I’ve enjoyed all the stories from the High Republic era so far. I’ve been waiting not so patiently for this one ever since Light of the Jedi first came out.

So, there you have it! My six most anticipated books of June 2021. Are any of these on your TBR? Let me know in the comments!

Stacking the Shelves #6

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks! The meme is hosted by Reading Reality.

Weekly Wrap-Up

This has been kind of a weird week. I went a little crazy with the book buying even though I didn’t mean to. I’ve just been feeling a little off, and getting the new books made me feel better. I’ve worked a lot this week. It seems to come in waves, and there was quite a bit to do. Next week should hopefully be slower, and I’m thankful for it. The weather this week has been whack with a ton of rain and gloomy, humid days, which meant less time outside in the sunshine. However, I did get a lot of reading in this week. I finished an audiobook and read three novels. Overall, I’ve enjoyed what I read this week, and I’m looking forward to sharing my reviews of them with you all.

Amazon Purchases

I snagged a couple free ebooks on Amazon, Breakaway and Of Blood and Fire. I also ordered the hardback versions of Carry On and Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell. I read these two Simon Snow books after checking them out from the library. I liked them so much I wanted my own copies, and I plan to re-read them before the third book comes out in a couple of months.

e-ARC Acquisition

I only downloaded one new eARC from NetGalley this week. So, my ratio should hold steady because I finished one NetGalley eARC this week, as well.

Library Acquisition

I made another trip to the library this week because I just could not wait to finish off this trilogy. I picked it up a couple days after finishing the last one, and I finished reading it yesterday. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on it within the next couple of weeks.

Barnes & Noble Purchases

I didn’t even try to stay away from B&N this week. I went looking for The Shadow of the Gods by John Gwynne and ended up buying all of the remaining Grishaverse books too. Oops. The cashier asked if I wanted to buy one of their reusable totes, and I got one of those too. I figured I would need it given how often I’m carting books out of there…

Final Thoughts

Overall, I’m satisfied with what I’ve added to my shelves this week, and I’m looking forward to reading it all. Have you read any of the books I picked up? If so, what did you think? Are any of these on your TBR? Let me know in the comments below!

First Lines Fridays #6

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Today’s First Lines:

“Yadriel wasn’t technically trespassing because he’d lived in the cemetery his whole life. But breaking into the church was definitely crossing the moral-ambiguity line. Still, if he was going to finally prove he was a brujo, he had to perform the rite in front of Lady Death. And she was waiting for him inside the church.”

Do you know which book this is from? Scroll down to find out!

Title: Cemetery Boys

Author: Aiden Thomas

Publication Date: September 1, 2020

Goodreads Synopsis

Yadriel has summoned a ghost, and now he can’t get rid of him.

When his traditional Latinx family has problems accepting his gender, Yadriel becomes determined to prove himself a real brujo. With the help of his cousin and best friend Maritza, he performs the ritual himself, and then sets out to find the ghost of his murdered cousin and set it free.

However, the ghost he summons is actually Julian Diaz, the school’s resident bad boy, and Julian is not about to go quietly into death. He’s determined to find out what happened and tie up some loose ends before he leaves. Left with no choice, Yadriel agrees to help Julian, so that they can both get what they want. But the longer Yadriel spends with Julian, the less he wants to let him leave.

Thoughts & Comments

I’ve read such great things about this book and have been looking forward to reading it. I enjoyed this author’s other novel, and these first lines definitely set up an intriguing start to the story.

Does this book sound like something you would like? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments!

New Comic Book Day #5

This past week has flown by. I can’t believe it is already Wednesday again. Since time got away from me, I didn’t really get many comics read this week. I got caught up on Star Wars: The High Republic and Star Wars: The High Republic Adventures. I also read the newest Star Wars and Amazing Spider-Man issues that were released last week to stay caught up on those titles. So, far I’m enjoying the High Republic era as whole, and the comics were a lot of fun to read. I was pleasantly surprised to see so much overlap between the book and comic characters.

My goal for this week’s reading is going to be a little smaller since I haven’t had the best record the last couple of weeks with doing what I said I was going to do. Once again, I plan to finish catching up on all the Star Wars titles. I only have two books left to catch up on. Given my recent reading rate, I think that is an appropriate expectation for this week along with the new issue from Amazing Spider-Man I bought today.

Here’s everything I bought today:

Amazing Spider-Man #66
Captain America #29
Champions #7
Daredevil #30
Fantastic Four: Life Story #1
Shang Chi #1
Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #12
Way of X #2
Wolverine #12

What comics did you buy today? Do you have a favorite title right now? If so, let me know in the comments.

3 Ways COVID-19 Has Impacted My Reading Habits

COVID-19 has undoubtedly impacted everyone’s lives in a myriad of different ways. Employment, mental health, physical health, social lives, and every other aspect of life have been disrupted. So, I don’t think it is any surprise that hobbies, such as reading, would also be affected by the pandemic. Upon reflection, I’ve found COVID-19 has influenced my reading habits in three very noticeable ways.

1. Increased consumption of digital media.

I love the feel of a book or comic book in my hand. Turning the pages and smelling the paper are a huge part of the experience for me. For years, I swore I would never buy an e-reader or get digital books or comics. However, the stay-at-home mandates and fear of getting sick while in stores caused me to do some things I never thought I would do.

First, I switched to digital comic books. I now use Comixology for all of my purchases and enjoy using the app on my phone and computer. The aforementioned mandates and fears of illness were one driver of this decision, but the logistics and availability issues that plagued comic book stores early on in the pandemic were the final deciding factors. I would go on release day to be told that none of the new stock had arrived yet. Getting everything I wanted took multiple trips, which I didn’t deem safe at the time given my high risk. So, I switched to digital comics and haven’t looked back. It saves me the time and hassle of going to the store, and I don’t have to worry about stock problems. It has also saved a lot of space in my house…the boxes of comics were really starting to add up.

With the success of switching my comic book addiction to digital, it was only a matter of time before the same happened with other books. I began using the library’s digital services to read books and eventually started using the oft-neglected Kindle app on my phone. From there, it was a short jump to get my own Kindle Oasis e-reader, and I love using it. I haven’t completely given up on paper books like I did for comics, but I’ve significantly increased the amount of digital books I read from practically none to more than half of my reading every month. I like that I don’t have to put myself at increased risk to get books I want, but I do still get a book from the store if I’m going to be out already anyway.

2. Massive surge in the amount I read.

Thanks to the pandemic, I found myself with much more free time. I started working from home and have only been working part time. So, naturally reading has helped me fill a lot of down time. I also tend to read more at random times throughout the day between tasks. That has not been an option before because I was always in the office where something was constantly happening. Now I’m at home alone between client appointments; so, I can sneak in a couple chapters between my tasks. This has led to me increasing my reading from 1-2 books per month to 10-15 books per month.

3. I use the library now.

I rarely, if ever, got library books prior to the pandemic. As I mentioned earlier, I started using the online library services to read some books. Then I learned that my library had instituted a book quarantine policy and had contact-less check out. So, I could go in, check out a clean book, and never have to interact with anyone. This seemed even safer than going to a bookstore and was cheaper to boot. So, I’ve started using the library for both digital and print books quite a bit, which is something I never would have expected a year ago.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your reading habits at all? If so, what has changed?

Mid-Month NetGalley Check-In

Given my struggle keeping up with my NetGalley ARCs, I have decided to do a check-in at the middle of each month to keep myself somewhat accountable. My feedback ratio has been atrocious. Although, I think it is at least partly due to me just starting out. It doesn’t take many approved books without reviews to send my rating plummeting through the floor.

Right now my feedback ratio sits at 38% with 6 feedback sent for 16 approved books. However, I don’t think that is completely accurate because there are 7 books, not 6, with feedback in my shelf. Has that happened to anyone else? It is really frustrating because I was excited to have my percentage above 40%, and then the seventh book disappeared from my ratio calculation. I’m still proud to have improved it from the 20% ratio I had just a few weeks ago, though. So, progress…right?

I’m going to do my best to stop requesting new books until I’ve made a little more progress on reading the books currently on my shelf. But there are so many books that sound interesting.

The books below are those currently needing to be read on my shelf. I plan to read and review the books in bold before the next check-in on June 15.

Child of Light by Terry Brooks | Publication Date: October 12, 2021
Flash Fire by TJ Klune | Publication Date: July 13, 2021
If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales & Cale Dietrich | Publication Date: December 7, 2021
Into the Lightning Gate by Roberth Roth | Publication Date: June 7, 2021
The All-Consuming World by Cassandra Khaw | Publication Date: September 7, 2021
The Sightless City by Noah Lemelson | Publication Date: July 20, 2021
Traitors of the Black Crown by Cate Pearce | Publication Date: September 22, 2021
Not My Ruckus by Chad Musick | Publication Date: February 16, 2021

How do you stay on top of your NetGalley ARCs? Are you successful at staying above the coveted 80% ratio threshold? Let me know in the comments!

Stacking the Shelves #5

Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks! The meme is hosted by Reading Reality.

Weekly Wrap-Up

This has been a pretty good week for me. I finished a couple new books that I enjoyed, and I picked up some new stuff from Barnes & Noble and the library. I also got approved for a new book on NetGalley, which I’m looking forward to reading. The first part of the week was heavy on reading because the weather was gloomy and rainy, but I’ve been able to spend a lot of time outside the last couple of days working in my garden, which has been fun. I should have some vegetables soon (fingers crossed). Overall, it has been a pretty successful week, and I enjoyed the books I read (The Lost Apothecary, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra, & Dark Farm).

Author Request

I had another author request this week and received the book in exchange for agreeing to write a review. It seems like a neat paranormal YA book. So, I’m looking forward to reading it and giving you all my opinion. Thank you to the author for the request!

e-ARC Acquisitions

I only downloaded one new eARC from NetGalley this week. So, I once again balanced out what I was able to get read with new acquisitions.

Library Acquisition

I made another trip to the library this week. I placed this book on hold a few weeks ago and have been waiting rather impatiently for it. Unfortunately, all the copies were checked out…so, I’ve had to wait. I’m ready to see what happens next for Alina, the Darkling, and Mal. I’m actually starting this book today and am pretty excited about it.

Barnes & Noble Purchases

I tried to stay away from the bookstore this week. I swear I did, but I found myself right across the street for another reason. Then the car just went to Barnes & Noble all on its own, and it would have been rude not to go inside. So, I was able to pick up three new books I’ve been interested in getting. 🙂

Final Thoughts

Overall, I’m satisfied with what I’ve added to my shelves this week, and I’m looking forward to reading it all. Have you read any of the books I picked up? If so, what did you think? Are any of these on your TBR? Let me know in the comments below!