January 2020 Wrap Up

I can’t believe January is at an end! On the one hand, January has been forever long. On the other hand, I started this blog one month ago on January 1, and I feel like I haven’t had nearly enough time to figure everything out! I can’t believe it’s already time to post my first monthly wrap up on my blog!


PHYSICAL BOOKS

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson ☆☆☆☆☆
The Wives by Tarryn Fisher ☆☆1/2
The Grace Year by Kim Liggett ☆☆☆☆1/2
The Stonekeeper (Amulet #1) by Kazu Kibuishi ☆☆☆1/2
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas ☆☆☆☆☆
The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James ☆☆☆☆☆

AUDIOBOOKS

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller ☆☆☆☆
Renegades by Marissa Meyer ☆☆☆☆☆
Frankly in Love by David Yoon ☆☆1/2
Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff ☆☆☆☆☆
Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston ☆☆☆☆☆


2020 READING GOAL PROGRESS

At the beginning of the year, I shared my 2020 reading goals. When I post my wrap up at the end of each month, I also want to reflect on the progress I’m making toward reaching my goals.

Read 75 books: 11/75 (5 books ahead of schedule!)

Explore more genres: Nothing new, but I definitely read a mix of genres and continued to explore contemporary romance!

Buy fewer books: The only new book I got was my one BOTM pick!

Finish more series: I reread Renegades so I could finish the series, but I didn’t make any other progress and actually started some new series.

Reread more: I reread two books, Renegades and ACOTAR.

Read at least two classics: Not yet, but I’ve got all year!

Read one graphic novel each month: The Stonekeeper (Amulet #1)


Overall, I’d say I had a really great start to the year. I read a lot of books, and most of them were 4 or 5 star reads! I am also pleased with the progress I’ve made toward reaching my reading goals for the year. There’s still a lot of 2020 left ahead of us, but if January was any indication, it’s going to be a great year!

How did your month go? What was the best book you read in January?

Frankly in Love by David Yoon

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆1/2
Title: Frankly in Love
Author: David Yoon
Series: Frankly in Love #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Raymond J. Lee
Length: ~10 hours (432 pages)
Publisher: Listening Library
Release Date: September 10, 2019
Source: Library (Libby app)

SYNOPSIS

High school senior Frank Li is a Limbo–his term for Korean-American kids who find themselves caught between their parents’ traditional expectations and their own Southern California upbringing. His parents have one rule when it comes to romance–“Date Korean”–which proves complicated when Frank falls for Brit Means, who is smart, beautiful–and white. Fellow Limbo Joy Song is in a similar predicament, and so they make a pact: they’ll pretend to date each other in order to gain their freedom. Frank thinks it’s the perfect plan, but in the end, Frank and Joy’s fake-dating maneuver leaves him wondering if he ever really understood love–or himself–at all.

MY THOUGHTS

I really wanted to love this book. I highly anticipated this release because I’ve enjoyed Nicola Yoon’s books, but I should not have placed my expectations for her writing on him. I almost DNF this book, and the only reason I finished it is because my next audiobook was on hold.

My biggest issue was that it felt like two different stories were happening that did not blend together well. Some parts of this book were so great, but others not so much.

I’ll start with the good. There were important discussions about race, identity, and family that were very deep and well-written. I think this idea could have worked as a short story or essay about the Korean-American experience, because the family dynamics in this book were so insightful, but as a whole the book did not come together.

Now for the bad. THE ROMANCE. This book has “love” in the title, but the romance was just not good. This book featured several YA romance tropes (instalove, fake dating, cheating), none of them well-executed. The cheating didn’t even bother me that much because the relationship never felt real to me in the first place. In general, the interactions between Frank and other teenagers felt awkward and inauthentic.

David Yoon knows how to write about Korean-Americans, but he does not know how to write believable teenage characters. YA is not the right fit for him to tell his story. I might consider reading something from him in the future in a different genre or platform, but I will not be reading the sequel to Frankly in Love.

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: Renegades
Author: Marissa Meyer
Series: Renegades #1
Genre: Science Fiction
Audience: Young Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrators: Rebecca Soler, Dan Bittner
Length: ~17 hours (556 pages)
Publisher: Macmillan Young Listeners
Release Date: November 7, 2017
Source: Library (Libby app)
Recommended for Fans of: superheroes, antiheroes

SYNOPSIS

Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies — humans with extraordinary abilities — who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone… except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice — and in Nova. But Nova’s allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

MY THOUGHTS

SO. GOOD. I always love a good superhero story, and this one did not disappoint.

I love that the main character, Nova, is a villain and gives us a unique perspective on the Renegades. She isn’t a villain because she’s evil; she’s a villain because when she was a child the Renegades did not come. At the beginning of the story she seems like she’s an Anarchist through and through, but as we get more inside her head we see that while she believes the Anarchist cause is just, she doesn’t always agree with her fellow Anarchists that the ends justify the means. Throughout the book she struggles determine what she truly stands for and where her loyalties truly lie as both Renegades and Anarchists challenge her beliefs.

In contrast, Adrian is a born Renegade who fully supports what they stand for, but his desire to learn the truth about his mother’s death and test the limits of his power cause him to keep his own secrets from the council. He, too, comes to question whether the Renegade organization is always exercising its power appropriately, but his goal is to change it from within, not destroy it.

Nova and Adrian had such a slow burn before they finally admitted their feelings for each other. I am so curious to see how their relationship develops in book 2 and how their secrets will impact their romance. I’m rooting for them! But they might not be able to forgive each other when the truth comes out.

The ending actually blew my mind. Marissa Meyer pulled off some truly spectacular twists that I did not see coming but they made so much sense.

I also thought that the narrators did an amazing job with the audiobook, and I would highly recommend that format! This is my second time reading this book, and I only listened to the audiobook so I could reread it before I continue the series. The narration was so good I almost want to finish the series on audio, but the books waiting on my shelf will not be ignored!

Series I Finished in 2019

Recently I shared the ridiculous number of series I am “currently reading,” so this week I’m sharing the series I actually finished or caught up on last year! A lot of these series I read entirely in 2019, but others span several years. You’ll also notice I frequently used audiobooks to reread initial books before I continued the series, a practice I’m continuing in 2020!

Constellation series by Claudia Gray

Books & Dates Read:
1. Defy the Stars – Jun. 2017 (audio), May 2018, Dec. 2019 (audio)
2. Defy the Worlds – Jun. 2018
3. Defy the Fates – Dec. 2019

Overall Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Genre: Science Fiction
Audience: Young Adult

My Thoughts:
This is one of my all-time favorite series. It’s a YA, sci-fi, space adventure with a dash of romance, but it’s so much more than that. This series tells the story of unlikely allies Noemi, a human soldier for the rebel planet Genesis, and Abel, Earth’s most advanced mech. The story has so much heart and grapples with some incredibly deep and important questions about identify, humanity, war, and free will. Defy the Stars is a masterpiece. Defy the Worlds takes the story in a surprising new direction and avoids the dreaded middle-book slump. Defy the Fates provides the perfect conclusion to the trilogy. This series is so underrated, and everyone needs to go read it right now.

Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo

Books & Dates Read:
1. Six of Crows – Mar. 2018, Nov. 2019 (audio)
2. Crooked Kingdom – Nov. 2019

Overall Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: Young Adult

My Thoughts:
I thought Six of Crows was really good, but Crooked Kingdom was phenomenal! It was one of my top reads of 2019, and it will remain a favorite for a long time. On a basic level, Six of Crows is about a band of criminals and misfits attempting to pull off an impossible heist. These characters are all so strong and bold, and I love them all so much! This series will keep you on the edge of your seat as you laugh, gasp, and weep your way through.

Caraval series by Stephanie Garber

Books & Dates Read:
1. Caraval – Jun. 2019
2. Legendary – Aug. 2019
3. Finale – Nov. 2019

Overall Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: Young Adult

My Thoughts:
This series is about a magical traveling carnival is so enchanting and whimsical! The first book gave me a lot of Alice in Wonderland vibes, but the adventure takes a dark and dangerous turn as you’re never quite sure what is real and what is just part of the game. I love how the relationship between sisters Scarlett and Tella is central to the story. Legendary took the magic and the storyline to the next level, and Finale was a satisfying conclusion to the series.

To All the Boys… series by Jenny Han

Books & Dates Read:
1. To All the Boys I Loved Before – Aug. 2019 (audio)
2. P.S. I Still Love You – Aug. 2019 (audio)
3. Always and Forever, Lara Jean – Nov. 2019 (audio)

Overall Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Audience: Young Adult

My Thoughts:
This series was adorable. It’s been awhile since I’ve enjoyed a YA contemporary since I can’t always relate to the characters, but this series struck the perfect balance between light, fluffy, teen romance and something with a little more substance. Laura Knight Keating did an excellent job narrating the audiobooks; I highly recommend that format for this series. The characters were so developed and had me laughing and crying in my car on my commute to and from work. I’m so glad I read the whole series before the next two movies come out on Netflix! SO CUTE.

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Books & Dates Read:
1. Stalking Jack the Ripper – Sep. 2017 (audio), Sep. 2019 (audio)
2. Hunting Prince Dracula – Sep. 2019 (audio)
3. Escaping from Houdini – Sep. 2019 (audio)
4. Capturing the Devil –

Overall Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Audience: Young Adult

My Thoughts:
I really enjoyed listening to these macabre mysteries around spooky season. These dark and sometimes gory Victorian tales revolve around Audrey Rose, a lord’s daughter who aspires to learn forensic medicine and solve crimes, and Thomas Cresswell, her uncle’s brilliant and dashing assistant. Each book takes place in a new location with a new murderer. Audrey Rose could be a very frustrating narrator at times, and I really didn’t love all of the storytelling choices in the last book, but overall I enjoyed this series and would recommend it to fans of the gothic.

Dublin Murder Squad series by Tana French

Books & Dates Read:
1. In the Woods – Mar. 2016
2. The Likeness – Mar. 2016
3. Faithful Place – Sep. 2016
4. Broken Harbor – Jan. 2017
5. The Secret Place – Feb. 2019
6. The Trespasser – Jun. 2019

Overall Rating: ☆☆☆☆1/2
Genre: Mystery
Audience: Adult

My Thoughts:
I love these mysteries. I think they are beautifully written and I love the heavy imagery. However, if you are not the type of reader who oohs and ahs over a well-constructed metaphor, these are not the books for you. Each book is told from the perspective of a different detective on Dublin’s Murder Squad, so they can be read as standalones. I started reading this series several years ago, and I finally caught up with The Secret Place and The Trespasser this year. I’m not sure if there are plans for more books in this series, but I certainly hope so!

Firebird series by Claudia Gray

Books & Dates Read:
1. A Thousand Pieces of You – Apr. 2019
2. Ten Thousand Skies Above You – May 2019
3. A Million Worlds with You – May 2019

Overall Rating: ☆☆☆
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance
Audience: Young Adult

My Thoughts:
I thought this series sounded perfect for me: traveling through alternate dimensions chasing your father’s killer only to fall for his doppelganger, and it’s by one of my favorite authors? Sadly, this series was a miss for me because it included the most unnecessary and eyeroll-inducing love triangle of ALL. TIME. It was always obvious who Marguerite was going to choose so the love triangle was pointless, boring, and took away from the exciting action! The first book didn’t pick up the pace until the last 100 pages or so. Books 2 and 3 were definitely better than book 1 and had some really surprising and interesting twists, but UGH THAT LOVE TRIANGLE really brought down the whole series. They have the most beautiful covers though, don’t they?

Carve the Mark duology by Veronica Roth

Books & Dates Read:
1. Carve the Mark – Aug. 2019 (audio)
2. The Fates Divide – Sep. 2019 (audio)

Overall Rating: ☆☆☆
Genre: Science Fiction
Audience: Young Adult

My Thoughts:
This series is kind of like Star Wars in that it’s about interplanetary politics and people get powers from “the current” (aka the Force). Otherwise, it’s not really like Star Wars at all. It starts off pretty slow, but has some interesting worldbuilding. I think it is a true blend of science fiction and fantasy since current gifts can’t really be explained with science. I enjoyed the enemies-to-lovers relationship between Cyra and Akos. Book 2 had some truly crazy twists that I did not see coming, but again, it was slow, and the intricacies of the politics were sometimes confusing.

What series did you finish last year? Have you read any of these?

10 Series I Need to Finish

One of my reading goals for 2020 is to finish more series than I start. I currently have 19 SERIES IN PROGRESS. And that’s assuming I didn’t miss any when I counted (which is quite possible even though I scrolled back several years through my books on Goodreads). To put that into perspective, I started 10 of those series in 2019, but I only finished or caught up on 8 series last year.

Clearly, I have a problem. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the buzz-worthy series everyone is reading, but right now I feel like I’ve started them ALL and now I don’t know what to read NEXT. Hopefully this year I can get this situation under control and get some closure for all of these worlds and characters I’ve fallen in love with!

Today I’m rounding up some of the series I’m in the middle of, the progress I’ve made so far, and the likelihood I’ll finish in 2020.

1. Renegades by Marissa Meyer

The Series:
Renegades
Archenemies
Supernova

Progress: 1/3
Owned: 3/3
Priority: Very High

Thoughts:
Marissa Meyer is one of my favorite authors. I read Renegades as soon as it came out, but never got to the other books. I now own the entire series, and I just checked out the Renegades audiobook so I can reread it before starting the next two!

2. The Folk of the Air by Holly Black

The Series:
The Cruel Prince
The Wicked King

The Queen of Nothing

Progress: 2/3
Owned: 3/3
Priority: Very High

Thoughts:
I LOVE this series! I won TCP from a Goodreads giveaway when it was released, but I didn’t read it til last summer. I got TWK for my birthday and read it in the fall, and I just got QoN for Christmas!

3. Shades of Magic by V.E. Schwab

The Series:
A Darker Shade of Magic
A Gathering of Shadows
A Conjuring of Light

Progress: 1/3
Owned: 3/3
Priority: Very High

Thoughts:
I can’t believe I waited so long to start a Victoria Schwab series! I absolutely loved ADSOM and I can’t wait to read more of her books, but of course I need to finish this series first!

4. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

The Series:
The Assassin’s Blade
Throne of Glass
Crown of Midnight
Heir of Fire
Queen of Shadows
Empire of Storms
Tower of Dawn
Kingdom of Ash

Progress: 3/8
Owned: 6/8
Priority: High

Thoughts:
I wanted to read more of these last year, but I ran out of time. I haven’t totally fallen in love with this series like I did with ACOTAR, but I hear these get better as you go!

5. Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

The Series:
Serpent & Dove
Blood & Honey (9/1/20)

Progress: 1/1 published
Owned: 1/1 published
Priority: High

Thoughts:
This is the only series on this list I’m currently caught up with, because book 2 hasn’t been published yet! S&D was one of my FAVORITE books of 2019. I will DEFINITELY be preordering B&H as soon as I can, and I can only hope there will more books in the future!

6. The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell

The Series:
The Last Magician
The Devil’s Thief
The Serpent’s Curse (4/7/2020)

Progress: 1/2 released
Owned: 2/2 released
Priority: High

Thoughts:
The Last Magician rocked my world when I got in a Litjoy Crate in 2017, but The Devil’s Thief was released during a reading slump so I didn’t pick it up. I thought this was planned to be a duology, so I was surprised to see that a 3rd book is coming out this year! Hopefully I can catch up in time for its release.

7. The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

The Series:
Illuminae
Gemina
Obsidio

Progress: 1/3
Owned: 1/3
Priority: Medium-High

Thoughts:
Illuminae was one of the most shocking and creative books I read last year and I can’t wait to see what happens next. However, I don’t own the next books in the series yet, and I need to read more of what I own before I buy the sequels.

8. The Dark Artifices by Cassandra Clare

The Series:
Lady Midnight
Lord of Shadows
Queen of Air and Darkness

Progress: 2/3
Owned: 2/3
Priority: Medium

Thoughts:
Lady Midnight was my favorite Shadowhunters novel to date, but I was disappointed by Lord of Shadows. I didn’t pick up Queen of Air and Darkness when it came out because my enthusiasm for the series had faded and its size is SO intimidating! But maybe this is the year.

9. DC Icons by Leigh Bardugo, Marie Lu, Sarah J. Maas, and Matt de la Pena

The Series:
Wonder Woman: Warbringer
Batman: Nightwalker
Catwoman: Soulstealer
Superman: Dawnbreaker

Progress: 1/4
Owned: 4/4
Priority: Medium

Thoughts:
This is a series of standalone novels. I liked Wonder Woman, but I didn’t love it. I’ve heard mixed reviews about this series so I’m not in any hurry to finish it, but I already own them all so it’s pretty likely I’ll read them to clear my backlist.

10. A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

The Series:
A Game of Thrones
A Clash of Kings
A Storm of Swords

A Feast for Crows
A Dance with Dragons
The Winds of Winter (????)
A Dream of Spring (????)

Progress: 3/5 published
Owned: 5/5 published
Priority: Low

Thoughts:
These books are long, dense, slow reads. The story is good, but they are so hard to get through! I read books 1 & 2 in 2014 and book 3 in 2017. I want to finish this series someday, but for now watching Game of Thrones is good enough for me. Maybe I’ll pick up the next book when The Winds of Winter gets an actual release date.

Other Series in Progress:

The Casquette Girls (1/3)
Cormoran Strike (3/4)
The Darkest Minds (2/4)
Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard (1/3)
Red Queen (2/4)
Simon Snow (1/2)
Sookie Stackhouse (3/13)
Spindle Fire (1/2)
The Winner’s Trilogy (2/3)

How many series are you “currently reading”? Have you read any on my list?

2020 Reading Goals

Hello, everyone! I’m Caroline! For my first post, I want to share my reading goals for the new year. I’ve thought a lot about what I accomplished in 2019, and how I want to keep growing in 2020!

Read 75 Books

It’s so difficult for me to choose a number of books to read that is challenging but still attainable. In the past few years, I’ve had some really great reading years (90 books in 2017!) and some not so great (25 books in 2018). Based on this, my 2019 goal was to read 30 books to help me rediscover my love of reading without the pressure to read a ton. Well, I ended up finishing 75 books in 2019, so I know I can do it again in 2020. I would love to read 100 books this year, but I don’t need to put that kind of pressure on myself by making that my official goal.

Explore More Genres

My favorite genres are YA fantasy and thrillers, with a sprinkling of sci-fi, and my 2019 reading reflects those preferences because my goal was to fall back in love with reading. Toward the end of the year, I started branching out a bit. I read a couple horror and paranormal books around Halloween. I discovered the joys of the contemporary romance genres. I used to love poetry, but I haven’t read any in awhile. Of course I’ll be reading lots of fantasy and thrillers this year, but I’m going to mix it up and stop judging books by their genre.

Buy Fewer Books

My shelf situation is out of control. I got 16 new books in December alone (most of those were gifts, but still). I need to read what I own before I buy more books, and make sure I’m only buying books I will love. I’m not giving up my BOTM subscription, but I’m avoiding add-ons. I can take advantage of my local library when I really want to read a book I don’t already own. I know I will buy some new releases by favorite authors and books in series I’m reading, but for the most part I will shop my own shelves.

Finish More Series

In 2019, I started a lot more series than I finished. I discovered so many amazing new worlds, but got very little closure. I recently made a list of all my series in progress, and it’s ridiculous. I’m planning a future blog post to share the series I want to finish in 2020, but I don’t think I can make it through ALL my unfinished series in a year. What I do know is that I don’t need to start any new series until I finish what I’ve started.

Reread More

It’s so easy to get caught up in new releases and the overwhelming number of unread books out there that we neglect our old favorites. This is a mistake. Those are the books that made us fall in love with reading in the first place, and why we keep on reading. I’ve worried that rereading an old book will take time away from reading something new. Oh, well. My favorite books are a part of me, and it’s important to make time to revisit my favorite characters and worlds. Audiobooks are a great compromise to make time for old books while still keeping up with the new, but I want to make time for a few physical rereads this year too.

Read At Least 2 Classics

I did not read any classics in 2019. In fact, the last time I read a classic was 2017. I don’t think that readers have to read a lot of classics to be “good readers,” but I’m also an English teacher, so I feel like it’s time. Classics tend to be slower reads for me, but I think one every six months is manageable.

Read 1 Graphic Novel Each Month

I started teaching a Comic Book elective this year, but I am far from an expert on the subject matter. Since graphic novels are quick reads, it shouldn’t be too hard to fit in one each month.

Grow My Blog & Bookstagram

Starting this blog is the first step to reaching one of my biggest goals for the year! I’ve wanted to start a blog for YEARS but I never could decide if I wanted to start a crafting blog or a beauty & fashion blog or a TV & film blog or WHAT. But last year bookstagram reminded me that my #1 love always has been and always will be books, and starting a blog felt like the next step. Instagram has been a great creative outlet, but I need a writing outlet too.

This blog is still a work in progress. It is not yet everything I want it to be. I don’t even know everything I want it to be. But that’s okay. It is DAY ONE. I’ve got plenty of time to figure it out, and I’m so happy you are here on this journey with me!

What are your reading goals for 2020? Let me know in the comments!