Thursday, January 6, 2022

2021 Reading Resolution Review & 2022 Reading Resolutions

Each year I really like to take my time looking back at the previous years goals and challenges before deciding what I am going plan for the year. I have done this for several years in a row now (you can find last years HERE). I have come to prefer setting a bit of looser goals and resolutions over the hard fast number driven challenges I set for myself in years past. But before we get into things too far, why don't we take a look back at how last years resolutions worked out for me in another chaotic year.

 1. Read that TBR: I have been using this as a resolution for the past few years because as we all know in the book world, all the pretty covers draw us in and we collect books faster than we can read them. I have been very guilty of this and at one point had nearly 400 books on my TBR. Last year I had set a goal of reading 70 books off my TBR, I ended up focusing mostly on my physical TBR because I no longer had access to reading ebooks at work. While only ended up reading 50 books off my TBR this year, I did also in my end of year/new year shelf freshen end up unhauling many more (I haven't counted yet but it was definitely more than 20). So I did in a way  meet my goal, by yet again not quite how I planned on it, by reading all the books.

2. Re-Read More: This was probably the best goal/resolution I ever set for myself. I had originally set a goal of re-reading 15 books with a stretch goal of 25. Well I met that stretch goal and absolutely loved every moment of it.  I have absolutely loved re-visiting some of my favorite series, it has been so comforting and also kept me reading in times when I might have fallen into a slump.

3. Purchase Less Books & Read More of Them: I have been using this as a resolution every year with different parameters every time in hopes of cutting back on my insane book buying habit. This year I tried to limit myself to only 4 pre-orders a month and limited myself to only one shelf available to fill with new purchases to encourage reading them as they came in. While I wasn't great about the 4 pre-orders a month, I did manage to become a bit more conscientious about my book buying. There were a lot less bulk orders, less picking up random books just to fill the cart. And while I didn't read all the books as they came in, I think I still ended up with only about 30 new books that I hadn't read yet. I also managed to keep my purchases under 100 books this year. This was a huge win for me!

4. Explore New Genres More: This was quite an adventure for me, while I didn't set any clear guidelines other than exploring new genres I am so glad I had this as a constant reminder to step out of those comfort zones. It has been so fun trying books that I wouldn't normally pick up. While I got pretty lucky most of the time, I did run into a few misses, but with the confidence I built up over previous years of resolutions, I was able to just DNF and set something down that I wasn't enjoying.  I have to say that if it hadn't been for this goal, I might not have had some of my most surprising best books of the year this year (more on this to come later).

Well that was rather surprising, while I may not have met all my goals and resolutions exactly as I had planned, I did in the end accomplish all I set out to do this year! I am so happy with how I have grown as a reader, not only this year but over the past several years. Taking a step back and getting back to looking at reading as a pleasurable hobby as opposed to the challenge to tackle each year has been amazing. It is a journey I am still working on but I am so happy with the progress I have made!


So now that I have looked back at the past year and all I have accomplished, I feel so much more confident in setting my goals and resolutions for this year. So how about we get into it.

1. Find a Reading Balance: In years past I have been setting goals to read particular books, read the books I own, read the books I buy, read the books at the library, read the review books, etc. etc. But once things kind of got turned upside down last year when I quit my job and started something totally new, I wasn't able to track it quite as carefully as I used to. You know what I found? I ended up naturally finding a bit of a balance in my reading, I started reaching for roughly the same number of new and old books, review books and re-read books. It really allowed me to enjoy all the aspects of reading and I want to keep that feeling going. So I just want to find a balance that keeps me happy and satisfied, and you know what, it might change month to month and that is going to be okay too.

2. Purchase Less Books: Yes we are still stuck on this goal, and it will probably always be a bit of a challenge for me. But I am hoping that the past few years of learning will really pay off this year. Not to get into things too deep but we are looking at a tough year financially and I don't want the lack of book funds to feel like a failure but to look at it as an accomplishment. That I can be much more selective in the books I want to purchase, that I can wait for one to go on sale to pick it up, that I have books at home to read and I don't need that cover buy right now. I already have 30 books on my anticipated releases for this year, so I am going to have to be extremely picky with the ones I decide to purchase as I am hoping to keep purchases down to just 75 books total, that still averages about 6-7 books a month, more than I should need and I hope I can cut back even more.  The one thing that really helped me was having a dedicated shelf to new purchases, it really made me think about what books I want to see there and what books I will want to read sooner rather than later. So I will still be keeping that one shelf rule as well. 

3. Less Pressure and More Pleasure: I have pushed myself hard in the last 11 years of blogging to really put out consistent content for my followers. With the change in jobs it really became a challenge, I have only been able to blog late at night, when I would rather be reading. I have struggled a lot lately as to whether to keep blogging, and I will be doing that, but it is going to be on different terms.  I am not always going to post a review for every single book I read anymore, I am not going to be keeping a strict posting schedule, I am not going to be keeping constant features on my blog. What I am going to do is share what in the book world is making me happy at the time. If it is a particular book, I will post a review, if it is a beautiful cover, I will feature it, if it is a fun meme, I will participated. I want to share my love of books with you, not because books are what this blog is about but because that is what I enjoy. 

So that is it, my reading resolutions and goals for this year. I am hoping to continue my journey back to finding the real love reading and books has brought me and I think these are great goals to keep me on that path. I hope that you will continue to join me, even though things may not be as consistent around here as it used to be but I hope it will be a lot more enjoyable for all of us!

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Bout of Books 33

Yes! It is time to kick off the year the right way! I love starting the new year with a fresh TBR and Bout of Books readathon to help me dive into all the great books! 

Here is the information you need in case you want to sign up too!

The Bout of Books readathon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It’s a weeklong readathon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 3th and runs through Sunday, January 9th in YOUR time zone. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are reading sprints, Twitter chats, and exclusive Instagram challenges, but they’re all completely optional. For all Bout of Books 33 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team


So this post is going to be my base for the week, I will continue to come back and update it each day with my progress.  I will also be updating on Instagram @EasternSunset9

Time Devoted to Reading
I am hoping to start the year off right with a lot of reading this week. I hope to spend 2-3 hours per day reading, some at work, some on the go and some at home.

My Goals
Read at least 2 hours each day
Read/Finish 4 Books

Books to Read

Other Possible Books


Number of Pages I've Read Today: 419 pages
Total Number of Pages:  419 pages
Time Spent Reading Today: 9.5 hours
Total Number of Books I've Read: 1
Books Completed: 1 (The Rogue Not Taken)
Thoughts: It has been ages since I last picked up a historical romance but I Sarah MacLean is a local author that I have been meaning to pick up for quite some time. Boy was I surprised when the book had me completely engrossed all day at work and up all night to finish it! 

Number of Pages I've Read Today: 193 pages
Total Number of Pages: 612 pages
Time Spent Reading Today: 3.75 hours
Total Number of Books I've Read: 3 (The Rogue Not Taken, Fire Study, A Scot in the Dark)
Books Completed:  1 (The Rogue Not Taken
Thoughts: Instead of picking up the other books I had planned to switch to between the romance but I couldn't wait to dive right into the next book in the series.  I did take a little break from the audio books and read some of Fire Study. 

Number of Pages I've Read Today: 178 pages
Total Number of Pages: 790 pages
Time Spent Reading Today: 3.5 hours
Total Number of Books I've Read: 4 (Today: A Scot in the Dark, A Conspiracy of Truths & Fire Study)
Books Completed: 2 (The Rogue Not Taken & A Scot in the Dark)
Thoughts: So I have definitely been really enjoying the romance books and flew through the first two books.  With that said I have tried to pick up A Conspiracy of Truths and I am really struggling, it is a very slow paced, character driven story where not much happens and there are no chapter breaks. I think I am unfortunately going to have to DNF it even though I love the cover and thought I would really enjoy it. I am also feeling a bit run down today, I think the past month of stress and chaos have finally caught up to me. So I am going to stick with my tried and true Study Series for now and maybe try the Doggone Deadly audio book tomorrow.

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Saturday & Sunday
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I don't often participate in the challenges but if I do they will be posted here.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

December 2021 Wrap Up

I didn't think I would make it to here many times throughout this month! I have been at home with a quarantined kid since December 8th working from home, then he tested positive and got pretty sick for a few days there. The debate about hosting Christmas or not, ending up hosting, trying to keep it as low key and stress free as possible but demanding family not allowing for it. All that and I still managed to work every day and post my advent reads posts every day! That was exhausting and miserable and something I don't care to repeat, though I did love sharing all the fun holiday books I came across this last year.

We will start with my main challenge this year . . .

TBR Books Read:
I definitely did not do a great job on this challenge this month focusing more on new books than these older TBR books. 

I am going to spend today sorting through my shelves and taking a really hard look at the books on my TBR list and which ones aren't as appealing to me anymore. Lets see if I can get that TBR just a bit more before setting my reading goals for 2022.

2021 Books added to TBR & Read:
Again, I didn't get quite as many new books read as I wanted to but looking back at the month, I feel like I did a good job of still getting 4 of them read.


Other Recent Additions:
I definitely added far more books this month than I intended but when you add together the annual local author event, Christmas gifts/gift cards and the Barnes & Noble 50% off sale, I don't think I did too bad.  Looking back, I am pretty sure I kept under the number of books that I wanted to add this year and I managed to keep all the unread ones on one shelf, meeting all my goals!

In other reading I am tracking this year, I read . . .

Re-Reads: - COMPETE-
Goal: Re-read 15 books
I have continued really enjoying re-reading old favorites and diving back into worlds I loved years ago. I will definitely be continuing to re-read more often!
None this month

Borrowed Books: - COMPLETE-
Goal: Borrow 30 books

Books Over 500 Pages: - COMPLETE-
Goal: 10 books
None this month but sitting at 15 total for the year so I am really happy but hoping to squeeze in one or two more before the end of the year.

Requested Reviews: 
 Reading Stats:
I read a total of 12books this last month satisfying all things considered.

Resolutions Check in:
1. Read that TBR: I didn't managed to read the amount of books that I hoped for this month but by the end of today I will have removed enough from my TBR so I am calling it a win. - CHECK
2. Re-Read More: I didn't manage to re-read any books this month despite my best plans but I am definitely thrilled with how this year has gone and I can't wait to add more re-reading in the next year. - :/
3. Purchase Less & Read More: Not quite reaching my goals for this one but I guess it will have to do for now, and as expected for the crazy December month. - CHECK
4. Keep Trying New Genres/Authors: I definitely tried a lot more unique books this month, different genres than usual. - CHECK


Friday, December 31, 2021

Review of Monkey Mystery by Brenda Scott Royce & Illustrated by Joseph Wilkins


Read for: Netgalley/Requested Review

Synopsis: "This weekend at Mountain Bluff Zoo, Katy and Micah are Junior Researchers. The friends are watching the capuchin monkey group. The keeper is worried about one of the monkeys, a male named Milo who has been steadily gaining weight. Perhaps the kids can figure it out by closely observing his behavior. At first, Katy and Micah are stumped. But as they spend more time with the monkeys, will they solve the mystery? And, can they come up with some creative ideas to help Milo?"

My Review:  I am all about the animals and often so are young readers, so this seemed like a really fun book to try out (and it is the first in a zoo series). This reads like a beginning reader book almost but the story itself needs a bit more of a young middle grade audience to grasp. It would be a nice bridge book to chapter books but for those looking for an easier story to read but a bit of a higher thought level. I love the way that the kids had to figure out the mystery but just observing the monkeys, it took time and patience to figure out the problem and come up with a solution. It also included some nice trial and error as well to show not every answer is an easy one. It was fun and thought invoking. This is a series that young animal enthusiasts will really be wanting to pick up and read.

My Rating: This is definitely a book I would have wanted to read as a kid, the mystery, the animals, the success of solving the problem, all things a young reader will enjoy.  I give it a rating of Four Paws!

I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley, the above is my honest review and opinion.

You can find out more about Brenda Scott Royce's book on their Goodreads Page or Website.

Monkey Mystery is scheduled for release tomorrow but you can pre-order your copy now from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or request it at your local library or bookstore.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Review of Frankie and Amelia by Cammie McGovern


Read for: Netgalley/Requested Review/Audio Book/ CATS!

Synopsis: "A heartfelt companion novel to the critically acclaimed Chester and Gus about inclusivity, autism, friendship, and family, perfect for fans of Sara Pennypacker and Kate DiCamillo.

After being separated from his family, Franklin becomes an independent cat, until he meets a goofy dog named Chester. Chester is a service dog to his person, a boy named Gus, and Chester knows just the girl to be Franklin’s person—Gus’s classmate Amelia.

Amelia loves cats, but has a harder time with people. Franklin understands her, though, and sees how much they have in common. When Amelia gets into some trouble at school, Franklin wants to help the girl who’s done so much to help him. He’s not sure how, yet, but he’s determined to try.

This sweet and moving novel demonstrates how powerful the bond between pets and people can be, while thoughtfully depicting a neurodivergent tween’s experience."

My Review: I was instantly drawn to the cover of this book with the big Maine Coon on the cover, and once I read the synopsis I was really intrigued. This book definitely did not disappoint! I loved the tone of the book, sweet, a bit emotional and difficult at times but also triumphant. I think it handled the subject of the way autism spectrum presents differently in different people pretty well, though I am no where near someone to really recommend it, I felt like it opened my eyes a bit more. My favorite part is that we get to read from the perspective of the cat, Frankie. He may not know or understand everything that happens with the humans around him but he does know what he can do and gives with his whole heart. It was an interesting way of approaching a difficult subject and I think it is one that will have young readers turning the pages when they may have put the book down when it got a bit heavy.

My Rating: This was really a great book, it was short for me but full of heart and I think there are many young readers that may identify with Amelia and Gus.  I give it a rating of Four Paws.

I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley, the above is my honest review and opinion. 

You can find out more about Cammie McGovern on her Goodreads Page or Website.

Frankie and Amelia was released earlier this year so you can pick up your own copy in print or digital format from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or request it at your local library or bookstore.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Review of What the Cat Dragged In by Kate McMurray


Read for: Requested Review/ Netgalley/ Audio book/ Title & Cover/ CATS!

Synopsis: "Set in Brooklyn (with a small-town feel in the big city), this cat café romantic comedy has tropes readers will adore:

• Best friend’s brother romance
• Forbidden romance (can’t let his sister/my best friend find out!)
• Millennial angst (my love life is a hot mess)
• Adorable rescue cats in a cozy Brooklyn café

When Paige Danvers isn’t managing events for the Whitman Street Cat Café, she is busy navigating dating disasters as a single woman in Brooklyn. Urged by her boss and best friend Lauren to find a distraction from ineffectual dating apps, Paige volunteers with a cat rescue organization, where she actually meets a guy with some real relationship potential.

Recent law school grad Josh Harlow is putting in long hours at a Manhattan law firm as he gets over a messy breakup. When his boss requires him to do some volunteer work, Josh’s sister sets him up to help capture feral cats. Partnered with Paige, Josh is insistently drawn to the dynamic event planner and sparks between them fly.

One problem: after a steamy night together, Paige discovers Josh is Lauren’s brother and dating him would be a spectacularly awful idea. Particularly considering Paige’s track record. They’re both in too deep to walk away—but if they let the cat out of the bag, it’s going to wreak havoc with friends, family, and jobs alike."

My Review:  First off, how has no one been bringing this book up to me? It has cats and romance! Secondly, it is the second book in the series! How have none of you told me about a romance series set in a cat cafe? I am so disappointed in all my book friends right now! Anyway, on with the review, besides the adorable cover and title, the story inside was just as adorable. I really enjoyed the characters and how even though they are in two totally different industries of work, they both struggle to find a work/life balance, something many people can relate to in their own lives. The attraction and steam in this one is nearly instant, but the romance and relationship itself simmers nicely, building off conversations, rescue cats and city adventures. You don't need to have read the first book in the series to enjoy this one but the relationships introduced in the first book are continued in this one so it would be nice to be familiar with all of them. I, for one, will be going back and picking up the first book and will be following this series avidly as it continues!

My Rating: I really enjoyed this one, I like the neighborhood like setting, the close knit friend and family dynamics and, of course, the cats! I give this one a rating of Four Paws!

I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley, the above is my honest review and opinion.

You can find out more about Kate McMurray and her books on her Goodreads Page or Website.

What the Cat Dragged In was just released on December 7th so you can pick up your own copy in print or digital formats from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or request it at your local library or bookstore.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Review of Even and Odd by Sarah Beth Durst


Read for: Requested Review/ Netgalley/ Favorite Authors

Synopsis: "A half-magic girl learns about heroism and taking action when she and her sister confront a wizard who endangers others for her own gain. 

Even and Odd are sisters who share magic. Lately, though, it seems like that’s the only thing they have in common. Odd doesn’t like magic, and Even practices it every chance she gets, dreaming of the day she’ll be ready to be a hero.
When the hidden border between the mundane world the sisters live in and the magical land they were born in shuts abruptly, the girls are trapped, unable to return home. With the help of a unicorn named Jeremy, they discover a wizard is diverting magic from the border to bolster her own power. Families are cut off from each other on both sides of the border, and an ecological disaster is brewing. But the wizard cares nothing for the calamitous effects her appropriation of magic is having. Someone has to do something to stop her, and Even realizes she can no longer wait until she’s ready: she needs to be a hero now."

My Review: I was immediately drawn to this book, not only was it written by one of my favorite fantasy authors but it has a unicorn on the cover. To be honest, I did struggle quite a bit to get into this book, and it was on me, I think Middle Grade Fantasy just isn't for me at this point in my reading life. It was a unique set up with a magical world side by side with the read world and sisters who have to share their magic. It was rather silly with a lot of funny quirks that will have young readers laughing. Durst definitely hit her target audience for this one just right with a lot of characters starting to come into their own personalities, strengths and weaknesses; and learning to work with what they have and maybe not envying other for what they have. I like the way the characters had to work together to problem solve. This was quite the adventure and I do hope there might be more books after this one as I can see it being a world that would be fun for young readers to explore.

My Rating: I really floundered with getting into this one, it took several attempts to get beyond the first couple of chapters (sadly, this has become a struggle with me and middle grade fantasy, time to admit defeat and take a break) but it was more me than the book. I think the target audience will really love the adventures of Even and Odd.  I give it a rating of Three Paws.

 I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley, the above is my honest review and opinion.

You can find out more about Sarah Beth Durst and her books on her Goodreads Page or Website.

Even and Odd was released earlier this year so you can pick up your own copy in print or digital format from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or request it at your local bookstore or library.