Cake Book Tag

Hello!

I’ve been wanting to to do this tag for ages, but for some reason I never got around to it. So, I thought I’d do it today. I am a cake lover myself, and be forewarned that if you like cake this post is going to make you very hungry. I really wish I had some cake right now as I’m typing this post…

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Chocolate Cake: A dark book that you absolutely love

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis! This book is so incredible, and wonderfully dark, tackling topics like rape culture violence. It’s also heavily reminiscent of Crime and Punishment, but does everything that I hated about that book so much better. Definitely one I want to reread at some point.

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Vanilla Cake: A light read

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. Were any of you surprised by this answer? If you were, welcome to my blog, where I never shut up about this book. It’s fluffy, adorable, and so wonderfully gay. It makes my heart full. AND THE MOVIE IS COMING OUT SO SOON. If you haven’t seen the trailer, please, please go watch it. It will improve your life 6000%.

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Red Velvet: A book that gave you mixed emotions

American Gods by Neil Gaiman. For some reason, Neil Gaiman’s adult books just don’t click with me. Something about the characters and the weirdness just puts me off. There will be bits that I really love, but then suddenly the next 200 pages will be incredibly boring and will not resonate with me at all. It makes for a very turbulent reading experience.
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Cheesecake: A book that you would recommend to everyone

I know this is such a cop-out answer, but I have to say Harry Potter. If you haven’t read Harry Potter yet, I’m not sure what you’re doing with your life. But you need to fix it immediately. I really think there is something everyone can enjoy in this series, no matter how old you are or where you come from.

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Coffee Cake: A book that you started but never finished

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman. I started this book when I drove up to northern California with a friend’s family, and they were listening to it on audiobook during the drive. Once we split up at our destinations, I never got the chance to finish it on their ride home, as I flew home separately. I’d really like to go back and finish this one eventually, though, as I was quite enjoying it.

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Carrot Cake: A book with great writing

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. I read this book for the first time earlier this month, and while the story itself wasn’t the best I’ve ever read, Tahereh Mafi’s writing style was gorgeous, and I can’t wait to read more of her books later this year.

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Tiramisu: A book that left you wanting more

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson. I really, really, really want this book to be a series. It has a fabulous cast of sassy and morally gray characters, and I adored every minute of it. I was so sad when I finished it and realized there weren’t going to be any more books that follow these wonderful people.

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Cupcakes: A series with 4+ books

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket! I read this series in its entirety for the first time this year, and I loved it so much more than I thought I would. This is definitely one that I’m going to reread every couple of years.

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Fruitcake: A book that wasn’t what you expected

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. There is a ridiculous amount of hype surrounding this book and… I hated it? Noah Shaw is just an awful person who treated Mara like crap, and I couldn’t even get through the first hundred pages before I succumbed to complete rage and DNF’d it.

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Lamington: Your favorite Australian book

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. This book is pretty close to being my favorite book of all time, so I had to go with this one. The writing is stunning and the characters are all so complicated and beautiful and lovable, and to top it all of it’s narrated by DEATH??? Could a book be any more perfect? Also, what even is Lamington cake? What is this? What is it made of? I am confused.

What is your favorite type of cake? (Mine is German Chocolate). Have you ever had Lamington cake? Should I try it? Tell me in the comments!

-Sky

 

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If You Like That… Try This! #4: Last Young Renegade

Hello!

I am absolutely obsessed with this All Time Low album, so of course I wanted to make a recommendations post featuring it. Picking these books to match the songs was actually really difficult, but I’m really proud of myself for thinking of a couple of them.

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Last Young Renegade & The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee

First of all, I adore this song. Second of all, I think this fits perfectly with Gentleman’s Guide because Monty is so totally in love with Percy, and even though he’s not the most chaste human in the world, he always comes back to Percy, who will always be his best friend. Plus, if you don’t think these two cinnamon rolls are young renegades I’m not sure anyone is.

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Life of the Party & The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, & Maureen Johnson

The first time I listened to this song, I knew immediately that it was the anthem of Magnus Bane’s life, as well as the perfect summation of his relationship with Alec. Magnus goes through his life and relationships as an immortal, partying like there’s no tomorrow, but somewhere in the mix, he loses sight of who he is and what he wants. And Alec brings him back to that. *brb fangirling over here*

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Good Times & Hello, Goodbye, and Everything In Between by Jennifer E Smith

A reminiscent song to go along with a book that follows a young couple who re-examine their relationship before they head off to college, in the hopes of determining whether or not they should stay together. One of the things that I loved about this book is how, even though they aren’t sure where they’re going in life, they still value all of the wonderful things that happened in their past, and will cherish those memories forever. On a side note, this music video made me sob because 1) brought back a lot of high school memories for me, 2) SUPER diverse, 3) THE QUEER KIDS.

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Nightmares & A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland

Not only does this song talk about abuse, which is a pretty big part of this book, but it also talks about not being alone in the world. All the characters in this book face their own nightmares and demons, but they don’t do it alone. They all protect each other, and I’m still over here just crying over the precious children.

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Afterglow & Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

I don’t have a a lot of concrete reasons why these two go together, other than the fact that they both give me the same feelings. Both the song and the book make me feel super warm and fuzzy and nostalgic, and there are very few things in the world that make me feel that way. I love that feeling a whole lot.

Do you listen to All Time Low? Do you agree with my pairings? Let me know in the comments! 

-Sky

 

 

 

 

Discussion: Reading Classics

Hello!

I haven’t done a discussion post in ages, which is why I made it a goal for myself to post more discussions in 2018. As soon as I started thinking about a discussion post, I knew I wanted to talk about reading classics, as my thoughts on reading classics has really changed over the past year or so. Pretty much everyone has to read a classic book in their lifetime, whether it’s for school or just on their own. I’ve read quite a few classics in my life – most of them have been for school. In the past two or three years, I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to read more classics. In 2017, I made a list of 12 classics that I absolutely had to read that year.

This year, I decided not to make a full list of classics for two reasons. One, I didn’t have enough classics on my physical TBR to make a full list. Two, I really wanted to stop succumbing to the societal pressure that was telling me I must read a book simply because it is a classic. I hate the idea that I can’t be a “real” reader or an “intelligent/intellectual” person because I read mostly YA and not adult “classics” or “literature”. There is not a hierarchy of books that determine your worth in society, and books are not inherently less valuable because they aren’t classics. This is not to say that I don’t like or value classics. Some of my all time favorite books are classics. So this leaves the question – what makes a classic worth reading, and how do I choose which ones to read?

As I said before, most of the classics I have read have been for school. Classics I’ve read for school are pretty hit or miss for me, and it also really depends not just on the quality of the book, but also on my teacher, how they approach the book, and the quality of the discussions that I have in class about the book. Some of my favorite classics that I’ve read for school include: The Great Gatsby, which I will never get tired of analyzing and pondering, and all of the Shakespeare plays that I’ve read (especially Macbeth). Some of the classics that I’ve really hated when I read them for school include: Crime and Punishment, The Sound and the Fury, The Stranger, and The Catcher in the Rye.

As far as classics that I read outside of school, I’ve started choosing classics I want to read mostly based on recommendations from friends and family. I’ve already read A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens at the recommendation of a friend, and I have several books on my physical TBR for this year that have been recommended to me by friends or family. These books include To Kill a Mockingbird, The Color Purple, and Their Eyes Were Watching God.

I’ve also discovered some of my favorite classics on my own. Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters, and a Mary Shelley are all authors whom I discovered on my own, and whose books I absolutely adored. I especially love Pride and Prejudice which I’ve read and reread several times since I read it back in elementary school. One of the reasons I like Mary Shelley’s book Frankenstein so much is because of how often I see it in other stories (like the TV show Penny Dreadful which I absolutely adore). It was so nice to return to the source material and really appreciate where so many shows and movies have taken their inspiration.

This system of choosing classics based mainly off of recommendations really works for me, because I’m reading books not because they are classics, but because they sound interesting and I want to read them. Reading is a lot more enjoyable when I’m not pressuring myself to read books that I’m not actually going to enjoy.

What are some of your favorite classics? What books did you have to read for school? What makes you want to read a classic? Tell me in the comments!

-Sky

Most Anticipated 2018 Releases #1

Hello!

So there are WAY too many 2018 releases that I’m excited for, so I decided to split this post into three parts that I’ll post over the course of the year. This one will list all of the books I’m super excited for that will release between January 1, 2018 and April 30, 2018. I initially was going to do a top ten, but then I realized that even then there were still too many. I’ve got 15 books on this list, plus a few “honorable mentions” which are books that I’m super excited for but have already read.

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The Rising Dark by Alexandra Bracken: (1/11) More books in the Darkest Minds series? Need I say more? Plus, it’s more short stories, and Bracken’s Through the Dark was one of my favorite short story collections ever. It’s safe to say I’m SUPER excited about this one.

Love Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed: (1/16) Ownvoices Indian and Muslim rep in YA, plus an amazing premise that combines real world issues and with growing up as a teenager in this, let’s be honest, kind of broken world.

A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi: (1/23) This story is narrated by Destiny, which gives me so many The Book Thief vibes, plus it’s something that’s happening in the world today. It is absolutely going to break me, but I know I’ll love every minute of it.

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Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann: (1/23) All I can say about this is – ASEXUAL (AND BIROMANTIC??) MAIN CHARACTER. I swear I read that this was a thing and I cried. More asexual girls like me in books please. On top of that, she’s black, and we got a GORGEOUS POC on the cover. This is by far the one I’m most excited for and no one can take away this joy.

The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary by NoNieqa Ramos: (2/1) I’m a sucker for books with unique formatting – and this book is told in the style of a dictionary. On top of that the premise looks amazing and it’s going to make me incredibly emotional.

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton: (2/6) Again, stunning cover with a POC.  The entirety of this book and its premise sounds so atmospheric, and I love the idea of “using beauty/powers in unexpected ways”.

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The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Surmelis: (1/30) One of my favorite tropes is friends-to-lovers and this one looks amazing. Excuse me while I go fangirl for forever. I can also tell that this one is going to break me… like most of the others on this list.

All Out: The No-Longer Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages by Saundra Mitchell: (2/27) Queer anthologies are a thing I could read for literally my entire life and never get tired of. Queer teen anthologies? I’m sorry but I needed this book yesterday, and I can NOT wait.

Bygone Badass Broads: 52 Forgotten Women Who Changed the World by Mackenzie Lee: (3/6) Obscure/erased history is the ONLY kind of history I care about. Hidden Figures might be my favorite movie of all time just for that reason. This book is exactly that but about soooo many more women. Sign me up!

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Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones: (3/13) This book looks like it’s going to leave me an absolute wreck, which means I need it immediately. Plus, it has Indigenous rep, which we need so much more of in YA.

Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff: (3/13) I’ve loved the first two books in this series, and I’m so ready to see how it ends. On top of that, the unique formatting is soooo cool and the book looks amazing in person.

Nothing But Sky by Amy Trueblood: (3/27)  High stakes trick flying in the 20s? I’m already so sold. I adore books set in the 20s, and female pilots are my jam. I was also lucky enough to get an ARC of this book that I need to read ASAP.

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Neverland by Margot McGovern: (4/1) Neverland, but a home for mentally ill kids? I want to go to there, please and thanks. Is this book going to destroy me? Probably. Do I need it? YES.

Someday, Somewhere by Lindsay Champion: (4/3) As a musician, if you tell me there is a book about a musician, I am guaranteed to read it. Music and reading are the two greatest passions in my life (besides tea and cats), so when they get combined I fall in love immediately.

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli: (4/24) So far both of Albertalli’s books have made it onto my all-time-favorites list, and this one is already pretty dang close even though I haven’t read it yet, JUST because of the FAT GIRL ON THE COVER. I am so happy. Also, it’s Leah, and I love Leah.

Honorable Mentions: 

 You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon (1/2)

– Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles (3/20)

– American Panda by Gloria Chao (2/6)

What books are you excited for? Let me know so I can add them to my list!

-Sky

 

Review: American Panda

american-panda-9781481499101_hrAmerican Panda by Gloria Chao

Release Date: February 6, 2018

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Trigger Warnings: germophobia, death, emotional abuse/difficult family relationships, racism

My Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Summary: At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents’ master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies. With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can’t bring herself to tell them the truth–that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese. But when Mei reconnects with her brother, Xing, who is estranged from the family for dating the wrong woman, Mei starts to wonder if all the secrets are truly worth it. Can she find a way to be herself, whoever that is, before her web of lies unravels?

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My Review

I received this book as an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Prefacing this review by saying that I’m pretty sick as I’m writing this, so I’m trying to make this as coherent as possible, but it might not be, so apologies in advance. I knew going into this book that it was going to be really good, and it definitely didn’t disappoint me, but it also wasn’t quite what I expected it to be. I thought this book was going to be a dorky and funny contemporary that approached some difficult topics in a lighthearted way. This is not that book. It had its comedic moments, but in general this felt like a pretty heavy book. There also wasn’t as much of a focus on the romance as I was expecting.

Ultimately, this book is a character study. It examines the insanely complex and dynamic relationships between Mei and her family members, as well as the realities of Asian and immigrant culture in the United States today. All of these topics are things that I know very little about, and learning about Asian and Taiwanese/Chinese culture in particular was fascinating. I loved the portrait that this book painted of Mei’s family, especially the relationships between Mei and her mom, and Mei and her brother. I wish there had been a bit more exploration of Mei’s relationship with her father, but I loved how much character development that Chao managed to fit into so many of the book’s main characters.

Mei and Darren were also adorable, and I wish we’d gotten to see a bit more of their relationship over the course of the story. Their relationship was “adorkable” and super cute, but I appreciated that they had their own struggles in their relationship outside of their family and it definitely wasn’t perfect. It was also really interesting to see the development of the relationship between Mei and her roommate, Nicolette. College roommates can either go really well, or really badly, and Mei and Nicolette felt like a pretty accurate picture of that balance.

Mei also suffers from germophobia and anxiety, and while I don’t personally suffer from germophobia, I have people in my family who do, and this depiction felt very accurate (I’m not sure if it’s #ownvoices for this rep). I do, however, suffer from anxiety, and this also was a very relatable aspect of the story, particularly the focus on simultaneously wanting to make your family proud but constantly worrying that you will disappoint them.

Overall, while this book wasn’t as funny or light-hearted as I was expecting, it was a beautiful and fascinating character study that you should absolutely be counting down the days to. We need more books like this in the world.

-Sky

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: New to Me Authors I Read in 2017

Hello!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme: Top Ten New To Me Authors I Read in 2017. I think I said in a previous post that I read 22 books in 2017 that made it to my all-time-favorites shelf. Most of those books were by authors I had never read before. So, in order to highlight some of those favorites that didn’t quite make it to my top ten, I’m going to leave the books on my Top 10 Books of 2017 with new-to-me authors off this list. These are in no particular order.

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1. Destiny Soria

This book reminded me so much of The Diviners, and I absolutely loved the ambiance of the ~20s. Using art to have profound effects on people is such an interesting and beautiful idea, and Destiny Soria executed it perfectly. She also wrote fantastically diverse and complex characters who I fell in love with from page one. I can’t wait to see what she writes in the future, because this book was amazing.

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2. Maurene Goo

I wasn’t expecting this book to be a new favorite, but from page one Desi’s ridiculous shenanigans and embarrassing flailures (flirting failures) had me hooked. I hardly ever laugh out loud when I’m reading but I laughed so much reading this. It was cute, funny, and it made me want to watch every Korean drama. We have a new book coming out by Maurene Goo in 2018 and I cannot wait.

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3. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I read two of Adichie’s books this year, both under 100 pages in length, and they both ended up on my all-time-favorites list. Adichie puts all of my thoughts on feminism and gender equality into such perfect and concise words. I want everyone on this earth to read her books and just let all the powerful words seep in to their brains. I’m looking forward to reading some of Adichie’s novels next year.

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4. Emery Lord

I’m not entirely sure why it took me so long to pick up an Emery Lord book, but I’m so glad I did. Her books have a way of sweeping you off your feet and really immersing you in the lives of the characters. I got so invested in both of the books I read by her this year, and they both absolutely wrecked my emotions. I even stayed up until 2am so I could get as far as possible in The Names They Gave Us, because I just didn’t want to put it down.

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5. Terry Pratchett

Ok, I know I said I wouldn’t include any books from my Top 10 list, but I couldn’t resist adding Terry Pratchett. It makes me so happy that there are so many books that he wrote for me to read, because his books are absolutely amazing. They aren’t at all what I was expecting initially going in, but it was the best surprise. I’m definitely going to be reading more of his books in the future.

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6. Kasie West

I adored both of the Kasie West books that I read this year. I like that they’re a blend of contemporary fluff that I live for and more difficult topics like death, illnesses, and class relations. I also got way more emotional than I was expecting to when I read her books. I’m looking forward to picking up more of her books in the future.

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7. Jenny Han

I can’t believe it took me so long to pick up this series, honestly. It’s just a bit ridiculous. Jenny Han’s books are, like Maurene Goo’s book, absolutely hilarious. There are so many awkward situations that made me laugh, and on top of that the romance is one of the cutest I’ve ever read. I was expecting to be a bit disappointed by the second book, where a kind of love triangle is introduced, but it couldn’t have been done more perfectly. Lara Jean’s family is definitely my favorite family I’ve ever read about. They were all really developed characters who grew over the course of the series, and I loved getting to read about their lives.

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8. Riley Redgate

Any author who literally arranges music to go along with her book is going to become an instant favorite. This book was funny and incredibly relatable, since I went to an arts high school. I didn’t ever think I’d enjoy a book about an a cappella group, and yet here we are. This was definitely a pleasant surprise. I’ve also heard amazing things about her other book Seven Ways We Lie, so I know I’m going to enjoy that.

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9. Mackenzi Lee

This book was everything I wanted it to be and more, and I’m so ready for her next book to come out. Mackenzi Lee’s writing is witty, heart-wrenching, and her characters are so relatable. Monty is the literal embodiment of how much of a wuss I am when it comes to pain tolerance. I have a low threshold for pain, people. It’s also great that Mackenzi Lee is focusing on diverse historical fiction that doesn’t shy away from the realities of diversity in the past. I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

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10. Morgan Matson

Here we have yet another author that it took me wayyyy too long to get to. I mean I really have no excuse. How could I resist a book about dogs? Morgan Matson’s writing was so seamless, and I loved how even though there were a lot of characters, I could always tell what was going on. I also enjoyed the plethora of story lines that Matson managed to fit into one book, especially with how detailed she got. I’m going to be picking up more of her books very soon.

What were your favorite authors you discovered in 2017? Tell me in the comments!

-Sky

 

 

 

2018 Reading and Blogging Goals

Happy New Year!!

2017 is finally over, and 2018 is here. I’m really excited to kick off this year with new goals, new books, and new blog posts. I was able to meet (and exceed) most of my reading goals for 2017, but not really any of my blogging goals. So, while I’m adding a bunch of reading goals this year, I’m also focusing on really improving the content on this blog. I also want to know what things you like about this blog, and what you’d like to see change, so please feel free to leave me feedback in the comments! Without further ado, on to my 2018 Goals!

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Reading Goals

Goodreads Challenge: I massively exceeded my goal for 2017, so I wanted to challenge myself a bit more in 2018. I’m going to be shooting for 150 books.

Top 12 to Read in 2018: Like last year, I wanted to make a list of specific books I want to knock of my TBR this year.

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Beat the Backlist Challenge @ NovelKnight Book Reviews: Initially I was going to set my goal for this to be 12 books, but then I realized that I’m going to read so many backlist books this year (especially from 2017) so I’ve decided to up my standards. I’d like to read 60 books from my backlist this year.

2018 Debut Author Challenge @ That Artsy Reader Girl: There are so many amazing books coming out in 2018, so I want to try to read as many as possible, but for now I’m setting a minimum goal of 12 books written by debut authors in 2018.

Read It Again, Sam Challenge @ My Reader’s Block: I can hardly ever convince myself to reread books, because it makes me feel guilty about not reading all the books I haven’t yet read. I have a huge list of books I want to reread, though, so I’m going to start tackling that list in 2018. I’m going to start off with the A Trip Down Memory Lane level, which is a minimum of 12 books.

Finishing the Series Challenge @ Celebrity Readers: I started a bunch of new series this year, and I’d really like to push myself to getting around to finishing them. This challenge requires that you have started the series before 2018 for it to count, so this will definitely be helpful. I’m planning on completing the B-list Series Finisher level, which is completing 5-8 series.

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Blogging Challenges

 2018 Book Blog Discussion Challenge hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight!: Last year I set a goal to do more discussions, but this year I’m actually joining an official challenge! I’m shooting for the Creative Conversationalist title – 11-20 discussion posts.

What are your reading/blogging goals for 2018? What do you want to see from me in the coming year? Tell me in the comments!

-Sky