January 2017 in Review

February 1, 2017



After a year of using the same format for my Month in Review posts, I’m making some changes:

  • Instead of the List of Reads section including my read and currently reading books, it now only includes read books and my top recommendations/disrecommendation for the month.
  • The Challenge Update is gone. If you are interested in following my challenge progress, check it out here!
  • Tsundoku Life is getting a makeover. Here I will include an update on how much my TBR has grown, my next month TBR, updates on my yearly goals, and any bookish updates from by blog you might have missed. My TBR will include challenge books for each month, too, so you can check out my challenge updates this way if you are interested, as well.

That’s not all the change you’ll see this year! I want to rethink a bit about how I blog. I’ve been blogging exclusively for me until this point. While what I think and want is still important, I’ve learned a lot over the year from my peers. I have been critically looking at other reviewer posts, and I hope to slowly tweak my posting style over this year and fine tune it to meet my needs, as well as that of my readership. I want to make this blog scream JACKIE B a bit more, and less… generic blog.


List of Reads

Thanks to Bout of Books 18 I had a great start to my year for reading as far as books read is concerned. That said, I’ve never experienced a month so all over the place as far as writing style, content, character development, and overall enjoyment. I ranged from reading 1 star to 5 star books and covered genres such as nonfiction, poetry, dystopia, fantasy, and philosophy. It was just a weird month for reading.

January Books:

Read 16 total books


MUST READ this month:

George – Picking a top book for this month was challenging as I had so many 5 star books! While I only finished George last night, I think it’s the most important book I read. I adored American Gods and The Alchemist, but I think more people need to be exposed to George’s story. Alex Gino’s heartbreaking tale about a 4th grader who knows that she is really a girl. It’s the struggle George goes through trying to help people understand what she knows so innately. Being in the shoes of a transgender person coping with this transition was eye opening. I think everyone should read this. It’s short, and middle grade, so get your kids reading it too! [Review to come; in the meanwhile, check out Goodreads!]


DANGER! Avoid this month:
The Bad Beginning – Now, don’t get mad at me– but I just couldn’t get into the first Series of Unfortunate Events books. Everyone I know who loves them read them as a child. They were not a part of my childhood; I didn’t hear of them until college. Unfortunately, nothing really clicked with me. I felt like Lemony Snicket, as the narrator, was condescending. I found all the characters to be flat and dull. I wasn’t invested in anyone or the plot. I just… I didn’t care.


Tsundoku Life

It wouldn’t be tsundoku if I didn’t have a gigantic pile of books waiting for me!

As most of you know, tsundoku means the act of leaving a book unread after acquiring it, typically piled up together with other unread books on shelves, floors, or nightstandsIn my case, I get most of my books from the library. But, having 30 books checked out and waiting to be read can be overwhelming. I interpret my tsundoku as a combination of the physical books waiting to be read, but also the gigantic TBR I have listed. My goal? SHRINK THE TBR.

This month I acquired 8 new physical books! Yikes. That’s a bit more than I would have liked. Three were giveaway wins (YAY!), the remaining 5 were gifts or review copies. I need to stop requesting review copies… O_o

I started a new series of posts about book clubs which I am really excited about. Getting involved in book clubs and bookish discussions as an adult have really ignited a passion for reading in me. I am passionate about helping people understand why book clubs are important and make them a part of their lives. Check out my first book here: Building Better Book Clubs.


February TBR:

  • Our Shared Shelf- The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler
  • Kids Lit – Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
  • West Side Stories – Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
  • Brunch Books – A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab
  • VACB Book Club – Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
  • Popsugar Challenge – George by Alex Gino
  • Read Harder Challenge – Faith, Vol. 1: Hollywood and Vine by Jody Houser, Francis Portela, and Marguerite Sauvage

This TBR isn’t the most challenging I’ve ever had, which means I will probably have time to read some books I want to read! Be still my beating heart.


2017 Goal Update:

  • Never have a backlog of more than 5 books which need to be reviewed: Ugh. I am not doing well with this. I already have 8 books this year I’ve read but not written a review for. I need to sit down this weekend and just write.
  • Spend 5 minutes a day blog hopping: This has been pretty good! I’ve found that I am spending closer to 20 minutes a day doing this, but it occurs in 5-minute chunks between meetings at work. That’s not too bad. I missed a few days due to being ill (lame!), but I feel like I’m finally developing a habit!
  • Expand the book discussion question database by at least one book a month: Hahaha! I completely forgot this was a goal until right now. Good thing I put this update in here. O_o
  • Maintain posting twice a week: On target! Some weeks had a few more (I’m looking at you, Bout of Books), but I’m on track which feels great.
  • Participate in 5 cross-post style events: Bout of Books was the first cross-posting event I participated in this year. I don’t know if I’m going to count things like Naz’s Read Diverse Books 2017 linkup… What do you think?
  • Make the Thanksgiving Readathon with Ottavia a real thing! This is something we’ll chat about closer to Thanksgiving. Probably early Q3.
  • Expand my non-book review posts: I was going to start with my Between the Lines series and get that back in the swing of things, but I was so excited about Building Better Book Clubs I couldn’t not start there! I already have a few posts scheduled, which I am super excited about. Now we know where all my review post writing time went… O_o


That’s it for January! What a whirlwind. I can’t wait to hear how your months went. Looking forward to February!

Happy Reading,

Jackie B.

Jackie B Forman

What do you think?

  • What do you think of this change to my monthly review?
  • Any additional suggestions on how to make this post more interesting?
  • What do you think of linkups counting towards my cross-posting goal?
  • How was your first month of 2017 reads?


  • Diana February 1, 2017 at 12:46 pm

    16 books is really impressive and I like how diverse the books were.I need to read George soon.

    Have a wonderful February and all the best with all the plans that you have.

    • Jackie B February 4, 2017 at 5:37 pm

      Thanks, Diana! There are so many great books out there it’s hard for me to stick to a single genre. Plus, there are a ton of books featuring diversity! I certainly can’t keep up. O_o

  • Books, Vertigo and Tea February 1, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    I do not know how you manage to accomplish so much reading and still find time to compose such stellar and organized posts and reviews!

    • Jackie B February 4, 2017 at 5:38 pm

      Thanks, Danielle! Well, honestly, it’s pretty time consuming to write a review, so this is why I am behind on writing them. O_o I am picky about my own writing. I just need to make more time for it somehow, I guess. There is always a sacrifice. 😀

  • LairOfBooks February 1, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    I don’t know how you manage but 16 books read is EPIC! I commend you Jackie 😉 Love the mixture of genres as well as the diversity I’m seeing *High fives ya* I’ve been meaning to p/u George & Binti, def boosting that up on my TBR. I cannot stop buying ALL of the books either! *eeeeK* or requesting books for review smh…I even had to create a spreadsheet to keep track with reading/reviews *covers eyes* I hope you meet all of your goals this year <3!

    • Jackie B February 4, 2017 at 5:55 pm

      Thanks, Lilly! In the winter, I run on a treadmill indoors. Thanks to sweet eBook technology, I just blow up the font size, run a few steps, swipe, and repeat. It’s easy, and it means I tend to run longer distances if I have a great book, too!
      I look forward to seeing your reviews on those books (well, and my own too– I really need to write them! O_o)– they were great, and I can’t stop telling people to read them. Yay for diverse books!

  • Resh Susan @ The Book Satchel February 1, 2017 at 9:34 pm

    That is a good reading month. I am glad you loved American Gods. I hope to read it one day. I have Akata witch on the TBR as well. Good luck with new features on the blog that u have in mind and also with your resolutions.

    • Jackie B February 5, 2017 at 1:05 pm

      Thanks, Resh Susan! I love it when our TBRs align. 🙂 I can’t wait to expand on my ideas. Hopefully they will turn out well!

  • YAandWine February 1, 2017 at 10:21 pm

    Wow, 16!!! That’s awesome! Congrats.

    • Jackie B February 5, 2017 at 1:06 pm

      Thanks! I obviously spent more time reading than writing reviews.. O_o But! I hope to rectify that this month. We shall see.

  • MyBookJacket February 3, 2017 at 10:14 am

    I completely agreed wth you on a series of unfortunate events. It just didn’t click for me. Alas. You’ve had a pretty good reading month!

    • Jackie B February 5, 2017 at 1:08 pm

      Yay! I’m glad I’m not alone. Thanks for validating that. 🙂 I think I had a weird month for reading; it was all over the place with ratings. But I had some great reads. I hope the momentum stays with me all year.

  • Amanda @Cover2CoverMom February 5, 2017 at 8:30 am

    16 books! I’m seriously impressed! I also really enjoyed George and The Alchemist! I am hoping to have my review up for George this month.

    Will you be reviewing Eligible, Binti, and/or American Gods? I am very curious about those in particular.

    I will also be reading A Gathering of Shadows this month in preparation for V.E. Schwab’s book tour for A Conjuring of Light. Can’t wait to see what you think!

    • Jackie B February 5, 2017 at 1:17 pm

      Thanks! I love your review of The Alchemist. I started to write my own, and I just keep thinking about yours instead… I just keep stalling out on it! I hope to review it, as well as the other books listen above. I’m just so far behind on my reviews! O_o I can’t wait to finally sit down and get to them. I am such a slacker.

  • Chris C Barnett February 5, 2017 at 9:29 am

    Wow. Sixteen! Very impressive. And here’s me feeling all proud of myself for reading 7. Congratulations.

    • Jackie B February 5, 2017 at 3:22 pm

      Haha– thanks, Chris! I don’t watch TV, have kids, or any of that. So, I find it fairly easy to read double digits worth of books when that’s all my free time is. 7 is a great number, too!!

  • Laila@BigReadingLife February 6, 2017 at 11:06 am

    Wonderful diversity in your reading!

    When I feel behind in my reviewing, I usually do some mini-reviews, maybe combine two or three mini-reviews in one post. In fact, I’m considering doing that this week, since my reading is out-pacing my blogging. 🙂 And sometimes I don’t review every book I read.

    I really need to read George. Thanks for the reminder!

    • Jackie B February 8, 2017 at 4:52 pm

      Mini reviews! That’s brilliant. I have only done a few of them, and I tend to think of them as appropriate for picture books. Why? Because I typically write more words than the story contains… O_o It’s also nice to know what I’m not the only one who doesn’t review every book. It’s okay to let it go.

  • AvalinahsBooks February 11, 2017 at 3:56 am

    Oh my gosh, you’ve read like a bazillion books in January! That’s insane. Meanwhile I am like 6 books behind for my goal. But I can’t help it, I’ve been SOS busy lately, working till 8 nearly every day 🙁 come Saturday and I forget this is a day you don’t work on, it’s like some crazy surprise. I haven’t even been able to visit blogs. I have loads of Paper Fury and Book Bones Buffy newsletters in my inbox, and now I’m catching up with your blog.
    I have a review due and I’ve thought of another post, but I just have no time to write it… I had a hiatusey-feeling for over two weeks after my blog went down and some content got destroyed as well. Ready to come back now, just gotta make the time.
    The good news though, is that a friend of mine has told me he’d help with a makeover for my blog, cause he actually does that stuff. I’m really excited, although I’m still not sure when we’ll both make time for that.

    • Jackie B February 13, 2017 at 9:59 am

      Aw, thanks Evelina! It means a lot to me that you’re taking time to visit my blog when life is super crazy for you! I can completely relate. I’ve got a HUGE work project in the works and I am barely visiting the blogs. It makes me sad, as I would rather socialize with my blogger network, but c’est la vie!

      You take time for yourself and make certain your health and happiness comes first. Your faithful readers will be there when you return. That said, I’m super excited for your makeover! I think the whole aesthetic thing is critical, but I’m terrible at it. O_o I look forward to your updates when you have time. 🙂

      • AvalinahsBooks February 16, 2017 at 2:19 pm

        I’m also excited, I just hope my friend keeps his promise 😀 I hope your work project also clears up soon so you can get back to the blog!

        • Jackie B February 17, 2017 at 1:14 pm

          I hope they do, too! There is a ton of fun involved in getting a blog overhaul. 🙂 It’s on my eventual To Do list, but, well, I don’t have a friend who does this sort of thing. We’ll see where I get in the future. Perhaps an anniversary gift to Future Jackie? 😀

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