May 2017 Month in Review

June 1, 2017

Newsworthy

May was quite a productive month! My soon-to-be father-in-law and uncle came to visit and helped replace the cracked siding on the house. My mother came to visit and we did some wedding planning. I performed in a band concert, really started to dig into my new job, I celebrated my birthday (yay me!), and we finalized all the details for our trip to Croatia! Quite a busy month in my personal life, for sure. 

My bookish life was always quite busy. Getting my blog back up was really unfinished in April, so my AWESOME Admin (<3 you DarthGoat) helped me wrap some things up this month. I learned a TON from that experience; you can expect a full post on that in the future. I finished all my work with the Empty Pages writing club. It was incredibly fulfilling participating in this project with them. In fact, they gave me the greatest compliment I think I’ve gotten as an adult, that I am “critical without soul-crushing”. D’aw. I look forward to working with them more in the future!

Finally, I also joined up with Jane @ Greenish Bookshelf to co-host an Anne of Green Gables read along. This has been an incredibly rewarding partnership only in the past few weeks. Jane has some brilliant ideas and I’m so glad to get to know her in this way. Plus, I can’t wait to share my posts, discussion questions, Top 5 lists, giveaways, and more. Join in the fun with #AnneReadAlong2017 !

 

List of Reads

May was an interesting month for everything it seems, including reading. I read a variety of books from different genres and they all received a variety of different ratings. I read fiction and non-fiction. Short stories, graphic novels, kids books, adult books, classics, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy and more. Honestly, it’s really satisfying looking back at the whole month.

May Books:

Read 12 total books

 

 

MUST READ this month:

Hattie Big Sky – There were so many good books this month! How could I even pick one? But there is something about Hattie Big Sky which still speaks to me long after I’ve finished reading the book. I learned so much about being a Honyocker, WWI anti-German sentiment, and how to general persevere when life gets hard. There are a lot of great lessons in Hattie Big Sky, all of them still relevant today, and told through the eyes of captivating characters and settings.

 

Meh. I wasn’t into it this month:

The Higher Power of Lucky –  This is the first Newbery Prize-winning book which I read and thought to myself, “Why did this win?” Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great book. It’s a story about grief, sadness, and loss which younger children should be able to relate to easily. But it just didn’t do anything for me.

 

Challenge Updates

I’m making slow by steady progress on my yearly reading challenges. I’m about where I should be for June, which feels great. I was anxious at the beginning of May that I was lagging behind. Can’t stop, won’t stop!

  • Overall Reading Challenge: 65/110 (59%)
  • Listopia Challenge: 8/15 (53%)
  • PopSugar Reading Challenge: 21/52 (40%)
  • Read Harder Challenge: 13/24 (54%)

 

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 nightstands. In my case, I get most of my books from the library. But, having 21 books checked out and waiting to be read can be overwhelming (even if it is down from the 31 I had last month!). 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 bought two books according to Amazon, however, one of them is the Complete Anne of Green Gables Boxed set. So, according to Amazon I only bought two books… that counts as two, right? But in all seriousness, I also won a giveaway hosted by Danielle @ Books, Vertigo, and Tea (4 e-books!) and one by Melanie @ Grab the Lapels (so excited for this book to arrive!) and I couldn’t feel more blessed. But that means I acquired 15 new books this month. Not great for the TBR, but I’m excited to read them all!

In April, my pile was 1,398 books. Now…

 

Unlike the previous few months, I didn’t set aside time to do a Goodreads culling. So, the drop in my TBR isn’t that large compared to previous months. There was just too much going on! Oh well. Perhaps this month I’ll prioritize the culling?

June TBR:

  • Our Shared Shelf  – The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Kids Lit – Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • West Side Stories – A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  • Brunch Books – Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • VACB Book Club – Janesville: An American Story by Amy Goldstein
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy Book Club: Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel
  • Popsugar Challenge – Stuart Little by E. B. White
  • Read Harder Challenge – Bomb: The Race to Build – and Steal – the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
  • Listopia Challenge – Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

With the upcoming trip to Croatia, I’m not particularly worried about getting my reading time in. Yay vacation!Thank goodness for my Kindle, as well, or I’d never get to them all. That would be far too many books to travel with. 😉

 

2017 Goal Update:

  • Never have a backlog of more than 5 books which need to be reviewed:
    • I was only successful in this one month this year. It was January. I almost wonder why I am even trying.
  • Spend 5 minutes a day blog hopping:
    • I was really close this month, but not quite daily. I’ll try harder (sans vacation) this month!
  • Expand the book discussion question database by at least one book a month:
    • Alas, I also didn’t make this happen this month. But I have hopes to put together discussion questions for Anne as well as A Handmaid’s Tale before too long. Here’s hoping!
  • Maintain posting twice a week:
    • I missed this by one day, sadly. I posted on May 8th and again on May 16th, meaning 7 days had passed. But, I made up for it with my Empty Pages Writing Club posts! Thanks to Marie @ Drizzle and Hurricane Books I now have a sweet schedule tool I’m trying to stick to. So far, so good!
  • Participate in 5 cross-post style events:
  • 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:
    • NAILED IT. This month I had 6 non-book review posts. Now, that’s a higher ratio than I’d like, but it was an anomaly due to the Empty Pages Writing Club review posts. And I’m counting those as non-book-review. There should be at least two a month going forward, but hopefully three with my Building Better Book Clubs series coming back.

Okay. Yeah. I really stunk at my goals this month. I need to stay focused and on track going forward, for sure. But I’m not worried– yet. 😉 I CAN DO THIS!

It’s hard to believe summer is finally here. Are you ready? I know I am. There is so much to do and I couldn’t be more excited to work towards all the reading, reviews, and other bookish goals. Bring it on!

 

Happy Reading,

Jackie B.

Jackie B Forman


What do you think?

  • What are your summer plans? What books are on your summer TBR?
  • What was your favorite blog post/book read in May?
  • Are you on track for your reading goals for this year? Where are you winning and where are you behind?
  • There is so much damn text in this post. What should I cut for future Month in Reviews? What suggestions do you have for improvements? I am not afraid of your feedback. 😉

35 Comments

  • Laura Purdy June 1, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    Ooh, I have read 3 of your June books – Handmaid’s Tale, Clockwork Orange, Fahrenheit 451. Apparently I have a thing for dystopia novels….

    I finished up the Shades of Magic Trilogy, and although it definitely wasn’t perfect I did find it super addicting and a fun fast read I couldn’t put down. Working my way through American Gods at the moment, we’ll see what happens next! I just mooch off of what John checks out from the library.

    • Jackie B June 6, 2017 at 6:18 pm

      Haha– There are some great dystopian novels! I don’t blame you. In fact, in the introduction to Fahrenheit 451’s 60th Anniversary edition Neil Gaiman addresses the difference between speculative fiction and dystopia in a way which FINALLY made sense to me. So, I’d challenge that Fahrenheit is actually speculative fiction. 😉

      I digress.

      I love that you are just picking up whatever John checks out from the library. And it makes me super happy seeing so many of the books I’ve read recently in that pile! Yes, Shades of Magic wasn’t perfect, but I <3 Alucard. So. Much. It was really addicting; Schwab does great things with pacing and character development throughout the whole novel. I also love American Gods, because, well, Neil Gaiman. <3

  • Anna @MyBookishDream June 2, 2017 at 3:24 am

    It sounds like you had a rather good month! I hope you have fun on your trip to Croatia. Have you ever been there before? I used to go there each summer with my family. 😀
    I have heard so many amazing things about Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda and I really want to read it. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it! 🙂 The only book from your June TBR that I have read is Fahrenheit 451 and I really enjoyed that book, it was such an interesting read.

    • Jackie B June 6, 2017 at 6:12 pm

      No, I’ve never been to Croatia! It’s a HUGE pain in the butt to get there from Madison, Wisconsin USA. O_o Any suggestions for things to do/places to see? We are spending a week in Dubrovnik, 4 days in Zadar, and 4 days in Motovun. We’ll have a car the last 8 days. Right now we’re thinking day trips to Split, Montenegro, and Lokrum when we are in Dubrovnik. And seeing Plitvice when we are in Zadar– but that’s it for the 2.5 week itinerary right now! All suggestions are welcome. 😀

      I can’t wait to read Simon; I’ve also heard great things about it! I just finished Fahrenheit 451 and I have a lot of emotions to work out. I really enjoyed many things, but I felt like the execution was off, which is frustrating. We’ll see how the review ends up highlighting it! Often times I don’t suss out my feelings until I’ve written my review. It’s very cathartic. 🙂

      • Anna @MyBookishDream June 8, 2017 at 7:13 pm

        Wow, traveling that long seriously seems like a pain! I’m lucky that I live in Europe so it isn’t that far. Especially since I’m originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina (which is literary next to Croatia). Out from those places you mentioned I have been to Dubrovnik and Split and I can recommend both cities a lot! They are really beautiful and fun to explore. My favourite is definitely Split, I really want to visit again some time in the future. I really hope that you have an amazing time and a safe trip! 🙂 Plitvice are also very beautiful, the nature there is simply gorgeous.
        I did also have some mixed feelings about Fahrenheit 451, I agree about the execution not being the best but I really enjoyed the overall massage and I had a lot of fun reading it. I will look forward to your review then!

  • whatthelog June 2, 2017 at 3:50 am

    Oooh, Croatia! That should be amazing! And get back to me when you can – no rush 🙂

    • Jackie B June 6, 2017 at 6:13 pm

      I cannot wait! And thanks for the low-pressure response. I have some ideas, but life is a bit nuts right now. O_o I can barely keep things in line it seems. Oops.

  • KrystiYAandWine June 2, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    Lady, you are KILLING it on those reading goals! And I’m so excited for your that you’re going to Croatia. That should be an amazing experience!

    • Jackie B June 6, 2017 at 6:03 pm

      D’aw. Thank you! I’m trying so hard. It’s much harder this year than I thought it would be… I think I might cut back on the reading challenges next year, though. Popsugar AND Read Harder are both together a bit overwhelming. Hopefully, I can maintain through the end of the year!

      I’m super psyched to go to Croatia. I can’t wait to share all my awesome photos. Perhaps I’ll get some sweet bookish photos too?!

  • AvalinahsBooks June 2, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    Oh man, I need to do a month recap as well! Just been so tired, I can’t even! And you’ve mentioned me again <3

    Question about the readalong. I have not written my post yet (bear with me), but is there a linkup? Where?? P.S. Can't wait to start with Anne of Avonlea, I miss Anne so much already!

    Also, your pic does not show correctly on my browser. Look, I've made a screenshot, you might want to ask your admin. I will make a separate comment with the link as it will probably spam me again 😀

    Also!! I also read 12 books in May! Aren't we like.. bloggish sisters 😀 except I don't have awesome almmost-reddish hair. (Wait, do you, or is that Goodreads photo a hoax? :D)

    Also, Jackie. WOULD YOU KINDLY add me to some sort of messenger you use? Facebook? Anything? I sometimes need to fangirl and right now our communication is sort of like.. Almost snail mail standards here 😀 c'mon. We can SO do better than this.

    Really, the Newberry was disappointing? That's too bad, cause I was just gonna ask about it. The cover looks so promising… We are trash for good covers, aren't we. LOL

    Also, what about that "Attachments" email plan there? I didn't get one xD

    BTW. What is your Listopia challenge?

    ANNE OF GREEN GABLES BOXED SET. WOMAN. SHOW ME THOSE PICS.

    Oh, also, also! I have something very exciting, and if I had your messaging contact, I would so be spamming you right now. Cause my sister! My awesome sister, she lives in Chicago. And Kate Moore, the author of The Radium Girls was visiting on her tour (as some of the girls were from Chicago and Ottawa)… Long story short, SHE GOT ME A SIGNED COPY!!! That should probably explain you why this comment of mine has SO MANY CAPS. I JUST CAN'T EVEN. I'm just so excited! Will drop a Twitter link in the promised content along with the screenshot. And by the way, not JUST signed. Signed for meeee!!

    What's the sweet schedule tool you use, BTW? For posts? I actually started scheduling myself, because I realized, it's not really going to work for me, especially if I write reviews for ARCs early. So scheduling actually works! I even "schedule" my Goodreads review (as most of my traffic comes from there) – I schedule an email for myself, get it and upload it through the phone. Now if only I hadn't completely drenched my phone in a killer rain two days ago and were able to use it now #5montholdphone #FML

    Anyway!

    • Jackie B June 20, 2017 at 2:13 pm

      OHEMGEE. I am SO SORRY. I thought I replied to this– but I must have gotten distracted by you asking me to check out your Twitter and the signed book and we started chatting and BAM: Here we are, 18 days later… O_o Just know I didn’t mean to ignore this. Ugh. Worst.

      I love mentioning you in my posts. You are soooo good for me and my blogging. A constant beacon of support and bookish love. You encourage me to read outside my box, you have consistent dialogues with me, and you don’t judge my long-ish absences when life gets crazy. This relationship means a lot to me. We are TOTALLY bloggish sisters. #Sappy #DontCare

      We got you on that link up! I’ve read your post about 8 billion times now (seriously), but I keep getting interrupted in the middle of going to post my comment. I will get there!

      I’ve actually been really surprised about how these Newbery winners have occasionally disappointed me. Often times, I find that the Honor books are more my speed. I need to learn more about the award process. How are books chosen? Perhaps that will help me figure it out. That said, most Newbery books (winner or honor, it doesn’t matter) are completely engrossing and almost life changing. Hattie Big Sky really touched me. I’ve got to write that review. For sure. But, if I catch up on my Newbery reviews then my blog will suddenly be just MG/YA. O_o Eh. We’ll see. 😉

      For my Listopia challenge I am working on reading all the Newbery Award winners before 2022 (as you know) and the 100th anniversary of the Newbery Award. I also am slowly working my way through the Rory Gilmore reading challenge list– but honestly, there isn’t a lot which has been catching my eye there lately. When I started this challenge, I thought that I’d be so well read and cultured when I was done. But, I’m finding that most of these books, while famous and/or classic, are just not my speed. I’m considering giving it up. Thoughts?

      My schedule tool came to me via Marie @ Drizzle & Hurricane Books
      who got it via Reg @ She Latitude. You can find the template here. I’m not great at sticking to it, but keeping things more visible like this has helped a ton. I’m at least more aware of how long it’s been since I’ve posted… #Inconsistent #BadAtIt #AmIARealBlogger?

      You are my favorite. Forgive my negligence in replying!

      • AvalinahsBooks June 20, 2017 at 2:38 pm

        Awwwww awwwww you just made my heart thaw and I totally shared this on my Twitter and hope you don’t mind xD that was so lovely! What crazy day is this today? I was talking to Cait (PaperFury) and she thanked me for being super supportive, then Dragonfly said she absolutely loves me and my posts, and NOW THIS! All in one day!!!! I’m seriously gonna be super sappy and aww-ey today 😀 thank youuu! Means a lot to me. I often throw loads of love at people and sometimes it just doesn’t reach them. I feel like those Williams kids I wrote about in my last review must feel 😀

        As for awards. I don’t know if I’d ever sign up for reading everything in a row because the way they’re chosen, it’s a jury, I think. Often times it’s not very big either. So I can see how three older guys choosing a winner might not be my cup of tea. Honestly? I think Mortal Engines was a winner. That book was so badly written, what the heck even?
        But still, I think it’s a really really awesome goal and I think you shouldn’t drop it! In fact, I might take up one of my own like that, but if I did, it would probably be Nebula. I’ve heard pretty much all of those are wonderful and don’t disappoint.
        But! Before you drop the Newberies, please read A Wrinkle In Time. It’s amazing. I’ve got a Goodreads review from years back when I wasn’t a blogger yet. I loved that book so much. It’s definitely worth your time.

        Actually, my spreadsheet is similar! Except I made it out to look like a calendar, maybe later I’ll show you a pic 🙂 I’m organized like this because, well, for starters, I’m me and I used to make lists of what to pack for a vacation trip in 5th grade that had PAGES 😀 but then, I’ve also been working in advertising for almost 3 years now. And I’m very familiar with communication plans 🙂 so that’s helped me, I guess. I also color code it. I’ll show you a screenshot maybe, through twitter DMs I guess 🙂

        Much love!!!

  • AvalinahsBooks June 2, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    And… comment number two.

    Link to the screenshot you gotta show your admin:
    http://i66.tinypic.com/23ra0lx.png

    Link to my signed copy:
    https://twitter.com/AvalinahsBooks/status/870667594231152640

    • AvalinahsBooks June 2, 2017 at 12:53 pm

      Wait, what.. My link doesn’t seem to work. I’m just gonna tweet you.

  • Books, Vertigo and Tea June 3, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    I just cannot wrap my head around evrything you accomplish inside and out of blog! Now it is your turn to teah me 😉 When is the big trip? I am packing up mentally and plan to live vicariously through you. Hope you do not mind.

    I have thoroughly been enjoying the Anne of Green Gabels read-a-thon! I am tempted to reread. I started Anne With an “E” on Netflix last night. I was prepared to hate it. I was wrong. 4 episodes in and I am in love. I think it has been so controversial because of the darker approach towards her life as an orphan, but for me it really added depth to her <3 Have you watched?

    • Jackie B June 6, 2017 at 5:50 pm

      Oh, Danielle, I guess things are just always in the eye of the beholder? We just must both be good at things the other wishes they were good at! XD I find I’m constantly impressed (and a bit jealous) at all the things you accomplish on your blog! Hopefully, we’ll both grow together. Soon we’ll take over the blogosphere! Mwahaha!

      We will be gone June 22nd-July 10th. 2.5 weeks almost! We’re going to Croatia to attend a wedding, so we thought we’d make a big deal over it. You are totally welcome to live vicariously through me. I just hope I get all my posts scheduled appropriately when I’m gone. O_o

      I don’t have Netflix (nor do I really watch television…), so I haven’t seen Anne With an “E” yet. All the feedback I’ve gotten has been really polarizing. People either seem to love it or hate it, and for exactly the reasons you’ve stated. I wonder if the show will grow out of the darkness as Anne grows?

      • Books, Vertigo and Tea June 8, 2017 at 2:54 pm

        We will both grow well together <3 Not sure about the taking over bit, that seems like a lot of responsibility. I am tend to shy away from that haha 😉

        I just finished all current episodes of Anne With an E and thing that it is already evolving with Anne's Story very well. They have done a beautiful job of utilizes the true and unpleasant struggles of life as an orphan to explain how Anne has come to be all that she is. I cannot lie, I am soooo hooked 😉

        I will surely miss you!!! 2.5 weeks will feel like forever!

        • Jackie B June 20, 2017 at 3:23 pm

          Responsibility is overrated, anyway. 😉

          I want to know— now that you’ve seen more of the series, what do you think of Anne with an E? Is it still just as awesome?

          • Books, Vertigo and Tea June 20, 2017 at 5:21 pm

            I watched all that were available and am dying for more! I cannot wait to see the rest. I would purchase the series if that were an option. I do hope Netflix considers making some of the originals available to own (and hulu for that matter).

            • Jackie B June 21, 2017 at 1:17 pm

              Oooh– it never occurred to me that there might not be an option to own these. That’s an interesting idea. I wonder if they will do that some day?

              I’m sooo glad you’re enjoying it. Do you think it’s staying true to the novel?

              • Books, Vertigo and Tea June 21, 2017 at 8:51 pm

                From what I remember, I do. But it is prompting me to re-read soon so that I can compare. It has been so long I cannot say with absolute certainty. I do feel that they have captured the characters very well 😉

  • theorangutanlibrarian June 3, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    Wow that is a really diverse selection of books!! I can’t believe summer is here either! What is going on?! But I hope you have an awesome time in Croatia- that’s such a cool place to go 😀

    • Jackie B June 6, 2017 at 5:38 pm

      Right?! Before I know it, I’ll need to unpack my waterproof boots again. I just hope I don’t get so distracted that I miss out on Summer. I must prioritize reading outside.

      I’m super excited to go to Croatia! It’s not a place I would have picked to visit on my own, but a friend is getting married there this July 4th, so WHY NOT?! Have you been? If so, do you have any recommendations?

      • theorangutanlibrarian June 7, 2017 at 5:34 pm

        haha I know right (although English summers aren’t so great when it comes to weather 😉 I still need waterproof boots 😉 )Oh so amazing!!! I haven’t been, but there’s a lot of GOT sites I’d like to go to. Hope you have an amazing time!!

  • Diana June 5, 2017 at 3:36 am

    You had a busy month and a good reading one at that. All the best with the challenges. Enjoy your trip to Croatia and have a wonderful June.

    • Jackie B June 6, 2017 at 9:02 am

      Thanks, Diana! It was a great month. I hope you have a wonderful June, too!

  • Adoptabookaus June 7, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    JACKIE 1300+ books! Well atleast you make me feel better about my 200 or so XD I hope you have an awesome time on your trip and the plannings more fun the stress!
    Let me just jump around in happiness that you’ll be reading Sleeping Giants!!! ITS SO GOOD AHHHH I absolutely fell in love with the whole story and the next one is even better, I hope you adore it like I did 😀 Have an awesome reading month in June <3

    • Jackie B June 16, 2017 at 5:35 pm

      I know, I know! My TBR is just crushing me. It’s tsundoku for a reason over here. O_o But vacation should give me some time to make a dent in things!
      I JUST STARTED SLEEPING GIANTS AND I DON’T WANT TO WORK AT ALL. I *love* epistolary novels, and I didn’t realize this was one! I’m super stoaked to read it ASAP. I can’t wait to pick your brain on it some. 🙂

      • Adoptabookaus June 18, 2017 at 6:05 pm

        Eeee!! It’s so good and the second is even better imo, It’s just so interesting and the story unfolds in such a cool way. It’s one of the only Audios that I just had to sit and listen to I couldn’t put it down XD

        • Jackie B June 20, 2017 at 3:41 pm

          Oooh. Good quality audiobooks? I should certainly look into that for book two then! I do love me a good audiobook.

          • Adoptabookaus June 20, 2017 at 6:49 pm

            The narration is amazing! I’d def recommend it for audio

            • Jackie B June 21, 2017 at 12:24 pm

              I just finished Sleeping Giants last night. I’ve already reserved the second book on audiobook. Thanks for the recommendation!

              • Adoptabookaus June 21, 2017 at 6:04 pm

                I saw your rating on Goodreads I’m so glad you liked it! I have coerced a few others into reading it too so I’m quite happy with mu manipulation skills XD Can’t wait to see your review!

              • Jackie B June 30, 2017 at 2:32 am

                Haha- I can’t wait to write it! I just devoured it. Keep spreading the good word!

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