2020 Blogging & Reading Goals

Today we are both here to talk a bit about what our goals are for this new year. Most people have new year’s resolutions, but we’re going to stick with goals because goals are something to work toward and resolutions are something to change. Let’s get right into it!

Amanda’s 2020 Goals

  1. I want to focus on reading the books that I already own (mostly backlist) instead of getting caught up in new releases. Additionally, I want to make an effort to read the physical copies of these books instead of checking the ebooks out from my library and reading off of my phone. Reading physical books is my preferred format and I’d like to attempt to get back to reading primarily in that format.
  2. The past year or so I’ve gotten back into GoodReads with rating and sharing my reviews on there. I’m pretty liberal with my ratings and I base them completely off of enjoyment. But in 2020, I’d like to be a little more critical with my ratings, basing them a bit more on my overall thoughts on all the aspects of the book.
  3. I’d like to, by the end of 2020, finish all of the series (that are already completely published) that I’m currently in the middle of. This will include any that I pick up in 2020. I don’t want to enter 2021 with any unfinished series. I’m hoping to pick up books in a series one right after another this year instead of starting a series and slowly reading it with other books in between.
  4. Finally, I’d like to get back to writing my reviews shortly after I finish the book. Toward the end of 2019,  I got in the habit of letting my reviews build up until I have five or six to write. I don’t want that to become a lasting habit. So, I’m doing well with this so far, but I’m writing it down to hold myself accountable.

Antonia’s 2020 Goals

  1. My first and main goal is simply to read more this year. I completely failed my goal for December and really want to start this year better.
  2. I’d like to get a little more involved with the blog this year starting with Top Ten Tuesday. It’s such a fun weekly post (one of the first we got into when we started the blog) and I’m hoping it’ll get me more motivated.

These are some of our goals for the new year! Do you have any blogging goals? Any goals specific to your reading habits? Leave a comment and share!

 

Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday – Newest Additions

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Each week we talk about our top ten with a different topic provided by Jana. This week’s topic is top ten – The ten most recent additions to my bookshelves

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These books were all Christmas gifts, as I’ve been good so far in 2020 to not buy any new books. All are gifts from lovely people in my life.

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel (Thanks, Amy!)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Illustrated Edition) by J.K. Rowling (Thanks Dad! This was technically for my daughter, but we read them together before bedtime.)

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett (Thanks Rae! Find her at Novels and Notions)

Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff (Thanks Twinny, love you 5ever. Find her at The Bookish Chick)

Crooked Kingdom (Collectors Edition) by Leigh Bardugo (Thanks Ebru! Find her at Ebs and Her Reads)

White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Thanks Books in the Skye!)

Every Last Breath by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Thank you, Adrianna! Find her at Romance Book Binge)

Stone Cold Touch by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Thanks again to Rae at Novels and Notions! She really spoiled me as my secret Santa this year.)

There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool (Thank you to my sweet bean Avhlee at Tea Cups and Torn Pages)

Twisted Twenty-Six by Janet Evanovich (Thanks to myself for this one. I couldn’t resist when shopping for friends and even wrapped this one for Christmas morning hah!)

These are some of my newest editions to my bookshelves. I was so blessed by my friends this year. What are some of your newest books?

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada

GoodReads Summary:
Catarina Agatta is a hacker. She can cripple mainframes and crash through firewalls, but that’s not what makes her special. In Cat’s world, people are implanted with technology to recode their DNA, allowing them to change their bodies in any way they want. And Cat happens to be a gene-hacking genius.
That’s no surprise, since Cat’s father is Dr. Lachlan Agatta, a legendary geneticist who may be the last hope for defeating a plague that has brought humanity to the brink of extinction. But during the outbreak, Lachlan was kidnapped by a shadowy organization called Cartaxus, leaving Cat to survive the last two years on her own.
When a Cartaxus soldier, Cole, arrives with news that her father has been killed, Cat’s instincts tell her it’s just another Cartaxus lie. But Cole also brings a message: before Lachlan died, he managed to create a vaccine, and Cole needs Cat’s help to release it and save the human race.
Now Cat must decide who she can trust: The soldier with secrets of his own? The father who made her promise to hide from Cartaxus at all costs? In a world where nature itself can be rewritten, how much can she even trust herself?
This Mortal Coil (This Mortal Coil, #1)Review:
After being told to read This Mortal Coil so many times, by so many different people (but Rae @ Novels & Notions most of all), I finally picked up this book. I’m honestly beyond so glad that I did. This is going to make a few of my best-of lists that you’ll probably have seen already by the time I post this review.
At first, I was a little worried that I would get lost with all of the science talk. We follow Catarina, as she survives in the apocalypse. But there’s all kinds of gene-hacks and DNA whatnot involved in the story. And while I wouldn’t say that I 100% understand it all, it was explained really well in relation to the story and wasn’t so complicated that it didn’t make sense. As long as you understand the basic idea of human DNA I think the science part of the story will be easily understandable.
Catarina was a fierce main character that I really enjoyed. She is put through the wringer in this book. Her dad goes missing, she learns some truths about him as well as herself that shake the foundation of her world. But despite these huge revalatikns she still makes a point to do the right thing, or what she feels is the right thing in the moment. I really adored this about her. She’s led to believe one thing, but trust her gut and her instincts instead of blindly following what she was trained to believe.
Cole is a character I immediately liked. While there is a bit of romance here, it’s not something that took the forefront of the story and it didn’t overshadow any of the other plot lines. They all ran together smoothly. I’d like a bit more depth to his character which I think was lacking in all the characters aside from Catarina (and her father, but that’s a different story) because we only see things from her perspective and how the world is happening around and within her. Despite that, you could clearly see Cole and her were drawn to one another, and I loved them. Their moments together were sweet and full of emotion.
Dax was one I went back and forth between loving and hating every few pages. I really wanted to love him but the man did he make me work for it.
I think this story was so well done. Overall, this is a new favorite series and I’m typing this review on my phone at midnight so that I can have it done and be able to pick up book two guilt-free tomorrow since I work and won’t be able to sit and write the review on my computer before then. I think the writing was phenomenal, with perfect moments of showing at the right moments and telling in others. I am definitely excited about This Cruel Design. I also will now become one of the many that scream this book’s praises from the rooftops. So, please stop what you’re doing and go read this series.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda

Ashlords by Scott Reintgen

GoodReads Summary:
Every year since the Ashlords were gifted phoenix horses by their gods, they’ve raced them. First into battle, then on great hunts, and finally for the pure sport of seeing who rode the fastest. Centuries of blood and fire carved their competition into a more modern spectacle: The Races.
Over the course of a multi-day event, elite riders from clashing cultures vie to be crowned champion. But the modern version of the sport requires more than good riding. Competitors must be skilled at creating and controlling phoenix horses made of ash and alchemy, which are summoned back to life each sunrise with uniquely crafted powers to cover impossible distances and challenges before bursting into flames at sunset. But good alchemy only matters if a rider knows how to defend their phoenix horse at night. Murder is outlawed, but breaking bones and poisoning ashes? That’s all legal and encouraged.
In this year’s Races, eleven riders will compete, but three of them have more to lose than the rest–a champion’s daughter, a scholarship entrant, and a revolutionary’s son. Who will attain their own dream of glory? Or will they all flame out in defeat?
AshlordsReview:
Let’s start off with a huge thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for granting my wish for this book. I was provided an eARC of Ashlords in exchange for an honest review.
Honestly, all I needed to know about this book was ‘Phoenix Horses’ and I was all in. I was hooked right from the start. We follow three characters, a champion’s daughter, a scholarship entrant, and a revolutionary’s son. Imelda Beru is our scholarship winner. She’s also known as The Alchemist. I loved her. She saw through the ruse that is the scholarship for Dividians. She was my favorite of the three characters. The other two focused on their goal of winning the race but Imelda has different priorities. I think the next book is going to be even better for her storyline.
Next is Adrian. The Longhand. He’s the son of a prominent leader and has come to win the races. I liked that he was dedicated to his family, but was even more interested when that dedication wavered. I wish that had been explored more. I loved his confidence and his kind heart. I have a feeling that he and Imelda are going to meet in the next book and I am more than here for it.
Finally, Pippa. Her chapters were interesting. They’re written in the second person, but also clearly about Pippa and not the reader. They still had her personality. I thought this was a really interesting way for Pippa to tell her story. I liked her, she was the child of two previous race winners and planned to become one herself. She doesn’t depend on her parent’s success though. She works hard and that work shows. She is the best and has proven it time and time again. The only part I didn’t like about Pippa was her dreams about Bravos. She focuses on boys instead of winning and that was her first mistake.
The world was incredible. The politics and drama was very interesting. I liked all the different dynamics. But the Ashlord Gods were the most compelling of all. I wish they had been a bigger part of the story. They have the potential to really shake things up and they did a bit of shaking in this book. I’m dying to know more about them and the history of this world.
Overall, this story was incredible. I absolutely adored and will be silently dying inside while I wait for the next book that isn’t even written yet because Ashlords hasn’t even been released yet.

Quotes:

“Afraid of the dark? The dark is all I’ve ever known.”

“The war we start will cost everything. The world will burn. We have to be brave enough to put the torch to it.”

“Their need to be first place is a weakness. Their desire for you—or your mother—to be less so that they look like more is a weakness. You realize they’re afraid of you.”

“Ashlords are not superior to us. They’re not faster or stronger or wise. All they have that we do not is the gods. And that can change. Morning comes and revolution is on its heels.”

“They forget that dark clouds and strong winds only mean lightning’s about to strike. You know they’ll want back in when you’re illuminating the whole damn sky, but you will not forget and you will not forgive.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

The Toll by Neal Shusterman

GoodReads Summary:
It’s been three years since Rowan and Citra disappeared; since Scythe Goddard came into power; since the Thunderhead closed itself off to everyone but Grayson Tolliver.
In this pulse-pounding conclusion to New York Times bestselling author Neal Shusterman’s Arc of a Scythe trilogy, constitutions are tested and old friends are brought back from the dead.
The Toll (Arc of a Scythe, #3)Review:
I honestly don’t even know where to start for this review. I loved this book so much. I was scared about two-thirds of the way through that so much was happening that the ending would be rushed, but that was not the case at all. Everything just came together for a perfect ending. What do I even say about this book?
There is so much going on in this story, so many pieces that need to come together. I’m beyond happy to be able to say that Neal brought these pieces together flawlessly. All the storylines slowly made their way toward one another and the suspense almost killed me. I was dying to know what was going on with the characters I wasn’t reading about, but I also couldn’t get enough of whoever I was currently reading about. I just couldn’t get enough period.
I loved Citra and the way her story played out. I loved seeing her fulfill the role that the Thunderhead shared with her. She was hugely influential and blew the lid off some very well-hidden information.
Then there’s Rowan, I really didn’t care about him in this book. He has captured the whole book and went from one group to another, being told what told to do and taken by someone else where they told him what to do too. I just didn’t care about any of it.
Greyson Tolliver was the second most interesting storyline. After becoming this hugely important symbol to the world, he’s realized that some things are not as important as he used to think. He’s made relationships and realized which ones he wants to keep and not. I think Greyson’s growth was the most significant and the most interesting.
My favorite parts of this book were the parts with Faraday on the islands. I was dying to get back to his parts to see what was going on in the blind spot. The suspense of only getting tiny bits of what was going on there killed me.
I am so impressed with Neal’s ability to create characters. Our villain, Goddard, was horrible and awful in every way, but I still found myself agreeing with some of his ideas. If I lived in this world, I think I could easily have been swayed to Goddard’s side of things even though he’s a horrible man.
Finally, Jerico. I think Jeri was my favorite character. They were just so casual in their gender fluidity and I loved it. I thought the way they identified was beautiful and poetic and exactly what the real world should be like. I loved the addition of Jeri to the story.
Overall, I loved this book and everything about it. They writing was incredible. The messages it sends and the conversations it invites are just such important ones. It brings up the morality of mortality. The conversation of what it means to take a life. Artificial intelligence and how much power they should have. I just loved this book and the entire series.

Quotes:

“We never know what choices will lead to defining moments in our lives.”

“It was not exactly circular logic. More like spiral. An accepted lie that spun in upon itself until truth and fiction disappeared into a singularity of who the hell cares, as long as I’m happy?”

“But the truth is, power for power’s sake is a consuming addiction. He would devour the world whole, and still be unsatisfied.”

“Important work often loses the spotlight to important people.”

“The tales we hear as children—the stories we then pass on—have happened, are happening, or will happen soon enough. If not, then the stories would not exist. They resonate in our hearts because they are true. Even the ones that begin as lies.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Amanda’s Favorite Graphic Novels of 2019

Heyyy, lovelies! Today’s list, as you can see from the title is my favorite graphic novels that I read in 2019. I read my first ever graphic novels this year, so this is a list I’ve never been able to make before. This list is in no particular order, just a list of the graphic novels I loved this year.

Bloom by Kevin Panetta & Savannah Ganucheau

This was so sweet and wholesome. I will love my bakery boys forever and ever.

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu

Witchy and gay. What more could a girl ask for?

Kaijumax Season One: Terror and Respect by Zander Cannon

I adored the monsters in this story. I recently bought the second volume and plan to pick it up in early 2020.

Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia & Gabriel Picolo

I loved the art and Raven’s backstory. I seriously cannot wait for the next book they come out with for Beast Boy.

Spell on Wheels by Kath Leth & Megan Levens

This was so fun. And perfect for the spooky season. I loved the friendship, the art, and the story.

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

This one had my heart so full. I loved the art and the colors. The story was so sweet and wholesome and I loved everything about it.

Check, Please! Book 1: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu

Hockey is one of the things that brought my husband and I together in high school, so I love all things related to hockey. This was no different except my love was only amplified by Bitty’s love for baking pies.

The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, & Matt Wilson

This was an impulse buy when I was at my local comic store. I am so glad I did. I adored this. The twist on the Gods and the darkness were everything I never knew I needed.

The Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld & Alex Puvilland

I love Westerfeld in general. After hearing him talk about the process of writing this story, I wanted to read it. I’m glad I did becasue I loved it. The images and colors were stunning and the story was captivating and mysterious.

So, that’s all I have for you today. My 2019 favorites, graphic novel edition. Leave me a comment with your favorites from last year! I’m always looking for  new graphic novels to read, so please spam me with recommendations.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

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GoodReads

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

GoodReads Summary:
Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.
Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.
All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.
As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.
Tweet CuteReview:
I loved literally everything about this book. Tweet Cute was so adorable and funny and heartwarming. I have to give a huge thank you to Meghan Harrington with Wednesday Books for reaching out to be a part of the blog tour for this book. I’m so happy to be a part of the team shouting about this book!
Pepper is a girl with tons of parental pressure. The pressure to help run her family’s corporate Twitter (even though they literally have an employee that’s supposed to do it) and get good grades on top of that at her elite prep school. She also runs a baking blog with her sister (so yes, I will be trying to make one of their creations for an installment of Books & Baking.) Her desserts sound so freaking yummy.
Then there’s Jack, living in his twin brother’s shadow. He spends his time either diving with the school’s team or working at his parent’s restaurant. So, when he sees that Big League Burger has released a new grilled cheese that even has the same name as the one his parent’s restaurant, Girl Cheesing, is known for, he tweets from the Girl Cheesing account. It’s the tweet that launches a twitter war between the two.
I loved the banter between the two twitters. But even more, I loved the banter between Pepper and Jack. I’m one million percent team PepperJack forever. I really appreciated that Pepper wasn’t really comfortable with the whole thing and acknowledged that to her mom, though her mom pressured her to continue tweeting anyway. I thought it was great that once Jack found out that it was Pepper on the other side of the Big League Burger tweets they made it into a fun sort of game.
There was so much I loved about this. The baking, the banter, and the realizations. The development of the characters as individuals was so well done. They learn more about themselves, they talk with their parents and learn more about them, and they develop together as well. I thought it was all just done so well. I will be shouting about this book from the rooftops for the foreseeable future. So, just do me a favor and read it as soon as it is released.

Quotes:

“But sometimes even shouting into a void feels better than just staring into it.”

“It’s weird, how you have no idea how far you’ve come until suddenly you can’t find your way back.”

“Do you ever feel like someone just took something from you?” Yes, I want to say. Sometimes it feels like it’s been four years of this place taking and taking, and I’m all out of pieces to give—like I don’t even know the shape of myself anymore.”

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.