Thoughts on Thursday: Reading Rituals

Reading Rituals

What are your reading rituals? Do you have a reading nook? What snacks or drinks must you have handy? Share pictures and recipes!

I am most comfortable reading in bed. Honestly, I do everything in my bedroom. It is my nook, my happy place. I only spend time in my living room if I have guests over, and even then most of the time we stay in my bedroom, too. (Typically it is my mother and brother and friend down the street.)

Yes, I eat in bed. I blog in bed. I watch TV in bed. I keep my TV on at night. I curl up with all my pillows just right, lay back, and read until my eyes hurt or I have to get ready and go somewhere. I usually have the TV on for background noise, something on Netflix I’ve seen before.

Just like when I write, when I read I get in a trance. I can ignore most of the bodily functions for quite a while. I’ll wait until I have to race to the bathroom because I am so engrossed. I typically ignore the fact that I’m hungry. Sometimes it goes away, and sometimes I slink off to the kitchen to find whatever requires the least amount of time.

What are your reading rituals?

Thoughts on Thursday: Why I Read What I Read

Why I Read What I Read

Why do you read the books you read? Explore why you gravitate towards certain genres and/or authors. How do you pick the next book you will read?

In general, I think I enjoy a wide variety of genres. There are a few I look at with sideeye, and a few I won’t even look at. I tend to gravitate to historical and romance the most. Those are the two foundations of my childhood, thanks to Little House on the Prairie and Harlequin Romance. I am also always up for a good middle grades read or murder mystery. I have shied away from YA in general due to the copious amount of tropes and love triangles. I also enjoy writing styles, so I will pick up books by authors with similar styles (such as Kristin Hannah and Elin Hilderbrand). In the last couple of years I have tried to broaden my horizons and I think I did a pretty good job.

Now that I think about it, the majority of my reading palatte comes from my relationship with my grandmother (except the romance). She was my confidant as a child. I spent more time with her than any other person. We watched the Little House on the Prairie series starring Michael Landon (my first book boyfriend). We watched a lot of comedy shows (All in the Family, Three’s Company, Family Matters, The Facts of Life), and all of the mystery shows we could (Murder She Wrote, Matlock, In the Heat of the Night, Magnum P.I., Diagnosis Murder).

I am proud of myself that I have been trying to get better about listening to audiobooks. I know most people listen while they commute, but I enjoy singing when I drive. I kind of have to in order to stay calm with the ignoramuses on the road these days. I listen when I’m working on the blog, cooking, or cleaning. While I don’t finish that many (I think this year I’ve finished three), I learned I can change the speed and won’t have to spend as long listening. These are typically books that have been out for a while and count for this challenge! I started downloading SYNC books three summers ago, so I have plenty to choose from!

Since I started my blog, I didn’t really “pick” my next book. They were always scheduled because I thought I couldn’t say “no” to an author (and also didn’t know I should shut down review requests). I still have a handful of books from repeat authors to read, but I am now at the point where I can actually pick my next read. I really do think I pick my next read based on cover love. If it’s pretty or interesting, I’ll start it. I don’t really have any type of system. I’m not really a mood reader like some people, either.


How do you pick out what you read? Are there certain genres you gravitate toward?

Thoughts on Thursday: Mid-Year Check-In

Mid-Year Check-In

I have fallen behind in a lot of things on the blog, particularly discussion posts. One month late isn’t too terrible, is it?

Currently I stand at 15 books for the Shelf Love Challenge. Up until now, I have been doing a lot of review tours with books that came out this year. I slowly weaned myself off of review tours like I had been doing. I did sign up for a few in August-October for series I want to finish reading, but I am being much more selective in tours. And I am grateful one of the tour companies I was very stingy with opted to shut down their operations. The reviewers were doing most of the legwork, so it was really frustrating and why I only signed up with them once in a blue moon.

Now I can read almost anything! Which means I really need to read my NetGalley backlog… :/


How have your challenges been going? 

Thoughts on Thursday: Those Suuuuummmer Reeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaads


Those Suuuuummmer Reeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaads

Now do you get the title? 🙂

Do your reading habits change in the summer? Do you find yourself reading more whimsical books, knowing that summer will eventually come to an end and real life will resume?

Summer is soon upon us. Unless you live in Texas. It’s already summer the first of May.

Once summer is officially here and I am no longer a slave to the public education system is when I notice the change in my summer reading habits. I don’t necessarily read summery genres, but I do read more.

A LOT more.

Last summer (May 1 – August 31) I read 28 books. That’s an average of of 7 books per month. A couple of them were lengthy. I also taught summer school all through May and half of June, as well as attending multiple 3 and 4 day PDs, so it was not a true reflection of my summer reading, but 2014 was!

The previous summer (2014) I read 39 books in that same time frame. That’s almost ten books each month, nearly double what I read on average for a good month.

Since my summers truly operate exactly like a summer (unless I have work obligations, re: summer school, required PD), I enjoy spending that time catching up with old and new friends in books.

I have no problem reading all day long. Sometimes I even forget to eat, and I put off doing other things just to simply read. It is an indulgence and a pleasure that I don’t typically get to enjoy at such extended lengths. I usually have to read my books in short bursts whenever I have free moments. To sit down and read an entire book in one sitting is marvelous.

It is now that prime summer time, and I’m going to enjoy my books all the way til the start of the new school year. 🙂

Do you notice your summer reading habits change?

How does your reading change for summer?

Thoughts on Thursday: Literary Vacation

Literary Vacation 

Many of the historical books I’ve read are set in Europe, particularly England. A large part of my focus of my English minor (and English teaching degree) was focused on British literature (and American). I discovered some books that will stick with me for the rest of my life, such as Remains of the Day, which I still own all these years later. The Secret Garden is perhaps the first book I truly remember peaking my interest and realizing how different the British lifestyle is – or just the European lifestyle in general.

I’d also like to visit Venice. I’ve read several books set in this beautiful city, as well as a few historical period movies.

How awesome would it be to just take a book vacation, visiting all those spots from great books along the way?


Where would you travel for a literary vacation?

Thoughts on Thursday: Local Library Love

My Local Library

My Local Library is featured below. This is my school’s library. I spend every other Tuesday here with all of my students. It is not nearly as large or fancy as many other middle school libraries today, but it services all of our students and teachers. I love helping my students find books, and being able to have a scheduled date to see my dear librarian friend. There are many kids that pile into the library in the mornings before school to read and work on homework, and I love it!

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As a child I primarily used my school library for books. I was there ALL THE TIME. I went on my own in between class visits. In middle school, the librarian and the aide let me check out myself if they were away from the counter. That’s the kind of kid I was.

I didn’t know there was such a thing as public libraries until I was eighth grade. The only reason my mom took me was to look for my summer reading book because she didn’t want to buy it. At the time, our library was literally this little shack-like building that had continuously been added on to over the years, so it was like a maze tunnel inside.

We finally got a proper library built, but one of the workers has the stink eye for me (small town political bullshit – she didn’t like my grandma because she didn’t believe in hoarding all the money for an organization they were both a part of), so I frequented it less and less due to her preferential treatment of me as a library patron. In college, I visited the local library once or twice. When I moved to Austin, I had to PAY for a public library membership. And then I had to PAY to RENEW it! After the first year I was done with that. I don’t visit any libraries now except for my school library.

What makes your local library special?

Thoughts on Thursday: The Most Annoying Trope

The Most Annoying Trope

What is one book trope that gets on your nerves? What do you wish the publishing world would STOP doing?



Trope has become a word that we use to often describe themes or common recurring situations in literature. They are the clichés of literature.

I’m going to address the elephant in the room: most of the most annoying or bothersome tropes of focus typically spring from YA. Another reason I have abandoned it until further notice. Sorry, not sorry.

After some thought, I realized I couldn’t pick a most annoying trope because there are a handful of them that equally grind my gears.


Love Triangles

Ugh. Sweet boy-next-door is in absolute love with the girl-next-door, who is hot for the star quarterback that fumbles in the academic aspect of school. Rewrite the triangle any way you’d like. We can all find an example to substitute. Love triangles are no good right from the start. I always feel integrity and honesty – honest to one’s self – is called into question in love triangles. The concept of realism completely escapes this trope.



Instalove is so far beyond my frame of mind as any kind of realistic that it is beyond embarrassing for this trope. Instalove does not exist in real life. I used to think it could, but I felt really stupid in a blocked undergrad/graduate Latin American anthropology class when our professor – who lived extensively in the Yucatán – asked if feelings or actions made love possible. I, of course, raised my hand for feelings. They just happen. Boy, was I wrong. Not only did I learn that I was wrong in that class, but I learned it in real life. Actions sustain relationships and foster trust, commitment, love, and all those pheromones that fire in our body because of that special someone. Not a look. Not a touch. Not a few words.

Deep, Troubled, Dark Past

Lord have mercy. Talk about the trope of the century. Historically, male characters were those with the deep and dark pasts. Not anymore! Now it is very common in books that feature a romance to have a female character with a troubled and dark past. Case in point, Broken Things to Mend.


The Aphrodite Effect

That girl that is super stunningly gorgeous with amazing everythingness. She may or may not be a total asshat, but every girl wants to be her, wear her clothes, have her hair and flawless skin, drive her car, live in her house, and spend her money. There are people who I have encountered throughout life who I would say have The Aphrodite Effect, but very few. It is not as common as the trope makes it seem.

*Please note: This effect can also apply to male characters who are super stunningly gorgeous with amazing everythingness. This term is referred to as The Adonis Effect.

Absentee Parents

These kids are so trustworthy their parents don’t even come home sometimes! The story is so focused on the main character and his or her conflicts that the element of reality is once again ignored. Entirely. Some of the books I’ve read with absentee parents are definitely never going to wash in real life. Parents would be on those kids like white on rice. Overlooking this element is very critical and also very obvious of inattention to detail. Let’s be real.


What is the trope that rubs you the most ?

Which tropes would you add to this list? 

Thoughts on Thursday: Book Bae/Friend

Book Bae or Friend

Who is your book boyfriend or girlfriend or best friend? What qualities does this character have that makes him/her the best?

This topic seems so familiar! I talked exclusively about book boyfriends last September, but I’d like to chew on the other part of that: the best friend part. I also talked about my favorite fictional friendships last November, but who really would be my book-based best friend?

We all know my book bae is Jamie Fraser. I mean, the man is embodies so many characteristics that it’s hard to say no. Except when he’s spitting mad and ready with that belt. Then plead and cry and snivel and say no as much as possible to change his mind!

As far as the best friend I would pick from a book…is impossible. So I’ve selected a few characters and the elements about their personality and their relationships with others that I admire and would want in return from them for my friendship.

Pudge and the Colonel – Looking for Alaska by John Green

Pudge and the Colonel are very different, but they go together like PB&J. Pudge is the more thoughtful friend who wonders about deep subjects, always planning before he takes a leap. The Colonel, on the other hand, usually leaps before he looks, but he’s got your back like nobody’s business. They are those summer camp friends you meet and become instant friends with for life.

Hermione – Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling 

Hermione is an asset anyway you want to look at it. She is extremely loyal, knowledgeable, and dedicated. If you are in a bind, she will find a solution. She’ll also punch somebody in the face unexpectedly if she’s pushed far enough.

Jacky – Bloody Jack by L.A. Meyer

Oh, Jacky Faber. Of course, that’s not really her actual name. She was originally known as Mary Faber, but life circumstances changed all that. Jacky is a guttersnipe orphan who winds up as the most notorious pirate to ever thwart the British Navy. She is salacious, kind-hearted, a romantic but also a blustering realist, a pessimist yet an optimistic, and a damn good shot to have on your side. She would die for you if you are her friend.

Tessa – Level Up by Kathy Yardley

Tessa is so socially awkward, a painful introvert. However, when she sets her mind to something she will stop at nothing to accomplish it – even at her own cost. She also has moxie! She can stand up for her friends better than she can herself, and you don’t want to be caught in the cross-hairs!


Who is your book bae?

Who is your book best friend? What qualities make them your BFF?

Thoughts on Thursday: How I’ve Changed As A Reader


How I’ve Changed As A Reader

Since I started blogging, a lot about my life has changed. There are more deadlines, more stresses, more responsibilities, less time, less energy and at times it seems less supporters.

But those are only the negatives. It is so easy to get caught up in the negatives, but reading is a journey and there are always ups and downs. With blogging, we can stress out over our slumps and deadlines, feeling like we aren’t “keeping up” with everything like we should.

When I started blogging I had no idea what I was doing, and I followed suit of most of the blogs I discovered: I tried to make myself a one-genre blog. I quickly found I didn’t like being stuck only reading YA. It got old quickly, especially the tropes.

I decided I wanted to branch out. I wanted to read what I wanted to read. That’s not unreasonable, is it? I didn’t want to be tied to only one genre and feel obligated to read only that genre and ignore all these other great reads because I didn’t have time for them. What’s the point in that?

When I first started, I was very anti-fantasy. I am still kind of anti-sci-fi. I’ve never liked sci-fi. But in the beginning I didn’t like fantasy much either, and I have slowly come around to it in these last (almost) three years.

I also completely broadened my range of reading. I no longer read books that are specifically targeted toward my age group. I read everything from children’s to adult fiction to the good ol’ classics. At first I thought working down the age ladder into children’s was going to hurt my blog traffic and it would turn away the readers I’d already established.

I was so wrong. SO wrong. Now I am glad that I have a fuller offering to share with viewers. I feel so…versatile. I do every once in a while go on a kick where I read the same genre for a couple of reviews in a row, which I know I’ve done with middle grades several times. Middle grades are just awesome!

Last year I tried doing a monthly Reviews by Genre thing from September to April and it failed horribly. It was inspired by that idea of wanting to genre binge read. There were about three months where I had read and reviewed multiple books during that whole time span. It was less than 50% success rate for what I intended. Obviously I decided to never do that again.

My reading habits have changed, and I as a reader have changed. I am more appreciative of books that feature connections and relationships between people more so than anything else. I find that I can identify and take more value from those types of reads than some of the others.

I have broadened my reading horizons since starting on this blogging journey, and I hope it continues. One new thing I want to really try hard to maintain and utilize fully is a TBR jar. There are so many cute ones out there, like Jessi’s on Etsy. I want to take the plunge and just do it.


What do you think? How have you changed as a reader since starting your blog?

Do you review any genre, or only specific genres?

Do you read books outside of the genres you review?

Thoughts on Thursday: My Reading Past


My Reading Past

I started reading at a young age. My mother has always been a reader, and the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Being in education, we say that a lot.

As a primary student, I liked adventure. I consumed everything I could get my hands on. I loved being part of the Highlights club. I would save them up all year long to read and work on during the summer, when I didn’t have access to any books. (I don’t think we had a public library then.)

In elementary school I switched gears a little. As an advanced reader, I was reading middle school level books. That was also when I got into a big nonfiction phase. Apparently I was obsessed with Susan B. Anthony.

Middle school seems to have come and gone. I read a smattering of things, and those years seemed to all blur together. I remember being big on mythology for a while. The one thing I remember with clarity was the red dot books. These were books with “mature” content that we at 6th grade were much too young to read. The minute we walked through the doors for 8th grade, we made a beeline for Detour for Emma. This was a book that was whispered about at the lunch table and in the girls bathrooms. At the time it was so controversial and taboo for us to even think about. Now, it’s almost a norm.

During this period I started secretly reading my mother’s romance books. I would stay up until all hours of the night – ahem, when my mother would come home at 1 or 2 AM from work – and quickly shove the book under my mattress and pretend to be asleep. I found I was growing bored with the selections at school and I didn’t get to go to the public library very often.

High school was a smorgasbord of reading. I read all kinds of things from romance (which I was highly embarrassed for anyone to see me check out), to high seas adventures (Bloody Jack, you have captured my heart), to realistic fiction.


How would you describe your reading past?

When did your reading interests change during your school years?

Do you have any books you’d highly recommend from your reading past?