#MakeMeRead It 2018 Read-A-Thon Poll | Vote!

It’s that time of year again! The #MakeMeRead It Read-A-Thon is just around the corner, running this year from August 6–13th. It was co-created and is still co-hosted by Ely @ Of Wonderland and Val @ The Innocent Smiley. I’m proud to say that I’ve participated (or tried to) every year since its inception in 2015!

I wasn’t sure if I was even going to try participating in #MakeMeRead this year. I have had a loose plan of the books I want to read for review each week all the way through to October. Additionally, I learned that I’d be out of town the week #MakeMeRead starts, and I don’t find it terribly easy to read on family vacations. But I didn’t want to break the chain of tradition, so I decided to make this work for me!

The books I’ve selected are books were for the most part not originally on my agenda to read in August. Realistically speaking, I think I’ll only be able to manage one book during the week of the read-a-thon. Therefore, I’ll likely just be picking the top choice. But since these are all the first books of a series I’ve yet to start, if I enjoy them I may end up binging the corresponding series!

In case you’re not familiar with any of these titles, they are all YA fiction. Heist Society is contemporary, Falling Kingdoms is fantasy, and The Diabolic is science fiction. They all sound fascinating! Personally, I’ve been most excited to start Heist Society, but after skimming the summary I’d also pretty stoked if The Diabolic wins. But it’s not my choice which I read for this read-a-thon; it’s yours! Vote in the poll down below. ☟

❧ ☙ End Note ☙ ❧

Let me know in the comments if you’ve read any of these books and what you thought! I don’t feel like these books are from very popular series, but I’m excited to finally be given a reason to reach for them now. I discovered the Throne of Glass series and the Lunar Chronicles series in past years of #MakeMeRead, so I’m excited to see what series will next join these iconic series in my history with this read-a-thon.

Also, let me know if you’ll be participating in this read-a-thon, along with links to your posts and polls! I’ll be happy to chime in ^_^

Thank you for reading!
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  1. Featured Image, base image: “Like a bright airship the New Moon sails by” by Shirley Kite
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The Unique Blogger Award | Blog Tag

Last week I was nominated for the The Unique Blogger Award by Sara @ The Bibliophagist. This is such a short and sweet little tag, I was happy to accept it and schedule it for this weekend. Especially once the week had passed and I realized I wouldn’t have a book review ready this week! I’m still reading Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko, and I’m not sure how I’m going to review it yet.

It’s a bit deep but I don’t know how many people are interested in Native American literature, so I may save it for a mini-review post once I’ve read a few more books from my I-should-have-read these-for-class-but-did-not TBR shelf.

The Rules

  1. Share the link of the blogger who nominated you
  2. Answer their questions
  3. Share some love with the blogging community by nominating 8-12 people
  4. Ask three questions for your nominees

Three Questions from Sara

1. What’s your favorite quote from a book you’ve read this year?

Oh, there are so many in A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle, which I reviewed last month. It’s been years since I gave this book a reread and it was just as amazing as I remembered.

 It’s hard to let go anything we love. We live in a world which teaches us to clutch. But when we clutch we’re left with a fistful of ashes.

I find this quote so moving because it kind of explains the type of grief I feel most of us can relate to feeling at some point in our lives, whether we’ve lost someone we love or are forced to part with something that brought us happiness. Change is hard, but inevitable and often necessary.

I find many of the ideas presented in A Ring of Endless Light in coincidental conversation with the other things I’ve read this year, including my current read, Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko. A quote I find my mind going back to as I read it is:

 …things which don’t shift and grow are dead things. They are things the witchery people want. Witchery works to scare people, to make them fear growth.

This passage from Ceremony is about how the Indians fear changes in their culture. The protagonist Tayo is half-Indian, half-white and finds help post-WWII in a medicine man who, like him, is the child of mixed heritage who understands the world differently from Tayo’s fellow Laguna Indians.

2. What book would you love to see made into a movie or TV series?

I would’ve loved for Ready Player One by Ernest Cline to be made into a T.V. series. The first time I read that book, I stayed up all night reading it. I couldn’t put it down. And for weeks after, I was plotting the episodes-that-could-be in my head. I never really do that for books! The characters and storylines in the book could be so wonderfully portrayed in a binge-worthy T.V. series. The movie Spielberg made, while fun, was so different from the book, almost a completely different plot (necessary because of the time constraints).

3. If you could frame one book cover and hang it up in your house, which cover would it be?

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler. It’s been forever since I read this book, but I’ve since fallen in love with Parks & Rec and admire Amy Poehler and her work to inspire women/girls so much. I also love the cover because of the hot-neon-pink words that I think sum up a beautiful motto for life that I could do better to remember.

Three Questions from Me

  1. What books have been your favorite and your least favorite this year so far?
  2. What is the strangest book you’ve ever read?
  3. If you could resurrect any dead book character, who would it be?

I Nominate:

E, My Narrative | Rose Petal Pages | Misty Book Space

End Note

I’m a bit behind on my blog plans for the month! I’ve enjoyed spending time with my mom these last couple of weeks before my Dad returns home from Israel. We’ve been Shopkicking a lot, because I have my eye on some new books that can’t justify buying right now while I’m looking for a job. I’m about a day or two away from a $25 gift card for Amazon so I may have a book haul to share at the end of the month. Fingers crossed!

Thank you for reading!
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The Follow Up to Blog Hopping in June

At the end of May, I decided I was in a good place with my book blog and the posts I had been publishing that I felt like it was time to up my game. I realized that if I want to build an amazing blog with a modest following, then it’d be smart to know the lay of the land and become more active in the community. These were my major reasons for deciding to prioritize Blog Hopping in June.

I had a really grand plans for the month. I really thought I was going to be able to quickly and easily integrate blog hopping into my daily routine. What I did not realize was:

  1. How much time is required to read and comment meaningfully on others posts
  2. How many of the blogs I already followed read/reviewed books in genres I don’t like or posted content that I do not find remotely interesting

I didn’t want to unfollow anybody, but I did find that it was hard at first to find any posts I could comment on. A lot of blogs I followed in the past produced a lot of blog tour/blitz posts or ARC reviews for contemporaries or romance (neither of which are my go-to genres), which is to say: posts I most likely won’t click on. I’m not here for that. (Although, I will say, I’ve become a lot more interested in contemporaries over June!)

I eventually realized that a lot of these blogs I must have only followed because I liked something about their aesthetic or blogging style and my “Follow” was utilized more as a “Bookmark” for blogs I, at one time, thought I might want to reference again for reasons long since forgotten.

So the first thing I realized I needed to do was discover new blogs! Here’s how I did it.

*  ⁎  Method ⁂ ⁎ * 

Since it was the end of a May when I started, there were a lot of monthly wrap ups and TBRs in my WordPress Reader and Bloglovin’ feeds. These have traditionally always been my favorite kinds of posts to read because they cover a lot more books (increasing the likelihood I’ll recognize a title on their lists) and most often got more personal, which I have always found really appealing in blogs I want to follow. I like to feel like I know more about the bloggers than just their bookish thoughts/opinions.

From these posts, I have a few trails to follow:

  1. I could investigate the blog I was on, finding out what kinds of books they reviewed/liked, look at their most recent posts to see if I anything interested me enough to post a comment.
  2. I could follow shout out links provided by the bloggers of any noteworthy blog posts they found worth reading and, therefore, sharing. I discovered a lot of new blogs this way! (Reason why I want to start doing this on a more regular basis.)
  3. I also could investigate the blogs of people who commented on the original posts. It felt great finding blogs I liked this way because I knew these bloggers were more likely to respond to my comments, making the blog hopping all the more satisfying.

At the beginning this all took a lot of work, taking more than just couple of hours depending on the quality of my leads. I was really looking for blogs I liked a lot, so I was going through older posts to get a better picture of what these blogs had to offer. Once I had a good number of new blogs that I was following based on how I connected to their content, my feeds became much more reliable sources for blog posts I could reasonably expect to enjoy during the month.

Although I ended up discovering a lot of new blogs that I really admired, it didn’t necessarily mean that I found it a lot easier to comment on each post I came across. From the outset of this journey, I knew I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time with quick, generic comments. I also learned, just about myself, that I like I try to read the comments that come before I write mine so I don’t comment the exact same thing. And sometimes even if I enjoy reading a post enough to “like” it, I don’t always find myself having something new or meaningful to comment.

A big surprise for me was learning how engaging some blog tags and memes (like Top Ten Tuesday) could be. Over time, I had come to dismiss these kinds of posts as filler posts of little substance. I still come across blog tags where people don’t elaborate on their answers, which seems like a big waste if they go through the effort of making the blog post I will click on. But there are bloggers out there who I can tell spend a lot of time on them and it was really fun to start conversations from their answers.

•     Before June     •

I did not look at the blog posts in my WordPress Reader or Bloglovin’ feed on a regular basis at all. When I did, it was when I was in need of inspiration. and it was rare I saw a post title that caught my genuine interest. Most of the time I would click on posts, it was because it was the a monthly wrap up or TBR (I still love the broader picture of a blogger that is painted by posts) OR because it was a book review for a title I’ve already read and liked/disliked and wanted to see if my thoughts were confirmed or challenged.

I don’t think I ever commented on anything.

•     After June     •

There are a handful of blogs that’s names come to mind when I think about blogs that I love reading. When I see their blog posts in my feeds I can remember things about these bloggers and am interested in staying up-to-date with everything they post. I better appreciate tags and memes, especially if they come from bloggers I like who I know will put time and thought into these posts. I may not blog hop every day, but it’s a pleasure when I’m all caught up on my blog posts to open up a bunch of tabs and catch up on everything I’ve missed.

❧ ☙ End Note ☙ ❧

I’m sorry this post is coming out a bit late. I had a lot of trouble writing this post. At times, it took a few detours that I had to omit by thinking about what I wanted this post to be. Essentially, I wanted to come away from my experience last month with something that recorded what I did in case I ever take another break from blogging or feel that I’ve started to slack in being a good blog reader.

Up next immediately on Betwined Reads the list of some of my favorite (book) blogs at the moment. I’ll be up late tonight working on it, because I know it’s something that’s been highly anticipated. I did not expect so many people to want to see what blogs I love, but I guess it speaks to everyone’s desire to follow blogs that are doing awesome things. I worry my favorites are not going to be very new discoveries to anyone else!

Thank you for reading!
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June Notes ➴

With June over, we are officially halfway through 2018. How crazy is that?! This month looked very different for me as I was house-sitting for most of it while my mom visited my dad in Israel. I was home alone, watching our dogs, and essentially living my best life of my inner hermit. I wish I had gotten more done (as always), but I consider it a productive month.

I learned a lot about myself. I work much better if I spend my days working mainly on one big project, instead of bouncing around between different ones. I’ve found blogging and writing are two very different tasks that pull my mind in different directions, so it’s better to stick to doing one of those per day instead of dividing up my day. Blogging and writing are not the only things I do with my life, but they do tend to require the most from me.

I’ve gotten a lot better at striking a healthy balance between my time spent online and off, but I know I could do even better so I this is one of my goals for next month.

Goals Revisited

In case you’re new around here, I like to set myself goals at the beginning of each month that I share on the blog for accountability’s sake. It works sometimes, but it most definitely did not work this month! I’m was a little too ambitious with what I wanted to accomplish, and I feel like I didn’t do anything too well. But, nevertheless, I think I did do a lot, so it’s hard to be too hard on myself. It was a fun month.

Here are the goals I set for June:

  1. READ MORE BLOGS
  2. WRITE FOR 30 MINUTES EACH DAY
  3. GET ORGANIZED

I consider my biggest success this month was in reading more blogs. At the end of May, I realized I wanted to find more blogs that I love. I was already following so many, but a few have become inactive since I followed them. I also realized I followed quite a few for their visual aesthetic and not because I loved their posts or the books they talked about.

So this month I made it habit to look at the posts that showed up in my feeds and comment on posts if I could think of anything worthwhile to say. I’m happy to say I discovered some blogs, old and new, that I really enjoy and I became closer to some of my fellow bloggers! I still intend to do a post with everything I learned and showcase some of my favorite blogs at the moment. I just need some time to get all my thoughts straight.

With regards for writing, I was less successful. Writing used to be my biggest priority and this month I found it shifted as I began to put more focus on my blog and reading those of others. I still want to write, and especially finish this novel, but I’m going to give myself a break from deadlines and see what happens when I’m writing because I want to and not because I feel like my time is running out.

As for my final goal, I did get a little more organized. My books tend to end up all over the place as I read and muse about what to read next. I had intended for them all be returned to their respective places on my bookshelves. But then I realized there are reasons for them to sit where they are so there is an organizational structure in place, even if it doesn’t look like it! I also forced myself to go through all my MacBook Pro’s desktop files and put away stuff that didn’t need to still be cluttering my digital workspace. Soon I’ll transfer stuff to my portable hard-drive.

This Month on Betwined Reads 

What I Read

June was not a very successful month for reading. I only read four books, but they were all in line with my TBR and all reviewed! The only outlier was City of the Beasts, which I opted for in place of The Young Unicorns, a much better book saved for fall.

Screen Shot 2018-07-01 at 2.53.16 PM

  1. The Arm of the Starfish by Madeleine L’Engle | ★★★★
  2. Troubling a Star by Madeleine L’Engle | ★★★½
  3. Dragons in the Waters by Madeleine L’Engle | ★★
  4. City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende | ★★★★

My favorite read was definitely The Arm of the Starfish. It was such a fun summer caper with international-thriller vibes. My least favorite was Dragons in the Waters, because I didn’t really connect with any of the characters and felt like the plot was a bit of a mess. It also took me a long time to read. I probably would have DNF-ed it if I wasn’t such a big fan of Madeleine L’Engle.

End Note

Next up on Betwined Reads, I will be sharing my plans for July! I actually began that post earlier this month as I realized things I want start doing, but I need to look it over and make sure I’m being sensible so that I don’t overload myself again! I also have a few other blog posts in the works, but I don’t want to say exactly what those are because I don’t know when they’ll be done. Does anyone else have a problem looking at screens when your allergies are bad? I do…

Thank you for reading!
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September ’17 TBR + Goals

sept17tbr

If August was the month of rereads, September is going to be the month of new releases, or new purchases! At least for the most part. I do not expect that I will want to burn through all my new books super quickly, especially as I want to get back into the process of spending time recording my thoughts on the books I read. So I will try to intersperse older books that I should have read a long time ago too.

I also want to make sure I’m doing other things this month too, so I’ve spent some time thinking about other goals I have that like to get done this month beyond reading so that I can share them with you, for accountability purposes. ^_^

TBR

I’d be happy if I read just six books this month, especially if the rest of my free time is spent writing and blogging. But today I want to share the books that are at the top of my TBR for this month.

 

  1. Persuasion by Jane Austen (which I wanted to read for #MakeMeRead in August)
  2. Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo (which is a new release by my fav author)
  3. Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas (which is the latest installment in the Throne of Glass series)
  4. The House of the Scorpions by Nancy Farmer (which is technically a reread but it’s been over 10 years since I read it)
  5. Maus II by Art Spiegelman (which is one of my latest purchases that I ended up deciding I wanted to have after reading Maus I last month)

Yes, I’m only listing five books above. But that’s because I want to keep my TBR open for whatever books I may not know I will want to read this month. I have a few other books that have been on my mind for a few months now, but they’re ones I want to save for the right time. Ya know?

Goals

Last month in By the first day of fall… I shared three goals that I wanted to accomplish by September 22nd, the first day of fall. Those goals still stand, and I believe I’m currently making good progress on all of them. But I have some other things I want to do this month that I also thought I’d include here.

#1 Publish one book review per week. I’ve long wished to make Thursday a day reserved for book reviews. I’m really going to start prioritizing these posts after this weekend so that they begin rolling out each Thursday. The reviews will include a summary, notes on the format, my thoughts on the story, a list of similar or somehow related books, and my recommendations for who I think would enjoy reading it. I will include what I gained from a writer’s perspective, as I read because I want to write.

My promise to you and, more importantly, to myself is that I will only review books I think are worthy of the time I will put into them and that I think should be shared. So I hope you will enjoy these posts! I know book reviews are not the most popular posts so I hope that anyone who by chance clicks upon one of them will be enchanted by my spin on them.

#2 Write at least 2k words every day I do not have work. I get about 2-3 days off each week, though, they are not the same days each week. In an effort to begin giving myself some structure, I want to start mandating a word count goal that will whip me into shape for NaNoWriMo. I’ve begun to slack on writing with my efforts to catch up on my Goodreads Reading Challenge, and while that’s been valuable, it’s time to switch gears and gain more balance. So hopefully 2k words is a challenge that is achievable. I want to write these words even if I feel like they’re crap and will never be included in the first draft. It’s just exercise.

#3 Research doctorate programs in which I am interested. I’ve been debating my original idea to apply to doctorate programs for the next academic year. I still would love for that to be my next big move, but I want to make sure I’m choosing the right program that will get me where I want to end up. So I want to investigate my options, even the most wild ones. That way I will have plenty of time to work on my application by December, which I think is the time most schools open for submission.

#4 Apply for five jobs. Yes, I have a job. But it’s not one that was ever meant to be long-term. It’s nice to have so that I’m not doing nothing and have a little money coming in, but it’s not going to help me get rid of my debt. It’s a job that will help me survive, but not thrive. So I want to apply for at least five jobs more befitting my academic background and skill set. I’m not in the biggest hurry to leave my parents house, but if I can get a good job that isn’t here, I’m prepared to take it. I feel like I’m in limbo right now.

#5 Finalize a theme for Betwined Reads. Last week I created a fun collage to use as my blog logo, but I still want to create something completely of my own mind and creativity. I love playing around with the design and theme of the blog, but I’m hoping by the end of September I will have something set to use for the rest of fall all the very least.

End Note

All right! I’m feeling pumped for the month. How about you?! The next posts you can expect to see here are my next installment of my revived writing feature Novel Progress (see first post here) on Wednesday & a book review for Vassa in the Night on Thursday. From then on, we will see!

Thank you for reading!
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August ’17 Wrap Up

I cannot believe how much I accomplished this month, especially as August is typically such a blah month. This month I was able to almost catch up on my Goodreads Reading Challenge by reading a grand total of EIGHT books! I’m not sure the last time I’ve read so much, but I’m still two books behind schedule. I’m less stressed out about it and am confident I’ll be completely caught up by the end of September.

I think I have definitely gotten my reading mojo back. I did a lot of rereading this August, but I think it’s good to reread. You pick up more than you might’ve upon the first read a book, and I think each time I return to an old favorite I’m a slightly different person. So even if I know what’s going to happen in a book, I am thinking about how my thoughts have changed between readings. Fortunately, there hasn’t been any drastic ones this time around!

What I Read

  1. Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen (★★★½)
  2. Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi (★★★)
  3. Maus I by Art Spiegelman (★★★½)
  4. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (reread) (★★★★)
  5. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling (★★★★★)
  6. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt (reread) (★★★★★)
  7. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (reread)(★★★★★)
  8. Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter (★★★★★)

It’s hard to choose a favorite book that I’ve read this month, as I read somewhat diversely and was more than pleasantly surprised at quite a few of my reads this month. I already knew I loved We Were Liars, and that did not change; I was as supremely moved as I was the first time I read it. I think I have to go with Vassa in the Night. I haven’t had a chance to put my thoughts into words, but it was so strange and so beautiful. I really loved the updating of a Russian fairytale to urban Brooklyn and all the diverse characters. I plan to write a book review of this book as soon as possible.

This month I also acquired a lot of books! You can see a full list on my post A Book Haul of eBooks and Fairytales, which went up earlier this week. Vassa in the Night was one of my new purchases, and some of my upcoming reads will no doubt be pulled from this list.

End Note

In the past, my monthly wrap ups included a bit more on my writing and the things I’ve watched, but I chose to keep it simple because I want to focus more on the gorgeous books I’ve read. I have a September TBR in the works that you will hopefully see tomorrow night. It will include a short list of goals I have for the month of September as well with regards to my writing habits and possibly creative projects.

Thank you for reading!
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Summer Biannual Bibliothon Wrap Up!

Hi!

It’s Saturday evening and I’ve made peace with the fact I’m not going to get much more reading done tonight before bed so I want to share my wrap up for the week of reading. In case you want to see the lofty goals I had for myself this time last week, here’s my TBR.

I started off really strong on Sunday and managed to finish two books this read-a-thon in a relatively quick amount of time. I started with The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, as it was my least anticipated read on my TBR. I had tried to read it a few years ago and was not able to get into so I gave up. Little did I know this book takes the protagonist Bod all the way to young adulthood, so I was happy to find it wasn’t just a children’s book.

I loved the hauntingly beautiful atmosphere of the book and the episodic way in which the novel was written. Now I see what the hype is all about and would love to recommend this as a bedtime read for any parents out there who read to their youngsters. It’s so good.

The next book I picked up was The Catcher in the Rye. I really enjoyed rereading it for the first time since high school. I still remembered a lot of the stuff we talked about in high school and felt a little nostalgic about it for some reason. I was a little scared going into this book again that I would not like it as much as I did before, but my worry was needless as I find myself as compelled by Holden’s story as much as I was 17.

I didn’t read at all between Wednesday and Friday, despite listing Never Let Me Go as my next read. I had to do some work on my research paper that was time-sensitive and am happy to report I finally finished it today! The literature review anyway. I mean, I know it could still use some work, but I decided to push my luck and see how little I can get away with right now. I’ve had a motivational problem lately about my research, related to issues I’m not quite ready to talk about.

Last night I started the audiobook for The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. I’m somewhat liking it, but think I would enjoy it more if I was able to read it and see the words on the page. For one thing, I could go faster if I just had the physical book, but also because my favorite thing about the book so far is the witty banter and I wish I could linger on some passages longer.

End Note

The main thing I’m happy about having accomplished is ending my reading slump and getting a bit closer caught up on my Goodreads Reading Challenge. I have a feeling I’ll be all caught up by the end of August with the #MakeMeRead It read-a-thon running August 6–13 (please vote, if you haven’t already).

I’ve been getting into bullet journaling a little bit, which I’ve found is inspiring me to be more productive so hopefully I’ll be a little more active on this blog soon. I also want to work on my blog design next month, so that’ll be fun!

Thank you for reading!
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