July Goals + TBR ➹

After a month like June, I kind of want to reset and take myself back to basics. I loved blog hopping, and I want that to be something I do a couple of times a week. But I also want to put less stress on myself and focus more on creating quality blog posts and developing my own unique blogging style. I don’t want to do just book reviews and the occasional tag, so I’ll also try to experiment with different posts this month.

All of my goals, which you can see below, are geared towards blog development. I’ve also got a lot of reading/reviewing plans that I can’t wait to start. For a preview of what you can expect on Betwined Reads this month, keep reading ^_^

Goals

1. Dedicate M/W/F to Writing Blog Posts

I feel like I work better under time constraints, and I also think having specific days set aside for blogging will help me not always feel guilty or residual stress about not finishing up posts. I think it’ll be easier to remember what I complete and also do other things offline that might otherwise compete for attention.

Note. While I may work on the blog on these days, that does not mean blog posts will always go up on these days. I do like to schedule posts in advance so I have a chance to polish them and catch mistakes I might miss at first glance.

2. Develop a Unique Blog Theme

I tend to make my featured images on book reviews from random searches for backgrounds that relate to the setting of my novels. I also use Unsplash a lot for base images of my featured images. I’ve noticed another blogger who uses a lot of photos I recognize from Unsplash (to awesome effect I might add), so I would like to move away from stock images (no matter how gorgeous) and take my own so that my blog has a personal touch all my own.

I’ve also really longed to use my drawing tablet, so the blog would give me a good excuse to break it out and have fun creating a graphics around a specific theme for the blog.

3. Condense my Book Reviews

I like the way I’ve written my book reviews, but I feel like I could do better to make the posts less intimidating reads by utilizing shorter sections, using more graphics that speak louder than words can, and highlighting the most important ideas I want to share. I’ve seen some awesome styles of review and I’d like to experiment by breaking away from the wordy format with which I’ve become too comfortable. It’s time to shake things up!

TBR

On July 1st I sat down with a little $1 brown calendar I bought at Target at the beginning of the year and looked at my shelves. While I am very much a mood reader, I feel like I can avoid reading slumps by keeping what I’m reading fresh and varied. So for the next three months on each Thursday I wrote down a book I’d like to see myself read and review for the blog.

In case anything changes, I don’t want to share all the books I plan to read or my anticipated blogging schedule. But I will continue to share the books I would like to read at minimum. Ideally I’ll start getting ahead on these reviews so there’s a buffer for the unexpected hiatus or vacations where it is hard to blog (I already have one trip scheduled for August)!

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling away again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair…

I read this book last fall and really wanted to review it, but I was in a bit of a blogging rut last year. I don’t see this book around much online, so I’m hoping by sharing it on my blog it will find some new readers!


Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

Tayo, a young Native American, has been a prisoner of the Japanese during World War II, and the horrors of captivity have almost eroded his will to survive. His return to the Laguna Pueblo reservation only increases his feeling of estrangement and alienation. While other returning soldiers find easy refuge in alcohol and senseless violence, Tayo searches for another kind of comfort and resolution. Tayo’s quest leads him back to the Indian past and its traditions, to beliefs about witchcraft and evil, and to the ancient stories of his people. The search itself becomes a ritual, a curative ceremony that defeats the most virulent of afflictions—despair.

This is one of the books I bought but never read for my Native American literature survey I took during my undergrad. I feel like it is a good time to start reading some of these works, and this one was really attractive to me because it’s on the shorter side. So hopefully I really connect with it. I’m in the mood to read about different cultures.


Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene

The summer that Patty Bergen turns twelve is a summer that will haunt her forever. When her small hometown in Arkansas becomes the site of a camp housing German prisoners during World War II, Patty learns what it means to open her heart. Even though she’s Jewish, she begins to see a prison escapee, Anton, not as a Nazi — but as a lonely, frightened young man with feelings not unlike her own, who understands and appreciates her in a way her parents never will. And Patty is willing to risk losing family, friends — even her freedom — for what has quickly become the most important part of her life.

This book was one of my random purchases at 2nd & Charles in May. I’m not really sure what to expect. It’s an oldie and a historical fiction, which is a genre I love to read. I also assume it’s a romance book, but since it is an award-winning book I feel like it might be really good. I’m hoping it give me all the feels.


Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.

I bought this book on a whim last month. Maybe it’s because ARCs of its sequel are out, but I’ve been seeing so many people I follow read and gush about this book. Fortunately for me, I discovered it’s the group read of Of Wonderland‘s Book Club hosted on Goodreads, so I’ll have fun becoming involved on there this month!

✄ —– End Note ——–

You should be able to expect a book review for Vassa in the Night on Thursday and hopefully something fun and out of the ordinary this weekend. This weekend was a drag for me as I’ve had bad sinuses since Friday. I think it has something to do with the Saharan Dust that hit Texas this weekend. I’m already really susceptible to sinus problems, and now I think I have an sinus infection. I generally just wait them out with Benadryl, NyQuil, Afrin nasal spray, and loads of sleep.

But hopefully I’m not knocked down for much longer. I’ve got a lot I’m excited to do!

What do you plan to read this month?

Have you read any of the books I mentioned?

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on GoodreadsTwitter, and Instagram.

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The Sunshine Blogger Award | Blog Tag

It was a lovely surprise and honor last weekend to be nominated by Sara @ The Bibliophagist for the Sunshine Blogger Award. I’d never thought I’d be nominated for such a positive award and it makes me want to live up to it!

Since I’ve been busy with my reading project and writing my novel, I was delighted to have something extra to share on the blog today that allow you all to get to know me a little bit better. It was fun thinking about my answers to the questions and hope you all enjoy!

sunshine1

☼ WHAT IS THE SUNSHINE BLOGGER AWARD? ☼

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to those who are creative, positive, and inspiring while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.

☼ THE RULES ☼

  1. Thank the person/persons that nominated you and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions your nominator has given you.
  3. Nominate 11 other people and give them 11 new questions to answer.
  4. List the rules and display the award.

☼ 11 QUESTIONS FROM Sara @ THE BIBLIOPHAGIST ☼

#1 Chocolate or coffee?

Unpopular opinion alert! I’m not the world’s biggest fan of chocolate. I enjoy it now and then, but I can’t eat it all the time. I have a sensitive sweet tooth. So coffee all the way. I didn’t start drinking coffee until my junior year of college really, so I was a late convert. But now I don’t feel like my day has truly started unless I’ve had some.

Mochas are my favorite, though, and that’s basically chocolate coffee!

#2 What’s your perfect “me” time?

I love having a day to myself where I don’t need to go anywhere or have any commitments. I like to shower and be clean, after having worked out and/or cleaned my room, and slip into freshly washed bedsheets and just Netflix and chill. Or YouTube and chill (depends on the day).

#3 Who’s your most read author?

Right now I would probably say Leigh Bardugo, just because I can always find a reason to pick up one of her books. Her books are so enjoyable! I love the Grisha universe. And I’m a nerd who can marvel at writing craft and inventiveness, so there’s always something to gain from reading one of her YA fantasies.

#4 What book are you always thinking about even though you read it a long time ago?

I don’t think my answer would be the same all the time, but I do find myself thinking a lot about Franny & Zoeey by J.D. Salinger. I reread it earlier this year and remembered why I fell in love with it. Most recently I’ve been thinking about it because I’ve moved my furniture around again this week and have some spare wall paper that I’ve been wanting to do something with.

In Franny & Zooey, Zooey goes into his older brothers’ childhood room and finds the back door is covered in large sheet of paper filled to its limit with quotes from favorite authors, leaders, and thinkers. I like the idea of doing this.

#5 What was the happiest day of your life?

I don’t have any big life moments that I can say have made any specific day my happiest. I feel most elated on days where I’ve have great conversations with people I care about, where I’ve found out my hard work has paid off, and where I’ve been able to truly forget all my problems and enjoy small pleasures (like hanging out with friends). These days are too few and far between!

#6 If you could spend the day with any fictional character, who would it be and what would you do?

I think I’d like to walk around 1950s New York City with Holden Caulfield. I just rewatched season one of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel so I have somewhat rosy picture of NYC during that time period in my head right now. And in that book, Holden seems like he needs someone to talk to and most of the time I don’t mind hearing about other people’s problems; it takes my mind off of my own for a change. I like wandering around new places, so I think that would be lovely!

#7 If there’s one unfinished book/TV/any other medium series that you could have finished right now, which would it be?

I’d love get my hands of Leigh Bardugo’s newest Grishaverse book King of Scars!

#8 You’re given the option of knowing the exact date and time of your death or staying blissfully unaware. Which do you pick?

Well, I have a few questions about the scenario where I find out. Would I be able to change any of my actions leading up to it, not necessarily to prevent it but to make sure I left no loose ends in my life? Or would I find out and…what? Instantly forget about it so that I can’t change anything?

…I realize this is probably a weird answer, but I think I’d like to know!

#9 If you were told you could be an expert in any one thing instantly, what would you pick?

World languages! I’d love to be some sort of translator, be able to travel the world, and be involved in important diplomatic meetings and such.

#10 What’s the most recent book that you were unable to (or struggled to) finish?

Oh, this happens all the time in some sort of capacity. I’ll offer two answers, both non-fiction. Spreadable Media is one on a topic that I find really interesting and I’ve not really struggled to actually read it, but I just struggled to make time for it. Another is A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1888/1889. I like historical fiction, but this one is just so detailed I’ve struggled to get very far into it. It hastened a reading slump last year.

#11 If you had six months with no obligations or financial constraints, what would you do with the time?

I would go travel Europe, practice the languages I’ve been trying to learn, write in places that inspire me, meet new people, and try to find a way to leave the U.S. permanently (and legally)!

 ☙ ❧ End Note ❧ ☙ 

I hope you enjoyed reading my answers! I think I’ll have fun revisiting them one day and see how my answers have changed. I don’t really know who to tag, eleven is a lot of people! Also, I don’t really have the time to think up some awesome questions, so I probably wouldn’t even have changed them up much! If you’d like to answer some of the questions in the comment section down below I’d love to read your answers ^_^

I have a busy week ahead of me and more fun stuff planned for the blog. This month is really just passing me by so quickly, it’s a little scary…

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on GoodreadsTwitter, and Instagram.

Book Blogger Tag | #SummerBibib

Hi!

If you saw my post that went up yesterday, you’ll know that I decided to do the Biannual Bibliothon, which runs this week starting today and ending on Saturday at 11:59 p.m. In addition to reading and video challenges, there are also blogging challenges which I have decided to participate in, starting with the Book Blogger Tag, curtesy of host 4TeenLiars.

1. What are you planning to read for the Summer Biannual Bibliothon?

The Graveyard Book, The Catcher in the Rye, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, Never Let Me Go, Flame to the Mist, The Buried Giant.

2. What is your favorite genre to read in Summer?

Action-packed fantasy and cosy literary fiction

3. Where is your favorite place to read in the summer?

Year round, I find my bed super comfortable. But in the summer I also enjoy reading in my houndstooth IKEA chair by the window during the day.

4. What is your favorite challenge done in the Summer Biannual Bibliothon?

LGBTQIA+, as I don’t really feel pulled to read from this genre on the regular and I appreciate the challenge incentive to read more diversely.

5. What fictional character would you hang out with in the summer if you could?

Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle.

6. What are your plans for summer?

I’m really boring and appreciate the ability to be home, having the time to experiment with cooking, and reading more with less of the stress from the school year.

7. Do you have summer reading playlist, if not what would be on it?

I don’t like to read with music on, as I find it too distracting. If I had music on, it would be to drown out other sounds so I guess it’d be soothing classical music.

8.What is your favorite summer movie?

I’m a fan of blockbuster Marvel superhero movies in the summer. Captain America and Iron Man ones are my favs.

9.What book do you read every summer, if not what thing do you do every summer?

I used to read The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood every summer, but I haven’t yet this year and am not sure if I will. Every summer since I started going to college I’ve enjoying having full access to a big and stocked kitchen so I generally try out new plant-based baking recipes every summer.

10.What other book tags are you planning to do this summer?

I don’t know! If I’m tagged in something and find out about it, I’ll likely do those. I might see if there’s any tag I can do for August.

End Note

I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about me in this post. I’ll be back tomorrow with my second blog challenge, which I believe is to write a book review. I may do one for either The Graveyard Book, House of Many Ways, or The Perilous Gard, all of which I’ve most recently read!

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on GoodreadsTwitter, and Instagram.