Happy Friday! #ThePositivityWave

February 12, 2021

Hello and Happy Friday!

I’m joining with Meggy @ Chocolate’n’Waffles to spread some positivity among all the political drama/pandemic updates on social media and in the news. Please feel free to join in with your own Happy Friday post and link to Meggy. Thanks to Carla @Carla Loves to Read for your consistent inspiration!

I haven’t posted a Positivity Friday post since November of 2019! Yikes!

#positivity #gratitude

Positivity

Gratitude and Positivity are FREE and make every day BETTER!

 

Vaccinations!

I’m thrilled to report that I have received my first Covid-19 Vaccination and I am actually driving down this afternoon to receive my second dose! (a bit like the Hunger Games out there vying for an appointment though!) Honestly, I doubted we’d ever get to this point! It’s been a very long haul requiring heaps of patience, endurance, and hope. I often think of my beloved WW11 histfic characters and all they endured and remind myself that I may be under lock-down, but I have technology, wifi, zoom, blogging, books (digital), texting, drive-through fast food, grocery shopping online, and curbside pickup! As we all adjusted, built up our stash of toilet paper, obtained a supply of masks, worked from home, or home-schooled, it was doable….but I still miss gathering for family parties and celebrations, going to the movies, going to the stadium for baseball games, and dining inside restaurants. How is it going in your corner of the world? Have you had access to a vaccination? Are you under strict lock-down or are life activities getting back to normal?

COVID-19 Vaccine (image of a syringe and vial)

Blog Views and 500th Post!

In January, I enjoyed my best ever month for views (what a great surprise and boost!),  and I recently posted my 500th blog post! Thank you to each of you for your support, visits, comments, and shares! Reading people are the best people!

500th post (white text over a sunburst background)

Books to Movies!

Does the prospect of your favorite book coming to the big screen bring you joy?! Although I had to forgo the big screen experience because our theaters are closed, I recently purchased the News of the World release through ON DEMAND with my cable provider (trailer here). I think the DVD will be released in April. It’s always a thrill to see a book to film adaptation (although the book is always better!).

movie night

Book and Authors!

Reading is saving my life during the Pandemic! I’m extremely thankful for dear authors and their engaging stories! I read more books in 2020 than ever before (131!). For a few months my pandemic brain craved HEA and lighter fiction. Now I’m back to reading my usual genres. How about you? Has the pandemic affected your reading life?

More authors also participated in online events during the Pandemic! I was able to watch several events including this lovely interview with favorite author, Louise Penny.

a drawing a young woman reading while sitting on a stack of books among many stacks of books (when I've had enough of reality, I just open a book)

Inspirational!

The best thing about the Super Bowl was this performer signing the National Anthem! Enjoy!

Spiritual!

Since the beginning of the pandemic, these words comfort me.

Steadfast love of the lord



QOTD: What are you feeling Positive about today? 



What is a Good Ending? #LetsTalkBookish #LetsDiscuss2021

January 30, 2021

What is a Good Ending?

What is a Good Ending? (text over a background of a stack of hardback books)

When my daughter took piano lessons and I nagged her about practicing, she told me, “If you practice the beginning of the song and the end of the song and know the beginning and the end really well, she (the teacher) will still give you a sticker!” Silly me to think that she would need to master the entire song!

Girl playing the piano

I feel this way about beginnings and endings to books! The author has about 50 pages to engage me, and she or he better nail the ending! I often change my star rating in the event of an extremely satisfactory ending or a beginning that immerses me immediately into the story.

I love discussion posts, and many of my favorite bloggers participate in Let’s Talk Bookish and the Discussion Challenge. One of my blogging goals in 2021 is to participate in discussion link-ups. Do you enjoy discussion posts?

This post is inspired by the Let’s Talk Bookish topic hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion. This post is also my 1st entry for the 2021 Discussion Challenge, hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction and Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight.

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

If endings are important, what is a good ending?

Some endings are revealed in the first chapter of the book and the story unravels the events that precede it. For example, Little Fires Everywhere starts with the fire, and Everything I Never Told You starts with a death. Do you enjoy endings that are revealed at the beginning of the story?

Reading is a personal experience, and I think the type of ending you prefer is also personal. There are no right or wrong answers here…..just exploration!

Do you have a preference for a certain type of ending? Some different types of endings include:

1.

HEA (happily ever after)

We can expect HEA endings in the Romance or RomCom genres. No matter how much tension or conflict the middle of the story contains, we can be assured of the HEA. Although predictable, this leads to an enjoyable reading experience for many readers. In 2020, my pandemic reading brain seemed to crave these endings!

2.

Hopeful

Middle-Grade stories are known for their themes of hope, and a hopeful ending is an upspoken rule in middle-grade fiction. This is why I turn to MG when I feel myself going into a reading slump or need a break from more intense reads. Of course, adult fiction can also have hopeful endings. I enjoy a hopeful ending immensely! In adult literature, I think a hopeful ending pairs nicely with a second chances trope. Also, endings that involve reconciliation or redemption fall into the hopeful endings category for me. These are some of my favorite endings and Ask Again, Yes and All the Devils Are Here are two examples of endings I love because of reconciliation themes.

3.

Cliffhanger or Open-Ended

A book in a series will sometimes end with a cliffhanger. Even though I might enjoy the series, I don’t enjoy a cliffhanger ending. First, I don’t want to wait a year or more for the next installment. In addition, I think that even books in a series should be able to be read as stand alones. If you’ve just read a fabulous review for All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny and are excited to read it, do you really want to read the prior 15 installments first? Probably not. Fortunately, all of Louise Penny’s books can be read as stand alones because each case is self-contained in one book….although I don’t recommend it because of the character development and overarching themes that develop from book to book. In this series, reading the books in order create a richer reading experience for the reader. In each book. Louise creates a satisfactory ending. We may be curious about what happens next in the family, or to the friends, or in the village, but all conflict and problems are resolved. This is a very long response to say that while I don’t mind a cliffhanger at the end of a chapter, I don’t enjoy cliffhangers as story endings! In addition, I don’t honestly enjoy open-ended endings. After I’ve invested hours reading the book, I need some sort of conclusion!

4.

Satisfactory

I don’t necessarily need HEA endings, but I do enjoy a satisfactory ending. A Place For Us doesn’t exactly have a happy ending and it left me wondering what would happen next for the family relationships, but the ending was satisfactory in many ways (mainly because it was realistic). Several readers have complained about the ending in Little Fires Everywhere, but it was satisfactory for me because enough subtle hints were given for me to imagine what their future might be. In fact, I reread the last few pages several times to glean all the clues! I rate it satisfactory where many readers didn’t feel this way. News of the World by Paulette Jiles has an ending (epilogue) that I felt was extremely satisfying and I truly loved it because it addressed a thought-provoking theme of “doing things right or doing the right thing.”

5.

Sad

Confession: I didn’t read #3 in the Divergent Trilogy because I read in reviews that favorite characters die. If a character you love dies in the end, that’s a sad ending. I feel that some authors manipulate you to “ugly cry” and I don’t like those stories or endings. Sometimes, though, an ending is sad because the story follows the character to the end of his or her life. Stories that have these types of endings include The Book Thief, A Man Called Ove, Castle of Water, The Story of Arthur Truluv, and The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett. I think of these endings as bittersweet rather than sad.

6.

Plot Twist

I can think of one book I vehemently disliked because of the plot twist at the end: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon I didn’t see it coming and I felt “punked” by the author. It ruined the entire story for me and I wanted to throw the book across the room! Others loved the story but the ending ruined it for me. Other stories like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman have a plot twist that really works! In reading Eleanor, I was surprised but not in a negative way….more in an ahhh haaaa way that caused me to want to reread the book from a new perspective

7.

Epilogue

Some stories include an epilogue. I usually enjoy epilogues because they help us understand what the future holds for our beloved characters. There are a few books that I feel needed an epilogue including Eleanor & Park (what were those three words?!)The Girl With the Louding Voice and Little Fires Everywhere. Epilogues are like a serving of dessert after a great meal!

8.

Ambiguous, Unresolved, Confusing, Falls Flat, Rushed, Abrupt

Ugh! These are my least favorite endings. After all the time I’ve invested, I don’t appreciate an ending that falls short: flat, ambiguous, unresolved, rushed, abrupt, or confusing. Authors, please give me a satisfactory ending! A few endings I have felt conflicted about include The Scent Keeper by Erica Braumiester (great story, beautifully written, but the ending fell flat for me) and The Mothers by Brit Bennett (engaging story and interesting characters, but I felt the ending fizzled). For the most part, The Great Alone is a story with a tense, slow build up….then BAM….the ending is rushed and frantically paced. I realize these opinions fall under personal preference!

9.

Bittersweet

In the historical fiction genre, I encounter this type of ending quite often. These realistic endings usually leave me with a book hangover!

10.

Explicit

In this type of ending, there are no lingering doubts or questions. Every character is revisited and has a thoroughly described ending. I recall that William Kent Kruegar in This Tender Land carefully follows through with what happens to the four children. Some readers prefer that an ending is left more to the imagination or inference, but I don’t mind well-explained endings! I prefer explicit to open-ended every time.

QOTD: Which ending do you prefer?



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© ReadingLadies.com

World War 11 Reads


January 27, 2021

World War 11 Reads
(including some Holocaust reads)

January 27th is International
Holocaust Remembrance Day

holocaust remembrance day

Meme from theisraelproject.org.  In addition to the six million Jews, there were approximately five million others killed by the Nazis: gypsies, homosexuals, people with mental or physical disabilities, Jehovah’s Witnesses, resistance fighters, Poles and other Slavic peoples.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day (white text on black background, one single candle)

Those of us who read WW11 Historical Fiction have stories of the Holocaust and the suffering of the Jewish people burned into our hearts. On this day of remembrance, I’ve listed some of the most memorable WW11 books I’ve read. Some involve the Holocaust. some describe the efforts of others or how their own lives were affected, and others take place during WW11. This is NOT a list exclusively about the Holocaust even though we are remembering this horrific event in history today.

***Titles are links to my blog or goodreads reviews or affiliate Amazon links.

Helping Others

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

Resistance; Spies

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Code Name Hélène by Ariel Lawhon

Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini

The Invisible Woman by Erika Robuck (ARC, Pub Date: 2/9/21)

The Baker’s Secret by Stephen P Kierman

The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff

Families

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

Nonfiction, Memoirs

The Choice: Embrace the Possible by Dr. Edith Eva Eger

The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

Saving Children

The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke

The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton

The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel

Young Adult (New Young Adult and Adult crossover)

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe

Paper Hearts by Meg Woviott

Concentration Camps

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris

(***Yes, I’m aware that Heather Morris has received criticism of her work in regard to historical facts, however, I still appreciated the stories.)

Living During WW11

The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin (ARC, Pub Date: 4/6/21)

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles (ARC, Pub Date: 2/9/21)

Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman

Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark T. Sullivan

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

The Butterfly and the Violin by Kristy Cambron

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

The Soldier’s Wife by Margaret Leroy

The Lost Wife by Alyson Richman

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

The Room on Rue Amelie by Kristin Harmel

White Rose, Black Forest by Eoin Dempsey

Unbroken: A WW11 Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

Red Sky Over Hawaii, The Lieutenant’s Nurse, The Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers all by Sara Ackerman

The Winemaker’s Wife by Kristin Harmel

The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey

Room on Rue Amélie by Kristin Harmel

Holocause Remembrance Day: In Memory of 6 Million Jews (white text on black background, a row of candles burn)



What titles can you add? I thought of adding Sarah’s Key, but I didn’t actually read it because I saw the movie. I know it’s a favorite for many histfic readers.

QOTD: Have you read any of these titles?



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© ReadingLadies.com

 

Bookish Confessions #TopTenTuesday

January 19, 2021

Bookish Confessions

My Bookish Confessions (white text over a background of book shelves)

Top Ten Tuesday (meme)

I couldn’t find my motivation for the Top Ten Tuesday topic today because I’ve already made a Winter TBR, so I’m going rogue with my own Top Ten Tuesday post (and I’m sure it’s been a topic in the past that I haven’t addressed….so a “make up” post?).

In three and one half years, I’ve never written a Bookish Confessions post. I’ve enjoyed many similar posts, so I think this week is the time to offer mine to the bookish blogging community!

1.

I’ve Never Read Harry Potter!

I guess I need to list this one first and get it over with: I’ve never read Harry Potter!

2.

I’m a picky reader.

I’ve developed into a picky reader…or I guess I should say I KNOW what I like and this has led to a rewarding and rich reading life! I like realistic fiction, historical fiction, brave characters, thoughtful and substantial themes, inspirational biographies/memoirs, sweet middle-grade reads, novels in verse, thoughtful women’s fiction (not chick lit), and complicated family drama. If I stick with these genres and categories, I usually do not have an unsatisfactory reading experience.

3.

I’ve Become a Shameless DNFer!

The main reasons for DNFing include

* excessive profanity or graphic violence
* slow to engage me
* paranormal or occult content
* boring
* feelings of dread rather than joy (upon picking up the book)
* poorly written

“So many books, so little time.” ~Frank Zappa

“Reading good books, ruins you for enjoying bad ones.” ~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

See my related post here: My Love/Hate Relationship With DNF

4.

Sometimes I Peek at the Last Chapter!

I know some readers who would NEVER peek at the last chapter. EVER.

Yet, at times (especially if the book is too stressful and my anxiety interferes with my enjoyment) I will skim the last chapter (mainly, to see if my beloved main character lives!). Sometimes if I am contemplating a DNF, I will read the last chapter before I abandon it to see if anything in that chapter engages me enough to return to reading.  Usually if I do DNF a book, I will still read the last chapter for closure.

5.

I Don’t Enjoy Chick Lit!

I prefer thoughtful, substantial themes. I have found that Elin Hilderbrand rarely offers what I prefer in chick lit. Whereas, I’ve been engaged with Katherine Center’s work. I’m not exactly adverse to chick lit (evidence=I read more chick lit in 2020 under lockdown than ever before), but I enjoy chick lit that has some snappy writing and meaningful themes. It’s always tricky to note what I don’t enjoy because it may be your absolute favorite! Reading is a personal experience, and I think each person should find what suits her or him. There’s no judgement here! I want you to find what’s most enjoyable for you!

(more…)

[Reblog] What Was the Best Decision You Made in 2020? #MentalHealth

January 8, 2021

What Was the Best Decision You Made in 2020? by Deb @ Deb’s World

What Was the Best Decision You Made in 2020? (Image: A woan holding up a HELP sign to her head)

One of my favorite posts of the year!

I have Deb’s permission to “reblog” her post, but for some reason, I can’t get the “Reblog” feature to work today, so I’m posting a link here to Deb’s post about mental health in 2020.

Please give this post a read (and my blogging friend a follow)!

What Was the Most Important Decision You Made in 2020?



QOTD:

What was the most important decision you made in 2020?



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



 

2020 Reading Stats and 2021 Goals

January 1, 2021

Happy New Year Book Worms!

2020 Reading Stats and 2021 Goals

Reflection: 2020 Reading and 2021 Goals (an open journal, a pen, a book, and a candle)

Image Source: Canva

Brace yourself for a nerdy post, bookaholics!

Have you ever set a reading goal or considered a reading challenge?

Reading in 2020

I’d love to hear from you if you analyze reading data at year’s end. Although I’ve always been analytical, I think my appreciation for using data to plan was heightened during my tenure as a teacher when I poured over student data to inform my teaching. Now, instead of looking at student achievement, I’m paying attention to my own numbers as it relates to reading achievement. I realize that while numbers are not that important in a rewarding reading life, they do reveal some trends and inform future reading choices. It’s important to me that I’m reading diversely, supporting women authors, and increasing my nonfiction percentage. While this post about the numbers is mostly a self-reflection, I hope you find it interesting and possibly motivating toward considering your own reading achievement during the past year and setting some goals for 2020.

If you’ve read ONE book this year, you’re a reader and I encourage you to celebrate that read and accomplishment!

Blog Feedback

I’d also like to know (in comments) what you’d like to see more of or less of on the blog for 2021. Has the variety thhasis year been satisfactory for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts! In fact, I may put together a survey in January.

2020 has been a challenging year, but I’m also so grateful for good books and good bookish conversation! Thank you to each of my followers and visitors! Thanks for the views, comments, and shares! I appreciate EACH one!
giphy

Best of 2020

See this post for a list of my most memorable reads in 2020.



Let’s Talk Numbers!

Total Books Read: 131

Remember….it’s really not about the numbers! It’s about the enjoyment of reading.

This is the highest number of books I’ve read since starting a book review blog and retiring….I averaged 25-30 books a year when I was teaching full time and the majority of those were read during the summer. For me in this season of life, 100 books is a comfortable number. I average two books per week and the weeks when I can only read one dense nonfiction or a 500+ page fiction are balanced out later when I can read 3 lighter, shorter books in one week.

Goodreads Challenge graphic



Books Abandoned (DNF): 7

I’m getting better at knowing my reading tastes and passing on books/genres that I know won’t be to my taste. I’m also not reluctant to abandon books that aren’t working for me. There are too many great books waiting to be read to make myself finish something that isn’t right for me at the time. Are you a fearless abandoner or a committed finisher



Women Authors: 120!

WOW! One of my goals in starting this blog is to support women authors writing about strong women and I feel like I’ve had success in this area. We’ve certainly come a long way since the days when women had to publish under a man’s name!



Diverse Reads: 16

For this number, I counted the books that take place in a culture other than my own, whose characters are ethnically different from me, and whose author is an author of color. It was my focus this year to intentionally read and promote authors of color. I have read other books in a broader sense of diversity, and it’s always my goal to read more diversely.

Library Books:

One stat I wanted to specifically track this year is the percentage of books I read that are from the library.

Library = 66 (50%)
ARC = 36 (27%)
Own = 29 (22%)

I feel great that half the books I read are from the library! Between library books and ARCs, 77% of my books are free! Great kindle deals help me buy books to own.



Fiction: (Broken Down by Sub-Genre): 113

The sub-genres add up to a bit more than 113 because a few books fall into more than one category.

Historical Fiction: 36
This is obviously a favorite sub-genre!

Literary Fiction: 4
This is a category that brings about some debate among readers….the most simple definition is that literary fiction is not genre fiction. Also, it’s known as literature written to explore the meaning of life and its issues….for example, most prestigious award recipients and national prize winners are categorized as literary fiction.

Women’s Fiction: 40
Wow! This is the first time I’ve ever read this much “women’s fiction”! There were months when these books were a balm to my pandemic brain! Again, a reader’s definition may vary….for me they are books in which most characters are women and the plot centers around women’s concerns and issues….some in this category are lighter reads that readers refer to as “beach reads” or “vacation reads.”

Mystery/Thriller/Suspense: 9
Clearly, I don’t read too much in this category because real life is scary enough….mainly, the books I read in this category are best sellers that I want to form my own opinion about. However, one of my favorite mystery series that I’ve deemed “just right” is the Inspector Armand Gamache Series by Louise Penny which is set in Three Pines.

Issue Centered: 11
The main purpose of these stories is to focus on a social or health issue. I usually enjoy these books unless they are heavily agenda driven by the author.

Middle Grade: 16
I love a great Middle Grade read! There’s some enjoyable and engaging literature in this category for adults!

Young Adult: 7
A satisfactory number for me this year.



Nonfiction (broken down into sub-genres): 18

This is a definite area for improvement for me in 2021 (although it’s 5 more than last year!) ! My goal is to have a 20% nonfiction percentage.

Memoir: 10
Memoir is a favorite form of nonfiction.

Biography: 1

Narrative Nonfiction: 0
Nonfiction written in story format.

Essay: 6

True Crime: 1
I started another one but it was a DNF after I had a bad dream! Not my fav genre!



Let’s Consider 2020 Goals and New 2021 Goals

Here are my reading goals for 2021 (please share yours in comments):
(for blog recap and goals, see this post)

Goal 1:

Goodreads Reading Challenge (determine how many books you’d like to read and track them through the Goodreads app). This is the easiest of the goals/challenges as it simply involves setting a number. This number can be adjusted throughout the year if you are reading above or below your goal. I recommend setting a reasonable goal and then raising it if necessary. My goal is 100 books. I met this goal in 2018, 2019, and 2020, and it’s reasonable that I will meet it again. Retirement and pandemic isolation help tremendously! The 2021 Goodreads challenge will be available at the first of the year. Are we friends on Goodreads?

Goodreads Challenge graphic

Goal 2:

Modern Mrs. Darcy 2020 Reading Challenge (very broad, doable categories that might provide some stretch in your reading life). With the number of books I read, this goal is fairly easy for me to achieve. It doesn’t require a sign up (unless you want to receive emails from the site). She has changed the structure of the challenge this year and I may not participate or I may use this one again for 2021. Here are the results from the 2020 challenge:

  1. A book I missed reading when I was younger (I changed this from a book published in the decade I was born because I couldn’t find one to interest me): A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; Bloomability
  2. A debut novel: The Girl With the Louding Voice
  3. A book recommended by a source you trust: Writers & Lovers
  4. A book by a local author: Lovely War
  5. A book outside your (genre) comfort zone (graphic novels): Hey Kiddo; Roller Girl
  6. A book in translation: Anxious People
  7. A book nominated for an award in 2020: Hamnet (Women’s Prize for Fiction winner); The Girl With the Louding Voice (shortlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize)
  8. A re-read: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry (I loved it even more the second time!)
  9. A classic you didn’t read in school: The Bell Jar (modern classic); A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  10. Three Books by the same author: Big Lies in a Small Town, The Silent Sister, and Necessary Lies all by Diane Chamberlain; the Harbor series (4 books) by Sheila Roberts

Goal 3:

Participate in other challenges such as:

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge (especially great for bloggers and reviewers who want monthly link-up opportunities)….My Goal: read twenty-five histfic books. ***I read 36 books so I met my goal!

NetGalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge (link-up opportunities for members of NetGalley and Edelweiss)..My Goal: read and review 10 Netgalley books (ARCs) ***I read 36 ARCs, so I exceeded this goal!

2020 Nonfiction Reader Challenge…My Goal: read three nonfiction books from any category. Here are the categories and what I read:

  1. Memoir: Born a Crime
  2. Disaster Event: The Only Plane in the Sky
  3. Social Science: Between Inca Walls
  4. Related to an Occupation: Rust
  5. History: Caste
  6. Feminism: She Come By It Natural
  7. Psychology: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone
  8. Medical Issue: The Choice (PTSD)
  9. Nature: The Salt Path
  10. True Crime:
  11. Science:
  12. Published in 2020: Don’t Overthink It

***I almost read in every category! Many of the titles above can be considered Memoir and some were Published in 2020….so if I arrange these differently, I think I’ve read at least three in each of those categories. Shelley @ Book’d Out has created a Nonfiction Challenge for 2021 which I will participate in because of my goal to read 20% nonfiction.

Blog Audit Challenge: In January last year, I decided to participate in Jo Linsdell’s challenge in order to push myself to work on my blog. It was a great year of reflection and practical steps. My monthly posts here:

January Blog Audit Challenge–Mission Statement/Strengths & Weaknesses/Content Schedule
February Blog Audit Challenge–Information Pages
March Blog Audit Challenge–The Trimmings
April Blog Audit Challenge–Design
May Blog Audit Challenge–SEO
June Blog Audit Challenge–Links
July Blog Audit Challenge–Quality Content
August Blog Audit Challenge–Content Gap
September Blog Audit Challenge–Develop Readership
October Blog Audit Challenge–Social Networking
November Blog Audit Challenge–Media Kits and Collaboration
December Blog Audit Challenge–Stats

Jo Linsdell is offering a new blog challenge for 2021. I’m thinking about it!

Goal 4:

Based on my 2020 reading, I know I want to increase my nonfiction reading percentage. Out of 131 books read, 13 were nonfiction (14%). My goal for 2021 is to increase that to 20%.



What reading goals do you have for 2021?

goal make things happen



Happy New Year! I hope you’ve experienced some pleasurable and challenging reading in 2020 and are eagerly anticipating the reading year ahead!

Good Riddance 2020!



QOTD:

Did you meet your reading goal for 2020?

What is your 2021 Reading Goal?

Do you use a method for tracking your reads during the year?

Have you considered your best read of the year? (see my most memorable reads in this post)



Happy Reading Book Worms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



In Movie News….

Did you see News of the World in the theater this week? Because of the pandemic, all our theaters are closed here. I’ll need to wait until it is streamed somewhere. It’s difficult to wait, though, because it’s my most anticipated movie (book to film adaptation) of the year!



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



ICYMI

Winter 2020/2021 TBR



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© WWW.ReadingLadies.com

Blog Audit Challenge 2020: December #blogauditchallenge2020

December 30, 2020

December’s Blog Audit Challenge 2020

Blog Audit Challenge 2020 (picture of a woman's hands on the keyboard of a laptop)Blogging Friends,

This year I’m participating in Blog Audit Challenge 2020 hosted by Jo Linsdell. The plan is to work on making our blogs even better and setting our goals for the coming months. Each month will have its own challenge to work through. This is the last month of the challenge.

 I hope that if you are reading this that you continue to be well and that your area is opening up for business and recreation with social distancing precautions. Our area is back to increased lockdowns due to an increase in COVOD-19 cases. Hoping the vaccine will soon turn things around. Stay safe and mask up, blogging buddies!

December’s Challenge Focus: Know Your Stats

What a year this has been!

I’m thankful for my blog which kept me engaged and productive during the most difficult lockdown periods (which we’re in again here).

This is my 479th post! THANK YOU to each one who has followed my blog! I’m grateful for EACH visit, view, comment, and share. It’s a joy to share books and the reading life with you!

giphy

I hope you’ve enjoyed this year-long Blog Audit Challenge series! I’m doing something in this post that I do every month and every year’s end…analyze stats!

Are you a stats nerd like me? As a teacher, I grew dependent on stats (assessments) to inform my teaching, and that habit has carried over into blogging.

Each blogger is on her or his own journey in blogging and some may look at these stats and think mine are paltry while others might be amazed or even jealous. I always hesitate to share stats because I DO NOT want to promote any bad feelings or look like a clueless amateur. I simply share my stats in hopes that it will give you an authentic look at someone’s newish blog (3 1/2 years) and give you a realistic picture of what a blogger can accomplish in that time with a substantial amount of consistent effort. I work hard at writing content and promotion, so that is reflective in my stats.

1

Check Analytics

So far, I’ve only used the WordPress tools to check my blog stats. One of my blogging goals next year is to activate Google Analytics for a more in-depth look. How do you determine success? When I first started blogging, I relied heavily on page views to rate my success. Currently, I look at the number of comments (engagement) to evaluate success. So even though views are progressing nicely, I am especially interested in the number of comments which demonstrate that followers are reading and engaging with my content. After three plus years, I can finally compare year-to-year progress, so below you will see my stats for three years:

2018 (first full year of blogging)
* Views: 13,652
* First Time Visitors: 7,696
* Comments: 605

2019
* Views: 60,910
* First Time Visitors: 35.5k
* Comments: 2,044

2020
* Views: 118.3k
* First Time Visitors: 73.1k
* Comments: 3,422

I think the jump from 2018 to 2019 can be attributed to an increase in more posts per week, participating in more memes (such as Top Ten Tuesday), consistent social promotion, and more discussion posts. Over the 3 1/2 years, my total views  = 196.2k; total visitors = 118.4k; and my best daily view record = 852.

Other interesting stats include:

* Search Terms: One of the most important stats to look at in my opinion! Why or how do people end up on your blog? Overwhelmingly, “book recommendations” in some form are among my highest search terms. Other popular search terms include “book club discussion questions,” other “book club” related searches, a specific “book title,”and  “summary” or “synopsis.” I look at Search Terms every week! First, it’s interesting and Second, they can inspire a post (for example, one search term was “light histfic for women”….I can create a post about that!). Third, these Search Terms can be added to your future blog posts: for instance, I try to remember to include the word “book club” somewhere in my content as it’s one of my highest search terms!

* Average Word Count (important for SEO): my average word count for 2020 is 845 (my shorter meme posts bring down this average). I think my word count is in the acceptable range especially since many of my posts have higher word counts.

* Most Viewed Posts: It’s also informative to look at your most viewed posts. In 2017 (blogged for 6 months): 2017 Really Recommendable Reads (views); in 2018 Where the Crawdads Sing (495 views); in 2019 Where the Crawdads Sing (7,777 views)….I’m certainly happy I read and reviewed that book!); in 2020 The Book of Lost Friends (7, 447 views). My conclusion is that although a discussion post or memes are great for entertainment and variety, my book reviews and book recommendation posts still receive more views. Is this true for you, too? Which post of yours has received the most views?

* Referrers: In 2020 my top referrers are: Search Engines: 62.8k; WordPress Reader: 5,480k; Pinterest: 2,517; Instagram: 897; Twitter: 911; Facebook: 802 (Thus my opinion: it’s beneficial to promote across all platforms! Every view counts!)

* Domain Authority (DA): This is something I look at once a month for free at the MOZ Domain Analysis site. DA is a search engine ranking score that predicts a website’s ability to rank on search engine results pages. The score is from 0-100: 25 is an acceptable score for small bloggers, 40-50 is considered average, 50-60 is good, and over 60 is excellent. To give you an idea, Modern Mrs. Darcy has a domain score of 54 and she’s a HUGE blogging success. I’m not trying to compete with her. If you’re curious, you can type any website into the domain checker and find our their DA! Amazon’s is 96! Our host, Jo Linsdell’s, is 30! Congrats Jo! The free domain checker gives you a certain number of opportunities for free each month. Why do I care about DA? Well, once on Twitter, a blogger was asking for bloggers for a collaboration or a guest post or something….she indicated that she was looking for bloggers with a DA of 20 something (I can’t remember the exact number now. But it sent me down a rabbit hole to find out about DA and if I had it and what my score was. My first DA score was a dismal 13 …. then it went from 16 to 18 to 21 to 23 to 25 (yay!) down to 22 (what?!), up to 23, and currently 22 (again). I have no idea about the algorithms of DA but I do know that SEO is part of it in some way.  In my investigation into DA I have discovered these contributing factors:

  • Quality Content
  • SEO best practices
  • Internal Linking (you want to reduce your bounce rate and encourage readers to stay on your blog and look around)…for example, I linked to my May Blog Audit Challenge on SEO above.
  • High Quality External Links (remove broken links…I update one old post per week and I’m surprised by the number of broken links I find!)
  • (Increase) Publishing Frequency
  • Friendly Website (speed, headings, structure, mobile friendly, etc)
  • A Domain Name That Describes Your Niche
  • Social Promotion

If you are a NEW blogger and feel overwhelmed by this information, choose one thing to focus on this month or next year! It’s taken me 3 1/2 years to work on these items and I still have a list of areas that I need to improve or implement!

(more…)

Merry “Pandemic” Christmas!

December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas to Everyone Who Celebrates!

We are ready here!

Santa's Sidekick

,

Luke Bryan, O Holy Night

Josh Groban, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear

(my fav verse)

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

Do you love Flash Mobs?

“Hallelujah Chorus”

Merry Christmas

The Currently Reading Book Tag

December 23, 2020

The Currently Reading Book Tag

an open journal and pen next to a hardback book and a candle (also, plaid ribbon and red ornament decorations on a silver tray)

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

I’m continuing to have FUN during these days before Christmas by catching up on some tags. I appreciate each tag, but I’m not the best at responding! Yesterday, I completed Davida’s Sunshine Blogger’s Award tag.

Thanks Emily @ Frappes and Fiction for tagging me!

The Questions:

How many books do you usually read at once?

I can do a deep dive into one OR I can read three at a time. When I read multiple books, I almost always read different genres. I think it works well to read a fiction and a nonfiction at the same time. I find that most nonfiction can easily be read in chunks allowing space for reading another book. Some readers who read multiple books at a time use time blocking. For example, you might read nonfiction during your morning reading time, a fiction for some afternoon reading time, and poetry or something inspirational before bed. Another strategy for reading multiple books is to choose a fiction/nonfiction book pairing (some examples of pairings in this post). Sometimes I enjoy reading an ebook and an audio book concurrently (ebook for my at-home reading spot and audio for driving, walking, or doing chores). Probably the most I read at one time is three….but I could do more! How about you? How many books do you read at once? Do you have a certain strategy for reading more than one book at a time?

How do you decide to switch between multiple reads?

I’m a huge mood reader so if I’m reading something dense or heavy, I’ll choose a lighter read to balance it out. A good example of this is when I read The Only Plane in the Sky...it was so emotional and heavy that I must have read four books during the time I read Last Plane because I could only read a few pages at a time.  Another example is Gentleman in Moscow. Although it was beautifully written and I was committed to finishing it, I found that I needed to take breaks from it and read something else. This strategy kept me from DNFing it and helped me hang in there until I reached the faster-paced ending. Another reason I might switch is if I have an ARC deadline pending or a library due date looming. If you read multiple books at a time, how do you decide when to switch?

Do you ever switch bookmarks partway through a book?

I don’t usually read physical books so I don’t use bookmarks. When I do use a bookmark, I love my little magnetic butterfly and I don’t switch. I like the magnetic bookmark because it doesn’t fall out like other bookmarks! Do you have a favorite bookmark?

What time of day do you read most?

Because I’m recently retired, I read at all times of the day and night. However, you can ALWAYS find me reading late at night after the house is quiet. I like to spend my morning hours checking in with social media and blog hopping. If I’m captivated by a book, I will read ALL day like it’s my job!

How long do you typically read in one session?

Like I mentioned above, I can read ALL day (joys of retirement and the empty nest!)! How much I read in one session really depends on the book and what else is going on in my life. I can typically read a 300-350 page book in one day, so that means I can read a very long time in one session!

Do you read hardcovers with the dust jacket off?

Nope. I usually leave it on. If I took it off, I would probably misplace it or it would get smashed somewhere. Safer to leave it on in my opinion. Plus the flap makes a handy bookmark! Do you leave yours on?

What position do you mainly use to read?

I like to switch up positions frequently (because I read so long in one session!), but I think my favorite position in on my back with my head propped…either on the couch, a recliner, or in bed. The only danger in this position is that if I fall asleep, my kindle drops in my face! What is your most comfortable position for reading?

Do you take your current read with you everywhere you go?

Absolutely! Because I read on kindle, I have the kindle app on my phone which is with me at all times (the kindle app syncs to my current read) . I look forward to waiting rooms and long lines (pre-pandemic) where I will always seize the opportunity to read! My favorite place to read is in a local bagel shop! Do you read on the go?

How often do you upgrade your Goodreads reading progress?

I update Goodreads when I begin a book and when I finish. I don’t always update my progress unless it’s a book that I’ll be reading over a long period or if I need to return it to the library before I’m finished. I do check my Goodreads news feed every day though. I also use it to check reviews and to track the number of books I read in a year. Are we friends on Goodreads?

***I TAG anyone who wants to participate!



Thanks again Emily for the tag! I hope you enjoyed my answers!

Related: Check out my recent post: What Is Your Reading Style?

a large bear raeding a red book beside an old fashioned lamp on a snowy day



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Let’s Get Social!

Thank you for visiting and reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along (see subscribe or follow option), promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.

Find me at:
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Pinterest



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

© ReadingLadies.com

Sunshine Blogger Award #TakeTwo

December 22, 2020

Sunshine Blogger Award #TakeTwo

Sunshine Blogger Award (text on a field of marigolds...top and bottom yellow and blue star border)

I’m honored to be the recipient of awards and tags…..unfortunately, I have difficulty with follow-through! My apologies to anyone I haven’t responded to who has tagged me!

I’m taking a blogging break of sorts this week (Christmas Week) to have some FUN! I thought today might be a perfect time to acknowledge this thoughtful award from Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog.

Here are the rules for today’s tag:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their page (THANKS Davida!)
  • List the rules
  • Answer the 11 questions
  • Nominate 11 new bloggers and ask them 11 new questions

My Answer to Davida’s Questions:

First of all, if you had to pick one author as your #1 favorite, who would it be; and what book of theirs would you recommend others read first?

No surprise here, folks! Fredrick Backman is currently my favorite author. I wrote an entire post about it here. He’s a skilled wordsmith, creative, risk-taking, thoughtful, and heavily character-driven I’m a completist and have read all his work. These are my favs in order:

What genre do you refuse to read, and why?

If you’ve followed me for long, you will notice that my reviews heavily involve certain genres/subgenres (histfic, complicated family dramas, literary fiction, women’s fiction, memoirs, biographies, and new releases). Conspicuously absent are reviews of thrillers, paranormal, erotica, horror, crime fiction, true crime, child abduction, and anything extremely graphic, violent, or disturbing. I’m an HSP (highly sensitive person) in my reading life and I think real life is scary enough. To give you an idea, American Dirt and The Huntress are about as harrowing as I can handle without triggering nightmares! Interestingly, I can read about concentration camps in my WW11 histfic selections without ill effects.

Do You Think You Spend Too Much Time Blogging or Not Enough Time Blogging?

For me, I have found a good balance and I think I spend just about the right amount of time. I’m recently retired, so reading/blogging fills those hours…and it’s certainly been nice to have something to take my mind off the pandemic! I love my blogging life and treasure my blogging friendships!

When you’re reading a book and you suddenly realize you don’t like it, what makes you decide you can’t read further, if at all?

I’m NOT afraid to DNF for several reasons: triggering content, excessive profanity (especially combined with other factors), boredom (nothing happening…feelings of dread and not of joy when I pick up the book, mindless scrolling social media instead of reading), not my preferred genre, disturbing content, and an overly done author agenda. I wrote a post about my love/hate relationship with DNF here.

Is there a nickname, persona or “handle” that you use online, and if so, what’s the story behind it?

I use some version of reading ladies across all platforms (if you have a bookish account, let’s connect):

Twitter (ReadingLadiesBC)
Instagram (readingladies_book_club)
Goodreads Carol (Reading Ladies)
Pinterest (ReadingLadies)

Here’s the story behind the handle: I was reading the recent installment of No 1 Ladies Detective Agency at the time and I thought I could do a take-off on that like No 1 Ladies Reading Club … or some variation. The tech person helping me set up my blog gave me the side-eye when I explained how to spell “No” and gently explained that I needed something people didn’t have to wonder how to spell…so I said “fine….reading ladies book club @ readingladies.com). Honestly, I didn’t think much about it. I just wanted my blog to be up and running. If I could change it at this point, I might change it to “Sunflowers and Stories” or something (cuter) like that. Another reason behind the (plural) name is that I would eventually like this to be a team effort. I’d love to bring a new blogger on board who would like to learn the ropes of blogging without going solo….like an intern. It’s always tricky to find someone with similar interests and style. I know there’s a person out there, I just need to connect! So a long-range goal is to make Reading Ladies a team!

What is one food you could eat every single day and never tire of eating it?

Chocolate!

If you could build your dream home in your dream type of location, where would it be?

My dream home would definitely be in a tropical location overlooking the ocean!

What makes you angrier than anything else, and what do you do to express or repress your anger?

Hummmm….it makes me angry when adults mistreat, ignore, or damage children. I think people throughout history that have rescued children (like Tante Truus in The Last Train to London) are the best people! I just finished reading The Leavers and the way the adults treated Daniel caused me such grief that it greatly affected my reading experience. I felt the same way when I read Before We Were Yours or Orphan Train. These are the most difficult reads for me. In my teaching career, I tried to get my students any help they needed from the counselor. I took all their concerns seriously and did my best to help or listen or care….that’s all I could do. I was always the teacher knocking at the psychologist’s door insisting on services for a child!

When you were 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I’m not sure I was 10, but I remember when I was young wanting to be an author. When I was a little older, I dreamed of owning a book store. Neither of these dreams came true….but in my teaching career my passion was to create lifelong readers and to cultivate the joy of reading, and hopefully, my blog supports the reading world! In a way, my life has always been literary and has revolved around books and reading.

If you could choose any destination to visit anywhere in the world when this virus ends, where would you decide to go, and why?

  1. South Dakota for my family reunion that was canceled during the pandemic
  2. Hawaii (to read on the beach)

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you like answering these types of questions?

I guess an 8! Did you enjoy my answers?

My Nominees:

I follow hundreds of blogs, so I hesitate to single out bloggers. To follow the rules, though, I need to mention a few. Give them a follow! These nominees represent lovely and supportive blogging friends whom I interact with on a regular basis.

Feel free to participate…or not!

Nicki @ The Secret Library Book Review Blog

Lynne @ Fictionophile

Carla @ Carla Loves To Read

Tina @ Reading Between the Pages

Jaymi @ The OC Book Girl

Hopewell’s Public Library of Life

Karen @ Booker Talk

Sandy @ Sandy’s Book a Day Blog

Julie @ A Little Book Problem

Debbie @ Deb’s World

Jonetta @ Blue Mood Cafe

My Questions:

  1. What is your favorite genre to review?
  2. Where is your favorite place to read?
  3. Do you remember your first book hangover?
  4. What is your favorite snack and/or beverage while reading?
  5. What was your favorite children’s book?
  6. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never ever read __________.
  7. Three people I’d invite to a literary dinner party are __________, __________, and __________.
  8. The blogger/bookstagramer that has most inspired me is _________ and why.
  9. If I dressed up as a literary character for Halloween, I would choose to be __________.
  10. If I could introduce one literary character to another literary character, I would introduce __________ to __________ because __________.
  11. Are you a DNFer or a FINISHer?

THANKS for the tag Davida! I hope you enjoyed my answers!



If you celebrate, are you ready for Christmas in a few days?