I’m Halfway To My Goodreads Goal

For the past couple of years, I’ve pledged to read 52 books in one year – that’s one book a week. I usually go above and beyond, especially since I tend to read two books a week during the summer. This year was no exception to that goal, but… I’ve been in a reading slump for practically half of the year.

I'm Halfway To My Goodreads Goal | Book Reviews | Reading | Reading Goals | Goodreads | RachelPoli.com

I’ve gotten into reading slumps in the past but have always managed to reach my Goodreads goal. This is usually because I end up reading middle-grade level books or something of the kind. Not because they’re short and quick, but because I actually enjoy those kinds of books. It just helps out that they happen to be short and quick reads. But if they’re good and I enjoy them, then who cares how long they are and how long it takes me to read them?

I’ve always been the type of person to not rush through books. Reading one book a week is a good pace for me since I can typically read between 50 and 100 pages a day.

And yet, I’ve gone into a hardcore reading slump for the past few months. No matter what I try to do, I just don’t feel like reading. I’ve been going to the library and picking out textbooks for research on various topics so maybe I’ll review those books down the road. It’d be something different, at least. Still, I haven’t been reading the typical novel.

We’re now about a week into October which means there are only three months left in the year. My Goodreads goal still stands at 52 books and, according to my Goodreads, I’ve only read 14 books. This is because I haven’t been updating it at all and haven’t in a few months. Scrolling through the reviews I’ve posted on here this year, I have read and reviewed 26 books.

26 is half of 52, I know that math at least. I’m actually shocked that I reached at least half of my original goal.

Looking at the weeks ahead, I need to read about two books a week with two of those weeks reading three books if I were to reach 52 books this year.

I’m not saying I’m going to do this. I’ve been in a slump for so long that I really don’t want to try to bombard myself with books again all the sake of reaching a virtual goal.

But I’m also not saying this isn’t an impossible thing to do. I want to get back into the habit of reading again. Who knows, if I find a new spark with a certain book or two, I may actually just reach the 52-book goal.

Do you have a Goodreads goal? Have you met it yet? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around!

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Goodreads Challenge: Quality Over Quantity

I never used to read. When I was younger, I read the books assigned to me in school and didn’t enjoy most of them. It turned me off of reading.

I read more as I got older, but it wasn’t until I started this blog and decided to do book reviews that I started reading regularly… which, if I’m to be honest, was the main reason I started reviewing books. It would hold me accountable to actually read.

Goodreads Challenge Quality Over Quantity | Reading | Books | Reading Challenge | Goodreads | RachelPoli.com

The Goodreads challenge is something that has really made me get into reading. I’m competitive and I love seeing a chart increase with my progress. For the past couple of years I’ve set my challenge goal to 52 books – which means I plan to read one book a week.

For me, this is a steady goal and it’s easy to keep up with. No joke, I’ve seen people aim to read 300 books in a year. If that works for you, great, but I feel like that’s a bit much. If I read 300 books in one year, I’d have to read about 6 books in one week. That’s almost a book a day. Unless I only read picture books and graphic novels, I don’t have the time to read a book a day.

Would that be wonderful and awesome? Yes, but I do have life things to deal with.

When it comes to reading books, I like to think quality chumps quantity. I want to take my time with the books I read and enjoy them, not inhale them.

For me, a week is a perfect amount of time to get through a book. I aim to read 50-100 pages a day so I can easily get through a book that’s 300-500 pages long. Though, most of the books I read are typically between 200-400 pages.

There have been times I’ve read more than one book in one week depending on the length and how much free time I end up with during that week. That’s always a nice treat and then I’m able to get ahead with my reading.

Even though my goal is 52 books, I aim for more because I like to break records. I still take my time though because I think books should be savored.

If it’s a really good one, I want to stay in that world for as long as I can.

How do you do with your Goodreads reading challenge? Do you aim for a lot of books or a little? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.

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Genre Bingo

Yesterday I talked about finding your genre when it comes to writing.

One of the points I made was to practice with all genres; whether it’s reading different genres or trying to write in different genres.

I love a good reading challenge whether it’s Goodreads yearly Reading Challenge, a Bingo board, a deadline for a book review, or even just a book recommendation.

With that being said, I decided to make my own Bingo board. I have a few, but this one I made is plain and simple. It’s Genre Bingo.

If you heed my advice about reading in different genres, this will be a great way to keep track.

The bingo board includes 24 genres plus the lovely free space that everyone adores. It also has a reading list at the bottom so you can write down which books you read for which genre. I don’t know about you, but I like keeping track of the books I read for which square whenever I do a reading bingo. So I thought I would throw that in there.

Anyway, you can download the Genre Bingo here.

I hope you guys enjoy it! I’m sure I’ll be doing the challenge soon enough.

TTFN & L8R, G8R by Lauren Myracle

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads
Summary (from Goodreads):

After everything they’ve been through together, Angela, Maddie, and Zoe know they’ll be friends till the end–but sometimes the fates (or parents) have other plans.
With sophomore year and its troubles behind them, the winsome threesome is on cruise control, enjoying the well-earned perks of being sixteen. But then Angela (SnowAngel) gets some seriously bad family news :'( that threatens to change her life forever. On top of that, Maddie (mad maddie) decides to let loose her wild side 😛 and Zoe (zoegirl) struggles to keep a big secret from Angela :O. Will junior year pull the girls apart just when they need each other most? Only their instant messages reveal the full story…

I have to say that I enjoyed TTFN more than I enjoyed the first book, TTYL.

I was used to how the three main girls acted and I also felt as though the troubles they faced this time around were more realistic.

One of the main girls moves far, far away and of course it’s a big deal. Who would want to leave in the middle of their junior year of high school across the country leaving their hometown and best friends? The worst part was that the move was due to her father losing his job. So the move just added on more stress.

This was a great tale of how the three girls stuck together even though they were so far away from each other. There were great lessons to be learned as they were all still there for each other miles away.

TTFN by Lauren Myracle gets 4 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“mad maddie: on every single sitcom in the world, this is how problems start. some idiot plays dumb and doesn’t tell someone else what’s really going on, and then there’s mass confusion and mistaken assumptions and everything ends in chaos.” –Lauren Myracle, TTFN

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads
Summary (from Goodreads):

Angela, Zoe and Maddie are finally seniors and ready for the great year they deserve. After two years of fighting, experimentation and some hilarious stories, they are prepared to enjoy the fruits of seniority – even though being top dogs at school means thinking about college, sex and even the impending end of their inseparable trio.

This is the third book in the Internet Girls series and I have to say that it hit home for me.

Angela, Zoe, and Maddie are seniors in high school and are dealing with the stresses of applying to colleges, getting accepted, and–the worst part–being apart from each other in different states.

One thing I didn’t enjoy in the book was that the three girls were at “war” with a girl named Jana in their class. They play pranks on her and she retaliates for most of their senior year. It took bullying to a whole new level and I felt like seniors shouldn’t be acting like that.

They also deal with what most 18-year-olds deal with: relationships. Zoe finds true love, Maddie stumbles upon it, and Angela realizes she doesn’t need a man to complete… someday her prince will come.

Ultimately, this book dealt with friendship and how truly important it is.

L8R, G8R by Lauren Myracle gets 4 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“we’re our own destiny, that’s all. and 1 day we WILL be gone, so we better appreciate life while we can.” –Lauren Myracle, l8r, g8r

Check out my Goodreads page to see what I’ll be reading next!

Diagrams for Book Lovers

A few days ago I was looking through my Twitter and I came across Goodreads’ latest tweet:

Curiosity bit me so I clicked on the link and an article titled 15 Insanely Useful Diagrams for Book Lovers came up.

The article is full of flowcharts about reading and books. I thought it would be something cool to share with you guys because I enjoyed looking through them.

Many of you may have already seen some of the charts; especially if you’re on Pinterest. There were a few that I have never even seen before and they were all interesting and useful in their own way.

My favorite charts were…

6 — which I’ve seen before
8 — this one had interesting facts about authors
11 — as a teacher, this one is useful
13 — this had more interesting facts about characters in books
15 — this one is just plain adorable

So go check out the charts. I promise it won’t be a time-waster. If anything, you’ll add new books to your to-be-read list.

TTYL by Lauren Myracle

Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest
Summary (from Goodreads):

Far from being precious, the format proves perfect for accurately capturing the sweet histrionics and intimate intricacies of teenage girls. Grownups (and even teenage boys) might feel as if they’ve intercepted a raw feed from Girl Secret Headquarters, as the book’s three protagonists–identified by their screen names “SnowAngel,” “zoegirl,” and “mad maddie”–tough their way through a rough-and-tumble time in high school. Conversations range from the predictable (clothes, the delicate high-school popularity ecosystem, boys, boys in French class, boys in Old Navy commercials, etc.) to the the jarringly explicit (the girls discuss female ejaculation: “some girls really do, tho. i read it in our bodies, ourselves”) and the unintentionally hilarious (Maddie’s IM reduction of the Christian poem “Footprints”–“oh, no, my son. no, no, no. i was carrying u, don’t u c?”).

But Myracle’s triumph in ttyl comes in leveraging the language-stretching idiom of e-mail, text messaging, and IM. Reaching to express themselves, the girls communicate almost as much through punctuation and syntactical quirks as with words: “SnowAngel: ‘cuz–drumroll, please–ROB TYLER is in my french class!!! *breathes deeply, with hand to throbbing bosom* on friday we have to do “une dialogue” together. i get to ask for a bite of his hot dog.'”

TTYL was published way back in 2004. I remember reading it back then and thinking the book was amazing. This book is written in IM messages. I used to be on the computer nearly 24/7 chatting with my friends through AIM, so this book was right up my alley.

I was only about 11 or 12 when I read the book and the characters are 15 and 16. Upon reading the book now I realized just how much went over my head the first time I read it.

I loved the characters, I loved the IM format, I loved the drama of it all. I would have given that book five stars ten years ago after reading. Now? Not so much.

The concept of the IM format is great and the story is told really well from the three female protagonists gossiping to one another. The girls themselves–Zoe, Angela, and Maddie–are so different from each other. Zoe is the brains of the group. She always does well in school and never does too much to get herself into trouble. Angela is the princess. She’s always talking about boys, clothes, and make-up. Meanwhile, Maddie is the risk-taker. She’s blunt and sarcastic.

This book goes through the beginning of their sophomore year at school. Zoe finds herself involved with a teacher when he hits on her, Maddie gets into the wrong crowd of friends, and Angela has boy troubles. Typical teenager stuff, right?

Yeah, but some of the things that happen to them just seem unrealistic to me. Plus, all three girls were whiny and very immature. This is a dirty book–something that went over my head when I read it the first time a few years ago. That being said, it just made me have a love/hate relationship with the girls. If I can’t relate to the characters, then that’s a problem.

Overall, the book did tackle real-life high school problems. Hanging out with the wrong crowd of kids, finding and keeping a boyfriend, and just trying to stick together with your best friends. In that sense, it was good because I think most–if not all–teenagers go through that.

TTYL by Lauren Myracle gets 3 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“it’s funny how some things r easier to talk about over the computer, isn’t it?” –Lauren Myracle, TTYL

Be sure to check out my Goodreads page to see what I’ll be reading next!

Reading List

Via Pinterest
Via Pinterest

You can never have too many books. We all know that, we all understand that. However, it’s hard to say that’s a good thing when you don’t have the time to read all the books in the world.

I have 183 books on my to-be-read shelf on Goodreads. That’s not even a dent of all the books I want to read. The books I add to that shelf are books I don’t own so I remember to buy them at some point. Even then, there’s still a lot more.

I go to Barnes & Noble once a week and the books are always rearrange neatly, new books are always added. There are times when I splurge, but most of the time I have to tell myself, “I have too many books at home I haven’t read yet.” So I take a picture of the book with my phone, go home, and put that book on my TBR list.

A few weeks ago I went through my books at home and wrote them all down. Between my two book shelves, Kris’ two book shelves, and my Kindle, my household owns over 330 books. I haven’t even gone through my mother’s book shelf yet because she has books I would like to read, as well.

So, let’s see… we’ll round up from 183 and say 200 (because I know there are more books that should be on my TBR), plus 370 (adding an estimate of my mother’s books) makes almost 600 books I want to read. I even rounded up the answer because I know there will be more books to come. Plus, I only have the first book of a lot of series’ on my TBR list. I’m sure I’ll be reading the sequels.

This is one reason as to why I can’t wait for school to end. I can wake up in the morning and read for two hours before I go to work. When work ends, I can sit outside all day long on the deck or by my pool and read.

Maybe then I can start making a dent on all the books I want to read.

Puck’s Choice by Skye Hegyes

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads):

Puck Dupree moved in with her sister after spending over a year trapped in the form of a fox. She had hoped to move on with a normal teenage life; however, trouble seems to have followed her. The Council wants her to partner with a mage or forfeit her life, a friend of hers has a stalker who may or may not be trying to destroy her, and a boy at school keeps watching her. If only she could decide if he wants to kiss her or kill her.

Puck’s Choice is about a high school girl learning to deal with normal, teenage, human things while at the same time coping with the fact that she’s a shifter. Puck doesn’t seem to mind that she’s a shifter, except she has a few bad memories because of it; her parents and her ex-boyfriend.

Throughout the novel, she’s trying to deal with memories from her past that haunt her as well as deal with present issues; like falling in love.

I love the characters in this novel. The thought of humans changing into animals intrigues me. Plus the fact that no one knows who’s human and who’s not. I think that’s what made the ending so exciting for me.

My only complaint is that the summary was kind of misleading. The Council doesn’t really come to play and get explained until the very end of the book and the boy at school only watches her for a chapter or two before they become good friends.

I have to admit as I read the novel I kept thinking it was four stars. However, when I read the ending I decided on five stars because everything was neatly tied up with a bow. I finally understood the significance of the title, we understood more about the Council, and even some of the characters.

Puck’s Choice by Skye Hegyes gets 5 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“I’m alive if that counts for anything.” –Skye Hegyes, Puck’s Choice

Be sure to check out my Goodreads page!
Be sure to check out Skye’s blog!

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads):

Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.

This book is amazingly popular and well-known. Of course, I had never heard of it before until I had to read it for school.

Despite the awards its won, I have to say that I was not impressed. It was a hard book to grasp. The parts I did understand were pretty good and it was uniquely written to say the least.

However, that’s where it went wrong–the writing style.

Out of 13 chapters, three are written in first person, one is written in second person, and the rest are written in third person limited. It doesn’t follow just two characters, though. Each chapter is a different character making it all the more confusing.

Plus, one chapter is written with a lot of dialogue, but no quotation marks. It was by far the most difficult chapter to read. That chapter was in first person and the name of the character wasn’t mentioned for a very long time so I had no idea who I was even reading as.

One chapter is over 70 pages long because each page is set up like a Power Point slide. You have to turn the book the long way to read it and each page has explanations or charts or webs. It was as though I was reading a school project, but it was still the story.

Another chapter was written as a newspaper article; footnotes included. The footnotes took up half the page making them their own mini chapter within the main chapter.

Sound confusing? Trust me, it was.

The worst part was the first chapter was absolutely amazing! It was written in third person limited and we followed a character at her therapy session because she’s a kleptomaniac. It was well written and intriguing. That chapter made me feel as though I would really enjoy the book. However, we never got to really read her story again because the rest of the chapters followed other characters. I call it the decoy chapter.

So, considering this “review” turned more into a rant, I guess you all know what rating this book is going to get from me.

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan gets 2 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“I’m always happy. Sometimes I just forget.” –Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

Be sure to check out my Goodreads page!

Two Book Reviews #3

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads):

Distant and exacting, Bruce Bechdel was an English teacher and director of the town funeral home, which Alison and her family referred to as the “Fun Home.” It was not until college that Alison, who had recently come out as a lesbian, discovered that her father was also gay. A few weeks after this revelation, he was dead, leaving a legacy of mystery for his daughter to resolve.

Fun Home is a memoir told in the form of a graphic novel. When I first picked up the book, I wondered why in the world Alison Bechdel decided to tell her story through that form. After reading the novel, I realized just exactly what they mean when they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Through the pictures, narration, and little dialogue, we see the true relationship Bechdel had with her late father. Throughout reading the book you’re left wondering, “was her father a good father or a bad one?”

After he dies, Bechdel learns a lot about her father. She realizes just what kind of a man he was and she learns all sorts of secrets about his life. She discovers she was like her father in many ways and as she discovers who he was, she learns a little bit about herself.

The pictures in the graphic novel are dull in color and it’s very rare any member of the family is smiling. It goes to show just how much of a “fun home” it was. I thought it was odd at first, but upon realizing what the characters were like, the pictures were really a great fit to the story. I think the story would be told better as a graphic novel rather than if it was told as a novel.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel gets 4 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“Grief takes many forms, including the absence of grief.” –Alison Bechdel, Fun Home

Via Goodreads
Via Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads):

Postcard-perfect Jar Island is home to charming tourist shops, pristine beaches, amazing oceanfront homes; and three girls secretly plotting revenge.

KAT is sick and tired of being bullied by her former best friend.

LILLIA has always looked out for her little sister, so when she discovers that one of her guy friends has been secretly hooking up with her, she’s going to put a stop to it.

MARY is perpetually haunted by a traumatic event from years past, and the boy who’s responsible has yet to get what’s coming to him.

None of the girls can act on their revenge fantasies alone without being suspected. But together anything is possible.

With an alliance in place, there will be no more, I wish I’d said…; or, If I could go back and do things differently… These girls will show Jar Island that revenge is a dish best enjoyed together.

I was originally going to review this book as a series (this is the first book of a trilogy), but decided against it so I can look at each book individually.

Burn For Burn is co-authored by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian. I have heard of both these authors and their books are on my TBR list, but this was my first taste at what their writing is like.

I have a love/hate relationship with this book. Every time I picked up the book to read a few chapters, I only had complaints about it. Yet, I couldn’t put the book down; I read it in two days.

I didn’t love the three main girls who are out for revenge. The characters make or break the book and since I couldn’t find any interest in these girls, that was a deal-breaker for me. All three of them talk like the stereotypical “dumb blonde” adding the word “like” unnecessarily in the middle of their sentences. It made the girls seem annoying to me.

On the other hand, that kind of voice is unique and really showed the personalities of the girls. The novel is told in three different POVs, one for each girl and each POV is in first person. In that case, the voice was well done and makes sense.

Do you see why I have a love/hate relationship with the book now?

The characters are seniors in high school, which makes them about 17/18-years-old. For their age, their revenge tactics were kind of weak. Switching sunscreen with a different lotion to make the boy’s skin burn and break out isn’t exactly what I had in mind for high schoolers to do… middle school maybe, but not high school.

Then drugs get involved and the book becomes predictable–someone is going to get seriously hurt or even die.

And that’s how the book ends. You don’t know the result or consequences of the drugging. The girls panic for the last chapter and that’s all she wrote.

I guess we’ll have to read the next to book to figure out what happens.

Burn For Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian gets 3 out of 5 stars.

Favorite Quote:

“It’s funny. I don’t think boys even know how to hold a grudge.” –Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian, Burn For Burn

Be sure to check out my Goodreads page!