Monthly Wrap Up: January 2019

I know everyone was saying that January was going on forever, but now that it’s over, I kind of can’t believe it? I’m also not really looking forward to it now being the shortest month of the year because I never get much done in February!

For me, January was a pretty great month. I wasn’t too busy, I got a tonne of reading done, and I managed to balance “me time” with socialising quite well.

Quill and I met up with some friends in London at the start of January. We went to a food market where you grab a bench and then get food from whichever stalls you feel like eating from. I went for Lebanese, and Quill got Turkish and German. It was a really nice place to hang out, although it was expensive because it was in London!

At the end of January, we went to see Cirque du Soleil: Totem, and I had an incredible time. It was a birthday gift from Quill, and he unknowingly got us box seats, which was a nice experience! It was my second time seeing Cirque, and it definitely won’t be my last. I’m always in awe of the performers, and the soundtracks are always incredible!

I also went ice skating for the first time in a year, and I remembered how much I love it! We’re going to go again in February, and perhaps spend a bit more time in Oxford this time, because it’s a really nice city.

Other than that, I spent most of January reading, blogging, and Booktubing!

Books Read

  1. Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus (review|booktube) ★★★★
  2. Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay ★★★
  3. The Wolf in the Whale by Jordanna Max Brodsky ★★★★
  4. Dead Mountain by Donnie Eichar ★★★
  5. Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao ★★★★
  6. Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson ★★
  7. Rosewater by Tade Thompson ★
  8. Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel ★★★
  9. The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty ★★★★★
  10. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo ★★
  11. Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan ★★★
  12. I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya ★★★★
  13. The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker ★★★★

Statistics

Okay, so I haven’t really decided how I want to look at my reading statistics this year so for now we’re just going to look at the basics. I’ll do a statistics round up some time in April so that it’s more in depth and interesting.

I read a total of 13 books in January, which I think is pretty damn impressive considering I’m also working full time, blogging, and doing Booktube. Go me! These added up to a total of 4302 pages, and 508 minutes. My average rating was 3.2, which I’m happy with because last year most of my monthly averages were below 3 stars!

I’ve also started keeping track of my Booktube statistics because I find it really interesting. I’m struggling to keep track of my blog stats because my damn website keeps crapping out on me, so I’ll work on that later. As of 1st February, I’m now at 3193 subscribers on my Booktube channel, which is up from 3161 subs at the end of December! Pretty good, I think.

From what I can tell, most people discovered my channel through my reading vlogs, then my thriller/horror recommendations video from October (which is still doing well!), and then through my review of Two Can Keep a Secret. I’m going to keep track of these analytics so I can see how people are finding my channel.

I’m also very pleased because my monthly views added up to 1368 in total, which was only down very slightly from 1513 in December. The difference is that I was doing Vlogmas in December, so of course my views were higher! I have to say though, that I’ve noticed in my years of blogging and Booktubing that January tends to be the busiest month.

That’s all for my stats! Let me know if you’d be interested in knowing anything else in future. I can incorporate my blog stats as well once I fix my website and it stops bugging out.

Looking Ahead

February is set to be a good month in terms of balancing life and socialising, which is what I wanted. We’re going to Windsor just before Valentine’s Day to see Ian McKellan do a talk, and we’re going to do some casual falconry that weekend. There’s a big family event happening towards the end of the month, but other than that I’m completely free! I’m hoping to do a lot of reading because I’m taking part in several readathons, and I want to continue to blog and Booktube as much as possible, because it’s a fun way to spend my time!

Let me know what your plans for February are in the comments below! Did you have a good reading month in January? Have you read The City of Brass because I’M STILL FREAKING OUT ABOUT IT.

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie WestFame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West
Genre: Contemporary
Release Date: 5th February 2019
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: three-stars

Lacey Barnes has dreamt of being in a movie for as long as she can remember. However, while her dream did include working alongside the hottest actor in Hollywood, it didn’t involve having to finish up her senior year of high school at the same time she was getting her big break. Although that is nothing compared to Donavan, the straight-laced student her father hires to tutor her, who is a full-on nightmare.

As Lacey struggles to juggle her burgeoning career, some on-set sabotage, and an off-screen romance with the unlikeliest of leading men, she quickly learns that sometimes the best stories happen when you go off script.

Kasie West’s newest book was super cute, as always. If you’re looking for something new and refreshing, you’re in the wrong place. But if you’re here for a cute contemporary that’s also a lot of fun, this is the book for you.

West has added a bit of mystery to the plot of this book, which was nice because it was an extra element that she doesn’t usually include in her books. This mystery sideplot made the book a bit more entertaining than her books have been lately, since I’ve been finding them to be quite repetitive.

Lacey, the main character, had absolutely no character growth at all, which was a bit disappointing. She was incredibly up herself the entire way through, and she didn’t seem to act any better towards her dad at the end. I mean, she’s alright, definitely not the worst, but I feel like there was a missed opportunity here and she could have developed a bit in 300 pages.

The lack of female rivalry was really nice. It was hinted at a tiny bit, but nothing ever came of it. I really appreciated this because I was fully expecting some cattiness or female rivalry on set of the movie.

The romance is also cute af, which really helped me enjoy the book more, despite it being quite generic and nothing standout.

Evermore by Sara Holland

Evermore by Sara HollandEvermore by Sara Holland
Series: Everless #2
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 31st December 2018
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: two-stars

Jules Ember was raised hearing legends of the ancient magic of the wicked Alchemist and the good Sorceress. But she has just learned the truth: not only are the stories true, but she herself is the Alchemist, and Caro—a woman who single-handedly murdered the Queen and Jules’s first love, Roan, in cold blood—is the Sorceress.

The whole kingdom believes that Jules is responsible for the murders, and a hefty bounty has been placed on her head. And Caro is intent on destroying Jules, who stole her heart twelve lifetimes ago. Jules must delve into the stories that she now recognizes are accounts of her own past. For it is only by piecing together the mysteries of her lives that Jules will be able to save the person who has captured her own heart in this one.

Evermore was more than a little dull, really. I really enjoyed the first book, Everless, when I read it back in 2018, because I thought it was very unique with its world building. The plot itself was unoriginal, but since I enjoyed the world building so much, I didn’t really mind. Evermore, on the other hand, was entirely lacklustre and I didn’t enjoy it at all.

I thought that Evermore was lacking any originality. The time/currency thing wasn’t shiny or unique any more – in fact it was barely used. The plot was boring and it took forever to actually get going. The author threw us straight back into the world, and for no reason at all because nothing interesting was happening at that point in time. I feel like there should have been a time jump or something between books because the beginning (and middle) of this book just dragged.

The relationship, which I felt had potential in the first book, lacked any chemistry, which is a shame because I was ready for it to go somewhere by the end of the first book. All of a sudden the two characters were in love and all over each other and it was boring.

I wouldn’t recommend this one, but at least I finished a series? Yay!

The Suspect by Fiona Barton

The Suspect by Fiona BartonThe Suspect by Fiona Barton
Series: Kate Waters #3
Genre: Thriller
Release Date: 10th January 2019
Publisher: Transworld Digital
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing on their gap year in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft and frantic with worry.

Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth – and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, who she hasn’t seen in two years since he left home to go traveling. This time it’s personal.

And as the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think . . .

The Suspect is a lot more intense than Barton’s previous books because the situation was a lot more personal for the main character, Kate. The previous books were a lot more focused on the characters who were directly affected by the case, like the suspects (ha) and the victims. The Suspect, however, focuses a lot more on Kate and her journey, and her relationship with her son. I really like how this series is developing, as I like Kate as a character. Her insight into the world of journalism is intriguing and informative, and it helps that the author herself used to work in the same industry.

Despite all of that, there’s still not a whole lot of substance, as is usual with an adult thriller novel. It’s very much focused on the case itself instead of character development and emotional connections. That said, I’m cool with that. I knew what I was getting into with an adult thriller.

I’m not sure where Barton was going with the detective and his side plot. She seems to have tried to add emotion with his wife being terminally ill, but we barely see him or know him at all, so should we really care? It makes me wonder if Barton is planning bigger things for his character in future books in the series.

The mystery in this was absolutely tragic, and it had me hooked from the start. Barton always writes about such dark topics, and she always does a really good job with it.

I loved this book, and it’s definitely my favourite in the series so far. I hope Barton keeps going with this series because I’m really getting into it! And as a side note, Kate’s son is a complete brat and she should have left him in Thailand.

2019 Reading, Booktube, and Blog Goals

2019goals

I’ve got a lot of ambitious goals for 2019, so I wanted to share them with you all here. I didn’t want to include my life goals in this post because it was already getting to be quite long, but if you’re interested in those as well then let me know and I’ll write up a separate post for those.

Low Goodreads Goal

I’ve set myself a low Goodreads goal again this year because it worked out really well for me last time. I had a couple of poor reading years in 2016 and 2017, and I was so upset when I reduced my Goodreads challenge goal so I would still get a badge. Last year, I decided to set my goal to 5, and I reached it within the first two weeks of January. After that, I didn’t have to think about the challenge at all, and it was incredibly freeing. You might be wondering why I bother to set a challenge at all, and all I have to say to that is that I have done so every year since I started blogging in 2010, and I have no intention of stopping now.

Reduce my TBR

My eBook TBr is a lost cause, but I really want to reduce my physical TBR this year. I currently have about 250 books split between my flat and my grandad’s house where I used to live. I’m determined to get this number down to about 200 in 2019. I’ve not set myself a crazy goal or anything, and I’d also like to enjoy new releases as well as get my hands on backlist books that I’ve had my eye on for a while. But I think reducing my TBR by ~50 is reasonable, since I read almost 120 books in 2019. I won’t be buying 70 books in 2019, I can assure you!

Take part in more readathons

Something I’ve really missed since leaving Booktube and taking multiple breaks from the community is taking part in readathons. I absolutely love them. They’re a real challenge and they bring the entire community together, and I have a lot of fun with them. I’d ideally like to take part in at least one readathon a month, although if I can’t find the time to take part in a community readathon, I’d like to challenge myself to do my own 24 hour or 48 hour readathon. At least that way I’m still challenging myself! So far in 2019 I’ve taken part in Bout of Books (kind of… I missed the chat), and I’m currently doing the Biannual Bibliothon this week. If you have any readathon suggestions I would love it if you left them in the comments below!

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