End of the Year Wrap-Up – 2017

Even though we have a week to go in this year, I’m writing this post now because my best friend is coming to visit after Christmas and I don’t anticipate having time to write it then!  Here’s Goodreads’ view of my year in books.


Just going by this, I passed my Goodreads Challenge goal of 175 books, but I fell short of my Pages Read goal of 48,001-60,000 pages. I have listed a slightly higher total of pages, but then I usually go by how many pages Amazon says the item has. Either way, I’m still a bit short of my goal.  I’m still reading and who knows, I might make it, but I’ve got about 3000 pages to go, so I’m not so sure on that.

** UPDATE 12/30/17 – I have finished the Pages Read Challenge after all! Woo hoo! **

Other challenges I’ve managed to complete this year were:

  1. Read it Again, Sam Challenge
  2. E-Book Challenge
  3. Craving for Cozies Challenge
  4. Pages Read Challenge

I’m close to finishing my Cruisin’ Thru the Cozies challenge. I just need one more British Cozy and I’ve got an Agatha Christie lined up to read after Christmas.  The rest of my challenges didn’t go so well. It was a combination of reading too many books for review and just not having time to read others. So next year, I’m going to join fewer challenges and really try harder at clearing up some of my backlist of reading.

My life took some decent size turns this year as well.

I started a new position at my library. I’m now working in acquisitions/cataloging instead of on the public desks. It has been so freeing for me. My anxiety was thru the roof when I was on the public desks and I would actually call in a lot. Now, I’m not calling in nearly as much and I love what I do. 🙂  Cataloging was my concentration in library school so to actually be doing cataloging is wonderful. I love my co-workers, my boss, the fact that I can set my own hours as long as I get my 40 hours in each week, all of it. 🙂

I’ve also been working on deep cleaning and reorganizing my room. While I’ve gotten stymied with a few of my plans with this, I have time off for the holidays and plan to really crank it out and end this project! After that comes tidying up my art area in the basement so I can make art again down there. 🙂

I’ve made several new friends this year through blogging and am having a lot of fun with it, even if I don’t have quite as much time to post as I did before!

Favorite Books of 2017

Here’s a list of some of my favorite books that I read this year. I can’t choose just one, so here’s the top 11 in the order I read them, so the beginning of the year is at the top and the end of the year at the bottom (I tried to whittle it to 10 and I just couldn’t choose one more to cut out so 11 it is).

  1. Assault & Beret – Jenn McKinlay
  2. Smugglers & Scones – Morgan C. Talbot
  3. Wish – Barbara O’Connor
  4. Color Me Dead – Teresa Trent
  5. Be Light Like a Bird – Monika Schröder
  6. Star-Crossed – Barbara Dee
  7. Once Upon a Spine – Kate Carlisle
  8. The Bear and the Nightingale – Katherine Arden
  9. World of Innocent – Nadine C. Keels
  10. Watching Glass Shatter – James J. Cudney
  11. The Dreamer’s Song – Lynn Kurland


Books I’m excited about for 2018

  1. Tempests & Slaughter – the start of a new series by Tamora Pierce, a young-adult fantasy novelist that I thoroughly enjoy.
  2. The Bishop’s Pawn – Steve Berry – love his historical/contemporary novels. He seamlessly blends old facts with a modern-day story line and then goes back and tells you what was real and what was fiction.
  3. The Girl in the Tower – Katherine Arden – the sequel to The Bear and the Nightingale. It was actually released this month, but I won’t get to it before January.
  4. Father Figure – James J. Cudney – I’ve read some early drafts and I’m super excited to see this get all polished up and published!
  5. A host of new cozy mysteries from Laura Childs, Jenn McKinlay, Vicki Delany, Meg Macy, Nell Hampton, Kate Carlisle and many more!

What books are you looking forward to in 2018 or are there ones you read in 2017 that you’re anxious to share with others? I’m always looking for great recommendations. 🙂


END OF THE MONTH REVIEW – September 2017

Since I had a blog tour yesterday, I decided to wait until today to do my end of the month review until today.

Personal Life

September has gone well personally. I’m settling into my job more. I learned a bit about how the finance department works, which helps me know how to prepare my invoices and get them up to the finance department on time so when they go to pay the check, they have my invoices there to verify. It’s also been busier. More shipments of books are coming in so I’m pretty busy most days (NOT complaining. I’d rather be busy than bored).

Work on my room continues. If you read my post a few days ago, you’ll know that this weekend didn’t quite go as planned, so it’s not quite done the way I’d hoped it’d be at the end of the weekend, but oh well. Extra time with my adorable niece and sweet nephew is not a hardship really.

©Cute Colors

Things I Read/Reviewed During September

I read quite a bit during the month of September, but I didn’t review a lot. A lot of what I read were things that I’ve read before. There were little pockets of stress within the month and when that happens, I want my favorite books so there’s no surprises.  But here’s what I read and reviewed and how many stars they received.

  1. World of the Innocent – Nadine C. Keels – 5 stars
  2. A Christmas PerilJ.A. Hennrikus – 4.5 stars
  3. Body on Baker Street – Vicki Delany – 4 stars
  4. Cat Got Your Secrets – Julie Chase – 4.5 stars
  5. Murder at the River Bend Retirement Resort – Stan Schatt – 4 stars
  6. Vangie Vale and the Corpseless Custard – R.L. Syme – 4 stars
  7. Beware the Orchids – Cynthia Hickey – 4 stars (Read in September, but reviewed Oct. 1)

I also read J.D. Robb’s newest book, “Secrets in Death” but work was busy at the time and I didn’t get a chance to review it. I had other types of posts as well, several book spotlights and a couple of life in general posts.

line of books - some stacked, some standing, some leaning - books are blue, brown, red, green, and yellow
©Graphic Garden

Site Metrics

I didn’t have quite as many visitors this month as I have had in the past, but I think that’s more because I didn’t post a whole lot in September. When work is busy, I don’t have time to post there and then since I’ve been working on my room so hard, I haven’t posted much on the weekends. Total visitors for September was 210. August 2017 was my biggest month of visitors with 263. I did gain quite a few new followers in September. Welcome to all of you new members! 🙂


Looking Forward to October

October’s going to be busy for me both in blogging terms and in life terms. I’m not a huge Halloween fan so I don’t generally go all out for that, but I’m a big fall fan so I do the cider mills and pumpkin patches. Second, I’m possibly participating in the attempt to break the world record for the number of women dressed as Rosie the Riveter in one place on the 14th of October. I participated 2 years ago and had a great time, but I don’t really want to go by myself again so I may skip it this time. It’s not as fun when you’re alone. The original Rosie the Riveter worked at the Willow Run Bomber Plant which is here in Ypsilanti, part of which is currently being restored to be a museum. That’s why the record is important around here. Then, the Detroit Institute of Arts is opening two new exhibits. One on Monet who is my favorite painter overall and the reason I have a water garden with a water lily. The second is on Frederic Edwin Church who is my favorite American painter. I’m super excited about those. Finally, I always like to go to the zoo when they give the animals pumpkins to play with. There’s usually treats inside the pumpkins for them and it’s fun to watch them explore and pounce and rip things open.


Blogging-wise, I have 6 author interviews, 1 spotlight post, 2 Book Blast posts, 1 Guest Post, and 7 reviews already lined up. Most are part of blog tours, but there are a few that are not.

As you can see, October will be filled with fun and lots of blog posts. Plus, somewhere in there I have to find a way to get the furniture moved that didn’t get moved last weekend! But, I’m looking forward to it all!


End of the Month Update – JULY 2017

I realized I never did an end of the month update for July. It’s very late, but here’s a condensed version.

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Personal Life

July was a crazy month for me as I began training for a new job. I’m now in my 2nd week in my new position and loving it. 🙂 I still work for Ann Arbor District Library, but now I work in acquisitions and cataloging instead of on the desk. I love it. 🙂 Cataloging is what I concentrated on in library school so this job is right up my alley.

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Books Read and Reviewed

While I read 13 books in July, I only reviewed 5. I plan to write mini reviews for another 6 of those at some point in the semi-near future. Those 6 are all part of one series so rather than try to write full reviews for each one, I plan to just write mini reviews for them with a general overlook at the series.

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Site Metrics

Even though I had fewer reviews and fewer posts in general during the month of July, I still had two more visitors than June, plus lots of likes and comments. I’ll take it! I’m gaining more followers and I appreciate you all hanging in there while I pulled my hair out and went a bit crazy in July!

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Looking Ahead to August

Yes, I know, we’re well into August. Here’s what’s on the agenda for the month.



I finished this book over the first weekend of August and you can read my review here. It was a lot of fun and a great summer read. I’m looking forward to the next one(s) in the series!




I’m currently in a buddy-read of this book with Jay from this-is-my-truth-now. It’s a great book and I’m enjoying it immensely! When we’re finished reading/talking about it, I’ll post a review.




This is the first of two books that I’ve been asked to read by the authors themselves (and/or their publicists). I’m looking forward to it as it looks like something different from what I normally read!




This is other book that I’ve been asked to read by the author/publicist. This is also something different from what I normally read and sounds quite interesting!



Outside of those 4 that I know I’ll be reading, there are some blog tours that I’ll be hosting spotlights and guest posts for. I’ve also promised a friend that I’d read through the first three chapters of his novel and give feedback. We’ll just have to wait and see what else I end up posting about this month!

What are you reading or looking forward to reading this month?

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End of the Month Review – JUNE 2017

Greetings! Here we are at the end of another month! Where does all the time go?!?! I can tell that it’s summer though because I didn’t read nearly as many books as I have in the previous months of this year, which I knew would happen. During the summer I’m often working in my water garden or taking nature walks/nature photography, all kinds of things that take me away from reading as much. Consequently, I didn’t get anything on my backlist read this month. I did get one extra book from NetGalley done and two books that I read just for fun done on top of the blog tours and other reviews I had commitments for.

Let’s take a look at this month’s statistics! I’m excited about them because they’re moving up and up and that makes me happy!


Site Statistics

I’m excited about this month’s statistics. I’m up to 90 WordPress followers, 8 email followers, and over 1000 followers on social media, thanks to an ad I placed on Facebook promoting my blog! The blog itself had over 500 views this month, over a hundred more from May! More people visited my blog last month than before as well, with over 200 people from 21 countries visiting! I also had almost double the comments in June than I did in May!

I’m excited by all this because it means I’m doing something right and really have hit my rhythm and that makes me happy. Of course, I’m always looking for ways to improve my writing and my blog, the aesthetics and style as well as content.


What I Read/Posted This Month

As I mentioned above, I didn’t read nearly as many books this month, finishing only 10 books. However, those that I finished, I really enjoyed. 🙂 Here’s a run down on what I read and each book’s rating. Each cover image is linked to the book’s review.

4.5 to 5 star books

Book Cover: Once Upon a Spine: A Bibliophile Mystery by Kate Carlisle - Background shows a bookstore front window - foreground has tea service sitting on a wrought iron table with a cat on the table and a copy of Alice in Wonderland on a wrought iron chair

Once Upon A Spine by Kate Carlisle is the 11th book in the Bibliophile Mystery series. It’s the only truly 5-star book this month (sometimes I’ll mark 4.5 books up to 5 on Amazon and Goodreads).



Book Cover: The Frog Princess Returns - Tales of the Frog Princess by E.D. Baker - Pink background - Vignette picture of the Princess with the Frog prince on her shoulder talking to a fairy

The Frog Princess Returns by E.D. Baker is a wonderful addition to the Tales of the Frog Princess series.


Book Cover: Treble at the Jam Fest - A Food Lovers' Village Mystery by Leslie Budewitz - background has a country music stage with guitars, double bass, and drum set - Foreground has a table with jam for sale, a pitcher of lemonade and two cats sitting on the ground

Treble at the Jam Fest is the 4th book in the Food Lover’s Village Mystery series by Leslie Budewitz. I was thrilled to see this series make a come back with another publisher and it didn’t disappoint!


Book Cover: All Signs Point to Murder - a Zodiac Mystery by Connie Di Marco - Study setting with a window overlooking a garden set up for a wedding - foreground has a white table full of candles, astrological charts and a bridal bouquet

All Signs Point to Murder is the 2nd book in the Zodiac Mystery series by Connie di Marco. This was just a delightful, fun read. 🙂


Book Cover: The Witch and the Dead by Heather Blake - purple background on top and bottom of the cover where the text is - middle section shows an illustration of a young white lady with dark hair sitting on a tree stump under a willow tree with a black cat at her feet.

The Witch & the Dead is the 7th book in the Wishcraft Mystery series by Heather Blake. This is one of my favorite cozy series and this one didn’t disappoint!


Book Cover: "Stuck: The Penningtons Investigate" by C.T. Collier - green background with brown lettering - a stiletto is seen standing straight up in a wooden desk


Stuck: The Penningtons Investigate is the 2nd in the series by C.T. Collier. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to more in the series!


4 star books

The rest of these books were given 4-stars each! They were still fun reads and I still recommend them.


Other Posts

This month I did more than just book review posts. I had one author interview post, a book tag, something I reblogged from a fellow blogger’s site, and several posts on things that are happening in my life.


Looking Forward to July

July’s looking pretty busy. Here are some of the books I plan on reviewing this month.

This is a trio of middle grade books about each girl exploring either her own city or a city she’s visiting and learning about herself at the same time. I’ve finished the first two and am working on reading the third now. When I’m finished with the third, I’ll review all three at once.

These five books are books that I have committed to reviewing on specific days as part of blog tours or other review crew commitments. I’m looking forward to all of them!

These six (6) books are ones from my backlist that I hope to review this coming month. Four (4) of them are picture books and I’ve already started on “The Other Einstein” so I think it’ll be easily do-able to get them all done.


Finally, this book has been on my to-read list for a while now. Earlier today, Jay over at this-is-my-truth-now, stated that he was going to read it this month and was looking for someone to do a buddy read with him. I volunteered so we’re going to work out when to start and all that.

line of blue & ivory seashells and sea stars
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I’m looking forward to this month and seeing what it brings! Thanks for joining me on my journey!



End of the Month Review – MAY 2017

Welcome to the May 2017 edition of the “End of the Month Review”!  It’s been a busy month around here, which I’m happy for! Let’s get started seeing what all happened during the month! At the end of April, I was up to 50 followers here on WordPress. At the end of this month, I’m up to 74!! Yay!! Thank you to all of my new followers and please, keep spreading the news around about the site!

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Site Statistics in May

This month was my best month since I began the blog in April 2016. I always find it interesting not only to see how many people visited my blog, but where they’re from as well. In May, I had 405 views from 165 visitors from 15 countries! For me, that’s really exciting and a lot! While the number of visitors only went up by about 40 since the month of April, the amount of posts they viewed almost doubled! I feel like I’m really starting to gain a fan base now and it’s exciting to see how it grows month by month!

I had a total of 18 posts this month that garnered 104 likes and 35 comments. 11 posts were for reviewing books, 2 of which reviewed multiple books. Three (3) of the review posts also had author interviews. 1 post had 4 mini reviews, 1 was a book tag post, 1 was a blogger award post, 1 was a spotlight post, and 3 were general/other posts, one of which was a post for Mental Health Awareness month where I talked about mental illness and stigma.

Graph paper with drawing on it, calculator, protractor, pencil & eraser
©Graphic Garden

Books Read & Reviewed in May

During the month of May, I read a total of 19 books – 16 cozy mysteries, 2 non-cozy/thriller mysteries, and 1 middle grade children’s fiction book. I reviewed a total of 15 books this month (including 2 books that were read in April) and wrote mini reviews for 4 books.

I currently have the next set of mini reviews for the Bibliophile Mystery series by Kate Carlisle almost done, but they won’t get posted tonight. Perhaps tomorrow. I’m trying to get all the mini reviews done before the 11th book comes out next week on the 6th.

I still have 2 reviews from books read in April that are in draft format. One of them I’m close to finishing. The other might turn into a mini review as it’s also part of a longish series that I need to write at least mini reviews for. 🙂

Reading Challenges Progress in May

I made progress on several of my reading challenges during the month of May. For the purpose of Goodreads (and many of my challenges), 3 of my cozy mysteries only counted as 1 book as it was a box set

  • Goodreads 2017 Challenge – I read 17 books total in May, bringing my total to 81.
  • Pages Read 2017 Challenge – I read 4,759 pages during the month of May, bringing my total to 22,299 pages.
  • EBooks 2017 Challenge – I read a total of 14 eBooks, bringing my total to 51.
  • Library Love 2017 Challenge – I read 1 library book, bringing my total to 24.
  • Craving for Cozies 2017 Challenge – I read a total of 14 cozy mysteries for a total of 52.
  • Agatha Christie Reading Challenge – I read another Agatha Christie book this month. I’ve slowed down on reading them since I’ve had so many blog tours lately, but I managed to squeeze in one this month. 🙂
line of books - some stacked, some standing, some leaning - books are blue, brown, red, green, and yellow
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Looking forward to June

During the month of June, I’ll be participating in 5 blog tours and have 1 review that’s not part of a blog tour. One of my blog tours is not a review, just an author interview. I have tentatively scheduled 4 other books for review in between the blog tours and other review that I have already scheduled. The other 4 include three that I need to read for NetGalley reviews and the newest Kate Carlisle book, Once Upon a Spine.

Here are the books that are definitely on the menu for June:

Book Cover: Bearly Departed by Meg Macy - teddy bear store/workroom setting - shelves full of teddy bears in the background and a partially unstuffed bear in the foreground on the floor.     Book Cover: Treble at the Jam Fest - A Food Lovers' Village Mystery by Leslie Budewitz - background has a country music stage with guitars, double bass, and drum set - Foreground has a table with jam for sale, a pitcher of lemonade and two cats sitting on the ground     Book Cover: The Swallow's Nest by Emilie Richards - a young white woman with long dark brown hair holding a curly, blond haired toddler boy.

Book Cover: Death on West End Road - a Hamptons Murder Mystery by Carrie Doyle. Background is beige with little white dots, there's hydrangea flowers, a tea pot and a glass of liquid with lemon slices     Book Cover: All Signs Point to Murder - a Zodiac Mystery by Connie Di Marco - Study setting with a window overlooking a garden set up for a wedding - foreground has a white table full of candles, astrological charts and a bridal bouquet     Book Cover: Stuck - The Penningtons Investigate by C.T. Collier - green background with a dagger thrust point down into a table

I decided to try something new for myself. I created a separate Google calendar for blogging and have been tentatively scheduling books from my back list in between my blog tours and other obligations. This month, I’ve managed 2 books from my TBR pile in between blog tours and other reviews. Next month, I have 4 that I tentatively scheduled, so we’ll see how it goes. I’m hoping that this will help me both a) get caught up on my backlist of reviews for NetGalley and b) help me be more consistent about making content for my blog. We’ll see how it goes. I say that they’re tentatively scheduled so that it gives me the opportunity to change-up what I read in those slots. Maybe I don’t want to read the new Nora Roberts book yet (yeah, right!) so I can choose something else in its place. I’m hoping that this will help keep me accountable and yet provide flexibility so I don’t end up seeing all my reviewing/reading as a chore and not pleasurable anymore.

These are the tentatively scheduled books:

Book Cover: Once Upon a Spine: A Bibliophile Mystery by Kate Carlisle - Background shows a bookstore front window - foreground has tea service sitting on a wrought iron table with a cat on the table and a copy of Alice in Wonderland on a wrought iron chair     Book Cover: The Frog Princess Returns - Tales of the Frog Princess by E.D. Baker - Pink background - Vignette picture of the Princess with the Frog prince on her shoulder talking to a fairy     Book Cover: Superfairies: Adventures in Peaseblossom Woods by Janey Louise Jones - Pink background with four fairies on the cover - a caucasian fairy in yellow, an Asian fairy in red, a Hispanic fairy in red and a black fairy in purple    Book Cover: Effie Starr Zook Has One More Question by Martha Freeman - young girl riding a bike over hills - goat standing on top of one hill.

They may change depending on what I decide I really want to read, but those are tentatively the planned books. We’ll see if this new plan/calendar idea works!