Challenges · Uncategorized

2020 Reading Goals and Challenges

I have been spending the past week thinking about my reading habits, what I want to change, and how I want to grow as a reading and reviewer. I started by looking at my successes and failures of the past year and selected challenges that would (1) not make me insane and (2) would help me achieve my goals. As much as I would like to be the kind of person that would successfully complete a crazy challenge I think I have hit a point in life where I realize that being a mood reader is not something I can (or am really even willing) to change. And so, drumroll please, I present my 2020 Reading Goals and Challenges!

If you are looking for a fun challenge, check out The Master List of Challenges Tanya @ GirlXOXO has compiled!

Goal: Read My Stack of Books

I have a gorgeous stack of books in my house. I need to stop feeling guilty about all the books I own and replace that negative feeling with the joy having those books brings me. So, for 2020, I will no longer refer to it as a burden or an embarrassment. Instead, I want to read my Stunning Stack of books. All of them.

Challenge: Start on Your Shelfathon from The Quiet Pond.


CW @ The Quiet Pond has the most beautiful site and I am so glad that this particular challenge popped up because I will look forward to checking her site more and participating fully in the StartOnYourShelfathon which challenges us to start with the books we are reading on our own shelves.

Goal: Read Through My Backlist

As of today I have 305 books on my To Be Read list on Goodreads. This list grows exponentially every week. I am fine with it continuing to grow but I am sad for the books that keep getting buried further and further down the list. I must rescue those books! I want to read 24 books from my backlist this year.

Challenge: Beat the Backlist from Novel Knight


This will be my third year participating in Novel Knight’s fantastic Beat the Backlist Challenge but I vow that this will be the year I fully participate. This means looking at the mini-challenges and actually logging my books. This challenge really inspires me to tackle that backlist every year but I never follow through with the social aspect of it. Which is changing this year! For 2020, I am going to request to join the Borrowers team and try and get all of my TBRs from my library.

Goal: Listen to More Audiobooks

I love audiobooks! Listening to audiobooks means that I am never “wasting time.” Running errands = reading time. Commuting = reading time. My frustration level with the general junk life throws at me is almost totally gone because everywhere I have to go I am listening to or reading a book all the time. I would like to listen to 24 audiobooks this year – two a month.

Challenge: Audiobook Challenge from Caffeinated Reader and Hot Listens


Hot Listens and Caffeinated Reviewer co-host this challenge. In 2018 I participated for the first time and last year I saw my audiobook reads go through the roof. If adding audiobooks to your year is something you want to try, I highly recommend this challenge. You can sign up here!

Goal: Keeping Better Data

One of my biggest failures of the past few years is not keeping track of my data. I don’t remember who recommended books to me so I can’t tag them back. I don’t transfer data from my Goodreads into my other challenges. I’m ridiculous. There is no challenge for this (that I know of right now) so I am going to start my own.

Challenge: Social Saturday

Social SaturdayHosted right here @ SilverButtonBooks. Every Saturday I am going to be social. That means checking other sites, entering my data on the challenges, and just being a responsible participant. If you struggle with this or just need to designate a day to be more social, feel free to join me!

Tell me, please!

What are your 2020 Reading Goals and Challenges?


Challenges · Uncategorized

Challenge Update: The Goodreads Challenge and My Favorites of 2019

This year I vowed to log every single book I read on Goodreads. I know that this sounds silly – what is the alternative? Well, what I did pre-2019 was to only log the books I was proud to read or ones that I reviewed. Which is just silly because every single book is a labor of love from the author and deserving of a place on my GR list. So, for 2019, I wanted to log them all. And I did!

I wanted to read 100 books and I managed to read 124. The number of books is pretty consistent from year to year but the fact that I wrote them all down is a wonder to me. In case you haven’t been reading – my other challenges all suffered from a sheer lack of data. I need to change this in 2020. I need data to be my friend.

I was going to do a best of list but, honestly, this is the first year that I feel like every book added something to my life all year long. It was a wonderful year of reading and I cannot wait for 2020’s reading to begin!

Tell me, please!

How was your 2019 Reading?


nonfiction · Uncategorized

The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin is the New York Times Bestselling Author of The Happiness Project. She is well regarded in the self-help circles for inspiring people to become happier and healthier through a change in mind-set and by forming positive habits. She has excellent ideas about time management and it is clear that she is hard working and well intentioned. All of these, she says, are because she has the tendency she calls, “Upholder.”

thefourtendanciesIn her book, The Four Tendencies, Rubin divides all people into four different personalities. If you want to find out your own tendency you can take this simple (really simple) quiz here.

The four tenancies are: upholder, obliger, questioner, and rebel.




I took the quiz and found that I, myself, am an Upholder. This makes perfect sense to me. I love making and keeping resolutions. I regularly order and use thousands of note cards. I cannot stand being late or breaking rules and I am physically uncomfortable when others do so.

The first section of the book is dedicated to explaining the Upholder personality, how to deal with an Upholder, and how Upholders can help themselves work within the parameters of their own tendency. While reading this section I found myself laughing in recognition and reading whole sections aloud to friends. I just kept thinking, “this is totally how I think!” I was enchanted.

Then I read the next section on Questioners. And I saw myself in that section as well. I can’t buy anything that costs more than $50 without doing hours of research. I always want to know “why” to every piece of evidence. When doctors give me advice I ask follow up questions to the exhaustion of the provider.

I see large chunks of my personality as well in the Obliger tendency. I didn’t really learn how to say “no” to people until much later in life. That’s not to say I would do things that went against my morals or goals but I was always happy to take on someone else’s jobs if it made life easier. I love to plan vacations but I am just as happy to go along with a change in plans if it makes someone else happy.

Even the Rebel speaks to whole years of my life and I resist certain Rebel tendencies to this day. My brother once told me that I couldn’t take a military marksmanship class in college and I signed up for it that day. I then went on to practice assembling and disassembling the M-16 they gave me until I could do it faster than anyone in the class. Later, I found myself rappelling off a building on campus with the same group. I did all of this because he told me I couldn’t.

One of the predicating arguments of Rubin’s Four Tendencies is that everyone is born with a certain tendency and they cannot change that tendency. Her theory is you belong to one tendency for your whole life and you cannot change. I vehemently disagree.

Of course, the author would argue that my disbelief at the simplicity of her four tendencies is because I’m actually a Questioner. This circular argument only benefits her theory. If you read the book and cast it aside, you must be a Rebel. If you only read it because a friend recommended it, you’re an Obliger. She has built into her four tendencies a way for her to negate any argument or example you may have that would defy the system she has set up. And, since she made these terms up completely without any data, background in psychology or sociology, or research, she knows them best and there is no arguing with her assessments.

I have to emphasize that point. This is her theory. There is no data, only anecdotal evidence to all of this. She doesn’t take into account any mental health issues that may underly an individual’s rigidity or reactive nature. She also doesn’t take into consideration the formulation of any of these habits. Could an Upholder quickly become an Obliger if placed in a domestic violence situation? Could a Rebel become a Questioner if their child was diagnosed with a chronic illness? Perhaps this simple approach is a good place to begin looking at why you make certain choices but it cannot be the sum total of why someone behaves the way that they do.

This may sound like a negative review but, even though there is a lot I disagree with about this book there are several reasons I recommend it here. First, taking stock of why we do things is essential if we ever want to change and grow as a person. That’s why they call them “self-help” books. And, if this book helps you to improve yourself then it is a winner for me. This book is easy to access, the quiz is short and, honestly, if accepting one of these labels for your tendency helps you then, wonderful!

More importantly, this book was absolutely fantastic at driving home the point that everyone thinks differently and all the variations of tendencies are positive. For health care providers, teachers, parents, and businesses, understanding the different tendencies is a good way to begin open communication toward change and growth. If this book does one thing well it explains that not everyone’s automatic reaction to a stimulus is the same. And, it teaches you how to recognize other people’s tendencies so that you can meet them where they are comfortable.

If this book helps you understand yourself better or improve just one relationship in your life then it was worth the time it took to read it. But, if you read it and disagree as I did, it also provides a fascinating look into how your friends formulate their arguments. Either way, books like this open doors to communication and that is always welcome.

Tell me, please!

Did you take this quiz? Do you agree with the assessment?



FrighteninglyGoodRead · Uncategorized

Frighteningly Good Reads #5: The Ghost Knight by Cornelia Funke

This book is perfect for readers out there who want to enjoy the spooks and specters of the haunting season without the scare. Cornelia Funke, writer of the wonderful Inkheart series, has written a number of other books I have enjoyed but Ghost Knight has the perfect feel for Frighteningly Good Reads.

Eleven-year-old Jon Whitcroft never expected to enjoy boarding school. Then again, he never expected to be confronted by a pack of vengeful ghosts, either. And then he meets Ella, a quirky new friend with a taste for adventure…

Together, Jon and Ella must work to uncover the secrets of a centuries-old murder while being haunted by terrifying spirits, their bloodless faces set on revenge. So when Jon summons the ghost of the late knight Longspee for his protection, there’s just one question: Can Longspee truly be trusted? Goodreads.

ghostknightI’ll admit, In the beginning I didn’t care for Jon at all. His Dad died when he was four and he fears that his mother and little sisters have become too attached to the man she is dating, “The Beard.” Instead of talking about it with his Mother he has taken the petulant stance that only a pre-teen has the energy to maintain. His assumes his Mother sending him to boarding school is his punishment and that The Beard is only vying to get rid of him. This sullen attitude is slapped right out of him when he starts seeing ghosts at his new school. Ella, the beautiful Ella, not only believes him but she can see ghosts too. With a new friend to confide in Jon begins to discover what all children must: talking about your fears is how you overcome them. But will talking be enough with the Knight? Or is it all a trap? How can we tell who to trust?

The level of scary of this book falls far below Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone with a smattering of Knightly violence that adds to the action. The characters, their friendship, and their collective adventures are a beautiful foil for the individual development of Jon himself. By the end of the book, my grudging acceptance of the little twerp had grown to genuine admiration.

If you want a lighter fare or need a recommendation for a younger reader this is a perfect book to curl up with during the month of October!

Tell me, please!

What is your favorite fun ghost story?


FrighteninglyGoodRead · Uncategorized

Frighteningly Good Reads: Social Sunday

The whole purpose of Frighteningly Good Reads is to extend and enjoy the gorgeous month that is October. It is my favorite month culminating in my favorite holiday of all: Halloween! I am thrilled that other bloggers are joining me this year and so on Sunday this year I want to highlight all their amazing blogs and any other fantastic books I have found through other blogs during the week.

Muse With Me

I have been reading and following Ryan’s blog nearly as long as I have been writing mine. Ryan reads truly terrifying books and fantastic graphic novels and comic books. If you are looking for scarier fare than you are seeing here, Muse With Me is a great place to go. Here is Ryan’s reading list for this years FGR.

What’s NonFiction?

I haven’t always been a great reader of nonfiction but, when I started regularly blogging, I wanted to pay more attention to this fabulous genre. But, I will never be as good at covering nonfiction as What’s Nonfiction? I’m not even going to try! This glorious site is full of amazing nonfiction selections that I really never see anywhere else. For example, look at the amazing spooky nonfiction books featured last year at this post. Or, check out a more recent post on the sociology of the science of fear here.

The Writerly Way

I want to know where Sammie at The Writerly Way is shopping because this blog is always packed full of books I have never seen before but I simply must read. I am so thrilled that Sammie is participating in Frightening Good Reads because everything on The Writerly Way awesome ! It is on this blog that I found out about In the Hall with the Knife and anyone who gets as excited about a YA books based on the movie Clue is my kind of people. Just a stroll through this blog’s 2019 reviews will give anyone lots to add to their TBR.

Tell me, please!

Have you read anything spooky this weekend?


FrighteninglyGoodRead · Middle Grade · Uncategorized

Frighteningly Good Reads #3: The Witches by Roald Dahl

“My darling…you won’t last long in this world if you don’t know how to spot a witch when you see one.”

This is not a fairy-tale. This is about real witches. Real witches don’t ride around on broomsticks. They don’t even wear black cloaks and hats. They are vile, cunning, detestable creatures who disguise themselves as nice, ordinary ladies. So how can you tell when you’re face to face with one? Well, if you don’t know yet you’d better find out quickly-because there’s nothing a witch loathes quite as much as children and she’ll wield all kinds of terrifying powers to get rid of them. Goodreads.

thewitchesI read this book as a child and I have re-read it several times since then. It is my go-to recommendation for middle grade spooky reads. The reasons are simple. A nameless boy and his nameless Gramamama fight evil with two simple skills: communication and observation. Just the ability to look around and see what’s happening and talk to an adult about your concerns. In addition, even though the child’s parents are killed (can’t kids go on adventures with their parents?) the Grandmama actually listens to her grandson. It may seem silly but think about it, how many children’s books have you read where the underlying theme is, “parents just don’t understand”? Around the world there are children who talk to and are listened to by adults in their lives. But, somehow, in fiction our under-age protagonists are usually saddled with parents who don’t believe them in addition to their bigger problem. I love this book for the simple fact that it showcases an adult and a child working together.

Also, neither Grandmama nor the Grandson have any super powers. The Grandson isn’t gifted with super intelligence either. They are just regular people working together to thwart evil.

And the evil? It looks like a regular adult. The world is frequently terrifying to kids today. They know, or are taught, that there is evil everywhere in the world. But, if you know how to spot it you can stay safe.

This book is not perfect. It is a rare book that can claim that title. I will admit, I vastly preferred the ending in the movie to the one in the book (sacrilege, I know!). And, certainly, Dahl has been accused of darker motives.

But, The Witches is still one of my favorite Frighteningly Good Reads and one I highly recommend. The scary and macabre tone has an underpinning of the importance of listening to each other. And, one day, I hope I am the kind of Grandmama that makes a cup of cocoa, sits down and says,

“Tell me everything.”

Tell me, please!

Do you have a favorite Roald Dahl book?


FrighteninglyGoodRead · Uncategorized

Frighteningly Good Read #2:

illuminaeThis may not be a stock “scary book” but I will confess: being trapped on a spaceship or a submarine is a nightmare situation for me. Add any kind of threat and I am at panic level of terror. Usually I pass right by all books set it such a situation but The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff came so highly recommended by everyone that I gathered my courage to read it.

I had the pleasure of reading and listening to the audiobook and I can not imagine experiencing this story any other way. Since the audiobook is a full cast recording, a delightful one at that, it is almost like watching a movie. The experience is so vivid.

And the design of this book is beyond comprehension. A simple flip-through might give a reader the impression that it is a series of e-mails and documents but it is a multi-faceted thing that is probably best described as a printed collage. I loved it. It was, at times, confusing, but overall it essential to experiencing the full effect of the story.

As for the story:

This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

BRIEFING NOTE: Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes. Goodreads

I may have said that being aboard a spaceship or submarine is a nightmare but a deadly plague on said sealed metal crafts trumps that in the order of terrifying. And when the delightful Kady and cutie Ezra are threatened my heart was in my throat.

I well and truly cannot decide which character enjoyed more – Kady or Ezra. Both are quick and witty and strong in the face of adversity. Furthermore, the AI is a creature of fascination for me. I just wanted to spend more time with them all. Thankfully, there are two more books in the series for me!

Tell me, please!

What non-traditional setting terrifies you?


Fantasy · fiction · SeriousSeriesLove · Uncategorized

September Sequel: Queen of the Tearling Trilogy by Erika Johansen

This series… I cannot stop thinking about it. I first read The Queen of the Tearling in 2017 and shortly after that purchased and read the second book The Invasion of the Tearling. I immediately purchased The Fate of the Tearling and put it carefully on my shelf where it has sat for nearly two years. Thanks to September Sequels I finally made time to finish the series. I am going to try and make this as spoiler free as possible so forgive me for all the vagueness that follows.

I only partially remember the details of the first two books and I was concerned that I had them woven facts with another series that I read at the same time. So, I actually took the time to re-read the first two books. I tore through them. It helps that I am post-move and pre-work so I have nothing but time to read right now. Still, these books consumed me for the past few days.

The Queen of the Tearling jacket reads:

With the arrival of her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn is ascending to her rightful place as the new Queen of the Tearling. Surrounded by enemies, including an evil sorceress possessed of dark magic, the young ruler stands little chance of success. But Kelsea possesses fearsome weapons of her own, including the Tear sapphire, a jewel of immense power and magic. As an epic war draws near, Kelsea’s quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny begins – a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend…if she can survive.

Do you want to know something odd? The first time I read this book I pictured Kelsea as being age 12-14. It is no spoiler to say that she was raised in isolation, hidden from enemies, by two caretakers. This made her seem both very young while simultaneously wise. It was only upon reading it the second time that I caught that she was nineteen. This fact made other things in the series, like her distraction regarding the attractiveness of her guard, seem less weird.

Re-reading the first two books was a joy. They are fairly fast-paced (bit of a Hobbit-like traveling part in the beginning of book one) with fantastic characters. All three books are told from shifting narratives and you can see the perspective of each character clearly. And the characters! Kelsea has a core made of pure iron.  Her guards, the evil Queen, the mysterious Lily, and Father Tyler – I loved (or loathed) them all. Two of the guards, The Mace and Pen were my absolute favorites and I relished each scene they were in. I want the Mace to be my friend in real life. Or, at least, have one friend as utterly dedicated to me as the Mace is to Kelsea. I was ready for the next book. I needed to know the fate of this world that had become to important and so real to me.

Let me just disclose that one of the reasons this book landed on my TBR shelf for so long was because it did not go over well with the fans of the first two books. So, I was worried. For the first 50-75% of the book, it was amazing. Every thought was, “what are people complaining about?” Then, stuff happened. Nothing that requires trigger warnings or anything (although, please note that there is some background sexual violence in this book) Then, I got to the final quarter of the book.

The ending left me open-mouthed staring at the back cover.

I went full large-mouthed bass.

It is not a bad ending exactly. On a scale of endings it is closer to Hunger Games than say, Divergent. There is sadness, there is wonder, and there are a few, “whaaaaaaaat?” moments mixed in. Mostly, it is just a perfect series with an ending that is probably perfect for the series but isn’t what I wanted. This is the ending that makes me finally understand why people write fan fiction. I would like a go at re-writing this ending.

I will still highly recommend the entire series. It is fantasy writing in a surprising way and is packed full of fantastic characters charging through life righting wrongs. And, if you have read it or do read it, can we please talk about that ending?!?

Tell me, please!

Which series had an ending that you didn’t love but didn’t ruin the series?


Challenges · Uncategorized

September Sequels

I was blog hopping the other day in lieu of writing anything and Meegan Reads had mentioned this fabulous idea of focusing on sequels in September. The idea originated with Kathy at Books and Munchies and I love it!

The Rules

Post a blog post / comment / Tweet / whatever saying you’ll be joining.

Share your list of all the TBR-sequels that you own and then decide which ones to give priority to.

If you’re sharing your updates on social media, use #SequelSeptember so we can follow up on each other. Simple!


Here is the top of my sequel TBR. I also need to finish re-reading all of the Harry Potter books for one of my 2019 challenges.

Tell me, please!

Do you have sequels that need your attention?


nonfiction · Uncategorized

Non-Fiction Friday: May 17, 2019 Dot Journaling, A Practical Guide by Rachel Wilkerson Miller

I have always been a paper person. Writing lists and keeping a physical calendar is the only method that keeps me organized. While my digital calendar is wonderfully sharable and does a fabulous job of checking for conflicts, I cannot seem to retain the information I put into it. I hate putting to do lists on there and wandering around with my phone out all of the time. Don’t get my started on how frustrating it is when you finish on an electronic to-do list and it just disappears. Crossing things off is the only reason to make a list in the first place! I just can’t let go of my pen and paper. Also, I j’adore office supplies.

When I first saw The Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carrol I thought, “I love this idea.” An analog method for a digital world? Yes please! I immediately bought a notebook and special pens and tried it.

Except it was too complicated. Why do I have to number all the pages? Why am I constantly re-writing things? These analog repetitions are exactly the wonders that my phone does for me. The symbols made no sense to me. Then the gorgeous Instagram and Pinterest pages started to appear. My bullet journal looked nothing like either of these two extremes! So, I quit.

But I still wanted to be a bullet journal person. Desperately. This weekend I spotted Dot Journaling, A Practical Guide by Rachel Wilkerson Miller. The sub-title was “How to Start and Keep the Planner, To-to-list, and Diary That’ll Actually Help You Get Your Life Together.” More importantly, the intro identified the author as a fellow bullet journal wanna be who became confused and overwhelmed by the actual process. She writes for Buzzfeed and has a great little blurb about starting a bullet journal here.

dotjournalingDot Journal is the ideal starting point for people who, like me, love the pen and paper method but do not have the time, energy, or inclination to spend an hour a day copying and recopying to-do lists and calendar items. Dot Journaling also gives clear instructions on how to set-up the journal, something I still couldn’t figure out even after watching the youtube video by Ryder Carrol.

Here is how Goodreads describes the book.


Organize your life, record what matters, and get stuff done!

What the heck is a dot journal? It’s a planner, to-do list, anddiary for every aspect of your life: work, home, relationships, hobbies, everything.

Early adopter Rachel Wilkerson Miller explains how to make a dot journal work for you—whether you find the picture-perfect examples on Pinterest inspiring or, well, intimidating. You decide how simple or elaborate your journal will be, and what goes in there:

– Lists of your to-dos, to-don’ts, and more
– Symbols that will make those lists efficient and effective
– Spreads to plan your day, week, month, or year
– Trackers for your habits and goals (think health, money, travel)
– Accoutrements such as washi tape, book darts, and more!

Dot Journaling is only about 200 pages but still manages to give you an overview of the basics, tips, and tricks, and the details you need on how to use the “special pages.” The special pages are the ones I love – the financial planner, the book reading list and the habit trackers! This is the stuff that feeds my Instagram. The book even includes how to cope with a page that the antithesis of Insta-worthy (glue them together and pretend it never happens is my favorite).  With photos and short explanations of yearly, monthly and daily spreads as well as cute and simple examples of for special uses for your journal this book finally accomplished what countless other sources couldn’t: helping me understand this blended use journaling.

I read this book at the beginning of this week. I suppressed my first desire, to buy a brand new journal, and instead unearthed a previously purchased journal with a grand total of 15 pages used. One of the points the author makes it that it doesn’t need to be perfect. This is revolutionary to me. I need to get over the idea that every page will be a work of art. Sometimes I just need to embrace that “good enough is good enough” and let go of perfectionism. I’m honestly surprised that I was able to force myself to start in the middle of the month – it wasn’t even a Monday!

Let me tell you, the combination of to-do list, diary, and calendar make for a complete look at how my day went. Adding a short little note to each day turns what is an ordinary calendar into a keep-sake diary without the pressure of coming up with a long pontification of my typical Tuesday. No more will I look back and wonder why I got nothing accomplished all day. I’ll know I was sick because I wrote it down! And the joy of all those crossed off to-dos…

After reading Atomic Habits by James Clear I wanted to increase my positive habits and decreased my negatives ones. I also want to use Gretchen Rubin’s time tracking system to see how much time I actually have in a day. And, you know what, life is short and I don’t want to look back and wonder, “What did I accomplish?” This journaling is perfect for all of these needs. Realizing that has been like that first day of spring after a long winter. I feel powerful, organized, and positive about myself and my future. Ah, the power of paper.

Tell me, please!

Do you keep a journal? Have you tried bullet journaling? Any tips?