the great 2020 reading realization

Hello dear friends. We made it to another year. Though I am greeting 2021 with open arms, I am also giving it the side eye and greeting it with a dash of hesitation and nervousness because let’s be honest; 2020 was a crap show! Being a reader, I turned to reading a lot in 2020. It wasn’t about the escape really, it was mostly that comfortable companionship I’ve always felt when I spend time reading a book. I needed that last year. hah, literally yesterday! And while it did what it was supposed to do, I have thoughts! and now that we are in a new year, I definitely want to do better at things.

Case in point #1..yesterday I took a trip to Barnes and Noble. I didn’t have anything in particular in mind to buy but wanted to go browse their shelves. I’m in the mood for romantic comedies and chick lit and wanted to go see what they had. Well, I can’t enter Barnes and Noble and completely ignore the shelves smack dab in the front of the store upon entering. I can’t ignore shelf upon shelf of beautiful hard cover releases, I have to look. So, look I did! And a few titles actually caught my eye. What’s the issue? Summaries may sound good, the cover may be intriguing, it may even be an author I have been interested in giving a go. So, how do I ruin this perfect opportunity of possibly reading a new favorite book? I whip out my phone, go to goodreads, type in the title and start looking at the ratings and reviews. Here’s the thing: I love reviews. I have a select few reviewers who I trust and will legit haul or not haul a book based off what they have to say but, my issue is..this unsettling feeling that I am possibly missing out on a book that I could truly love all because I turned to the opinions of someone else to justify my buying the book or not. As someone who truly believes a group of us could read the same book together, but we are all going to read different books and get different things out of it..how did I become so reliant on the opinions and reviews of others?

From time to time, I like to go into books knowing the bare minimum but I’m also a mood reader so I mostly read the synopsis to be sure the book is what I’m in the mood for. I miss the days where the synopsis was all I needed to decide to pick up the book. I wasn’t looking to find out what other readers had already said about it. If it sounded good, I read it. I want to get back to that. It sounds very cliche but honestly, a lot of my reading goals for 2021 center around taking it back to basics; attempting to be as much of a “normal reader” as possible.

My current reading mood is paranormal and romantic comedies. It just kind of hit me towards the end of November..I really wanted to read both of those subgenres so I am going to focus a lot of my reading on those for a while. Paranormal is definitely transporting me to other worlds and giving me the much needed mental escape and romantic comedies give me the dose of humor I need. I read over 250 books in 2020 but only had 12 saved as favorites. I am really hoping that by taking my time, savoring and spending time with books I’m truly in the mood for, that I will have more favorites this year. Maybe, maybe not; but in 2020 I rushed through so many books that again, I feel like I potentially missed out on new favorites.

I realized I was so focused on hustling through books to try and reach my 115 book goal and to constantly have a new book to talk about that I was picking up quick reads not necessarily because I wanted to read them but because they were quick and I wanted to feel accomplished. I wanted to feel that satisfaction of finishing something. 2021 is going to be all about going with the flow; if it takes an entire week to finish a book then so be it! Who cares? No one is telling me I have to finish a book a day. I’ve come to realize that no one is pressuring me to do anything. the pressure has all been pressure I’ve put on myself. so, cheers to taking it easy this year.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Romance Bingo Wrap Up

I’m looking at the calendar and can’t believe we are already as far into August as we are! For me this means we are that much closer to the fall which is exciting but sadly, it means the end to Summer Romance Bingo, which is hosted by Sarah from Steeped in Books on Youtube. I am happy to announce that I have filled my Bingo card! Looking back on last summer, I think I finished with 3 or 4 open spaces left, so I am definitely patting myself on the back for accomplishing it this year.

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I read:

The Key to Happily Ever After by Tif Marcelo, which I rated 2/5 stars. Sadly, I wasn’t a fan of this one.

Hunky Heartbreaker by Kendall Ryan which I rated 4/5 stars

A Duke By Default by Alyssa Cole which I rated 4/5 stars

Imperfect Match by Melanie Harlow and Corinne Michaels which I rated 4/5 stars

Smooth-Talking Cowboy by Maisey Yates, rated 4/5 stars

Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai, rated 4/5 stars

With the Fire On High by Elizabeth Acevedo,  rated 5/5 stars. The romance in this one was cute and appropriate so I’m counting it!

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez, rated 3/5 stars

Waiting For Tom Hanks by Kerry Winfrey, I rated 2/5 stars

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Rebel by Beverly Jenkins, 5/5 stars

Petal Pluckers by Iris Moreland, 2/5 stars

I’ll Be Good To You by Chelsea Marie, 4/5 stars

Summer On Mirror Lake by Joann Ross, 4/5 stars

Untamed Cowboy by Maisey Yates, 4/5 stars

Unexpected by Kelly Rimmer, 3/5 stars

A Lesson In Thorns by Sierra Simone, 5/5 stars

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Last Summer by Kelly Lonsdale, 3/5 stars

Dirty Doctor by Whitney G, 4/5 stars

Naughty Boss by Whitney G, 4/5 stars

Cocky Client by Whitney G, 3/5 stars

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey, 3/5 stars

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn, 3/5 stars

On a Tuesday by Whitney G, 3/5 stars

Returning His Favor by Jacqueline Francis, 5/5 stars

How to Hack A Heartbreak by Kristin Rockaway, 4/5 stars

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Although there were a few reads that just didn’t do it for me, for the most part I enjoyed what I read. My intention was to keep the reading fun so I could possibly forget that I was reading to fill up a box and in a way this worked. Then August came. This month has been a sort of reading butt kicker and I am not happy about it. The mixture of 106 degree weather days and waking up early, has me so sleepy by a certain time of day and my reading unfortunately has taken a hit.

I was striving for a Bingo which I reached, but I still have part of this challenge going on. by the last day of August, I’d like to say I reached my second goal with this challenge which was to read 40 of the 80 reading prompts. I have about 12 more prompts to go. It feels so doable, but I know there is this huge disconnect right now between what I want to be doing and my lack of motivation.

I will keep you posted on my goal at the end. Wish me luck, and if you’re participating, I am here rooting for you as well. We got this!! There is still time.

xo.

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Romance Chat With Friends

 

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Hello Friends! It is that time for one of my favorite posts on my blog–my romance chat with Friends. On today’s post, I will be posting my chat with the ladies of Romantics At Hart, an online book club hosted by best friends Angela and Nicole.

Both ladies are very active in the online reading community and I love that they are encouraging and so supportive of romance readers. I always start these chats out by asking my Friends about their ‘romance origin story.’ I am always interested in how they discovered their love of romance.

Romantics At Hart: (Nicole): I distinctly remember my Mom having a couple Danielle Steel books. She had Nora Roberts books. So my first dive into romance, I used my own money at the bookstore and I picked out this author, Sandra Brown. I started reading her contemporary romances. I read it and fell in love. I then go back and try to get all the books I could by Sandra Brown because I wanted to read all the books she’d written. I did get started reading in 6th grade reading Harry Potter but I wanted to get into a different style of books so I asked my Mom what she liked to read so she showed me the books she enjoyed which lead to me going to the book store and picking out Sandra Brown who I still love.

Falling4Romance:  I love that you ladies are bringing the love of romance to the online book community because the genre still in so many ways catches a lot of slack. What inspired you two to start Romantics At Hart?

Romantics At Hart: (Angela): I love the romance genre. I read romances, I’m writing my own romance novel, and I’m studying the romance genre for my dissertation. Romance is my life. When I joined booktube, wanted to talk about them too. Nicole and myself somehow found one another; we watched each other’s videos, commented on them, tweeted back and forth and more. We got to know each other and one day after I gathered up enough courage I direct messaged her and asked if she would be willing to start a romance genre book club for Youtube with me. To my absolute delight, she said yes. Nicole named the book club after me and my channel and I named our movie watch alongs after her and her channel. Tuesday nights have become my favorite day of the week because I get to talk about a genre I love with someone I completely adore. The romance genre has introduced me to my best friend. (Nicole): I was humbled and surprised when Nicole approached me. I think back when she did, I had maybe 300 subscribers to my channel. I was shocked. Out of anybody she could’ve asked, she came to me!

Falling4Romance: If someone found you browsing the romance section at a bookstore and asked you for a recommendation as a first time romance reader, what author would you recommend them and what book specifically by that author?

Romantics At Hart: (Angela): Personally, I would ask the person seeking the recommendation if they have a favorite subgenre  (mystery, thriller, comedy, paranormal, contemporary, etc) then go from there. That is the beauty of the romance genre, there is something for everyone. (Nicole): “If you want a cup of tea, someone is pouring it.” (Angela): I totally knew you were going to say that! I remember you loved that scene in ‘Love Between The Covers.’ Whenever someone says that now, I think of you. It does summarize the romance genre really well. Plus I think it was Beverly Jenkins who said it in the documentary and she’s amazing. I absolutely adore her. (Nicole): My gut instinct is to go with anything by Sandra Brown or Nora Roberts. Bow down to the Queens of Romance especially Nora Roberts. She is in the 200s of books out. Like Angela mentioned though, I’d probably ask their favorite subgenre because depending on their answer I do have recommendations for whatever subgenre they give. My first gut reaction is to recommend something by Sandra Brown and my favorite Sandra Brown is Chill Factor which is a suspense romance, having the suspense, mystery factor. If they said their favorite is historical, I’d definitely recommend Eloisa James or Lisa Kleypas. They are Queens of writing historical. If Paranormal, I’d recommend J.R. Ward or Gena Showalter. I’d have to ask a couple of questions and go from there.

Falling4Romance: What is something you would like to see more of in romance?

Romantics At Hart: (Nicole): The first thing that popped in my head really stems from romance readers. I would like to see more pride in romance. What I mean by that is I would love to see readers of the genre not try to hide the covers of the books they’re reading. Or when you ask them what they’re reading, they kind of stammer and shrug it off like, “Oh it’s just one of those stupid books.” I had a patient come into my office the other day who was reading a Harlequin Romance and if someone brings a book into the office, I ask what they’re reading. She tried to hide it. You could tell she was ashamed of what she was reading and she said, “Oh it’s just one of those silly little Harlequin books that don’t have a lot of plot that you can just get through without a lot of thought.” Having had that experience just the other day I would like to see more pride from romance readers. Don’t hide those covers. Tell me what you’re reading. As far as the romance genre, what’s being published and put on the table I can’t really think of anything. If you like a specific trope, there is a romance book for you. As opposed to content, I would say the romance genre is the most diverse. It covers a lot of bases. In my day to day life though I’d like to see more romance readers proud of who they are and what they’re reading.

Falling4Romance: What is on trope you will never be tired of reading?

Romantics At Hart: (Nicole): I really love the alpha hero trope. I love that trope. Angela and I recently discovered this about myself while Angela and I were doing out shifter and paranormal recommendations. It’s not something that I knew about myself but every single book I was recommending it was a macho character who didn’t need love, doesn’t feel anything until the female character comes into the picture. Then they melt. I also love hate to love romances. It is more believable to me, than a couple who falls in love instantly.

Falling4Romance: Are there any lesser known romance authors you think people should check out?

Romantics At Hart: (Nicole): For lesser known authors, one that is sticking in my head is Sawyer Bennett. I have only read a couple of things by her but I really enjoyed them. Also, Jennifer Bernard. She writes this really witty and cute fireman series that I adore. Carol Bristol’s, “Reckless in Moonlight,” as well.

Falling4Romance: Romance is such a huge genre with so many authors and so many sub-genres. How do you keep up with what is new? How do you come across the books you decide to pick up?

Romantics At Hart: (Nicole) I keep a list of all the new book coming out that I’m interested in. I usually peruse Barnes and Noble or Amazon because they have a Coming Soon section. When I discover a new author, most of the time it’s recommended to me. Then if I read one and I love it, I get on this rampage to buy and read all the books they’ve ever published.

I am so grateful to these two ladies and their contribution to the romance reading community. You can find Angela on Youtube here and Nicole here. The ladies do a live show at least once a month, and it is so much fun. Their live shows are always just the girl time I need.

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