Wrap Up

Middle Mark | May 2019

Middle Mark

So, this month I am reading big books, but also reading some smaller books in-between to keep up my momentum. I always need to pause a big book and finish a quick read or I end up getting bogged down, am I the only one who feels this way from time to time?

Anyway, this Middle Mark is mainly going to be a few of the small books, hopfully my monthly wrap up will have some of the larger books. Fingers crossed.

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Read 2

Ask Baba Yaga: Otherworldly Advice for Everyday TroublesAsk Baba Yaga: Otherworldly Advice for Everyday Troubles by Taisia Kitaiskaia

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very adorable and helpful book. This advice centered book is a mixture of fun, thoughtfulness, and folklore. I plan on reading more from this author because the writing was lyrical, but not annoying. The advice was useful, but not full of itself.

I see myself picking it up again from time to time.

View all my reviews


Literary Witches: A Celebration of Magical Women WritersLiterary Witches: A Celebration of Magical Women Writers by Taisia Kitaiskaia

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a very cute and quick read. I really enjoyed how each section was set up. A little story create by the author, a little non-fiction blurb about the “literary witch” and then recommenced reading for each one. This truly is a wonderful celebration of women writers from a wide array of backgrounds and time.

This little blurb and short little story really gets you in the mood to explore these women and it is so wonderful that she gives you 3 or more recommendations. On top of that the illustrator, Katy Horon, has a wonderful style and you can see how individualized and meaningful each of the pieces are.

View all my reviews


Currently Reading 2

Stalin’s Daughter by Rosemary Sullivan

Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva

I picked up this novel while at my local indie bookstore. I am ashamed to say and admit I never knew Stalin has a daughter. I honestly just through he was so evil that I cannot fathom that he could be a father. I am currently about 74 pages into the book and I think is he is a horrible husband, horrible person, and I think he was a messed up dad already. Mainly because of foreshadowing and some comments here and there, but I am interested in seeing just how low he goes in his personal life.


The Stand by Stephen King

The Stand

I have finally started this huge book, I am not too far into it, but I can already see why it is a beloved book of his. It has a very interesting start and I normally don’t like apocalyptic  dystopian writings, mainly because YA was/is just pushed them way to much for me, but I will say that this one seems very different and I am curious to see how he pictures a world after our world collapses.

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What are you currently reading?

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Reviews

REVIEW | Jefferson’s Daughters by Catherine Kerrison

Book Review

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Surprise I have a review! Also, a quick heads up. I received this book through netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Description

Thomas Jefferson fathered three girls: two white and free, one black and a slave. This book about Martha, Maria, and Harriet tells the fascinating story of their very different lives at Monticello and beyond, as daughters of one of our most brilliant and complicated Founding Fathers.

What I Liked

I have to say I really enjoyed a few things about this book. I like how Kerrison was not afraid to talk about slavery and shedding light and discuss the practice. I know a lot of authors write about the founding fathers they tend to or at least used to skip this part because of various reasons. Not only did she discuss it she showcased it right from the start. As many say, you must study the mistakes of the past to not make them again, so I am glad the whole past is being shown. Another thing I liked was how she introduced this story. She starts off with an informative introduction, but she also went back a few generations to set the “stage”. Not only did she talk about the birth of Jefferson’s daughters with Martha, she also discusses the lineage of Harriet to show that they truly were family by blood and not just in one way. For me that really sent a message. I myself am very close with my family and if I had half sister I could never imagine owning them. It just sheds more light on the mentality and the madness of the whole system. Lastly, I really liked the fact that I learned things I have never heard before.

What I Didn’t Like

One thing I wish I had seen in this book, but may not be an issue in the final edition, is the fact that there is a bibliography, but there are no endnotes or foot notes to explain which facts are from which sources. If I were  to research this topic more and look to this book for a direction, I will have a difficult time finding the document that is relevant.

Overall Thoughts

Over all I thought this was a wonderful book. It was eye opening and genuinely learned from it. Even if you are not a lover of history, I would say this book is still worth the read. It deals with social norms of the time and it really leads you to reflect and think about how some individuals can be as great as to write the Declaration of Independence, but at the same time break his word and refuse to free his own children because that would not be acceptable. But, is also shows you that even if you have a sibling and the circumstances are a little different your lives could be very, very different. Lastly, this is a well done book, you can tell a lot of thought and research went into it.


Book Information

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Expected Publication: January 2nd, 2018

List Price: $18.99 (Amazon.com)

ISBN: 9781101886243

Pages: 288 pages


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Reviews

Review | The Way Back to Florence by Glenn Haybittle

Book Review

The Way Back to Florence by Glenn Haybittle

*I received this book through netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *

18302455If someone asked me to describe this book I would say it is poetic, passionate, and fast paced. It went by way to quickly for my liking, I wanted it to never end. In this historical fiction novel you follow the lives of  Freddie, Isabella, and Oskar against the backdrop of  in Italy during World War II. What I enjoyed the most is that their personalities are distinct, they do not feel generic at all. Isabella is a strong individual, she puts herself in so much danger to help others as well as project art. I went to art school for a few years and for me personally art is culture. It is a way to show how a group or individual feels, but also shows what they see around them. Art is very important. Freddie is a pilot during the war. His does gruesome work and is faced with danger often. During this time he bonds very well with his crew mates and you experience his point of view of the bombing, which I found interesting to read. Oskar, whose story is not really described in the description so I wont say much, but he is also a very distinct character who has a very important non-passive role in this book. I felt that this novel described a lot of the various roles citizens could have taken during the war.

I could easily go on about this, I honestly REALLY enjoyed this. It has all of the elements of a historical fiction that I look for. It takes place during an active time in history, the characters are involved in the events in different ways, and I genuinely connected with these characters. For me a bonus of this book was that it took place outside of Germany, France, and Britain. For me personally I had not read a WWII historical fiction that took place in Italy so it caught my eye even more than a historical fiction normally would. Over all I would say if you enjoy historical fiction, art, WWII related books, and you enjoy reading about characters that feel like real people you need to pick this up. I give this book an easy 5 stars!

Description

In 1937 Freddie (English), Isabella (Italian) and Oskar (a German Jew) become friends at an art school in Florence where they are taught by the dictatorial but magus-like Maestro and his sinister fascist assistant Fosco. When war arrives Freddie returns to England to become the pilot of a Lancaster bomber. Oskar, now a dancer, has moved to Paris where he escapes the 1942 roundup of Jews and arrives in Italy with his young daughter Esme. Isabella remains in Florence where she continues to paint. Until she is called upon by Maestro to forge an old master painting, apparently at the behest of the Führer himself, and as a result is seen as a Nazi collaborator by her neighbours.
The murderous skies over Germany and a war-torn Italy in the grip of Nazi occupation provide the setting for this novel about the love of a separated husband and his wife and the love of a man for his young daughter. Freddie and Oskar both hope to find their way back to Florence. But Florence’s heritage of preserving the identity and continuity of the past has never before been so under threat.


Book Information

Publisher: Cheyne Walk

Publication Date: (This edition) July 06, 2017

List Price: $13.99

ISBN: 9780993286308

Pages: 490 pages


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Life, DIYs, & Cooking

Bookstore Travels

A few weeks ago I drove a few hours to Princeton University and walk around the historic campus and downtown. To my amazement when we were walking around the downtown I found a cute little bookstore that I HAD to go into. Let’s just say I spent an hour in here easily.

The Bookstore: Labyrinth Books 

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What cause my eye first about this bookstore was the fact that they had 6 or 7 tables out front piled high with books. Not only were there so many outside they were ALL on sale! I don’t know about you, but I LOVE when books are on sale. It means I can buy more and not feel as guilty about spending money on them.

When I finally combed through all of the sale books I headed inside dragging my friend along. The inside was bright and beautiful. There were books on two floors. There were displays by subjects, new releases, ancient texts, and classics. What I liked the most was the wide range of non-fiction that I don’t normally find in my local bookstores. So jealous of people who live a reasonable distance away from this place. Here are a few pictures I was able to take inside the shop.


After spending about an hour in this store I ended up leaving with three gorgeous books. Still so sad I have to travel hours to get to this place!

The Haul:

 


I think I want to plan some more day trips to far off bookstores. On a side note, this campus is just as beautiful as the bookshop!

What is your favorite bookstore you love to visit?

 

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Reviews

REVIEW: A Short History of the Russian Revolution by Geoffrey Swain

Book Review

I wanted to start off by saying that I received an ebook copy of this book via netgalley in exchange for my honest review.


A Short History of the Russian Revolution discusses the Russian Revolution that ended the Tsarist monarchy and ushers in the communist regime in Russia during 1917. Now I will 30897399say that someone can easily write a 1000 page book on this topic so when I requested this I knew that some things would be missing. When I did finally get to reading it I laughed a bit when the author himself said, “much has to be left out” because this is such a complex period of history.
I will say that Geoffrey Swain did a good job summing up such a complex event(s). For someone who does not know a lot about the Russian Revolution they will benefit a lot from reading this. Swain knows his topic well, he discusses a wide range of related events and organizations which I find important. A historical event did not happen in a vacuum, society prior to the event let to the Russian Revolution and it impacted a lot of events, policies, and individuals following it as well. I will say that this book is very academic, since this is a short history it is jammed packed with facts. So if you are looking for a non-fiction account that reads like a novel this is not for you. This is more of something you would read if you are interested in learning about the event or need a good resources for research. I wish I had read something like this years ago when I took a class dealing with this topic. On another note I really enjoyed was the short timeline in the beginning of the book. It really showed a quick summary before getting into details.

Overall, I think that this is a good book. I ended up giving it a 3.5/5 stars. This is a great book for those who are studying the Russian Revolution, have a serious interest, an introduction to the topic, and a good resource for research, but it is not something I feel many individuals will pick up a read “for the fun of it”. But, to restate what I have said, this really is a well written “short” history of the Russian Revolution.


Book Information

Publisher: I. B. Tauris & Company

Publication Date: March 30th 2017

List Price: Varies – $10.60 on Kindle $29.00 on Nook

ISBN: 9781780767925

Pages: 256 pages


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https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30897399-a-short-history-of-the-russian-revolution

 

TBR

MAY TBR: 2017

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This month I am giving myself a small TBR for two reasons. The first reason is that this month is my birthday month and I am seeing friends I have not seen in quite some time over the next few weeks ends. If you have read my post: My Reading Routine you will know I read mostly during the weekends. The second reason is work is generally a bit overwhelming this time of year so I take quite a bit home with me. Regardless, I plan on reading some good books!

 

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The first book on my TBR is 11/22/63 by Stephen King. Stephen King books are my happy place I have realized. Lately, I have been DNFing a lot of books. I’m not sure if my reading tastes have changed or I have just become horrible at picking books. Regardless of the reason I have decided to pick up a book by an author who has never let me down. This book is a mixture of history and time travel, how can that not be good?

 

 

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The Next book on my list is Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnik. This non-fiction books discusses the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I want to read this for two reasons, one I love learning about other peoples lives and experiences. The second reason is because it discusses the civil rights and U.S. government policies since she has been a Justice. Flipping through the book it has copies of documents, photos, cartoons, and other graphics that seem intriguing.

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The last book I plan on reading this month is SPQR by Mary Beard. This is a non-fiction book that discusses the history of Ancient Rome. Even though I have studied history, I have realized that this is an area I am not that well versed in. So I plan on fixing that. Now, this one is one is a large one. So even if I only get half way through it this month I will be proud of myself.

 

 

 


So, those are the three books I plan on reading this month, chances are there will be a few more sprinkled in between. Especially with all the non-fiction, but we shall see what happens. Just so you know all titles are links to each books goodreads page incase you want to know more about these books.

Happy Reading!


What books are you reading this month? Have you read any of the books I have mentioned?

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Tags

The Cake Book Tag

So I was watching some booktube instead of reading today and I saw PeruseProject do this tag and I thought would be fun to do. I did make it a bit more challenging by making myself stick to books I have read in the last 12 months. Time to mix all the ingredients together and make a great book cake! P.S. All titles are linked to go to the books goodreads pages if you are interested in learning more about the books. 

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source: Princeton Public Library

 

FLOUR: A book that was a little slow to start, but really picked up as it went along.

Euphoria by Lily King 

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Euphoria by Lily King is a great book, when I finished it I knew it would be a book I would revisit. But, it didn’t start off that way. At first it was a little slow even though it was interesting, but I almost put it down for good. Then, the story picked up and I couldn’t put it down. Talk about a 180. 

Blurb: “Inspired by events in the life of revolutionary anthropologist Margaret Mead, Euphoria is the story of three young, gifted anthropologists of the 1930s caught in a passionate love triangle that threatens their bonds, their careers, and, ultimately, their lives.” via goodreads

BUTTER: A book that had a rich, great plot. 

Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

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Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel was one of the best books I read last year. I was so engrossed in the story and invested. It had an interesting concept and the plot took unexpected twists and turns. The sequel, Waking Gods, came out not that long ago and I cannot wait to get to it. 

Blurb: “A girl named Rose is riding her new bike near her home in Deadwood, South Dakota, when she falls through the earth. She wakes up at the bottom of a square hole, its walls glowing with intricate carvings. But the firemen who come to save her peer down upon something even stranger: a little girl in the palm of a giant metal hand.” via goodreads

EGGS: A book you thought was going to be bad, but actually turned out quite enjoyable. 

The Picture of Dorian Gray

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While the description of this classic sounds interesting for some reason I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it at all. But, I was pleasantly surprised when I enjoyed it. It was the perfect mixture of having the classic critiques, gothic style, and it can still be related to the modern world. 

Blurb: “Written in his distinctively dazzling manner, Oscar Wilde’s story of a fashionable young man who sells his soul for eternal youth and beauty is the author’s most popular work. The tale of Dorian Gray’s moral disintegration caused a scandal when it first appeared in 1890” via goodreads

SUGAR: A sugary, sweet book.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

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Ah, the sugar in this book cake, The Rosie Project. I have to say I just adored this book, I think mainly because it speaks a lot to my personal life and I made a connection to it. I fell in love with this book nearly right from the beginning. 

Blurb: “Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project.” via goodreads

ICING : A book that covered every element that you enjoy about a book.  

Ghostly Echoes by William Ritter 

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The Jackaby series is an auto buy series for me, I even have the next book on preorder. From the three that are currently out I have loved every single one. For my personally, that has never happened before. Even with my beloved (and most likely a lot of other peoples) Harry Potter series. There are books I am just meh about, but still enjoy. But Ghostly Echoes is great and so is the rest of the series, it is a mixture of Doctor Who and Sherlock Holmes. I know I should not be comparing this series to other series (TV and books), but it really is. 

Blurb from book one: “Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary–including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose.” via goodreads

SPRINKLES: A book series that you can kind of turned back to for a little pick me up when you’re feeling down.

Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling

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Do I really need to explain this one? lol.


THE CHERRY ON TOP: Your Favorite book you have read so far this year.

The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel 

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So far The Stranger in the Woods has been my top read. Mainly because it has a sense of adventure, justice, psychology, and a wonderful story that is not intimidating at all to read. This book is with well researched and has personal touches that make a great narrative. 

Blurb:”In 1986, a shy and intelligent twenty-year-old named Christopher Knight left his home in Massachusetts, drove to Maine, and disappeared into the forest. He would not have a conversation with another human being until nearly three decades later, when he was arrested for stealing food. Living in a tent even through brutal winters, he had survived by his wits and courage, developing ingenious ways to store edibles and water, and to avoid freezing to death. He broke into nearby cottages for food, clothing, reading material, and other provisions, taking only what he needed but terrifying a community never able to solve the mysterious burglaries.” via goodreads

If you have made it this far into this post I congratulate you, it was a bit of reading for sure. This posts question is…

What book would be your butter in your Cake Book Tag?

Thank you for reading, have a great day and happy reading!


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Reviews

REVIEW: The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

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*I received this book through netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

There are a few things I would like to start off with before I go into this book review. The first being is that this book really hit me hard. I had to set it down a few times because the emotional roller coaster it put me through. This book talks about not only extremely brave and courageous women, but also how they suffered. Secondly, I wanted to let you know that I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

In this book Kate Moore talks about workers rights and women’s rights as humans. She tells the story of those “lucky” women who were picked to paint clock faces 31409135with the shining element Radium. She writes this historical book with support from documentation, but presents it in a humanizing way. I have to say as someone who studied history, this is one of the few books that made me feel. Many history based texts are filled with facts to a point the reader is disconnected from the events. That is not the case for The Radium Girls, from almost the start I saw these people as humans, not a statistic. In the beginning of the book Moore states “no book existed that put the radium girls center stage and told the story from their perspective” (location 22, netgally PDF version), well I have to say she succeed, she gave them a voice and a spotlight.

I really liked how much thought was put into this book. Moore not just read about these women in the archives, but traveled and visited their families, their  loved ones. She took the time to know them outside of the documents. This can be seen throughout the book. I also enjoyed that this book was written more as a narrative, like we were following these women, not just reading about them. I honestly found it refreshing. I also liked how raw it was, Moore not only wanted you to connect with these women and give them a voice, but to also showed everything they went through. Earlier I said that Moore discusses workers rights and women’s rights and that is true. These women were told that this element was not harmful in the slightest, to the point they put their used brushes into their mouths. They were lied to, as humans and as workers. Now I also said that this book discussed women’s rights, and it does. During this time period, women were seen as less, they were not valued. Regardless, they came together to fight for what was right. It really blew me away how brave these women were.

Over all I decided to give this book a 4/5 stars. It was a great read and I highly suggest it to anyone who is interested in learning about how Radium was used, its effects, workers rights, and those who are interesting in reading about strong women. But, as I stated earlier, this book can really affect you. It goes into detail how being exposed to Radium effected these women, which I think is important, but might not be for everyone. This book is expected to be published on May 2nd, 2017.

4 STARS!

If you are interested in finding out more about The Radium Girls by Kate Moore or reading more reviews click here to go over to the goodreads page.


Book Information

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Publication Date: May 2nd, 2017

List Price:$26.99

ISBN:9781492649359

Pages: 480


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TBR

April TBR: 2017

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Aprils TBR is going to be a short one, mainly because it is going to be a very busy month and I do not want to overwhelm myself. But, the four books I have picked I am very much looking forward to. In fact, I am going to pick up The Radium Girls as soon as I finish writing this post!

Both The Radium Girl by Kate Moore and A Short History of the Russian Revolution by Groffrey Swain are books I received from Netgalley to review. Both are historical, nonfiction. The Radium Girls follows the stories of various women who painted clock faces with the element radium to make them illuminate before the heath risks were truly know. It explores their stories and the effect their work had on them as the years passed. I have started reading this one already and it is historical, but also personable. It does not take away the humanity of these women with endless facts and figures.

A Short History of the Russian Revolution is something I studied while at school and I continue to be interested in.  So, when I saw this on Netgalley I submitted a request right away and was thrilled to get approved.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas and The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle I have gotten myself. Both are books I have very much wanted to get to. I read A Court of Thorns and Roses when it first came out and enjoyed it, but sadly I have not gotten to the second book in the series, I plan to correct that before the next book comes out. Fingers crossed I succeed!

On a more classic note I recently have been on a Sherlock Holmes binge and I am reading all of the stories and short stories in publication order and The Sign of Four is next in line. I have to say I was expecting the writing to be dull and difficult, but it read very modern. I have been devouring the stories.


What are you reading this month?

 

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Goals

2017 Goals Update: First Quarter

The firstupdatetop5 quarter of 2017 is nearly over so I thought I would take this time to do a little update on my 2017 goals, you can find the post here: 2017 Goals! I also thought it would be fun to go through and show my progress of the books outlined in my post called Top 5 Books I Want to Read in 2017

On the right side of the post you will see an image of a few books. If you have not seen my previous post those are the top 5 books I wanted to read this year. There are also large green X’s on some of those books. Those are the books I have completed, 4 of the 5. I am actually very surprised at my progress, I did not expect to get threw them this quickly. If you are interested you can find short reviews for three of the completed books on my post entitled #TBRTakeDown: Wrap Up.

The first goal I had set forth for myself was to give up on series and books I am not enjoying. I have to say that so far I am keeping true to this goal. I have stopped reading two series I was not feeling and DNF’ed one book.

The second goal I set for myself was to become a more critical reading and rater. Once again I feel that I have held true to this, while I have really enjoyed a lot of the books I have read this year, so far 23, only one has been given 5 stars.

The third goal I set was getting my TBR to 0 by the end of the year. Now this one I am having a hard time with. I don’t think I am the only reader with this “problem”. Since January I have read 23 books, so in theory I should be very close to have 0 already. The thing is I am finding books online and in bookstores I want to read and I just can’t seem to help myself. I have managed to get my TBR to 33, up 7 books. If you are interested you can find my TBR on my Libib account.

The fourth goal I have set was to post on my blog at least twice a month. I have crushed this one by posting at least once a week so far this year. In some cases twice a week. Yay!

The final goal I have set myself was getting my goodreads shelves under control. A month or so ago I took time and sat down and created new shelves based upon genre. I have slowly been going through and moving my current reads and previous reads onto these shelves. So I can happily say I am on the right track.

Over all I have to say that 2017 is getting off to a great start. Now to get my TBR and book buying under control… yeah I am shaking my head as well, but I can dream!


 

How are your 2017 goals coming along?

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