January Wrap Up

Posted January 29, 2018 by Amber in Checking In / 24 Comments

2018 is off to a roaring start, n’est pas, mes chers?  I’ve not been subtle about how much 2017 stunk for me, so I’m absolutely thrilled with the way January has unwound so far.  I hope everyone else has had a good start, too!

I ended up with quite a good haul this month – after a slow December on NetGalley, I ended up being granted 5 books.  I timed my requests so that there’s nothing immediate, so reading them shouldn’t be a challenge (The Phantom Tree releases in August!).

I believe there’s a lot of little ones in this set… Blood Will Out gets some pretty bad reviews… so we’ll see how this all goes!

Also I managed to end up with two copies of Reign of the Fallen and Everless.



Clearly this is already a year for too many books… I don’t think I’ve ever fallen into the trap of having multiple copies of preorder books?  I was gifted Reign of the Fallen at the beginning of the month after long ago giving up on it on NetGalley.  I was still pleased as punch to get my pre-ordered copy, though!

As for Everless, well, I think at some point I figured out that would be the book in the Shelflove Box… then forget and ordered it on Amazon as well.  Fortunately for me, I was able to trade one of the copies away on Twitter’s #BooksForTrade and got both The Raven Boys and Rebel of the Sands, so I feel like that worked out alright for me!


I feel like I was a little under-ambitious with my Goodreads reading goal because, erm, I’ve already read 15 books.  A couple more reviews will drop in the next few days, and Tess of the Road (so much love) will drop in February.  I’m at a little bit of a slow down at the moment – I’m slugging through all my solo reads.  But it was a great start!

Hands down, no questions asked Tess of the Road was my best read this month BUT since that doesn’t drop on the blog until next month… Reign of the Fallen was incredible.  I absolutely and completely recommend it to everyone.  Wintersong and The Rosie Project were also winners.


My loves, I was quite proud of myself.  I was doing well.  Then, I realized (as always) that I was going nowhere and I needed a darn outline.

I swear, I write books all the wrong way.  Whyyyy.

So I got to a beautiful 16k words and found myself staring at the screen and asking, “What’s the point of this scene?”  I also realized that I have a character whom conceptually I like, but doesn’t really matter.  On top of that, the setting seemed stiff.  I do this sort of self-editing a lot, and I’ve run into a writing block like this with every book I’ve tried to write since 2014.  I’ve got half-finished manuscripts of GreenThe Story CollectorSo I Married a Demon Hunter, and The Land of Dark and Broken Things.

I’ve stalled on four in a row, and I’ve never stalled before.  So I’ve been thinking about it.  I’ve always been a pantser, and that’s always worked out for me.  There’s not reason why that should change, especially as I read more now and have more life experiences.

The one thing that’s changed is my prep work.  While I was in high school and college, I did a lot of character work.  I drew them, wrote short stories in their past… Fate had incredible intensive character profiles, and those characters are still my strongest.

Well crap.

I haven’t written even a minor character profile since I wrote Sparky Jones: Life on Shuffle.  And the finished manuscripts I’ve written since then have been so forgettable, I actually have to crack open a copy to remember a character name….

So I’m stopping and writing character profiles for these guys.  I finished Charlotte’s last week, and Mina’s is next.  From there – Finn, Hailey, and Collin.  Then I’m going to take some time to think through their adventure before doing anything else.

So far, I have an opening line I’m resisting writing: “Lighting flashed, illuminating the white card in Charlotte’s hand.”

Current goal is to have all prep work solidly done by the middle of April, and to take advantage of the cruise to write on my iPad.


Not a lot of new and exciting changes – I don’t think I’ve even updated old reviews this month! 🙂 I just to do a lot of busy work during downtime and lunch at work, but they’ve updated the firewalls so while I can get to WordPress, I can’t upload images, access GIFs, and the saving is inconsistent.  Plus Goodreads is blocked.

All of which I understand.  I’m there to work, not blog.  It’s perfectly fair.


I’m on the Ace of Shades Shadow Gang!

One thing you’ll be seeing through mid-April is a Saturday feature on Ace of Shades.  I was chosen to be on Amanda Foody’s Shadow Gang back at the beginning on the month.  I am genuinely looking forward to this book and thrilled to be promoting it on Twitter and the blog.

I’m trying to think of substantial posts rather than just advertising, so I may skip a week here and there as I try to brainstorm.  At this point, I’ve only read the first two chapters, so I’m working with limited content.  But I really hope you enjoy the features!

If you’re interested in Ace of Shades, I recommend following the hashtag #AceofShades on Twitter…. I’m team #Irons but all three teams are putting gout some great content for this book!


I’m generally not one for a reading challenge, but I was over on That Artsy Reader Girl and saw this one and couldn’t resist.  The challenge is to read 12 books by debut authors this year (and in January, you can read a 2017 debut).  I’m really excited for this challenge and I have a handful of debuts preordered already.  I read Wintersong for my January book (since Love, Hate, and Other Filters doesn’t count, as an ARC I read in December).

If this is a challenge you think you’d like, please join in!

At the end of the year, I also joined the Harry Potter Alliance’s Apparating Library Book Club.  I’ll be jumping in with Feburary’s book (since I didn’t get my welcome email until last week! Haha.) with Simon Verses the Homo Sapiens Agenda.  I’ve been seeing things about Love, Simon all over the place and it looks adorable, so I’m really looking forward to this book.


There hasn’t been a lot going on in my personal life lately.  There’s been a lot of drama at work again, which will either wind down soon or is just beginning – so we’ll see how that goes!

Otherwise, I had that gross flu at the beginning of the month that’s been going around, and it’s been cold and snowy, so Mattie and I have more or less just hanging out at home with the cats.  Sounds good to me!

The one big exciting thing for us this month is we paid off the remaining balance on out transatlantic cruise in April.  The cruise excursions for out France port of call dropped, so we signed up for a day in Paris.  We’ll be on tours all day, which I chose because my husband is convinced nobody speaks English (*siiiiiiiiiiiiiigh*) and I’m not comfortable in cities, so a guided tour seems safest for our first visit, since we only have a day.

The one thing I regret is that we won’t be able to see the Paris catacombs, which I think are fascinating.  I’m hoping that our busy day of tours will show my husband that we should return to France and further explore.  Or maybe I’ll hate it and find it disappointing, which is more or less how I feel about NYC.  We’ll see!


I feel like we’ve had a strong start on the blog this year and have so much enjoyed talking to y’all in the comments.  I hope you continue to like my posts and reviews!

Next month, I’ve so far scheduled fun bits like:

  • A discussion on the storytelling in The Last Jedi.
  • The review of Tess of the Road!
  • Two book tags and an award (madness!).
  • A couple Ace of Shades character studies (Levi Glaysier will make you SWOON).
  • Beautiful Books Under Dust Jackets (rescheduled from last month – the prompts got moved around! 🙂 )

I haven’t pre-written most of February’s posts yet.  It’s weird to have so many blanks spots on my schedule… despite wanting to cut down, I still ended up posting daily in January.  We’ll see how February goes!


Are you planning on reading Ace of Shades?

What books did you haul this month?

Are you planning to read any debut authors this year?

Linking Up to The Sunday Post, Stacking the Shelves, It’s Monday What Are You Reading?, and Mailbox Monday.


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24 responses to “January Wrap Up

    • Amber

      Tess of the Road is going to be one of those book that people LOVE LOVE LOVE or dislike so much they DNF it. I adored it, and I hope most people do! 🙂

  1. Kathy Martin

    I asked for Reign of the Fallen but was denied. I’ll have to watch for reviews and read it after it’s published. I am reading Tess of the Road now and enjoying it though I had a little trouble liking Tess at the beginning. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

    • Amber

      Tess takes some getting used to. I liked her sad, scrappy style, though!

      Reign of the Fallen came out last week! Reviews should be pouring in any time – I posted mine a couple weeks ago. 🙂

    • Amber

      I liked The Rosie Project a lot more than I thought I would – I almost dropped it off my TBR. 🙂 I’m glad I didn’t.

  2. Sorry to hear that you were sick and the drama at work is back! BUT hey! you have that transatlantic cruise to look forward too! LOTSA of reading hopefully!
    Even though BIG, your haul looks fantastic! And it’s great when you time your requests well so you don’t get stressed! I see some MUST I NEED to read soon! Like Reign of the Fallen, Everless and Rebel of the Sands. Gunslinger Girl is waiting for m e on my nightstand I cannot wait!

    • Amber

      Oooh, let me know what you think of Gunslinger Girl! I’m excited for it, but I don’t know when I’ll get to it! XD

      Reign of the Fallen was truly excellent. I’m recommending it to everyone. 😀

    • Amber

      It was a pretty big haul this month! 😛 That’s not a usual for me. 🙂 NetGalley blessed me this moth, for sure!

    • Amber

      Cruising is my favorite kind of vacation – it’s very low key, and I get to go places I wouldn’t normally travel. I even get seasick, and I’d STILL recommend it!

  3. I can’t believe January is almost done! It’s crazy…
    You know what? There’s been a shocking turn of events and I don’t think I’ve actually added any books to my collection this year! *Frowns* But next week I’m going to a second hand book fair and that will be glorious and I’ll bring back seventy bags of wonderful books. I’ll probably have to do a book haul post in Feb 😀
    Ace of Shades does look interesting! I’ll see if I can convince my library to buy it when it comes out. Wintersong’s cover is also the absolute prettiest!
    And you’re going to France? Majorly jealous. I hope you have a great time!

    • Amber

      I’ll only be in France for a day. 🙂 But it’s exciting nonetheless!

      Ace of Shades is the first in a trilogy, so I hope they pick it up. Amanda’s first book, Daughter of the Burning City, did quite well. 🙂

      Secondhand book fair! That sounds AMAZING. I always overload my shelves after those, I hope you find some really amazing books!

    • Amber

      ARCs and eGalleys definitely do bog down my reading list. I’ve only read 2 physical books for fun this month, and I’m trying to get through my whole library!

      I did a string of preorders this month, but I’m only counting them when they show up! I’ll probably do another strong in May-June for books the second half of the year. 🙂

  4. Lots going on here. I am glad that 2018 is going better for you and that you have gotten over the flu.
    I love how you have the overlay (?) of review highlight on your covers – very cool. I like the sound of Wintersong and I want to look at The Gunslinger Girl.
    Happy Reading!

    • Amber

      Yes, January has been a busy month! I’m glad I got over the flu as well – goodness knows I have friends who had a MUCH worse strain this season!

      I highly recommend Wintersong – it’s one of those deep, melodious books that stay with you. 🙂

  5. Oh my goodness you read so many books this month! I was so busy with schoolwork so I think I read only… 6? Or 7? I’m not sure. Ace of Shades seems like a great book – so many people are talking about it and I can’t wait to get my own copy!
    (And… psst. Just in case you REALLY want to blog at work, there’s this Chrome extension called Browsec. When you turn it on, it will somehow hide your IP (?) and you’ll be able to access blocked websites.)

    Chloe @ Blushing Bibliophile recently posted: [Blog Tour] Spotlight: Hinder by Kristin Ping
    • Amber

      That is interesting information, lol! 😉 I will keep it in mind!

      I didn’t mean to read that many books! It’s been crazy, because I’ve been busy enough with work that I haven’t head a lot of down time. 🙂 I think that the audiobooks really made a dent. 🙂