A Little Awareness, A Little Appreciation, & A Lotta Book Stuff: January 2021 Wrap Up!

Posted February 8, 2021 by Amber in Checking In / 2 Comments

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Welcome to the first wrap up of 2021, where we get to look at everything that got rolling as the new year started and we can celebrate how strikingly different everything is now that it’s not 2020 anymore!

I kid, of course, because we still have all the same things to work on as we did in 2020, all the same concerns and challenges and opportunities for growth.  But the psychology of hope is nice, right?  For myself, 2021 hasn’t been too bad on a personal level, and for that I’m truly grateful.  Still, there’s the continued opportunity to do more and be better and I’m trying to be more honest with myself and recognizing when I’ve overstepped and seized my privilege and used it inappropriately.

Whelp, now that I’ve started with all that seriousness, lets talk books!

All the things I’ve been reading

Thanks to The StoryGraph, I’ve taken to competing against myself month-by-month and early on, I was determined to hit 18 books in January like I did last year.  Then I broke down the stats a little bit and learned that while I had a greater quantity of books in 2020, I actually had a greater quantity of pages in 2021, so I’m perfectly content with my numbers.

12 books found
Everything That Burns by Gita Trelease

★★★★★

Finders Keepers by Stephen King

★★

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

★★★★

Hunger by Michael Grant

★½

Into the Bright Unknown by Rae Carson

★★★★

Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia and Anna-Marie McLemore

★★★★★

Skyhunter by Marie Lu

★★★★½

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

★★★★★

The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro

★★★★

The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer

★★★★

The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisen

★★★★½

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

★★★

 

This month, I leaned toward adventurous books, which is no surprise as that’s far and away my favorite book mood.  I favored medium-paced books that were between 300-499 pages, and I only read fiction this month.  My most read genre in January was young adult, with fantasy and science fiction coming in second and third.  My average rating was 3.58 stars so hopefully I can bring that up a little bit in February.

My favorite physical copy I read in January was Miss Meteor, which I delighted in reading in absolutely every way.  Yep, this one even beats out The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue which I thought was beautiful and contemplative but just simply wasn’t my favorite.  My favorite audiobook was The Last of August, which I just guiltily enjoyed, if I’m being honest.  I know it’s not the most revolutionary piece of fiction on this list, but I like that series.

Readathons & Reading Challenges

I met and exceeded my goal of reading four hardcopy books in the month of January!  I ended up reading a total of five books this month, managing to sneak Baby & Solo in the last day, although as it’s an ARC that review won’t be dropping until May.  Besides Baby & Solo, here’s what I read from my shelves:

4 books found
Miss Meteor by Tehlor Kay Mejia and Anna-Marie McLemore

★★★★★

Skyhunter by Marie Lu

★★★★½

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

★★★★★

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

★★★

I’m hanging on to most of these, but I did ultimately decide to part with my copy of These Violent Delights.  I’m curious enough to want to read the sequel when it comes out and find out the ending, but it’s not a book I see myself reading again.

My ratio wasn’t great this month, though, as a bunch of books I ordered in December ended up trickling in.  I ended up with 12 new books on my shelves in January.  Until my ratio gets better, I really need to stop, though, because I’m on my last couple shelves before I’m out of space again.

And, listen, I know this is a thing all bookworms say, but this time I mean it.

Psych Reading Challenge

I’ve got a mini year-long reading challenge going on this year, and that is the Psych Reading Challenge!  This challenge contains 15 prompts over the course of 2021, and I wanted to come into this one strong since I love getting things off my To Do list, so lets see how many pineapples I have accumulated!

🍍 #4. Gemina – You’ve Heard About Pluto – That’s Messed Up, Right?
🍍 #6. The Last of August – Suck It! (Shaun and Gus)
🍍 #7. Into the Bright Unknown – Since I’ve Met You, I’ve Been Thinking about Buying a Car (Shules)
🍍 #12. Finders Keepers – An Evening With Mr. Yang

Total Pineapples: 🍍🍍🍍🍍

Four down, eleven to go!

All these were audiobooks, and with a handful of exceptions, most of the rest of these books will have to be read in hardcopy, so I’m expecting to sprint through the beginning of the challenge as I bust through all the audiobooks, and slow down once I get into book country.

Magic and Mischief on the Blog

Before I get into the discussion posts for the month, I do have a couple other small updates to address.

First of all, I’ve made some changes to the book info that shows before all my reviews.  Namely, I’ve added three more information points: representation, content warnings, and purchase link.

Book Info Screenshot January 2021

These are only going to show in reviews that dropped January 1st or later.  Updating older books is going to be a project on my backlist, but going forward, I wanted that information to be available when I review a book on here.  Some things worth noting:

  1. I do not get any commission for the Bookshop.org links at this time.  I highly recommend selecting an indie bookstore you love, or a minority-owned bookstore somewhere in the world so they can get the credit for your purchase!
  2. The representation tags are from my perspective.  With that in mind, there may be some I miss.  I also cannot promise that it is good representation, simply that it is there.  I also have a tag for OwnVoices Author, and I recommend looking for those for the most authentic experience possible.
  3. The content warnings are very general, and I am currently pulling them from my own reviews on The StoryGraph.  Many of these things are challenged in the books, and there is no consideration for whether it’s a MAJOR thing, or just a mention.  For better specifics, I highly recommend looking at the book’s page on The StoryGraph.

Okay, so that’s one thing that’s changed!

I also made a small update on my Problematic Authors page.  The following authors have been added since last month’s wrap up:

Please note – this does not mean something recent and BIG has happened with any of these people.  I research authors as I read their books, so some things may be small or obscure or old news.  Please remember this page is intended as a resource collecting blog posts, articles, and videos throughout the internet and compiling them for easy reference, and it is entirely your choice what you do with this information.  These are not intended to defame any names, simply to educate the community.

OKAY.

Now, on to the discussion posts and miscellaneous not-reviews from January that you may have missed!

blog updates 2020 goals and looking forward to 2021   That's a wrap: 2020 my year in books and blogging

My TBR for the Psych Reading Challenge   Book Talk: Building My Little Free Library

12 Books That Helped Me Get Through 2020

Musings on Mythology The Legend of the Phoenix

What Have I been Scribbling?

One of my 2021 goals is to write one of my messy half-abandoned NaNo manuscripts all the way through, and I started okay with that in January.  January, I told myself, would be all about plotting and prep.  Character sketches, that sort of thing.

I’ll be perfectly honest – I was dragging my feet when I started with Rhapsody in Blue earlier this year. But in January I accomplished what I consider to the THE most important thing for me, and that was… I wrote out the plot.  Yup!  All the way through.  I tried using guidelines from Save the Cat to drive my story forward and I have a couple character arcs and a beginning, middle, and end.  I don’t have all the character sketches done – only Emma’s – but she’s the most important character anyway.

February and March are supposed to be about writing through Act One so we’ll see how that goes!

FroM Other Magical Tomes

Nothing new on Booktube this month – I haven’t had the time or energy for it, to be honest!  As far as Bookstagram goes… I’m still just… chugging along over there.  I don’t really feel like a part of the community at all at the moment, but it is what it is.

Here is my personal favorite Bookstagram (left) and my most popular (right).

Game of Thrones pop standing in front of a stack of books   Stack of books in front of a paper bag

Words from other wise witches

I’ve got some wonderful posts from across my favorite blogs to share with everyone this month, so I hope you all have some reading time set aside for these insightful, fun posts!

🍄 Nyx (Drizzle & Hurricane Books) shares why she doesn’t do the Goodreads Challenge while Marie shares five of her book blogging insecurities and how she tries to move past them.

🍄 Rachel (The Crooked Pen) talks about word drought and the challenge or trying to write but not being able to conjure the words.

🍄 Katie (Never Not Reading) talks about the value of literacy and the elitist/ableist views that can come along with that perspective in a modern age where stories are accessible in many different ways.

🍄 The Orangutan Librarian underlines more reasons that negative reviews have positive impacts.

🍄 Cristina (Girl in the Pages) shares her first year review of Animal Crossing New Horizons – the good, the bad, and the in-between.

🍄 Nicole (Thoughts Stained With Ink) speaks on her struggle/desire to perfect her WIP, as well as sharing her monthly allyship check in which is always worth a read.

🍄 Min (Min and Her Books) shares some thoughts on the struggle to be productive all the time, particularly when it comes to blogging, and the pressure we put on ourselves.

🍄 Charlotte (Mug Full of Books) speaks a little on the importance of pre-ordering books and how they manage it on a budget… and some changes to preordering they’d love to see.

🍄 Krysta (Pages Unbound) lists some older publishing trends she’d love to see make a comeback.

🍄 Brooke (World of Wanderlust) shares her love for the often overlooked city of Helsinki.

Adventures in the real world!

Nothingggg.

Nothing is happening in the real world, my loves, but I’m actually quite grateful for that?  A good handful of the people around me have had a truly terrible start to the year, from family members coming down with COVID to deep personal losses… I’ve never been so grateful to have such a mundane life.

The only notable thing on my end is that a couple of the canceled once, twice, three times trips have been cancelled yet again… but those are small potatoes in this big, crazy world.  I hope all of you are out there still safe and holding on.

What’s Coming Next?

Reviewing the posts have I have planned for February, there are two themes that are standing out most to me – making lists of things, and reflecting on kindness.  Whether that’s to one another, or in the portrait of understanding our privilege, these things are both important.  Non-review content for February will have those vibes.

Otherwise, here’s a sneak peek at my upcoming hardcopy TBR.

Can I just say that I am not excited for another Michael Crichton book?  I feel like I must have already read all the decent stories he had, and everything else is a bust.  At least, that was the information I feel like I extracted from my experiences last year.  Ah, alas.  I guess we’ll see.

I hope you all have a wonderful February and if you’ve made it this far, I just want to say THANK YOU for sticking with me through this wrap up. <3  You’re the best!

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What did everyone do this month?  Did you get a lot of reading done?  Did you start on a new WIP?  Did you go on any grand (or small!) adventures?  I want to hear all about your experiences – let me know in the comments!

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2 responses to “A Little Awareness, A Little Appreciation, & A Lotta Book Stuff: January 2021 Wrap Up!

    • Amber

      I don’t know that I’ve seen any other reviews of it, honestly? Although YA contemporary isn’t as popular (well, except Red, White, and Royal Blue) … I dunno, this one was great? I definitely recommend picking up Miss Meteor. I’m sold on anything by either of these authors.