Top Ten Tuesday: Things That Make Me Instantly NOT Want to Read a Book

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Things That Make Me Instantly NOT Want to Read a Book (what are your immediate turn-offs or dealbreakers when it comes to books?). I read pretty broadly, so it’s hard to come up with absolute dealbreakers — but there are some genres, covers, and other elements that tend to be big NOs for me.

My top 10:

  1. This kind of cover:

Book covers with shirtless men are SO unappealing to me (and how hilarious is it that there are websites that provide templates exactly for this purpose?)

2. Overly dramatic historical romances: I do enjoy Regency fiction, so no disrespect, but in general, Regency or other historical romances that are serious (as opposed to humorous or spoofy) rarely appeal to me. So… the book on the left might be a maybe for me, but the book on the right would not. (Of course, there are exceptions, such as the fact that I gobbled up the entire Bridgerton series…)

3. Gimmicky comparisons — if the blurb says that a book is the next Harry Potter or Hunger Games, chance are (a) I won’t believe it and (b) I won’t read it.

4. Literary fiction: Not a hard and fast rule, but I’ve learned over the years that the big award winners tend not to be my kind of books.

5. Spies and/or military action. No tanks or submarines for me, thanks (although I had a brief Tom Clancy phase many, many years ago).

6. Crime/thriller/domestic thriller genres: There are exceptions, but overall, I’m just not into it. No interest in murders, blackmail, cheating spouses, corporate drama, nannies with secret identities…

7. Movie tie-in covers: This isn’t a deal-breaker… but movie tie-in covers are a big turnoff for me, and I won’t pick them up unless I really and truly want the book and there are no other options.

8. Lack of worldbuilding: This applies especially to science fiction or fantasy, but if the world-building or basic scene-setting isn’t strong enough, I’m not going to stick with the book (or I’ll finish, but I’ll be mad about it.)

9. Sequels that come out so many years after the first/previous book that I’ve stopped caring. (Pretty self-explanatory, right?)

10. Plotlines about social media influencers: This is a minor issue and easy enough to avoid, but if I pick up a book to consider and see a character described as an influencer, I put it down in a hurry. Nope, nope, nope.

That’s all I can think of! It was hard to get to 10… I guess there really isn’t all that much I’d consider an absolute dealbreaker when it comes to picking up a book.

How about you? What instantly makes you not want a book?

If you wrote a TTT post, please share your link!

Top Ten Tuesday: Things That USUALLY Make Me Want to Read a Book

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Things That Make Me Instantly Want to Read a Book. But I really don’t have any absolutes to share — there’s no secret formula that always works for me! So, instead, I’ll share a list of things that — most of the time — draw me in and make me at least consider reading a book.

  1. If it’s by a favorite author. This doesn’t work 100% of the time (sometimes I just won’t be interested in the topic of a new book)… but I’d say 90-95% for sure!
  2. If a favorite author blurbs it or mentions it in an interview or online post. Again, not always — but usually if I see that a go-to author is raving about a particular book, I’ll at least check it out.
  3. Cutesy bright cover. (For example, check out any of Emily Henry’s books!) I love books that look like they’ll be FUN… and if the cutesy bright cover also has books on it, even better!
  4. Books about books. Depending on the plot, of course, but I’ve yet to hate a book set in a bookstore or library.
  5. Colorful but creepy cover. Maybe dark background with overly lush flowers, for example? Something eye-catching but not necessarily comforting.
  6. Next in a series. This one’s practically a given. If I love a series, then OF COURSE I’m going to read whatever book comes next.
  7. Recommendations from people with excellent book taste. Whether real life friends or bloggers whose tastes seem to align with mine, these are the folks whose recommendations carry the most weight with me.
  8. Certain settings, especially places I love or dream of going. I’m thinking Alaska, Montana, Scotland… I could go on and on.
  9. A retelling of a favorite story. Not always, and the new version has to sound like it’s got a good twist… but I’m often down for a fairy tale retelling, or a twist on an Austen novel, or even a new version of a childhood favorite.
  10. A tie-in with a movie or TV series I’m interested in. This one can also drive me away (I hate movie tie-in covers), but if I see something popping up on Netflix that looks good and it turns out it’s an adaptation, there’s a decent chance I’ll read the book first before watching!

What makes you want to instantly grab a book?

If you wrote a TTT post, please share your link!

Top Ten Tuesday: Things Getting in the Way of Reading

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Things Getting in the Way of Reading.

I could probably just say REAL LIFE and leave it at that, but that wouldn’t fill up a top 10 list! So here we go — some specific reasons why I never end up reading quite as much as I’d like to:

1. Work. I mean, this one’s obvious. If only I had those extra 8 – 10 hours to do with as I pleased… just think of all the books!

2. Family time: Not that I mind! I love spending time with family.

3. Streaming: Netflix, I see you! I love my streaming habits, so I don’t regret the time I spend devouring good TV.

4. Blogging: It’s true — time spent blogging about reading means time not actually spent reading.

5. Jigsaw puzzles: I’ll go a month without taking out a puzzle, but once I start one, I’m pretty obsessive about working on it until I finish.

6. Other puzzles: I also have a subscription to New York Times games, so every day I need to do the daily crossword, the mini, Spelling Bee, and more.

7. Chatting with friends: Again, not that I mind! I usually listen to audiobooks during my walks, but that’s also a good time to catch up on phone calls and check in with people. Can’t do both at the same time.

8. Driving with others: Driving is my other prime audiobook listening time, but obviously, can’t do that when I’m giving someone else a ride.

I can’t really think of anything that truly gets in the way, so I’ll wrap up with:

9. Sleepiness: I always read in bed… but there are days where I just can’t stay awake enough to concentrate and have to give it up. Silly things like needing to sleep interfering with my reading habits!

10. Bad lighting: Just an occasional annoyance, but I can’t stand settling in at a coffee shop for a quick reading break, and then not being able to see the page in front of me!

What gets in the way of your reading?

If you wrote a TTT post, please share your link!

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 reading accessories

I usually do Top 10 Tuesday posts, but wasn’t feeling the topic this week… so this time around, I’m going with Top 5 Tuesday! This weekly was meme originally created by Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm, and is now hosted by Meeghan Reads.

This week’s topic is reading accessories:

Be it lamps or bookmarks, tabs or pens, headphones or cloth jackets ― what are the things you like to use or have when you’re reading?

For future topics, see the list here.

My top 5 reading accessories are:

1. Cozy pillows and blankets — because really, what’s better than curling up someplace comfy with a good book?

2. My reading glasses –just can’t live without ’em!

3. My phone and headphones — for long walks in the company of a good audiobook.

Listening to audiobooks wherever the path may take me…

4. Bookmarks galore! I collect paper bookmarks wherever I go. They’re not fancy or expensive, but they contain good thoughts and memories, and make me happy.

5. A place in the sun — OK, this isn’t really an accessory, but sitting in our window seat in the afternoon sunshine or out on my back porch on a beautiful day is my idea of a perfect reading situation.

What are your favorite reading accessories?

As always, if you have a TTT or T5T post this week, please share your link!

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Places to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Favorite Places to Read. I actually did this topic as a freebie a few years ago, but I’ll do it again — while most of my answers are the same, it’s still fun to think about where I love to read. (Simplest answer — everywhere!)

Note: Photos are all mine; the illustration are from free web sources.

My new round of top 10 reading spots are:

  1. My backyard

2. My cozy book room (aka, downstairs TV/hangout space):

3. In a park

4. On an airplane

5. At the beach

6. Any pretty outdoor spot

7. Any place I have to wait

8. At a silent reading party (this photo is taken at a pre-COVID reading party, but I’m hoping eventually the idea of reading in a crowded room with other people won’t feel so strange):

And for audiobooks…

9. On a walk

10. Driving

Where are your favorite places to read? Please share your links!





Top Ten Tuesday: The more things change, the more things stay the same

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Changes In My Reading Life, with the explanation maybe you like different genres or topics, maybe you read faster than you used to, maybe you only like standalones now.

Here are some ways my reading preferences and habits have changed over the years:

1. I read on my Kindle much more frequently than I use to. Probably because it’s so easy and portable (especially since it syncs with my phone app, so I never have to wonder where I left off). Also, my husband is strictly a Kindle reader, and I end up purchasing the Kindle format more often for our shared library.

2. I think I’ve burned out when it comes to reading historical fiction set during the World Wars. I’ve read some amazing novels set during these times, but for right now, other time periods and settings are much more appealing to me.

3. Not so much a fan of high fantasy these days. I can’t be bothered learning entirely new systems of magic or the rules of new kingdoms.

4. I have less patience for books that don’t grab me within the first chapter or so. I have the power to DNF, and I’m not afraid to use it!

5. I’m trying to be much more cautious about requesting ARCs — I need to preserve time for me to read on a whim, and not based on publication date or other commitments.

And here are some things about me as a reader that have not changed at all:

1. I never, ever, ever leave the house without a book — or at the very least, without access to my Kindle app.


2. I continue to buy more books than I can possibly read in a year… or a lifetime.

3. I’m a complete mood reader. Having to stick to a reading plan makes me grumpy.

4. If you want to make friends with me, ask me what I’ve read recently.

5. I skip from genre to genre whenever possible — if I read too many of any one type of book, I can feel myself losing interest and have to switch it up.



How about you? Have you changed as a reader?

If you did a TTT post this week, please share your link!

Top Ten Tuesday: Unpopular Bookish Opinions


Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. This week’s topic is Unpopular Bookish Opinions. I’m a little stymied by the topic — I’m not sure that I have any bookish opinions that would truly qualify as unpopular… but here goes:

1 – I’m not fond of the genre described as literary fiction. What makes something literary? Versus what, non-literary fiction? And what does that even mean? Too often, I’ve found that books described as literary fiction are really just books where the writing gets in the way of a straight-forward plot.

2 – I’m not a fan of reading challenges. I know lots of people find challenges fun, but I look at them as an obligation. Every time I’ve committed to a reading challenge, I’ve ended up feeling resentful that my reading choices were being dictated to me.

3 – I say a big HECK YES to DNFing. Reading is supposed to be enjoyable. If a book isn’t working for me, I’d much rather stop than waste any more time on it.

4 – Sometimes, TV adaptations can be better than the books! Especially when well done or when a TV version expands the storyline beyond the plot of the original, it can be so engrossing to see how far the characters and situations can develop.

5 – I don’t like trigger warnings in book reviews. I understand they can be important for some readers, but I often find them overly broad or too spoiler-y. I prefer to know next to nothing about plot details when I’m starting a book. Maybe reviewers on Goodreads could use the spoiler formatting to hide the content of their trigger warnings, so only people who want to know will see them? Just a thought.

6 – Book signings should be free. Okay, maybe this isn’t actually an unpopular opinion — but over the last few years, there were several times when bookstores in my area charged admission to an author event, justifying it by saying it included the purchase of the book. But what if someone already has a copy? Or maybe someone wants to hear the author speak and then decide if they want the book?

7 – I hated The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Just hated it. Hated the writing, hating the sense of wallowing in the violence. I know people loved this book and series, but I just could not.

8 – Sometimes series can drag on too long. And why does everything have to be a series? I get really frustrated by continuing stories that really could have been told in one solid book.

9 – Just because something is called a classic doesn’t mean I need to read it. Take the Great American Read list. I’ve read a bunch, there are a bunch I want to read, and there are some I wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole.

10 – Okay, for sure this one doesn’t really qualify as an unpopular opinion, but… I read for me. I read what I like, when I feel like it. No “shoulds” allowed when it comes to picking my books! I don’t care how much praise a book gets, if it doesn’t appeal to me, then I’m out.

Do you have any unpopular bookish opinions? If you wrote a TTT post this week, please share your link!

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten random thoughts about reading, summer, and life in general

TTT summer

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, featuring a different top 10 theme each week. The broke & bookish folks are on break from TTT for the summer, but I thought I’d write a list of my own anyway.

I only had a brief vacation this summer, but even though short, it gave me time to think deep(ish) thoughts and come up with a few random realizations.

1) After allowing my IPhone to run through my music in A-Z order during long car drives, I came to three conclusions:

  • I haven’t updated my ITunes in a really long time.
  • I seem to have stopped listening to music about the same time that I started listening to audiobooks.
  • I have a disproportionate amount of Kate Bush songs on my phone.

2) Diet, shmiet. I will stop for ice cream every single day that I’m on vacation. My view seems to be that I’ve earned all the indulgences while I’m away from home.

  • Bonus points for obsessing over the local flavors. In Montana, it was huckleberry ice cream — day in, day out.

3) Different family members are different types of vacation reading buddies.

  • I just traveled with my husband. With him, we read before bed, and maybe if we have some lounging around on the porch time in the afternoon.
  • With my son, I fight for every moment of book time. His mantra seems to be “Mom! Stop reading and do something fun!” (*weeping in despair*)
  • With my daughter, it’s all books, all the time. Books go in the backpacks. Stopping for coffee? Read a book. Sitting by a pretty stream? Read a book. See a cute bookstore? By all means, go spend several hours browsing!

4) Luckily, my husband has had many years to accept how much reading I do. Because otherwise he’d find me incredibly rude.

  • My rule of thumb on airplanes? Sit down, fasten seatbelt, stick nose in book. Stay that way until landing.
  • I definitely don’t talk to people near me on planes. And sorry, even the husband barely gets an exception.

5) Have you seen the t-shirts that say “my brain has been replaced by Hamilton lyrics”? It’s so true. At least five times a day, I feel a line from a song dying to come out of my mouth… which can be especially annoying to my travel companions who are not at all familiar with the show.

6) Why does binge-watching start feeling like a chore? The fact that the entire season of a series is available at once makes me feel SO pressured to churn through it all without stopping. And it’s not necessary! The episodes will still be there if I take them one day at a time.

7) I read the news, I follow latest stories on all the social media outlets… and yet I really don’t want to talk about it for more than a few minutes a day. I think I’ve reached my saturation point. How many times can you say “what the hell?” in one day? In one hour? Honestly, I think I read and watch TV so much to hide from reality… needed now more than ever.

8) I know I’ve posted about this many times before, but seriously — I am so much happier as a reader once I let any sort of schedule or planning go. Once again, I requested a bunch of ARCs at the start of the year, and once again, I started feeling less and less happy as the months went by and I had to keep looking at publication dates to make sure I was staying on track.

  • Why do I do this to myself? I know that I hate reading on a schedule.
  • I’m also (again) swearing off ARCs. Bad formatting drives me bananas. And look, it’s not doing anyone any favors if I sit down to review a book I’m mad at because it can’t get its line breaks to make sense.
  • I’m so much happier when I don’t have a list to stick to. I love the freedom of picking up whatever catches my eye, suits my fancy, tickles my funny bone…

9) It’s been interesting having no group reads going on this summer. With Outlander Book Club, we usually have one classic read and one re-read of a Gabaldon book going at the same time, two chapters each per week, and those go on FOREVER. Well, the two most recent wrapped up in June, and I’ve been free as a bird ever since.

  • I do love our group reads! And I truly am looking forward to starting up again with a classic (Ivanhoe) in August, and the Lord John books in September.
  • But man, it’s been nice to have no obligations to anyone but myself!

10) And finally, back to the subject of binges… I love reading graphic novels, but I find they go in one ear and out the other (or I suppose that should be in one eye and out the other?) pretty much immediately.

  • I can remember overall story and character arcs, but details? I can’t seem to keep these straight for more than a day or two after I read them
  • I love the Saga series, but I end up having the re-read the previous edition each time I get the newest book… which means that I’m two behind by now.
  • I read all volumes of The Walking Dead trade paperback editions over the last couple of months, and I can tell you the big picture of what happened, but I seem to have lost the particulars within a week of finishing. No idea.
  • I read the very entertaining limited series We Stand on Guard in June, six issues right in a row. It was fun at the time, but I don’t think I could identify a single individual character at this point, just the overall plot and resolution.
  • Maybe this is why I still haven’t finished Locke & Key. I can’t read the final volume without going back and rereading the first five, and I just haven’t felt like it so far. Which sucks, because I love this series.
  • Why don’t these stories stick with me? Is it me? Is it the format? Is there something about the graphic novel approach that leaves me with memory gaps?
  • Please tell me it’s not just me and my silly brain.

Happy August to all! I hope you all enjoy these last weeks of summer.











Rereading and rethinking

I do love to re-read my favorite books. Don’t we all?

But have you ever re-read a book you didn’t love the first time around?

In thinking about it, it’s hard to come up with reasons to do so. After all, if I didn’t think it was great, why would I want to revisit it?

That’s been my take on the issue up to now. The only reasons I can think of to reread a book that wasn’t a favorite would be:

  • for a book group or discussion
  • after reading someone else’s take on the book and realizing I might have missed something
  • when there’s a new TV or movie adaptation coming out and generating a lot of buzz
  • wanting to give a favorite author another shot
  • trying the book in a different medium

My most recent experience with re-reading books that weren’t huge hits the first time around have to do with the last two bullet points on my list.

The author in question was Gail Carriger. I adored her Parasol Protectorate series — but found that two books in subsequent series, Espionage & Etiquette and Prudence, just didn’t appeal to me as much. (Want proof? Check out my lukewarm reviews!)

But recently, Gail Carriger released a couple of shorter fictions that I wanted to read (see my write-up, here), and those stories pulled me right back into her steampunk/supernatural world. What’s more, I was dying to stay in that world. And that made me think — had I really given those other books a proper chance?

I’ve become more and more convinced that reading doesn’t happen in a vacuum. What sort of mood was I in when I read a particular book? Where was I? What else was going on in my life? Maybe, in some circumstances, the main reason I didn’t take to a particular book has more to do with my own situation. In other words: It’s not you, it’s me.

(Not always, of course. Some books are just not good, and there’s no prettying it up.)

So, in the case of the Gail Carriger books, I decided to try again. This time, I thought I’d go with audiobooks.

Amazing decision.

I started listening to book 1 in the Finishing School series, Etiquette and Espionage, and absolutely could not stop. I loved the first book, and continued on straight through until I’d listened to all four books. (For why I loved them, see this post.) In fact, I was so in love with listening to this series that I was in dire need of a Carriger fix to feed my addiction once I’d finished, so I hunted down the audiobook of Prudence pretty much the second after finishing Manners & Mutiny.

Oh, my parasol. LOVED it. How could I love Prudence so much when I didn’t love it when I read it the first time? For me, there’s no getting around the fact that the amazing audiobook narrator, Moira Quirk, is a big factor. She does such a great job of capturing the different voices, the snippy/snarky banter, the nuances of aristocratic Victorian society — certain of her voices, in particular, leave me rolling on the floor in helpless laughter.

But would I love the printed books too? Probably. It could just be a mood thing, as I mentioned earlier. For whatever reason, my mindframe was such that I didn’t enjoy the books when I first read them — but right now? I’m having a ball. I’m totally in the mood for this level of silliness, combined with an underpinning of true emotions and friendship (and in the case of book #2, Imprudence, which I’m listening to now, some super sexy flirtation doesn’t hurt a bit).

Anyway, all this has made me wonder: How common is it to have strongly different opinions about the same books?

I do think it’s fairly common to re-read a book we remember loving, and find it a let down when rereading years later. But how about the opposite?

Have you ever felt “meh” (or worse) about a book, and then felt really differently about it when you read it again? And further, do you ever re-read books that you didn’t love the first time you read them?

I’d love to hear about other people’s experiences! Please share your thoughts.


Serious series reading: A look behind and a look forward


Resolutions come, resolutions go… but one that I’ve been getting better and better about sticking to over the last few years has to do with reading book series.

Last year, one of my bookish resolutions was:

I resolve to (attempt to) read series as a whole — all books in a row — rather than reading them as they come out and then forgetting all the details in between volumes.

This was not meant to be an absolute, of course. I do have some ongoing series that I’m crazy about, and I’ll continue to read those whenever new installments become available. But the intent of the resolution is clear — whenever possible, I want to resist the urge to start new, incomplete series, and focus instead on series that are already published and complete, so I can enjoy them as a whole instead of in bits and pieces.

How did I do? Let’s take a look at the series I read in 2016:

Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs: I had read the first book in the trilogy years ago, but had lost interest by the time the 2nd came out. This year, I listened to the audiobook of book #1, then continued in print with the 2nd and 3rd. (These books really must be read in hard copy in order to get the full experience, since the illustrations are really a part of the story.)

final peregrine banner

The Kate Shugak series by Dana Stabenow: I got involved in this excellent series in 2015, and finished up the 20th and most recent book (as well as the four books in the spin-off series) by mid-2016. Such a fantastic reading experience — and I’m thrilled that #21 will be out in 2017!

kate 2

The Magicians by Lev Grossman: This is another series that I started years ago, and just came back to this year. Prompted by the TV adaptation, I decided to give The Magicians another chance, reread book 1 and then went through 2 and 3, and ended up loving the trilogy as a whole.

The Magicians MAgician King 2 Magician's Land

The Wrath & the Dawn and The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh: I didn’t love this duology nearly as much as everyone else did, but I’m still glad that I read them together.

Wrath & the DawnRose & Dagger

The Giver by Lois Lowry: My son read The Giver for school last year, and I realized that I remembered almost nothing about it — so I went ahead and reread The Giver, then read the rest of the books in the quartet.


And now, looking ahead…

Series I plan to read in 2017:

This is partially a plan, partially a wish list. I really do want to read all of these, but we’ll just have to wait and see how many I can actually commit to while still reading everything else that grabs my attention. My priority series for 2017 are:

Old Man’s War series by John Scalzi: I love Scalzi’s writing, and now that I’ve read all of his stand-alones (I think), it’s time to finally dive into the series that’s supposed to be his masterpiece!


Wayward Pines trilogy by Blake Crouch: After reading and loving Dark Matter this year, I absolutely have to check out this trilogy!


Bill Hodges trilogy by Stephen King: I’ve had Mr. Mercedes on my shelf since it was published. At some point, it seemed to make more sense to wait for all three books to be available before starting. And now, I’m out of excuses!


And maybe…

I have a few series openers that I’m interested in — but not quite ready to commit to at this point.

leviathan-wakesrosemary-rueTemeraire 1

Last but not least…

Let’s not forget two series I’m already committed to, and look forward to continuing in the New Year:

Ross PoldarkThe Poldark series by Winston Graham: I’ve read the first five books so far. That’s five down, seven to go! I find that I need to space these out, and I don’t want to get too far ahead of the TV show, so perhaps I’ll just tackle another one or two in 2017.







And my very, very favorite:

silence_fallen_layout.inddThe Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs! Silence Fallen, the 10th Mercy book, will be out in March, and I cannot wait. I hope Patricia Briggs continues to create adventures for Mercy (as well as her spin-off series, Alpha & Omega) for many, many years to come.







Anyone else read series as a whole, rather than as they come out? What’s your preferred approach to reading book series? And what series are you most looking forward to in 2017?

Whatever your series-reading style, here’s wishing us all a fantastic year of reading!