Let’s talk about: Planning out my (blogging) life

This post has been in the works for a long time, but I think I’m finally ready to talk about how exactly I plan and schedule my posts so far in advance. I’ve talked about it a little bit in a couple different tags and in the comments with a few different people, but I wanted to go into much more detail in hopes of maybe helping somebody.

Back in June when I did the Secret Life of a Book Blogger tag, Libby commented that she wanted to know more about my planner! I didn’t know if I had enough to say about my planner to do a whole post about it, but I figured I could combine it with my many other organizational methods and write something about how I keep track of everything I need to do when my brain is always moving in 23 different directions at once.

To start off, the planner. This is the planner that I have and I absolutely love it. It’s shiny and it has month views and week views and pages in the back for notes. It has a pocket in the front for stickers and sticky notes. It also gives me advice and compliments every week, so that’s nice.

I used to actually write in my planner, but I’ve recently started doing sticky notes instead. I can just move those around if I need to, instead of crossing things out and making everything look messy.

When I have a post planned for a day, I add a sticker to the month view so that I can really easily see whether I have time for something else. October is fully booked!

My theme for November is cats (shocking, I know) and I love it. November is almost full at this point, which might sound impressive, but really isn’t. Let me explain.

There are some posts that I do every week: Top Ten Tuesday and the Weekly Update. That’s already eight posts planned for November.  Then there are the posts I do monthly: page count, monthly favorites, and a Monthly Motif update. So we’re already at eleven posts. I also review three books for my #killingthetbr challenge (the last three Fridays of the month), so that’s fourteen total posts planned, or almost half of the month, without really any effort on my part. After that, I just fill in the blanks with other book reviews, reading challenge updates, and lots of tags.

I might do a lot with my planner, but it’s really just the beginning.

Because I’m possibly the most neurotic person you’ll ever meet, I have to organize things in fifteen different ways before I’m satisfied. It’s not enough for me to write everything down in a planner. No, I also have to use spreadsheets. This is the point in the post where you realize that Google Docs might actually be my best friend.

I have a spreadsheet for everything. I actually have more spreadsheets than I’m sharing here because I think just sharing these already makes me look a little excessive. I also used to have more spreadsheets than I do now, but some of them weren’t helping me as much as I’d hoped, so I got rid of them. Anyway, I have one big Google Sheet called BOOKS that houses all of my various spreadsheets.

So, there’s one for my Killing the TBR challenge.

As you can see, with the exception of Saint Anything, I hate almost every book that I own. Currently I’m only tracking the books that I’ve read for the challenge, but I think I’ll tweak the spreadsheet for 2019 so that I can more easily see which books qualify. That would be much more helpful.

Then, of course, there’s the spreadsheet for my Debut Author Challenge.

You can see that I’ve tended to like most of the debuts that I’ve read this year! They’re listed in the order I got them, so obviously I really need to get on The Queen’s Rising. This is also kind of an old screenshot since I read (and reviewed) How to Breathe Underwater more than a month ago.


On to the Monthly Motif sheet:

Sometimes I kind of, sort of plan out what I’m going to read for the Monthly Motif challenge, but sometimes I also wait until like the 25th of the month and then totally freak out because I haven’t read any appropriate books. This is a really old screenshot, too. August is over and done with and I’m also already done with September’s prompt.

My favorite of all my spreadsheets is the ARC tracker. It’s empty right now, so here’s a very old screenshot of it! I’m not requesting any more ARCs until next year (it’s time to catch up on the books I actually own), but this thing is so helpful. The last thing I want to do is forget about a book I’ve agreed to review!

This last spreadsheet is how I’m keeping track of everything I’ve read in 2018.

Here I track (1) how many books I’ve read, (2) the format, (3) the rating, (4) when I finished it, (5) the number of pages, (6 & 7) obviously the title and author, (8) the gender of the author (J means joint), (9) where the book came from, (10) the age group, (11) whether it’s a debut or not, (12) anything special, and (13) whether I wrote a review yet.

I haven’t really done anything with this spreadsheet yet (other than not forgetting to review something), but I think it’ll come in handy when I do my big yearly wrap-up post.

That’s pretty much the basics of how I plan everything out! Do you plan out your blog posts, or do you just go with the flow? Do you have any questions for me? Let me know in the comments!

Book review: When by Daniel H. Pink

When by Daniel H. Pink
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: January 9, 2018
Source: Borrowed

Everyone knows that timing is everything. But we don’t know much about timing itself. Our lives are a never-ending stream of “when” decisions: when to start a business, schedule a class, get serious about a person. Yet we make those decisions based on intuition and guesswork.

Timing, it’s often assumed, is an art. In When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, Pink shows that timing is really a science.

Drawing on a rich trove of research from psychology, biology, and economics, Pink reveals how best to live, work, and succeed. How can we use the hidden patterns of the day to build the ideal schedule? Why do certain breaks dramatically improve student test scores? How can we turn a stumbling beginning into a fresh start? Why should we avoid going to the hospital in the afternoon? Why is singing in time with other people as good for you as exercise? And what is the ideal time to quit a job, switch careers, or get married?

When I first saw When show up at my library, I was pretty excited. So were a lot of other people, because I ended up having it on hold forever before I finally got the email that it was ready. Then I got distracted, as I often do, by a bunch of other books I’d checked out or bought or decided to read for the heck of it, and all of a sudden the book was due back in two days and I had to marathon it. (Why do I do this to myself?) Luckily, it’s only 272 pages and let’s be honest, it’s not that deep. It’s a really quick read.

The book is fine. Just fine. I don’t know that I really learned anything. I don’t know that it really lives up to its premise. But it’s fine. If anything, this book is about learning to listen to your body. Pink advises us not to try to change ourselves to fit someone else’s schedule. He says not to try to make important decisions when you’re tired and to plan your workday around your natural highs and lows. None of this is really that groundbreaking, but it’s entertaining, at least.

Would I recommend it? I’m not sure. Maybe if you like psychology or you’re looking for some non-fiction that doesn’t require a ton of thinking. If you’re looking for something really insightful, you can skip this one.

Have you read When? Are you interested in psychology?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Mini non-fiction reviews: We Were Eight Years in Power, Fascism: A Warning, and My Own Words

We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Rating: ★★★★★
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Source: Borrowed

“We were eight years in power” was the lament of Reconstruction-era black politicians as the American experiment in multiracial democracy ended with the return of white supremacist rule in the South. Now Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the tragic echoes of that history in our own time: the unprecedented election of a black president followed by a vicious backlash that fueled the election of the man Coates argues is America’s “first white president.”

But the story of these present-day eight years is not just about presidential politics. This book also examines the new voices, ideas, and movements for justice that emerged over this period–and the effects of the persistent, haunting shadow of our nation’s old and unreconciled history. Coates powerfully examines the events of the Obama era from his intimate and revealing perspective–the point of view of a young writer who begins the journey in an unemployment office in Harlem and ends it in the Oval Office, interviewing a president.

We Were Eight Years in Power features Coates’s iconic essays first published in The Atlantic, including Fear of a Black President, The Case for Reparations and The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration, along with eight fresh essays that revisit each year of the Obama administration through Coates’s own experiences, observations, and intellectual development, capped by a bracingly original assessment of the election that fully illuminated the tragedy of the Obama era. We Were Eight Years in Power is a vital account of modern America, from one of the definitive voices of this historic moment.

This is a very, very important book. It’s a well-written collection of essays and commentary from each of Obama’s eight years in power. It made me very sad. I could’ve cried. If I’m being perfectly honest, I might’ve actually cried. I kind of don’t want to live in this world anymore after finishing.

Instead of reading a physical copy, I listened to the audiobook. Usually I prefer that for non-fiction, but I think I’d actually recommend reading this over listening to it. Highly recommended, but if you’re dissatisfied with the current state of America, prepare for your heart to hurt.

Fascism: A Warning by Madeleine Albright
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Source: Borrowed

A Fascist, observes Madeleine Albright, “is someone who claims to speak for a whole nation or group, is utterly unconcerned with the rights of others, and is willing to use violence and whatever other means are necessary to achieve the goals he or she might have.”

The twentieth century was defined by the clash between democracy and Fascism, a struggle that created uncertainty about the survival of human freedom and left millions dead. Given the horrors of that experience, one might expect the world to reject the spiritual successors to Hitler and Mussolini should they arise in our era. In Fascism: A Warning, Madeleine Albright draws on her experiences as a child in war-torn Europe and her distinguished career as a diplomat to question that assumption.

Fascism, as she shows, not only endured through the twentieth century but now presents a more virulent threat to peace and justice than at any time since the end of World War II.  The momentum toward democracy that swept the world when the Berlin Wall fell has gone into reverse.  The United States, which historically championed the free world, is led by a president who exacerbates division and heaps scorn on democratic institutions.  In many countries, economic, technological, and cultural factors are weakening the political center and empowering the extremes of right and left.  Contemporary leaders such as Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-un are employing many of the tactics used by Fascists in the 1920s and 30s.

Fascism: A Warning is a book for our times that is relevant to all times.  Written  by someone who has not only studied history but helped to shape it, this call to arms teaches us the lessons we must understand and the questions we must answer if we are to save ourselves from repeating the tragic errors of the past.

This is going to be a very mini mini-review because I’m not really sure what to say about it. I think that this is a great primer for anybody who’s interested in the history of fascism throughout the world. It’s an important book to read at this point in time, though it’s not really a warning as much as it is some comparisons between our current political climate and some previous fascist governments. I also felt that, rather than being a really coherent book, it was more like a collection of articles. That’s not necessarily a problem, I guess, but I was expecting a little bit more from this.

My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: October 4, 2016
Source: Borrowed

The first book from Ruth Bader Ginsburg since becoming a Supreme Court Justice in 1993—a witty, engaging, serious, and playful collection of writings and speeches from the woman who has had a powerful and enduring influence on law, women’s rights, and popular culture.

My Own Words offers Justice Ginsburg on wide-ranging topics, including gender equality, the workways of the Supreme Court, being Jewish, law and lawyers in opera, and the value of looking beyond US shores when interpreting the US Constitution. Throughout her life Justice Ginsburg has been (and continues to be) a prolific writer and public speaker. This book’s sampling is selected by Justice Ginsburg and her authorized biographers Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams. Justice Ginsburg has written an introduction to the book, and Hartnett and Williams introduce each chapter, giving biographical context and quotes gleaned from hundreds of interviews they have conducted. This is a fascinating glimpse into the life of one of America’s most influential women.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is such an interesting and inspiring person. I was really excited to read what I thought was going to be her autobiography, but this is actually more of a brief history of her life (very interesting) interspersed with some of her speeches and legal opinions (less interesting). The book can be a bit repetitive, but it’s still a worthy read if you’re interested in RBG and the Supreme Court.

Have you read any of these books? Are any of them on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Tag: The Relationshipper Book Tag

A big thank you to Alex for tagging me in this one! We all know I like talking about my romance books, so here we go…

The Rules:

  1. Answer the eleven questions provided by the blogger who tagged you
  2. Come up with eleven new questions of your own!
  3. Tag 5 new bloggers!
  4. Mention the blogger who tagged you and have fun!!

11 questions from Alex:

1. Who was your first book crush?
Someone from a Tamora Pierce book. Take your pick of who. I read them all around the same time anyway.

2. Who was your most recent book crush?
As of the time I’m writing this post (and who knows how many books I’ll read between now and actually publishing it), I’d go with Josh from Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, which is probably going to show up a lot in this tag since it’s the last romance I read that I really loved.

3. What popular ship do you sink?
I don’t really know if I have one! I kind of ship everything and everyone, so…

4. Which unpopular ship do you actually love?
I feel like I haven’t read a lot of books that have unpopular ships!

5. Do you have a favorite friends to lovers ship?
Recently, it’s Josh and Hazel from Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating. 💛💛

6. What ship reminds you of your relationship? or the relationship you would like to have?
I am going to respectfully decline to answer this question. I am pretty sure that nobody would want to read (or write) anything remotely similar to my relationship.

7. What ship was just unnecessary?
In general, I feel like most relationships in dystopian novels are unnecessary. Like, the world is falling apart but you’re more concerned about your hormones? Okay… I don’t know that I really have one specific example.

8. Imagine your favorite ship 10 years in the future (from when their book ends)… where are they now?
Joshua Templeman and Lucy Hutton are happily married with adorable children and they still mess with each other every day. ❤

9. Which book do you want to see adapted to tv/movie? Who would you cast to bring your ship to life?
I would loooooooove a Hating Game movie, but I might actually explode or have a heart attack or die in the theater, not even joking. I would also need to find a friend who has actually read this book to go see the movie with me because this would be a thing that has to be experienced with a fellow fan. And I’m not really good at bringing book characters to life, but at one point, I saw someone mention that Kevin Love would be the perfect Joshua, and I 1000% agree. As for who would play Lucy… I have no idea. Let me know if you have a suggestion!

10. What is a relationship that you wish happened?
Why can I not think of any hypothetical ships right now?? I am completely failing as a book blogger that mainly focuses on romance. YIKES.

11. What character(s) have broken your heart?
Holland Vosijk. It’s not romantically, though, just in general. 💔

I’m tagging:

Leslie 💙 Bibi 💙 Jamsu 💙 and anyone else who wants to do this!

And I’m keeping Alex’s questions! They were really good!

1. Who was your first book crush?
2. Who was your most recent book crush?
3. What popular ship do you sink?
4. Which unpopular ship do you actually love?
5. Do you have a favorite friends to lovers ship?
6. What ship reminds you of your relationship? or the relationship you would like to have?
7. What ship was just unnecessary?
8. Imagine your favorite ship 10 years in the future (from when their book ends)… where are they now?
9. Which book do you want to see adapted to tv/movie? Who would you cast to bring your ship to life?
10. What is a relationship that you wish happened?
11. What character(s) have broken your heart?

Book review: Challenge by Amy Daws

Challenge by Amy Daws
Series: Harris Brothers #1
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • Goodreads
Publication Date: September 23, 2016
Source: Freebie

He’s her patient. She’s his doctor. They shouldn’t. But God, do they want to.

Camden Harris, the famously hot, hulk of a footballer is laid up in a London hospital. But his busted knee doesn’t stop him from running his well-practiced game on Indie Porter—his redheaded spitfire of a doctor. She’s not his type, not even close. But she could be the perfect distraction from the soul-crushing damage this injury could cost him.

Indie’s tired of her naivety putting a target on her back. As a gifted child, she’s let her education take the front seat her whole life. But a fling with a footballer like Camden might be just what she needs to grab life by the balls.

And he could be the perfect guy for the plan she’s been sitting on for over two years.

But when feelings make a final play, there’s no amount of medicine that can heal the damage to their hearts.

So, we’re back into the borderline erotica romance reviews. It’s been a while. Welcome back to the dark, dusty corners of my Kindle. This week’s selection, Challenge, is actually the least bad book that falls into this category in at least the last several months. In fact, I was all set to not absolutely hate this book when I got to this paragraph:

He leans in to drop a soft kiss on my neck and murmurs, “You’re very colourful, Indie Porter.” He lingers for a moment, running his nose along the length of my collarbone. When he finally pulls back, he sighs as if he’s just feasted on the most delicious bouquet of flowers.

I mean… I don’t know about you, but I don’t really go around eating bouquets of flowers and then sighing, so I’m not really sure how to imagine this scene. Maybe I’m really missing out in life. Maybe I need to get myself to a florist ASAP.

That was weird, but at that point, I still didn’t hate it. I mean, the book isn’t amazing. It’s not going to win any awards. It’s your standard smutty sports romance, and that’s fine. The actual smutty bits were pretty surprisingly well-written. The rest? I don’t know how hospitals in the UK work, but this isn’t how hospitals work here in the US. I was able to get over that at the beginning of the book, but it just got really over-the-top at the end.

There was also a comment toward the end that really rubbed me the wrong way. It’s meant in a friendship context, not in a romantic relationship context, but still, the sentiment is 100% wrong.

Using me as a punching bag is called love, darling.

That is not called love. Please do not let anyone use you as a punching bag. This is, of course, metaphorically speaking. Our heroine, Indie, has just unleashed some very, very rude comments at her best friend, who somehow doesn’t care. But verbally or physically, intentionally hurting someone is not love.

I really can’t recommend this one, but it does get one single bonus point for being the first romance novel I’ve ever read that includes the word “subungual.”

#killingthetbr: 1 year on shelf

Have you read Challenge? What’s your favorite sports romance?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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