5 Books by African American Authors to Check out in 2021

With a new year, there’s a ton of new content to enjoy. We’re two months in and there’s already countless things that people are excitedly anticipating. As a book lover, I always get excited to see what books are in my future. I need to figure out when I need to buy them so my wallet doesn’t hate me, after all. This year, I’m also trying to make a conscious effort to read books with main characters who have cultures or ways of life that are different from my own. I also would like to read books by more diverse authors this year. To make sure that I accomplish this goal, I’ve signed up for a few book recommendation sites to help me expand my 2021 book recommendation list. In honor of Black History Month, I wanted to highlight a few books by African American authors coming out this year. From a career advice book to poetry, there are so many great publications to choose from! These are just a few to get you started. 

Own the Arena: Getting Ahead, Making a Difference, and Succeeding as the Only One

By Katrina M.Adams

If you are looking for career advice, especially in the sports world, this book is a great thing to check out. Katrina goes into her experiences as the youngest CEO and President of the United States Tennis Association, and the challenges she faced during her time there. If you are someone who wants to get into the sports management world, this will give you a great insight into facing the unpredictable challenges of that world. This book also offers great advice for anyone in a position where they are the only person who is the “only one” as the title says. This book just came out today! To learn more about this book, visit the link in the title. 

This Book Is Anti-Racist Journal

Tiffany Jewell, illustrated by Aurelia Durand

This book is a companion to the novel version of This Book is Anti-Racist. This journal is a great way to keep yourself active in your anti-racist journey. There are many different activities that take a look at different parts of your life. Through these, you can take initiative to grow and learn about yourself. With this knowledge, you can take the steps to grow into someone who is anti-racist. This book also has activities that allow you to plan for situations where you are confronted with racist moments or conversations, and how to address them. If you would like to get this journal, you can visit the link in the title. 

Honey Girl

by Morgan Rogers

This book also comes out today! This novel is a coming of age LGBT+ love story that addresses the messiness of adulthood and the challenge of choosing your own path. Grace Porter has been following the path her father planned for her for the past 28 years. Until one day, when an unexpected drunken decision in Vegas leads her married to a woman who she doesn’t even know. Confronted with her sudden unhappiness with her life’s trajectory, she decides to leave her Portland home and go with her new wife to the bustling city of New York. It’s a great break from the pressure of her life, and she finds herself really falling for her wife. Then life comes crashing down, and she’s forced to face a past that she’d prefer to forget. If you want to check out this book, you can visit the link in the title. 

An Acquired Taste (The Everheart Brothers of Texas #1)

By Kelly Cain

Due to come out on June 8th of this year, this book tells the story of Rowan Townsend. She is a chef at her mother’s restaurant, but she is quickly running out of space. Good food brings everyone in, but the small dining room is leading to long wait times. Rowan decides to join a tv chef competition with goals to spend the money on expanding the restaurant. Then, a wrench is thrown into her plan when her culinary school nemesis also enters the competition. Knox is a talented chef as well, which means Rowan is even more determined to win and show him who’s boss. Will sparks fly in the kitchen? I love a good enemies to lovers story, so I’m excited to check out this book. If you want to get this book when it comes out, you can follow the link in the title. 

The Love Songs of W.E.B. DuBois

by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

The Love Songs of W.E.B. DuBois is a debut novel by the award-winning poet Honorée Fanonne Jeffers. This book follows the lives of one family from the colonial slave trade to the modern day. Ailey Pearl can relate to W.E.B. DuBois’ discussion about “Double Consciousness”, a sensitivity that every African American has to survive. As someone with the names of two formidable Black Americans and a descendant of enslaved Georgians who became tenant farmers, Ailey carries DubBois’s problems as well. She struggles with the feeling of belonging with the whispers of the women in her life urging her to succeed. If you would like to read this book on its release date or preorder it, you can visit the link in the title.
If you would like to check out more books by African American authors coming out this year, subscribe to Black by Demand. They have a lot of great recommendations and send weekly updates, so you can see what books come out each week. It’s a great way to expand both your reading list and your points of view. Many of these books offer great perspectives that you might not have considered or thought about before. They’ve been a great resource for me when building my to-read book list for the year. There are a lot of great books out there. It’s time to get to reading them. Happy reading everyone!

10 More Relatable Author Quotes about Writing

Welcome back to another week of blog posts about writing and books! This week, I could not resist bringing back a post that I loved researching. As a writer, you’ve probably thought that you’re the only one struggling. Surely once you are published all of these problems go away! Alas, that is not the case. Even famous authors with dozens of books published still struggle with the writing process. If you’ve read my previous post, then you know where this is going. It’s time for more relatable author quotes about writing! This time I’ve tried to sprinkle in a few that are more motivational, because we all need that sweet motivation sometimes. 

  1. This first quote is a mood. Thomas knows what’s up.
  1. Writing hacks: the Mark Twain special. I couldn’t resist including this one even though it’s more of a writing tip.
  1. Anonymous really understands the struggle of modern writers.
  1. Steven understands the meaning of procrastination for writers.
  1. That ten page book isn’t as easy to write as it looks, my friends. 
  1. I don’t know why, but this is very true. 
  1. Mr. Neil Gaiman back at it again. We’ve all experienced something in a similar vein.
  1. The unknown is both the fun and the dread of being a writer. Beatrix prefers to focus on the optimistic side of things.
  1. Those who are both readers and writers have felt this at some point. Who wouldn’t love to call up their favorite writer for advice and a lovely chat?
  1. If you hadn’t noticed, I love Neil Gaiman and his catalogue of relatable writing quotes. 

What did you think of these quotes? Was there one that related to you the most? Let me know in the comments below! I always love going on a quest to find these. I often stumble upon things that are both insightful and hilarious. If you want to find some more great quotes about writing, check out my other post, or search “writing” in Goodreads quotes. Thanks so much for reading, and happy writing!

4 Awesome Romantic Tropes in Fiction

Somehow, we’re back into the month of February already. The candy hearts and mountains of chocolate are dyeing grocery store shelves pink and red. Even if you don’t celebrate Valentine’s day, there are some great things to look forward to during this holiday. The day after Valentines day leads to a ton of candy on sale. The newer tradition of Galentine’s Day can still be celebrated via Zoom. However, I wouldn’t be a book lover if I didn’t mention the books. Romance books can be read any time of year, but it feels right to read one while shoving heart-shaped Reese’s Cups into your mouth. There are countless types of romantic stories to read, but there are four tropes in these stories that always get me invested and excited. 

  1. Enemies to lovers

This is one of my favorite tropes in any story that has a romantic plotline. Do they dislike each other or have the opposite of a meet-cute? Sign me up! When this trope is done well, there are endless opportunities for great plot and character growth. It also allows for some great banter between the two characters. Dynamic dialogue is a great way to keep the story interesting and get a reader invested in what’s happening. There is a line for this trope. Even though the two characters get off on the wrong foot or dislike each other, there has to be a feasible reason why they would become romantically interested. For example: in Much Ado About Nothing, Beatrice and Benedick’s budding relationship works because they already have an interest in each other. Their friends convince them through sneaky ways, but in the end they realize that what they believed to be disdain was attraction. Also, they get opportunities away from their friends scheming to confirm those feelings. If two characters don’t have a feasible reason, their relationship could quickly burn out or turn into a toxic situation. If you want to check out a great version of enemies to lovers, I suggest Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. There are so countless YA versions of this trope for your reading pleasure.  

  1. Friends to lovers

This one is a bit of a hard left from the last trope. Instead of the characters starting off with disdain, they begin the story as friends. This trope is full of interesting dynamics and questions. In some versions, one character may realize suddenly that their feelings have deepend. However they don’t know how to tell their friend of these blossoming feelings. Suddenly every interaction feels different and confusing for the characters. I am not a fan of miscommunication issues as a plot point in stories, and unfortunately this trope sometimes uses it. However, there are some stories that make it work without going too far. Many times a character doesn’t communicate their feelings to the friend because of a conflict or person. This trope gives a lot of opportunities for the author to show us the changing dynamics before the character’s themselves may notice them. If they use the “show don’t tell” method, then this trope is usually excellent. If you want to check out a great example of a friends to lovers story, I’d recommend The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee.

  1. Angry/ Intimidating character and cinnamon roll pairing

This is another romance trope that allows for some great dynamics in a story. Two characters with completely opposite personalities somehow mesh together. It’s a Slytherin and Hufflepuff sort of situation. Many other characters in the story may not see how or why the couple got together. That’s always a fun gag to tap into in a story. It also allows them to grow and learn from each other in interesting ways. It’s a great way to start character development, or add an interesting conflict for a character’s goals. Many times these relationships are found with side characters. However, there are a few main characters who have a great example of this trope. If you want to check out this dynamic, I’d recommend Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Nina and Matthias have a very interesting twist on this trope.

  1. Only use their real names in dire situations trope

Hello, and welcome to a very niche trope. This trope is more of a sub-genre of the romantic tropes. This could go with many different dynamics in a story. The trope does need two characters who use things like nicknames or last names. Usually the nickname is chosen to irritate the other as much as possible, or it’s a childhood nickname. These characters will spend the entirety of the story calling each other these names, even if others call them by their actual names. It often leads to banter among the characters and bonds the two. Then comes the twist. A dire situation occurs to the characters, and the joking facade drops. Instead, real names are used. This is a really great thing that authors sometimes do to communicate how scared the character is for their friend or love interest. This trope works well with romantic love and platonic love. If done well, it often shows how much the characters truly care for each other. This trope is so weirdly specific that I don’t have a specific book to recommend. If you do, please let me know in the comments!
What are your thoughts on these tropes? What are your favorite romantic character tropes in books? Let me know in the comments below! I’m always looking for more books to read, especially with these tropes. If you have any favorite books with these tropes, please fill out the book recommendation survey here. Now get a snack and enjoy a book. Happy reading everyone!

10 Winter Themed Writing Prompts

The chilly gloom of winter has made itself known to all of us in the Northern Hemisphere. We are now in the weird limbo between holidays. With the gray clouds and rainy season, it often feels like a depressing beginning to a year. Where I live, the excitement of snow never lasts as it never seems to stick. That takes a lot of the fun out of winter, especially when the slow flurries just turn into a mix of rain and sleet. To combat this, I like to imagine the perfect winter wonderland. Sometimes, I even channel this into my writing. This time of year is a great time to write, especially if writing is one of your 2021 resolutions. In honor of this, I’ve come up with a few winter-themed writing prompts to get your creative juices flowing! Writing these with a hot beverage like hot chocolate is encouraged. 

What did you think of these prompts? Are there any winter-themed prompts that you like to reference for inspiration? Let me know in the comments below! Also, please share any stories that stem from these prompts. I’d love to see the different perspectives on these ideas, and where they take y’all. Thanks so much for reading, and happy writing!

The 5 Stages of Deciding What to Read

Imagine this: you’ve just wrapped a long day at your job or school and feel the need to wind down. You mindlessly scroll through Netflix for a crazy amount of time before giving up, Then, an idea strikes. Reading! You hop off your favorite chair or spot on the couch and dash to your book storing location. But where to start? Now you find yourself in a difficult situation. How do you decide what to read? If you’re a reader, you know this challenge well. In the end, all readers go down this same path at some point when choosing a book.

  1. Consult your bookshelf for previously read books

Stage one: we go for the obvious. Do you even remember what books you do have? Maybe there’s a novel you want to reread? A reader’s first stop is always home base. After staring at your selection for a bit, you may find a book to read instantly. Well done! You’ve accomplished a difficult feat and are possibly a unicorn. You go you reading unicorn genius! If you stuck like most readers, it’s time for stage two.

  1. Stare for way too long at your “too read” pile

Time to consult the new books who are clamoring to be read. Do you want that new mystery you’ve been dying to start? Or the tongue-in-cheek autobiography? When they were purchased, you promised to read them right away. Let’s be honest, it’s been at least a week since you mentally filed it into the to-read section of your mind palace. Why not read the back of the books again and again to narrow down your options? It doesn’t matter how many to-read books you have, this inevitably happens. If you choose a book in this step, you deserve a high-five. Congratulations! Hop off this train and enjoy. If you are frustrated at your current disinterest in these books, never fear! That’s when it’s time to improvise. 

  1. Listen to the call of the new books that you need to read

If none of the books you have are calling your name, it’s time to consult your wishlist. If you have it written down or stored online somewhere, consult the list of books you want to read. They are currently not in your possession, which makes them oddly more appealing. After zipping through your list, a book may call your name. If you are blessed with an open library or money to purchase said book, you can answer the call immediately. Mission accomplished! Maybe you hit a roadblock that brings your quest for this new book to a grinding halt. Drat. Time to go back to your bookshelf.

  1. Read the back of some of your books to narrow down your pile…

It doesn’t matter if you did this in stage one and two. Inevitably, the backs of these books will be consulted until you have narrowed down your list to a few books. If you are lucky, this will be the end of the journey for you. You may find a book you love to reread, or remember one that you loved which you were meaning to revisit. You might have found a spark this round for one of your new books. Either way, you did it! No money spent, no book left unread. Sometimes this doesn’t work out. For some reason all the books in your house, in your electronic reader, and anywhere else you keep books don’t hold anything of interest. If you are truly at wits end, you may give up and grab a random book, or give up on the book search entirely. Other times, it’s time to do some quick mental math. You could skip a coffee or a Postmates order to appease your book hunger. You may scour your library’s website for books to rent online. Then, inspiration!

  1. Ignore all the books calling your name and get a new one! 

It’s time to appease the book hunger, and that book you found online won’t stop wiggling its way into your mind. Time to cave and purchase it! If you’re lucky, you can find it for a good price or free in the magical world of the internet. Ignore the disappointed sounds of the books you own and get them a friend to join their ranks. If you prefer the feeling of pages between your fingers, it may be a bit longer before you get your prize to enjoy. Either way, more often than not readers find themselves here. If you are like me, it’s a side effect of your increasing book addiction that drives your parents/you to invest in the glory of a library card. However, my library is closed. I can’t escape this pull to give money to Bezos for some instant gratification at 10 pm. This is a constant conflict for me as a book lover. Sure it’s fun to get a new book, but don’t forget about the ones on your shelf! They want to be read too after all. 

Do you find yourself going through these stages when deciding on a book to read? Or do you have a different strategy? Let me know in the comments below! I love learning about people’s different reading habits. I hope that this made you smile a bit, even if it’s a bit too relatable.  Now it’s time to start this process myself. Hopefully I’ll find a book that brings me as much joy as the below GIF of Matilda being relatable to readers everywhere. Happy reading everyone!

10 Writing Goals to Conquer in 2021

We’re still at the beginning of 2021, but so many resolutions already seem unrealistic amid the uncertainty. Instead, why not focus on goals that can be obtained anywhere and anytime? If you’re a writer, goals like these are easy to find. Writing goals are a great way to feel productive and keep the creative side of your brain happy! The endless options of writing goals can be a bit overwhelming. If you feel a headache coming on from all these options, I’m here to help! Here are ten writing goals that you can conquer in 2021.

  1. Practice is key. Writing prompts are a great way to get your creative juices flowing!
  1. Do you have a character that you’ve created that you want to learn more about? Try fleshing them out with a character sheet!
  1. If you want to practice writing or do your writing warm ups  in one place, get a writing prompt book! It’s a great way to find fun prompts and is easy to reference if you later want to revisit a prompt.
  1. Reading is a big part of the writing process. Reading books about writing is a great way to get tips and multiple perspectives on the writing process. 
  1. This one is a long ways off, but it’s always good to keep in the back of your mind. If you want to do NaNoWriMO 2021, start warming up your writing muscles so that they’re ready to go in November. You can do Camp NaNoWriMo in April or July to practice as well.
  1. If you often find yourself wishing you had someone to fangirl with over writing, it’s time to do something about it! 
  1. Once you have made a writing buddy, why not help them edit their story? It’s a great way to bond, and improve your own editing skills. 
  1. Have you ever gotten a story idea or thought of a great line when you were away from your computer? Start a list of ideas that you can reference later. You can do it in a notebook or put these ideas in notes on your phone. 
  1. This is a goal that is a great thing to keep up. The more you work on improving your editing skills, the easier it gets to turn that first draft into a final product. If you struggle a bit with this end of writing like me, check out videos on YouTube or Skillshare for tips and tricks.
  1.  This final goal is a twist on the writing prompt goals. Instead of following writing prompts, why not create your own? It’s a great way to think out of the box and come up with new story ideas. Share them with your writing friends to see what inspiration sparks from the prompts. You could have a writing party and create themed prompts for the writers!

What are your writing goals this year? Did any of these pique your interest? Let me know in the comments below! I felt stuck trying to come up with my own writing goals for this year, but writing this post really helped. If you decide to attempt any of the writing goals on this list, please keep me updated! I always love hearing from y’all about your writing journey. Thanks so much for reading everyone, and happy writing!

10 Tips to Smash your 2021 Goodreads Goal

It’s finally 2021! It’s time to set tentative goals for the year and get that motivation going. As someone who loves lists, I’ve already made a list of my own goals. One of them involves taking on the Goodreads challenge yet again. This is the third year I’ve done this, and I am very lucky to have hit my goal two years in a row. When I set my goal for this year, I started thinking about myself the first year I did this challenge. I had no game plan, and no idea how to tackle my goal. I thought I was an experienced reader, but my challenge kicked my butt. If you are in that same boat, don’t worry! Here are 10 tips that can help you smash your Goodreads goal.

  1. Set a realistic goal

This is one of the most important things to consider when setting a goal. Be realistic about how many books you can read with your lifestyle. If you are a busy parent who can barely listen to a book tape, 50 books might be a bit much. Instead, take a mental tally of how many books you read the previous year. If you want to keep up your reading habit, you can set a goal for the same number of books that you read the year before. If you want to challenge yourself, try upping that count by 2-5 books. That will give you an attainable goal that also pushes you to read a bit more. If you are coming back to the challenge this year and need a new goal, take the same considerations into account. If you read 30 books last year and can feasibly see yourself reading 35, go for it! If you hit your max reading goal last year, renew it again. Don’t feel like you have to read 50 or 100 books just because so many other people are. That’ll add additional stress and suck the fun out of this challenge. This is supposed to be fun, not stressful!

  1. Keep a list of favorite books and authors

Something that has helped me in the past two years is my favorites list. Keep a list of favorite books and authors to reference when you run out of ideas. There are even books built for this, where you can track your favorites in one place. If you prefer an easy to access list, create a Google doc with these lists and keep the app on your phone. If you are out of ideas at the bookstore, you can pull it out and search for similar books. Also, most online booksellers have a suggested reads list. If you really liked a book, look it up on one of these sites and take a look at the recommended list. You can also use this feature to look at your favorite author’s novels. You can also go to an author’s site to see what books they’ve written and tackle their books. 

  1. Ask friends and family for book recommendations

This option can be a great or terrible idea, depending who you ask. Take that into account when consulting your peers for book recommendations. If you are a fiction lover and cringe at the thought of nonfiction, maybe don’t ask your aunt who loves nonfiction for advice. Instead, consider people who have reading interests that overlap with yours. You can find books that you know you’ll like, and maybe even a few that’ll surprise you. If you want to expand your reading world, then consider talking to that aunt or uncle who likes different books than you. This is great if you’re getting into a new genre with no idea where to begin. Let them know your preferences and dislikes and they can help you translate that to their favorite genre. It’s also a great bonding experience for you and the person you’re consulting. A win win!

  1. Audiobooks are your friend

Audiobooks are a great way to keep yourself on track for your goal. Many people have different obligations that make it hard to sit down and read a book. You can listen to audiobooks while you work, while you drive, and more! You can get audiobooks via Audible, Youtube, CDs, and your library. I’m a fast reader, so I tend to listen to Audible audiobooks at 1.25x speed. You can also do this on Youtube as well if you want a speedier read. If you use a platform like Audible, I would recommend listening to a sample of the audiobook before purchasing it. This will help you determine if the reader’s voice is grating or nice to your ears. You don’t want to get an audiobook version of a book you’ve been dying to read, only to find that the voice gets on your nerves. If you find a reader’s voice that you like, try searching their name to see what other books they’ve read. You might find some new books that way!

  1. Keep a written list of book ideas

This is an obvious strategy, but I had to mention it. I often forget to write down books that I find interesting. If you carry a notebook like myself, dedicate a page to books that interest you. Google docs are also a great way to keep this list. You can format the list to include book recommendations and books that you come across on your trips to the bookstore. If nothing tickles your fancy on your bookshelf, consult your list for ideas. Try to include books of all your favorite genres so that you have options for any mood. If you find a book in a series that you want to read, include the other books in that series on your list as well. Series are a great way to increase your number of books read. 

  1. Follow book blogs for recommendations

Book blogs are your best friend when it comes to recommendations. The odds are that every book blog has at least one book recommendation on their blog. Research some blogs to follow that you find fun to read. If you can find blogs that specialize in certain genres, they’re a great way to find your preferred books. It’s also a great way to learn more about a genre that you want to try reading this year. I would also recommend following Booktubers for the same reason. It is important to note that this option involves some trial and error. You may start out reading a blog that you think might be promising and then find it disappointing. Don’t be discouraged! There are a lot of great ones out there. You’ll eventually find a few that will be great resources. If you want to check out some of my book recommendations, you can look at my book content here.

  1. Goodreads itself!

Again, another obvious point that needs to be mentioned. Goodreads is a great way to find books. They have an option where you can select your favorite genres. Based on this information and your previously read, they will have a list of book recommendations catered to you. You can also keep track of your want to read on their site, as your account has a shelf for that reason. If you have Goodreads friends, you can also see what they are reading and check out those books. The reviews are usually varied enough that you can use them to determine if the book is right for you. They usually have links to buying the book as well. If you are someone who needs to watch your budget, you can use the links to buy the books on Kindle. 

  1. Ask a worker at your local bookstore

This is a tried and true way to find a book. Bookstore workers, especially at independent bookstores, are a great resource for finding books. Make sure you come to them with a specific title or genre that they can work off to help you find books. If you want to try something new, ask them about their favorite book and see if that sparks inspiration for you. Independent bookstores usually have the worker’s favorite books highlighted in some way. Try looking for those and write them down in your book list if any strike your fancy. You can also ask them about recommendations based on authors to see if they know of any similar authors that they have in stock. 

  1. Consult the classics

If you feel burnt out on your current favorite genres, try taking a look at classic novels. It can be hard to separate these from your dreaded school days, but they are worth checking out. I used to dread the classics because of my mixed experience with highschool English. Once I could choose the classics and could read them without dissection, they were way more fun to read. If you are unsure what classics you like, consult a list on Goodreads or Google a list of classics and go from there. The genres of classics may seem small, but there are many different options to choose from. I always recommend checking out Mary Shelly or Jane Austen’s work for some dynamic storytelling. If you are concerned with the language getting in the way, they are good ones to read. It isn’t too formal and can get you used to reading the writing styles of the time. The more you read the classics, the easier they get to read. If you want to check out some of my favorite classic novels for some ideas, you can read this post

  1. Repeats of your favorites are okay!

If all else fails, don’t be afraid to repeat some favorites from 2020 or the years prior. I don’t believe that reading the same book twice in one year counts, but that doesn’t apply to books you’ve read in years past. You can add multiple dates read for a book. This is great for me, because I have some go to books that I love to read at certain times of the year. If you aren’t sure what to read, consult your old Goodreads reading challenge lists and write down the ones you remember liking. If you like to read certain genres at certain times of the year like me, you can map out when to read these books. This can be super helpful if you want to reread a longer book. You can plan accordingly by upping your book count in a different month so that book doesn’t get you behind on your goal. This also a great option because you can look at how long it took you to read them the last time and can plan accordingly. 

With these tips, I hope you can kick your 2021 goal’s butt and come out victorious. However, don’t forget to give yourself some leeway. Last year was a whirlwind and that might make it hard for you to get moving with a new goal right away. If that’s the case for you, focus on one book at a time and don’t stress too much about your goal. What tips would you add for people wanting to complete their Goodreads goals? Do you have any book recommendations for me or a fellow book lover to read this year? Let me know in the comments below! I’ve just gotten started on my own challenge and am looking forward to all the great book ideas to add to my list. Thanks so much for reading everyone, and good luck!

Goodreads 2020: Thank Goodness That’s Over

Hello my wonderful readers, and happy almost-end to 2020! Many of us are counting down the days until this year is over. While most of this year was an absolute dumpster fire, there were some silver linings. For me, my silver lining was books. Books are awesome anytime, but this year they were especially needed. Because of this, I found my Goodreads challenge way easier to complete than I would have thought. Tired of doom scrolling? Book time. Did I need something to distract myself when I lost my job for a few months? You guessed it, book time again. Due to this whirlwind, I ended this year with one book more than my goal! I somehow managed to read 41 books by Christmas. To give y’all an idea of my yearly progress, I thought I’d take a page out of Spotify’s book. Get ready for some stats!

  1. My Goal 
  1. Longest and Shortest Books that I read in 2020
  1. Favorite new books that I read

If you want to check out these books, visit the nonfiction book here and the fiction book here

  1. Favorite book that I reread

This one was so hard to choose, so I had to go with a series. If you have not read this series yet and you are a fan of mysteries, you must check it out here!

  1. My most popular genres of the year

Since the results aren’t in yet on this particular fact, I pulled the genre tags for each book I read and used a word frequency counter to pull which ones were referenced the most. Here are the top three!

  1. My 2021 goal!

Finally, it’s time to take a look into the future. With all of the things on my plate in 2021, I have a more flexible goal this year. I’m going to add on five more books to this year’s goal, with the intention of shooting for 40 in case the year gets away from me. Still, I’m determined to get cracking and hit my reading goal!

Did you complete your Goodreads goal this year? Have you seen some trends in your reading in the last year? Let me know in the comments below! If you have any favorite books that you have read for the first time or reread this year, please let me know. I’m always looking for new books to ready. Especially with an extra five to read this year! If you are shaking your head at your own Goodreads progress, don’t stress. This has been a stressful year for us all, and reading doesn’t help everyone combat that. Instead focus on next year, and how you can ace your next Goodreads goal. In fact, I might have a few tips up my sleeve that can help you cross that finish line. Tune in next week for those tips! Thanks so much for reading everyone, and I hope you have a Happy New Year!

5 Holiday Poems to Read this Season

It’s a great time of year for themed content. Whether you’re hoping for some Christmas cheer or a great winter aesthetic, the options are endless. There are movies, books, videos, songs, and more. With all of these great options, it can be overwhelming to choose. Like my posts for Halloween, I wanted to highlight some poems that perfectly fit into this time of year. Some you might have never heard before, and others might surprise you. Here are a few great holiday poems to get you into the world of festive poetry.

  1. “A Visit from St. Nicholas”– Clement Clarke Moore

If you are like me, then the title of this poem was not familiar. Once you read the poem itself, however, it becomes one of the most famous stories told at Christmastime. In fact, many people can probably recite some of this poem from memory. Many know “A Visit from St. Nicholas” as it’s more recent name “The Night Before Christmas”. It was first published back in 1823 anonymously in a New York paper. Many argue that this is the origin of the American image of Santa Claus. It’s also a lovely story to tell your family while curled up in front of a fire. If you want a safe way to get your family or friends into the festive spirit, try hosting a cozy get together over zoom and have a reading of this poem! With hot chocolate of course. 

  1. “The Feast of Lights”– Emma Lazarus

This poem by Emma Lazarus tells the story of the Feast of Lights, also known as Hanukkah or Chanukah. Hanukkah is a Jewish festival that spans over eight days and celebrates the restoration of the Temple. This was thanks to the Maccabees, who Lazarus mentions in this poem. She tells the story of their fight against the Syrians to regain control of their Temple and bring the light back to the Jewish world. She also mentions the menorah, which has become one of the famous symbols of Hanukkah. As someone who is not Jewish but is interested in learning more about the history behind Hanukkah, this was a beautiful source of information. You can feel the pride and excitement in this poem that the Jewish people must have felt when they reclaimed their Temple. If this poem has you curious about the Feast of Lights and the history behind it, there’s some great information about the holiday here

  1. “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”– Robert Frost 

This poem is not what you would consider festive. Instead, it perfectly captures the feeling of winter. Amidst all of the celebrations, it is still a very dark and cold season. If you find yourself growing tired of the festive season and wishing for some quiet, this poem is perfect for you. It’s atmospheric nature allows you to just stop and be in a moment. This poem holds a special place in my heart because it reminds me of the quiet feeling of watching snow fall in the woods. It reminds you of the beauty of nature, despite its dangerous chill. When you read it, you can almost hear the snow fall and the chill of the air. Also because it is one of my sister’s favorite poems that she loves reciting from memory on cold evenings. It’s by a man whose last name is Frost, which never ceases to entertain my pun-loving brain. This is a poem to read in the midst of a silent, snowy night. 

  1. “[little tree]”– E.E. Cummings

When I first read the title of this poem, it made me think of the tiny Charlie Brown tree. In fact, the first few lines of the poem made me wonder if it was truly a baby tree that would flop over from one ornament. It also reminds me of decorating Christmas trees as a child. Pulling out the bright and sparkling decoration and carefully hanging them on each branch. Of course, that was before I was tall enough. Most of my decorating duties were limited to the gingerbread and popsicle ornaments. The voice of this poem sounds like a child like myself talking to the tree as if it was a person. I love how it sounds like a child comforting something through an event that clearly must be scary. My favorite section is when the speaker says “then when you’re quite dressed/ you’ll stand in the window for everyone to see/ and how they’ll stare! /oh but you’ll be very proud”. I can imagine the scene unfolding through a child’s eyes, which is a great way to view the holiday season. So many things are more exciting and beautiful when we channel our inner child, after all.

  1. “For Christmas Day: Hark the Herald Angels Sing”– Charles Wesley

When I stumbled across this poem in my research, I was surprised to see it. I know this poem well, but not written this way. This is a popular hymn to sing in the Christian church during Christmastime. In fact, it is one of my favorite religious Christmas songs. It celebrates the birth of Jesus and talks about what that means for the community celebrating. The poem’s title and repeating lines also reference the angels who sang in celebration when telling the shepherds of Jesus’ birth. It was written in the 18th century by Charles Wesley, who was a Methodist preacher and brother of John Wesley, of the founders of the Methodist denomination in the U.K. He published this work in a collection of hymns and poems in the late 1730s. If you are someone looking for a Christian poem to read for this season, I recommend this one. You can read it and sing it! 

Have you read any of these poems before? Do you have a favorite festive poem that wasn’t on this list? Let me know in the comments below! I hope that all of you have a safe and happy holiday season. I’ll be back next week to celebrate the last Tuesday of 2020! Aren’t we all glad that is a sentence we can say. I’ll be recapping my book and writing goals for the year, and take a look at the year to come. Until then, happy reading and happy holidays!

5 Common Writing Tropes in Hallmark Christmas Movies

This time of year is full of fun movies that get people excited for the festive season. There are the classics that people must watch in December. There are even countless debates if movies are Christmas movies or not. One of the most popular movie types around this time of year are Hallmark movies. If you love them or hate them, odds are they’ll be brought up in a few conversations this time of year. Even other media companies like Netflix have joined in on the trend. Recently, these movies joined the Tik Tok conversation. Tik Tokkers have noticed a trend in Hallmark movies, resulting in some hilarious moments. After some laughter, I realized that they were onto something. Hallmark movies, especially Christmas ones, have a formula all their own. I found a few themes and tropes that have become iconically Hallmark.

  1. Big city professional going to a small town

The most popular trope for all seasons, this is how many movies begin. A professional in the big city is sent to a small town. It could be their hometown, or they could be traveling there for business. Either way, something big happens to get this professional to a quaint small town somewhere in the United States. Occasionally, this applies for people traveling abroad as well. Usually these professionals start out their visit looking down on the members of the town, or taking in the scenery with a bit of disdain. The town members are usually welcoming despite the cold shoulder they receive. Usually there’s one very attractive town member who tries to show our main character the joys of the place. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, this person is the love interest! Like many of these tropes, this one usually involves a city girl moving to a small town and meeting a small-town man. There are some reversals of this dynamic, but it seems to be the most popular version. Usually by the end, the main character learns to love the town and the true meaning of Christmas. Bonus points if they decide to leave their job to stay there with the love interest to support whatever profession they have. It could be everything from an inn to a shop. The possibilities are endless!

  1. A reluctant business owner of a family business 

Our main character has just inherited a family business and is not so sure about it. It could be from a dear relative, or one that they haven’t spoken to in years. Sometimes this ties in with the big city professional trope. The family business is usually a bakery, coffee shop, or hotel. The main character will vow to her bffs that she’s just going to help the business get off the ground, sell it, and go back to whatever they were doing before. Eventually, they grow to love the business thanks to experience and, you guessed it, the love interest! Sometimes the love interest works there, or could even be a neighboring business owner. With this trope, there’s also a great opportunity for family bonding. Siblings are usually what they go for, especially if they are sisters. Cue all the drama and heart-felt confessions that are perfectly Hallmark. 

  1. A skeptic who learns the meaning of Christmas from their love interest 

This trope is often wrapped up in the big city professional trope. They usually visit a town who loves Christmas and has a multitude of traditions for the season. Our main character is usually jaded in some way about the holiday. It could be past trauma, their experiences in the city, or countless other reasons. Usually it involves something that leads to a very sappy character arc. As it says on the tin, the love interest helps remind the main character of the true meaning of Christmas. They could be anyone from a member of the town, or a coworker in their new job. This love interest has a gumption for Christmas that would probably even convince Scrooge. There have even been countless A Christmas Carol inspired movies using this trope. 

  1. A girlfriend or boyfriend who does not treat the main character well.

This trope is often tied in with big city professional trope. More often than not, the main character has a significant other already when their story begins. But you must have a blossoming romance! How can Hallmark accomplish this with an existing relationship? You would think that they would expand on the already existing relationship, but that wouldn’t provide character development. Instead, they write the significant other’s as distant or unappreciative of our main character. They could be distracted with work or just an overall jerk. They have to be unlikable enough to justify the main character moving on with the romantic interest. They’ll get back into focus right when our main character starts getting super close with the romantic interest. Cue awkward breakup scene that involves at least some weird ego. Somehow, everything ends up fine. Occasionally this feels like a deux ex machina move to get two characters together without obstacle. But hey, they’re happy so that’s all that matters!

  1. An enemies to lovers relationship

This trope is prevalent in stories outside of Hallmark movies. I do have to admit that this is one of my favorite romantic comedy tropes. It leads to a lot of great banter, and great character development. For Hallmark movies, the enemies part of this trope can feel a bit extreme or silly. Sometimes the writing only lets us see the bad of the potential love interest because it’s only showing the point of view of our main character. That’s when this trope really works. We learn with the main character that this person is not who they seemed. It allows our appreciation to grow with the storyline. However, in many Hallmark works it’s a bit more strange. There are stories where only the main character despises this character, despite others adoring them. Sometimes it works because it is a real life occurrence. When it’s not working, it feels like the main character is just a stubborn drama queen or king. They also tend to have a giant “my way or the highway” complex that blinds them to the good of the love interest that literally everyone else, including the audience, can see. To a degree that can become frustrating. Still, this will forever be my favorite trope when it works. If I do watch a Hallmark movie, there are high odds that this trope plays a big role in the plot. 

Have you seen these tropes play out in your favorite Hallmark movies? Are there some Christmas Hallmark movie tropes that I missed? Do you have a favorite Hallmark-style movie?  Let me know in the comments below! It’s been fascinating to see how this writing style has spread to other networks and streaming platforms, so I’d be interested to see if any favorite Hallmark-style movies are from these places instead of Hallmark. It was really fun to look at these writing tropes and find so many common threads. If anyone is looking for a fun writing project idea for this holiday season, I’d recommend using some Hallmark tropes to create your own story. Who knows what kind of fun storyline will come of it! If you do, please send it to me. I’d love to see what you come up with. Thanks so much for reading everyone, and happy writing!