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Our Half Year Report + a Summer Book Giveaway

Estelle and I crossed the six-month blogging hurdle in May. How have six months already flown by? Oh, the books we’ve read and the people we’ve met. Everything about being a book blogger is pretty flippin’ fantastic. There are a couple reasons for today’s post.

We want to:

– reflect on the bookish resolutions we made for this year to re-motivate ourselves.
– do a little dance and celebrate our six (well, technically almost seven) month blogoversary with you guys.
– share our favorite books that we’ve read so far this year. That means we’re doing a GIVEAWAY. It is summertime, after all, and we want you guys to have the chance to take some of our favorites with you to the beach! That’s how this all ties into our Sweet Summertime Reads feature we’re doing with Ginger and Tara. Check out the end of this post to enter our super fantastic giveaway!

resolution accountability.


  1. Read 115 books this year. I’m currently 3 books behind the pace I should be reading, but I am about to go on vacation and am prepped with lots of books. I am not changing my goal, though I am nervous to be slacking. I dislike that I feel like I’m playing catch up. Estelle has been encouraging me to just keep pushing toward 115. I CAN DO THIS. (hopefully)
  2. Read at least one book/month from my shelves. When I wrote this last year, I wasn’t planning on attending book conferences. I’ve since gone to two (TLA and ALA) where I’ve gotten wonderful books. Considering those have been added to my shelves, I’ve been doing well with reading through those. I’ve read books I bought last year, too, but I haven’t tackled my old, old books.
  3. Pass along books I no longer want to own. I’ve done a few twitter giveaways of books I didn’t want to keep. I have a stack of books currently waiting to be taken to a children’s home. I am feeling better about decluttering my shelves, but there’s still room for improvement here.
  4. Don’t get caught up in a schedule and quit reading for me. Hmm.  Reading has not lost its appeal, but I do feel like during March and April, my life got chaotic and I couldn’t read nearly as much as I wanted to. I felt more selective about the books I was picking up and tried to be mindful of the review books I’d received. I never once felt overwhelmed by blogging, but I did feel let down by some of the books I had been amped to read. Though it wasn’t a scheduling issue, per say, it was something that really brought me down. Don’t worry – I’m back on the upswing of things and life is calm(er) now.
  5. Participate in book swaps. Thanks to the conferences I’ve attended and social media, I’ve met some amazing bloggers who have been generous enough to lend me books. I have also tried to send books out to other bloggers. I’m hoping this continues and I can be as generous as others have been to me.
  6. Have at least one author listed for every letter of the alphabet on our list of reviewed books. Well, we only have 7 open letters, so I’d say we’re making progress. Does anyone know GOOD books written by authors with the last names starting with Q, U, X, Y, Z? Help!
  7. Become a better writer. Well, I’d say this is pretty hard to quantify, but I am trying pretty darn hard to do this. I keep a notebook with all my thoughts and feelings while I’m reading so I can look back at that when I’m writing. One issue I wrote about was wanting to be able to write negative reviews. I’ve had to write a few this year (with a few more coming up) and while that’s never a great feeling, I believe it’s necessary. My hope is that you’ll find my reviews to be thoughtful, honest, and valid because I am willing to share the good and the bad.


 1. Read 100 books again. Well I’ve been on the road to reading 100 books so after some convincing from Magan, I decided to up my book goal to 120. I’m on some kind of a roll it seems!

2. On the other hand… I have not read 6 classics. I have not read even 1. But the good news is since I’m on my way to completing my first goal, I can buy time to read the classics and have the time to concentrate on them. I don’t expect to breeze through them… which is probably why I haven’t read one yet. Ugh. Must. Get. On. That.
3.  Thanks to my genius husband, I have gotten into the habit of taking notes on my books just like I wanted to do. He bought me this Book Lover’s Journal for Christmas. It’s small enough to throw in my purse and I’ve been pretty good at keeping consistent notes!

book lover

It has been easier to write my reviews when I get behind. Which I still do. As I write this, I’m six books behind on reviews. Boo. But hey, notes make it easier and sometimes it’s easier for me to pick up a book instead of writing a review right after I’m finished.
4.  Because I’ve been reading so much (and even though I’m six reviews behind), I’m already scheduling book reviews for July which leads to…
5. Balancing my time better! I’m not always on the computer. I don’t always have to read a book that needs to be reviewed. And I’m going to the gym more. So this is working!
6. FAIL. I fail in every way in not buying books. I blame the authors. Stop writing awesome books. (Just kidding.) I need to really take a break this summer in purchasing anything. I have a ton of books from NetGalley that need to be read and years worth of books that have been making a home on my bookshelf.
7. I wanted to start writing my own young adult book. I’ve written a bit. Nothing book-like. I just need time. And that feels like a major excuse right now. I’m still hoping in the next six months I will have something to show for it. (Whether it’s good, that’s another story.)

our half year favorites.


  1. You Have Seven Messages by Stewart Lewis
  2. The Comeback Season by Jennifer E. Smith
  3.  The Princesses of Iowa by Molly Backes
  4. Mister Death’s Blue Eyed Girls by Mary Downing Hahn
  5. Don’t Let Me Go by JH Trumble
  6. Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando (Goodreads)


  1. Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker
  2. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
  3. The Survival Kit by Donna Freitas
  4. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
  5. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
  6. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

a summer book giveaway.

We will be giving away three books to one lucky person. Enter to win by choosing which three books you’d like from our lists above and let us know what they are in the comments below. Don’t forget to click ENTER on the Rafflecopter widget below!

Rules and Regulations: US entries only. Giveaway ends on June 15th. Winner will be emailed and here!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

June 14, 2012 - 10:53 pm

Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books - Congratulations on your half year anniversary! (As I am now going through blog posts, I will, for sure, be commenting like crazy, so you have been warned, lol). Anyway, if I had to choose which books I would want to win…

1. Second Chance Summer
2. You Have Seven Messages
3. The Survival Kit

I love you girls! So glad we’re friends <3

June 14, 2012 - 10:34 am

Marilyn H - Congrats! Just found you! I would choose the following 3 books:
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, The Princesses of Iowa by Molly Backes, You Have Seven Messages by Stewart Lewis

June 12, 2012 - 4:36 pm

Caroline R. - I’d like to win Second Chance Summer, The Survival Kit, and … well I don’t really want a third, I just really really want those two, and hope I get them 🙂

June 11, 2012 - 10:08 pm

Shelve It: 6/10/2012 - […] Our halfway report giveaway. Ginger at GReads is hosting a Jennifer Echols giveaway! …plus a copy of From What I Remember thanks to the authors! Tara from Fiction Folio is hosting a Jessi Kirby giveaway! […]

June 11, 2012 - 5:34 pm

Dusty F - Thanks for the great giveaway!
I would choose:
Second Chance Summer

June 11, 2012 - 3:59 pm

Yiling - Congrats! I would love to win:
Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi and
Insurgent by Veronica Roth

June 11, 2012 - 2:43 pm

Randi M - I have the hardest time not buying books as well…My bookshelf is stacked full with books in front of each other. When my husband complains, I tell him there are much worse things I could be addicted to. 😉

Thank you for the giveaway!!! So many choices! 😉 I would choose Unbreak My Heart, Second Chance Summer, and Don’t Let Me Go.

June 10, 2012 - 10:46 pm

LisaILJ - I would choose:
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
The Princesses of Iowa by Molly Backes
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

thanks for the giveaway!

June 7, 2012 - 1:46 pm

Kimmie M. - Thanks for awesome giveaway! 🙂

I’d choose:
The Princess of Iowa
Second Chance Summer
Shatter Me

June 6, 2012 - 2:50 pm

Paige - Just wanted to stop by and let you know that I made this post too, with full credit to you guys though =) Here’s the link:


~Paige @ Comfort Books

June 4, 2012 - 4:01 pm

Teresa - insurgent, pandemonium, and shatter me

June 4, 2012 - 11:32 am

Rabiah - Thanks for the amazing giveaway! I’d pick

1) You Have Seven Messages
2) The Survival Kit
3) Pandemonium

June 4, 2012 - 11:31 am

stacie puett - i would love,
Unbreak my Heart
Second Chance Summer

June 3, 2012 - 7:37 pm

Angie - I would like

The Survival Kit

June 3, 2012 - 5:34 pm

Bonnie R. - 1. Insurgent
2. The Survival Kit
3. Second Chance Summer

Awesome giveaway, thanks so much for the opportunity! 🙂

June 3, 2012 - 2:50 pm

brookea_2006 - Thanks for the awesome giveaway, and congrats on 6 months! If I win, I’d love: 1) You Have Seven Messages, 2) Shatter Me, and 3) Unbreak My Heart.

June 2, 2012 - 6:59 pm

Jasmine Rose - Sorry if that last comment made it seem like I didn’t want you guys around for longer than 6 months because I really do 😛

June 2, 2012 - 6:58 pm

Jasmine Rose - Oooh, tough choice, but I think I’d go with Second Chance Summer, Shatter Me, and Pandemonium.
Congrats on 6 months too 😀 I look forward to the next half year reading your posts :]

June 2, 2012 - 6:33 pm

Cari - I’d LOVE to win Princess of Iowa, Insurgent, and Second Chance Summer. Pretty please and thank you!

June 2, 2012 - 1:39 pm

JennyC - You Have Seven Messages by Stewart Lewis
Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker
Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

June 2, 2012 - 10:53 am

Cialina - Yay! Congrats on the six months. 😀 I can’t believe it’s only been that long.

I’d love to win Insurgent, Don’t Let Me Go, and Unbreak My Heart.

June 2, 2012 - 1:57 am

Elise - I would love to win:
Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
The Survival Kit by Donna Freitas
Thanks for the giveaway! 🙂

June 2, 2012 - 1:36 am

Stella Maris - 1) Shatter Me
2) Dreamland Social Club
3) The Comeback Season

Thanks for the giveaway!

June 1, 2012 - 10:54 pm

Joy - Yay for six months! You guys have read some awesome books in this time. Of course, now you make us have the difficult choice…I’d love to read Princesses of Iowa, Survival Kit, and Unbreak My Heart. Thanks for this awesome giveaway!

June 1, 2012 - 5:08 pm

Shana @ABookVacation - Thanks for this chance to win! Good luck on your goals!

1. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
2. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
3. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

May 31, 2012 - 4:20 pm

Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase - Oh, and if no one has mentioned it yet – you could read something by Markus Zusak for a Z author for your review list! I haven’t read anything by him but I’ve heard that The Book Thief is fantastic. I also want to read his other book, I am the Messenger.

May 31, 2012 - 4:16 pm

Andrea @ The Overstuffed Bookcase - Congrats on 6 months!! I just hit the 4-month mark myself a couple of weeks ago. You guys seem like you’ve been blogging forever, though – your blog is so polished and professional!

I loved reading all your goals! It seems like you’re doing good so far, and you can do it!!! I won’t be entering the giveaway because I’ll be on vacation when it ends and won’t be able to respond to emails and such in a timely manner, but that’s such a kind thing for you guys to do! I hope to have one on my blog soon as well!

Good luck in your next 6 months and beyond!

May 30, 2012 - 4:10 pm

margie c {the bumble girl} - Yay, happy 6 months to you both! How fun! Thank you for sharing your goals and for being so honest with them too! I have such a hard time keeping to my goals, lol, it’s good to see that even the bestest bookies slip too 🙂
I am excited for:
1. Second Chance Summer
2. Pandemonium
3. Unbreak My Heart
Thanks for the giveaway too! Happy reading 🙂

May 30, 2012 - 4:02 pm

Kaitlyn Weaver - Pandemonium, Insurgent, & Shatter Me! 😀

May 30, 2012 - 3:38 pm

Kristen - 1. Mister Death’s Blue Eyed Girls
2. Unbreak My Heart
3. You Have Seven Messages

Thanks for the giveaway!

May 30, 2012 - 2:30 am

Megan @ Books-andTeacups - I’m not entering (don’t live in the US) but I just wanted to say congratulations on your six months!! How exciting! Also, this post is awesome for showing me some new books 😉 thank you!

May 29, 2012 - 11:09 pm

Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl - Happy 6 months, girls! That’s so exciting! And way to keep up on your blogging resolutions. 🙂 They say holding yourself accountable makes things happen. 🙂 Keep up the good work! I’d love to win:

1. Insurgent
2. Dreamland social Club
3. The Princesses of Iowa

Thanks for hosting such a wonderful giveaway!

May 29, 2012 - 10:19 pm

Emily - I’ve been stalking your blog and haven’t said anything before now, but I just wanted to let you guys know that I think you’re doing so amazing and I love it. Keep up the good work!

It’s so hard to chose between all these amazing books, but I’m going to go with:

1. Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker
2. You Have Seven Messages by Stewart Lewis
3. Don’t Let Me Go by J.H. Trumble

May 29, 2012 - 10:16 pm

Sharon @ Fictionally Inclined - Congratulations on 6 months! That’s so exciting! You both are so wonderful and professional and organized; I forget you’ve only been around a couple months longer than I have.

As for my book picks, I’d have to go with Shatter Me (already read it, of course, but SO MUCH LOVE), Second Chance Summer, and Princesses of Iowa.

May 29, 2012 - 9:46 pm

Hannah Henson - 100 books is such a great goal, ladies! Im really jealous of y’alls aweso,e book reading skills!
Three books I’d like to have?!
Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
You Have Seven Messages by Stewart Lewis

May 29, 2012 - 9:26 pm

Nisha - Oh! This is exciting!

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
The Survival Kit by Donna Freitas
Don’t Let Me Go by JH Trumble


May 29, 2012 - 8:20 pm

Melissa @ Writer Grrl Reads - I got all excited and started to enter, then realized it’s US only. Sorry — can you remove my entries? Next time I’ll read the instructions properly 😉

May 29, 2012 - 8:08 pm

VeganYANerds - Congrats on your 6 mth blogiversary! It’ll be ours next month, yay!

You’re both doing so well with your bookish goals, and there are books in each of your favourites that I still want to read as well!

May 29, 2012 - 7:14 pm

Melissa Sue - I think I would like to read Dreamland Social Club, Pandemonium and Mr. Death’s.

May 29, 2012 - 6:22 pm

Paige - I like the idea of this half way post! I might steal the idea, but with full credit of course! =) The three books I want to win are Second Chance Summer, Unbreak My Heart, and Princess of Iowa! Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

May 29, 2012 - 6:22 pm

Amy @ bookgoonie - I don’t think I’ve read any of them. *taps fingers* Decision, Decisions. This is very generous of you guys. Thanks.

The Comeback Season
Second Chance Summer

May 29, 2012 - 4:05 pm

Morgan - Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
The Survival Kit by Donna Freitas

May 29, 2012 - 3:40 pm

Laura F - I’d love to win Second Chance Summer, Pandemonium and Shatter me!

May 29, 2012 - 1:51 pm

Heather @ Putting Pen to Page - Unbreak My Heart

The Princess of Iowa


Suggestions for Missing letters:
Samantha Young
Quinn Loftis (kinda cheating with the Q there, but…)

That’s all I got on the Kindle that goes with those letters 🙂

May 29, 2012 - 1:23 pm

Rachel - Mister Death’s Blue Eyed Girls, The Survival Kit and The Princesses of Iowa.

Great giveaway!! 🙂

May 29, 2012 - 1:22 pm

kristina shields - shatter me, pandemonium, and insurgent

May 29, 2012 - 1:01 pm

mary @mysistersbookshelf.com - Y’all are both doing so well! You should review the book thief for a “Z”!

I’m interested in Dreamland Social Club, Second Chance Summer, and Shatter Me!

May 29, 2012 - 10:51 am

Dani Nguyen - Congrats on 6 months & thanks for the giveaway! The 3 books I’d choose are Pandemonium, Second Chance Summer, and The Comeback Season.

May 29, 2012 - 10:24 am

Regina - What a great giveaway! There are so many great books, it is hard to narrow it down to 3, I think I would choose the Mistresses of Iowa, Mister Death’s Blue Eyed Girls, and Second Chance Summer.

May 29, 2012 - 10:04 am

Vivien - Congrats!!!

Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker
Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando

May 29, 2012 - 9:25 am

elena - CONGRATS ON YOUR SIX MONTHS!!!! The only one I can think of for Z is Gabrielle Zevin? I haven’t actually read any of her books but I’ve heard generally good things. Ahaha, Estelle, my goal was similar to yours in that for every 5 YA book I would read, I would read an adult. THAT DID NOT WORK OUT. Also, good luck on writing!! 🙂

Also hm! Books I would pick: Unbreak My Heart, Second Chance Summer, and Pandemonium.

May 29, 2012 - 9:20 am

Melissa Morris - 1. Shatter Me
2. Pandemonium
3. Unbreak My Heart

May 29, 2012 - 9:13 am

Ginger @ GReads! - It’s hard to believe the two of you have only been blogging for 6 months. It feels so much longer than that. Plus the work you have to show for it appears to be from someone who’s been blogging a lot longer as well. I love this home you’ve created here! The book blogging community definitely needs more of people like the two of you in it 🙂

I am also way embarrassed to admit the number of books I’ve read this year compared to y’all, haha. Thanks for being a part of my Summer feature with me!

May 29, 2012 - 8:58 am

Melissa - Congrats ion hitting the 6 month mark!! I’d love to read You Have Seven Messages by Stewart Lewis, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi and
Insurgent by Veronica Roth

May 29, 2012 - 8:58 am

Hemborgwife - Super exciting I have loved reading your reviews and finding new authors!
The three books that sound good to me are:
1. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
2. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
3. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

May 29, 2012 - 8:37 am

Mundie Moms - Congratulations on your milestone! That is so exciting! You ladies are wonderful!! Love you guys!

May 29, 2012 - 8:04 am

Em (Love YA Lit) - Yeah! Goals! Checking in is always good. I think of your half year favorites, the ones I’m most excited to read are The Comeback Season and Mister Death’s Blue Eyed Girls. I’m also interested in Unbreak My Heart and Second Chance Summer because I’ve heard nothing but GOOD about them both!

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