July Goals + TBR ➹

After a month like June, I kind of want to reset and take myself back to basics. I loved blog hopping, and I want that to be something I do a couple of times a week. But I also want to put less stress on myself and focus more on creating quality blog posts and developing my own unique blogging style. I don’t want to do just book reviews and the occasional tag, so I’ll also try to experiment with different posts this month.

All of my goals, which you can see below, are geared towards blog development. I’ve also got a lot of reading/reviewing plans that I can’t wait to start. For a preview of what you can expect on Betwined Reads this month, keep reading ^_^


1. Dedicate M/W/F to Writing Blog Posts

I feel like I work better under time constraints, and I also think having specific days set aside for blogging will help me not always feel guilty or residual stress about not finishing up posts. I think it’ll be easier to remember what I complete and also do other things offline that might otherwise compete for attention.

Note. While I may work on the blog on these days, that does not mean blog posts will always go up on these days. I do like to schedule posts in advance so I have a chance to polish them and catch mistakes I might miss at first glance.

2. Develop a Unique Blog Theme

I tend to make my featured images on book reviews from random searches for backgrounds that relate to the setting of my novels. I also use Unsplash a lot for base images of my featured images. I’ve noticed another blogger who uses a lot of photos I recognize from Unsplash (to awesome effect I might add), so I would like to move away from stock images (no matter how gorgeous) and take my own so that my blog has a personal touch all my own.

I’ve also really longed to use my drawing tablet, so the blog would give me a good excuse to break it out and have fun creating a graphics around a specific theme for the blog.

3. Condense my Book Reviews

I like the way I’ve written my book reviews, but I feel like I could do better to make the posts less intimidating reads by utilizing shorter sections, using more graphics that speak louder than words can, and highlighting the most important ideas I want to share. I’ve seen some awesome styles of review and I’d like to experiment by breaking away from the wordy format with which I’ve become too comfortable. It’s time to shake things up!


On July 1st I sat down with a little $1 brown calendar I bought at Target at the beginning of the year and looked at my shelves. While I am very much a mood reader, I feel like I can avoid reading slumps by keeping what I’m reading fresh and varied. So for the next three months on each Thursday I wrote down a book I’d like to see myself read and review for the blog.

In case anything changes, I don’t want to share all the books I plan to read or my anticipated blogging schedule. But I will continue to share the books I would like to read at minimum. Ideally I’ll start getting ahead on these reviews so there’s a buffer for the unexpected hiatus or vacations where it is hard to blog (I already have one trip scheduled for August)!

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling away again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair…

I read this book last fall and really wanted to review it, but I was in a bit of a blogging rut last year. I don’t see this book around much online, so I’m hoping by sharing it on my blog it will find some new readers!

Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko

Tayo, a young Native American, has been a prisoner of the Japanese during World War II, and the horrors of captivity have almost eroded his will to survive. His return to the Laguna Pueblo reservation only increases his feeling of estrangement and alienation. While other returning soldiers find easy refuge in alcohol and senseless violence, Tayo searches for another kind of comfort and resolution. Tayo’s quest leads him back to the Indian past and its traditions, to beliefs about witchcraft and evil, and to the ancient stories of his people. The search itself becomes a ritual, a curative ceremony that defeats the most virulent of afflictions—despair.

This is one of the books I bought but never read for my Native American literature survey I took during my undergrad. I feel like it is a good time to start reading some of these works, and this one was really attractive to me because it’s on the shorter side. So hopefully I really connect with it. I’m in the mood to read about different cultures.

Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene

The summer that Patty Bergen turns twelve is a summer that will haunt her forever. When her small hometown in Arkansas becomes the site of a camp housing German prisoners during World War II, Patty learns what it means to open her heart. Even though she’s Jewish, she begins to see a prison escapee, Anton, not as a Nazi — but as a lonely, frightened young man with feelings not unlike her own, who understands and appreciates her in a way her parents never will. And Patty is willing to risk losing family, friends — even her freedom — for what has quickly become the most important part of her life.

This book was one of my random purchases at 2nd & Charles in May. I’m not really sure what to expect. It’s an oldie and a historical fiction, which is a genre I love to read. I also assume it’s a romance book, but since it is an award-winning book I feel like it might be really good. I’m hoping it give me all the feels.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he’s been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo’s dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

Welcome to Weep.

I bought this book on a whim last month. Maybe it’s because ARCs of its sequel are out, but I’ve been seeing so many people I follow read and gush about this book. Fortunately for me, I discovered it’s the group read of Of Wonderland‘s Book Club hosted on Goodreads, so I’ll have fun becoming involved on there this month!

✄ —– End Note ——–

You should be able to expect a book review for Vassa in the Night on Thursday and hopefully something fun and out of the ordinary this weekend. This weekend was a drag for me as I’ve had bad sinuses since Friday. I think it has something to do with the Saharan Dust that hit Texas this weekend. I’m already really susceptible to sinus problems, and now I think I have an sinus infection. I generally just wait them out with Benadryl, NyQuil, Afrin nasal spray, and loads of sleep.

But hopefully I’m not knocked down for much longer. I’ve got a lot I’m excited to do!

What do you plan to read this month?

Have you read any of the books I mentioned?

Thank you for reading!
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19 thoughts on “July Goals + TBR ➹

  1. E

    I totally get what you mean about not finding the time to write blog posts, I need to sit down and set myself time for it as well! Because I want to keep at it!

  2. dinasoaur

    I like the steps you have included to develop a personal style. That’s something I am struggling with as well. I am trying to go back to basics and examine what my online purpose is as a whole. It’s kind of good to keep going back every once in a while.

    A drawing tablet? Wow. That’s going to be so cool. I also like that you have already started planning reviews. While I have not read any of the books you mentioned, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on them. They are not all “popular” books, which is nice because some stories are just way overly discussed in the book-blogging land.

    Good luck! You’re doing an awesome job already. :)

    1. Lori

      Aww, thanks for such a sweet comment! I agree, it’s good to take stock every now and then to make sure you’re happy with your blog and what you produce.

      I hope you and others like my upcoming reviews! I did put some thought into the book choices so that there’s a balance between books people would be more likely to recognize and some more obscure ones that I am eager to read (and reread) that deserve some love too.

      I also tried to think about what books would be nice for each specific month. I got so excited thinking of September and October! I can’t wait for fall to return. ^_^

  3. Inge

    I look forward to seeing the undoubtedly beautiful graphics you will create for the blog! I hope you have fun finding your own style. I didn’t finish Vassa in the Night, but I hope you do love it! I didn’t know the story it retold but it’s so unique. I’m glad to see that you’ll be joining the Of Wonderland group read, I hope you’ll find it lovely and whimsical. ^_^

    1. Lori

      Thanks! Vassa in the Night is pretty weird, but I loved it the first time and I’m hoping to find new things to admire in my second read ^_^

      Also, I’m super excited about Strange the Dreamer! You actually just reminded me I need to catch up on the discussion posts in the Goodreads group so I don’t miss out on anything this month@

  4. Dani @ Perspective of a Writer

    ooooh Good luck personalizing your blog a little more Lori! I LOVE AND ADORE the idea of you using your drawing tablet and if I have even a droplet of drawing skill I would sooooo use it for my own blog :D And if you’ve seen one of my reviews I totally believe it cutting it up so I hope you find your groove with that too.❤️ I look forward to what’s coming.

    1. Lori

      Ahh, thanks! I’ll be working on my first review tonight, and I have a feeling it will be long, but it WILL be all cut up into more easily digestible parts :D

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  6. Marie

    Best of luck for all of your blog work – I am sure you will do great and I hope you’ll find your voice, theme and graphics that fit you and makes you feel unique, I am certain that you will – and that you also will have fun imagining them :)
    Have a wonderful July! <3 <3

    1. Lori

      Thank you! Coming from you, a book blogger that I’ve long admired, that really means a lot ^_^

    1. Lori

      Good luck! I’ve been struggling, I think because it’s taking me longer to read the books I’ve planned to read this month! I’d love to hear if you’re having success at this :D

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