Update: Life and Books (Dec 2020)


Happy New Year! Not that it’s really all that happy, but standard phrases and all that.

I kind of took my time getting around to this update because of headaches and general feelings of meh. As to what I’ve been up to for the past month, mostly just a lot of reading. (Well, listening, but you get it.) No new games or podcasts or even movies/shows, I don’t think. Didn’t do anything for the holidays.

Technically this is from January, but I need something for this post, so I have bird feeder news! I’ve got painted buntings! There was a smol green bird who showed up last winter and then again this winter, but this time she must’ve brought friends! And when a male showed up, I was finally able to confirm that they are definitely painted buntings, because the males are so gorgeous and colorful. (Not that you can tell from my awful picture, but I was lucky to get even that.)

Honestly that’s about it! Next month I’ll have some old updated art to share 🙂

Blog/Bookish Updates:

I don’t know what I want to do with my blog. It’s a lot of work, especially with health problems. And while I love blogging about books, it seems like the reward might not be worth the work anymore. Book blogs seem to mostly attract other book bloggers, so when you can’t be part of the community as much, and when you don’t blog about popular books, your blog traffic suffers. I do get traffic from other places, but that traffic doesn’t get interaction, and though I’m happy about all visits, I start feeling less satisfied without interaction. I’m also just tired of lots of things within the book blogging community. Nothing involving any specific bloggers, just widespread sorts of problems and frustrations.

So I’m considering a few options. I can do reviews but different to make them easier. I can just post full reviews to Amazon and Goodreads and do round-up posts with quick thoughts and links to the full reviews (though that might actually be more work than the first option, unless I make them super duper simple with no covers or tags). I can just not bother with reviews or links to reviews at all on the blog. Or I can stop blogging altogether, which I don’t think I really want to do.

Stopping blogging or stopping reviews on my blog would mean more time to do other things that might be more fulfilling. But it would also mean no more review copies (which is one of my frustrations, tbh, that publishers and authors don’t appreciate non-review posts), which means missing out on books I can’t afford. I managed to get a lot of books for free last year through the library and free trials, but those trials were temporary, and the library only has so much.

I don’t know. I might try making some changes and see how it goes. I might simply post less often. I do still have some already written recommendations, discussions, game reviews, and a couple book reviews I plan to share because I like them and it would be a waste not to, so I’ll see how I feel after those, I guess.


Books I Received for Review:

I got Wonderstruck by Allie Therin from NetGalley.


Books I Finished:

Timekeeper by Tara SimThe Vampire's Dinner by TJ NicholsDead Acre by Rhett C. BrunoThe Letter that Doomed Nosferatu by Steve BermanA Christmas to Die For by Jessica FrancesSnowed in with Santa by Helen AllanThose Bloody Christmas Elves by Emmi LawrenceKrampus Hates Christmas by Andi VanSatan Claus is Coming to Town by Catherine LievensA Vampire Carol by Tara MayaAll I Want for Christmas is a Faerie Assassin by H.L. MacfarlaneThe Remaking of Corbin Wale by Roan ParrishThe Prince and the Troll by Rainbow RowellA Christmas Carriage Ride and Other Stories by Kitty-Lydia DyeMy Christmas Spirit by K.C. WellsThe Vampire's Club by X. AratareTransformation by X. AratareBright Spark by Alex SilverSelkie Sea by Davis Lavender

Listen, I have headaches and cannot link all these books to their Amazon page, so if you want to check one out (on the US site), do me a solid and just use my affiliate link to get there :-*

I went on a paranormal Christmas romance binge! I know this looks like a lot, but many were novellas, and a few short stories.

The Timekeeper Trilogy by Tara Sim – Amazing! This one made it onto my top ten books of 2020 list. It got so much more intense than I was expecting and gave me the feels. It’s in Audible Plus!

The Vampire’s Dinner by TJ Nichols – A fun vampire short story.

Dead Acre by Rhett C. Bruno – A freebie with my Audible Plus free trial. Didn’t leave a big impression, but I enjoy weird westerns.

The Letter that Doomed Nosferatu by Steve Berman – I didn’t get super into the story itself, but the writing. My favorite kind of writing that’s beautiful and quirky and flows in an an effortless way.

A Christmas to Die For by Jessica Frances – Gotta be honest, not for me. Too focused on sex without enough development of anything else. An oddly stiff, typical supernatural kinda POV voice for Santa. A unique take on Christmas though.

Snowed in with Santa by Helen Allan – A cute Christmas romance.

Those Bloody Christmas Elves by Emmi Lawrence – A kind of dark take on Christmas and lots of action, which made this pretty unique as far as Christmas romances go.

Krampus Hates Christmas by Andi Van – I loved this one! A super cute romance with Krampus.

Satan Claus is Coming to Town Series by Catherine Lievens – I read this and the next book, and both were cute Christmas romances, one with Satan, and one with the angel Gabriel.

A Vampire Carol by Tara Maya – A short story about a vampire. Only so-so for me.

All I Want for Christmas is a Faerie Assassin by H.L. Macfarlane – This was a really fun Christmas romance! Like an “I need a holiday date” romcom, but with a faerie.

The Remaking of Corbin Wale by Roan Parrish – This was a sweet, lightly magical romance with a bit of focus on Hanukkah.

The Prince and the Troll by Rainbow Rowell – A short story. Just ok for me.

A Christmas Carriage Ride and Other Stories by Kitty-Lydia Dye – A collection of short stories set around Christmas, based on classics. I enjoyed but wasn’t super into it. Anyone who really likes classics would probably love it though.

My Christmas Spirit by K.C. Wells – A cute but silly Christmas romance.

The Vampire’s Club Series by X. Aratare – This was more of a serial than a series, and I really liked it! A good, somewhat twisty story with interesting relationships, found family, and great characters.

The Merman Series by X. Aratare – Couldn’t get super into this one.

Psions of SPIRE Series by Alex Silver – I read the first three books in this series in January (not including novellas) and enjoyed them! They have super healthy, communicative relationships and some great LGBTQIA+ rep and diversity, so far including open polyam, mlm, asexual, nonbinary, and trans.

Selkie Sea by Davis Lavender – A quick romance. Too instalovey for me, but I liked that it had selkies.


In Case You Missed It:

Here are the highlights:

– I shared the top ten games I played in 2020!
– And the best covers from books I read in 2020!
– And the top ten characters from books I read in 2020!
– And, of course, my top ten books and series of 2020!


Talk to me!

How was the end of 2020 for you?
Have you found any good books, movies, podcasts, music, etc. lately?
Have you ever considered stopping blogging or changing things or just felt frustrated about it?


Your Thoughts


20 thoughts on “Update: Life and Books (Dec 2020)

I'd love if you'd share your thoughts, too!


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  1. Greg

    It does amaze me sometimes how our audience is almost exclusively other book bloggers! I definitely can relate to some of your frustrations. I do think too you raise a good point about non- review posts. There are a lot of ways to highlight a book without a traditional review- a discussion post, spoilery discussions, interviews/ Q&A’s, etc. I wish sometimes we as book bloggers (myself included) thought of doing some out-of-the-box stuff other than just reviewing a book and moving on. IDK. Anyway, whatever you do, I hope it works out. 🙂

    Nice cover collage. 🙂

    1. Kristen Burns

      It is such a strange thing. Are there any blog topics that are like that, I wonder? There are so many great other types of posts, and I want to do more of them. So it’s super frustrating that they’re unappreciated. Thanks 🙂

  2. Roberta R.

    I hope you’ll be able to find a way to go on blogging that is both fulfilling and easier to manage! I have different problems than you do, but what with being tired and/or achey (old age pains LOL) and after my recent health issues (I’m getting better, but they took a toll on me), I can absolutely relate when it comes to the blog managing problem. Good luck in the new year! And BTW, I looked those birds up on the net, and they’re lovely! Bring on the birds and squirrels 😂 😉.

  3. Sam@wlabb

    That bird is so pretty! Hey, I get excited when I see new and interesting things in my area too (which is so rare now that I don’t really leave the house). I wonder why we feel so much pressure to do certain type of reviews. I have seen so many people talk about making reviews easier for themselves, so you are not alone in this. I hope you find something that works for you and some relief from your health issues too. I remember, before I was blogging, that I felt too intimidated to leave comments, though, I followed many blogs as a power reader. I bet you have many visitors like that.

    1. Kristen Burns

      They are SO pretty! It is exciting to see new things, especially with how things are right now. Thanks <3 Same! I also used to be too intimidated to leave comments anywhere. So I'm sure we all have some followers who read but don't comment. I do appreciate any I have!

  4. Maxine

    I love that you fully embraced christmas romance.

    I’m sorry your health is still a struggle, it can really take the fun out of your favourite things.

    Whatever direction you head with the blog I hope it makes things easier. I struggle to be consistent with mine and I’m driving myself nuts about it. One day it will all come together.

    1. Kristen Burns

      I had absolutely no Christmas spirit, just this weird spontaneous urge to read all the Christmas PNR I could find for like three weeks straight lol.

      Thanks <3

    1. Kristen Burns

      You should get one!!! I guess you’re going by Mar now?? I like it 🙂 I’ve started going by Kit tentatively, but honestly I still don’t know how I feel about it lol. Thanks, happy new year!

  5. Flora's Author Services

    I love reading the posts on your blog, Kit, please don’t stop. I don’t read “popular” titles either so don’t get huge traffic numbers. But I’ve decided that this year I’m not fretting about it. I’m plagued with ocular migraines so have decided to try to swap to audiobooks. I’ve already reduced the amount I write for book reviews so I’m hoping the change to audio will reduce eyestrain.
    I’m bookmarking this page to snag some of those Xmas themed PNR.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Aww thanks <3 It sucks that the books that aren't super popular don't get the attention, sucks for us bloggers AND for the authors, cuz they deserve more attention. I listen entirely using audiobooks and TTS for ebooks, I can't read the normal way anymore without headaches either. I hope you can find things that work for your migraines.

      Haha yessss, they're so fun!

  6. Mary Kirkland

    I’ve had my blog for a long time and I’ve changed over time. Maybe just make some little changes or don’t post as often. I blog ahead about 60 days for most posts so if I don’t feel like writing a blog post for a few days I can get away with that.

  7. Sam @ Spines in a Line

    Good luck in whatever you decide with your blogging journey! I always appreciate your posts so I’m looking forward to the changes you make that’ll make it a more enjoyable thing for you

  8. Karen

    I miss my birds (& all the nature) that I had in FL 🙁 Despite living in a more natural area, I barely have any bird variety or my beloved butterflies. I’m going to work on it this year though!

    I feel the same about blogging. The thought of long reviews and deadlines just doesn’t appeal to me anymore. I want to find a more spontaneous way of blogging but I’m not sure how that will look.

    But this space also helps me get through rougher times so I don’t want to leave yet either.

    Well, anyway Happy New Year & I hope you find what works for you.

    Karen @ For What It’s Worth

    1. Kristen Burns

      Aww do you have a feeder? I don’t actually have many visitors or much variety, only one cardinal couple and now a few painted buntings, plus 3 or 4 squirrels lol. I hope you can get some more birds and butterflies!

      Yeah, it’s tough to figure out the blogging stuff. I still like writing long reviews, it’s just putting the whole posts together that’s a lot of work. But same, my blog has helped me through tough times.

      Same to you!

  9. Anstice Brown

    Sorry you’ve been having so many headaches. A lot of people don’t appreciate how debilitating they can be. I hope they improve soon.

    It looks like you read an interesting selection of paranormal Christmas books. I’ve not been reading as much as I would like to lately. I just don’t seem to have the headspace for it. Instead, I’m binge-watching House M.D in the evenings.

    The end of 2020 wasn’t too bad for me. I didn’t get to see my family for Christmas but we had some video calls and just focused on making things magical for my daughter.

    I used to think about stopping blogging fairly often when I felt under too much pressure. But I decided to reframe it as a fun hobby instead of a commitment. I don’t bother to set goals about how often I post, how many books I review or my follower count. I just post when I feel like it these days and it fits much better around my lifestyle.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks <3 They really are debilitating.

      As long as you have something enjoyable to do, that's all that matters!

      Yeah I'm still trying to figure out the blogging thing. That sounds like a good way of doing it though 🙂