The Weekly Update: 11/6/16


Well crap. I don’t have any real life news this week lol.

I stayed pretty busy, but not with anything that’s worth sharing. I didn’t even do anything for Halloween, so it’s not like I even have that to talk about.

I do, however, have some exciting (well, for me) bookish news, so I’ll just skip straight to that!

Blog/Bookish Updates:

I won THREE giveaways!!! Best week ever? Quite possibly. Thank you to to Molly @ Molly’s Book Nook and author Karen McQuestion for the copy of From A Distant Star that I will be getting! Thank you to La La in the Library for the $25 Amazon gift card to celebrate her blogoversary! And thanks to Goddess Fish Promotions and all the authors involved in the Paranormal Bar & Grille Blog Tour for the $50 Amazon gift card! You all probably hate me now lol, but I’m so excited. Pretty much the only way I get new books is when I get review copies, when I win them, or when I get Amazon gift cards, and I’ve been rationing the gift card I got last Christmas and mostly saving it for when new books come out in my favorite series. So now maybe I can splurge on something.

But oh! Don’t hate me too much because I’m going to be hosting a giveaway soon! Anyone who was interested in my review of Mad God Walking, be sure to check back in the coming weeks for that.

In other news, I noticed that Amazon went back to showing ALL the reviews, not just verified purchase one (at least for books, I didn’t look at any other products), so that’s good news for us reviewers.

Lastly, I might be changing a couple things on my blog, but I want a little input first because if lots of people really like these things, I’ll consider keeping them.

1) I’m going to remove most of the book tags (all that metadata in the box at the end of my book reviews). The way it’s set up, all I have to do is check boxes, but the time it takes adds up in the long run when you consider I post 2-3 reviews a week, and I don’t know if anyone uses them (I’ve only had two people mention them). I’ll probably just keep author, publisher, genre, sexual orientation, disability, non-human creatures, other (that one include circus, I can’t get rid of my circus tag!), and extra love (since that one marks which books are my favorite, have my favorite characters, etc.). I might keep the setting too since I like reading books set in different countries.

2) I might stop writing my own book descriptions for the book review intros and just use the official ones. Again, time.

3) I might change my homepage and archives to look like this:

New Homepage Layout

I actually love how it looks now, so I’m hesitant to change it to this :-/ but it would also save me a bit of time in the long run.

What do you think of all these changes? Any objections?

Books I Received for Review:

No new review copies! Aren’t you guys proud of me?

Books I Finished:

Black Snow by EAB | reading, books

This looks kind of sad, I know. I usually read at least two books. I’ve been stressed and busy though. And to be fair, Black Snow was 500 pages. But I loved it! I’m still torn between 4 and 4.5 stars. So at least the one book I read last week was a good one.

Song of the Week:

No song this week.

In Case You Missed It:

– I shared book covers featuring haunted houses.
– I reviewed Mad God Walking by Connor Drexler, an urban fantasy with strong friendship and an interesting non-human protag.
– I mused on some possible reasons for why we love pretty covers so much.
– I reviewed The Moonlight Market by Aidee Ladnier, a book with character growth, romance, a bit of magic, and circus.

The Sunday Post Link-Up:

Once again, I’m linking up to The Sunday Post at Caffeinated Book Reviewer πŸ™‚


Talk to me!

Did you find any good books or music last week?
How was your Halloween?
Do you have any thoughts about the changes I might be making?


Your Thoughts


42 thoughts on “The Weekly Update: 11/6/16

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  1. Greg

    Congrats on the giveaways! Three in a week- that’s awesome. From A Distant Star looks kinda good! It sounds like maybe Amazon is sorting their issues out? That would be nice. I don’t post over there so I haven’t really been tuned in, but I’ve been considering it.

    Good luck with the changes if you do them. I use the tags sometimes if I want more info on a book, maybe 50/50? And I like the current look but the new way doesn’t look bad.

    I didn’t read much either this week, it was a slow week for reading but I blame Netflix too. Yeah that’s it. πŸ™‚

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! I won both the gift cards just yesterday, in the same day lol. Quite the surprise. And From a Distant Star does sound good! It does seem like Amazon is sorting things out, so that’s good.

      Hmmm. If more people tell me they use those tags sometimes too, I might just keep them. I do like the current look of the homepage, but all the extra little things I do all combined does add up to extra time.

      Well at least I’m not the only one who had a slow reading week. Yeah, Netflix sounds good, let’s blame that. I don’t even have Netflix, but whatever, I blame it anyway πŸ˜›

  2. Annemieke

    Oh wow! Congrats on winning all those giveaways. It is always the best feeling. πŸ˜€

    Nothing wrong with using the official synopsis. Lots of us do that. I tried writing my own for a bit but it was just too time consuming. I’d rather spend time on typing out my thoughts which is what most will skip to anyway (looking at myself anyway).

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! The giveaways made me so happy!

      Honestly, the reason I’ve always used my own synopsis is for SEO. I do feel like my synopsis gives a better explanation of the book sometimes, but if it were just for that reason, I wouldn’t be so hesitant.

  3. Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    Congrats on all your wins, Kristen! That’s totally awesome πŸ™‚ And getting to buy some new books you really want before Christmas is nice πŸ™‚
    I used to write my own summaries for books in my reviews before, too, but I stopped doing that over a year ago – it just wasn’t worth it anymore. And frankly, I feel like a lot of people might not even read the summary all the way through.
    I think you should make the blog the easiest and the most good looking for you! as you probably spend more time here than any of your blogger friends πŸ˜‰ And as long as everything is easy to read we’ll all come back.

    1. Kristen Burns


      Honestly I write my own summaries more for SEO purposes than anything, though I do try to keep them short so that maybe people will read them (I know the reason I usually skip summaries is because they’re just so dang long).

      I know, I don’t feel like I need approval to change things, it’s just that what’s easiest and what I think is prettiest don’t coincide, and I’m just really indecisive so I need help deciding lol. But thanks, I know you’re all not going to abandon me just because I change something πŸ™‚

  4. Samantha

    I like the look of your home page/archives now! I understand changing the other stuff. I have tried to streamline my review process as much as possible because when it was super time consuming, I don’t have as much time to read!
    Congrats on the wins! Thats totally awesome! You should buy a lotto ticket-its your lucky week!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks πŸ™‚ I like how it is now too which I don’t want to change it, but idk. Maybe I’ll just change the review stuff instead.

      Thanks! Damn, you’re right, I should buy a lotto ticket, haha.

  5. sjhigbee

    I understand why you have decided to slim down the tags and quite understand – and ditto the descriptions. However, I personally like your homepage the way it is now, rather than your proposed change. Obviously if it saves you significant time I understand, though. Take care and have a great week.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks, it does seem people like the homepage, and I like it too to be honest. I might just change the review stuff instead. That’ll at least save some time. Thanks, you have a great week too!

  6. Tanya Patrice

    Woohoo! Congrats on winning the giveaways, and I like the look you’re going for with the homepage and archives … but also like how it looks now – so whatever saves on some time! That’s how I’ve had to roll lately, and time savings keeps the stress levels down πŸ™‚

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! And thanks for the input πŸ™‚ Exactly, I feel like I need to change *something* just to make things a little simpler so that I have time for everything!

  7. Lola

    Wow congrats on winning all those giveaways and such good prizes as well! And I know the feeling about getting new books as I am in the same situation. I don’t really have any money to spare and when I win an amazon gift card I try and get the books I want most. I only just spend some of my birthday money on a pre-order as that was the book I wanted most at the moment. So winning a giveaway is always a big deal for me too. My current amazon gift card money is getting low, so I keep hoping I win a giveaway again soon. Enjoy your prizes and I hope you can get some new great books with the gift card money!

    Concerning the potential changes, I don’t really look at the tags too often, so I wouldn’t mind if you skip those if it saves you time. The new home page option looks good and you can see the whole picture that way. I think if these changes save you a lot of time in the long run it’s worth it. I sometimes add a bit of my own description to my review if I feel it’s necessary or as a way to start my review, but only if I feel like it. I always start my reviews with the blurb as most of the time that gives a good feel for the book and where it’s about. Although I do always liked your custom intro’s and always read them for your reviews and hardly read the blurb as that was on the bottom, but that might have to do with the way you formatted things as well.

    Looks like we had a similar reading week again! I only finished one book as well, lol. But I made good progress with my current reads. I did got three new books this week, but they were all books I really wanted. And I accepted another review request, but didn’t receive that book yet. Glad to hear the book you read was at least a good one, that already makes up for a lot and it still feels like a good reading week if you enjoyed the book you read. Have a great week!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! And yeah, you understand me with the not-being-able-to-afford-books thing lol. Winning Amazon GCs is the best!

      Yeah, so far in the comments only Greg has mentioned using the tags sometimes. So that makes three people who use them lol. I actually formatted my posts that way for better SEO, plus I know that I usually don’t read blurbs for the mere reason that they’re so long. So when I write my own, I keep them short. But idk.

      Haha how are we always so in sync? I’m about halfway through Damned If I Do now. I don’t dislike it, but I don’t really feel invested so far :-/ But I’m still giving it a chance. And it does feel like a good reading week as long the book was good, even if I only read one! Thanks, you have a great week too!

  8. Lampshade Reader

    Congrats on your wins! I love giveaways lol

    I like those changes but in the end it all comes down to what’s easiest for you. Props for writing your own book descriptions, but dang that does take time. I just use the official synopsis and go from there.

    Halloween was spent watching Vincent Price movies and eating junk food πŸ™‚

    Hope you have a great week! ~Aleen

    1. Kristen Burns


      Thanks for your input πŸ™‚ I know it’s ultimately my decision, but I’m so indecisive that I need people’s opinions just to help me decide lol. But yeah, writing my own descriptions does take time :-/

      Nice! Sounds like a great Halloween weekend πŸ˜€ You have great week too!

  9. Kei @ The Lovely Pages Reviews

    I remember From A Distant Star, got it from NetGalley, really interesting! I used to not include book synopsis at all and then I just added the official ones, time management is key when it comes to book reviews, thankfully custom templates have minimized the time it takes for me to set up a new review post, you should definitely use the official synopsis, save the time for the actual review. As for your changes, I like the new look πŸ™‚

    1. Kristen Burns

      It does sound interesting, that’s good to know that you enjoyed it! Yeah, it would be nice to save on some time :-/ but I feel like using my own description is better for SEO, so that’s why I’m undecided about that one. But yes, I also use custom stuff to make my book review posts easier. And thanks πŸ™‚

  10. La La in the Library

    I like when the home page has just the intro and a “read more” for each post because when I go to a blog I will usually comment on more than one post, and it is easy to scroll through and see what I might like to read, so I am all in favor of the above layout. Tell me what mantra you were using last week for all your giveaway wins! Ha ha. Congratulations. It was cold here, on Halloween so most of the kid’s had their costumes covered up wth coats. I love seeing their costumes, so it was a little disappointing. I say you get credit for two books because Black Snow was 500 pages. Have a fantastic week. πŸ™‚

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks for your input πŸ™‚ Haha I have no idea how I ended up having such a lucky week. If I could figure it out, I’d keep doing it too πŸ˜› Thanks again for your giveaway though! Aww that’s unfortunate for the kids. I agree, Black Snow should totally count as two books since 250 pages is definitely a normal length for a book! That’s why I don’t feel too bad about only reading one lol. You have a great week too!

  11. S. J. Pajonas

    Do whatever it is you need to do to save time. So yes to cutting back on tags and I’m fine with your homepage however you want it. I actually don’t go there anymore! Lol. I just come in from my RSS reader to the post.

    And how awesome that you won all of those giveaways!! I don’t hate you. πŸ™‚ You deserve them. <3

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks, I know I don’t need approval or anything, but I’m just so indecisive :-/ But I’m sure no one’s actually going to abandon me just because I change the homepage or anything. And lol yeah most blogs I regularly follow I never actually see the homepage either.

      Thanks! And aww, you’re so sweet πŸ˜€

  12. ShootingStarsMag

    I think all of those changes sound just fine – especially if it makes it easier/less time-consuming for you! I end up summarizing the books in my reviews anyway, but I DO use the official summary just in case. I find it’s easier and I don’t feel like my summary has to have too many details.

    I didn’t do anything for Halloween really as I had to work until 6.30. I brought donuts in though and that was a hit!


    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks πŸ™‚ I currently use both my own summary and the official summary too. I just keep my own one shorter and kind of more to the point.

      Aww sorry you had to work, but donuts make everything better!

  13. Deborah

    Congrats on your wins!

    I use a plug-in for my book reviews and it means I save time on the book blurbs as I just use what’s loaded onto there.

    I have to admit though, I sometimes read old reviews and miss my own wrap-ups… but it meant I’d spend half of the time on the blurb and then I’d be exhausted by the time I got to my own thoughts about the book.

    1. Kristen Burns


      I actually use both the publisher’s blurb and my own description, but yeah, sometimes it’s just a lot of work thinking of my own even though I think I do a pretty good job sometimes πŸ˜‰

  14. Di @ Book Reviews by Di

    Wow! Well done on winning all the things! πŸ™‚ That’s awesome.

    Personally I like seeing blogs that I don’t have to scroll too far to find posts, so the potentially new layout suits my browsing habits better. Also – I’m in two minds about writing your own synopsis – it can be a good thing and when reading reviews it can give you a different POV of the entire book, but it IS so time consuming (I don’t do it) AND sometimes the author/publishers have a certain slant they want you to start off with for the book and some are very deliberately vague. So… I don’t know. I think leave it to a stock synopsis and spend more time on the actual review.

    My Halloween was not quite as expected – instead of sitting at home curled up with the husband in front of the TV while I read a book I was actually out walking a colicky horse all hours of the night. At least I had a couple of black cats keeping me company! Thankfully the sick horse is now looking fine and all is well. But I was a bit slow on the reading front last week. πŸ™‚

    Hope you’re having a great week this week!

    1. Kristen Burns


      I get what you’re saying, it does take longer to scroll through my block how it is now. But yeah, I’m torn about the synopsis thing. It would take less time just to use the official ones :-/ But vague ones aggravate me as a reader lol.

      Aww sorry about the horse, but I’m glad he(she?) is feeling better now. But hey, black cats, that’s fitting for Halloween πŸ˜‰

      Thanks, you have a great week too!

  15. Maureen's Books (@MaureenHinten)

    Congrats on winning those three giveaways. That’s amazing.
    I’ll definitely go with the official book descriptions. It will probably save you a lot of time, and I for one wouldn’t mind reading the official one instead of your personal one.
    Have a great week and happy reading!

    1. Kristen Burns


      Yeah, it would save me time. Sometimes I do get tempted to just post the official one in my intro when I can’t figure out what to say.

      You have a great week too!

  16. Jessica

    I didn’t do anything for Halloween either. I found out that the vampire porn book I had on hold on Overdrive disappeared. I panicked and thought about using my Amazon gifts that I’m supposed to be saving up for a duvet to get the book. Then I found a pdf of the book so I don’t have to buy it. I put the next book on hold and it came available yesterday. It is The Killing Dance by Laurell K Hamilton. Also, I finished reading Relic. I will be reading the sequel soon.

    I like your own descriptions of the books.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Oh no that’s weird that the book disappeared :-/ I’m glad you were able to finish Relic though, and enjoy your current and new books πŸ™‚

      Thanks for your input!

  17. Jane @ Raincity Librarian

    Sometimes no life news is good news, right?

    I don’t see a problem with using the publisher’s book synopsis – we’re here to read your reviews anyway, right? You need to maximize your efficiency, so you can continue to publish great reviews, so saving a bit of time and effort where you can sounds like a good idea.

    Blog changes always make me nervous, but I try to remind myself that I can always go back if I don’t like how it turns out! πŸ˜‰

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yes, no news is better than bad news!

      Yeah, I think I do need to maximize my efficiency better. Except I can’t really go back on any of these changes, and I’m super indecisive, so that makes it more nerve-wracking, haha.

  18. AngelErin

    Hooray for winning books! That’s always such a great feeling. Also, I can understand why you’re changing the things you are on your blog. Sounds fine by me, but of course do what you want anyway! ❀️?

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! It’s always the best winning giveaways πŸ™‚ And yeah, I mean, I know it’s ultimately up to me what I do with my blog, it’s just that I’m really horribly indecisive and need help deciding things lol.