What Does NovelKnight Look Like in 2019?

In which I try to rediscover my love of book blogging

POSTED ON January 1, 2019 BY Austine IN General

Real talk.

I spent the majority of 2018 stressing and anxious over posting ARC reviews in a timely manner, trying to cover all the books sent my way to help those authors out, and every time I failed to meet that deadline I got a little more stressed, a little more anxious. My mental health went spiraling down the drain until the last couple months of the year when I all but shut down, stopped reading, stopped blogging for the most part. All of it.

I just. . . stopped.

Blogging lost its joy. Hell, reading did too. I’ve become so critical of everything I read that I can’t just sit down and enjoy something anymore.

It’s my fault. I let the pressure of ARCs weigh down on me and put me in this tizzy. And I love ARCs, I do. I love that I can read a book early and shout to the world about it because that’s publicity for the author. And when I don’t get to a book on time, I feel like I’ve let that author down. It’s not even about the publishers. Ultimately the author is writing the story and that’s the story I’m critiquing in my reviews, the one I’m either promoting or letting slide after a not-so-great read.

So. Much. Pressure.

Talking about it now, like this, has been the first time in a LONG time that I’ve been able to write a blog post without staring at a blank page. And that’s the feeling I want to get back to.

For months I’ve contemplated quitting the book blogging world altogether, sticking to social media and maybe even dropping a few of those pages too. But there’s a part of me that still loves doing this and wants to find that again, and a hiatus isn’t going to help that. A change will.

Or several changes.


Let’s just change ALL the things!



Not another re-design

Yes, my friends, another re-design. Because apparently I don’t get Branding.

I put the current theme into place about a month ago to see how I liked it and I think it suits. And yes, it’s yet another change in the ever-revolving door of NovelKnight themes. But this change has more to do with examining my reading habits and how I want to change and expand my reading moving forward.

My blog is not just about fantasy (and sci-fi) anymore. When I started NovelKnight, speculative fiction was my primary genre to read, review, and talk about. I have the word “knight” in my blog name as a nod to my fave, high fantasy. But I’ve been consuming romances like no other lately, and covering them on the blog. I’m damn determined to find more contemporary books that I like because right now the list can be counted on one hand. The blog has expanded and that’s a good thing but it means the dragons and castles and such just don’t encompass everything.

There’s also the new tagline.

NK has had a tagline for a while now but it was never in the banner and didn’t really show up anywhere, but now it has a new one to match my drive to read what I own.

Go read your shelf.

Combining my love for swearing and books all in one! But in all seriousness, I host a backlist reading challenge, I own far too many unread books, it’s time to focus on them before I get so backlogged I can’t dig myself back out. Which leads me to a bit of a dynamic change. . .


ARCs are no longer a priority

I can’t keep letting ARCs dictate my reading. I’m a mood reader and frankly, I’m busy. I just started a new job in September that takes up a lot of my time and when I get home, the last thing I want to do is more work which is what the blog has become in my mind.

I have books for review still, both ones I’ve requested and ones I haven’t. I’ll try to get to those in a timely manner but if I don’t, I’ll still post a review. It may be pre-release, it may be post-release. I’m not “scheduling” my reading anymore. All it’s done is made me enjoy books less when I try to read something I’m not in the mood for, and all that stress and whatnot.

I should have done this years ago. I regret not doing it years ago. I will still be reviewing ARCs here, and posting about them on social media. But they’re not taking reading priority just because they’re unreleased.


New rating format!

2019 also means I’m rolling out a new rating format. For years I’ve had this idea that I should write at least 500 words for a review. An arbitrary number that seems to work. Not too short, not too long. And it kind of sucks now. And my rating has to fit the star rating systems that you see a lot online. But it’s not working for me.

I’ll be doing things a bit differently.

I plan to start letting myself write shorter reviews when I just don’t have as much to say about a book and calling them “mini” reviews. Same format for everything, just a little header that says “Mini Review” vs “Review.”

The rating report will stay mostly the same but there won’t be any overall ratings anymore. I have to put stars in on Amazon and Goodreads but for the blog, it will be more general.

  • Loved it! For those books that I recommend to everyone, highly enjoyable, definitely worth checking out.
  • Liked it. It was a good book, it didn’t WOW me but it was decent and might be worth adding to your TBR if it’s of interest.
  • Good, but not for me. I’ve found that a lot of books I’ve read lately have been good books that I would recommend to others, but not books I enjoyed myself. This happens a lot when I’m reading outside my usual genres and a low rating shouldn’t deter someone from reading these books because of one reader’s experience.
  • Do not recommend. For the books that were a waste of time, the ones that I don’t think anyone should be reading, the ones that I didn’t finish and don’t think it was because of me, one final category.

I’m still finalizing the rating change since it requires altering a few things and coming up with graphics and all that jazz, but I hope to roll it out by the end of January at the latest (hopefully sooner)!

I’ve come to really hate the star rating system but it has its uses for quick viewing like on Goodreads and Amazon. But NovelKnight is neither of those sites so I want to write reviews that are addressing the fact that a 3-star rating does NOT mean a book is bad.


And some other goals. . .

Earlier in December, I made a list of a bunch of goals I have for 2019. It’s kind of ridiculously long, I realize, but go big or go home, right?

. . . right?

You can check out all the details on the post but the super quick summary version is:

  • read 100 books, hopefully at least half are backlist (published pre-2019)
  • post regularly on the blog
  • do some reading challenges

So. That was a lot. Not sure I’ve written a post this long in months. But I want to start this new year off right with transparency on what I’m trying to do here on the blog and what I want to accomplish moving forward!

Let’s Chat!

Is there anything you’re hoping to accomplish in the new year?


Never miss another book recommendation!

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23 responses to “What Does NovelKnight Look Like in 2019?

  1. Im so proud of you!!
    I’ve decided to take a break of arcs aswell, as it was what I was reading ALL. THE. TIME.. and yeah. i wanted to start digging on my own shelves instead..

    I also really like your rating method- thats pretty much how mine works, but I see it on a 5stars method. I’d just add the « love it! », « liked it.. » and etc. Besides my number of stars..

    i sincerely wish you’ll regain fully your love of books and blogging 💕 wishing you the best with everything xx

    • ❤❤ It hasn’t even been a full day but it feels good. I mean, I still plan to try and review the ARCs I have for upcoming releases in a timely manner if I can, but I don’t want to stress over them anymore either.

      I have my rating system outlined in the sidebar on all my review posts but feel like my 3 stars especially are all over the place. If I can simplify that , it’ll be nice though setting that up in my blog system is another matter. . .

      Thank you!! ❤

  2. I actully want to take back control of my reading. I have shelves and shelves of books but i tend to head to the library to get the latest and newest rather then pulling from my collection. which is a good thing as library should be used rather then just buying another book for my shelf. I did implement something new last year in 2018 i started borrowing audio book versions of books i own and listening to them. I gotten to a lot more backlisted books and i getting more read so while i am coloring or doing computer work i have an auidobook on. Now it does not always work especially if it a more detailed fantasy but for lighter reads or just to decide if i should keep that book it a route to go. Anyway i am excited to see what 2019 brings.

    • That’s a great way to get a few books off your TBR! I envy anyone who enjoys audiobooks (I can’t stand them lol, but they would be so helpful in getting through more books).

      I’ve been receiving a number of books for review lately so I end up reading those rather than what I own and it’s created overloaded shelves and dozens of filled boxes of unread books (I can’t resist a good sale on Book Outlet XD).

      Here’s to getting through our TBRs in the new year!

  3. I love your new tagline. It’s so fun! I am trying to do 50/50 with ARCs and backlist. I am having fun with that so far. I love my weekly post and I enjoy reading other people’s wrap-ups too. Good luck with everything. You have some fabulous ideas up there.

    • I’m aiming for 50/50 too this year! Or if one goes over, it better be backlist books 😂 Can’t wait to start putting some of this stuff into practice this year!

  4. Everything you’ve said in this post is why I stopped blogging 5-6 years ago. Why I’ve even barely read near as much as what I used to. The ARCs and pressures of blogging just became too much and took the joy out of everything. But recently the desire to read and blog has reappeared, but I’ll need to be like you and make sure I prioritize what I want to read, and not worry about deadlines.

    I wish you luck on that this year! Happy new year!

    • I’m finding that as soon as I made the mental decision to step back, a lot of that pressure suddenly lifted. It won’t be gone entirely until I get through my backlog of review stuff but it’s a start. And maybe that backlog will go faster with this mindset (I hope so at least).

      A happy new year to you as well, and I wish you luck with blogging and reading for 2019!

  5. Firstly, I love the new theme! Violet and green are two of my favourite colours! I’m hoping you feel much better. Blogging and ARC reading has definitely taken a toll on me as well, hence my hiatus. Taking care of yourself better this 2019 is an awesome and inspiring goal. I don’t think we talk enough about that in the blogging community! I’m very excited for your new blog segments! Honestly, backlisted books need more love 😀

    Once again, your blog looks very sophisticated. As for me, I’m still working on my own 2019 bookish goals 😀

    • I’ve used these colors before and always seem to come back to them or blue/brown! It’s a great combo!

      I definitely think blogger burnout is SO REAL and a lot of people deal with it but it doesn’t come up as often, like you said.

      Yes for the backlist book love! I know people are reading them but 9 times out of 10 when I get on social media I see new releases and ARCs which is great! But also. . . let’s talk older books? They’re often more accessible too so more people can discuss them!

      I wish you luck with your 2019 bookish goals, whatever those might be!!

    • I really enjoy reading and reviewing ARCs, it’s just become overwhelming because I took on too much and other stuff came up so it became overwhelming. Needs to be more of a balance.

  6. Jessi

    I 100% feel the same way as you do. I too spent most of 2018 pumped about ARCs, then super stressed and December I finished maybe 5 books because I just needed a serious break. In 2019 I plan to mood read, work on my blacklist/unread shelf, and get back to enjoying blogging.

    • I’m looking forward to a more “relaxed” reading year. I’m sure I’ll still request ARCs here and there, especially since NetGalley makes it so easy, but really want to keep it to a minimum until I’m caught up with what I have.

  7. Hallo, Hallo Austine,

    What is so wicked wonderful about this post is how we’re all shifting our readerly lives into a new chapter of our bookish blogs – meaning, I think I’ve come across more of us who are re-affirming our bookish lives to be separate from the previous routes we were taking as a book blogger. I, for one, understand how you can get snowed under a backlogue (one of my key focuses this year is to erase my own stack), I also know how hard it is to get into the books on our own shelves as much as those shelved at our local libraries we dearly want to read but do not yet own ourselves — for me, 2019 is the culmination of the Renaissance I undertook on #JLASblog 3x years ago. Moving into this New Year, I feel as positive and hopeful as you do! Where all the pieces are coming together and I can feel more confident/comfortable in where my reading + blogging life will end this next year.

    I can’t wait to dig into my #BeatTheBackList reads either – nor can I wait to share my last of 2018 posts… this Winter virus stalled me out for a bit but this week, I’m coming back stronger. Here’s to all of us finding hidden joys in blogging and reading – where we continue to sort out what is right for us and own the choices we’re making.

    PS: In regards to the theme(s) – I’ve loved them all!

  8. I’m sorry you got burned out but I am glad you are not quitting!! I hope these changes will help (they seem like they will 🙂 ) Good luck and I hope you have a great 2019 <3

  9. Kel

    Sounds like a good plan! I pulled out of the ARC/eARC game a couple years back because law school, time, etc., and I think it was one of the best things for my reading life. The pressure is real, and it kind of takes the fun out of it. Best of luck with the new blogging and reading goals!

  10. I’m also aiming for 100 books this year. I just counted and I own 398 unread books…and that is not okay! I need to bring that number down as much as humanly possible this year!

  11. Kudos to you! ARC’s are both rewarding and challenging. I’ve started limiting myself to 5 ARCs at any given time and giving up ARCs I find myself not enjoying. It’s helped me take the pressure off. And woohoo on romance! My genre of choice many moons ago was romance. I still tend to lean toward romances when I’m stressed. I recommend Jenn Bennett’s The Anatomical Shape of a Heart – young adult contemporary romance backlist title. I think that book hits meets some of your goals. 😉

  12. I really like the new design and a LOVE the new tagline!! And YAY for joining the no-star brigade. I was never a fan of the star rating, so I like to use a more general system for my reviews too.

    This year I am going to try to put more effort into blog hopping. Last year, I got so busy that my visits to fellow book bloggers fell off a cliff. I also upped my Goodreads reading goal for 2019, which means I have to try to read 2 books a month instead of my usual 1.

  13. I love the tones of this new theme- its all so pretty!

    At the end of the day, books are your hobby and the blog is YOUR space, and so for sure take all the time you need to fall back in love with it and make it reflect you.

    I for one am looking forward to seeing all your changes in motion 🙂