The Looooong and the Short of It: March 2020 Wrap-Up Post and Looking Forward to April

Posted April 4, 2020 by Lisa Mandina in End of the month post / 10 Comments

So, wow. Do we really want to talk about March? About how things started out mostly normal. I was looking forward to my first trip to California, taking my niece and nephew to LegoLand over Spring Break. But then the week before that, things went crazy. Coronavirus or COVID-19 came in and swept away the world as we knew it. My spring break plans changed to a cabin in Branson for part of the week. Still got to see my niece and nephew though, which is nice, because now with social distancing, the closest I get is Facetiming. During my spring break week the governor of the state of Kansas canceled in-class school for the rest of the year, and I am a school librarian in Kansas. The state I live in, Missouri, took a while to come around, and I think they are still saying they might go back in May.

My complaint about immediately getting scheduled back at the bookstore for every Friday and Saturday night in March soon changed because of all of that, in fact, I got laid off. Because I was still in the system as seasonal, something my manager had told me wasn’t a thing with the company anymore, I got laid off instead of furloughed. Which means I’ll have to reapply if/when they reopen and if/when they need people to work. Who knows if I’ll have to go back in at the base salary, which is like $3 less an hour than I was making, and if I’ll get my 15 years of time with the company still part of my background.

Fortunately, most of the two or three weeks we’ve been in self-isolation/staying at home, the weather has been pretty nice, very much the spring weather I could hope for. So I’ve been able to sit outside in my fenced back yard and let my dogs play. Of course today, April 4th, as I write this, winter decided to poke its head back in for a day or two and we’ve had freezing temps.

Okay, well, I’ll be spending a lot of time online now that I’m working from home, no guilt if I decide to work on my blog during the “work day hours”. I’ve also been getting a lot of reading done, but my audiobook listening is going way down. But let’s get to the reading/book part of this post, shall we?

Once again I only got 17 books read. However, since one of those was almost 700 pages, I’m going with that was good. And for a while I was having trouble reading when all this started, so that was a win to get that many as well. Fortunately according to my Goodreads goal, I am exactly on track, barely, I know I’ve been one behind off and on this past week. All but two of the books I read last month were reviewed last month. And those two have now been reviewed as of today. I’m also caught up on all reviews except for one short story that I read in February.

March Reviews:

I mentioned doing a DNF post last month, and I did, but I don’t know that I had any DNF books in March, so may not have one of those coming up. But here is The DNF Report for January and February.

While I’ve tried to cut back on posts, actually I think being home is not going to help with that. I may be posting even more. I had 38 posts in March, compared to the 34 I did in February. Although I am still working hard to not overschedule myself with the reviews.


I didn’t get anything from my backlist done again this past month, although I am still working on one that I started. I also did well with getting through three ARCs in a row that were sitting on my TBR pile for my new release ARCs, and I actually read them just this past week. One of them I almost might have skipped without having all the extra time I do right now, but I’m glad I read it, because it was really good!

  1. Blogging – well, I’m slowly but surely getting the hang of WordPress. Learning more and being able to figure more things out without a lot of help. While I mentioned I’m still not doing great at keeping my number of posts lower, I am making sure to keep up on my weekly posts:

Lisa’s Looking Forward To:

Cleaning Up My TBR:

So I’ve decided that I’m not going to do the giveaway post every week any more. Like I said, the same people enter over and over and so it’s just me deciding who to give it to because of that. Plus, I’ve cleaned out a lot of my extra books anyway. I think I’ll just do giveaways of what I have at other times, maybe with my end of the month posts or when I review that specific book, etc. We’ll see. And I’m going to continue going through my Goodreads TBR, just on my own without keeping track.

2. So, for my reading goals I mentioned the Goodreads goal above. Also, in my original sign-up for this challenge, I said that I was going to work on reading the ARCs that I got at conventions and stuff. I’ve mentioned how I’m doing on those. I thought last month that I’d be going to the ALA summer convention this year and get a ton more ARCs. However that has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So now I’m just hoping that I can get the ARCs I really want! This week I’ve read almost one book a day, except for one or two days when the book I was reading might have been a little intense, or I had Zoom meetings that I had to do for work. If I keep that up, I’ll definitely make my yearly goal if not go past it. I did do what I tole myself I wouldn’t do and sign up for four reviews this week! I finished one of those books this morning, it is due for review for the blog tour on Tuesday, the others are due Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, so I need to get going!

3. So, I ended up not only getting my short story ready to go, ready enough for me anyway, but last night I submit it in e-book form to Amazon! I am still working on getting the paperback ready to submit, but that cover is different so I’m working on it. Since I’m using a pen name for my romance books, I’ve got to figure out an author bio for that, as well as maybe what picture to use? I watched a YouTube live with several YA authors this past week and it got me inspired to work on my YA Cinderella retelling, or get it fixed up and maybe start shopping it out to agents. So now I’m debating whether to do that, or continue to work on the story that I want to submit for the Penny Reid SmartyPants Romance universe. It is Camp NaNoWriMo, and I’ve written nothing so far!

Looking Forward to in April:

Hmm, what am I looking forward to in April? Well, I guess I don’t have to worry about any work, the bookstore or my library job keeping me from sitting outside and enjoying the weather, which I hope continues to be spring-like after this little cool down this weekend. I hope to get lots of reading done, and maybe some writing too? I should maybe get over to my storage spot and bring things to my house to go through them. One issue with that though, is that I can’t donate to Goodwill because I think they’re closed, and that is what I’d want to do. And obviously I can’t have a garage sale either. 🙁

Okay, here is my proposed TBR based on my blog tours and ARCs that I have:

  1. Wicked as You Wish by Rin Chupeco – finishing up this ARC that I started last month
  2. Ashes by Aleatha Romig – this is what I finished this morning and will be posting a review for a tour on April 7th
  3. Love By Design by Katy Ames – another book in the 425 Madison Ave series that I’ll be posting a review as part of a tour on April 9th
  4. One Moment Please by Amy Daws – this one I added in last minute, but there was no way I was missing out on the chance to read this one!
  5. Big Pickle by J.J. Knight – reading and posting a review for a blog tour on April 11th
  6. Been There Done That by Hope Ellis – this is one in the SmartyPants Romance world that I can’t wait to read! I’ll be posting as part of a blog tour on April 16th
  7. Incendiary by Zoraida Cordova – I got an ARC of this from a fellow blogger on Twitter, and I hope to read it and review it on April 19th
  8. The Treble with Men by Piper Sheldon – another in the SmartyPants Romance world, I’ll be posting as part of a blog tour on April 21st
  9. Heartless King by Maya Hughes – just got the email on this one to add in, it releases on April 23rd, so probably I’ll have to post on that day too?
  10. My Year of Saying No by Maxine Morrey – reading for a blog tour and reviewing on April 24th
  11. Finding Balance by Kati Gardner – I got an ARC of this at ALA, and I think I’ll be reading it. Hoping to post a review on April 26th.
  12. Cutie and the Beast by M.E. Carter – another in the SmartyPants Romance world, and I’ll be reviewing for a blog tour on April 28th
  13. Wet by Stacy Kestwick – started last month from my TBR pile, hope to get it done!
  14. The Truth About Keeping Secrets by Savannah Brown – another ARC I got from the publishers, wasn’t sure if I’d read it, but I’m going to try to fit it in.
  15. The First Date by Zara Stoneley – for a book tour that I’ll post the review on May 1st
  16. Four Days of You and Me by Miranda Kenneally – an ARC I got from the publisher. It doesn’t come out till the first week of May, but I’ll try to get it read by the Sunday before it comes out if I can.

So I don’t know what other books I might throw in. I mean above is basically one book every two days, but if I keep reading at the rate I have been, there will be more books thrown in. I need to find a way to listen to audiobooks while I’m home, since I usually listen to them in the car on my way to and from work, and that’s not happening anymore.

Not sure if I’m looking forward to April, just looking forward to hopefully people staying home or at least doing better with the social distancing when they have to go out, and all of this ending soon. I’m hoping that at the end of May, on Memorial Day weekend, I’ll still be able to go to Branson with my family for our annual trip. But I don’t know how the world is going to be at that time, so it’s only a hope at this time.

How was your March? How are you dealing with all this craziness? Is it affecting your reading at all? Are you looking forward to anything in April?

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10 responses to “The Looooong and the Short of It: March 2020 Wrap-Up Post and Looking Forward to April

  1. I’m sorry to hear that you got laid off. It seems like coronavirus is showing a lot of the holes we have in different businesses and the country as a whole. I hope you can find something once this whole mess is over.

    Congrats on your 17 books! I definitely have been struggling with motivation and energy this month. My month started off hectic and then it got thrown for a loop with schools going out but since I’m not a teacher, I hadn’t heard from my district or boss about what I should be doing with my time out of school.

    Congrats on getting so many posts done this month. I’m trying to cut off doing multiple posts in one day as well, but I think I had like 45 this month. Whoops!

    Sharrice @Reese’s Reviews

    • Lisa Mandina

      Did you find out what you’ll be doing? I know my district has promised to still pay all the employees for the rest of the school year even though our schools are out. I hope your school does the same!

      • I am working from home so they’re still paying me. I’m not working as many hours since I don’t have as much work, but as of right now, we aren’t out for the rest of the year, just until May 18th. So dumb since we’ll only have 10 days until the last day of school, but whatever.

        • Lisa Mandina

          Wow, that is crazy, if you’re going to be out until May 18th, why not just call the year done? At first I thought it was crazy to cancel for the rest of the school year and go online already in March. But my district has taken the last two weeks to get ready for starting tomorrow. So I guess that makes sense. I’m glad you’re still getting paid and are able to work from home.

  2. That’s so crazy about the bookstore job – I’m sorry about that. My dad was laid off for a month or two, but we’re hoping he can go back in at LEAST two months. I’m working from home, which I’m very thankful I can do. It’s a weird weird time. I’m slowly getting back to reading more, but I know that I want to try and do some other things to fill my time too like catching up on shows and movies, doing some fun craft projects. etc.


    • Lisa Mandina

      I did email the new Barnes and Noble CEO, and he replied that same day that he agreed they should allow us to come back at where we left, so we’ll see what happens. I don’t need the bookstore job to survive, it just helped me to be able to do more things and have more things than I could on my educator’s salary. I’m learning to work at home now too, as a school librarian, I want to do all I can to make them see I’m helpful! Thanks for stopping by!

      • Glad you were able to get some assurances that you’ll be able to go back to B&N and not lose the status you’d already built up—that would be a real shame!! And I’m glad the school is still paying you. Since it gets its money from taxes (which have already been paid), that makes sense!

        • Lisa Mandina

          Yeah, and we are still expected to be available for students and teachers as librarians, so I’m kind of doing work still. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Danielle Hammelef

    For a month of anxious days with new sadness each day, I am impressed with your blog posts and books read! I wish our weather would be at least normal so being quarantined would be much better as I love having windows open/going for walks. I’m sorry about your bookstore job and I hope when this mess is contained, your employer will still be in business and hire you back at the same rate. My parents live in MO, so I get all the weather updates from them, and I’m so glad MO issued a stay at home order finally.

    • Lisa Mandina

      Yeah, the weather is up and down here! We’re back in winter for the weekend I guess. A freeze warning for overnight. But next week should be back to spring weather thank goodness. Thanks for stopping by!

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