Selecting the next book is hard

Hola book lovers,

I guess this is going to be a little ramble about how picking out your next book is hard. This is inspired by my recent discussion, with me, in my head, about the advantages and disadvantages of reading a series.

Goodreads’ book suggestions based on your shelves are usually quite decent and one of the reasons my TBR is steadily growing. However, lately, the suggestions I receive are all the first book in a series. Today I found myself exasperated and overwhelmed by this. “Why?”, you ask. The crux of the matter is that once you read the first book, you generally read the second etc. That second book however then takes the spot of some other book meaning I jump down the rabbit hole of one series in exchange for not reading other books. In and of itself, that’s not a bad thing, but basically, for every first book I add, I essentially add all sequels to my TBR as well. This is probably all caused by the fact that I like to read serial books in a row as not to forget what happened in the previous book.

The big advantage of a series is that you can follow a beloved character for much longer. You get to know more about them. You get to bond with them deeper. Characters become your companions and friends. BUT you also sort of miss out on other characters and their stories. I have so many damn good books on my to-read shelf at Goodreads that I don’t want to NOT read them soon. I honestly struggle with this quite a bit. Right now, I am leaning toward not starting any new series, however, there is a multitude of them that good friends and trusted reviewers have recommended. Plus, as I am writing this, I realize that I have THREE first books ready to be picked up from my local library. AHHHHH!

How do you guys handle this? Are you big fans of series? Do you prefer to read stand-alone novels? Is there an ideal way to do both?

Help! I need help!


February fanfare



February has been a slow start. I think I was a bit worn out from January. But I got my groove back with my second book Wonder. It was a quick and very good read and sort of set the pace from there on. I got the chance to finally dive into a highly anticipated book – it had been on my short-list TBR since last year. I even broke my no-spend/shop your own shelf promise to purchase Never Let Me Go. I also got around to reading Krysten Ritter’s debut – another book I was super looking forward to. I have a total girl-crush on Krysten Ritter. She knits, she writes, she reads, and she is oh so sarcastic. Swoon!


Happiness (Aminatta Forna) ♠♠♠

119I had been looking forward to this novel for a while. The fox on the cover, the snowy scene really drew me in. The description sounded magical. Unfortunately, the book didn’t live up to my hype. At times it felt like Americanah. At times it felt like The Trees. Both books were amazing and both had super important messages. Happiness had all that but somehow Forna failed to execute it in a memorable way. I had to trudge through the story at times. Honestly, I can’t put my finger on why I felt so underwhelmed because the individual parts were good – complex characters, every-day life situations, great writing, and a purpose. I wonder if I read this book again another time if I would feel completely differently about it?


Wonder (R.J. Palacio) ♠♠♠♠♠



This book is special. I believe everyone should read it, no matter their age. We can all learn something from it. I tip my hat to Palacio for being inspired and writing this novel.




Wintersong (S. Jae-Jones) ♠♠♠♠



Gah, Erlkönig. I’ve loved you since middle school! Goethe’s poem was one of my favorites we discussed in class. I am such a sucker for the dark and romantic nature of antiheroes/villains. I love me a good story about someone I should be scared of, but deep down admire. Jae-Jones did a great job taking German folk tales and weaving them into her novel. Her characters are complex and different. Her writing has an ethereal nature to it. Big thumbs up! You should read this book.



Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro) ♠♠♠♠

122This book was highly anticipated by me. I had received several recommendations for it and had originally planned to read it for the Popsugar Challenge 2017, but never got around to it. When I saw it in my local bookstore right before a weekend planned to be spent at a remote cabin, I couldn’t help myself and just had to buy it. And I am glad I did. I really enjoyed this story. It was different. Although it is technically sci-fi, it reads much more like a character study. The novel itself has some of my favorite features: unreliable character √, weird dystopian society √, a wide variety of emotions √, and some beautiful scenic descriptions √. This is a slow paced book. We only learn about slivers of the narrator’s past here and there, but that really kept me engaged. I definitely understand why Kazuo Ishiguro was recently awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. I can’t wait to read more books by him. I also added the movie to my to-watch-list. I’ve heard good things about that one as well.


Bonfire (Krysten Ritter) ♠♠♠

123Confession time. I have a HUGE, HUUUUUUGE (I tell ‘ya) girl-crush on Krysten Ritter ever since Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23. I wish there would’ve been more seasons. Anyhow, ever since then, I’ve followed Ritter’s IG account like a lovestruck puppy. The fact that she knits (one of my big obsessions) made everything about her better. When I heard she was working on her first novel, I couldn’t wait to get my grubby little hands on the book. And yes, it took me actually a while to read it once I received it in the mail because I was nervous that I would be disappointed. Well … It wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, but it also wasn’t the worst. Bonfire is a fluff read – it’s fast and entertaining but not memorable. I think my major issue with it is that Ritter, in my opinion, missed two important opportunities. 1) She could’ve broken the mold and made one of the female characters the main villain (what a trope that the one I am talking about in the end only did what she did for affection from a man, gag!) and 2) she should’ve let the heroine die. At the point of the almost-fatal incident, we, the readers, already know everything about the crime and the crime motives, but letting the heroine die would’ve made for a good unresolved feeling without being left completely in the dark. Had Ritter done those two things, I could’ve easily overlooked the somewhat immature writing and often told, rather than shown, storyline. In fact, I would’ve thought this book to be very relevant for today’s society. Too bad that didn’t happen and as such this novel is rather a poolside, guilty pleasure read than a critical literary piece. But hey, we can’t be perfect at everything, right? My swooning for Ritter has not diminished.


Final Girls (Riley Sager) ♠♠♠

124I feel like I’ve heard people hailing this thriller in the lines of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train – I loved the first and hated the second. So, yeah, this was kind of a predictor for this book, because I just feel meh about Final Girls. I can’t even really put my finger on why except that the pace was too slow for a gripping thriller and that I found myself wishing on several occasions that I’d rather be reading the actual story about what happened at the cabin to Quincy than the flashbacks to it. Her current life was boring. The friendship with the other final girls was implausible. The only saving grace was toward the end when the twists and turns sped up a bit, although none of them really came as a surprise. I am not saying you shouldn’t read the book. I’m just saying you should read it as a fluff read, without expectations.

January jackpot




I am trying a new thing this year. I am going to draft this blog post as I move along in my readings to jot down my summaries and thoughts while they’re still fresh and to try to write a little every day. As I said in a past post, my biggest reading goal for this year is to shop my own shelf. Thus far, 4 books into it, I have utterly failed as only one of them came from my own shelf. :p To put more pressure on myself and to keep me accountable, I will now indicate which of the books I read every month I actually own (the titles will be underlined). So here goes nothing ….


Sleeping Beauties (The Kings!) ♠♠♠♠♠


First of all, the cover art is absolutely to die for. But even better is the content. Feminism in books is utterly important. Feminism by male authors is plainly surprising. Feminism done by the two Kings is mind-boggling. How is it possible that they get women like that? How is it possible to craft such relatable, strong, and complex female leads?

The concept of this book is profound – what would the world be like without women?! The two authors set the scene in a realistic way albeit creating a fantastical world of two realms – one without women and one with only women. Each realm has their trial and tribulations, each their advantages and disadvantages. One woman might be at the center of it all – or is that just another ploy?

I loved reading this book. It took me a while. In fact, I started it in 2017. But besides the Dark Tower series, I haven’t read a Stephen King book that didn’t take me a while. You need to digest his storied, savor them, think about them, and best talk about them.


My Favorite Thing Is Monsters (Emil Ferris) ♠♠♠♠♠

107I can’t begin to describe how beautiful the illustrations in this graphic novel are. The detail and the color choices really define this book. On top of it, the concept of it being a notebook made me truly feel I am getting a glimpse into someone’s private thoughts and experiences. Karen’s struggles and ideas about the world seemed real. I could relate to her and her idea that being an immortal monster protects you from the harshness of real life. She’s not a reliable narrator which kept me engaged in the story. I saw everything through her eyes and felt everything the moment she felt it. This is a book I’d like to own one day. It’s a piece of art through and through. I can’t wait for the second installment as that ending is really a cliffhanger!


The Snow Child (Eowyn Ivey) ♠♠♠♠♠

108This novel had everything: magical descriptions, fairytale stories, strong characters, and beautiful language. The fact that the author never reveals whether or not the snow child was human or some fantastical being makes this story even more special. This is not a book with a surprise ending or really a lot of action. This is a book that lives on emotions, experiences, and the mundane all wrapped in a cocoon of poetic writing. Read it on a winter night. Read it when the world feels melancholic. Read it when you’re sad. Read it when you want to feel all the feels. This book is not the answer to life’s questions but it is an answer. It is one of those novels that you can read during any stage of your life and you will find something to relate to. This is a book in which you can get lost. It is a hopeful book, a wise one, a steady companion, and a friend to turn to. Eowyn Ivey has talent and we need more of it in our lives.


The Last Boyfriend (Nora Roberts) ♠♠♠♠

109This is the second book in Roberts’ Inn BoonsBoro series. Take all my reviews of her work with a grain of salt as I have a total soft spot for her in my heart. I quite enjoyed this book although I liked Clare and Beckett’s love story better than Avery and Owen’s. Don’t get me wrong, it felt real and believable but it didn’t feel magical. And when I read a romance novel, I am looking for magic and over-the-top love. Some of the side stories in this book were really good though – they were extremely relatable (for me) and gave the character’s complexity. We also get a glimpse into the third love story with that delicious kiss between Hope and Ryder – who are my favorites. The interplay of broody and uptight really makes for good entertainment. I can’t wait for my library copy of the third book to come through.


Lovely, Dark and Deep (Amy McNamara) ♠♠

110I was so excited to read this book. The cover art immediately drew me in. The topic is hands-down one of my favorites – grief! The author is a trained poet. It sounds like a winning combination. In reality, unfortunately, this was painful to get through. The protagonist was so whiny (and spoiled) that not even grief could explain it. I just cannot imagine that is how teenagers experience loss and adversity. The references to poetry and the attempt at poetic writing didn’t feel organic at all. I seriously would have given this novel 1 star hadn’t the last like 40 or so pages sucked me in a bit. Maybe by that time I had gotten used to the hours of inner monologue and the over-the-top “why is this happening to me” attitude of Wren but at least a plot had emerged. Her love interest, Cal was a much, much more interesting character and I wish the author would have chosen to switch between viewpoints so he could’ve had an actual voice. Honestly, I would not recommend this book to a young person in grief.


Bossypants (Tina Fey) ♠♠♠♠♠

111I love Tina Fey. She is smart, funny, and sexy. I think she wrote Liz Lemon for me. “Working on my night cheese” is my mantra. I can’t believe it took me this long to read her book. In fact, I didn’t even read it – I listened to it. And if you know me at all, that says something. Audiobooks aren’t my thing – most of the time I miss stuff because I get too distracted doing other things and when I finish an audiobook, I feel like I cheated because I actually didn’t read. Thus far, I’ve seen audiobooks as a utilitarian device – a Popsugar category called for it or I needed to finish a book but just couldn’t find the time to sit down with it. But I really, really wanted to like audiobooks because I could increase the number of books I can “read” per year substantially. Someone suggested “memoirs” to me because it wouldn’t matter so much if I missed a portion and that I should find some that are read by the author. Tina Fey it was! And I had to admit, I enjoyed every minute of it. She kept me engaged aka I didn’t get distracted and she made me laugh so many times I lost count. In fact, I truly believe that I hadn’t enjoyed her book as much had I read it – her reading it really made it! I, of course, immediately downloaded multiple other books by comedians I love – Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, and Mindy Kaling just to name a few – and I am really looking forward to listening to them tell their stories uncomfortable that note, the cover of her book makes me feel so deliciously uncomfortable that I want to look away but I can’t 😉


Carrie (Stephen King) ♠♠♠♠♠

1I loved this book. It’s all kinds of special to me. I was talking to a friend about Sleeping Beauties. We were discussing how Stephen King became to be so in tune with women. One idea I had was that his wife might be a strong influence (citing Neil Gaiman and Amanda Fucking Palmer as an example). Well, now I know King must just have an innate capability to get women (or his mother taught him well whichever). Carrie was his debut and what a fucking debut it was! It came out in 1972 when men (and women) didn’t talk much about coming-of-age and menstruation (in fact, sadly, that’s still kinda true today). To me, Carrie is all of us during puberty (and probably later in life). I know I was confused, my hormones were rampant, I was way too sensitive, and all I wanted was for others to understand me, to feel what I felt, to suffer when I suffered (don’t roll your eyes teenagers are petty 😉 ). It blows my mind, like for realz, how King was able to harvest these emotions and put them into a horror story. Genius! That man truly is amazing! I am sad I didn’t read Carrie earlier in my life. But I also love that I can read a story today that allows me to travel back in time.


The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis) ♠♠♠♠



The second book in the series (yes, I am going chronologically in the story, not by publication date). This was a fun and quick read. I would’ve devoured this as a youngun. I am looking forward to the next book. And, hey, maybe I’ll even watch the movie one day. I don’t even mind all the Christian undertones as C.S. Lewis makes up for it (in my mind) by also having strong female (and male) characters, fantastical beings, and lots and lots of action.



Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance (Ruth Emmie Lang) ♠♠♠♠

3I meant to read this novel last year. The concept was just so intriguing to me. Yes, Ruth Emmie Lang delivered. This was a lovely debut. I loved that the story was told through snippets from different characters as they encountered the protagonist Weylyn. We have to wait until the very end to hear any of his thoughts. The story takes you through the life of this mystical person and his magical capabilities – we see him grow up from a young boy who lived with wolves to a middle-aged man who finally accepts who he is. To me, this also was a coming-of-age story, one that took a little bit longer than going through puberty. Certain excerpts from his life held me more captive than others – I loved, loved, loved all his interactions with animals, specifically the wolves. I was less interested in his stint in North Carolina where he battled a hurricane, but that was really only one small story of the book. I think the author has a unique imagination and I am looking forward to more books by her.


The Perfect Hope (Nora Roberts) ♠♠♠♠



The last book in this trilogy. I was really looking forward to Ryder and Hope’s story as they seemed to be the most complex of all the characters. This was again a very solid book by Roberts. I was hoping for a bit more sulking, brooding, and misunderstandings and conflicts but overall I liked the love story. We finally also find out who Billy is and his connection to the three brothers. I have to say Nora Roberts is the queen of romance trilogies. They’re never boring or repetitive.



Megg & Mogg in Amsterdam (Simon Hanselmann) ♠♠♠

112Um, this was disturbing and oh so weird. It made me feel uncomfortable on several occasions but I truly believe that is the point of this series. Heads up to Hanselmann for portraying mental illness so raw. I think we need to be confronted with it like that! We need to finally face what people go through and start to, as a society, take steps to be more open about it and to support individuals with mental illness. I am giving this three spades because I didn’t quite enjoy the style of illustrations. Graphic novels to me are highly visually driven and I didn’t get that from this book. I will for sure check out some of Hanselmann’s other work though.


A Conjuring of Light (V.E. Schwab) ♠♠♠♠♠

115All the feels!!!! This series is just so damn good. It has a very strong, lovable, flawed female lead, a believable love story, friendship, brotherhood, adventure, and an evil villain. In this third installment, we finally get to learn about some of the backstories making the protagonists who they are. I didn’t realize how much I wanted to know about those histories until I read them. Everything flowed together so seamlessly, and I really admire V.E. Schwab for being able to write that. The Shadow King is an amazing evil spirit. He’s the perfect adversary to Kell and Lilah, to the Maresh family, to Alucard, and yes even to Holland. I thought the way the three Antari had to come together to defeat him was a brilliant twist in the series and Holland sort of redeemed himself with that. In fact, learning about his past, made me relate to him more and made me understand why he acts the way he acts. Lilah and Kell’s love story is also great. It feels natural and not too YA-ish. This series is definitely worth reading. The world building feels complete and the story feels whole! A big plus is that I really, really like the cover art (and I am not even a fan of black-white-red combos).


Yes Please (Amy Poehler) ♠♠♠♠

116I made it through a second audiobook in one month! Go me! As I said earlier, audiobooks rarely work for me, but this “listening to comedians read their memoirs” thing appears to be really working for me. Amy Poehler’s book was quite different from Tina Fey’s. It had a lot more serious and emotional content and felt really written from the heart. Amy reading it made it very personal and I could tell that there were several subjects she struggled with. Of course, there were many funny parts, too. Amy Poehler is fantastically sarcastic – a type of humor that I can very much relate to. Tina’s book kept me more engaged but I enjoyed how real Amy’s book felt.


The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky (Jana Casale) ♠♠



This one was a struggle bus for me. I loved the concept of it – so raw, so honest. But the execution was just completely meh! Or maybe even less than meh. I feel this was a huge missed opportunity for a self-empowering, superwoman kind of book! I think the author has a unique way of thinking and I really hope she writes another book and she’ll grow with that.



The Pisces (Melissa Broder) ♠♠♠♠

118Um, yes, merman erotica is a think and Melissa Broder made it come to life in this novel dealing with the multiple facets of depression. This was a fast read for me but I did find myself bored at times, specifically when the very relatable protagonist became unlikable and all she did was obsess over a (sort of) unattainable mythic creature. And the sex scenes – they were crass and very, very explicit. Honestly, there was only so much merman sex I could take before the novelty factor wore off. Creating a relationship between a human and a fantastical being as a metaphor for depression though was absolutely brilliant. So, if you don’t shy away from reading about bloody intercourse or the million ways a merman can please a human vagina, you should definitely read this book.


Lewis Carroll birthday and Book Fairies shenanigans


Lewis Carroll and Alice in Wonderland must be celebrated! The wonderful people at The Book Fairies are doing it in the best way possible. Let’s get our game on and hide copies of this beloved book all around the world!

I will be participating! Or at least I will try! I need to get myself a copy first I wouldn’t mind leaving somewhere 😉 but that shouldn’t be impossible. Gah, I wish I wouldn’t be so forgetful and had already done this!

Anyhow, if you so choose to participate post your book drop on social media using #bookfairiesinwonderland and #ibelieveinbookfairies.

This effort truly deserves six hearts ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ and six spades ♠♠♠♠♠♠.

Alert – this is not a book post :p

…. although it includes a book. Meet my new getting-my-life-together-person and with that I mean, Alice, my bullet journal.


Yes, I named it. Did you expect anything else?

One of the most helpful suggestions I ever received was from a late mentor who said I should write every day as this is the only way I can hone my skills. I’ve always had trouble with keeping on track. My dissertation was primarily written between the hours of 1am and 5am and thus I was mostly useless during the day. I wanted this to change (I realize that my middle-of-the-night-writings aren’t very conducive to co-writing papers) and scoured the interwebs for solutions and bullet journaling was suggested as a way to keep your life on schedule.

It immediately was attractive to me because 1) I love lists and 2) I like doodling. I’ve been using my BuJo (yes, I am hip with the lingo of the kids) for three or so months now and I gotta tell you it’s working. I am currently writing a scientific paper and although it’s slow going I get to check off to-do-lists and have little moments of success as I go along. Plus, I get to swear in it! Guys, that’s the most liberating thing in writing. My BuJo is also forcing me to write something (even just a few words sometimes) every day.

So how is this related to this blog? Other than me just trying to write more 😉

My BuJo also includes notes on my books and in fact has lead to an entire separate notebook being filled with stuff about books. Last year, I drew a bookshelf on a large piece of paper and would fill in the book titles I read. I immensely enjoyed this but kept thinking that I will probably lose this piece of paper over time (cause you know that’s how I roll). So, this year, I keep track of my readings (just a quick list) in my BuJo and further write out my thoughts on this blog and in the separate notebook. So at the very least, I’ll have a little record of my literary adventures in Alice, which I plan to keep (and I think is less likely to be lost) once I filled the journal.

Are you into bullet journaling or art journaling? How did you get started?

I’ve tried multiple ways of keeping track of things since I started and I have to say this month’s very simple daily lists are my favorite so far. And of course, I love the collections. Here is a picture of my book-related one. I might color it in when I feel like doodling. in the future.


Remember in my Dewey swoon post, how I talked about that books are my friends? I feel the same way about Alice. If I could rate her, she’d get 6 spades and would be added to my all-time favorites list.

Booking it into 2018

To my fellow bibliophiles,

I dare not believe it is already 2018. I am now of that ripe age where time flies, kinks in my neck are the new normal, and reading becomes difficult with just the slightest dimming of light. Just joking, I am still a young spring chicken 😉

I have to say I am quite pleased with my accomplishments in 2017, at least when it comes to the book department. 105 books aren’t too shabby. I hope you’ve been reading my monthly updates where I summarize my thoughts on the books I read. And I hope if you haven’t, you vow to do so henceforth. Because I am clearly an accomplished blogger – I mean I know all my letters and sometimes I even put them together coherently.

For 2018, I set my reading goal to 75 for no other reason than that I belong to a Goodreads group called 75 books. And despite the name, you don’t even have to read 75 books ;). I also believe that 75 is a reachable number even if life comes in the way of reading. So, we shall see.

I think I am going to keep the current format of monthly updates and the odd extra one in between. My real change for this year lies within how I will procure 75 books. No, I am not going to steal them, although on occasion I have considered it when I saw someone read a coveted book from my TBR in public. So instead of jumping to the dark side, I am going to shop my own shelf (not that there is much light in between my stacks of books anyway)!

I am also still debating how committed I am to this year’s Popsugar Challenge as it always leads me astray, and with that I mean to the bookstore or the library and not to my own shelf. But then again, it does have some very delicious categories this year. Decisions, decisions! I wonder if it can be done to finish the challenge with only books from my shelf? And the ones I will get from my BOM box – yeah, you thought I was gonna cut myself off entirely …. joke’s on you. Or me? New Year’s resolutions are for the weak (that’s what I keep telling myself aka that’s what feeds my addiction).

Well, either way, this should be a fantastic year for the printed word!

Cheers (quite literally as I may or may not be drinking champagne),

*ich lese*

December is for cozy reads


December was kinda slow for me. In fact, I finished four books during the last two days of the year. I love Christmas though, so prepping for that and enjoying the holiday season took on priority this month.


Casino Royale (Ian Fleming) ♠♠♠

100My first Ian Fleming novel! I love, love, love the James Bond movies. I grew up watching the oldies over and over again, and I truly enjoy the newer ones as well. I always thought of 007 as a womanizer but one that truly respects what women bring to the table – including their intellect. Well color me surprised when I read this novel, which is written from Bond’s viewpoint, and I learned how truly sexist my favorite agent is. I know it reflects the time in which it was written but I am nonetheless disappointed. I also found Fleming’s writing sensational rather than literary, but that could be because of the genre – I am not too familiar with espionage lit. I think I am going to read another Bond novel in the future just to see, but thus far, the movies are much better and a lot more suspenseful to boost than this book.


The Girl in the Tower (Katherine Arden) ♠♠♠♠♠


What a surprise this book was! I felt so-so about the first book as it was long-winded and had too many side stories. But this one was captivating, heroic, feminist, and magical. I am so thankful the publisher send me an advanced copy to review. I cannot wait for the third book in the series!!!!




The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ♠♠♠♠ and The Body Snatcher ♠♠♠ (Robert Louis Stevenson)

I quickly read these two short stories and they were very entertaining. Both creepy and mysterious, I preferred Jekyll and Hyde because 1) it just plainly was a better story and 2) it was enriched by a series of letters which allowed the reader to discover the truth along with the characters.


Lab Girl (Hope Jahren) ♠♠♠♠♠


This book was amazing! I first tried it as an audiobook but kept missing plot points. I am so glad I started over in print. I devoured her story. I saw myself in her. As a female scientist, I think I often face similar hurdles. As a fellow perfectionist, I definitely have to censor myself frequently and force myself to let it go. And as a paleobiology enthusiast, I gobbled down all the extra facts she alluded to in between her life story. All in all, this was a fascinating read.



Little Women (Louisa May Alcott) ♠♠♠♠♠♠


Gah, how I love this book. This re-read started off a little slow and low-and-behold I was already thinking I had to remove it from my all-time favorite list. And then I cried when Beth almost died, I cried again when she actually died, and I cried some more when Teddy told Joe he loved her so. Of course, I see myself in Joe. But I also admire Meg’s kindness, Beth’s wisdom, and Amy’s zest for life. The March family is dear to my heart and I am so glad this re-read manifested that again.

Many November thanks to my books


November was made up of creepy reads, plain wtf-did-I-just-read? reads, and even an audiobook. I had friends join me for Thanksgiving at a cabin where I had ambitious dreams to read beside the fireplace. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen as I had way too much fun playing with the kids and taking my dogs for long walks.


The Magician’s Nephew (C.S. Lewis) ♠♠♠


I struggled with which book to read first in this series. I decided to go with chronological order rather than publication order and thus this was my first C.S. Lewis novel. I am happy I chose this book as it provided a lot of background information, but unfortunately, it was a bit boring. The most exciting part was toward the end when I learned about how to wardrobe became to be – this also made me really look forward to the next book!



The Summer Book (Tove Jansson) ♠♠♠♠♠

95I’ve known Tove Jansson’s work from her moomins’ children stories and thus I was really looking forward to reading an adult book by her. And let me tell you, I loved it. I have a soft spot for novels dealing with death and grief and this one combines coming-of-age and nearing-the-end so beautifully and so raw, that I couldn’t put the book down. I know Tove wrote the book to deal with her own mother’s passing and that really shone through – everything felt so true and real and full of love. I would highly recommend this book to anyone dealing with those emotions. Many passages reminded me of A Monster Calls and I am really starting to appreciate literature as a means to cope with death.


The Next Always (Nora Roberts) ♠♠♠

96As it nears the end of the year, and thus the end of the PopSugar reading challenge, I always have to scramble for books to fulfill the categories – and nothing promises a quick read more than Nora Roberts. And she delivered again. This trilogy is her usual spiel – three brothers and three best friends – well, of course, they’re all going to fall in love, and I will be center stage for that. This was a solid first book in the series. It held me captivated and made me emotional (enough) at times. I am looking forward to reading the next two.


Dark Harvest (Norman Partridge) ♠♠♠♠♠


My Goodreads review says it all – this is full of depravity, much too real human interactions, and creepy Halloween spookiness. I loved it. This book is dark – both literally and figuratively (although the Oxford dictionary doesn’t distinguish between them anymore, tsk, tsk!) and is only for you if you don’t mind reading about the deepest and coldest places of humanity.


33 Snowfish (Adam Rapp) ♠♠♠♠


WTF did I just read? I don’t even want to summarize this. While Dark Harvest can be chalked up to being fantastical and just a Halloween story (and thus we can overlook that humans are assholes), this book does not let you ignore this. Some people have it hard. Some people need to fight to stay alive. Some people will never win in life. But the protagonists of this novel are so low on the totem pole that even a glimmer of hope just gets shoved in their faces. This book is not for the faint of heart but I am so thankful that Adam Rapp had the courage to write this, and especially to write this for young adults!


Lisey’s Story (Stephen King) ♠♠♠


This is what happens when Stephen King writes a love story. The book was decent and the content imaginative – I would expect nothing less from King, but I just couldn’t get into it and I blame it being an audiobook for this.






FALLing in love with October


As you can tell I am super behind on my monthly updates. In fact, it is January 2nd of 2018! But whatevs, updates are updates. If I remember correctly, October was a pretty busy reading month for me – with the help of Dewey’s readathon of course. And I was able to keep that momentum up until Thanksgiving where I got busy hosting and cooking and entertaining kids of all ages (see next month’s update).


The Hangman’s Daughter (Oliver Pötzsch) ♠♠♠♠ and 1/2♠



I loved the theme of this book. It was a fast read and held my attention. I had two issues with the book. 1) The writing seemed immature and unpolished – is this an issue with translation or skill? I don’t know.  But I think I will read the sequel in German. And 2) I wanted to read more about the actual hangman’s daughter. I know this is the first book in a series but I really hate when the content doesn’t hold what the title promises.




I’ve already summarized my thoughts and rated these books during my readathon wrap up post (here). All, in all, they were all special. I really should read children’s books and short stories more often.

The Color of Earth (Kim Dong-Hwa) ♠♠♠

87The illustrations in this graphic novel are stunning. They’re whimsical yet powerful. They speak of deep-rooted culture but seem contemporary and novel. I love the idea of having a coming-of-age graphic novel. A major problem with this one though is its antiquated views of women. I don’t understand how the author was able to handle getting your first period so eloquently and natural but then depicted men putting women in their place and women just accepting it. How is it possible that the author is simultaneously progressive and outdated? I am going to read the two sequels and see what happens.


El Deafo (Cece Bell) ♠♠♠♠♠


What a special book. Hearing and hearing loss are near and dear to my heart (since I am an auditory neuroscientist) and Cece Bell did a wonderful job taking a difficult topic and making it accessible to others. I am not deaf myself but I was able to relate to the main protagonist in a very real way. As I said in my Goodreads review, I am going to recommend this book to everyone.



The Monk (Matthew Lewis) ♠♠♠♠

91I picked up this book for the RIP readathon and because it is widely recognized as the first gothic novel. I gotta be honest, this was a long read for me. It was hard to get into it at times, even though it had all my favorite things to read about: love, lust, deception, the devil, weird spiritual sacrifices, metaphors and allegories, as well as stubborn and outdated worldviews. While reading, I was certain this would be at most a 3 spade book, until I reached the ending. Peeps, the ending makes the whole novel!!!!! Also, the edition I had, came with an introduction by Stephen King and that was just the most amazing thing to read!


Outlander (Diana Gabaldon) ♠♠♠ and 1/2♠


This book came so highly recommended, I couldn’t wait to start reading it. … Well, it wasn’t as good as I expected it to be. I wanted more history and descriptions of the highlands and less love story. My attention at times was completely in the story and then I found myself so bored that I only could get through by promising myself a break every 20 pages or so. The book also felt way too long! Are 800 pages really necessary? I think I am going to read the sequel but I am not sure yet.



Through The Woods (Emily Carroll) ♠♠♠♠



Another RIP read. It felt very adult and very creepy. Just the kind of graphic novel I like. Also, that cover page is one of my favorite things I’ve ever seen.

Dewey’s readathon wrap-up and stats

As promised, here are a few stats from this readathon. I read a total 1091 pages over a period of 20.5 hours. I took an unscheduled 3.5-hour nap aka I fell asleep over my book. I completed three books (one literary novel, one novella, and one graphic novel). readathon-oct2017You can see my short story and graphic novel spurts in the graph to the left. The turquoise bars are my pages per hour and the blue line is the cumulative page count.

Besides tracking my reading progress, I also noted down other info. For example, I had only one latte, but several cups of soda. I ate one biiiiig meal, a burrito bowl, and really only snacked on some chocolate – I gotta be honest, I am surprised by my lack of snackiness. I think I was really wrapped up in reading this time. This is also evident by me only participating in one challenge: 10 books in 10 years and generally spending little time on social media. I checked in a few times on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and dedicated hour 14 to write my one intra-readathon blog post. I also hosted hour 8 on the Goodreads group, but oddly enough I still got quite a bit of reading done during that time.

I think this was my best 24-hour readathon, yet. It feels like I went back to the roots of it – reading, reading, reading; and THEN chatting with bookish friends. All in all, I am super happy with how it went. I celebrated Dewey and 10 years of readathon the way I know best – sitting in silence with a good book, immersed in a different world, surrounded by my puppies, a good cup of coffee, and a soft blanket.


The books I read were all fascinating in their own way. They brought me joy, made me think, and put my imagination in high gear. 79Momo by Michael Ende was a re-read for me. I remembered reading it as a young teenager and had only the fondest feelings for it. And they were reaffirmed yesterday. Momo is an amazing piece of work, and probably even more relevant to me now then it was before. I am one of those time-stricken, busy adults who rarely takes the time to indulge in childish pleasures like pretend-play, eating ice cream with friends, or telling stories. Re-reading this novel, I vow now to change that. I want to allow my inner child to resurface every so often so that I can, too, live my life using my time wisely, *says she and crawls into her blanket fort*.



Gwendy’s Button Box was my first Stephen King short story. The topic of having the power to decide people’s fates is scary and burdensome in my eyes. Reading about it made me stop and think quite often. How have my actions so far affected people? And I don’t even have a magical button box.




I had really high hopes for The Encyclopedia of Early Earth as I love, love, love Isabell Green’s The Hundred Nights of Hero. As expected the stories and tales were whimsical, the worlds unique, the characters relatable, and the illustrations beautiful. Yet, it lacked the je-ne-sais-quoi, that special extra spark that The Hundred Nights of Hero has. Nevertheless, it’s still a really, really solid read and showcases Greenberg’s immense talent as a storyteller. I am looking forward to any of her future work.



81The Hen Who Dreamed She Could Fly is a fable, an encouraging tale of a hen who dared to want more than life dealt her. It is a saga about perseverance, love, ingenuity, and courage. As a tale solely based on a mother’s and father’s love, it teaches us about how sometimes love is all you need. But also how sometimes that love can make you blind and hold you back. I’ve read somewhere that this story was likened to George Orwell’s uproars in Animal Farm and that it should instill hope in us like Paulo Choelo’s The Alchemist, and I agree, but would also like to add that it is more than that. Because we all feel some days that our wings have been clipped, that our friends don’t support us, and that life stalks us like the weasel stalks the hen, and yet somehow amongst all that we find resolution and learn that maybe we can’t fly but we can run fast, or maybe we are not good with words, but we can cunningly predict our adversaries next steps, and this is what this novella is about. Sun-mi Hwang beautifully took a simple story and created a life lesson. I only got half-way through this during the official readathon but finished this book since. I just couldn’t stop. I had to read it all the way right away.




Sleeping Beauties by Stephen and Owen King is a supernatural thriller carried along by creepy and wondrous fairytales. It’s also a political statement and utterly contemporary. I was able to read about 320 pages of it during the readathon and it is on my priority list to finish ASAP. In fact, I’ve been reading it today to find out what happens next.



—— Thank you if you’ve read this far! —— I’ve said how I love reading before and how books are my friends – so that is my primary motivation in partaking in Dewey’s readathon twice a year. But there is also this other notion – that maybe I can inspire others to read (more) and to get excited about literature. One way of doing that is to ensure that kids (and adults) have access to books and the proper help learning how to read. East Nashville Hope Exchange is such a wonderful organization aiding at-risk kids in their reading endeavors. Again this time, I pledged to donate money toward this organization. Furthermore, I have wonderful friends who also pledged to donate in my name and the name of Dewey and her readathon. I encourage you too to get involved in your community and to donate your time and/or money. If you feel so inclined to donate to my organization of choice, let me know and I and the kids would be so grateful. Please leave #ichlese and #deweysreadathon in the comment section of your donation as that will help me and the good people from ENHE keep track of my fundraising efforts.