Top Ten Tuesday – Rainy Day Reads

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It’s TTT time! As usual, if you’re curious about this, Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl hosts these weekly challenges (so, see her blog for more info). Today, the TTT community is tasked to come up with a book list for rainy days. I love matching my book choice to an atmospheric environment – stormy skies or drizzling rain lent themselves perfectly to this. Rain is particularly versatile as it can feel like a good cleansing or a new beginning but also dreary and dreadful. Thus parallel book themes are easy to come by. Here are a few that I would choose to read during a good rain. I have sorted them by categories but many of them would fit more than one. I’ve linked the titles to their Goodreads pages.


A scary book

Rain. Overcast skies. Greyness. That makes one of the most perfect scenarios to be scared.

  • While You Sleep relies on setting the scene to draw you into the story and this would definitely be enhanced if it is actually raining while you read.
  • Misery takes place during winter but I put it on the list anyway because heavy rain can make us feel closed in as well and that feeling of being stuck perfectly fits the plot of the book.

 

A book to escape this world

Who doesn’t want to escape somewhere else when the weather is shitty outside?! Some like to escape to stories of beaches and sunshine. I like to enter fantasy worlds!

  • Any Harry Potter book is perfect when you’re stuck at home. #6 is my favorite!
  • The Night Circus is magical and weird. It has a great romance and lots of adventure.
  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is one of my all-time favorite books. I would find any excuse to re-read it but a rainy day makes it all the more absurd.

 

A funny memoir

I particularly love listening to memoirs. I would pick one of these while I knit or draw – which seems like a great activity for a rainy afternoon.

 

A good romance or some chick lit

Romance novels, particularly anything by Nora Roberts, are my guilty pleasure. I love escaping into a good romance plot. These few were some of my recent favorites.

  • The Kiss Quotient surprised me. I loved the protagonist. I liked that it had an own-voices theme and I loved how adult it was.
  • Fangirl is so deliciously geeky. It was a great coming-of-age story in a setting I could super relate to.
  • Three Fates – Nora Roberts and Ireland and folktales. Count me in. I loved this one.
  • One Day in December was another surprise. I read this over Christmas break and even cried. And isn’t a good sob the most liberating thing to do?!

 

A book of short stories

I have recently begun to appreciate short stories. They allow you to have many different kinds of experience in quick succession. On a rainy day escaping to several worlds would be perfection.

  • Uncommon Type is a wonderful compilation of diverse stories. What can’t Tom Hanks do????
  • M is for Magic showcases how perfect Neil Gaiman is as a writer and human being.

 

A book to ponder the meaning of life or a book that makes you think

Ok. I love me a good pondering of why we exist and what the point of being alive is. These three books made me think quite a bit for different reasons.

  • The Sunset Limited is bleak and depressing at times. It’s a continuous dialogue between two men who have very different opinions on what the meaning of life is and I am HERE FOR THAT. I honestly think everyone should read this book.
  • The Trees deals with the relationship between humans and nature. It is magical realism at its best. I like thinking about my impact on nature and nature’s impact on me.
  • The Time Keeper threw me for a loop. I had a huge book hangover after finishing it. Mind blown and all! I should probably re-read this one.

 

A book with beautiful illustrations or pictures

Looking at some amazing pictures is so satisfying. I love a good graphic novel but also love photography or art books.

 

A poetry book

Honestly, poetry is perfect for a rainy day. Probably more perfect than reading any horror novel.

 

A suspenseful book

A murder mystery. A thriller. A whodunnit plot. All of these are great to read during a storm.

  • Gone Girl feels grey and melancholic. It kept my attention the entire time and I just had to read on.
  • Big Little Lies has a host of amazing characters. I love the format of the book and getting to know all the backstories. Each woman could have a motive to commit a murder.
  • And Then There Were None is just one example of a great Agatha Christie mystery. Really any of her books would be amazing for a rainy day.

 

A book with quirky or relatable characters

Quirky characters always get me. I love reading books with interesting character dynamics or interpersonal relationships. These two books would be fun reads or great audiobooks.

  • Eleanor Oliphant is Perfectly Fine is a book that gets me. I am always excited to find authors who incorporate mental illness in a real way. Eleanor is lovable because of how she is, not despite it.
  • Little Women is another one of my all-time favorites. It has great family interactions, wonderful characters, and just enough plot. A classic that I believe everyone should read.

What do you like to read on a rainy day? I can’t wait to check out your recommendations! Leave them in the comments. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Top Ten Tuesday – forgettables of 2018

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It’s TTT time! As usual, if you’re curious about this, Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl hosts these weekly challenges (so, see her blog for more info). Today’s prompt is about the outrageous things I’ve done for books. I live kind of a boring life though and couldn’t really come up with anything noteworthy. Thus, I decided to look at my 2018 reading list to see what books I’ve already forgotten. Here is a list of books of which I barely (or not at all) remember the plot. You’ll see what it is that I do remember about the story and I have linked to the relevant Goodreads page so you can check it out for yourself.


The Girl Who Never Read Chomsky

I remember that this book felt way too long. I remember the story spanning many years following a girl throughout her life.

Happiness

I remember that this book had a fox running over a bridge in London and a chance meeting of two people. They fell in love? but not sure if they stayed together or not.

Final Girls

I remember that I felt I would’ve done the plot differently. I remember not liking the flashbacks.

Trenton Makes

I remember this book feeling grey and depressing. Maybe something about the working man?

The Marriage Pact

I remember something about being taken into a “club” and some sinister control over a marriage – like the couple had to follow certain rules etc.

Red Queen

I remember not liking this book. It felt like a formulaic YA novel.

Endless Nights

I am sad to see this one on the list since I love Agatha Christie but I can’t recall the plot of this one at all.


Do you remember all the books you’ve recently read? I catch myself often wondering “did I read that already?”.

 

ARC Review – The Dark Game by Jonathan Janz

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THE DARK GAME

Paranormal, Thriller | 304 pages | 04.11.2019 | Flame Tree Press

3 STARS


500The Dark Game is a complex paranormal thriller that at times pays homage to classics like Stoker’s Dracula and at others invents completely novel and unique characters. It is a feast of backstories, books within books, and whodunit themes. A wealthy author holds a secret contest for aspiring writers at his estate. The catch: nothing is as it seems. We encounter imaginary foes, real-life killers, and ruthless competitors. We read developing drafts of various stories interwoven into the main plot line. We get to know each contestant’s dark past as it unfolds in the present.

Jonathan Janz shows great creativity and ambition in this novel. Sadly, the execution falls a bit flat. It was strenuous to follow the present plotline while sorting through the past side stories. It was difficult to remember who is who. But most importantly, it was too hard to care about any of the characters. This led to me slugging my way through the book as it dredged on. This should’ve been a suspenseful and fast-paced horror mystery but I was rarely scared or uncomfortable and I never felt my heart beat quicken. This book just felt perfectly average. It was a decent read. It just didn’t have the little something extra that makes a novel super special or great.


I would like to thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for my advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

US RELEASES – April BOOKS TO KEEP ON YOUR RADAR

US releases

Hi bookies,

Keep your eyes peeled for these goodies! As always, I’ve linked the titles to my Goodreads reviews or to the actual book page.

 

Books I reviewed before release:

The Dark Game by Jonathan Janz; Apr 11 Horror, Mystery

A writers’ retreat. Mysterious deaths. A competition that brings your worst nightmares to life. I am almost done reading this book and am quite enjoying the novel. Lots of characters and lots of side stories to keep track off and Janz does a great job weaving them all together.

Little Darlings by Melanie Golding; Apr 30 Thriller, Mystery

Lauren’s twins are in danger; someone tried to kidnap them right out of the hospital. Or is everything just a figment of her imagination? This thriller keeps you guessing what is real and what isn’t right up until the end.

 

Books I am anticipating to read:

The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston; Apr 2  YA, Retellings, Romance

I recently read Geekerella and loved the nerdiness and nostalgia it brought. I am hoping this one will do the same. It seems like the perfect spring read.

The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix; Apr 2 Middle Grade, Fantasy, Mystery

A few reviewers have alluded to this being a puzzle and I love puzzles. This being a middle-grade novel is an additional bonus.

Women Talking by Miriam Toews; Apr 3 Contemporary Lit, Feminism

Mennonite women make a stand. This one promises to be inspiring, suspenseful, and philosophical.

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He; Apr 9 YA, Fantasy

First of all, the cover is beautiful. Secondly, a plot synopsis involving a young queen, magic, and political enemies always grabs me right away. I read very positive reviews on this so far, so methinks, I should read it myself.

The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala; Apr 23 YA, Fantasy

A book inspired by Hindu tales and ancient Indian believes sounds like a winner to me already. The dynamic of Esha and Kunal appears super intriguing. I am looking forward to this novel.

The Meaning of Birds by Jaye Robin Brown; Apr 26 YA, LGBTQA+

The cover is beautiful and the story sounds like it has potential. I am always looking for more inclusive plots and this one promises to tackle coming-of-age struggles by being just that – inclusive.

April Goals

Hey bookish fam,

I have some making up to do for March, see my monthly wrap-up for why. Thus, I’ll be pledging more than 6 books for April.


Spill-over from February and March

I am almost done with both The Dark Game (and ARC) and Watchmen, but I have still sooooooo much left of The Stand. I am hoping to use the Dewey pre-readathon challenges to make substantial progress with the latter and for sure finish the two former.

April list


My King of Scars library copy expires soon, so I really need to get to it ASAP.  I probably start on that this evening. I am reading The Haunting of Hill House for Spring into Horror, and Anne of Green Gables as well as Sorry I Wrote So Many Sad Poems Today for Dewey’s 24-hr readathon. Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights have been on my list for way too long and I really want to finish both this month. At the moment, I don’t have any ARCs due in May, so I can fully focus on my TBR.


Well, I have my work cut out in April. What are you pledging to tackle this month? Leave me a comment. Let’s work on those commitments together. 🙂

And thus concludes my March

monthlies

March was almost a total bust. I traveled for over half of the month for work and barely got any reading done during that time. Upon returning, I got the flu, which knocked me out for an additional week. I did ok with my March goals I guess. I finished 4/6 and am nearly done with the fifth book. I made very little progress in The Stand, so that one will carry into April. Good thing, April has two readathons: Spring into Horror and Dewey’s 24-hour readathon! I will again be hosting some social media hours in the Dewey’s Goodreads group, on the Dewey blog, and via the Dewey Twitter account. I hope to hear from you during that time and can’t wait to see how your April progresses.


Books read: 6

Books listened to: 7

Total pages read (includes “pages” from audiobooks): 1997


 

Will Haunt You (Brian Kirk) ♠♠ and 1/2♠

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Goodreads

This was an ARC I had been looking forward to since I got it in my mail (check out my full review here on my blog or on Goodreads). The premise is so damn cool: if you read this book, bad things will happen to you too. The narrator often breaks the fourth wall giving you ample warnings. The story is kinda chaotic and at times so unbelievable you find yourself wondering if any of this is real or if the narrator just has a very vivid imagination (or even hallucinations). You can’t trust anyone in the story. All of this should make for exciting reading. Sadly, I found myself more often than not confused and irritated. I couldn’t get to any mental imagery as the plot switched way too quickly at times. But more importantly, I couldn’t get to a point where I was even the slightest bit frightened that reading this book could be “dangerous” for me and thus I feel the novel missed its goal.

I recommend this book to anyone who loves a good meta-narration and who isn’t afraid of a lot of chaos with a side of horror. 

 

Sometimes I Lie (Alice Feeney) ♠♠♠

504

Goodreads

If there is such a thing as too many plot twist, this would be the book to represent it all. I mean don’t get me wrong, the narrator tells you right up front that sometimes she lies, but man, does she deliver on that. The plot grips you right away – why is Amber in a coma? Did her husband do it? Is he having an affair with her sister? Is Amber a bad person? I don’t want to say too much since you should discover each twist on your own. My humble opinion is just that there were too many, making the ending somewhat cartoonish. Plus, I am still not sure what the conclusion actually was. Like, what the f*** just happened? Did you just lie to me?

If you like a fast thriller with an unreliable narrator and many twists and turns, I recommend this book to you.  

 

Legion (William Peter Blatty) ♠♠♠ and 1/2♠

502

Goodreads

This is the follow-up to The Exorcist, which, if you can recall, BLEW ME AWAY. Here, the detective Kinderman, who we met in The Exorcist, is the main protagonist working his way through a slew of murders that very much mimic the calling card of a long-dead serial killer. Blatty spends a lot of time on musings about religion and the mind during the first 2/3 of the novel. I quite enjoyed reading those ideas. There were several about the brain and neurons which we now know to be false believes but must’ve been novel hypotheses at the time he wrote this story. The pace of the plot really picks up during the last 1/3 of the book with a pretty big plot twist, which I definitely did not see coming. Some reviewers didn’t care for the meandering and slowness of Kinderman but to me, it evoked a sense of nostalgia. He reminded me of the show Columbo which I religiously watched with my grandma. All in all, this is a decent sequel to The Exorcist but definitely lacks Blatty’s superb writing style we see in the 40th-anniversary edition of the aforementioned book.

I recommend this book to you if you 1) read The Exorcist and 2) like a lot of philosophy with your demonic hauntings. 

 

Pet Sematary (Stephen King) ♠♠♠♠

503

Goodreads

I really devoured this one. It was a surprisingly easy read and one of the more plot-driven novels I’ve read from King. I loved his foreword talking about what inspired this story. It was again an excellent reminder to write yourself in your books! It has been a while since I watched the movie, so reading this book, was like discovering the plotline anew. There were several characters I quite enjoyed and thought were super well developed. None of the side stories seemed unnecessary, which is something King often gets criticized for. I am hesitant to talk too much about this novel in fear to give away too much. I specifically liked the lore and folktales it was based on and I felt King did a good job making them feel new and unique without leaving out key factors.

I recommend this novel to you if you would like to give King a try but are overwhelmed by his more verbose bestsellers.

 

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (Alvin Schwartz)

501

Goodreads

Gahhhhhh, this was so good! I wish I would’ve had this book growing up. It would’ve fed my need for the scary and creepy. I would’ve loved to tell these stories to my friends. This is a treasure and everyone should read it. It has interactive tales, tales that should be sung, and tales that need a good ear and attention.

I recommend this book to you if you are a human.

 

Little Darlings (Melanie Golding) ♠♠

499

Goodreads

This ARC had a super intriguing synopsis. I was immediately sucked into the premise: an unreliable narrator and potential sinister paranormal plotline. Sadly, the novel ended up falling flat (check out my full review here on my blog or on Goodreads). The final conclusion left me super dissatisfied. The folk tales weren’t weaved in enough to matter, and the characters weren’t fleshed out enough for me to care. Yet, one major point of this book was super well done: the depiction of postpartum depression (PPD).

I recommend this book solely on the fact that it deals with PPD and that we should all become more familiar with it. 

 

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Paved the Way (Rachel Ignotofsky) ♠♠♠♠

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Goodreads

This was inspiring and educational. It’s a perfect introduction to women in STEM who have made a difference over the years. It’s nerd-tastic, swoon-worthy, and feminist.  I listened to this book while glancing at an eBook copy and the narrator was very engaging. The illustrations are well done and fit the theme beautifully. It was a great work companion and I immediately ordered it as a gift for my young nieces.

I recommend this book for you if you’re looking to get a light overview of important female historical figures who influenced science as we know it today.


HOW WAS YOUR MARCH? DID YOU HAVE A FAVORITE BOOK? MINE WAS MOST DEFINITELY SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK!

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday – let’s listen carefully

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It’s TTT time! As usual, if you’re curious about this, Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl hosts these weekly challenges (so, see her blog for more info). Today is all about audio files! During long hours in grad school doing monotone tasks, I would listen to “guilty pleasures”. Once I graduated I stopped listening to audiobooks and have only recently picked it back up. Now, I mostly listen to author-read memoirs and other non-fiction books. Although I have a few fiction books on my list below. During work, I now often seek out podcasts. I know some of you have a book to listen to any time of their day but I tend to miss important plot points or some nuanced things with this media and thus generally prefer reading over listening. Here are some of my (recent) favorites.


Audiobooks

5 stars

Misery

This is probably my favorite audiobook. It rarely happens but I got super caught up in it and couldn’t stop listening!

The Gunslinger

I have read this book a while back and listened to the audio version fairly recently. It’s a great story and lends itself well to one narrator.

Eleanor Oliphant is Perfectly Fine

This was a fun listen and missing a few things here and there didn’t seem detrimental.

Bossypants

Tina Fey was a great reader. She had me laughing on multiple occasions.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

I watched the Netflix show and decided to check out the book. It was a perfect work companion.

4 stars

Scrappy Little Nobody

I’ve always liked Anna Kendrick and she is super frank in this one.

Yes Please

Amy Poehler is a sweetheart and her memoir was surprisingly deep.

Something Wicked this Way Comes

I quite liked this story but probably would’ve loved it had I read it myself.

In Cold Blood

Truman is a great writer. This was a really engaging listen.

Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders

Creepy and fascinating.


Podcasts

The Horror Virgin

Friends watch horror movies with a scaredy-cat and then talk about it. It’s hilarious. It’s entertaining. It’s educational. It seriously is my favorite podcast right now. Also, one of the hosts is a huge Stephen King fan, so how can I not love this group????!!!!

Armchair Expert

Dax Shepherd is so honest in this one. I love his interviews and insights. I tend to pick and choose the episodes I listen to based on guests.

The Pat McAffee Show

Go Colts!

The Witch Wave

Pam Grossman has a way to capture you in her episodes. She draws you right in. Her voice is soothing.

Anna Faris is Unqualified

She is raunchy. She is frank. She is funny and sweet. I love Anna Faris and have been listening to her podcast for a long time.

My Favorite Murder

I too love true crime. I used to listen to this podcast all the time but it has tapered off a bit.


I cannot wait to see what you’re listening to! I hope you’ll check out some of my recommendations.

 

 

ARC Review – Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

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LITTLE DARLINGS

Thriller | 336 pages | 04.30.2019 | Harper Avenue

2 STARS


499Little Darlings is a suspenseful narrative weaving in folklore and the paranormal. It is for sure a page-turner that keeps you guessing what is really going on. Lauren is a brand new mom of twin boys. She is convinced someone is trying to kidnap them, even trying to exchange them for some sinister changlings. The premise of this novel is immediately capturing, unfortunately, it falls flat in many aspects. Despite its intimate ties to some grimmer fairytales, the author struggles with seamlessly integrating their content. In fact, I thought on many occasions that the whole story could’ve worked without any mentions of river fairies or their attempts to swap out newborns. The protagonist, Lauren, is plenty unreliable on her own. We never know if she is delusional or if someone truly tried to take her babies. Another disappointment for me was the ending – it just left me feeling deflated. It was so anticlimactic that I was confused about whether or not I had missed a huge plot point somewhere along the way. I kept thinking “there has to be more, right?”. I also failed to care about most of the characters. Detective Harper had several of her own issues that should’ve been explored more. Her “relationship” with Amy, the journalist, was like an afterthought and added very little to the story. Lauren’s husband was sleazy and disgusting at the very least and hugely manipulative on his worst days. There was also NO solution to any of his indiscretions. Lauren herself was an ok protagonist but her personal struggles were incredibly relatable and earnest. And this is really where the author did her best work.

Golding tackled a very important issue – postpartum depression (PPD) – in a unique and smart way. Channeling it through an unreliable narrator in a setting of potential dark paranormal forces gave the novel some depth and made PPD accessible to a reader without any personal experience, like me. At times, I too had very visceral sensations as Lauren was going through her “breakdown”. I could understand her thought processes and I really felt for her. I am so glad we are starting to address some of our mental health issues in creative ways. I’d say this book could be a trigger for someone suffering from PPD but is definitely an interesting resource nonetheless. It sure allows bringing awareness to a topic that we often treat as hush-hush. I hope Golding will continue her writing journey along those lines and I will check out her next book.


I would like to thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for my advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Spring into Horror and Dewey’s readathon – yassssss!

readathon

April is bringing us two excellent readathon events and I am so in the mood for some social and virtual reading. I love online reading communities and the two described below are two of my favorites. I hope you will join one or both so that we can share book experiences and can collectively increase our TBRs.



The lovely Michelle is hosting once again this most awesomest of readathons – an entire month of horror!!!! This one runs April 1- 30. The goal is to read at least one scary novel. It includes several genres such as horror, thriller, paranormal, mystery, and gothic for example. I love me an excuse for reading more frightening books, so of course, I am so in!

 

Potential TBR for this readathon:

Follow my quest here or on my twitter. The official hashtag is #springhorror.

 



April is also Dewey’s readathon month. This year, this 24-hour goodness takes place April 6th. I love this bi-annual readathon and usually host one or two social hours in the Goodreads group or on the Dewey blog. I will update you on this once I have my time slots confirmed.

 

Potential TBR for this readathon:

 

A while ago, I wrote a post about how I prep for a 24-hour readathon, if you feel so inclined, check it out here. You can also follow my updates here or on my twitter. The official hashtag is #readathon.

ARC REVIEW – WILL HAUNT YOU BY BRIAN KIRK

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WILL HAUNT YOU

Horror | 288 pages | 03.14.2019 | Flame Tree Press

2.5 STARS


464This story is meta! It begins with a warning to the reader that were you to proceed there is no turning back and bad things will happen to you – at times “the author” even speaks directly to you. If you continue reading, you’ll be sucked into whatever craziness this is. Of course, that immediately drew me in. The book starts off with a bang. We get to meet disillusioned guitarist, Jesse, who now writes commercial jingles instead of touring with his former heavy metal band. He is barely scraping by trying to support a wife and a child with a disability.  Immediately after a one-time reunion concert, he is giving his drunk friend (and frontman of the band) a lift home …. and now things get weird. As Jesse is driving down the road, ominous creatures appear out of nowhere, subliminal messages stream over a radio station, are they hunting him? why does the radio host know his name? and his friend bizarrely sleeps through all of this. Are these events related to a book Jesse recently read and who’s warning he blissfully ignored (same as you, the reader)? Or is he going crazy and all of this is happening in his head? Or could this be an elaborate prank orchestrated by his former band members? You, as the reader, may never find out. All you do need to know is that a journey through a funhouse on steroids begins and a hunt for survival begins. Honestly, that is where the author lost me. The chaos was so extreme and elaborate that I didn’t have time to even imagine the scary stuff that was happening. I was confused and irritated. I couldn’t follow the story. I know that this was done on purpose so I could experience what Jesse is experiencing but it just didn’t work for me. I wanted to be scared so badly but I never got there, and I am usually super susceptible to this kind of horror.

I am sad that this novel left me wishing for more. Great concept, much much less great execution. What I appreciated the most are the parallels between the things that happen to Jesse and his past steps to sobriety. His alcoholism led him to many questionable life choices, which he regrets but has to live through one more time.


I would like to thank NetGalley, the publisher and the author for my advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.