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♠

464

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!

 

 

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And thus concludes my February

monthlies

After a huge reading month in January, I am really pleased with another quite successful 4 weeks. I actually finished all the books I had pledged to read in February but one, which I finished on the morning of March 1st. I’ve been traveling for work quite a bit this month, so I am super happy with what I’ve accomplished.

 


Books read: 15

Books listened to: 1

Total pages read (includes “pages” from audiobooks): 5623


 

In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It (Lauren Graham) ♠♠♠♠

461

Goodreads

As expected from Lauren Graham, this was a witty but also an insightful quick read. I adore her and her quirky writing. Her voice feels authentic and genuine. I specifically liked the illustrations that went along with her chapters.

This book would make a great “hey, I thought of you” gift. It repeats a message worth repeating: you are good enough.

 

The Exorcist (William Peter Blatty) ♠♠♠♠♠

466

Goodreads

Pure and utter perfection! I didn’t think it would be possible that I could love the book more than the movie. But it happened. The writing was superb. It combined elements of horror and gothic with elements of humanity and love. It read like a poetic eye-witness report. It featured some of the most authentic and real-feeling dialogue I’ve ever read. I definitely got sucked into the story right from the beginning. I felt icky and weird. I felt worried for the protagonists. I was amused by the vile demon and its foul language. I got annoyed with the mom’s attitude at times and I wanted the priest to hurry up already. I kept thinking about how lucky the actress is that every one of her staff is sticking around for this. This is definitely a book I’d consider a classic and a definite re-read.

The book was a lot less scary and a lot more poetic than the movie. If you enjoy dark themes with bloomy language, this book is for you. I whole-heartedly recommend this novel to any horror buff. 

 

The Mermaid (Christina Henry) ♠♠♠♠♠

477

Goodreads

As many of you know, I love Christina Henry’s retellings of Alice’s adventures. I love them because they’re creepy and dark and dangerous. This delightful book was quite the opposite: airy and light often, filled with romance and hope, and many lovable characters. Yet, the message still packed a punch: love yourself, grow and evolve, say you’re sorry when you mess up, and step up for others in need. Overall, this novel is deep and makes you think.

If you enjoy retellings and novels based on some actual events, I recommend it to you.

 

Let the Right One In (John Ajvide Lindqvist) ♠♠♠

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Goodreads

Honestly, this one left me feeling disappointed. I had been anticipating this read since I added it to my TBR a long time ago. It should’ve been a book I loved. Each element on its own was right up my alley: vampires, murder, gore and blood, bleakness and despair; but somehow these elements didn’t add up. They didn’t fit right. I can’t put my finger on exactly what happened, but the book just didn’t work for me.

I recommend this book if you enjoy suspenseful paranormal literature with a touch of murder, a little bullying, and 80s nostalgia (and not the good kind).

 

 

The Gunslinger (Stephen King) ♠♠♠♠♠

487

Goodreads

This was a reread for me. Well, I listened to the audiobook this time instead of reading the book. It proved itself once more to be great. I love how weird it is. I love how it slightly feels like a Western. I like the internal monologues. I enjoy the gothic-ness of it, like the appearance of ravens and brothels.

This is a different kind of Stephen King. I recommend this book (and this series) to you if you like a little sci-fi and a little fantasy with your weird.

 

Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier) ♠♠♠♠♠

420

Goodreads

I am still swooning over this book. Gah, it was just so damn brilliant. Is this a feminist book or what? I dunno but my gut feeling says yes. du Maurier perfectly observes the societal norms put upon women in England during her time. Could you be strong and free (and a little non-lovable) like Rebecca? Wasn’t it more appropriate to be a nobody like de Winter’s wife #2, who didn’t even get a name in the novel?! I don’t want to give away any spoilers and all my feelings about this book would give away spoilers. So, all I am going to say is that du Maurier masterfully crafted a cohort of characters, perfectly weaved together suspense, romance, and character studies, and put it all together in a poetic ease that you rarely get to see (or read). This novel is dark and flawlessly Gothic.

Everyone must read this masterpiece. 

 

Ruin and Rising (Leigh Bardugo) ♠♠♠♠♠

465

Goodreads

What a satisfying and well-done ending to this trilogy! I quite enjoyed book 1 and 2, but this one had me at the edge of my seat, had me suffering along with the Sun Summoner and her Tracker, had me grieving for Nikolei’s fate, and had me yelling (in my head) “yasssssss” when the Grishas and their allies went all badass the entire time!

The Grisha trilogy is definitely a series that sounds like it could be formulaic and predictable but then proves you entirely wrong. I recommend it to anyone who loves a good fantasy adventure with a whole lot of world building. 

 

Geekerella (Ashley Poston) ♠♠♠ and 1/2♠

488

Goodreads

This was just plain cute! It was spunky and nerdy and full of amazing references to all kinds of fandoms. It was a love story, a story about friendship, and a story about becoming your own. I needed this after a few heavier books early in the month. It made me feel like a belong to some fun social phenomena centering around some of my favorite fictional characters. This book is definitely geared toward a younger audience but allows an older reader to feel young at heart again, and who doesn’t want that?!

If you belong to any kind of fandom or if you just want to feel like you belong, I recommend this book to you. 

 

On the Come Up (Angie Thomas) ♠♠♠♠

463

Goodreads

I didn’t read The Hate U Give – mostly because I have some weird visceral aversion to super hyped books (or movies or anything really). When On the Come Up was a February BOTM pick, I decided to give Angie Thomas a try before this one, too, gets super hyped up. And I am so glad I did. I loved all the classic hip hop references. I felt for the main characters. Their lot in life is not easy and I empathized deeply. Bri, the young rapper and main protagonist, is a difficult person and almost impossible to love as a literary character. That was why I loved her even more. I was immersed in her story. I flew through the pages. I wondered “is it possible that so many things go wrong for one person?” and I had to admit that yes it is. It made me want to be even more understanding toward others, even more aware of how good I have it, and try much, much harder to give back. Any book that can accomplish that is relevant!

I recommend this book as it pushes cultural boundaries. It’s significant and impactful. 

 

Beast (Brie Spangler) ♠♠♠ and 1/2♠

489

Goodreads

This is a nice and very heartfelt own-voices novel. The story was predictable but the characters appeared real, vulnerable, and unique. In fact, I was quite surprised by how emotional I ended up getting throughout the book. I am old enough at this point to not just see the teenagers’ point of views but to also understand how the parents coped and felt about their children’s struggles. I am in an interesting in-between land now. I hope to read more novels like this in the future. This one seemed educational to me without stereotyping or pushing an agenda.

I recommend this book for you if you too feel out of place or are just looking to relate to someone, irrespective of your age.

 

Can You Keep a Secret? (Sophie Kinsella) ♠♠♠♠

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Goodreads

This was a spur of the moment library grab. I was looking for a lighter but engaging read and the synopsis of this book fit the bill. Well, it turned out to be quite a surprising insightful novel! At times it reminded me of One Day in December, which I read and loved last year. This is marketed as a romance novel, and yes it does feature a romance, but it is not front and center. Instead, we get to know the protagonist Emma, who like many 20- or 30-somethings struggles to find her place in the world. She is smart and witty. She is kind and cares. She can be stubborn and selfish but she always comes back around to consider everyone’s feelings and perceptions. She wants to be successful in her job. She is looking for an identity and fulfillment. She is trying to make her mark. Yes, this novel has some clichés like a young girl falling for a succesful wealthy, broody man. But that doesn’t matter, because we are along for the journey, and the journey somehow feels real.

If you’re looking to read a romance novel that feels genuine, I recommend this book to you.

 

The Scorpio Races (Maggie Stiefvater) ♠♠♠

491

Goodreads

I have been wanting to read a Stiefvater book for ages. I tend to avoid getting into series if that’s an option so I picked this one because lots of my bookish friends had loved it and because wild and dangerous horses sounded awesome. I am sad to report that I super, duper struggled with this novel. I had to read past the halfway mark to get into the story and start caring for the protagonists. In the beginning, I was bored and confused and just felt super blah about it all. I ended up sort of loving the mystical sea horses and their violent streaks but feel that if Stiefvater had spent some time at first introducing them and their tales outside the yearly race on the beach, I would’ve loved them immediately and would’ve been invested in the story much more.

I am having a difficult time recommending this book. You have to decide for yourself. 

 

My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel (Kitty Curran, Larissa Zageris) ♠♠♠

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Goodreads

This is one of those books that sounds awesome in theory and then turns out to be rather cumbersome in reality. Given I read this in Kindle format, but I just struggled way too much to make it through the alternate storylines once I read it through for the first time with my original picks. I do really appreciate all the references to known classics like Wuthering Heights, Dracula, Rebecca, and Pride and Prejudice just to name a few. And of course, I loved the over-the-top romances. Also, no matter what storyline you choose, our main character is sure to get a little something-something every time.

I recommend this book only in paperback or hardcopy format. 

 

The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland (Jim DeFede) ♠♠♠♠♠

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Goodreads

I started listening to this book because I tend to do better with nonfiction as audiobooks. I got immediately sucked in. The narrator was compelling. The characters were captivating. The 9/11 backdrop was fascinating. I switched to a Kindle version about 20 pages in because I was too impatient to wait how the story unfolds. I had never thought about what it really means when the airspace over the US is closed to planes. I had no idea how intricate of a play it is to find a place for them to land or refuel. I didn’t think about Canada’s role in this as our neighbor. While all those topics were covered in this book, we also get to know the people that were affected by these decisions quite intimately. We know who has a firefighter son in NYC, we know who has a military background wanting to help but can’t because they’re stuck somewhere on a remote Canadian island, and we know who would rather sleep in a tent on the lawn than crammed inside a small auditorium with hundreds of other stranded people. Parts of the story were hilarious: how DO YOU feed 12000 people in a town that originally has less than 5000 inhabitants? and parts were deeply moving: how would you connect with your newly adopted baby girl amidst all this drama?. This is not a long book but it packs a punch.

This is one of those nonfiction reads that just sucks you in. Read it. 

 

The Mermaid’s Daughter (Ann Claycomb) ♠♠♠♠ and 1/2♠

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Goodreads

This book pick is a direct result of an awesome book-ish community. One of the Top Ten Tuesday prompts (check out here what TTTs are all about) this month was to feature books that we loved that had fewer than 2k ratings on Goodreads. I stumbled across this novel on the TTT post by mimich42 and was immediately intrigued. Retellings and books about mermaids are definitely totally up my alley (I mean you can see that I read two of those just this month) and my library had a Kindle copy available right away – a match made in heaven. I really, really liked this book. It was full of lovely prose. It was dark and mysterious. It had interesting characters. It had Ireland. I thought involving a plotline of opera and composing was smart and beautifully tied in with writing fairytales. There were a few things but that bugged me but they were essentially super minor.

If you like a bit of a gruesome fairytale and enjoy the Hans Christian Andersen version of The Little Mermaid, I recommend this book to you. 

 

Hope Never Dies (Andrew Schaffer) ♠♠♠ and 1/2♠

498

Goodreads

This was so adorably corny but also very weird. I enjoyed this read for that it is – a bit of fluff combined with some fangirling. I didn’t quite like how Obama was portrayed at times but since we get to hear the story told from Biden’s viewpoint it could just be that his little bit of whiny and his little bit of jealous clouded his perception of his best friend.

I recommend this as a fun break from reality and/or a sweet book club read.


How was your February? Did you have a favorite book? Mine has to be a tie between Rebecca and The Exorcist. They’ve both have been in my TBR for way too long and they both blew me away!

And thus concludes my January

monthlies

The first monthlies of 2019. I am still working on the right format for this. I found myself struggling at times with writing reviews in 2018, and I blame the format I selected :p. So, I guess it’s time to try something new. Again. As usual, though, I will underline titles who I personally own and will indicate which books were ARCs I was asked to review. January was a great reading month for me. I got a great start on my 2019 reading goals and was able to explore a good variety of genres. I read some horror. I read some lifestyle. I listened to audiobooks. And I ogled over graphic novels.  I hope you had as much fun as I did this month.

 


Books read: 27

Books listened to: 3

Total pages read (includes “pages” from audiobooks): 8905


 

The Gallagher of Ardmore trilogy (Nora Roberts) ♠♠♠♠, ♠♠♠♠♠, and ♠♠♠♠

 

I have such a soft spot for romance novels set in Ireland and the queen of sappy eyes and cheesy love stories strikes again in this series. I love her descriptions of the landscapes and the folklore. She perfectly incorporates mysticisms and old wives tales into her plot. In this series, Roberts also proves herself a genius at Irish cussing! Some of her trilogies feel derived and her characters feel like she tried so hard to make them different from each other, but in this trilogy, she effortlessly created three unlike couples. I enjoyed the relationship in the second book the most as it was based on friendship and growing up together. I liked that she wrote a different kind of woman in book three. Even though I couldn’t relate to her, as I am not looking for a rich husband, I appreciated her outspokenness about it. We all need women in our lives who aren’t afraid to speak up about what they want.

If you love love and Ireland, I recommend this series. 

 

Even if I Fall (Abigail Johnson) ♠♠♠♠

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I received this YA novel as an ARC (see my detailed review on here on my blog or on Goodreads). (YA) Books for me need to either let you dive into a different world from your own or need to have an important moral to the story. Of course, ideally, they have both. I quite enjoyed this book and felt it had an important message. Its (mostly secondary) plotline set the stage well for character development. The reader felt along with the protagonists, which is something not every author can achieve.

If you want to read a book that helps you understand grief and guilt, I recommend this novel. 

 

Nine Perfect Strangers (Liane Moriarty) ♠♠♠

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I received this book in November as part of my BOTM subscription. I really loved Big Little Lies and had been itching to pick up another Liane Moriarty story. Sadly, this one wasn’t for me. Despite the fact that I read this novel in one sitting and thus it was obviously able to hold my attention, I only felt meh once I finished it. I had quite some trouble caring about the characters, something that came so easily with Big Little Lies. I also didn’t really connect with the plotline. I think Moriarty should’ve pushed Masha’s crazy much, much further.

At the moment, I wouldn’t recommend this book.

 

The Winter People (Jennifer McMahon) ♠♠♠♠

430

Guys, this story started off so damn good, I needed it in my life. It was creepy and eerie and weird. Immediately, I imagined the plot in the style of Eggers’ The Witch. I loved the overwhelming snow, the solitude, the tales about the resurrection of the dead, and the sometimes graphic descriptions in Sara’s diary. I enjoyed the slow built of the story. The author released bits in pieces of information one at a time creating a need to read on. And then the ending happened: sudden, way too quick, flat, and like an afterthought. Why?????????????? This book could’ve been magic!

I still wholeheartedly recommend this book. Read it for imagery. Read it for the suspense. Read it for the beautiful but haunting descriptions of another world. Read it for the amazing cover alone. 

 

Salt (Hannah Moskowitz) ♠

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This was a NetGalley ARC I have been trying to read for a long time. I was on a major struggle bus. Honestly, I didn’t get it. I have no real idea what the message of the story is. I didn’t enjoy the writing. It felt like a long slew of angsty teenage text messages where one sentence seamlessly merges into the next. The plotline was abrupt, with changes in events so sudden that it was hard to follow the story. The only bright spot in the book was Hura, a female pirate, who lived her life as she pleased and made no excuses for her calculated and often ruthless actions. Read my full review here on my blog or follow it on Goodreads.

I do not recommend this book.

 

The Winter Witch (Katherine Arden) ♠♠♠♠♠

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[I wrote a lengthy review on Goodreads and am just going to repeat myself here :)]

Um, what to say????? I had to stay up late to read The Winter Witch in one sitting. This book concludes the journey of one of my favorite heroines, Vasya! She intrigued me in book 1, I fell in love with her in book 2, and she completed me in book 3. How will I go on from here? I need more Vasya in my life!

Katherine Arden’s writing was mesmerizing. She captivated me with her ease to spin novel prose into old world tales. All protagonists grew in this installment. they were complex, to begin with, but their changes were so fitting and crucial for this plot. I loved how she brought side stories and other arcs back into this book. She wrapped everything up with a nice bow on top. If you can call an inevitable war, a head-on collision, a battle of the wits between mankind and mystical creatures wrapping it up with a bow on top. Vasya’s role in this spectacle of “will these two worlds or won’t they come together” was raw and difficult but I loved every moment of it. Don’t get me wrong, Arden broke my heart, with a death so sudden and unexpected that I almost threw the book down, but she repaired it at the end with a conclusion so meaningful and important, I forgave her instantaneously. I urge you here to read her afterword!

I loved being able to follow the author’s own professional rise as a writer. Her prose improved with each book in this series. While I loved book 2 the best because it had the strongest emphasis on Vasya, Arden’s writing was the most powerful in book 3. Indeed, The Winter Witch lives and breaths off of the author’s words! At this point, I only wish I could read Vasya’s tale once more like it was the first time. The Winternight Trilogy will stick with me, as a great example, that even today we can still read books as magical as back in the day when stories were our most important means to communicate with each other. I don’t think I read a modern novel series, I think I read old folklore passed down from generation to generation, and I love Katherine Arden for being able to accomplish that.

Everyone should read this series! I wager to say it will nestle right into your heart and stay there for you to feel all the feels anytime you want.

 

The Kiss Quotient (Helen Hoang) ♠♠♠♠♠

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First off, I thought this was going to be a super adorbz romance book based on this cute cover. Secondly, I was completely fooled by that. This novel was sexy, at times raunchy, and very adult. There were erotic scenes. There was explicit content. And I loved it because none of it felt cheap. It felt real and personal. I didn’t like that the protagonist was introduced as having Asperger’s, which is as far as I know, not a proper diagnosis anymore. Autism Spectrum Disorder is a heterogeneous disorder and it bugs me when people use the wrong nomenclature. However, I am glad that this little annoyance didn’t prevent me from reading the book. I loved the female lead. She was complicated and human. I could relate to her. Her inner monologue was engaging and thought-provoking. Her growth throughout the plot felt organic. This book is a great example of how literature allows us to experience a different point of view. I am thankful that I finally gave in to read this novel.

I recommend this book if you are looking for a well-developed plot, some romance, and a relatable protagonist. I also recommend it if you want to explore new perspectives. 

 

The Saga series (Brian Vaughan, Fiona Staples) ♠♠♠♠ and ♠♠♠♠♠

 

I am really smitten with this series. I love the sci-fi and fantasy merge. The illustrations are beautiful and different. The story is engaging and the main characters well-developed aka flawed but perfect. I read volumes 3 and 4 this month.

If you like following unique characters and their adventures throughout the universe AND are a sucker for some unique graphics and some adult content, I recommend this series to you. 

 

Hygge (Britta Olsson) ♠♠♠ and The Konmari Method (Marie Kondō) ♠♠♠♠♠

 

I’ve discovered that I enjoy learning about different lifestyle philosophies, especially if they are similar to my outlook on life. My friends joke about how non-sentimental I am and how quickly I can get rid of stuff. While that may be true to an outsider looking in, it is actually more of a reflection on how selective and choosy I am with my emotions. I’d rather put in 100% of my feelings into one item than split it up into many. A second factor is also that clutter gives me anxiety. I like things to be manageable. I get overwhelmed by having too much stuff. I like to know the purpose for each item I own, and yes, even if that purpose is just to make me happy. So, the concept of Hygge but also the idea of sparking joy, really resonate with me. I enjoyed listening to both books but felt that Marie Kondo’s was better written and more engaging.  Both emphasize minimalism in a way that still allows you to feel cozy and at home in your own house. Both emphasize mindfulness. I probably will refer back to the Konmari Method more often, but I will definitely keep Hygge in mind when decorating my house.

Try either one of these books if you’re looking to make a change.

 

Dark Rainbow: Queer Erotic Horror (various authors) ♠♠♠

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Another NetGalley ARC for this month. I received it after the publication date but am very happy I was asked to review this collection of short stories. This was really my first foray into queer horror and I quite liked it. As often is the case, this anthology too had some really good stories and some not so good. I don’t want to dwell on these (full review of the book here on my blog or on Goodreads) but focus on my favorite story of the collection: Think of Me by Lindsay King-Miller. This one felt special from the opening line. It was less explicit and emphasized inner monologue over plot. Lindsay King-Miller masterly crafted a hauntingly beautiful short story that tugged on my heartstrings. Losing someone to suicide is sadly not a rare occasion anymore and so I am glad that she highlighted that topic in her work. I loved the surreal twist she gave the protagonist and enjoyed that sinister aftermath. None of that, however, took away from what I perceived to be the main message: suicide is saddening, maddening, and deeply hurtful to everyone involved. I would love to read more of her writing in the future.

I recommend this book if you are looking for new and different protagonists and don’t mind some explicit adult content. 

 

Red Clocks (Leni Zumas) ♠♠♠♠

437

Red Clocks was a buddy-read with some bookish friends from a Goodreads group. It has been on my TBR since last year when I received it through my BOTM subscription. Hailed as a modern-day Handmaid’s Tale, I had been looking forward to reading this novel for a while. To the contrary to Margaret Atwood’s story, this one lived off of its language more than its plot – something I really, really enjoy btw. Leni Zumas utilizes the feeling of distance evoked by her words to create an uncomfortable reading atmosphere. Her book features 5 women with 5 different stories that in one way or another I could relate to. Each woman is uniquely portrayed through a different tone in the writing, which I found fascinating. Despite the language that sometimes makes you squirm in your seat, Zumas creates a feeling of dread because despite her novel taking place in the future, it is a future not unattainable, and thus makes you feel like this could happen to yourself.

This book screams “uncomfortable”. It will make you feel weird. But it is also relevant. I recommend this novel to everyone just so we can all keep our eyes open to any happenings in the future. 

 

Magician: Master (Raymond E. Feist) ♠♠♠♠♠

438

The second volume in the Riftwar Saga was just as epic as the first one (see my review here). I loved following the many (yes many!) main characters on their journeys. Each one develops in a unique way. They all feel complex and real. The plot moves along in just the right pace to keep you invested but to not miss anything of importance. This novel feels 100% like a tabletop game such as Dungeons & Dragons, which was one of the inspirations for the author. The fantastical events seem like the kind I would come up with as a kid. The author’s writing style transports me into magical realms, with heroes, love, and friendship. While reading I couldn’t’ decide if I would wanted to be a magician, an elf, or a brave princess. Both volumes made me feel young at heart, which is something I sometimes forget to be.

I recommend this series if you are ready to go on an adventure of epic proportions.

 

We Sold Our Souls (Grady Hendrix) ♠♠♠ and 1/2♠

436

I’ve been catching up on ARCs this month that I received after their publication date. I really enjoyed reading We Sold Our Souls (review on my blog or on Goodreads). This was a different kind of horror: fun and amusing. The heavy metal references made me feel nostalgic, as I too was an emo teenager :p. The story itself is quick with lots of exciting twists and turns. The only frightening portion to me was a situation built entirely on claustrophobia which was described in such detail that I felt stuck along with the protagonist. And I loved that feeling! I wish some of the plot events would’ve been less sudden and more attainable – they felt too much as a tool to propel the story forward and not authentic or organic in the development.

If you like music and paranormal plotlines, I recommend this book to you.

 

Small Spaces (Katherine Arden) ♠♠♠♠

439

This is a wonderful and spooky middle-grade read. It reminds me of a lighter version of Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge. Arden’s writing style shines through here as well. The book is atmospheric and sometimes frightening. Her protagonist is lovable and the audience has to feel for her recent loss. We understand why she buries herself in fictional stories rather than engage in real life. We would be that girl had we just lost our mom. She doesn’t want people to get close but the thread of the smiling man and a sinister prophecy from a book force her to overcome her inner demons and we are along for the ride.

This book is for any young soul who is looking for a little scare and a lot of heart.

 

Looking for Alaska (John Greene) ♠♠♠ and 1/2♠

440

I honestly don’t really know how to judge this book. I felt let down after reading it but I think it might’ve just been because too much time had passed between me discovering the book and finally getting to read it. I enjoyed the story. I don’t have major quarrels with the protagonists. I just couldn’t get past the teenage angst. I flowed off the page and just mostly annoyed me. Maybe I am too old to relate now?! Who knows.

I recommend this book to any teenager. I think if I had read this during my younger years I would’ve felt understood.

 

The Grisha trilogy (Leigh Bardugo) ♠♠♠♠ and ♠♠♠♠

Everyone is reading this series. I loved the Six of Crows duology, so it was a no brainer that I eventually would make it to the Grishaverse again. I flew through both books and am eagerly awaiting the third one – I requested it from my library a while ago. Leigh Bardugo did not disappoint. The darkness. The sinister play. The world-building. All of those were great. After the first book, I wasn’t sure if I am team Mal or team Darkling and then the author had to introduce Nikolai in the second book. Now, I don’t know at all who is my favorite man ;). I was able to relate to Alina, especially in book 2, which also made me more emotional. I am enjoying the Russian folklore undertones of this series and the sinister plot points and am looking forward to the conclusion of this trilogy.

If you like fantasy novels but are not interested in your typical YA tropes, this series is for you.

 

Elevation (Stephen King) ♠♠♠♠

444

This has quickly become one of my favorite Stephen King short stories. It was endearing and light, yet totally packed a punch with a depth of the human condition, that has become so typical of King’s latest novels. I went through a series of emotions: anger, disappointment, silliness, thoughtfulness, sadness, and acceptance are just a few. I loved how the ending was just this inevitable occurrence even though as a reader you keep your hope up the entire time that it won’t come to that.

If you are not someone who generally enjoys horror but have been wanting to try some King, I recommend this book to you. It has a paranormal aspect but no jump scares or overtly frightening events. 

 

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Truman Capote) ♠♠♠♠

445

I’ve been wanting to read this forever. I love the movie and have been curious to see the book it is based on. I knew from the start that the book and the movie differ but after reading it, I have to say the tone and the sentiment of them are the same! Truman Capote’s writing style is whimsical, which opposes the depths of his topics greatly, but creates an amazing synergy. The copy I read also included three other short stories allowing me to get even a bit more insight into Capote’s writing. A Christmas Memory is largely autobiographically and was just amazing and heartbreaking and special.

If you read anything by Truman Capote, read A Christmas Memory.

 

The Silent Patient (Alex Michaelides) ♠♠♠

447

This was another BOTM book buddy read with my Goodreads group. I enjoy a good thriller because I like figuring stuff out. Sadly, I found myself mostly irritated and annoyed throughout the book. Now, I have to qualify, that this was somewhat alleviated toward the end as it all started making sense, but I still find it a flaw of the book. Making the narrator/protagonist/psychotherapist an arrogant prick is an interesting and smart plot point. Making his inner dialog essentially just textbook definitions of psychoanalytical jargon made my eyes roll so hard I thought I had to switch to an audiobook version because I kept loosing the line I was on. This is basically the perfect example of why showing me instead of telling me makes for excellent writing. I felt the entire time as if the author is trying to prove that he knows psychology stuff. But why? That wasn’t even necessary to propel the story forward. The book did redeem itself at the end because of its fun plot twist. I really did enjoy how it all came together during the last few pages.

I recommend this book to you if you like reading fast-paced suspense with unexpected plot twists. 

 

Lady Susan (Jane Austen) ♠♠♠♠

446

This is one of my favorite Austen pieces. It’s the most gossipy but also critical social commentary of her times. Lady Susan is manipulating and scheming. She takes advantage of her environment any chance she gets. She is selfish. She is smart. She wouldn’t be able to be how she is weren’t Austen-time England the way it was!

This was a quick read and I urge you to pick up this novella.

 

Steppenwolf (Hermann Hesse) ♠♠♠♠

448

Hermann Hesse is dense. He is a wizard with long-winded, unnecessarily complicated, and always much too lengthy sentences; and that is exactly why he is a literary genius! You have to digest everything he says. Each plot point, each sentence, each character comes with a qualifier. The Steppenwolf aka Harry is the epitome of Hesse’s times; yet today’s reader can still relate to his struggles, his doubts, and his flaws. I am a big fan of a book that makes me feel despair, that there is no hope, that everything is triste and melancholic. This novel did just that.

I recommend this book if you a reader who prefers language over plot. 

 

Winter in Paradise (Elin Hilderbrand) ♠♠♠

449

It appears that my recent BOTM picks were all suspenseful and quick reads. This one I chose because 1) it had a mystery to solve and 2) it took place on St. John, which I visited and loved last summer. This book does not read like a thriller. There is an underlying mystery and we learn more about it as the protagonists discover a series of events, but, in fact, the book reads more like a character study – how does each character cope with the fact that the person they thought they knew had secrets of their own. In the end, we understand a good portion of the circumstances that lead to a death in the Carribean but the novel does end in a small cliffhanger.

I would recommend this book as one to read if you want to escape a dreary winter and by association enjoy the island life and sun. 

 

While You Sleep (Stephanie Merritt) ♠♠♠♠ and 1/2♠

442

Another ARC I was fortunate to review this month and I loved everything about it: the cover, the atmosphere, the sinister plot, and the sensual writing. Please see my reviews on my blog or on Goodreads for a more in-depth discussion. This story is so complex and I never knew what was real, what was a dream or the delusions of an ill woman, and what was a paranormal occurring. I don’t want to talk about it too much because I want everyone to read this book without knowing virtually nothing about it!

If you love a good haunting, if you love being left in the dark, if you love every character in the plot to be unreliable, I recommend this novel to you.

 

Brief Horrible Moments: A Collection of One Sentence Horror Stories (Marko Pandza) ♠♠♠

460

I saw this in my Goodreads feed and just had to have it. It was only $0.99 for Kindle and whoops I bought it. People were raving about the beautiful illustrations and the chilling one-liners. Well, sadly to report here, the eBook didn’t have any illustration and so the whole book left me disappointed. A few of the one sentence stories were really, really good but they couldn’t make up for the fact that some of the experience was missing.

If you’re a horror fan this would be a great coffee table book.


How was your January? Did you have a favorite book? If I had to pick one it probably would be While You Sleep. I know, gasp! I was totally expecting it to be The Winter Witch!

December reads warm my heart

monthlies

The last month of 2018 concluded on a high note with 13 books read, and that was despite traveling between Europe and the US! I am quite proud of this. After some anxiety and a last big push, I was also able to complete the Popsugar reading challenge with 2 hours to spare on December 31st. So, with that, I fulfilled all my goals for 2018!

 

 

 

 

Welcome to the Show (various authors) ♠♠♠ and 1/2♠

388This is a compilation of horror short stories. There were a few in the series I really enjoyed and some that were just really meh. The writing was excellent but some plotlines weren’t well developed and I got lost. I wish there would’ve been more editing or proof-reading amongst the authors to guarantee a more equal distribution of quality stories.

This short story collection is worth a read if you: don’t mind a mix of horror genres, like to read up-and-coming authors

This is not for you if you are: looking to be truly terrified

 

One Hundred Years of Solitude (Gabriel Garcia Marquez) ♠♠

389Ugh!!!!!!!!!!!!! This book bested me again. I listened to it as an audiobook and was able to follow the plot about 2/3 through and then, yet again, completely lost interest. I half-listened to the ending. So, although I technically completed the book, I don’t feel like I actually did. I am counting it for this month but will probably revisit this novel in the future.

This is so my nemesis book I don’t even allow myself to have an opinion about it.

 

City of Ghosts (V.E. Schwab) ♠♠♠♠♠

390

Schwab just delivers when it comes to creating an atmosphere. This story, although targeting middle-grade readers, is most definitely a delight for anyone who enjoys eerie scenes, ghost stories, and beautiful language. Her characters were so odd but so lovable, I I am glad this will be a series and I get to spend more time with them soon! This book would also make an excellent graphic novel – here is to hoping for an adaptation.

 

Read it if you: just need some dark but magical plots in your life

Don’t read it if you: are looking for a complex plot or adult themes

 

Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe (Debbie Johnson) ♠♠♠♠

391

This was one of my favorite fluff reads of December. Debbie Johnson’s writing style and her character development were delightful and I think I am going to pick up other work by her.

This Christmas read is for you if you are: looking for a heart-warming story and a cozy feel, enjoy colorful characters

Don’t pick up this book if you are: looking for depth in a story

 

Snow in Love (various authors) ♠♠♠and 1/2♠

392

A cute fluff read with several short stories. The plots were adorable and the romance cheesy.

This book is for you if you: want a fun read with your hot chocolate, like YA romances

Nope on the book if you: can’t stand cheesy young love

 

 

The Gift (Cecelia Ahern) ♠♠♠ and 1/2♠

393This is not your typical Christmas fluff. In fact, the plot is kind of heavy and quite melancholic. It does have an important message. This is a good read to reflect upon your own life.

This novel is for you if you: are looking for a thoughtful read

This novel is not your thing if you: do not want to have moments of sadness or melancholy

 

Saga, Vol 1 and Vol 2 (Brian K Vaughan) ♠♠♠♠♠ and ♠♠♠♠

 

 

 

I fell in love with this series so quickly, I just had to buy my own copies. This is a very adult graphic novel series – there are themes of sex and war. The illustrations don’t leave anything to the imagination but are beautifully done. The style matches the crassness of the story. I am definitely on the Saga bandwagon!

If you’re an adult (and not easily offended), you should read this series.

 

Krampus: the Yule Lord (Brom)

395Guys, I can’t fathom I just now discovered Brom!!!! What a treasure! I freaking loved this novel. I’ve always enjoyed Krampus stories as a kid but seeing it in print as an adult put into an adult novel was something different entirely. Brom did a wonderful job combining folklore with suspense and modern themes. I loved his Krampus and I am sure this will become a regular re-read around the Christmas season. I had gotten this book from the library but proceeded to purchase my own copy pretty much right away.

This Christmasy read is for you if you: want something different than a cozy holiday romance, love a good scary folktale

Don’t read this book if you: only believe in Santa Claus

 

In Cold Blood (Truman Capote) ♠♠♠♠

396This was pretty awesome! If you enjoy true crime, this book is for you. I listened to it and felt like I was investigating these murders together with Truman Capote. His prose fits the circumstance so well that the book reads more like fiction than nonfiction. I got a bit disengaged during the end but overall this was a wonderful audiobook.

Read this story if you: like true crime stories that feel like fiction

Don’t read it if you: can’t handle graphic descriptions of murder scenes and creepy insights into murderer psyches

 

One Day in December (Josie Silver) ♠♠♠♠♠

397This was my December BOTM pick and also happened to be Reese Witherspoon’s book club read. I saved this novel for Christmas Eve and I am so glad I did. It set the mood perfectly. This novel is a lot more than a romance story. It’s more of a character study that spans a decade or more where we get to live and learn alongside the main characters and go with them through their trials and tribulations. Each one is flawed and makes mistakes. Everything feels very real. The book really caught me by surprise as it was so much deeper than I had expected. I was quite invested in the characters and shed a few tears here and there (well, at some point it was more of a through weep).

Pick this book as your next read if you: want to feel all the feels, enjoy following a character, want a little romance with your plot

Don’t read this book if you: are looking for a fast-paced plot or an over the top romance

 

Magician: Apprentice (Raymond Feist) ♠♠♠♠♠

398What a find! This was my hardest Popsugar category to fulfill (a book read by someone in public) and I had to wait until November when I finally saw someone reading a physical book in public (well he was actually carrying it around my work building but the copy looked well loved, so I assume he was reading it or had read it at some point). But, boy, am I happy with how this worked out. I loved this story. It was epic. It had elves. There was magic. A war against a weird future race was fought. Someone fell in love. Someone got captured. Battles were won and lost. A wise magician was wise. And friendships were tested and allegiances pledged. I really can’t wait to read the second installment.

This series is right up your alley if you: loved The Hobbit or LOTR, played or are still playing D&D

Not your thing if you: don’t like LENGTHY tales

 

Tell the Wolves I’m Home (Carol Rifka Brunt) ♠♠♠♠♠

399AIDS in the 198s was a completely different beast than it is today. This story was a good reminder of how the unknown scares us and how we often fail to recognize that our reaction to certain things can deeply hurt others. This story was often sad (or at the least melancholic). The plot was driven by a lack of knowledge about AIDS and a family was almost torn apart by this. This story was also a coming-of-age tale. It had friendship and love, forgiveness and redemption, and a lot of heart. This honestly was a good end-of-the-year read that allowed me to reflect upon my own insecurities and fears.

Read this if you: want a reminder to be less judgy and more open toward other people’s feelings and experiences

Don’t read this novel if you: are afraid to tackle some of your own prejudices and insecurities

I gobbled up books in November

monthlies

This month I found my groove back was November. It was probably a combination of the momentum I caught toward the end of October and the fact that I love November weather – rain and wind. Dreariness is perfection for reading! I had a few milestones this month: I finished reading Uncommon Type, I finished listening to One Hundred Years of Solitude, and I dwindled it down to only [] more empty categories for the Popsugar reading challenge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uncommon Type (Tom Hanks) ♠♠♠♠♠

287I loved these short stories. I kinda had high hopes for Tom Hanks – I mean is there something the man can’t do? – and he did not disappoint. I loved the retro feel of the tales. I loved that he wants to revive old-timey things. Writing an entire book on a typewriter is now one of my goals. He expertly snuck in a different type of typewriter in each story without it being obvious. The themes of his plots were super varied making this an ideal book to read for a bit and then put away and grab again weeks later (hint, hint: that’s exactly what I did). Tom Hanks is talented. His writing is easy going and effortless. He plays with words the right amount to keep the reader engaged but doesn’t push it where the words overpower the story. Honestly, the book felt like he had fun writing it, and isn’t that really refreshing?

This book would make an amazing Christmas gift. There is a story in it for everyone.

 

Fragile Things (Neil Gaiman) ♠♠♠♠

288I began listening to this during my social media time during Dewey’s readathon and finished the book over the next few weeks at work. I find Neil Gaiman’s voice so soothing and he seems like the perfect work companion. I’ve only recently (last two years) started to appreciate audiobooks and Neil himself was a big driving force. This collection of fantastical Gaiman tales was very adult – just how I like it. I quite enjoyed the American Gods connection and several of the stories were weird, gross, and dark – so right up my alley!

Listen to this audiobook if you: love magical oddities, are looking for a fun narrator

Don’t listen to this if you: are underage or just immature :p

 

The Crossover (Kwame Alexander) ♠♠♠♠♠

301

Guys! This book was such an amazing surprise. It honestly was sheer perfection. It did mess me up for a while though. I had no idea I would get so emotionally involved and I honestly think it was the poetry that drew me in. Writing the story in that medium was pure genius – it made the tale raw and so real.

This should be a must read for everyone!

 

 

Three Fates (Nora Roberts) ♠♠♠♠♠

302And thus begun my Ireland Nora Roberts marathon … This book was fantastic. It combined mythology with strong female characters and an amazing villain. Of course, there was love, it is Nora Roberts after all, but there was no over the top romance; just badass characters and an adventure filled plot. I think this would be a great introduction to the Robert universe if you haven’t read any of her books.

Pick up this book if you: are looking for a fast=paced journey, enjoy mythology and love stories, love a female villain

This book is not for you if you: are looking for realistic human interactions

 

The ‘Born In‘ Trilogy (Nora Roberts) ♠♠♠♠ and ♠♠♠♠♠

 

 

 

 

I specifically sought out this trilogy because I wanted more Nora Roberts and more Ireland in my life. Well, Born In delivered! The descriptions of Ireland were so decadent and luscious, I immediately wanted to book a plane ticket and visit the country myself. I liked the Concannon sisters and I specifically liked the grumpy half-sister! The characters in this trilogy were actually quite flawed and seemed very human. I cherished the small glimpses in old Irish folklore as they provided just the little extra to these stories. My favorite romance was between the homely, yet strong-minded Brianna and the nerdy writer in book #2. So Stephen King :p

This is a good trilogy for you if you: are looking to know what happens after they fall in love, like family sagas, enjoy plentiful descriptions of countrysides

This is not going to be your thing if you: don’t like cheesy and happily-ever-afters

 

The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde) ♠♠♠♠

339I chose this book as it has my favorite color in the title and belongs to the 1001 book list. No surprise here that I liked it: it was perfectly weird and Gothic, it splendidly represents the old England through the most delicious social gossip, there was some odd pact with the devil, and oh so much despair! The only drawback the story has is that it was quite long-winded at times. There were several super dry passages that did not make for easy reading. But isn’t that almost required for British lit? The interactions between Dorian Gray and the painter give this book a very important depth that we can only appreciate knowing Oscar Wilde’s presumed sexual orientation.

Read it if you: like Victorian life England, enjoy Gothic tales with devilish undertones, life for social commentary

Don’t read it if you: get easily bored

 

Supernatural Tales (Vernon Lee aka Violet Page) ♠♠♠♠♠

340Gahhhh! This was so damn good! Thank you, Popsugar reading challenge, for making me find this book to fulfill a category. Violet Page sets a mean stage for the perfect scariness. Her eerie language, her delicious imaginations, and her sarcastic voice gave me the perfection reading experience. I flew through these short stories and of course, I have my favorites. I want everyone to read this book so we can chat about our most loved parts.

This is a must read if you: are into horror, Gothic, or creepy tales at all … also if you’re a feminist!

Don’t read it if you: want to keep the current patriarchy alive … women writing under male pseudonyms are just one symptom of what’s wrong with it

October is still a special reading month

monthlies

Like September, October at first was a bit of a dud. Halfway through the month, I had only finished TWO books (ARCs that I felt so guilty about submitting late!). Thank goodness for Dewey’s readathon and the power of 24 hours of uninterrupted reading. As usual, that really put me into gear and I ended up reading a total 13 books (or listening to the audiobook versions). I also made a huge jump in my personal challenge goals. I think I can actually complete the Popsugar reading challenge as well as my goal to read 25 books I own. I was also able to finish 10 books from the 1001 book list and crossed the finish line on 100 books. I am so dang proud of this!

 

 

***SPOILERS POSSIBLE    *NOTE: UNDERLINED TITLES WERE SHOPPED FROM MY OWN SHELF

 

The Reckless Club (Beth Vrabel) ♠♠

264

 

I was a bit disappointed by this book. I just couldn’t get into the story and I couldn’t see myself in the characters. The overarching theme is an important one – how do we fit into a group of people, how can we still be ourselves, and how can we accept others the way they are. Maybe a younger audience (younger than me that is) can relate to the kids in the story better.

This story is for you if you: like a bit of mystery, enjoy a larger cast of characters, want to be introduced to current social injustice events

This story is not your thing if you: are looking for a lot of depth

 

Dr. Jo (Monica Kulling and Julianna Swaney) ♠♠♠♠

265I loved this picture book. There are small paragraphs that lend themselves really well to read out loud to a child. I think this is a great medium to introduce children to important history makers.

You’ll enjoy this children’s book if you: like historical fiction, are looking for female empowerment

I can’t think of a reason why you wouldn’t enjoy this book.

 

The Pit and the Pendulum (Edgar Allan Poe) ♠♠♠♠♠

276EAP is one of my favorite authors. He is like haunted woods, like an eerie lake, like a creepy mansion. His stories perfectly set a Gothic mood. I always enjoy reading or listening to one of this short stories or poems. The Pit and the Pendulum is one of those stories filled with despair, the unknown, and no hope. When you read it (or listen to it), you feel the fear. It’s very visceral.

Everyone should read Poe. 

 

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (Jenny Han) ♠♠♠

277

I listened to this book because I want to watch the new Netflix movie. The audiobook didn’t really hold my attention. I just kinda feel meh about the story. Maybe the movie will be better?

Read it if you: like teenage love drama

Don’t read it if you: hate tropes and clichés

 

The Invisible Man (H.G. Wells) ♠♠♠

278My second H.G. Wells book and again I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought. Maybe he is just not for me? I recognize the historical importance of his writings but I can’t justify that being the reason why I should love a book.

Pick up this book if you: are into classical sci-fi

Put the book back down if you: are looking for a riveting story

 

The Captain’s Verses (Pablo Neruda) ♠♠♠♠♠

279

Oh, how I love Neruda. I should read his poetry much more regularly. I bought this collection fairly recently and I am so glad I did. I had a few days of power outage (thank you, Michael) and I read these poems out loud to my pets with a flashlight. I loved every minute of it. I had read these poems before but this round just gave them a whole new meaning. I discovered new favorite lines or suddenly understood portions that before eluded me.

Neruda’s poetry is for you if you: like reading about realistic love, enjoy metaphors and allegories, don’t mind some adult content

Neruda’s poetry is not your cup of tea if you: just can’t get into love poems

 

The Call of the Wild (Jack London) ♠♠♠♠

280It seems that October was a month of revisiting books I’ve read a long time ago. The Call of the Wild was one of those I devoured as a child. Books from the viewpoint of animals were a staple in my childhood library. Books about dogs, wolves, whales, dolphins, and horses basically made up my reading list. Jack London has a knack for dog and wolf stories. His imagery of woods and the harshness of nature is on point. His criticism of mankind’s tendency for selfishness, ruthless, and cruelty speaks to me. I really enjoyed listening to this book. I could relate to the (mis)adventures of Buck.

Everyone should read Jack London once. I am torn between suggesting The Call of the Wild of Wild Fang. I am partial toward the latter as that was my first London book.

Don’t read London books if you: don’t like animals as protagonists.

 

The Bloody Chamber (Angela Carter) ♠♠♠♠♠

281This collection of retellings is just plainly amazing! Carter’s writing is etheric, complex, dark, imaginative, and beautiful. She captures the essence of the fairytale and then spins it in a new way. This book inspired me to start writing short stories. It is definitely one that I will re-read in the future. I am glad I bought my used copy on a whim.

This collection is for you if you: like the weird and creepy, need dark fairytales in your life, don’t mind some horror and despair, enjoy an antihero or plain villain

This collection is not for you if you: don’t like retellings, want the good guy to win

 

Welcome to Dead House (R.L. Stine) ♠♠♠♠♠

283I’ve been meaning to read the Goosebumps books ever since I learned they’re a thing. This was a fun introduction to the series. It honestly was scary at times. Stine has a way of setting the scene that pulls you right in. I am definitely going to read more of his books.

You’ll enjoy this book if you: like haunted houses and zombie-like creatures

You won’t like this book if you: can’t remember how easily you were scared as a child

 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Seth Graham-Smith) ♠♠♠

282This book is probably 80-ish% Pride and Prejudice word for word. I loved that. But given that it is a retelling and a retelling of horror at that, I wanted more horror! Specifically, I wanted more zombies. Sadly, it seemed that the zombies here were just an afterthought – an opportunity missed. That cover though is to die for!

Read this retelling of you: enjoy the writing of Jane Austin

Don’t read the retelling if you: want to be scared or at least creeped out

 

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (Jeanette Winterson) ♠♠♠♠

284Well, this story is strange. The writing is odd. The topic is deep and complex. I honestly had no idea at times what the author was trying to say – weird interludes of magical fairytale-like stories and spots of poetry “complemented” the main plot. Despite that, this book left an impression – a good one.

Sit down with this book if you: don’t mind being utterly lost, know the importance of a good LGBTQ+ story, enjoy unusual writing, are intrigued by different lifestyles

Avoid this book if you: need a straightforward plot, don’t like to the pushed outside your comfort zone

 

The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe – Manga Classic (Stacy King) ♠♠♠♠♠

285How have I never thought about EAP stories as Manga????? The format is perfect for his tellings. I thoroughly loved every minute I got to spend with this book. The illustrations added a level of urgency and despair to his writing that I wasn’t expecting. I felt like I was at the edge of my seat even though I knew exactly what was going to happen next.

As I said earlier, everyone should read Poe. This Manga collection would be the perfect introduction to his worlds. 

 

Something Wicked This Way Comes* (Ray Bradbury) ♠♠♠♠

*I am not counting this toward my books owned count since I only bought the book after reading my library copy but I underlined it anyway since I own it now.

286This was a group read that culminated into a group watching of the movie! I am so glad I joined. I had no idea how poetic Bradbury is. I didn’t know how cleverly he integrates things we all deal with (here: coming of age or dealing with a midlife crisis) with horror themes and the paranormal. This took me by surprise and makes me want to read more of his works. I was most taken aback by his knack of writing – he shows an unexpected grace and uses imagery and metaphors ingeniously. I can see Something Wicked This Way Comes to become a regular Halloween re-read.

Open this book if you: like Gothic writing, stories about the circus, lots of hidden meanings

Don’t begin this book if you: don’t like a slowly developing story

Fall into September

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Ok. This may have been THE saddest reading season, yet. Moving and getting my new house ready has completely taken over my life! I am way late to post my September wrap-up. I am barely reading even though Halloween is right around the corner and fall has finally begun even in my neck of the woods. September and October are usually my most favorite excuses to read anything horror, creepy, supernatural, or plain weird. I am super banking on catching up during Dewey’s readathon, which is this upcoming Saturday. But see my separate blog post for that. All in all, September was slim pickin’s. I finished only ONE book. How is that even possible????? This is probably a good time to also confess that I most likely won’t fulfill my yearly challenge of reading 25 books I own and 10 books from the 1001 book list. I am however well on track to achieve my overall goal of 100 books and I am past my goal of reviewing 15 ARCs. So there is at least that. I am going to have to scramble to get the Popsugar challenge done, but I think it’s for sure attainable. Thus, without further ado, here is the review for the one book I completed.

 

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***SPOILERS POSSIBLE    *NOTE: UNDERLINED TITLES WERE SHOPPED FROM MY OWN SHELF

 

Circe (Madeline Miller) ♠♠♠♠

I honestly truly enjoyed this book. Madeline Miller has a knack of pulling you into Greek mythology but making it fresh and new. I loved the heroine in this novel. Circe is stubborn, strong, independent, odd, loving, curious, proud, arrogant at times, frightened at others, and very, very relatable. The descriptions of the lands and the sea journeys were delectable – I was definitely in that setting. The various characters are well-developed and even though Miller borrows from old Greek tales quite a bit, she puts her own spin on it, making each person feel modern without losing the epicness (is that a word?) of the story.

I recommend this book for you if you: are curious about the Greeks, love a strong female lead, have a hankering for lush descriptions

This book is not for you if you: do not enjoy historical fiction

Reading and selling a house in August is hard

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August was a tough month for me. I’m moving to a different state for work and a house lived in for 10 years does not move easily. This was also my first time selling a house and, boy oh boy, does that take up all your time. It’s done though, fingers crossed the buyer doesn’t back out at the last moment and I wasted my time, and I was able to get some reading done. I took my N.E.W.T.s and, surprisingly, passed. I, however, read NONE of the books I had planned to read. LOL.

 

 

 

***SPOILERS POSSIBLE    *NOTE: UNDERLINED TITLES WERE SHOPPED FROM MY OWN SHELF

 

Beowulf (Unknown) ♠♠♠♠

253What an epic! What a tale! I tried reading this on my Kindle but couldn’t get a good feel for it. I then switched to listening to it and it was just amazing! Seamus Heaney perfectly invoked the bard in himself and I felt like I was listening to this adventure sitting by an open fire at night. I cannot fathom it has taken me almost 35 years to experience this story.

This poem should be listened to! ASAP!

 

Awesome! (Craig Shuttlewood) ♠♠♠ NEWTs

254

A book about friendship. A book about jealousy. A book about finding yourself. These themes are staples in children’s lit and this book just didn’t shine for me.

Share this with a child. This is a quick read and has an important message. 

 

 

Sloth at the Zoom (Helaine Becker) ♠♠♠♠♠ NEWTs

255Now, this is something special. The illustrations are fun and whimsical. The story is imaginative. But most importantly, this will be fun for adults to read as it has tons of silly jokes to keep you entertained. The puns on time are hilarious and well-placed.

Read this if you like: groany puns, sloths, puns about sloths

Don’t read it if you: can only live on the fast lane

 

Red Queen (Victoria Aveyard) ♠♠ NEWTs

256I did a reading challenge once that had a prompt about love triangle tropes. This book would fit this perfectly. It was just too much. I listened to this as an audiobook and honestly, I think that’s the only reason I finished the book. At least, I could get other things accomplished meanwhile.

This series is for you if you like: dystopian societies, love triangles, magic/strange powers

This series isn’t for you if: you’re looking for something fresh

 

The Astonishing Color of After (Emily X.R. Pan) ♠♠♠♠

257I loved a good book about grief. I love a good book about mental illness. This novel combined both and did it so well! The idea of experiencing emotions in color is intriguing, to say the least. This story wavers between realism and fantasy. It feels light and airy like the bird that it features but it tackles heavy topics and makes the reader think. It is full of symbolism and magic. This plot happens to you. It requires surrender to the oddities and the weirdness.

 

A novel perfect for you if you: want to leave your comfort zone a bit, are not scared of experiencing someone else’s grief, enjoy metaphors and symbolism

Don’t read this if you: are not prepared to think about what you just read

 

Endless Night (Agatha Christie) ♠♠♠♠♠ NEWTs

258Agatha Christie turns Gothic in this novel. It’s creepy. It’s odd. It reminds me of King’s Salem’s Lot or Stroker’s Dracula. The characters in this book might be some of her best characters she has written. Such complexity and so very human.

Branch out to this book if you: are looking for a different kind of Agatha Christie, enjoy some evil and weird tales

This is not for you if you: are looking for a true detective mystery

 

The Guardian’s Trilogy (Nora Roberts) ♠♠♠♠ and ♠♠♠♠♠ NEWTs

 

 

Yet another fun series by my beloved Nora Roberts. This one boasts magical beings and hidden treasures. The first book was my favorite as the love story sort of took backstage to the actual adventure and thus felt more real. I also quite enjoyed the villains – some were human, others were not, and some transitioned in between. Indeed, the villains were unusually complex. The crescendo of the journey was a bit of a let-down as it needed a lot more battling and maybe even a loss here and there, but overall this is a really solid trilogy if you’re into the romance genre.

Start this trilogy if you like: good and bad magic, unusual romantic pairings

Avoid this trilogy if you: need your romance to feel real

 

Faceless Killers (Henning Mankell) ♠♠♠♠ NEWTs

262Another audiobook, although I read the last few pages on my Kindle because my audiobook library expired and they had the eBook available. To be honest, I was a bit underwhelmed. Yet putting this into the perspective of the year it was released (1991) I have to admire its relevance even today: racism, media abuse, and fear-mongering are all phenomena we still experience at the moment. Kurt Wallander, the main character, feels authentic. The case he has to solve is something we probably all heard about now, something that can actually happen. I am not sure I am going to continue with the Wallander series but I am glad I at least read the first book.

Pick up this book if you: want to read a good mystery, enjoy the occasional Nordic noir story

Put the book back down if you: need a fast-paced thriller

Christmas in July and other shenanigans

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This is going to be a marathon of a blog post as I have done two bigger readathons this month in addition to my regular reading. Despite the fact that I went on vacation the first week-ish if July, I got quite a bit of reading done. I had dreams of reading by the beach during my vacation but alas that didn’t happen as I was too busy snorkeling, knitting, eating, and sightseeing. St. Thomas is beautiful, y’all! I highly recommend vacationing there if you need a time out from the hustle and bustle of your daily life.

 

 

***SPOILERS POSSIBLE    *NOTE: UNDERLINED TITLES WERE SHOPPED FROM MY OWN SHELF

 

Bride Quartet series and Summer Desserts (Nora Roberts) ♠♠♠ and ♠♠♠♠

 

These were basically my guilty pleasure vacay reads. I have a soft spot for anything Nora Roberts and these did not disappoint. They were fluff, over-the-top cheesy, entertaining, and some of the couples proved even to be relatable. I flew through them like is expected from any Roberts novel and have already half-way forgotten what the plots were about.

Read any of these books if you want to: escape reality in a light-hearted way

Skip these books if you: can’t stand romance novels

 

The Transfigured Hart (Jane Yolen) ♠♠♠♠♠

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Magical. Full of imagery. Life lessons. Friendship. Keeping your inner child alive. We are all different but also alike. Unicorns? Fantastical tales. Bravery. Need I say more? I quite loved this story and would highly recommend it to anyone.

You should own this book!

 

 

 

My Friend Fear (Meera Lee Patel) ♠♠♠♠♠

252I have had this book on my nightstand for quite a while and I am so glad I finally picked it up and read it in one sitting. The watercolor illustrations are magnificent and the message is even more beautiful. Let’s embrace our fears and allow them to push us forward. Patel talks about her fear of being different, looking different, having brown skin, and parents who don’t speak English well. I don’t have the same fears but still saw myself in her tellings. Fear can be universal and can unite us and make us relate to each other. She captures that sentiment perfectly. I’ve added her book to my collection of near-and-dear-to-my-heart self-help and spiritual books and I will reference it in the future I am sure.

Give this book a read if you: want to feel less alone with your fears, are looking for encouragement

This book is not for you if you: are not ready to tackle your anxieties

 

Trapped in Room 217 (Thomas Kingsley Troupe) ♠♠♠♠

244This novel is part of The Haunted States of America series. It’s written for middle-grade and how can I not get excited about horror books for kids???? I loved the story and really wish the author would write it again for adults. I wanted it to be longer and even scarier :). I immediately got drawn in by the plot. Parts reminded me of King’s The Shining and of course I was going to love it simply based on that. I could relate to the main characters and middle-grade me would’ve devoured this novel. I am so glad someone is writing these types of stories for a younger audience. I now definitely want to check out the rest of the series and, hey, I might start a campaign to get an adult version of these books as well! The cover art is also on point!

Read this if you enjoy: horror, scary plots, spooky things, strong lead characters

Don’t read this if you: scare easily

 

Ghoulia (Barbara Cantini) ♠♠♠♠♠

245Another spooky book. This one is illustrated and for an even younger reader. I loved, loved, loved everything about the plot, the characters, and the main message. I will have to buy this book and read it to my pets (since I don’t have kids) on Halloween. I hope this series will become a staple in kids’ libraries and their homes.

Get this book if you: like spooky Halloween stories, enjoy playing dress-up, feel different but want to fit in

I can’t think of a reason why you wouldn’t like this book.

 

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep/Blade Runner (Philip K. Dick) ♠♠♠

251I listened to this on audio. I tried the eBook but couldn’t get into it. The audiobook turned out to be a lot more engaging. I was disappointed by the writing though. I can’t even explain what I expected but I had hoped for more, after all, it is on the 1001 book list. The story itself was interesting although a bit boring. I am glad I can cross this book off my list but for me, it wasn’t anything special.

This story is for you if you: love classic sci-fi

This story is not your cup of tea if you: need a lot of action in a plot

 

Begone the Raggedy Witches (Celine Kiernan) ♠♠♠♠

246The premise of this world is great: it’s dark, there is witchcraft, we have intrigue and betrayal, we find rebellion and bravery. I loved the main character: she is fierce, adventurous, and has an impeccable moral compass. What I struggled with was what age group this was written for. The plot was kinda dark and mature but then the ending was an “everything is fine and everything worked out as expected” ending, which I generally associated with younger audiences. Somehow, to me, the ending didn’t fit the overall feel of the story. I can’t quite put my finger on it but I don’t think everything should’ve just fallen into place at the end.

Pick up this book if you: want to be sucked into another series, like good world-building, enjoy a little witchcraft, read books based on cover art

Put this book away if you: are not ok with an easy plot

 

Crooked Kingdom (Leigh Bardugo) ♠♠♠♠

250This was such a solid sequel to Six of Crows! I still enjoyed all the characters and Bardugo is a master at world-building! The descriptions are detailed and vivid, the plot is complex, the characters are deep and relatable, and the ending left me wanting more. I found Six of Crows to be a bit more suspenseful and action-packed but otherwise, I loved both books equally. Also, why Matthias, why?

This series is a must-read for anyone who loves fantasy novels.

 

readathon-wrap-up

 

I have two readathons to wrap-up. The High Summer Readathon (HSR) ran all of July and included an optional Christmas in July weekend, which I did not observe as it coincided with Dewey’s (surprise) reverse readathon. I am really pleased about how both went. I read a total of 12 books for HSR and read about 450 pages for Dewey’s readathon. I had set myself some very low expectations as it was a reverse readathon aka I should do the opposite of what I normally do, which is to plan out every minute essentially. So, I definitely didn’t do that and just read whenever I found the time. I also (wo)manned the official Dewey’s Twitter account for two hours and wrote a readathon blog post on their site. I chose to focus on Crooked Kingdom during Dewey’s as I had read Six of Crows during the last one in April and found it fitting to read its sequel this time.

 

Did you participate in any readathons this month? How did you fare in general in July? Did you reach your reading goals?

Don’t June-o about books?

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June was a real, real good reading month. I honestly covered a plethora of genres and media, which I am super excited about. I participated in one readathon – Scifi Summer – although I only had two library books come through that were science fiction. But doesn’t matter, I read a lot and that is what counts and what makes me happy, especially since I had a bit of a slump in May after Dewey’s readathon.

 

 

 

***SPOILERS POSSIBLE    *NOTE: UNDERLINED TITLES WERE SHOPPED FROM MY OWN SHELF

 

Salem’s Lot (Stephen King) ♠♠♠♠

243Reminiscent of Stoker’s Dracula, King slowly, almost painfully so, builds this world of blood-suckers and how just one vampire can spread this “disease” throughout an entire town – creating despair and hopelessness. Don’t get attached to any characters because King will ruthlessly get rid of them. This was a story after my own heart!

I am biased but I think you should read this book because it’s King. Don’t read it if you get scared out of your wits by horror – or better even, read it because of that!

 

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine (Gail Honeyman) ♠♠♠♠♠

197This book took me by surprise. I listened to it as an audiobook and somehow that made the story feel even more personal. It was as if I was in Eleanor’s therapist’s office listening in to her conversations. Books that demystify mental illness are so important. Books that take that even further and make you fall in love with the character and make you identify with them are brilliant. This is one of those books. The author was able to hit a tone of humanity that I haven’t come across very often.

I think everyone should read this book. Period. 

 

The Great Gatsby (Scott Fitzgerald) ♠♠

198This novella had been on my TBR for a long time. I finally watched the most recent movie and decided it’s time to read this book. I honestly couldn’t relate to the characters. In fact, I often actively disliked them. I had hopes that Fitzgerald’s writing style would give more insight into the psyche of his characters – things I was missing in the movies – but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. This book left me disappointed. It will just go down as one of those books that I can say ‘yeah, I read it’.

Pick it up if you like: period pieces, want to fulfill the 1001 books-to-read-before-you-die-challenge

Put it back down if you are looking for: literary brilliance, well-developed/impactful characters

 

The Strange Library (Haruki Murakami) ♠♠♠♠♠

199What a delight!!!! This book was truly strange and I loved every minute I got to spend time with it. A true Murakami treasure. I don’t think you should know too much about the story – just prepare yourself for this surreal adventure full of whimsy, oddities, and fun.

This book is for you if you like: the weird and weirder, lively language

This book is not your thing if you: cannot suspend belief in reality

 

The Boy on the Bridge (M.R. Carey) ♠♠♠

200Ugh, I don’t even know how to explain why this book was just meh. First of all, why there was a need for a “parallel” prequel to The Girl with All the Gifts is beyond me. That book was perfect as a stand-alone. Secondly, this novel was full of periods of straight-up boring. And these interludes felt disruptive to the story. I think this book would’ve been better as an action-packed, fast-paced story. I know the author cares for character development, and I so appreciate this, but it just seemed that the novel was only occupied with that. The ending was the most exciting part and that was the only time I was really engaged. All in all, this wasn’t a bad book. No, it was quite decent. It just wasn’t special, particularly compared to Carey’s first book.

Read it if you like: continuations in a certain universe, appreciate sci-fi fantasy crossovers

Don’t read it if you: are looking for a suspenseful thriller, didn’t read The Girl with All the Gifts yet

 

Matchmaking for Beginners (Maddie Dawson) ♠♠♠♠

201This story was colorful! I think that sums it up best. The characters were quirky and fun, their interactions ranged from entertaining to deeply emotional, and the main plotline (albeit somewhat cliché) was relatable. I highly recommend this book as a summer read or a pick-me-up. I could see this turning into a cute movie.

Get yourself a copy if you: want to relax with a fun book by the pool, enjoy many different characters, don’t mind a little chaos

I wouldn’t recommend this book to you if you: need a lot of depth in your characters, don’t like a little romance

 

The Song of the Orphans (Daniel Price) ♠♠♠♠♠

195Book 2 in the Silvers series was really, really good! All the things that irked me in book 1 disappeared or became clear to have a purpose. The biggest improvement was the character development – huge leaps were made and the story really benefited from that. Although it took me a moment to get into the book, once I was hooked I was hooked! The world-building also took off in book 2. I loved all the new characters and their interactions with the protagonists. This book, just as book 1, had tons of plot twists, and several were quite surprising. I am looking forward to book 3!

You should read this if you like: sci-fi series, parallel timelines, lots of characters, complex worlds

You should not read this if you: do not like 700-page books – this series is long!

 

A Murder in Music City (Michael Bishop) ♠♠♠ and 1/2♠

231You guys, this was a fascinating read! This story is twisted and corrupt. The characters are manipulating opportunists. And the scary part – this really happened! The writing, however, was only so-so, thus the spade deductions. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, which I just recently read, was just so well written that it became really apparent that this book had no writing sophistication or finesse. Though, I still recommend it, especially if you ever want to visit Nashville – you’ll look at all these tourist attractions and Nashville staples in a whole new light.

This is a must-read for: Nashvillians, people who love a good conspiracy, true-crime fans

I doubt you’ll love the book if you: need well-rounded writing

 

Scrappy Little Nobody (Anna Kendrick) ♠♠♠♠

230Most importantly, Anna Kendrick is from Maine – so, naturally, I already love her memoir. Secondly, she is funny af. She reads her own book, which made this audiobook great. She is real and honest. She is animated and loud. She talks about impactful experiences and gives non-sense advice. She gossips. She teaches. She shares.

I think this is definitely a book to listen to, especially if you like Anna Kendrick or loud, petite people. If you’re not into celebrity memoir’s you already know that you won’t like this book. No recommendations needed here. 

 

The Marriage Pact (Michelle Richmond) ♠♠

232Honestly, I was mostly annoyed while reading this book. The concept is interesting but the execution was at times really infuriating. I didn’t like any of the characters and I didn’t like The Pact – actually, I just didn’t care either way – should there be The Pact, shouldn’t there be? The author didn’t sway me either way. Of course, for real life having a pact like that is utter nonsense imo, but for the book it would’ve been nice to be pushed in either corner. One thing that came across though is the author’s mature writing style. I would read another book by her simply because of her knack for words.

This story is for you if you like: closed-door secrets, wonder at times what your neighbors are up to, would love to be a fly on the wall to spy on people’s private lives

This story is not for you if you: are looking for twists and turns in a story, lots of suspense

 

Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge (Paul Krueger) ♠♠♠

234I listened to this as an audiobook as well. It was entertaining. I’d say it’s equivalent to a fluff pool-side read. The characters are very YA and the story is like one of those cheesy 80s sitcoms. I do like the idea of cocktails having special powers. That would make happy hour quite unique 😉

You’ll like this story if you: are looking for pure entertainment, like superhero powers, enjoy 20-somethings trying to figure out life

This is not your cup of tea if you: get annoyed by fluff reads, don’t like to read about cocktail recipes

 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (JK Rowling) ♠♠♠♠

233I am glad I listened to this book as the sound effects really made it special. I think every HP fan will have already read it or has it on their TBR. I also think this would be fun for younger kids as the fantastic beasts are truly magical and unique.

If you love HP this book is for you. If you have never read HP, I’m not sure under what rock you’ve been living but I’d change that ASAP.