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) ♠♠♠♠

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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) ♠♠♠♠♠

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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) ♠♠♠♠♠

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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) ♠♠♠♠♠

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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) ♠♠♠♠♠

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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) ♠♠♠♠♠

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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♠

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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) ♠♠♠♠

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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♠

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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) ♠♠♠

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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♠

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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!
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US RELEASES – MARCH 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:

While You Sleep by Stephanie Merritt; Mar 8 Psychological Thriller, Horror

An unreliable narrator, gothic sexual dreams, demons, Scotland, a haunted house, and suspicious townies – I am here for this!

Will Haunt You by Brian Kirk; Mar 14 Horror

A book that will haunt you. Some of the weirdest chaos I’ve ever read. What is real? What is a dream? And will this really happen to me because I am reading this book?

 

Books I am anticipating to read:

What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon; Mar 1 Historical Fiction, Romance

This one sounds a bit like Outlander but the reviews are great and it takes place in Ireland, so I decided to give it a try. I have this on my Kindle already.

Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah; Mar 1 Contemporary Lit

I’ve recently gotten into bird watching so was immediately drawn to the protagonist studying birds. The eeriness, the child that suddenly appears, the references to stars and the night sky all sound so lovely that I really want to check this story out.

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid; Mar 5 Historical Fiction

First off, I love the book cover. And secondly, a novel set in the 60s centering around a band and a girl – yes, please. This is my BOTM selection and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum; Mar 5 Historical Fiction

I think this is one of those important books we all should read. It’ll allow me to explore a new voice, a different perspective, a novel experience: Arab women living in America. I am looking forward to expanding my mind.

Shades of Magic, Vol 1 by V.E. Schwab; Mar 6 Graphic Novels, Fantasy

I loved Schwab’s Shades of Magic trilogy and I need more grey, red, and black London in my life.

March goals

Hey bookish fam,

I think my February goal setting paid off, and thus I will continue this little promise series at the beginning of each month. Indeed, I was able to read each of the 6 books I had committed to (plus some more, see my monthly wrap-up) as it kept me motivated since I made such a public vow. So without further ado, here are my goals for March.


 


I have several buddy/group reads planned this month: The Stand, Pet Sematary,  and Legion. In fact, since this post is a tad late, I have already started Legion and will probably start The Stand or Pet Sematary tonight (my library copy expires by mid-March). I own a copy of The Stand but with a whopping ~1450 pages, I will need all month to finish it. I am super pumped to read  Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. I bought these books a while ago and with the upcoming movie, I need to read them soon. Little Darlings and The Dark Game are both ARCs that I’d like to review by the end of March. Looks like the theme this month again is “let’s see how scared I can get”. I love it!


6 books worked for February so I am keeping this number for March. What are you pledging to tackle this month? Leave me a comment. Let’s work on those commitments together. 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday – Books I Loved With Fewer than 2000 Ratings on Goodreads

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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 actually quite difficult. While I often read books with few ratings on Goodreads, finding some below 2000 is not easy. As you’ll see, several of the books I am featuring here are either in German or fairly new releases (published before Jan 2019). And as you’ll also notice many of them somehow deal with WWII societies across different countries.


 

Heinrich Böll is one of my favorite authors and I am slowly but surely making my way through his collection. I loved both, Der Engel schwieg and Der Zug war pünktlich, for their bleakness and misery – made worse by the fact that both stories could’ve easily been real in wartime Germany. I tend to not like autobiographies and I often avoid reading WWII based books, but Reich-Ranicki was one of the most revered literary critics in Germany and was also a Warsaw Ghetto survivor. His writing is excellent, he is a wizard with words, and his anecdotes and life events are gripping and often sad or depressing, but always thought-provoking. I encourage everyone to pick up his book.


onourown

I am surprising myself that I have yet another WWII story on this list. If I didn’t make this clear before, I definitely have survivor’s guilt, and I wasn’t even born during that time. I am sure almost everyone has read the graphic novels, Maus I and II. We Are On Our Own is another impactful tale of war refugees and their journey of survival. The illustrations match the haunting mood of the book perfectly.


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The aforementioned books I recommended so far are all kind of niche books – Germany or WWII themed, so I understand why they are not that popular, but I am actually flabbergasted that Supernatural Tales doesn’t have more than 2000 ratings. This is a book of Gothic excellence. It is written by Violet Page under a male pseudonym who is the goddess of supernatural fiction. Her talent jumps off the page in this collection of short stories and I really hope more people will read her work. Quickly looking through Goodreads shows all of her books are far below 2000 reviews, we need to change that.


 

Receiving ARCs is one of my favorite ways to discover new books. The three I have featured here still have few ratings on Goodreads but are each wonderful in their own way and deserve more attention. The Trees is a heavy read – heavy because it makes us think about what we are doing to nature. Imagine, mother nature, one day gets mad and takes back her earth. How will humanity cope? Who will survive? Who deserves to live on? The Song of the Orphans is the second book in a sci-fi/fantasy series called Silvers. While the first installment has more than 2000 ratings, this one does not, and I really want to drum up readership in anticipation of book #3, which I am hoping will be released later this year. I definitely liked book 2 better than book 1 since the main characters started to come into their own and since the plot just picked up tremendously. This series seems to be a good balance of sci-fi and fantasy elements thus making it a very decent entry-level sci-fi trilogy. Everyone should know that I love Edgar Allen Poe – seeing his work in manga form is sheer perfection as that genre just works so damn well for his stories. I loved the illustrations and the weirdness in this book. It’s a quick read and perfect for anyone who wants to explore Poe a bit more.


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I have been expanding my ARCs to middle-grade books as I believe I’ve been missing some very impactful stories. The two here proved my suspicion. Both have significant messages beyond middle-grade ages and deal with issues that apply to anyone really. Beyond the Green is a heartful novel about kinship and how it crosses invisible borders. It is a middle-grade read that I am hoping will find its way into many school libraries. The Orphan Band of Springdale is a complex story of fitting in, making friends, and dealing with prejudice all the while the US is at the eve of its involvement in WWII.


I hope this post will inspire some of you to pick up one of these books as they deserve all the love they can get. I am looking forward to checking out other TTTs which I am sure will lead to an inevitable increase of my TBR.

Splattertine’s Day – a gooey conclusion

readathon-wrap-up

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I had a really great time with this readathon. I quite enjoyed focusing on gore and horror instead of romance in the first half of February. Though if you know me, that’s usually my general MO throughout the entire year. I read a lot of books in January (see my wrap-up here), so I didn’t devour books at the same rate this time but I was able to finish 3 that I consider suitable for this challenge (and a few others that didn’t fit the bill).

 

 

 

Each one of these had been on my TBR for a very long time and I was really looking forward to tackling them. Both, The Exorcist and Rebecca, blew me away. Brilliant writing. Brilliant plot development. Brilliant message. I felt a little disappointed after finishing Let the Right One In. I can’t exactly describe why but I just know something was missing, and that something was something crucial. I’ll be elaborating my reviews for these novels in my monthlies, which is my monthly wrap-up post where I review each book I read. I hope the Splattertine’s Day readathon gains traction and I will be doing it again next year with a bunch more bookish peeps! Thank you mall3tg1rl for hosting this!

Top Ten Tuesday -Favorite Couples in Books

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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 favorite book couples. I tend to not have those or idealize bookish relationships but I was able to think of 10 12 romantic relationships that left an impression on me. As you’ll see, most of them involve at least one dark character. What can I say? I love them brooding and mysterious with a touch of evil or violent or at the very least not conventionally nice. I also really dig a fierce and independent female. These are in no particular order. So, without further ado …..

 

Vasya and Morozko

Lila and Kell AND Alucard and Rhy

Liesl and der Erlkönig

Inej and Kaz

Cherry and Hero

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Richard and Lady Door

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Tristran and Ivaine

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Deryn and Alek

Alice and Hatcher

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Jo and Laurie

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Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy

Top Ten Tuesday – Keep or Toss edition

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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 topic is about upcoming releases that I am on the fence about. Well, I tend to not focus all that much on upcoming releases when deciding on my TBR, so I don’t feel like I have a strong enough opinion to feel on the fence. Thus, I decided to use a random number generator between 1 and 799 (the current number of my Goodreads want-to-read shelf) instead to find 10 books that I was hoping you could help me decide what to do with it 🙂

The generated numbers were 306, 52, 624, 387, 608, 228, 609, 353, 461, and 791 resulting in these books:


Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton YA, Fantasy, Romance

Djinns, magical beasts, a badass female heroine, potential for love with a handsome fugitive … . This novel seems to have it all but is it just another YA fantasy? Why should I read this one when there are a million others sounding just the same? Is this a series worth getting into? Keep or toss?

The Sittaford Mystery by Agatha Christie Classics, Suspense, Mystery

As a teen, I devoured Agatha Christie books and one day I just added all her books I haven’t read yet to my TBR. But will I actually ever get around to them? I’ll probably toss this one.

Contagion by Erin Bowman YA, Sci-fi

I love sci-fi but I generally don’t read YA Sci-fi. Is this a good book to start with? I am always hesitant to start a series because you essentially commit to several books at once. Keep or toss?

Stiff by Mary Roach Nonfiction, Science

I have this book at home. I really should finally read it. I’ll keep it.

The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olson Scandinavian Lit, Thriller, Suspense

Ugh, another series, but the setting is Denmark. I do like Scandinavian crime novels. Has anyone read this? Is this series worth it? Keep or toss?

20000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne Classics, Sci-fi, Fantasy

I’ve always wanted to read this. I have this book on my shelf and tried last year I think but just couldn’t get into it. I blamed the timing then but was it that? What do you think? Keep or toss this one? Also, how are the other books in this series?

Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Høeg Scandinavian Lit, Crime

Another Danish mystery novel. I honestly don’t even remember putting this on my TBR list. I’ll toss that one I think. Change my mind.

1984 by George Orwell Classics, Sci-fi, Dystopia

Another classic book. I definitely need to read this one. It stays! I’ll keep it.

Atonement by Ian McEwan Classics, Historical Fiction

I put that one on my list last year because it would’ve fulfilled a Popsugar category and it is also on the 1001 books to read list. I feel so meh about it though. I glanced at the first few pages and was bored out of my mind already. Anyone who has read it, is it worth struggling through in the beginning? Keep or toss? I am leaning toward tossing.

We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal YA, Fantasy

This one comes out in May this year and is a very recent addition to my TBR. It sounds fabulous and I will keep it on the list.


I hope y’all play “Keep or Toss” with me this week. I am enjoying this so much, I might have to make this a regular thing! Leave your comments and suggestions below!

Splattertine’s Day – the other kind of gooey!

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Now that I know this exists, my life is complete!

mall3tg1rl created this most bestest readathon, which runs (get it!) February 1 through February 14. The idea is that we will be reading actual gooey stories and, y’all know, I am ALWAYS UP FOR THAT. I already have both The Exorcist and Let the Right One In on my TBR for this month, so they perfectly segway into this reading challenge. I’ll see what else I can unearth ;).

Most interactions for this readathon will probably be on Twitter and you can follow me @evilbibliotaph, mall3tg1rl @malletgrrrl, and the official hashtag #Splattertines2k19 there. Join us!

February Goals

Ok y’all! In an effort to be more transparent and also force myself to some accountability, I am joining a little game of “what shall I commit to reading this month” or “how I learned to prioritize”. I’ve said on numerous occasions that I am a total mood reader, so monthly TBRs literally (I am using this ironically here because I of course mean figuratively, but I am talking about literature, so why not) scared the bejeezus out of me. For anyone wondering what a bejeezus is (for me), I’d say it’s a cross between Beetlejuice and my high school lunch lady – both frightening but widely misunderstood. Anyway, without further ado, here are my must-reads for February.


 


The Exorcist and Let The Right One In have been on my TBR for way (pause) too (pause) damn (pause) long and they are part of my 2019 goal to reduce my backlog. Both are buddy or group reads that actually start today. I can’t wait to begin either one (or both) later this evening. My book club decided to have our monthly prompt be “the shortest book on our TBR” as an homage to February being the shortest month of the year. In Conclusion, Don’t Worry is my pick. I adore Lauren Graham and have read all her other books. I am hoping my library copy of Ruin and Rising will come through soon as I AM DYING to finish this trilogy and find out what happens to The Darkling, Nikolei, Alina and Mal! On The Come Up is my BOTM selection for this month and I am trying to read the book during the month I actually receive it (tell that to my physical bookshelf backlog -_-). I made fantastic progress with my ARCs in January, so I am actually ahead of schedule on that front (she says that as she hovers over the “request” button on NetGalley), and Will Haunt You is my last book I need to review this month.


6 books seem like a manageable commitment even for a mood-reader and picky twat like myself. I should have plenty of time left to pick my other February reads on a whim. What are you pledging to tackle this month? Leave me a comment. Let’s work on those commitments together. 🙂

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) ♠♠♠♠

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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) ♠♠♠♠

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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) ♠♠♠♠♠

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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♠

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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) ♠♠♠

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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!