Monthly Digest

Monthly Digest | June 2021

Hello and welcome to a run down of my past month. If you follow me over on twitter you will have seen that I want to share a bit more than just reading books with everyone so my monthly wrap ups are going to be sharing, of course, books, but also a few more things as well. Each month what I share might be different, but I want to share something that sticks out as a propionate memory or just some random things that sparked my interest. I hope you enjoy!

Reading

Current TBR Count is at 33 books.

Crochet & Crafting

This past month has been fun for crafting and crocheting. I completed my first granny square sweater without a pattern! I never really made anything before without a pattern and I actually really loved how it came out. On top of that I made quite a few market bags and made a huge chunk of progress in my ally blanket. I am hoping to finish that in the near future, I have never done a graphgan before and it takes a lot more time than I thought it would, but I am really liking how it is coming out.

On top of that I figured out how to transfer images to wood using Mod Podge, I feel like I am going to be using that in quite a few things in the future. I tested it out by making myself my own rune plate on a piece of cut wood. It came out fabulous! If I bought the same thing it would have been easily $35, I made it myself for about $12. This is one of the reasons why I love DIY so much!

Life

This past month I have been doing a lot of deep cleaning. I don’t know if it is because I am doing Summer cleaning instead of Spring cleaning, but I have been feeling the itch to purge a bunch of stuff I have not used in a while and clothing that isn’t really my style anymore. I have really been trying to acquire clothing and things I like and are truly my style. I think being at home so much over the past year I have kind of figured out what I really enjoy and want in my space. I think this month was just the month where I really started to follow through on it.

Anyway, that has been a bit of an incite into my life over the past month. I didn’t really make notes throughout this month because I didn’t know the direction I wanted this blog to go in, but now that I have an idea I think in next months digest you will see the difference. I hope you had a wonderful June!

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Reviews

Someone Picks My Books | Whit Reads Lit | Code Name Hélène by Ariel Lawhon

Hello and welcome to the second Someone Picks My Books within the past week! If you are are new to the blog, this is a series where I have other book lovers pick a book for me to read and I give it a try! I love it because I always end up reading books I might not have read otherwise. This month Whitney, who you can find on both twitter as @whitreadslit and over on her blog, whitreadslit.com picked a book for me to read. As someone who loves historical fiction, I was thrilled with her choice!

Description

Told in interweaving timelines organized around the four code names Nancy used during the war, Code Name Hélène is a spellbinding and moving story of enduring love, remarkable sacrifice and unfaltering resolve that chronicles the true exploits of a woman who deserves to be a household name.
It is 1936 and Nancy Wake is an intrepid Australian expat living in Paris who has bluffed her way into a reporting job for Hearst newspaper when she meets the wealthy French industrialist Henri Fiocca. No sooner does Henri sweep Nancy off her feet and convince her to become Mrs. Fiocca than the Germans invade France and she takes yet another name: a code name.
As LUCIENNE CARLIER Nancy smuggles people and documents across the border. Her success and her remarkable ability to evade capture earns her the nickname THE WHITE MOUSE from the Gestapo. With a five million franc bounty on her head, Nancy is forced to escape France and leave Henri behind. When she enters training with the Special Operations Executives in Britain, her new comrades are instructed to call her HÉLÈNE. And finally, with mission in hand, Nancy is airdropped back into France as the deadly MADAM ANDRÉ, where she claims her place as one of the most powerful leaders in the French Resistance, armed with a ferocious wit, her signature red lipstick, and the ability to summon weapons straight from the Allied Forces.
But no one can protect Nancy if the enemy finds out these four women are one and the same, and the closer to liberation France gets, the more exposed she–and the people she loves–become. –goodreads

What I Liked

This historical fiction novel is both a story of a really awesome woman, but also a love story of sorts as well. I really like this balance that is was not one or the other, but we got two stories working side by side. I would have to say that throughout this book there were times that were lulling a bit, where other times there was so much tension I had to actually get my muscles to relax. This was an interesting thing to be because when I read a book it is usually one or the other. It really shows how this book is almost two stories in one.

I thought the author did a great job when it came to really sharing the characters with the reader. I felt that I really knew their motivations and why they did things. I was really connected to them and was emotionally invested because they were written in such a way that made them feel real. This is especially apparent when exploring Nancy and her husbands relationship, but really apparent throughout. Can I just say here and now that Nancy was just a total badass? Because I can’t think of another word to describe her. She was/is a badass.

What I Didn’t Like

While I really loved exploring the role of Nancy in her relationship as well as her role as being a spy, at times I felt like it was in the way. It was not that I didn’t enjoy these aspects, but I found myself wanting to get through them because I wanted to read more about this very strong female protagonist in the context of her espionage.

Overall

Overall, this was a really engaging read. I read it quite quickly because I was sucked into the story when I did pick it up. This surprised be because it is not on the short side with almost 500 pages. Sometimes historical fiction can be long winded and at times I did feel this, it was not a constant in my experience. I felt like this was a very well done historical fiction set against the backdrop of WWII. Not only did it highlight that atrocities, it also showed the story of female spies that helped get many to safety and the dangerous choice that some made to put their own lives at risk to safe the lives of others. With this there is discussion of violence and other dark themes, here is a full list of trigger warnings compiled by Book Trigger Warnings.

Up Next

The next round of Someone Picks My Books is actually picked by a family member who doesn’t have a blog or anything, but we often talk about books so I thought it would be fun to read a book picked by my cousin! I am really excited about her picked because I have read a book by this author in the past and really enjoyed their style.

Have you read this book before or is it on your TBR?

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Reviews

Someone Picks My Books | JJ Clapton | The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep by H.G. Parry

Hello everyone and welcome to another edition of Someone Picks My Books where I ask for volunteers to pick a random book for me to read and see if I like it just as much as they did. This past May I had the wonderful JJ Clapton, who you can find over on twitter as @JJClaptonWrites as well on her website jjclapton.com. Yes, I am sorry I am late to posting this because I have been rethinking my blog a bit, but this series is one I truly love and wont to continue into the future. Anyway, I really excited to share my thoughts on this adventure of a book!

Description

For his entire life, Charley Sutherland has concealed a magical ability he can’t quite control: he can bring characters from books into the real world. His older brother, Rob — a young lawyer with a normal house, a normal fiancee, and an utterly normal life — hopes that this strange family secret will disappear with disuse, and he will be discharged from his life’s duty of protecting Charley and the real world from each other. But then, literary characters start causing trouble in their city, making threats about destroying the world… and for once, it isn’t Charley’s doing.
There’s someone else who shares his powers. It’s up to Charley and a reluctant Rob to stop them, before these characters tear apart the fabric of reality. –goodreads

What I Liked

First and foremost, I absolutely adored the imaginative aspect of this book. I mean, the ideas of book characters jumping off the pages is something a lot of us book lovers say as a figure of speech and most likely has been around for a while. The thing is, the author actually made this figure of speech seem like a reality and created a whole book around it, amazingly I might add.

This book opened up the readers in such a great manner it was a mixture of explaining and showing that was balanced really well. I felt like the author explained just enough that the reader isn’t lost, but we are thrown right into the action of the story. The writing really was just wonderful throughout. The plot was well done, the atmosphere was great, and when I read it felt like I was falling into the book just as much as the characters in this story were coming to life because of Charley’s abilities.

What I Didn’t Like

Honestly, I really enjoyed this book and I can’t think of a single thing I did not enjoy about this book.

Overall

If you couldn’t tell, I loved this book. It was imaginative and unlike anything I have read personally and on top of that was executed amazingly. I was honestly shocked to see that this was the authors first book, but very happy too see that they have others out and another one in the works. This review was hard to write because all I wanted to do was gush about it and say, how much I loved it. I will say that there are a few scenes in the book that depict a few dark things that could be triggering to some such as violence, if curious here is a list of trigger warnings. If this is something that does not affect you, I highly suggest giving this book a try. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I could not be more ecstatic that JJ Clapton picked it for me to read!

Up Next

The next installment that is coming very soon was picked by the wonderful Whitney, who you can find on both twitter as @whitreadslit and over on her blog, whitreadslit.com. She is a very kind individual and her content is amazing!

Have you read this book before or is it on your TBR?

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Hauls & Unboxings

Haul | Lion Brand Yarn Mystery Box

Hello and welcome to a bit of a yarn haul! I recently got an email from Lion Brand announcing that they had mystery boxes for sale and you got to pick which weight you wanted. I, loving yarn, had to say gimme gimme. I ended up placing and order for weight 5 yarn and here are the goodies I got!


The first thing I noticed and LOVED about these mystery boxes of yarn was the fact that all 9 of the balls of yarn were not different. You are given 3 balls of each type so you actually have enough to create something. This was my biggest worry, but I am so happy it was unfounded.

Lion Brand® Homespun® Stripes Yarn in the color Mango Chutney, 98% Acrylic, 2% Other. In the past I have used Homespun yarn before, but never the stripes version. I do really like the neutral color schemes of these cakes. I can really see me turning this into a scarf or another winter accessory because it is so fluffy and it seems like it can hold in the heat a bit.

Lion Brand® Rewind Yarn in the color Valerian, 70% Polyester, 30% Viscose. I honestly had no idea what to do with this yarn, but it took a bit of googling and I was able to find a few patterns or people making summer shirts and hat with, as well as a few bags. I am learning towards using this yarn to turn it into a shirt called the Openwork Cover-Up.

Lion Brand® Twisted Cotton Blend Yarn in the color Coral/Ecru, 69% Cotton, 31% Acrylic. This yarn was surprisingly soft, I have a market bag pattern from the chain Michael’s I have had for sometime and I am thinking I might use this yarn for that. I so love the pop of color for this, it isn’t too bright, but not dull and plain either.

Overall, I am really happy with these acquisitions! All of them are great colors and I was able to pretty much come up with a plan for each to use all of the yarn so it isn’t wasted or anything like that. I am honestly really pleasantly surprised.

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Reviews

Book Review | Trading Secrets by Rachael Eckles

*Book given by BOOK PUBLICITY SERVICES in exchange for an honest review*

Trading Secrets

Description:

William Anson is done with relationships, thanks. He’s starting the second year of his medicine degree single, focused, and ready to mingle with purely platonic intentions.

Celeste Donovan, a high-powered finance executive, seems to have it all–the penthouse apartment, the supermodel physique with a mathematician mind, and a trail of beautiful men she has loved and left behind.

But when her boyfriend Theodore is killed in a mysterious accident, she discovers Omar, her abusive ex she had hoped would never resurface, is behind his death.

Now she’s caught in a game of cat and mouse, trying to anticipate Omar’s next move, as she realizes he will stop at nothing to get to her. She sets out alone on a whirlwind journey to entrap him, determined to put an end to Omar’s destruction.

Soon Celeste is thrust in the middle of the largest financial scandal in decades. This time, however, powerful government officials are in bed with some of the world’s most dangerous men.

When she discovers that those she thought she knew best are involved in a secret society warring with Omar and his coconspirators, she must decide how far she will go to avenge Theodore’s death and whether she is willing to risk her own life to save everyone she loves.


What I Liked

One of the most prominent aspect of this novel was how fast paced it was. There was one thing after another and this can be a good thing for a novel because it keeps you as a reader engaged. There was no lull feeling in the middle of the book that many novels seem to suffer from. While this novel had a lot going on it wasn’t all just fluff and filler. It was all meaningful to the plot and moved the story along.

Another thing I took note of was the fact the author was not afraid to talk about graphic things, so just to give fair warning about some of those difficult topics, this book includes rape and abuse. A topic that is very much a tough topic that has unfortunately touched the lives of too many. The author left in these details to really get you to understand the feelings of the main character and understand their motives for their actions. I feel like without that Celeste might have come across as a very different character.


What I Didn’t Like

While I really liked the fast paced aspect of this book, I did feel that it was a tad bit over the top from time to time. It felt very unrealistic. For me this took me out of the story from time to time, but not for long. To be honest this might not be an issue for others. I think this dislike it a personal taste issue more than an issue with the book itself.


Overall Thoughts

Overall, I thought this roller-coaster of a book was enjoyable. I read it quickly, never hit a lull in the story telling, and I found myself engaged in the plot and characters more than I thought I would. I feel like if this book is something that you are intrigued by after reading the description and the difficult and graphic content is not something that will bother you, I suggest giving this book a chance.


Author Links

Rachael Eckles

Book Information

Publication Date: May 2, 2020

Publisher: APHRODITE BOOKS LLC

List Price: $17.00

ISBN: 978-1734901818

Pages: 318 pages


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Let's Talk

Let’s Talk | Best Books I Have Read so Far in 2021

Hello and welcome to a little chatty post where I put together a little list of the best books I have read so far in 2021. I decided since we are already in the 6th month of the year, I would take some time this month to reflect on the year so far in a few posts throughout the month, but this is the first!


The Books

The Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa

Lady Killers by Tori Telfer (Not Pictured, Loaned Out)

White Tears/Brown Scars by Ruby Hamad (Not Pictured, Loaned Out)

Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu


What has been a few of the best books you have read so far this year?

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Crochet, Crafting, Art & More

Crochet | My Project for Pride Month

Hello and welcome to a bit of a different crochet post than I regularlly do. I wanted to showcase something I am planning on making for pride month this year. I am part of a crochet discord group that has a monthly theme or idea that we crochet a project based upon. We decided pride would be this months theme, which is really awesome. For this I choose to make a blanket of sorts out of the ally flag.

The Haul

Red Heart Supersaver in the colors Medium Purple, Cherry Read, Light Periwinkle, Light Sage, Cornmeal, Black, Softwire, and Carrot

The Plan

This project I have a feeling will take more than a month to complete for a few reasons, the first being it is a blanket, they always take a ton of time. The second biggest reason being this is going to be a graphgan, which I have never done in my life before. So, I feel like I might have to make quite a bit of fixes here and there to make sure it is perfect. I also had to design my own pattern for this, which was an interesting learning experience so we shall see how well I actually did with that. But, I am really happy to be taking this project on and working on it throughout the month and most likely beyond. If anyone has tips and tricks I would appreciate it!

Too add on to this, if anyone would like the pattern I came up with I will be more than happy to share, if you have a twitter it would be easiest to reach be on there and I can link it to you, but feel free to comment here as well, it might just take a little bit longer for me to get back.

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To Be Read

To Be Read | June 2021 | Trying TBRvatar

Hello and welcome to my TBR post for the month of June. I feel like June was snuck up on me all of a sudden, but I am really excited about the warmer weather. This month I decided to try something new and play a game created by a booktuber. This month I decided to try the TBRvatar created by Book Roast. She was kind enough to share the cards with all of her followers so we can okay along so I printed them and laminated them, sorry for the glare, I wanted them to hold up over time. Anyway, on to the TBR!


The Books

The first card I picked was Flopsy: Read a book that you find intimidating. I picked the book Assassin’s Quest, the final book in the Farseer Trilogy. I am intimidated due to the size, but also because it is the final book in this trilogy, I have really enjoyed it so far and I hate to see it end.

The second card I pulled is Desna and Eska: Read a Book About Siblings. This was actually a difficult one to find on my shelves, I am not going to lie. I went through a ton of books and finally found this one, where in the description it says, “a sister mourns her brother”. While it is very sad sounding just with that line, the overall description sounds really interesting and I think it is the only book that mentions siblings I have currently on my shelves.

My last pick for the month was the cards entitled, Music Night: Read something that’s between 330-370 pages whilst listening to music. I decided to go with People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry, which was gifted to me for my birthday in May by Reg, which was so thoughtful and kind of her.

I really enjoyed pulling a card and going through my TBR to see if I can find a book to go with it. It was really great way to get more familiar with the books that have been on my shelve for a bit and slipped to the back a bit. I actually also ended up unhauling about 10 books while I was doing this, so I am all set to donate those soon as well.


What do you plan on reading this month?

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Wrap Up

Wrap Up | May 2021 & #BasicallyReadathon

Hello and welcome to another wrap up, this time for may 2021! I did not post a Middle Mark this past month because I wanted to change some things up behind the scenes a bit and needed to take some time for that. The good news is my reading mojo came back full force this month, which I am beyond thrilled about. Anyway, I am just going to get right to the books. Also, this month my reviews of the reads are mostly just going to be start readings because I didn’t take a lot of notes. Just a heads up, next month it will be back to a short blurb for each book as well.


Assassination Classroom, Vol. 05: Time to Show Off a Hidden TalentAssassination Classroom, Vol. 05: Time to Show Off a Hidden Talent by Yūsei Matsui
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Continues to be a great series.

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Assassination Classroom, Vol. 03: Time for a Transfer StudentAssassination Classroom, Vol. 03: Time for a Transfer Student by Yūsei Matsui
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Continues to be a great series.

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Assassination Classroom, Vol. 06: Swim TimeAssassination Classroom, Vol. 06: Swim Time by Yūsei Matsui
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Continues to be a great series.

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Assassination Classroom, Vol. 04: Time to Face the UnbelievableAssassination Classroom, Vol. 04: Time to Face the Unbelievable by Yūsei Matsui
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Continues to be a great series.

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Assassination Classroom, Vol. 07: On Island TimeAssassination Classroom, Vol. 07: On Island Time by Yūsei Matsui
My rating: 5 of 5 stars



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The AgonistThe Agonist by Shastra Deo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars



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An Echo in the Bone (Outlander, #7)An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars



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PachinkoPachinko by Min Jin Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars



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The Once and Future WitchesThe Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
My rating: 3 of 5 stars



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A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
My rating: 4 of 5 stars



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My Brilliant FriendMy Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
My rating: 4 of 5 stars



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The Story of a New Name (The Neapolitan Novels #2)The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante
My rating: 3 of 5 stars



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Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (L'amica geniale, #3)Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante
My rating: 3 of 5 stars



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The Story of the Lost Child (The Neapolitan Novels #4)The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante
My rating: 3 of 5 stars



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I took part in the BasicallyReadathon this past weekend and actually ended up reading the entire The Neopolian Novels series, which was a huge accomplishment and I did end up enjoying the series. I am so happy my aunt gifted those to me and I was able to read them all together, I feel like it really added to it because able to just sit there and read them all.

I managed to read a total of 14 books, 5,203 pages. Thirteen of those books were fiction and I read no nonfiction books this month. I read 2 ebooks, 1 hardcover book and 11 soft cover books. I have 5 – 5 star read, 4 – 4 star read, and 5 – 3 star read this month.

What was your favorite book you read this month?

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To Be Read

To Be Read | Basically 24 Hour Readathon May 2021

Hello and welcome to a quick little post sharing my TBR for the upcoming Basically Readathon hosted by @BrittAlsemgeest on twitter, you can find the readathons twitter account at @BasicallyReadtn. This round as all the rounds goal is to read or start some books that have been on your TBR the longest. Below I will copy the details directly from the announcement video for your convivence as well, but I encourage you to watch it here. I personally follow Britt’s time zone since that is 6am to 6am my time, it just works better, but I love that you can be flexible with this readathon.

  • Date – Sat May 29 at noon to Sun May 30 at noon
  • Goal – Read a book that’s been on your tbr forever Timezone – Follow your own or mine! (Amsterdam/CEST time)
  • Use the #BasicallyReadathon

This round I am going to try to tackle one to two of the books of The Neapolitan Novels. I have two reasons why I am picking these books. The first being that my aunt gifted these to me in December for the holidays so I have been looking at this series for a while without picking them up. The second being I have the entire series of sorts ready to go through and I wont need to go out and pick up an other one if I end up wanting to jump right into the next. Actaully, I lied there is a third reason. I want to tell me aunt my thoughts on this series, but I have a feeling they will be good. My understanding of order of this series is My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and lastly The Story of the Lost Child. I will be honest, I know nothing about this series other than my aunt really liked it. We tend to like similar books, so I think this will be more than promising!


I am always a sucker for a 24 hour readathon so of course I wanted to take part in this one again. I hope some of you are able to join. Share your TBR in the comments if you are!

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