Reviews

Someone Picks My Books | Misty @ Misty’s Book Space | Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Hello and welcome to the first installment Someone Picks My Books for 2021! This year I am starting off by reading a book picked by Misty where you can find on twitter as @mistymichelle30 or on her blog called Misty’s Book Space. This is the second time Misty has picked a book for me, you can see the first book she picked for me on the post called, Someone Picks My Books | Misty’s Book Space. Misty decided to pick another book by Ruta Sepetys, so without further adu, here is my review and thoughts on her pick!


Salt to the Sea ebook on iPad placed on bed.

One Sentence Review

This novel gives light to all the horrendous things people had to deal with during WWII outside of the horrible concentrations camps, mistrust rampant and anxiety high while the reader follows well written characters.

Description

While the Titanic and Lusitania are both well-documented disasters, the single greatest tragedy in maritime history is the little-known January 30, 1945 sinking in the Baltic Sea by a Soviet submarine of the Wilhelm Gustloff, a German cruise liner that was supposed to ferry wartime personnel and refugees to safety from the advancing Red Army. The ship was overcrowded with more than 10,500 passengers — the intended capacity was approximately 1,800 — and more than 9,000 people, including 5,000 children, lost their lives.

Sepetys (writer of ‘Between Shades of Gray’) crafts four fictionalized but historically accurate voices to convey the real-life tragedy. Joana, a Lithuanian with nursing experience; Florian, a Prussian soldier fleeing the Nazis with stolen treasure; and Emilia, a Polish girl close to the end of her pregnancy, converge on their escape journeys as Russian troops advance; each will eventually meet Albert, a Nazi peon with delusions of grandeur, assigned to the Gustloff decks. –goodreads


What I Liked

I enjoyed this novel quite a bit. As I said in my one sentence review, I felt that this was a great topic to cover for WW2. A lot of the stories I have come in contact with mainly deal with the jewish perspective, those trying to get jewish people out of occupied areas and those in concentration camps. I felt that this highlights another experience that was sadly common during WW2. You could not trust anyone, even if they were the allied forces. Many people operated out of fear and self preservation, it was rare to find a stranger to help and trust.

The writing was done well for the most part, I thought it was a good idea to give this novel multiple perspectives to tell the story of many more people and their experiences. While this is a fiction novel, it does draw a lot on true events and overall I think the author did a good job of this. The characters were well done and I thought the author did a good job of highlighting their motives and feelings while being in these horrible situations. I will say, I was kind of surprised that I was invested as much as I was because of an issue I will talk about in a bit. I think the fact I had such a reaction to events was the story telling ability in creating an atmosphere more so than the characters.

What I Didn’t Like

Honestly, the one thing that really was difficult was the frequency of the point of view switching. It took a while for me to easily be able to switch between them and get the characters straight. This led to their voices and stories being jumbled at first. I did eventually figure it out, but at the start I feel like the switches needed to be less frequent.

Overall

Overall, I am really glad that Misty picked this book for me to read this month. It was a heart breaking read because of its content, but I also think it is important to understand and see what these people had to endure, not just these characters. The content was good historically speaking and the author ability to create an atmosphere so quickly pulled me in is a talent that not all writers have. I think if you have the chance to read this novel you should give it a try, but keep in mind that difficult topics are dealt with that are common themes in WW2.


Next month I am reading a book picked by Nicky, who you can find on twitter as @cre8ive_nicky. I am a bit nervous, but also looking forward to reading the thriller she picked for me. I either love a thriller or it falls flat so I am curious to see how this is going to work out!

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

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Reviews

Book Review | The Road to Woop Woop and Other Stories by Eugen Bacon

*Book given via netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

The Road to Woop Woop, and Other Stories

Description:

The Road to Woop Woop is a lush collection of literary speculative stories that lauds the untraditional, the extraordinary, the strange, the peculiar, the unusual that exist within and on the borders of normalcy. These tales refuse to be easily categorized, and that’s a good thing: they are dirges that cross genres in astounding ways.

Over 20 provocative tales, with seven original to this collection, and previous works, including: “A Pining,” shortlisted, Bridport Prize; “A Case of Seeing,” honorable mention, Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Award; “Mahuika,” highly commended, Fellowship of Australian Writers (FAW) National Literary Awards; “Swimming with Daddy,” shortlisted, Alan Marshall Short Story Prize. –goodreads.com


What I Liked

This is one of the most interesting short story collections I have read. Each story is so different than the last and are so distinctive from one another and at times down right quirky. While there were some stories I enjoyed more than others, I really was drawn into these stories. They were out there, but in a wonderful way.

I really loved how unique these tales were, they were a combination of creepy, but thought provoking at the same time. I have a habit of putting down a short story collection between each story and taking forever to get back to it. Bacon’s writing pulled me in and I read quite a few each sitting and easily came back to it. I really wanted to see where the next tale would take us. Like I said each was so unique so it felt like I was going on an adventure with each one I read, but also a surprise.


What I Didn’t Like

As with all short story collections where are just some tales I don’t enjoy, but honestly there were not many I did not enjoy in this collection.


Overall Thoughts

Overall, I enjoyed this collection of horror/fantasy tales. They were imaginative, unique, and inviting as well as making you scared or creeped out. I felt myself reflecting on a deeper meaning of these tales often and it was exciting to read something that made me think on top of enjoying it. If you enjoy horror and want a collection of tales, I think you should look into it and see if it is right for you. I certainly enjoyed it and will be reading more from this author.


Author Links

Eugen Bacon

Book Information

Publication Date: December 1, 2020

Publisher: Meerkat Press

List Price: $16.95

ISBN:  9781946154316

Pages: 192 pages


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Lists & Recommendations

To Be Read | My Entire Owned TBR 2021 Edition

Hello and welcome to a post where I share all of the books that are on my owned TBR. Now, in 2020 I actually hit 0 books on my TBR, then the holidays showed up and I have a larger than I would like TBR again, but not nearly as much as it was. I just wanted to take a moment and share those books that made their way onto my shelves. Note: This is accurate up through the month of January 2021.


  • Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon
  • Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
  • The Shadows by Alex North
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
  • Dead Blondes and Bad Mothers by Sady Doyle
  • Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor
  • The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
  • The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein
  • Kill Creek by Scott Thomas
  • The Devil in the Dark Water by Stuart Turton
  • Seven Stones to Stand or Fall by Diana Gabaldon
  • Written in my Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon
  • The Beautiful Struggle by Coates, Ta-Nehisi
  • Cursed Objects by Ocker, J.W.
  • Tomie by Junji Ito
  • Magic Lessons by Alice Hoffman
  • The Whisper Man by Alex North
  • Piranesi by Susanna Clake
  • Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger
  • Titian by Ron Chernow
  • Loretta Little Looks Back by Andrea Davis Pinkney
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab
  • This is Close to Okay by Lessa Cross-Smith
  • The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans
  • Assassins Apprentice by Robin Hobb
  • The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa
  • Royal Assassin by Robin Hobb
  • My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
  • The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante
  • Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante
  • The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante
  • The Removed by Brandon Hobson
  • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
  • Mrs. Dalloway by Virgina Woolf
  • The Unwanted by Michael Dobbbs
  • Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman
  • World of Wonders by Aimee Nezhukumatathil
  • Sons of Cain by Peter Vronsky
  • White Tears/Brown Scars by Ruby Hamad
  • Lady Killers by Tori Telfer
  • One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas

Total: 43 Books

What book should I read next?

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Lets Talk

Let’s Talk | 6 Month Review of Kobo Libra H2O

Hello and welcome to an update post where I discuss how I am feeling about my kobo eReader I bought in July of 2020. This little talk is just to go over how I am feeling after reading on it for about 6 months. If you want to see my first impressions of this device you can see my post, Unboxing | New eReader!. If you are not familiar I picked up a  Kobo Libra H2O because of the price and the abilities of the device.

Picture of eReader and pillow on chair that says “If you were in my novel I would have killed you off by now”.

Pros

I really love how easily this works with my library. I don’t buy many ebooks because I don’t think the pricing is that great over all, so working with my library was one of the main selling points for this eReader. Thankfully, it is as seamless as Kobo made it seem. I can request books at the library and borrow immediately from my Kobo when it is connected to wifi.

I have carried this device in my backpack, purse, and thrown it in my backseat. It has held up very well. There is no light bleeding or spots that don’t go away. I have previously had a kindle and I had to be so careful with the screen and even then spots would show up. So, the quality is there. The buttons on the device as well exceeded my expectations. I thought they would be flimsy, but they work great.

Lastly, if you do like finding ebook deals kobo has them as well as other ebook dealers, but they also have Price Match where you can submit to have a refund of the difference plus 10% of the competitors price at the time of writing this. You do need to buy the book first and then get a refund though. But, having that ability is great in my option.

Cons

If you want to read self published books, chances are you will not be able to get them on kobo. If an author uses amazon to self publish they sign a contract where the ebook is only able to be on their platform. At least this is my understanding. I was really bummed to read this because I love supporting indie authors.

Another con is while this ereader does work with netgalley, it is a few extra steps. It took me a bit of time to actually figure it out the first time, longer than I would expect to find the information. Thankfully, after the first time and I had everything set up I was good to go. I feel like this is more of an adjustment than a con though.

Thoughts

For me personally this was a great choice, I have a great device physically. It holds up really well to my daily needs and movements. I have not found that it has been damaged in any way after 6 months. It is also a great choice for me because it works amazingly with my library. I have not had any software issues as well. I truly am happy with my decision.


Do you have an eReader? If so, which one?

What are your musts when it comes to an eReader?

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Reviews

Book Review | The Existence of Amy by Lana Grace Riva

*Book given by author in exchange for an honest review*

The Existence Of Amy

Description: 

Amy has a normal life. That is, if you were to go by a definition of ‘no immediate obvious indicators of peculiarity’, and you didn’t know her very well. She has good friends, a good job, a nice enough home. This normality, however, is precariously plastered on top of a different life. A life that is Amy’s real life. The only one her brain will let her lead. 


What I Liked

I would like to start this review out by saying I don’t normally accept review requests directly from authors very often, but reading the email with the description of this book that landed in my inbox, I knew I would break my personal rule so I can read and review it. Mental health is something that needs to be talked about and normalized in general, but also the fact that mental health can affect everyone differently and at different times in your life. I felt that this book was a very honest exploration of how mental health can impact you at a later point in life.

I though the authors choice to tell this story in the first person was a very good decision because the reader can see how not only mental health can affect them, but also how they are mad at themselves or frustrated because they really want to do something, but they just can’t. Also, one of the more notable things throughout this book was the narrator/main character understanding why others are mad or sick of them. It was heart breaking and something I have witness through friends and loved ones.

Like I said earlier in this review, mental health is varied and different for each person, but I really felt that this book was a very well done piece of literature that demonstrated how negative mental health can feel to the individual. The book talked about the good days and the bad, which I appreciated because that it a realistic view in m opinion. Mental health can be great one day, bad the next, and maybe neutral for a few days in between. I don’t cry very often, but I teared up quite a few times throughout this book because hearing this persons struggle in their own words was powerful, but also how they viewed their effect on those around them.


What I Didn’t Like

Honestly, nothing. I thought this was a wonderful written book on a very personal subject. Not everyone experiences positive or negative mental health the same way.


Overall Thoughts

Overall, I felt that this was a very well done book. It can be hard to read emotionally and may be triggering for some. But, I do recommended it if you feel comfortable reading about this content. I felt that the material was handed well, the writing itself was great. I felt the pacing was on point and it felt like there was a purpose for everything the author added to the book. I also feel like this book would be good for someone who had a hard time understanding how negative mental health can affect someone because they are not experiencing it themselves.

Here is a list of mental health hotlines for around the world, checkpointorg.com. I am not familiar with any of these personally and I not a mental health professional so I cannot speak to all of their quality, but I wanted to share this resource incase anyone needs it.


Author Links


Book Information

Publication Date: August 2, 2019

Publisher: Independently Published

List Price: $8.50

ISBN: 978-1086835816

Pages: 283 pages


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Hauls & Unboxings

Book of the Month Unboxing | January 2021

Hello and welcome to my BOTM unboxing post. This month I landed on a single book, but was able to pick a free book since I have been a member for so long. Since I am a BFF I am able to pick one of the finalists for book of the year, so you will also see what I picked for that. Funny enough, I was going to pick up this book regardless, but to get it for free was a wonderful bonus.


The Books

The Removed by Brandon Hobson, according to the description this novel deals with grief a family feels after a loss of a child to a police shooting. This story itself does not happen right after the events, but years later and gos over how the parents and siblings deal with the grief as well as what life has thrown at them since. It also pulls from Cherokee folklore from my understanding.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, I have been hearing about this book all over the place and it has won 2020 Book of the Year from BOTM. I have read a previous book by the author and I enjoyed it as well so I am looking forward to hearing the story of two twin sisters whose lives end up radically different and how their families progress as the generations pass. Also, from my current understanding the story will also discuss white privilege from the families stories as well. I am really curious to see where Bennett story takes the reader.


Have you read either of these books or heard of them? Did you pick a different book from BOTMs picks?

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Reading Challenges

Reading Challenge | Books I Want to Read in 2021

Hello and welcome to a list or challenge of sorts. I wanted to share some of the many, many books I want to read in 2021. I thought it would be fun at the end of the year to look back and see if I ended up reading this books or if I ended up liking them. I will be completely honest, there is a reread on this list of one of my favorite books so that one I know I will already love. Anyway, on to the books!


The Books


What books do you really want to read in 2021?

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Wrap Up

Let’s Talk | My Year in Book Stats 2020

Hello and welcome to an overview of my reading and reading stats. for the 2020 year! As always I am going to share a link to my good reads stats, but I am also going to be sharing some stats I kept myself in a google sheet throughout the entire year. I am honestly really surprised I kept up with it all year, but I plan on using the same format this upcoming year because it is low maintenance, but fun to see the progress.

Goodreads Yearly Recap

  • Shortest Book: 55 pages, The Night is Darkening Round Me by Emily Brontë
  • Longest Book: 1,020 pages, Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann
  • Average book length in 2020: 329 pages
  • My average rating for 2020: 3.9 Stars
  • Highest Rated on Goodreads: The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

End of the Year Reading Stats I’v Kept

I am just going to focus on my totals at this point of the year, but if you want to explore my stats for other months you can check out my monthly wrap ups! You can do so here: Bookish Luna’s Wrap Ups.

  • 136 Books
  • 44.603 Pages
  • 110 Fiction
  • 26 Non-fiction
  • 3 DNFs
  • 12 eBooks
  • 3 Audiobooks
  • 42 Hard Covers
  • 78 Soft Covers
  • 10 Library Books
  • 125 Owned Books
  • 38 5 Star Books
  • 62 4 Star Books
  • 24 3 Star Books
  • 11 2 Star Books
  • 1 1 Star Book

How was your reading year in 2020?

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Wrap Up

Wrap Up | December 2020

Hello and welcome to the last wrap up of 2020. I am going to make this one short and sweet since we are already in 2021, but I wanted to share the books I ended up finishing and mini reviews for each of them. I am going to be posting a whole year post either tomorrow or in the next few days. I currently have some rare time off so I am really taking this time to relax and not put pressure on myself. I will be uploading more regularly after the first week of January.


The IncarnationsThe Incarnations by Susan Barker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel was just something outside of the genre it was labeled as. It is a thriller, fantasy, and historical fiction all mixed into one. This book follows a cab driver in Beijing and the story goes through time as you learn about his past lives as he does. Each life had its own chapter where you explored the lives of these two souls, the lives they lived varied quite a lot and they endured a ton as well (violence, sexual violence, and suicide to name a few). The writing itself was beautiful, and the way the author organized the book was perfect. At no point did I think the pacing was off or was bored. I was glued to this book when I was able to find time to pick it up. Another aspect I enjoyed was the fact that the author intertwined these stories with Chinese folklore, classic, and history.

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An Orchestra of MinoritiesAn Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

So, this is a very imaginative story. I really loved the premise of the tale and I really enjoyed that it was narrated by a guardian spirit called a chi. The writing itself was really wonderful and I think the author has a gift for sure. Unfortunately, this book was filled with female objectification and I can only hope that the authors purpose in this is to bring light to this. The main character cannot take any responsibility and is pig headed. He commits a horrible act who hurts someone he is meant to “love”. I put it into quotes because it isn’t love. The women in this novel are nothing more than their use to the main character. I had such high hopes for this novel, while I did not like this tale at all I will be checking out the authors other work because their writing itself was done very well.

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Royal HolidayRoyal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a very cute read and a perfect little holiday book to read during December. When I picked this up I had no idea it was a series…oops! Either way I enjoyed it and the writing was good.

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Lovecraft CountryLovecraft Country by Matt Ruff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A wonderful collections of historical horror/science fiction that show cases the “typical” horror and the horrors faced by American Americans.

View all my reviews

The Existence Of AmyThe Existence Of Amy by Lana Grace Riva
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A detailed review is to come, but this was a beautifully written novel that follows the main character through their personal struggles with mental health, specifically with OCD. I read this in a single day because the story itself was compelling, but also the writing was and methods used were perfect.

View all my reviews

December Stats: 9 books, 2868 pages, 8 fiction, 1 nonfiction, 3 ebooks, 1 hard cover, 5 softcover, 9 owned books, 1. 5 star, 6 4 star, 1 3 star, and 1 2 star.

What was your favorite or least favorite read of December or 2020 as a whole?

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Reading Challenges

Reading Challenge | 2021 Reading Goals

Hello and welcome to a quick post to showcase the reading goals I have for myself this upcoming year. This year I am keeping some of the same I have had for year and others are new. I feel like it is a good mixture to challenge myself, but keeping in mind the unexpected nature 2021 will most likely have.


The Goals

Use the library once a month – I plan on using the digital resources that are part of my library membership this year. I want to use it at least once a month, but I hope to use it more.

Read 12 nonfiction books – I love reading non-fiction and I want to ensure it stays part of my reading rotation because I know as 2020 went on I read less and less of it because I wanted a bit of escapism.

Read 50 books – I do this goal every year, this is just to ensure that I read a book a week, but also some leeway if life gets in the way.

Read the International Booker Prize – I read a shortlist every year and this year I decided to read this one. I dedicated an entire post to it, Reading Challenge | Reading a Shortlist 2021, where I went over all the books that I plan on reading for this one.

I want to read 2 trilogies by Robin Hobb – I want to read both The Farseer Trilogy and Liveship Traders Trilogy this year because I hear such wonderful things about her works. Thanks to my wonderful boyfriend, I have the first two books of The Farseer Trilogy in the illustrated editions!

Reread The Hobbit and the Lord of the Ring Trilogy – I love these books and it has been quite a while since I last read them and I feel like I have forgotten so much. It is time to remedy that!

Lastly, keep my owned TBR under 10 books – in 2020 I was able to get my owned TBR to 0 and I want to keep it under 20 books. I will give myself exceptions to this around gift giving holidays and my birthday because I always get books as gifts.


What reading goals do you have for yourself in 2021?

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