Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up | December 2018

Monthly Wrap Up

The last wrap up of 2018, I just cannot believe it. Soon I will be starting my reading back at 0 and trying to reach my yearly goals. But, I have to say I ended the year on such a high-note I think 2019 is going to be a wonderful reading year. I read a lot of books I have been meaning to and some I absolutely loved. I also made it to a point where I have read all of the book I have owned for over a year. I have never been to that point before so I am very excited about it and I am going to do my best to keep it that way. So, without more of a delay I am going to share the books I read this month. Some of these books were featured in my post, Middle Mark | December 2018, so some of these are a recap.

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Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs

Small Fry

4stars

The first book I read this month was Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs. Overall I really liked this book more than I thought I would. If you want a more detailed review you can find that here: Let’s Talk |Fall Book Recommendation Test & Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs Review

Faithful by Alice Hoffman

Faithful

4stars

Alice Hoffman has never disappointed me.I have previously read Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic by her this year and I loved the books. This book was no different, her focus was on family, but in a different way this time around. I was really invested in this story, so much in fact I read this in a single day. It was great breaking at times and other times I smiled as I read. It really was a beautiful emotional rollercoaster.

Lisey’s Story by Stephen King

Lisey's Story

I have to admit I did not fully read this book. I ended up DNFing this about 20% through. It was not a bad book, it just was one I was not really feeling so I did not want to push myself all the way through it. It was an interesting story set up and such. I ended up passing this book on to my friends daughter who is getting into horror.

A Meeting by the River by Christopher Isherwood

A Meeting by the River2stars

This is the 4th Christopher Isherwood book I have read over the years and this one was eh. While, it is not my favorite of his works, my favorite is Christopher and His Kind, I still enjoyed the writing and the ride he puts you on. If you have ever read one of his books you will know that his writing style is unique. You feel like you are drifting along on a ride watching the main character.

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

If We Were Villains

5stars

So I read this as a buddy read with some amazing ladies and I have to admit I ended up finishing it earlier than planned. The first reason being is the writing and how it is organized. I really enjoyed how the story flowed and the sections had some very good cliffhangers so I had no choice but to continue. I really enjoyed how detailed this was and how the story is told between two time periods. I highly suggest this thriller/mystery to everyone. A lot of people compare this to The Secret History, but I think I actually prefer this book over that one. Controversial? Maybe, but it is true.

Down There on a Visit by Christopher Isherwood

Down There on a Visit

4stars

I finally read Down There on a Visit and I did enjoy it overall. As I have said 1000 times, his writing style is so enjoyable I think he could write about anything and I would enjoy it to some extent. I really enjoyed how this was broken down into sections based off of the main characters life. Also, this wrap up proves the point that you will not always love every book by an author you love and that is okay.

I Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks by Gina Sheridan

I Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks

5starsI absolutely loved this book! It was hilarious and at times just made me shake my head. It is fun learning about some of the funny and creepy things that happen to librarians while working. The regulars, the weird interactions, hilarious things said by children. I loved how this was organized by topic and the introductions to each section really added to it as well. If this author came out with another book I would pick it up without thinking.

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

The Broken Girls

4stars

I really loved how this book was set up in the past and more presents. It was a thriller/ghost story that went throughout time and if you know me anything with some ghosts is a win. The writing was so rich I was able to visualize everything with ease. I really enjoyed the fictional history the author created, it really felt genuine and not forced. I also enjoyed the time periods she used in telling this story, it added a lot to the plot, but also gives a nod to the strides our society has taken to be more understanding, but also why we need to continue to be more understanding. The only reason this did not get 5 stars was because I was one thing coming, but the rest of it was a complete surprise.

Fresh Ink: An Anthology

Fresh Ink: An Anthology

2stars

I really just think anthologies in general are just not for me. I am always disappointed because I want more. The mix of medium and the stories that were written well, but they are just too short.

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

House of Leaves

4starsI cannot believe I have finished this book! I was totally thinking this read would follow me into 2019, but I pulled a late night because this book serious hooked me. I totally understand why this is considered a favorite by many. I may or may not have read the last 300 pages in one sitting. This is a very interesting horror book that is is more creepy than outright scary. It seems like it is more a mind game than anything else. I really enjoyed how this unorthodox book was put together and how it was more than one story. It was refreshing to read something so different. I will mention I tried to read this when I was in middle school, when it first came out. I am glad I never finished it then, because I know I would not have appreciated it as much. There are layers and layers and you need to dissect this book a little bit.

The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson

The Lottery and Other Stories

4stars

I finally read The Lottery and Other Stories and I am so happy that I did. I read right through this collection in a single day. There is something about Jackson’s writing that is just hypnotizing to me. While most of these stories are very short, some only 3 pages. She packs a lot into those 3 pages. Her writing always has layers and leaves you thinking. I highly suggest this if you enjoy reading short stories that at times are creepy or just a little jabs at society in the 1950s.

Under the Dome by Stephen King

Under the Dome

3stars

I felt like Under the Dome was the adult version of Lord of the Flies. I read Lord of the Flies when I was in high school and I HATED it. I can’t pinpoint why I hated it, but I was so bored by it and I just couldn’t get into any of it. Under the Dome I could get into though. Right off the bat big things happen that just hook you and the way that the cut off from society was well done, even thought it was really out there. I will say there were some points where I was bored and I just wanted to find out what was happening with another group of characters. For that reason I drifted in and out of caring about the story.

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Annotating My Bookshelves

Annotating My Bookshelf | III

BOOKSHELVES

Hello and welcome to the third installment of  Annotating my bookshelf! This time we are taking a look at my somewhat color coded shelf. I am not sure how must some of my shelves are color coded and the others aren’t, but this one ended up being a shelf of black and gray books. I hope you enjoy!

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The Books

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

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Lists & Recommendations

March 2018 | Books I Am Excited About

NewReleases12:17

Happy March everyone! I hope it is a great one just like some of these books that are coming out this month. This month I am looking forward to true crime, historical fiction, and some Y.A. releases.

The Balcony by Jane Delury

The Balcony

Release Date : March 27th 2018

What if our homes could tell the stories of others who lived there before us? Set in a small village near Paris, The Balconyfollows the inhabitants of a single estate-including a manor and a servants’ cottage-over the course of several generations, from the Belle Époque to the present day, introducing us to a fascinating cast of characters. A young American au pair develops a crush on her brilliant employer. An ex-courtesan shocks the servants, a Jewish couple in hiding from the Gestapo attract the curiosity of the neighbors, and a housewife begins an affair while renovating her downstairs. Rich and poor, young and old, powerful and persecuted, all of these people are seeking something: meaning, love, a new beginning, or merely survival.

Throughout, cross-generational connections and troubled legacies haunt the same spaces, so that the rose garden, the forest pond, and the balcony off the manor’s third floor bedroom become silent witnesses to a century of human drama.

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Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha RaoGirls Burn Brighter

Release Date: March 6th 2018

A searing, electrifying debut novel set in India and America, about a once-in-a-lifetime friendship between two girls who are driven apart but never stop trying to find one another again.

When Poornima first meets Savitha, she feels something she thought she lost for good when her mother died: hope. Poornima’s father hires Savitha to work one of their sari looms, and the two girls are quickly drawn to one another. Savitha is even more impoverished than Poornima, but she is full of passion and energy. She shows Poornima how to find beauty in a bolt of indigo cloth, a bowl of yogurt rice and bananas, the warmth of friendship. Suddenly their Indian village doesn’t feel quite so claustrophobic, and Poornima begins to imagine a life beyond the arranged marriage her father is desperate to lock down for her. But when a devastating act of cruelty drives Savitha away, Poornima leaves behind everything she has ever known to find her friend again. Her journey takes her into the darkest corners of India’s underworld, on a harrowing cross-continental journey, and eventually to an apartment complex in Seattle. Alternating between the girls’ perspectives as they face relentless obstacles, Girls Burn Brighter introduces two heroines who never lose the hope that burns within them.

DividerI Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon

I Was Anastasia

Release Date: March 27th 2018

Russia, July 17, 1918
Under direct orders from Vladimir Lenin, Bolshevik secret police force Anastasia Romanov, along with the entire imperial family, into a damp basement in Siberia where they face a merciless firing squad. None survive. At least that is what the executioners have always claimed.


Germany, February 17, 1920

A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled shivering and senseless from a canal in Berlin. Refusing to explain her presence in the freezing water, she is taken to the hospital where an examination reveals that her body is riddled with countless, horrific scars. When she finally does speak, this frightened, mysterious woman claims to be the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia.

Her detractors, convinced that the young woman is only after the immense Romanov fortune, insist on calling her by a different name: Anna Anderson.
As rumors begin to circulate through European society that the youngest Romanov daughter has survived the massacre, old enemies and new threats are awakened. With a brilliantly crafted dual narrative structure, Lawhon wades into the most psychologically complex and emotionally compelling territory yet: the nature of identity itself.
The question of who Anna Anderson is and what actually happened to Anastasia Romanov creates a saga that spans fifty years and touches three continents. This thrilling story is every bit as moving and momentous as it is harrowing and twisted.

DividerAre You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber

Are You Sleeping

Release Date: March 20th 2018

Serial meets Ruth Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood in this inventive and twisty psychological thriller about a megahit podcast that reopens a murder case—and threatens to unravel the carefully constructed life of the victim’s daughter.

The only thing more dangerous than a lie…is the truth.

Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family and with good reason. After her father’s murder thirteen years prior, her mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her in an unimaginable way. Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York, settling into domestic life with her partner Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay.

The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past—starting with her last name.

When investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a megahit podcast that reopens the long-closed case of Josie’s father’s murder, Josie’s world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, the unexpected death of Josie’s long-absent mother forces her to return to her Midwestern hometown where she must confront the demons from her past—and the lies on which she has staked her future.

DividerThe Manson Women and Me: Monsters, Morality, and Murder by Nikki Meredith

The Manson Women and Me: Monsters, Morality, and Murder

Release Date: March 27th 2018

In the summer of 1969, Leslie Van Houten and Patricia Krenwinkel carried out horrific acts of butchery on the orders of the charismatic cult leader Charles Manson. At their murder trial the following year, lead prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi described the two so-called Manson Women as “human monsters.” But to anyone who knew them growing up, they were bright, promising girls, seemingly incapable of such an unfathomable crime.

Award-winning journalist Nikki Meredith began visiting Van Houten and Krenwinkel in prison to discover how they had changed during their incarceration. The more Meredith got to know them, the more she was lured into a deeper dilemma: What compels “normal” people to do unspeakable things?

The author’s relationship with her subjects provides a chilling lens through which we gain insight into a particular kind of woman capable of a particular kind of brutality. Through their stories, Nikki Meredith takes readers on a dark journey into the very heart of evil.

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The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

The Broken Girls

Release Date: March 20th 2018 – I already own because it was listed as a BOTM choice for me  last month.

Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants–the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming–until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past–and a voice that won’t be silenced. . . .

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Are any of these books on your TBR? Are there other books coming out this month that you are excited about?

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Hauls

Haul | February 2018

BookHaul12:17

This month I have to say I found a ton of awesome books. All of them I am very excited about and I cannot wait to read them. Some of these books are from my Haul | Boyfriend Picks My Books and others were recommended to me by friends or strangers who I ran into at the bookstore. If you have read any of these please let me know what you thought of them. Also, are any of these on your TBR as well?

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The Books

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.

But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

As teenagers in Lagos, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are fleeing the country if they can. The self-assured Ifemelu departs for America. There she suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Thirteen years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a blogger. But after so long apart and so many changes, will they find the courage to meet again, face to face?

Fearless, gripping, spanning three continents and numerous lives, Americanah is a richly told story of love and expectation set in today’s globalized world.

The Fandom by Anna Day

They can’t wait to meet the fandom of mega movie, The Gallows Dance. What they’re not expecting is to be catapulted by freak accident into their favourite world – for real. Fuelled by love, guilt and fear, can the friends put the plot back on track and get out? The fate of the story is in their hands …

A fast-paced, genre-flipping YA fantasy adventure from a brand new author, writing in homage to the best YA fiction.

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

Vermont, 1950. There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants–the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming–until one of them mysteriously disappears. . . .

Vermont, 2014. As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past–and a voice that won’t be silenced. . . .

Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire

Hiddensee recreates the backstory of the Nutcracker, reimaging how this entrancing creature came to be carved and how it magically guided an ailing little girl named Klara through a dreamy paradise on a snowy Christmas Eve. It also brings to life the mysterious godfather Drosselmeier—the ominous, canny, one-eyed toymaker made immortal by Petipa and Tchaikovsky’s ballet—who presents the once and future Nutcracker to Klara, his goddaughter.

But Hiddensee is not just a retelling of a classic story. Maguire discovers in the flowering of German Romanticism a migrating strain of a Hellenic mystery-cult, and ponders a profound question: how a person who is abused by life, short-changed and challenged, can access secrets that benefit the disadvantaged and powerless. Ultimately, Hiddensee, offers a message of hope. If the compromised Godfather Drosselmeier can bring an enchanted Nutcracker to a young girl in distress, perhaps everyone, however lonely or marginalized on the eve of a winter holiday, has something precious to share.

Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba, Takeshi Obata (Illustrator), Pookie Rolf (Translator)

Light Yagami is an ace student with great prospects – and he’s bored out of his mind. But all that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami, a death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. But when criminals begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective L to track down the killer. With L hot on his heels, will Light lose sight of his noble goal… or his life?

Light tests the boundaries of the Death Note’s powers as L and the police begin to close in. Luckily, Light’s father is the head of the Japanese National Police Agency and leaves vital information about the case lying around the house. With access to his father’s files, Light can keep one step ahead of the authorities. But who is the strange man following him, and how can Light guard against enemies whose names he doesn’t know?

By Gaslight by Steven Price

London, 1885. In a city of fog and darkness, the notorious thief Edward Shade exists only as a ghost, a fabled con, a thief of other men’s futures — a man of smoke. William Pinkerton is already famous, the son of a brutal detective, when he descends into the underworld of Victorian London in pursuit of a new lead. His father died without ever tracing Shade; William, still reeling from his loss, is determined to drag the thief out of the shadows. Adam Foole is a gentleman without a past, haunted by a love affair ten years gone. When he receives a letter from his lost beloved, he returns to London in search of her; what he learns of her fate, and its connection to the man known as Shade, will force him to confront a grief he thought long-buried. What follows is a fog-enshrouded hunt through sewers, opium dens, drawing rooms, and seance halls. Above all, it is the story of the most unlikely of bonds: between William Pinkerton, the greatest detective of his age, and Adam Foole, the one man who may hold the key to finding Edward Shade.

The Pillars of Earth by Ken Follett

Everything readers expect from Follett is here: intrigue, fast-paced action, and passionate romance. But what makes The Pillars of the Earth extraordinary is the time the twelfth century; the place feudal England; and the subject the building of a glorious cathedral. Follett has re-created the crude, flamboyant England of the Middle Ages in every detail. The vast forests, the walled towns, the castles, and the monasteries become a familiar landscape. Against this richly imagined and intricately interwoven backdrop, filled with the ravages of war and the rhythms of daily life, the master storyteller draws the reader irresistibly into the intertwined lives of his characters into their dreams, their labors, and their loves: Tom, the master builder; Aliena, the ravishingly beautiful noblewoman; Philip, the prior of Kingsbridge; Jack, the artist in stone; and Ellen, the woman of the forest who casts a terrifying curse. From humble stonemason to imperious monarch, each character is brought vividly to life.

The building of the cathedral, with the almost eerie artistry of the unschooled stonemasons, is the center of the drama. Around the site of the construction, Follett weaves a story of betrayal, revenge, and love, which begins with the public hanging of an innocent man and ends with the humiliation of a king.

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What book(s) did you add to your TBR recently?

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