Reading Challenges

Reading Challenge | Reading a Shortlist Vol. 1 Update

Hello and welcome to my first checkin for one of my largest reading challenges of the year where I read the shortlist for the 2020 International Booker Prize. If you would like a breakdown of my challenge you can do so by reading my post, Reading Challenge | 2021 Reading Goals. Even though it is already February, I have already read 2 of the 6 books on this list so I wanted to take a moment to share my thoughts on these books before too much times has passed and the details begin to get fuzzy. Anway, on to the reviews!


The Books

The Memory PoliceThe Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am not a huge fan of dystopian novels and have not been for a long time. I read this novel mainly because it was part of my challenge to read the shortlist for the 2020 International Booker Award. I have to say I am thrilled it was on this list because I loved it. It was a dystopian novel, but was more. It had elements of science fiction and fantasy as well. The writing was grand and I give huge credit to the translator because it seems a lot of the magic of this novel remained in the tale.

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Hurricane SeasonHurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an interesting read. The murder of the witch is told through the POV of multiple people. With each perspective you learn more about the past and the murder itself. I liked how it also was a social commentary with a mixture of a thriller.

View all my reviews


Overall, I am feeling very good about the books on this list so far. I enjoyed both of these books and even enjoyed loving one of them. Starting off the list by finding a 5 star read is just phenomenal. Last year, I didn’t have the best start to this challenge so this is a great contrast. I have very high hopes for the rest of these books and I am loving that my enjoying percentage is 100%!

Liked: 2

Hated: 0



Have you read either of these books? Would you add either of these to your TBR?

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Wrap Up

Middle Mark | March 2021

Hello and welcome to my middle of the month reading check in! This month my reading is kind of slumpy. I think because I have so much going on this month I am just so exhausted when I do have some down time. But, I have managed to make some progress in quite a few books. Anyway, here is what I read and what I am in the middle of.


This Little Dark PlaceThis Little Dark Place by A.S. Hatch
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A long winded dark tale told through letters that jumps around in time. I did a full review on this book as a separate post earlier this month. I was not a huge fan overall, but it had some good aspects to it.

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Royal Assassin: The Illustrated Edition by Robin Hobb, I am currently at 22% through this book and I am still enjoying this series very much. I might even pick up the second book in the series right after I finish this one. It is a very interesting world and I really like the characters as well. I am truly invested in this trilogy!

An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon, this is the 7th book in the Outlander series and what a tome it is! I am currently 13% into it this one and I invested it this one as well. I keep switching between the two of my current reads. Since this is the 7th book, I don’t want to talk about what is happening, but this series really is a blast because it touches on so much history.


What have you read so far this month or what are you currently reading?

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Hauls & Unboxings

Book Haul | February 2021

Hello and welcome to a bit of a book haul for February. This month was really great for my book buying and I am thrilled about that. I love when I read more books than add to my TBR. But, because I picked up so few books, I am really, really happy about the ones I did decide to add to my shelves. Anyway, here are the books I decided to add!


The Last Negros at Harvard by Jeanna Ellsworth and Kent Garrett, I picked this up at my local bookstore, but I had heard about it on twitter and thought it was a very interesting story. I really want to know the experiences of these very brave and intelligent men who attended Harvard during a time described as “between integration and affirmative action” in the description.

Infinite Country by Patricia Engel, this was my BOTM pick for February. It follow a very young family who have traveled from to the US from Bogotá and stay longer than their visa allows because they want what is best for their family. It follows them as they move from place to place and the stress and hardships that follow.

What Would Frida Do? by Arianna Davis, I am going to be honest here, I don’t know too much about Frida and I saw this on BOTM so I decided to add it to my box this month. This is a nonfiction book about the artist and I have heard that you can really read the passion the author has for this prominent figure. It seems to not just talk about her art, but her life as a whole.

Dark Archives by Megan Rosenbloom, I have had this book on my to buy list for a very long time and I finally came across it in the bookstore so I picked it up. This is a grim book, but I find it to be a very interesting topic. This book dives into the history of books bound in human skin. The author, who is a librarian, goes through the myths and legends and uses science to see if the books that are claimed to have been bound in human skin, really are.

This Little Dark Place by A.S. Hatch, I picked up this thriller for a series on my blog called, Someone Picks My Books. I don’t want to say too much, but I did post the review for this book already so you can find that here, Someone Picks My Books | Nicky from @cre8ive_nicky | This Little Dark Place by A.S. Hatch.


What book have you recently added to your shelves from the library or the store?

What book have you recently read?

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Reviews

Someone Picks My Books | Nicky from @cre8ive_nicky | This Little Dark Place by A.S. Hatch

Hello and welcome to another installment of Someone Picks my Book! This month my book was picked by the lovely Nicky who you can find on twitter as @cre8ive_nicky. As you can see from the title, she picked This Little Dark Place by A.S. Hatch, this is a thriller which I have not read as much as I once did so I was both nervous and looking forward to reading their pick. Now, here. we are I read this picks and here are my thoughts

One Sentence Review

A long winded dark tale told through letters that jumps around in time.

Description

How well do you know your girlfriend?

How well do you know your lover?

How well do you know yourself?

Daniel and Victoria are together. They’re trying for a baby. Ruby is in prison, convicted of assault on an abusive partner.

But when Daniel joins a pen pal program for prisoners, he and Ruby make contact. At first the messages are polite, neutral – but soon they find themselves revealing more and more about themselves. Their deepest fears, their darkest desires.

And then, one day, Ruby comes to find Daniel. And now he must decide who to choose – and who to trust. – goodreads.com

What I Liked

This was a very interestingly set up thriller, one of the main things I liked was that it utilized written letters throughout. This is one of my favorite things found in a novel so I was glad to see it here. It is nice to see an author play with this.

Other than the utilization of letters, there was not a ton I enjoyed about this book. That is not to say it is bad, just nothing specifically stood out or made an impression on me to the point I feel the need to point it out. The writing was okay, the plot was a bit jarring, but interesting. I thought the author had a very interesting imagination.

What I Didn’t Like

This was kind of a confusing read, it jumped around in time quite a bit. On top of that, the chapters were quite annoying, they were VERY long and I need natural breaking points in my books otherwise I get worn down while reading. I hate just stopping in the middle of a chapter so this was a bit frustrating.

Overall

I am really not sure about this thriller. I didn’t hate it, but it was not my favorite either. I thought it did some fun things with writing letters and it was dark and kept me on my toes. Sadly, the actual formatting of the book really took away from it for me personally. Like I said I was confused a lot because it jumped in time abruptly and the long chapters made it drag for me. I feel like if this sounds like an interesting read and long chapters and jumping around in time a lot doesn’t bother you, I feel like this would be a win for you.


Next month I am reading a book picked by Annelies, who you can find on twitter as @AnneliesExpl or on their blog called Annelies Explores. I am really looking forward to reading the book they picked for me, it just sounds grand!

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

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Reviews

Wrap Up | February 2021

Hello and welcome to my February wrap up. Another month down, can you believe it? I know February is a short month, but I felt like it went faster than usual. I did manage to read quite a bit this month and found quite a few I really enjoyed.


Our Little CrueltiesOur Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

First off, I really hated all of the characters of this book. But, like always Liz Nugent was a wonderful writer.

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Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, WitchGood Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a reread for me, this time around I still really loved the dynamics between Aziraphale and Crowley as well as the version of the world that Pratchett and Gaiman have created. It is fun, pokes fun, and at times just turns ideas on their head. This was one of my favorite books of 2019 and it is still a gem and I am so glad I took the time this month to reread it and was so happy to have read it with Lauren.

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This month I read a total of 8 books, not bad for a shorter month! In total that was 2,383 pages, which tuned out to be 4 fiction and 4 nonfiction. I read an ebook, an audiobook, 2 hard covers, and 4 softcover books. One of my reads was from the library and the others were from my own shelves. The rating broke down to: 3-5 stars, 2-4 stars, and 3-3 stars.

What was your favorite book you read this month?

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Wrap Up

Middle Mark | February 2021

Hello and welcome to my mid-month reading check in! I am off to a wonderful start this month because I took part in the 24 in 48 Readathon that book place over the weekend of the 6th. I have really enjoyed a majority of what I have read, so I am excited to share a few of them with you. Without more of a delay, here are the books that I read!


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland / Through the Looking GlassAlice’s Adventures in Wonderland / Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I found I enjoyed Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland much more than Through the Looking Glass. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland seemed more like a fantastical tale and adventures. The second, while still seemed like an adventure, it didn’t have the same feel or appeal.

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Sister OutsiderSister Outsider by Audre Lorde
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This author really has a way with words. Their writing was beautiful and I really enjoyed this collection of essays. Her voice was unique, which I really enjoyed. I would really like to read more of her poetry because I feel like I would really enjoy it. The content of these essays revolve around many topics such as friendship, race, and sexuality.

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White Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of ColorWhite Tears/Brown Scars: How White Feminism Betrays Women of Color by Ruby Hamad
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a very interesting book, it examines our history and todays society in quite a few countries. It really examines the faults of feminism as a movement and as well as how white women use tears to hide and “protect” themselves instead of having meaningful conversations and a have a refusal to be uncomfortable. This not only is in response to just one minority, but a look at white women’s response and their role in racism when dealing with POC.

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Hurricane SeasonHurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an interesting read. The murder of the witch is told through the POV of multiple people. With each perspective you learn more about the past and the murder itself. I liked how it also was a social commentary with a mixture of a thriller.

View all my reviews

World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other AstonishmentsWorld of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments by Aimee Nezhukumatathil
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I thought this was a very unique way to organize a memoir. Throughout the book the author takes a plant or animal and relates it to a personal part in their life, both childhood and more current. While also doing that you learned about the animals or plants. I will say, if you know a lot about animals it starts to drag a bit and I would have loved to hear more about the authors life.

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Lady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout HistoryLady Killers: Deadly Women Throughout History by Tori Telfer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I felt that this was a really well done book. It talked about quite a few women from different countries and time periods. They even mentioned some more that lacked accounts that they really wished there was more on so they could add them to this collection. Not only did this book talk about these serial killers, it also talked about how society viewed them with bias. They were not seen the same way as their male counter parts. Some were even allowed to go free because they were pretty or using their role as a mother to gain sympathy. It was also well organized and it read more like a narrative than a lecture.

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Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, I am currently 46% though this reread and I am really enjoying it. For me this was one of my favorite books a year or two ago and honestly, it is still one of my all time favorite reads. The dynamics in this book are just great and I can’t wait to continue

Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent, I am current 30% through this thriller. I am reading it with Reg and Jenna, we have all read books by Liz Nugent together in the past and have loved her stuff. This one so far is living up the hype for me. I will say, it does not led itself to an audiobook though. I think if you do listen to the audiobook have the physical book in front of you because it jumps around in time and it can be a bit confusing.



What have you read so far this month or what are you currently reading?

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Hauls & Unboxings

Book Haul | January 2021

Hello and welcome to my January book haul. This past month or two I ended up being gifted quite a few books that I am very grateful for and would like to share with everyone to see if you have read them and if you have any thoughts on them. Following this month I am going back to my Read 5, Buy 1 Challenge since I made it down to 0 books last year and now I am in the 30s again. Ooops. Anyway, here are the books I most recently added to my TBR!


Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman, I am honestly not 100% sure what this book is about if I am being honest. Any insight would be really helpful. I received this as a gift from a family member and I have seen a lot of people mention it over the past few years. But, I kind of avoided all of the reviews etc.

Lady Killers by Tori Telfer, I was gifted this really interesting book by Heidi you can find her on twitter as @TIMbookshelf or over on her blog This is My Bookshelf Blog. She really is vey sweet and kind and I am so happy she picked this book off of my wishlist because I have been in such a nonfiction mood. It moved pretty quickly to the top of my TBR. This non-fiction book discusses various lady killers throughout history.

White Tears/Brown Scars by Ruby Hamad, recommended by Amy who you can find on twitter as @SalieriSin and over on her blog The Book Siren. I was so happy when I saw a book from the list of books I compiled from a thread of nonfiction recommendations on twitter. I scooped this one up no questions asked. This book discusses how feminism is actually white feminism and does not include black women and women of color in their fight for equality. It does this by going throughout history to modern times and across many continents from my understanding.

Sons of Cain by Peter Vronsky, Once again I wanted a nonfiction and I was in my bookstore. I ended up coming across this book that talks about the history of serial killers and how we actually started using that title. It is almost like a historiography on how we view these individuals and also goes into what their crimes are. This is a perfect read for me because I love to see how a topic has been viewed over a period of time and how that view has changed and reading and watching true crime.

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, this is a classic that has been on my list for some time and I saw this edition on sale so I decided to finally pick it up. I have never read any of Woolf other works from my memory, so this could be very interesting to see if I enjoy her writing style or not. I also find it interesting that this novel follows a singular person over a singular day while they are trying to set up for a party.

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid, I was gifted this book by Reg who you can find on twitter as @BookishinBed or on her blog that goes by the same name, Bookish In Bed. I was so delighted when this showed up in my box. Taylor Jenkins Reid has quickly become one of my favorite authors and this is one of her books that I have yet to read so I am super thankful!

World of Wonders by Aimee Nezhukumatathil, this book I picked up at my local bookstore as well and saw the beautiful cover and then I read the description and I needed to have it! I love when a “cover buy” is more than just a cover buy. This 100 pages or so is a collection of non-fiction essays surrounding the author and focuses on the natural world that surrounds us.

The Unwanted by Michael Dobbs, This non-fiction novel was recommended by local bookstore owner in my area. I did not have a lot of nonfiction on my shelf and I was in the mood for some so I asked the owner to recommend me one and this is the novel they picked. This is about a small own where many were trying to seek asylum to aviod the Nazi party in World War One. I think it is going to be a very well done book, but heart breaking because it focuses on how these people were stuck trying to get the proper paperwork that would literally save their lives and the bureaucracy they had to deal with.

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas, I was gifted this book by Misty who you can find on twitter as @mistymichelle30 or over at her blog entitled, Misty’s Book Space. She sent me a message in early January to ask if I have read this book yet and I let her know that I have not and she was super kind and sweet to send this to me. So, I can check out more of this series.


What books have you recently added to your TBR or taken out from your library?

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Lets Talk · Lists & Recommendations

Let’s Talk | Series I Read or Started in 2020

Hello and welcome to a post where I share a few of the book series I finished or started in 2020. Now, to be honest I don’t read too many series so the ones I start I really have to be interested in. I have realized that series reading is not something to take lightly because of the commitment. I have realized that type of reading is generally not for me as the years have passed, but there are a few exceptions and here they are!


Series I Started

Assassination Classroom by Yūsei Matsui

Assassination Classroom, Vol. 01

Now, I will be honest here. I have watched the entirety of the anime and loved it. The next logical step for this reader was to read the manga. So, I finally decided to start reading them this year and at this point in time I have read the first two volumes and I have a few waiting for me on my shelf. This series takes place in a school where the students are tasked by the government to assassinate their teacher who seems to be a monster or alien that blew up the moon and promises to do the same to Earth. The funny thing is, this teacher is probably the best teacher ever and really cares about the kids and helps train them to try and get him. It really is hard to explain but I cried a few times and it takes a lot for me to cry.

Frankenstein by Dean Koontz

Prodigal Son (Dean Koontz's Frankenstein #1)

This series I started as a buddy read with Jenna and Reg. We all read the first book, Prodigal Son, in the series together but we have all stalled funny enough. It was a good start for sure, but just something I am in the mood for currently. It has a mixture of horror with an immortal and also has aspects of a thriller with a serial killer on the loose. It really left off on a great point in the plot so I really do want to continue one day.

Series I Continued

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

An Echo in the Bone (Outlander, #7)

I have been reading this series over the last few years and I have been enjoying it, but I have been reading about two a year. At this point in time I am up to An Echo in the Bone, which his book 7. I am hoping to read it the last week of December or early January. I tend to read one in the Winter and one in the Summer. Since I am so far in the series I don’t want to say too much at this point.

Series I Finished

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Tales from the Café

I read the first two books in this series, that is all that is available in English at this time so I am going to count this as completed. I do hope the third installment of this whimsical, emotional, and magical collection of short tales. I don’t want to say too much about these because I feel like the less you know the better, but do know that these are amazing!

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

The Magicians Trilogy Boxed Set

This year I started and finished Th Magicians Series. I have to say I really loved this series throughout. If fact it got better as it went on. I really loved that the characters started learning magic in college and that it took place in a world hidden within our own. I also loved the fact that his fantasy novel is new adult as well. I also liked that the main character isn’t perfect, it really makes all of the characters feel like actual humans with flaws and all. I really feel like I might reread this series in the future as well. I also read these with Jenna and Reg!

Margaret Harkness and Arthur Conan Doyle Series by Bradley Harper

Queen's Gambit

This last series I read this year because I was part of a blog tour of the first book, A Knife in the Fog. I then decided to continue the series because I enjoyed the first one. This fast paced historical mystery was a ton of fun and gave off a ton of Sherlock Holmes vibes.


What series have you read this year?

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Lets Talk · Lists & Recommendations

Let’s Talk | Wintery Books

Hello and welcome to a post where I talk about a few of my wintery themed books. I am not usually a seasonal reader, but I feel like there is nothing better than snuggling up next to a fireplace with a cup of hot cocoa with a winter read. It is just so relaxing during the long nights. Anyway, here are the books I think wold be great to read in the winter.


NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

While this is a horror novel, it has a large wintery and Christmas theme throughout. I mean it has a place called Christmasland in it, it doesn’t get more christmas-y in a horror novel than that. On top of this it really is a really enjoyable horror novel on its own that I recommend to quite a few to my friends to read this time of the year. I feel like the mixture of horror and the holiday season really is a great tie in between Halloween and Christmas.

One by One by Ruth Ware

If you are in the mood for a thriller and a wintry backdrop, this is a wonderful option. This thriller/mystery takes place at a ski retreat where the characters are trapped and cut off the from the rest of the world at the top of a mountain in the middle of a snow storm. This is a great option to read as soon as the temperature starts to drop.

The Widow of Pale Harbor by Hester Fox

Now, this one is a really atmospheric read. It is a really great thriller with a very big dark feeling to it that is hard to explain. It is not dark in a way that is evil, but the novel just reads like it takes place in the time of year where the nights are long. On top of that it takes place in a really small lovely town where everyone is really close, but also it a historical fiction. It has a lot going for it.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Does it get more wintry than a classic Russian novel? This novel is a classic for a reason, this book covers themes and such that are still relevant in todays world. While there is a lot of drama in this book, a lot of the issues the characters face are still feelings that a lot of us still feel during 2020. When I first read this novel I gave it 3 stars, but as time past I realized that I liked it more and more.

Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

I just finished this very cute romance last night, I have not stayed up this late to finish a book in a while, but this book had me needing to know what happened next between the two main characters. The main character, Vivian, travels with her daughter, Maddie, across the ocean to spend Christmas with her while working for the royal family, then the story builds from there. It is an adorable setting, the characters were wonderful, and takes place the week surrounding Christmas.

Before the Coffee Gets Cold and Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Tales from the Café by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

These two collections of short stories that are about 200 pages are so wonderful and heart wrenching focus on making connections with those in our lives and celebrating and making the most of the time we have together. With all of the holidays where family is the main focus I feel like this really is a wonderful time to read both of these. Plus, a cafe where you can travel in time, I mean, this is just a great addition!


I hope you found a book that you might enjoy reading over the long nights this winter or holiday season!

Are there any wintery themed books you are enjoying currently?

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Hauls & Unboxings

Book Haul | November 2020

Hello and welcome to my November book haul. This past month I picked up a few books to finish out some 2020 reading challenges as well as finally getting my hands on a few books I have been very much looking forward to. I don’t want to drag on the introduction, so here are the books I picked up in November.

An Orchestra of Minorities by Chigozie Obioma, this is the final book I need to read for my reading a shortlist challenge for 2020. I am really looking forward to this “contemporary twist on the Odyssey”. I have had to read the Odyssey quite a few times through my education so I am really excited to see how someone updated it and came it more modern.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, I happened to come across this book while shopping one day. I saw the over and thought to myself, “this looks interesting”. Then I read the description and I really wanted to read it. It reminded me of the Tardis, the building being bigger on the inside. Plus they say if you like Neil Gaiman and Madeline Miller’s books, chances are you will enjoy this.

Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger, now this one I have been waiting to come out for some time. I did a zoom event with an author named Megan Miranda who wrote The Girl from Widow Hills, whichI loved. The event was great we got to talk about our love of Ruth Ware and she recommended this book to us.

Women in Art by Rachel Ignotofsky, I have loved the work of this artist for some time. I used to have a whole thing of postcards with their art on them that I sent to people via postcrossing for a good amount of time. Well, I happened to see she had a book out talking about influential women of art and I needed to get it. PLUS IT WAS ON SALE!

Titan by Ron Chernow, I mainly picked this on up because I enjoyed reading Ron Chernow’s biography of Alexander Hamilton. I figured if he could keep me entertained for nearly 1000 pages and not bored while reading non-fiction I should check out his other works. Plus, John D. Rockefeller seemed to have a very interesting life from my current understanding.

A Promised Land by Barack Obama, I have been looking forward to this book since it was announced. So, I preordered it and now I have my hands on it.


What are some books you added to your TBR this past month?

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