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?

Sign Off 2020

Tumblr Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

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?

Sign Off 2020

Tumblr Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

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?

Sign Off 2020

Tumblr Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

To Be Read

To Be Read | November 2020, Using a Prompt Generator

Hello and welcome to another TBR post, this month I decided to try something new and use a TBR prompt generator. I came across the website https://heyreader.me/random-prompt and thought it would be fun to give it a try. Anyway, on to this months picks!


First prompt is pick a book with a map. Well, the first book I picked up with a map happened to be The Devil in the Dark Water by Stuart Turton who wrote 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcase, which I absolutely loved. Plus, this only came out a few weeks ago so I am really happy it has a map in it.

Next we have pretty cover. Well, I cannot think of a more beautiful cover on my TBR other than The House on the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. I have heard nothing but good things about this book, online and in my day to day life. I am so glad I was able to fit this in as well. I am told I will really enjoy the dynamic between two of the characters.

For the third prompt we have published in the last year. For this one I decided to pick Before the Coffee Gets Cold: Tales from the Cafe by Toshikazu Kawaguchi . I really loved the first book in this series when I read it earlier this year and I cannot wait to get to this one. It came out a month or so ago. I can’t wait to read more about this magical cafe.

The fourth pick is a blue cover. I only have one blue book on my TBR currently and that is Envelope Poems by Emily Dickinson. I have never read any of her poems that I can remember, but I picked this up because I have heard her poetry was really good. Plus, the edition I found was adorable.

The last prompt I picked was award winner. I decided to go with The Nickle Boys by Colson Whitehead. I read The Underground Railroad by this author a few years ago and thought it was brilliant. My edition of The Nickle Boys has a stamp that says, “Winner of the Pulitzer Prize” so I am very happy that it fit into the prompts and I get to read it this month.


Now, as you know every month I have someone picks my books. Well, this month the book I am going to read was picked by Olivia who you can find on twitter at @oliviascatastro or youtube at Olivia’s Catastrophe. She picked Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo and said she gave it 5 stars! So, I have a good feeling I am going to LOVE this book as well because she has such great taste in books.


What are you planning on reading this month?

Sign Off 2020

Tumblr Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Reviews

Gifted Book Review | The Canary Keeper by Clare Carson

Book Review

Hello and welcome to a book review! Today I am trying something new where I review books that have been gifted to me. Many moons ago the lovely and wonderful Adrianna, who you can find on twitter as @romancebookbing., gifted me a copy of a book I really wanted. She is such an amazing person with a huge heart and the book arriving was a totally needed surprise at the time and I am still very grateful for. Anyway, if you caught the title chances are you know what book she sent me, The Canary Keeper by Clare Carson.


Picture of The Canary Keeper by Claire Carson in a wreath.

One Sentence Review

A wonderfully written and enthralling historical fiction mystery that kept me hooked.

Description

“In the grey mist of the early morning a body is dumped on the shore of the Thames by a boatman in a metal canoe. The city is soon alive with talk of the savage Esquimaux stalking Victorian London and an eye witness who claims the killer had an accomplice: a tall woman dressed in widow’s weeds, with the telltale look of the degenerate Irish.

Branna ‘Birdie’ Quinn had no good reason to be by the river that morning, but she did not kill the man. She’d seen him first the day before, desperate to give her a message she refused to hear. And now the Filth will see her hang for his murder, just like her father.

To save her life, Birdie must trace the dead man’s footsteps. Back onto the ship that carried him to his death, back to cold isles of Orkney that sheltered him, and up to the far north, a harsh and lawless land which holds more answers than she looks to find…

The Canary Keeper is a must-read historical epic, weaving suspense, adventure and romance into an exhilarating thriller.” –goodreads.com


What I Liked

One of the main things I loved about this story is that it includes real events and such, but the author is able to mix fact and fiction in such a flawless and remarkable way. The murder and the overall plot felt like it could have really happened in the Victorian era. As someone who studied history, this really makes or breaks a book set in the past. But as I said, he author sews the past with fiction in a masterful way.

On top of mixing the truth with fiction, the setting and atmosphere throughout the novel was on point as well. Since I have read a lot of mysteries and thrillers over the years, I often find myself on a rollercoaster of interest when reading a run of the mill mystery, but the level of suspense through this novel was just the right amount. I was pulled in for most of the story, more on that later, but I was also not too anxious while reading. As I said earlier, the setting was just wonderfully done, the novel felt as if it was the Victorian era, it had the perfect feel to it. Which, I think shows the talent of the author.

What I Didn’t Like

As I said in the previous section, most of the story I was really drawn in. But honestly, there was a dip about 2/3 of the way through that I was kinda loosing interest, but then it turned around again.

Overall

Overall, I am so happy that I was able to read this story. It was a really wonderfully done historical mystery. The characters were great, the setting was perfect, the atmosphere really lent itself to the plot in a seamless way. I really think if you enjoy a good mystery and maybe just general historical fiction you should look further into this one!


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

Sign Off 2020

Tumblr Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Reviews

Someone Picks My Books | Heidi – This is My Book Shelf Blog | The Test by Sylvain Neuval

Hello and welcome to another installment of Someone Picks My Books! This month I had the extremely kind and amazing Heidi pick my book, you can find her over at This is My Book Shelf Blog. As the title states, Heidi picked The Test by Sylvain Neuvel. Thank you so much for helping me out and picking this book for me!


One Sentence Review

A very intense book that messes with your mind and really makes you think about human psychology.

Description

Britain, the not-too-distant future.
Idir is sitting the British Citizenship Test.
He wants his family to belong.

Twenty-five questions to determine their fate. Twenty-five chances to impress.

When the test takes an unexpected and tragic turn, Idir is handed the power of life and death.
How do you value a life when all you have is multiple choice? –goodread.com


What I Liked

First and foremost, this book is nothing short of intense. It really pulls you in at the start being calm and you think you know what you are getting into, but you really don’t. Everything in a moment got turned upside down and I don’t want to say more than that.

This book is nothing short of amazing for a few reasons, but yes this is going to be a gush review. Sorry, not sorry. This really makes you think about human resilience, human psychology, and what society wants from its citizens. I am writing this review a few days after reading it and I keep thinking about things that characters say and do. Everything in this short novella has a point to it and it is really written to make you think. Even in this short story it has so much to it, it does not fee3l like the author was cutting corners or rushing the reader in the slightest.

What I Didn’t Like

Honestly, I can’t think of a thing I disliked about it personally, but I can see some readers having a difficult time reading this story (spoilers ahead) so here are some trigger warning; murder, brutal violence, terrorism, and racism. I am not the end all be all for trigger warnings, look more into them from other readers before reading this book because they might have picked up on other triggers that I have personally missed.

Overall

Overall, this was a very impactful book to me because it really makes you think about human nature, society, and a laundry list of other things such as prejudices and racism that are ingrained in society. I feel like this little story really packs so much into it that it shows the talent of the author. This will be a story I reread again I feel like and it will have a place on my bookshelf for the years to come.


Next month I am reading a book picked by the wonderful Maggie from the blog Storme Read a Lot. They have wonderfully well written reviews and other awesome posts. Also, their twitter is just as wonderful!

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

Sign Off 2020

Tumblr Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Wrap Up

Middle Mark | September 2020

Hello and welcome to a little reading check in! Every month I do a mid month check in to share what I have finished so far and what I am in the middle of reading. So far, this month is going pretty well, but I entered a bit of a slump, I am hoping it just lasts this week. Fingers crossed! But, on to the books!


Midnight Sun (Twilight, #5)Midnight Sun by Stephenie Meyer
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I got very bored halfway though. The main selling point of this book is seeing more of the Cullens. That is how this book got 2 stars. The rest, really didn’t really keep me engaged and was not really interesting.

View all my reviews The Financial Diet: A Total Beginner's Guide to Getting Good with MoneyThe Financial Diet: A Total Beginner’s Guide to Getting Good with Money by Chelsea Fagan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was a VERY basic finance book that seems to be only for women. If you know anything about basic budgeting you can skip this. But, this could be good for someone who just graduated and is just starting out.

View all my reviews Shiver: Selected StoriesShiver: Selected Stories by Junji Ito
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As always Junji Ito has an eerie imagination. This is a bind up if twisted tails with curse, monsters, and some out of this world things. Since it was a bind up, I don’t want to say too much other than all were equally creepy and were very distinct. If you like manga and horror I suggest you give it a go. TW for suicide and murder.

View all my reviews One by OneOne by One by Ruth Ware
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

Overall, I really enjoyed this thriller. The setting was amazing, the atmosphere was palpable, the characters were interesting as well as their dynamics, and the story fully pulled me in. Once again Ware has proven to be an amazing writer and continues to be one of my auto-buy authors. Even though I received this book for free, I am going to go pick up another on publication day. If you want a good secluded thriller that appears to be a dream come true at first, but turns into a horror, I feel like this is one you should certainly look into.

View all my reviews Tidy the F*ck Up: The American Art of Organizing Your Sh*tTidy the F*ck Up: The American Art of Organizing Your Sh*t by Messie Condo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A hilarious approach to decluttering and getting your space in order. I laughed quite a few times, but it has some great advice as well. It really got me in the right mindset to get cleaning and sorting.

View all my reviews

I am currently reading two tomes, the firs is 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami and I am about 14% through it. From what I have read, I can see why so many people enjoy it and I am actually excited to pick it up again. The reason I have not is because I like sitting for more than an hour with this book. The second book is A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon, I am 36% through this one, I had to stop this one because I was borrowing it from the library. I have it on hold again so as soon as it comes in I will fly through it.


What was the last book you read, did you like it?

How are your reading month coming along? 

Sign Off 2020

Tumblr Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Hauls & Unboxings

Book of the Month | September 2020

Hello and welcome to another unboxing of my subscription of BOTM. This month I am happy to say I actually picked two books for my box and both just sound amazing! I honestly had a really hard time between all the awesome choices. One good things was they had Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson and if I had not bought it the day before I would have picked that one so I was able to pick another as well as a book from a previous month. Now, on to my picks and why I chose them!


Descriptions

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

Gifty is a fifth year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford School of Medicine studying reward seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after a knee injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal mother is living in her bed. Gifty is determined to discover the scientific basis for the suffering she sees all around her.

But even as she turns to the hard sciences to unlock the mystery of her family’s loss, she finds herself hungering for her childhood faith, and grappling with the evangelical church in which she was raised, whose promise of salvation remains as tantalizing as it is elusive. Transcendent Kingdom is a deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanain immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief–a novel about faith, science, religion, love. Exquisitely written, emotionally searing, this is an exceptionally powerful follow-up to Gyasi’s phenomenal debut. -goodreads

The Shadows by Alex North

You knew a teenager like Charlie Crabtree. A dark imagination, a sinister smile–always on the outside of the group. Some part of you suspected he might be capable of doing something awful. Twenty-five years ago, Crabtree did just that, committing a murder so shocking that it’s attracted that strange kind of infamy that only exists on the darkest corners of the internet–and inspired more than one copycat.

Paul Adams remembers the case all too well: Crabtree–and his victim–were Paul’s friends. Paul has slowly put his life back together. But now his mother, old and senile, has taken a turn for the worse. Though every inch of him resists, it is time to come home.

It’s not long before things start to go wrong. Reading the news, Paul learns another copycat has struck. His mother is distressed, insistent that there’s something in the house. And someone is following him. Which reminds him of the most unsettling thing about that awful day twenty-five years ago.

It wasn’t just the murder.

It was the fact that afterward, Charlie Crabtree was never seen again… -goodreads


Why I Picked These Books

When it comes to Transcendant Kingdom, I picked it because I have been really enjoying hard hitting emotional reads as of late. This book really tells the story of a woman who is spending her life trying to find a way to help her family while they suffer from mental illness, addiction, and loss. I think it will also explore the pressure this puts on Gifty and her struggles that come from this. Not only does this book peak my interest, so does the author. I have heard such wonderful things about this authors outstanding gift when it comes to writings and I just felt like I needed to pick up a book by them.

The second book I picked, The Shadows, was added to my book because I have been into true crime and horror a lot lately and this seemed like a fictional combination of these. On top of that, I have heard promising things about this authors works and I have not read anything by them before.


What was the most recent book added to your TBR?
Does this book sound interesting to you?

Sign Off 2020

Tumblr Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Reviews

Book Review | One by One by Ruth Ware

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

One by One

Description: 

Getting snowed in at a beautiful, rustic mountain chalet doesn’t sound like the worst problem in the world, especially when there’s a breathtaking vista, a cozy fire, and company to keep you warm. But what happens when that company is eight of your coworkers…and you can’t trust any of them?

When an off-site company retreat meant to promote mindfulness and collaboration goes utterly wrong when an avalanche hits, the corporate food chain becomes irrelevant and survival trumps togetherness. Come Monday morning, how many members short will the team be?


What I Liked

First and foremost, Ware has once again shown her talent when it comes to creating an atmosphere perfect for a thriller. Again and again Ware has proven that she can in a short time make you feel as if you are in the story along with the characters. You get suspicious of people right away and you feel trapped right along side them on the mountain top chalet. This has always been my favorite aspects when it comes to reading one of her novels, I fall right into the world because she builds it up perfectly. Another thing I really liked was the fact that the feeling I felt while reading One by One are the same feeling I had when I read Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.

Additionally, I really liked the tech company that was created and used throughout this novel. No only was it used to give structor to the story, it was fun to see a made up company and product that seems like it could really be on the app store. I thought using this company really brings it into modern times and ensures it does not feel like the story takes place long ago. It also lends itself to creating very interesting dynamics that are a key component to this story. The suspicion and high tensions within this story, it really lends itself to the narrative. It leads to emotions getting higher and higher and leads to hidden, deep distrust to come to the surface.


What I Didn’t Like

The only downside was I felt one of the two narrators, I was so happy there were only two main voices in this story, read someone what juvenile from time to time though not consistently. So, it really was not anything that ruined the story or pulled me out of it in anyway. Which, for a thriller to be effective needs to really keep you in the narrative, and this really does.


Overall Thoughts

Overall, I really enjoyed this thriller. The setting was amazing, the atmosphere was palpable, the characters were interesting as well as their dynamics, and the story fully pulled me in. Once again Ware has proven to be an amazing writer and continues to be one of my auto-buy authors. Even though I received this book for free, I am going to go pick up another on publication day. If you want a good secluded thriller that appears to be a dream come true at first, but turns into a horror, I feel like this is one you should certainly look into.

4stars

Author Links

Ruth Ware

Book Information

Publication Date: September 8th 2020

Publisher:  Scout Press

List Price: $27.99

ISBN:  978-1501188817

Pages: 384 pages


Sign Off 2020

Tumblr Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Hauls & Unboxings

Read 5, Buy 1 | The Happy Failure of July 2020

Read 5, Buy 1

Hello and welcome to my happy failure! I say happy because I added some really awesome authors to my TBR this month. I added 16 books to my TBR to be exact, that is why it is a failure. But, I have to say even with adding 16 books, my owned TBR is still only 26 books.


This first book stack features…

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

The Beauty of Breaking by Michele Harper

Conjure Women by Afia Atakora

American Sherlock by Kate Winkler Dawson

Girl From Widow Hills by Megan Miranda

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

This second stack features…

Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

G’morning, G’night! by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Johnny Sun

The Secret River by Kate Grenville

Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave by Himself

Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

Remarkable Creatures by Tracey Chevalier

After the Quake by Haruki Murakami

Flowers of Mold by Ha Seong-nan

Teen Titians Raven by Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo


I am truly pleased to be able to have these books on my shelf waiting to be read. I am for the most part still on schedule to finish my TBR by October as planned as well. I did not see that still being the case after being able to go into a bookstore and browse the shelves again. That is what lead to me getting all these books, I really missed just walking around the store and finding books I have not heard of before.

How did the Read Rush go for you? What have you read this past week?

Sign Off 2020

Tumblr Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads