2/15-2/21 Week in Reading

Hello Readers!

Goals for the week: Read and review The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor and The Future is Yours by Dan Frey.

Mon 2/15: I finished The Burning Girls this evening. I can’t say that I was really hooked until about 60% of the way through, but then it just barreled on to the ending, which was really good.

Tue 2/16: I got to the 16% mark in The Future is Yours today. It’s a sci-fi revolving around time travel…sort of. It takes a modern spin on it and is told primarily through texts, emails, and Congressional hearing notes. I’m really liking it so far and it’s a quick read.

Wed 2/17: I finished The Future is Yours. It was such a quick read even though Goodreads has it as 352 pages. I really liked where the story went and how it dealt with the ethical questions of time travel. I think some people will be unhappy with the ending, but I liked it. I’ll definitely read more from this author if he writes anything in the future.

Minor spoiler: I like books that are thought experiments, as so many sci-fi novels are.

Thu 2/18: I didn’t do any reading today.

Fri 2/19: I started The Ravens by Kass Morgan and Danielle Paige. I only read about a chapter before I fell asleep, so no thoughts for now.

Sat 2/20: No reading today. Just a lazy Saturday.

Sun 2/21: I got to around page 300 in The Ravens today. I really wanted to finish it but I just couldn’t get it done today. It’s a really interesting story about a coven at a college in Savannah that is using a sorority as its cover. I love pretty much anything to do with witchcraft and this one has been a winner so far.

1/11-1/17 Week in Reading

Hello Readers! I’m going strong on reading this year and I’m hoping I can keep the momentum going, especially as we are approaching a 3-day weekend.

Goal for the week: Finish In the Garden of Spite. It is publishing soon and I want to get the review posted before then.

Mon 1/11: Today I made a little progress with In the Garden of Spite, making it from the 40% mark to the 45% mark. I also listened to about 2 hours of the Key Lime Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke. I’m stalled on A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow. It is a good book, but I’m just not feeling motivated to pick it up for some reason.

Tue 1/12: I went from the 45% mark to the 53% mark today with In the Garden of Spite. It’s still a really dark book and it is getting a little bit repetitive. I’m hoping to see a little more development in the second half of the book.

I also listened to another 2 hours of the Key Lime Pie murder. This one definitely has the feel of a more traditional Hannah Swensen mystery as compared to the last one that I listened to. The body dropped within the first few chapters and the motives seem pretty clear, although the suspects seem a little weak. I appreciate that Swensen always has a spot on the suspect list for the unknown killer with the unknown motivation. Maybe this will be the book where that suspect is the actual killer?

Wed 1/13: Today was a weird day at work which made for a low-level reading day. I finished listening to Key Lime Pie Murder. The ending was satisfying and I hadn’t pegged the killer exactly. The breadcrumbs were there, but the backstory didn’t slot into place until Fluke was ready to clue the reader in. These mysteries are all super satisfying because I keep my engagement level low and don’t worry too much about trying to solve it ahead of time. I’ve read/listened to enough of Fluke’s books now to feel fairly competent that I will be satisfied by the ending.

Thu 1/14: I made a teeny tiny bit of progress with In the Garden of Spite today. I went from 53% to 55%. I’m a little worried that I won’t have time to finish it and review it at this pace. It’s still a little repetitive at the moment. I have a good sense of who the main character is, but not a lot of sense for where the story is going. There’s still a lot of story left to go.

I started the next Hannah Swensen mystery this morning on audiobook. I made it almost 2 hours into Carrot Cake Murder. It’s off to a slower start, but it seems fairly predictable at the moment. It may be stretching believability a bit more than previous entries have been, with a character who left home years before but is instantly recognized when he returns. We’ll see.

Fri 1/15: I began reading Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine. I picked this one up specifically to meet the PopSugar Reading Challenge category: “A book found on a Black Lives Matter reading list”. I can’t say that I would have picked this one up otherwise, as I am not generally a fan of poetry. I made it about 40 pages in so far.

Sat 1/16: I finished reading Citizen: An American Lyric first thing this morning. It was a short book to get through, and I can’t say that I really understood all of it. The parts that I did understand however, felt very impactful. It’s a very emotional collection and the internalized nature of some of the entries hit me really hard. The parts that read like the voice in her head just rocked me since I felt like that was how the voice in my head sounded, but at the same time she was discussing scenarios that are completely different from anything that I have ever faced. It’s just a lot to process. It made me think, which is a gift that I am grateful for.

I also finished In the Garden of Spite today. The ending was both expected and a little bit of a surprise. From early on in the book, you can sense that some very bad things are going to have to happen and the trajectory seems pretty clear, but there was at least one large twist that caught me by surprise. I ended up rating this one 4 stars and I’ll be writing a full review pretty soon. This one is going to stick with me for a while.

I also started and finished a short story from Blake Crouch called Summer Frost. It’s part of a 6-book collection on Kindle Unlimited called the Forward Collection. I read the first book, Ark by Veronica Roth a few weeks back. They were both speculative science fiction pieces that highlight the potential paths that humanity might take with current scientific developments. Although they are both short, they pack quite a punch. I’m looking forward to continuing on with the series. The first two are not connected in any obvious way, so I’m curious to see if there will be something that ties all the stories together or if they will remain standalones going forward.

Lastly, I started Ring Shout by P. Djeli Clark today, but I only read about 22 pages. It’s a short book, so I look forward to finishing it in the next few days.

Sun 1/17: I only ended up reading about 10 pages in Ring Shout today. I had a pleasant day spent on other activities, and after a pretty productive reading day Saturday, I gave myself a little break. I also watched a lot of booktube. It just sucks you in. 🙂

2021 Reading Goals:

I made some goals for this year and you can check my ongoing progress on those here. I’m off to a pretty good start with these. I’m hoping to convert some of the sections into more visually-friendly charts pretty soon.

From the Library: This week I got a ton of books from the two libraries that I frequent. I need to work on impulse control a little bit, because it’s not reasonable that I will finish all of these before they are due…but in any case, here are the titles.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Dust by Kara Swanson

The Lost Fairy Tales by Anna James

I Hope You’re Listening by Tom Ryan

How Long ‘Til Black Future Month by N.K. Jemisin

Citizen by Claudia Rankine

Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth (I picked this one up for a reading challenge)

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett (I picked this one up for a read-a-long)

Ring Shout by P. Djeli Clark (I picked this one up to help with a 2021 reading goal)

The Map of Stories by Anna James

Happily Ever Afters by Elisa Bryant

Hello Readers! New year, new salutation. Let’s just try it on and see how it goes. For my first review of the new year, I’m bringing you a sweet debut YA contemporary that has a little romance, a little family tension, a couple of great friendships, and a heroine who has a lot to discover about her own self-worth. It’s a comforting read to start off the year and it had me both smiling and heartbroken in turns. I think there are characters in here that everyone can connect with and their experiences are authentic and important. This one comes out in a couple of days and I highly recommend it if you’re looking to escape and read something that has absolutely nothing to do with a pandemic.

Happily Ever Afters

Title: Happily Ever Afters

Author: Elise Bryant

Author website: https://elisebryant.com/ (this website is super cute)

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/Harpercollins

Publish date: January 5, 2021

ISBN: 9780062982834

Buy the Book: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Bookshop.org

Summary:

Tessa Johnson is a teen with a passion for writing romance stories. She started out with fanfiction but has graduated to long-form romance stories that she only lets one other person read, her best friend Caroline. When Tessa’s mom submits her stories to an ultra-selective private school in the town that they are moving to soon, Tessa is equal parts furious and excited. When she is accepted into the prestigious Chrysalis Academy for their creative writing program, she is thrilled to finally have the chance to spend her days writing and developing her craft.

This new school comes with extremely high expectations and Tessa has to face it all without her best friend for the first time. Add to that the pressures of moving to a new town and navigating new neighbors who aren’t as understanding about her older brother’s disabilities, and Tessa finds herself completely overwhelmed. She’s always had her writing to see her through the tough times, but when she gets a case of severe writer’s block, she is forced to face the idea that it may not only be her writing that isn’t good enough Chrysalis.

Fortunately for Tessa, there are a few people in this new town who immediately see her for who she is and who she can be. It will take all her new friends, her best friend, her family, and a few new love interests to get her “groove” back.

Why I liked it:

The characters are incredibly well-developed. I felt like they were each real people who had backstories, even if they were just side characters. It would have been easy for some of the characters to fall into stereotype territory, but each of their personalities were written so strongly that it just didn’t happen.

I also appreciated that all of the trauma and emotion that Tessa feels, as a part-time caregiver to a sibling with disabilities, as the daughter of parents who can’t always give her their full attention and occasionally ask a lot of her, and as a black girl in a predominately white town. I appreciate that we see a range of what allyship could look like and what it most definitely should not look like.

What I would like to change:

I wish there had been more justice for the wrongs that were done to Tessa. I know that justice is rare in the real world, but I like an unrealistic dose of it in my fiction.

Disclaimer: I received an electronic galley of this title from the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.

My library rating: There are a couple of cuss words in here, but there is very little else that I think would ruffle any feathers.

lemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_icon5 glasses of lemonade= you could recommend this book to anyone.  There is nothing in here that is going to upset anyone and you could start handing it out on street corners. 

My personal preference rating: I gave this one 4.25 stars. I loved the concept, the characters, and the writing style. I’ll be recommending it to co-workers and friends alike.

2020 Year in Review

Hello Kittens! In the interest of feeding my inner data nerd, here are my reading stats for the year:

Books read: 137

Pages read: 43,389

Longest book read: The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon (830 pages)

Shortest book read: The Big Bed by Bunmi Laditan (32 pages)

Favorite book of the year: Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Runner up for favorite book of the year: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Least enjoyable book of the year that I actually finished: The Return by Rachel Harrison. The book itself was…fine. I think my issue was that it was pitched to me as more of a thriller/mystery and it ended up being a weird horror book. It was my only one star book this year, but it has a 3.26 rating overall on Goodreads, so obviously my opinion does not match the majority on this one.

Most books read in one month: 16 (September)

Least books read in one month: 8 (February)

Series

This year I started or continued with 26 different series. That’s a lot of series. I am caught up or finished with 5 of them…That’s not many. I’m hoping to continue working on some more of these this year, primarily in audiobook since a bunch of them are the cozy mysteries that I listen to when I’m driving.

Series I’m working on (you’ll see the series title and my current progress on it):

*I am not including any of the series that I have started that don’t already have a second book published, since my progress on those series is not determined by my willingness to read them, but by the rate at which they will be published.*

Themis Files (1/3)

Hannah Swensen Mysteries (7/27) ongoing series

The Great Library (1/5)

Illuminae Files (2/3)

Cupcake Bakery Series (1/13) ongoing series

Dresden Files (1/17) ongoing series

Artemis Fowl (1/8)

Wayward Children (1/6)

The Daevabad Trilogy (1/3)

Supper Club Mysteries (1/7)

Shades of Magic (1/3)

Invisible Library (1/7)

Murderbot Diaries (4/6) ongoing series

The Band (1/3)

Throne of Glass (1/7)

Empirium (1/3)

The Brown Sisters (1/3)

Ruth Galloway mysteries (1/13) ongoing series

Mag Langslow mysteriers (7/30) ongoing series

Series that I am currently caught up on:

Murder, She Wrote (52/52)

Lighthouse Library Mysteries (7/7)

Serpent & Dove (2/2)

Truly Devious (3/3)

Book Retreat Mysteries (6/6)

It’s been an interesting year for reading, and I can’t wait to see what 2021 will hold.

Furyborn by Claire Legrand

Hello Kittens! This title was a little late to get on my radar considering it’s a trilogy that will be complete this October. I’m going through a YA Fantasy renaissance and going back to start some of the series that I missed from the last 5 years or so. If you, like me, missed this one the first time around, I highly recommend giving it a try. Plus, if you start it now, you can have the first and second books done before the finale this Fall.

Title: FurybornFuryborn (Empirium, #1)

Author: Claire Legrand

Author website: https://www.claire-legrand.com/

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Publish date: May 22, 2018

ASIN: B077Y63CVW

Buy the Book: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Summary:

Furyborn is told in two timelines focusing on two women and a prophecy. The book starts with a foundational scene where a character named Rielle is giving birth to her first child, a girl. She is mostly alone for this process and we learn that her husband, the king, has died and that she is viewed as responsible for his death. After a traumatic event, we find ourselves meeting a character named Eliana who lives 1,000 years later. Alternating chapters tell us their stories. While their lives are very different, we learn that they are bound together by the same prophecy regarding two queens in this land, one who will destroy the land and one who will save it.

In a land of elemental magic, Rielle has had to hide her abilities because she has had trouble controlling them in the past. When her magic makes itself known at a public event, Rielle is challenged by the King and his court to prove that she is the Sun Queen, the queen from the prophecy who will save her people. In order to prove this, Rielle is forced to undergo a series of challenges to show that she can master all of the elements in this magic system. If she fails, she will most likely be killed, but if she succeeds, she will assume her role as a protector of the realm.

Eliana just wants to keep her family safe. If that means working for the Empire, so be it. She emotionally disconnects herself from the work that she is doing, even though she knows that nearly every person she turns over to the Empire’s forces will be executed, regardless of age, gender, or other factors. The people around her, especially her little brother Remy, are always working to remind her of her humanity. She’s not a big fan of their efforts and justifies that her work keeps them all much safer. When the Empire asks her to find a rebel mercenary known as the Wolf, she is all too happy to oblige. Unfortunately, the Wolf finds her first, her mother is taken by seemingly invisible forces, and Eliana is forced to work with the rebels in order to try to get her back.

Why I liked it:

It’s fast-paced and very well-developed. The elemental magic system is well thought out, and we really only get a taste of the lore surrounding it from this first book. I also appreciated how much the story was starting to come together. As the reader, you’ll catch on to certain elements of commonality before the characters do, but I didn’t mind that at all.

I’m definitely invested enough to keep going with this series. I already got the second book, Kingsbane, from a nearby library offering curbside services right now.

What I would like to change:

The book lacks symmetry for my taste. When we get that first chapter, I expected that we would be circling back to that event by the end, but that was not the case. While we did get much closer to it, we evidently won’t be resolving a lot of what happened in that first scene until the second or third books.

Disclaimer: No disclaimer needed. I borrowed an e-book of this title from my library.

My library rating: While I didn’t think it was too much, some people might object to the steamy scenes in the book (there’s only 2). It also gets a little gruesome towards the end and that was a little tough to read (think innocent people being used without willpower).

lemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_iconlemonade_icon4 glasses of lemonade= a book you could recommend to a book group or anybody who reads.  You might find controversial subject matter, but it is handled delicately.

My personal preference rating: 4 stars. I really enjoyed this one and didn’t mind the steamy scenes or the tough battle scenes. We’re just getting started with what I think are going to be some epic love stories and truly magnificent strong female characters.