Goals for the week: Start and finish at least 2 books.
Mon 2/22: I finished The Ravens tonight. I enjoyed it enough to give it 4 stars, but I will say that I guessed one of the twists pretty early on. It was a while before I got confirmation, but it didn’t diminish how much I enjoyed reading this book. If this author team writes something else, or even continues with these characters and makes this a series, I will definitely be picking it up.
I’m not sure what I’ll be picking up next. I’ve got a lot of books out from the library but nothing is calling to me at the moment.
Tue 2/23: I started reading Sustainable Thinking: Ensuring Your Library’s Future in an Uncertain World by Rebekkah Aldrich. I’m going to have to return it to the library sooner than planned, but I’ll definitely be getting it back soon to finish.
Wed 2/24: I needed a lighthearted audiobook, so I started listening to Daphne & Velma: The Vanishing Girl by Josephine Ruby, which is a Scooby Doo retelling/continuation/I don’t know how to categorize this. It gives me all of the nostalgia vibes though.
I also started reading Two Truths and a Lie by Ellen McGarrahan. I heard about it on the All the Books podcast from BookRiot and had to wait a few weeks for my library hold to come in. It’s a true crime memoir…sort of. It’s told from the perspective of a female private investigator, but the case she looks into is one that she only has a tangential relationship to. It’s different and the writing style is a little stunted, at least in the first few pages. I’m hooked though.
Thu 2/25: I made some progress in Two Truths and a Lie today. I’m about 1/3 of the way through the book at this point. I’m hooked, but uncertain about where this is going.
Fri 2/26: For the first time in a long time today, I spent 90% of my lunch break reading. I had to know what happened in Two Truths and a Lie. The pacing goes back and forth between breakneck speed and seemingly useless rehashing of what she knows. It can be a little frustrating to read, but when she starts down a new road, I want to know what happens.
Sat 2/27: I finished Two Truths and a Lie today. Overall, I put the story at a 3 star read for me. I really liked the story of the crime and I appreciated the amount of work she put in to trying to find out the truth, but the writing just let me down. She used a lot of short choppy sentences and the writing felt like reading stream of consciousness at times. She also used a repetitive structure throughout that I felt kept taking me out of the story.
I started reading Good Girl, Bad Blood today after I finished the McGarrahan book. I only made it to the 9% mark in the audiobook, but I’m liking it so far. It is the sequel to A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder and picks up very soon after that book left off. I am struggling a little bit to remember some of the characters from the first book, even though I only read it a few months ago.
Sun 2/28: I finished Good Girl, Bad Blood today. I really appreciated how much emotional depth the main character experiences in this story. I have to admit that I wasn’t as crazy about the first book, but after finishing this one, I will definitely be continuing on with the series (which is slated to be 4 books total). I compare this series to Maureen Johnson’s Truly Devious series, because it is a YA mystery with a teenaged female protagonist with an obsessive interest in true crime. I still feel Truly Devious is the stronger of the two series, but they’re both worth a read if you like YA mystery/thrillers.
Goals for the week: Finish The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor and The Future is Yours by Dan Frey.
I had a slight breakdown in record-keeping this week, so some days don’t have much or anything recorded. No worries, I’ve got a less hectic week planned for next week and should return to the regularly scheduled updates.
For now, here’s what I remember:
I made some progress throughout the week on The Burning Girls. This is the third book that I’ve read by C.J. Tudor in the last 12 months and I feel like each one of them has had a really awkward scene involving an attempted sexual assault that doesn’t quite jive with the rest of the book. It makes me view the book differently when it comes to recommendations and I don’t feel like it’s pivotal to the development of the story. At least it hasn’t been so far…
I also broke my book buying ban this week. I picked up the complete Themis Files series by Sylvain Neuvel. I read the first book a few weeks ago and really loved it. I feel like it is a good investment in the series in the long haul. I also picked up 2 cozy mysteries from Jenn McKinlay, another author whom I have read from and enjoyed before. I might be willing to change the parameters of the book buying ban to include only works that I have read or authors that I have read from before. I still want to support authors and their work even though I do want to reign in the number of unread books on my TBR.
On Sunday I finished Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth. I wasn’t sure what to expect from my first return to this author post-Divergent series, but this book really delivered. There are some parallels to her writing in the Divergent series, and despite the fact that this book is in the New Adult category, I still think it reads pretty YA. Yes, the characters are in the early twenties, but they’re still dealing with the same things developmentally that teens would and we spend a lot of time in the book looking back at the main character’s childhood and teenager-hood. That being said, I enjoyed this book. I gave it 3 stars and felt that it ended well. Goodreads seems to indicate that it might be the start of a series, and I’m not sure that I think that is necessary. The first book ties up loose ends and I don’t know that we need a continuation to this story.
Technically, I only finished one book this week, which is a little off, but it’s been an emotionally tough week for a couple of different reasons. As is true with everything, some weeks will be better than others.
Hello Readers! I can’t believe we’re already starting a new month! At this point, I’m just hanging in here and wishing for a snow day soon. February tends to be our best chance for snow where I’m from, but we’ve gone a few years without anything significant. Here’s hoping!
Goals for the week: Finish The Project by Courtney Summers. Start and finish The Future is Yours by Dan Frey and The Burning Girls by C.J. Tudor.
Mon 2/1: No reading got done today. I don’t even have an audiobook picked out right now. Most unusual for me,
Tue 2/2: I started reading The Lost Fairytales by Anna James today. The writing puts me in a nostalgic state of mind, which is funny because I haven’t read the majority of the books that this series talks about. Maybe I should go back and read some of the classics like Anne of Green Gables and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Wed 2/3: I made it to the 37% mark in The Project today. It isn’t gripping me as quickly as Sadie did, despite the fact that it includes a cult, which is one of my favorite true crime things to read about.
Thu 2/4: I made it to the 67% mark in The Project. I’m really seeing the psychological aspects of the story come into play. This main character is a deeply flawed personality but she is definitely engaging at this point. The pace is picking up but the mystery is as clouded as ever. I can’t get a handle on what is really going on, but knowing how Summers writes, it’s definitely not going to be whatever I think it is.
Fri 2/5: Spent today prepping a report and just getting through the day. No reading whatsoever.
Sat 2/6: I finished The Project today in an unexpected burst of reading. It was really good. The twists are unpredictable and they really pile on at the end. I appreciate that we didn’t get the ambiguous ending that we did with Sadie (even though I liked that too). The closure was real, as was the deep impact of everything on the remaining characters.
I started reading this month’s Cozy Mystery Book Club pick: Crime and Punctuation by Kaitlyn Dunnett. I had never heard of this author before but she actually has well over 40 books to her name (including her other pen names). This is the first entry in her Deadly Edits series and I really like it so far. It reads a little more literary than most cozies do, like the story is being more carefully plotted. I also appreciate that we have an older character who is dealing with modern issues, like having to take on side work when her retirement income doesn’t cover her needs. She doesn’t come across as helpless or out of touch with the times either, even though she has certain preferences that may put her slightly off the modern mark.
I also started reading C.J. Tudor’s newest, The Burning Girls but had to take a break before I got too far into it in order to charge my Kindle. All I can tell thus far is that maybe there’s a hint of possession/exorcism vibes? I barely got started before I had to put it on the charger. For now, I think it’s a safe bet that I won’t be finishing this one this weekend or The Future is Yours for that matter.
Sun 2/7: I finished Crime and Punctuation today. It’s an easy read to get through and my opinion of the quality of the writing has not changed. It seems more elevated than a traditionally cozy mystery and I am a fan! I’ll definitely be continuing with the series.
I also finished The Lost Fairytales by Anna James. It slowed down a little in the middle for me, and having Tilly fight with her grandparents put me off a little. It really is starting to put me more in mind of the Series of Unfortunate Events series, where adults are sinister and largely making unfortunate decisions that have consequences for the children. Basically every time we meet a new adult character in this series, I become suspicious that they are up to no good.
Hello Readers! Does January feel like it has actually been 2 months long to anyone else?
Goals for the week: Finish The Survivors by Jane Harper and The Project by Courtney Summers and get reviews up for both. Make progress on Medievalathon TBR.
Mon 1/25: Today I got from the 11% mark on The Survivors to the 31% mark. It is really excellent so far and the only thing that stopped me from getting further was pure exhaustion. There’s something about Jane Harper’s writing that sucks me in every time. The mysteries are slow and intricate and she writes small town life really well.
I also started listening to Robin Hobbs’ Assassin’s Apprentice today on my commute. I needed a short break from the cozy mysteries and this book has been on my radar for a while. It’s a good start and the narrator is reminding me a little bit of the narrator from The Name of the Wind.
Tue 1/26: Not a ton of progress to report today, but I did get to the 60% mark on The Survivors. I also remembered that in addition to the e-galley of this book, I have the physical copy. This is the first time in my life that this has happened to me, where I had an e-copy of a book and forgot that I had the physical copy. In fairness, I requested the e-galley a long time before I knew that the book was going to be featured as an early release from Book of the Month.
I think I know where the story might be going at this point, but I find that I really don’t mind. I appreciate the red herrings that have been thrown our way so far, but this is Jane Harper we’re talking about, and I wouldn’t put it past her to double back on a previous suspect.
Wed 1/27: Lol, I was so wrong about the ending to The Survivors. I had it completely wrong, but the book was so good. I’m giving it 4.5 stars. It’s not my favorite of her works, but I still loved it (The Lost Man is my favorite, for the record). A solid mystery all around and I’ll be passing along my copy ASAP.
Since I finished that e-galley today, I went ahead and started The Project by Courtney Summers. I’ve only ever read Sadie by her before, but it was a dark and unexpected mystery that I thoroughly enjoyed. It has one of the only ambiguous endings that I have ever found satisfying. All that I know about The Project going into it is that it potentially has something to do with a cult. I made it to the 10% mark today and it is reading really fast even though it doesn’t seem like much is happening right now. It does that thing where you start out with a scene from the past that doesn’t make a ton of sense right away but you just know is going to be important later on.
Thu 1/28: I read very little today. Pure exhaustion. It’s just the nature of my work sometimes. Everyone thinks that librarians just sit around all day reading books, but my job is way more complicated than that, and it comes with all of the joys and challenges that any job working with the public can have. In any case, I literally only read 1% more of The Project today and I have made it to the 22% mark listening to Assassin’s Apprentice.
Fri 1/29: Today was a pretty good reading day. I made it to the 18% mark in The Project, and I feel confident that I’ll get it finished over the weekend. They’re predicting a good bit of rain for us over the next two days and I am fully prepared to hunker down with my sweatpants and a variety of tea for some literary therapy.
I’m now 38% of the way through Assassin’s Apprentice and I am seriously considering breaking my book buying ban already because I can just tell that I am going to love this series. The complaints that I had heard from people about the slow pacing haven’t bothered me yet. To me, it’s all interesting even if it isn’t necessarily thrilling. Plus, the U.K. editions of this book are nice looking. I wish the new hardback special releases weren’t so expensive. If I’m going to break my ban this soon, I’m definitely not going to be spending $40 per book. I’m doing that thing where I put the books in my cart and then sit back and think about it for a day or two. I don’t see this ending well.
Sat 1/30: I finished Assassin’s Apprentice today and I’m happy to report that it was a 5 star read for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the deep dive that we get with the character of Fitz and the ending had me riveted. There is so much political intrigue in this book, much of it that Fitz himself doesn’t understand, and it makes for a really expansive reading experience. Also, I really enjoyed the little vignettes at the beginning of each chapter that provided information about the world and its lore. I can’t wait to read the next book in this series and hope to get my hands on it soon. I didn’t end up purchasing the book series…yet, but I still really want to.
I also managed to squeeze in a graphic novel late this evening. I read Kieron Gillen’s Once & Future Vol. 2, which is a bind-up of issues #7-12. Once & Future is a graphic novel that is an Arthurian legend retelling. It imagines King Arthur as a more sinister figure who has been re-animated (think zombie) in modern times with the goal of collecting his lost knights and attaining the power for world domination. My favorite thing about this series is the character of Gran. She’s a demon-fighting Granny who lives in a retirement home but seems to have caches of weapons pretty much everywhere. She is instructing her grandson in how to fight mystical beings but their relationship has been strained by all of the secrecy her life has required. It’s a gory, but really great series.
Sun 1/31: The only reading that I did today was to start Anna James’ The Lost Fairy Tales. It’s one of the books on my Medievalathon TBR and I wanted to get started on it since the readathon ends on February 10th. I’m going to have to revamp the TBR for that one a little bit because I started listening to my “underrated book” The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness on audiobook and I really disliked it, so I’ll need to find a new book to replace that one.
Progress Report: I’ve finished 1 of the 2 books that I hoped to have read this week, but have made progress on the 2nd. I have also read 2 out of the 5 books for my Medievalathon TBR and started a 3rd. I’ve done a lot of reading this week overall and am closing out the first month strong, having made some progress on almost all of my 2021 reading goals.
Hello Readers! We’re closing in on the end of the first month of 2021 and, I have to say, it doesn’t feel all that different from 2020 at the moment. I’m still hopeful that this year will ultimately be better to us than last year was, but staying in this state for an extended period of time can get a little draining. Thank goodness for books.
This week’s goal: Post review for In the Garden of Spite and finish reading If I Disappear by Eliza Jane Brazier.
Mon 1/18: Today I started If I Disappear by Eliza Jane Brazier. It’s my next e-ARC in line to publish. It has some of my favorite elements: a disappearing girl, a true crime podcast…really just those two things is enough to get me interested. The writing style is a little odd right now, but I am enjoying the story so far. I haven’t made a lot of progress on my other books today. It was a great day off for rest and relaxation.
Tue 1/19: I read about 4 more pages in Ring Shout. It takes a little more concentration than I originally budgeted, so this isn’t easy for me to just dip in and out of.
I went from the 6% mark to the 22% mark in If I Disappear. The set-up is still really weird. I think it’s the second person writing style that is throwing me off a little bit. Hopefully it will pay off in the end, but right now, it just makes for a strange reading experience. The story is definitely creepy and it is flying by.
I also made a little progress in listening to Carrot Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke. I’m not as into the story on this one, but I think that’s because the victim was clear pretty much the moment that the character was introduced. It felt a little too easy, but I look forward to seeing what the motive was for his murder. I made it from the 1 hour 41 minute mark to the 2 hour and 7 minute mark.
Wed 1/20: I listened to a little more of Carrot Cake Murder today. I ended up listening to about an hour total, but for some reason the recipes were really frustrating my listening experience today. I’m listening to this title using Hoopla, which doesn’t divide the recording into chapters, so it is really hard for me to skip over the recipes that are sprinkled throughout the book. If I have the app open and running on my phone screen, I can skip ahead 30 seconds, but I can’t really do that while I’m driving. Listening to a recipe while driving is not an enjoyable experience for me, so I ended up switching to the radio for the first time in a long time.
It was a rough day and I didn’t really read anything else today. I’ve had a productive month, so I’m not going to beat myself up for that.
Thu 1/21: I listened to about 3 hours worth of Carrot Cake Murder today on my commutes. I’m enjoying how the characters are changing in this book. I’ve never really read a series as an adult that has gone as long as this one has and I was wondering how Fluke was going to keep the entries from getting stale. This time, we have Hannah Swensen receiving some cooperation from the police, and there’s less reluctance on her part to begin investigating. This feels like a more believable progression than a series that pretends the sleuth isn’t building a reputation in a town where they’ve already solved about a dozen murders. It would be interesting to see Fluke flip the script and actually let Mike completely solve one of these though…
I made a little progress with If I Disappear today. I think the thing that is bugging me at this point with this story is that the main character is in her 30s, but she’s reading to me like a teenager. Her actions and decision-making just don’t jive with how an adult in their 30s would act. It’s definitely getting creepy though and I don’t have a good handle on where the story is going. I made it to the 68% mark tonight and can hopefully get it finished over the weekend.
Fri 1/22: All I did today was listen to Carrot Cake Murder. I made it to the 8 hour mark and have less than 2 hours to go. I have no idea who the murderer is so far, since Hannah seems to have eliminated all of the suspects. I like it when a mystery has me stumped and I want to see how this one ends. I’m predicting that it will end up being a 3 star read, like most of the rest of the series has been for me.
Sat 1/23: Did I read If I Disappear today? Nope. Did I read more of Ring Shout? Nope again. Did I pick up a completely different book and read the entire thing today? Yes. I did that.
Today I picked up a copy of Killer Chardonnay by Kate Lansing from the library. It’s January’s pick for the Cozy Mystery Book Club on YouTube and I started reading it while I was getting my hair done today. By the time I left, I had read over 100 pages and was anxious to find out how it ended. Believe it or not, the body drops in this one super early, but the story kept me enthralled all the way through. This is a debut novel from this author, but I already have the next one (which comes out next week) on hold at the library.
Sun 1/24: I finished If I Disappear today. It was a little disappointing, all things considered. It is a unique book that is a little hard to classify. Goodreads has it as mystery, thriller, and suspense. It does have a mystery element, but I would argue it is better classified as a suspense novel than a thriller. It doesn’t quite have the right pacing to be considered a thriller. Suspense has a lot more introspection and a lot more inner monologue from the main character, which fits this novel pretty well. Overall, I gave it 2 stars. I don’t know if I would read anything else from this author. I just don’t prefer suspense and I found the main character pretty unlikeable. It has a great cover and a good concept, but ultimately just wasn’t my cup of tea.
I also finished Carrot Cake Murder. It was another solid 3-star entry into the Hannah Swensen mystery series. I think I’m going to take a little break from these though. The stories are becoming a little tedious and the character development has really stalled, despite how I thought this story was going to go at the beginning. I think reading Killer Chardonnay yesterday really reminded me that a cozy mystery can follow a formula without feeling stale.
On the plus side, I managed to succeed in both of my goals this week and made a little progress on some of my yearly goals. To see my yearly goals progress, check out my 2021 Reading Goals page.
Lastly, I started The Survivors by Jane Harper today and made it to the 11% mark pretty quickly. I have loved everything that Jane Harper has published thus far and am sure that this book will be an excellent piece of crime fiction, just like her others. I was so sure of this, in fact, that I have no idea what the plot for this book is. I didn’t read the synopsis. It’s rare for me to have that level of trust in an author who only has 3 books out, but those first 3 were literally that good in my opinion.
So far, the prologue was mysterious and the first few chapters are alluding to a big secret, but we haven’t been given a lot of information so far. It definitely has the same small-town feel as Harper’s first novels. The fact that everyone in town seems to know each other will make for a limited suspect pool. Harper writes about long-held grudges and emotional trauma better than most and I can already see that being a factor in this story. I can’t wait to see where this one goes.