Sunday, February 14, 2021

January Wrap Up--It's A Bit Late I Know

I know, I know I am already at the halfway mark and I am just now posting my monthly wrap up but this month is getting away from me. I have just been scrambling because I started my graduate school class in January and it is keeping me extremely busy needless to say. I am glad I was able to read so many books in January!

Books I Read in January:

I am pleased with my reading in January, as I ended up reading 15 books for a total of 5,240 pages!

Sadly not every book is pictured here as I had to return some to the Library (the same will happen for my February picture too) and with multiple books being on my Kindle or audiobooks, I do not have the physical copies of those either. I did not elect to put in a placeholder book in this photo--perhaps in February.  I know I will not hit that page mark in February unless the second half of the month goes differently than the first, but with the extra reading I am doing with my graduate school class, I am trying to be realistic with working fulltime too. We need to be kind to ourselves and know it is okay to take a step back as needed!

 I read:
  • Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein
  • See Me by Wendy Higgins
  • Verity by Colleen Hoover
  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
  • The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins
  • A Long Petal to the Sea by Isabel Allende
  • All Thirteen by Christina Soontornvat
  • First We Were IV by Alexandra Sirowy
  • How We Got to the Moon by John Rocco
  • Stone Cold Touch by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  • Every Last Breathe by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  • Plasticus Maritimus by Ana Pego
  • There's Someone in My House by Stephanie Perkins
  • Brain Rules by John Medina
My favorite of the bunch above would either be All Thirteen or Strange the Dreamer. All Thirteen is the middle grade nonfiction book about the Thai boys soccer team that got trapped underground in the cave system and the rescue operation that got out All Thirteen of them alive. The story captivated the world. It is a stunning, high interest nonfiction book that recently received a lot of love at the American Library Association's Youth Media Awards day this past month. Strange the Dreamer I feel like everyone is familiar with this book--for more on my thoughts about it, I linked my review of it below. 

Readathons in January:

I actively participated in Bout of Books 30 in January. For those of you who followed along, you may not have seen me updating because I was updating my blog post I put in December: Bout of Books 30: Kicking Of 2021--Are You Participating? During this week I finished four books--I am very happy with this progress as this sadly this was the week when our country took a turn that I believe I thought was possible, but it did. I sit here writing this update while our representatives are working on sorting it out...though I cannot say I have confidence that they will sit party aside for the good of the country. Did you participate in Bout of Books 30? If so, please leave me your link below so I can see how you did or share the details below.

I also participated in a fun Murder Mystery TBR game in a Facebook group I am in--it was such a fun way of deciding what I want to read. This was a monthly readathon, so a couple of the books overlapped with Bout of Books, but I read seven books specifically for this readathon! Luckily I managed to guess the killer too! Score!

Posts from January:

In case you missed it, I kicked off my Project Unhaul in January. I am working on thinning down my physical TBR collection. I have not actually started tackling the books I have read and still have--that will happen at some point--this is soley aimed at making me focus on those books that I have had that have sat languishing on my bookcases.
If you are so inclined, those of you keeping track might spot a book or two in the picture above on the lists posted from the lists in my Project Unhaul, or at least the attempts to reduce my physical TBR count. 

Reviews Posted:
  • Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein (link)
  • The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins (link)
  • Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (link)

Additional Posts that Might Be of Interest:
In Other News: CYBILS

CYBILS has also been underway since the fall. As Category Chair I managed Round 1 panelists and then I am a Judge as well in Round 2 so I cannot discuss the books in so far as what I think about them individually. Some I have already posted thoughts on prior to them being revealed as shortlist. Head over to the CYBILS website on February 14th to see this cycle's winners and join us on Twitter beginning at 12:00 p.m. EST for our Twitter parade!

Check back in February to see if I succeed in making my Winter 30 in 3 Months Challenge I am participating in with Rachael over on Instagram. We have until the end of February to read 30 books. January's 15 books was a huge help in it! I hope you all are having a great start to 2021. In the meantime, please let me know what books you read in January and or what your favorite book was in January!

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Review: Happy Singles Day by Anne Marie Walker

Happy Singles Day

By Anne Marie Walker
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars

This is the the story of two people who have to learn to love again, but for different reasons. Paige spontaneously decides to take a vacation to the ocean in North Carolina after seeing an ad online--something she would never normally do as a professional organizer. After catching her former boss and fiancé cheating, she has not looked back former her successfully business. The pictures look great, what could go wrong?

Enter Lucas and his meddling sister reactivating the ad for his bed and breakfast on the coast of North Carolina--the one he ran with deceased wife--and the one he has let the upkeep get away little less than picture perfect and public ready. When Paige shows up, it is not a match made in heaven needless to say. However, when a storm and puppies have other plans for them these two seemingly opposites will have to prove whether the saying opposites attract is really a thing or not.

This is a closed door romance that is a cute, fast read--and that really is it. It is not earth shattering--I was not expecting it to be though honestly. I like Paige and I like Lucas. They both have their own issues that they need to work through and they do their best to do it without taking it out on the other person. Lucas has a delightful four year old daughter too--she is adorable.  As with many romances, the resolution is arrived at rather quickly in my opinion, but I was not looking for anything that needed to be a in-depth exploration of overcoming the mental blocks both characters had to be able to love again. Though with this particular one, I do appreciate there was more time spent in the final location then I expected--it was not the couple is back together and The End as some romances do so that was a nice change. 

Overall, I recommend this read if you are looking for closed door romance that is predictable in nature and is a quick read. A note about my rating: you may think it is low because I generally do not have anything negative to say about this book, but it is pretty standard rating for romance/chick lit (I dislike that term) book because it needs to offer a bit more to earn that four star ultimately. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: 2020's New to Me Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at Jana's blog That Artsy Reader Girl

I LOVE keeping my Reading Spreadsheet--it makes these type of Top Ten Tuesday posts easier for me to figure out because I can quickly go down the list of books I read or I can filter it by new-to-me authors. These are the new to me authors from 2020, with the specific books I read in 2020 by them.  I have divided these authors into three groups: 2020 Debut Authors, Authors I Read One Book, and Authors I Read More Than One Book From in 2020.

2020 Debut Authors:
These authors had debuts in 2020. I sadly did not read as many as I should have, but I honestly did not focus on them as much as I probably should have when planning my by reading lists. 


Holly Jackson: A Good Girl's Guide to Murder
Emma Lord: Tweet Cute
Kiley Reid: Such a Fun Age
Kate Stayman-London: One to Watch

Authors I Read One Book:
These authors have more than one book, but this is the first book I have read by them. Four I definitely plan on reading more of in 2021--at least that is the plan at this point! If you are curious, three of these authors have already made other Top Ten Tuesday lists this year.


Jennifer Robson: The Gown
N.K. Jemison: The Fifth Season
Ted Chiang: The Stories of Your Life and Others
Kate Quinn: The Alice Network
Ruth Ware: One By One
Rachel Caine: Stillhouse Lake

Monday, January 25, 2021

Review: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Strange the Dreamer
Laini Taylor
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

This is one of those books I have had on my shelf for awhile now--it needed to be read--so I am grateful that the Buzzword Readathon in January gave me the extra push I needed to finally pick this one up. If you are not aware, this is a 2018 Printz Honor book so it has some literary merit shout outs along with being penned by one of the young adult literature world's (and BookTube's) darlings: Laini Taylor. Needless to say, you can see how I built up a wall around this book: it intimidated me. The size, the prestige, and the fact that I have actually not read a book by Laini Taylor yet on top of everything with knowing how much everyone seems to LOVE her writing. But what would I think?

I am glad this is the first book I elected to pick up by her. I can easily see that her writing is lyrical, and at times breathtaking. As I am a reader that usually gets invested in characters, I love finding authors that take the time to develop characters--both the main and secondary characters. Taylor's characters are complex and unfold slowly over the course of  this book. As someone who usually needs to invest in a character to really hook into a book, this was challenging to hook into the story as I needed to first want to get to know Lazzlo than some of the other characters. He is the character that intrigued me the most so I was invested and care about his story arc the most by the end, however.

I elected to experience this book through its audiobook, as with books I find intimidating their audiobooks are an excellent gateway into them. With this audiobook in particular, the voices at times are too similar--you have to be following the story to know who is speaking at times, but even with this I am glad I experienced this as an audiobook. This is a slower paced book at times and therefore at times, a slower paced audiobook. It is a long one, at over 18 hours long, however, I am not one to speed up audiobooks as I choose to listen to the production as it is recorded, this is one I could have easily done so but I would probably have had more issues with the subtlety in them if I had sped it up.  I would not recommend it to those who are impatient audiobook listeners—you might get frustrated. 

Overall, I found this is an excellent entry into Laini Taylor's writing. I am few days out from completing it and I find that it is sticking with me--that I am thinking about the characters and the ending. I will eventually continue on and finish the second book in the duology, Muse of Nightmares. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to give a high fantasy book a try who is nervous--this is one that while may initially seem intimidating, is not so bad once you start it. Take it from me--I know from experience now. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Meant to Read In 2020 but Didn’t Get To

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at Jana's blog That Artsy Reader Girl

I love to participate in readathons and reading challenges each year and each month.  I also really learned this past year that I am not good at setting a restrictive TBR for the month--I liked to have some flexibility when I am not on my award committees or studying for my classes. While I have both going at the moment, I am working on balancing a lower key award committee reading that fluctuates, CYBILS reading for my category I am category chair, as well as work for my graduate certificate program at Harvard. With my class beginning at the end of January (first assignments have opened up), I am sure that is going to be taking more time away from my reading time, but CYBILS will be winding down soon for this season. 

Both of these instances--participating in readathons/reading challenges as well as learning I do not like to have a restrictive TBR when not working on award committee/class reading lists--inevitably leaves me with titles I do not get finished each month. I stopped setting restrictive TBRs partway through 2020, but even with this, I still have some titles I wanted to read last year, but sadly did not get to read. Here are some of those titles below:


1. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo: I received this for Christmas 2020 and still have not read it yet. I have a coworker who keeps asking me about it--I think that is part of the reason why I have not yet. I am thinking about getting it read this month so I can answer her question at our next book group meeting in February. :)

2. 11/22/63 by Stephen King: I still have not picked up this tome toppler--I am debating on listening to it since I hear that the audio is fantastic. If you have read it, let me know. 

3. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson: I know this one gets mixed reviews, but I am intrigued by it--I am a librarian afterall.

4. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen: This was one of my favorite movies growing up and I have yet to read the novel that inspired. Again, I have been enjoying listening to classics so I will probably listen to this one as well at some point this year (maybe February).


5. Flatshare by Beth O'Leary: This has been on my TBR list for awhile now. I read The Switch this last year and liked it (I know I am in the minority it seems with that opinion) that I really do want to read this one even more so now.

6. The Girls by Abigail Pesta: This books has been on my radar since I read about it in the publisher's prepublication notice. I love watching gymnastics and have followed in horror the shocking Nassar cover up and trial. I watched the Netflix documentary Athlete A this summer and have wanted to pick up this book since.

7. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer: Again, another that has been recommended as an audiobook to me but I did not make it a priority. I hope to fix that this year. 

8. The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver: Another one that has gotten shifted to the bottom after the lackluster feedback, I want to read it as it was gifted to me and appreciate that they would send it to me from my wishlist.