Done with March – Monthly Wrap-Up / April TBR

March by the Numbers

Total Books Read: 6
Total Books Finished: 3
DNF: 0
To be continued in April: 3
Total pages read: 1,787
Average pages / Day: 58
Hard copy books: 2
E-books: 1
Audio Books: 3

I’m sure that my opinion on March is generally shared world-wide, when I say it was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad month… (thanks Judith Viorest). As this blog is book-centric, I will avoid too much commentary on the pandemic issue, just to say that here in Canada, we’re just getting started, so it doesn’t look like April is going to be much better.

That being said, you would think that with social distancing and stay-at-home initiatives being touted at every turn, that it could have been an excellent month for reading… you could think that… but you’d be wrong. March came with some great weather to start and I was feeling optimistic and very much in the mood to explore outside and enjoy the weather. I had done a bit of a push at the end of February, so for the first week of March, I didn’t even want to pick up a book.

But enough of the excuses…

One way or another, March is now done, my Goodreads goal is still on-target and with April here and not much to do on the horizon, I’m hopeful to get some real numbers in this month.

Review-Worthy Books Read in March

The Flatshare – Beth O’Leary

This book was my TOP READ for March, actual my top listen since I listened to the audiobook, but that’s just semantics.

This book was light and fun and just a good time all around. I enjoyed it very much on audiobook. All in all I gave it 4-stars.

The Starless Sea – Erin Morgenstern

This book was definitely a journey. I am very grateful that my library extended all book rentals until April 5 (and probably longer now) because it was certainly not an easy read.

The Starless Sea is the kind of book that even before I finished the last page, I was thinking that I needed to start over again to catch some of the nuances I missed out on the first time.

I give this book 4-Stars. Even though it left me confused as to the actual storyline at times, it was very enjoyable and I very much do want to read it again to see if some of the things I thought were real were actually real. It’s difficult to explain, but if you’ve ready the book, you might understand.

April TBR (a.k.a. “Maybe Baby”)

Sometimes I don’t know why I even attempt a TBR, but in these topsy-turvy days, I find a strong need to exert control over some small portion of my life, so looks like my TBR might be that area.

Firstly, the books that I started in March (and in honestly, almost finished)…

I Found You – by Lisa Jewell

Circe – by Madeline Miller

Becoming – by Michelle Obama

So far I am thoroughly enjoying the latter two books and am excited to write about my experiences with them. Other books I’m looking at for April are…

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before – by Jenny Han (this needs to be a quick read because it’s due back at the library in 9 days)

The Bane Chronicles – by Cassandra Clare

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – by J.K. Rowling (an attempt to get more involved with what my kids are into)

Other than that, it will likely be a matter of what I find available at the library.

In Closing…

I wish everyone to stay safe and stay sane in these crazy, trying times. Nothing beats a book for getting you out of a funk (or putting you in one if you pick something sad enough). Take care!

February “Slump”-tistics – February Wrap-Up / March TBR

February by the Numbers

Total Books Read – 10
Total Books Finished – 8
DNF – 1
To be Continued in March – 1
Total Pages Read – 3,301
Average Pages / Day – 114
Hard Copy Books – 1
E-Books – 4
Audio Books – 3

I wouldn’t say that I officially ran into a reading slump in February, but generally for me, February is just an overall slump of a month… Fortunately, for the most part, the books I read were stellar and highly entertaining. I didn’t give out any 5-Star ratings, but I don’t know if that’s just because I’m picky or maybe because I’m still a little slumpy.

Top Reads of February, 2020

The Rooster Bar by John Grisham

In a nutshell, The Rooster Bar is a story about three law-school drop-outs who figure out that the education that they’re banking on to get them back in the red from school loans is basically defunct and a dead-end career. From there, the students embark on a series of very questionable life choices, which lead them farther and farther down the rabbit hole.

Now admittedly, I know absolutely NOTHING about law school, becoming a lawyer or having hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt looming over my head, so as far as I know, this story could either be dead on the mark and nearly and expose of the state of affairs… OR…. this could be about as crazy a fantasy novel as flying monkeys… The important thing is that John Grisham SOLD me on the plot being believable. I went on a wild adventure with the three main characters and each time they were faced with a life decision, I was on board saying “yeah, that might work out”, only to be dashed against the rocks again and again.

It was an incredibly entertaining journey… Just glad that I didn’t have my student debts or future prospects riding on it.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

This book was the only book that I read in hard copy format in February, mostly because it took the better part of February to read it. This is the first book EVER that I am genuinely glad that I watched the T.V. Series before reading the book. it was a great help in getting through this, because I’m not sure I could have kept all the characters straight without that reference in my head. But the story was very solid, the T.V. Series clearly kept fairly true to the story and format of the books and I found the overall reading experienced enhanced and enjoyable. I’m not sure if March is going to be the right time to take on the second book in the series, but I’ll try not to leave myself hanging as long as I had to wait for the T.V. Seasons to be released.

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

I borrowed this on a short (7-day) rental from the local library and was just hoping that I could get it done before it had to go back and be put on hold or purchase it. I had heard mixed reviews about this one and wasn’t sure I’d be able to dig right into the plot. The plot, however, was pleasantly surprising. I found that I immediately became invested in multiple characters, on both sides of the many, many disputes / conflicts in this story.

Sitting here, I find myself struggling to describe this book or its plot lines. without crossing into spoiler territory. I guess what I can say is that it’s a lively, fast-paced story about the definition of family and what makes a “family” from many different perspectives.

March TBR

I’m not sure exactly what I’m planning to read in March yet. So far I haven’t got too far down my 2020 TBR, so maybe it’s time to pick up the first Harry Potter book, since I have them in hard copy and ebook, or maybe try out A Curse So Dark and Lonely. I’m nearly finished The Flatshare which is an exceptional audio book, but then I have a big, gaping hole in my TBR shelf. Maybe I’ll give myself a few days into March and see how I feel. Right now I’m just so glad to be done with February, that it’s hard to focus on reading when there are so many other things to do (spring cleaning)…

Book-Nook Call Out:

Looking for a really good “can’t put down” page-turner book to kick off March. Open to any suggestions, but something a few years older that I might find in my local library’s collection would be appreciated…

Thanks for reading this… hope everyone’s out of their February blahs and fingers crossed for an early spring into March!

February is Coming – January Wrap-Up / February TBR

January by the Numbers

Total Books Read – 15
Total Books Finished – 12
DNF – 0
To be Continued in February – 3
Total Pages Read – 4,951
Average Pages / Day – 159.7
Hard Copy Books – 5
E-Books – 4
Audiobooks – 3

January was a stellar reading month. Four 5-Star reads and Zero books that I did not finish or just barely got through. It was a big month for fiction and at least one book that I raced through at a ridiculous pace because I just couldn’t put it down. Just as I’m not going to waste my time reading books that I don’t enjoy in 2020, I’m also not going to waste my time reviewing books that weren’t at the very, very top of my list or that weren’t so compelling I couldn’t resist writing about them. On that note, here are my top / 5-Star Reads of January, 2020.

The Raven Cycle (Dream Thieves, Blue Lily, Blue, The Raven King) – Maggie Stiefvater

I actually finished The Raven Boys in 2020, but as I finished the remainder of the series in January, and the details of where one book ended and the next began is a little fuzzy, I am reviewing this as a series more than as individual books. Overall this series was everything I had hoped it would be. I almost instantly fell in love with the various characters and enjoyed following them on their various journeys throughout this adventure.

Strengths of this series definitely were character development and building twists and turns into the story that I never expected, but did follow logic and could be traced throughout the earlier stories. I love a good plot twist, but only if it is something that feels “organic”, not just a twist for the sake of a twist or something that no one EVER could have guessed.

The only weakness of this series is the final book, in that I found that the tension of everything falling apart and going wrong built up so deliciously only to be spoiled by what I thought was an easy way out. I was generally just no satisfied with the ending, but since I was so invested in the characters, I still couldn’t help myself from feeling relief and I certainly would have been devastated if things had just ended in utter devastation.

Series overall gets 4-stars. 5-stars for the first 3 books, 3-stars for the final. That math may not work out, but the end of a series is pretty darn important.

After I Do – Taylor Jenkins Reid

This book had to be my very, very favourite read of January, 2020, which was a little unexpected because I wasn’t too sure if I was up for an adult contemporary romance / un-romance… not sure what the actual category would be.

This was an intriguing story about a married couple who decided to take a “break” from their marriage to see if it would bring them together or let them drift apart. I found myself strongly connecting to both of the main characters’ points of view. This book took me on a whirlwind of emotion and feelings from fierce independence, to escapism, to chasing romance to loving a life-partner. It was a great read and the easiest 5-Star review I’ve given out this year.

A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness

I never would have come across this book without watching booktube videos from Jesse George, @Jessethereader. This book was completely out of my comfort zone and I couldn’t be happier having gone there… The content just gripped me from the start. I’ve already blogged about this book… https://book-nook.org/2020/01/18/a-monster-calls-be-ready-for-tears/

February TBR

From my heading photo, you can probably guess at least one of the books on my February TBR. I started reading A Game of Thrones in January, and fingers crossed I can finish it by the end of the month. That should take up most of my hard copy book reading time. For e-books, I’m currently reading “Time’s Convert”, which is an extension of Dorothy Harkness’ “All Souls Trilogy”. That was one of my favourite series of all time, and I wasn’t aware that they had made more books following this beloved cast of characters, so I’m very invested in that already. On audiobook, I’m currently into a re-read of “Clockwork Prince” and will for sure get done that and “Clockwork Princess”.

Other books I’m hoping to read in February are “The Starless Sea” by Erin Morgenstern, which I have already taken out of the library, “Glass Sword”, the next book in the Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard and “P.S. I Love You” by Cecelia Ahern.

Have you read the “All Souls Trilogy”? I guess with the t.v. series for “A Discovery of Witches”, maybe the series is garnering a second life, but it was one of the first series that I used to painfully wait from book release to book release.

2020 Goals and TBR

Okay, call me a cheater…

Is it fair to write your 2020 goals and tbr post more than halfway through January??? Sure it is… Maybe not a January goals and tbr but there’s no extra points for posting early and at least I’m past the post-new-years-resolution phase of the year.

A Little of my Reading History

I was a cute, young, avid reader… I remember reading the Little House on the Prarie Series in grades 1 and 2, jumping into the Anne of Green Gables Series and buying / reading such literary gems as Sweet Valley High and The Baby-Sitters Club through my middle grade years… I read, I wrote, I loved EVERYTHING literary… Through high school I read a lot of Stephen King and through university I took english and classics classes just to continue on my literary journey while pursuing an engineering degree…

Needless to say, I loved reading… But once I got into a career and motherhood, it was all downhill from there… I can probably count on my fingers (both hands though) the number of books I read in 2018.

Mid-2019, I was perusing youtube looking for new and interesting romance tv-series excerpts I was addicted to watching and I came across a video referring to “booktube”. Now I’m not OLD, but I’m old enough that I wasn’t sure if that was part of youtube or a separate app.

Well I figured that out and watching that lead me to downloading goodreads and I set a challenge to read 1 book per month (which I thought was a lot)… Reading 1 book lead to reading 2, lead to reading quite a few, ending 2019 with a total of 32 books read.

The moral of this very long, unfocused rant, is that I don’t have a ton of context by which to set my 2020 and beyond reading goals.

Finally, get on with the 2020 goals already

I’ve watched a lot of youtube videos and read a lot of blogs about people’s various 2020 reading goals. As much as I like some of the laudable goals of reading more of certain genres, authors, new reads, clearing tbrs, etc., I accept that I don’t really know enough of my own reading style to clearly set such challenges… So for me this year, it really all comes down to the numbers. On January 1 I set my goodread goals at 52 (1 book / week – I know, I’m not all that original)… By the first week, I was 4 books in and knew that I could do WAY better than that… So I changed it to 78 (1.5 books / week)… Now 3 weeks in and I think I can… I think I can… I think I can:

100 Books

Yes, you read it right… I said it… I’m trying to go from less than 10 to 100 books per year in less than 2 years… It will take a lot of commitment, but there are SO MANY BOOKS I want to read, I would be cheating myself if I didn’t try… And I’m certainly not someone who wants to set a goal that is easy / almost certain to be achieved.

So that’s it… there are lots of books that I’m interested in reading. I want to complete Cassandra Clare’s “The Dark Artifices” series, I want to get into “The Diviners” and lots of other books that I have gleaned from all my youtube / blogging watching. By next year I should know enough about what I want to read to be able to established more varied and colourful goals.

Thanks for reading this unending rant… best wishes to everyone for a successful, book-filled 2020… I’d love any reading suggestions for either 2020 released or older books, as I have a lot of years to make up for…

A Monster Calls… Be ready for tears

Just finished “A Monster Calls” by Patrick Ness. Oh my goodness my heart may never beat the same. I rate it 5 Stars and 1,000,000 tears. Having given this book 5 stars out of 5, makes me re-think my complete rating system because there are not many books that can even come close to holding a candle to how much I was affected by this book.

A Monster Calls is an incredibly poignant story about a young boy who’s mother is ill and how this illness affects all aspects of his life. He is haunted by nightmares / not nightmares of a monster who visits him at the same time each night.

Although the basic plot of this book is pretty straightforward and it is by no means a mystery, the trip to get there is a tangled web of reality, fantasy and delusion. The characters and atmosphere drag you in and won’t let you go.

Fair warning, this story is disturbing… If anyone is thinking that this is a story that might help someone going through a rough time with either their own health or the health of a loved one, I DO NOT recommend this read. I fully admit that I don’t know anything about grief or grief counselling, but I was affected enough being in a very balanced and good point in my life and consider it akin to reading “The Rainbow Bridge” when you have an aging, beloved pet.

It is a dark, dark story (in case you couldn’t tell by the colour scheme of this review), but is beautifully written and full of meaningful messages, such as the one above, in that there’s no harm done in thinking terrible, negative things, as long as you don’t act on them.

After that, it’s time to pull out a light, comedy or romance book to cleanse my palette… thanks for reading!

Top 10 Reads of 2019

When I was younger, I had a vision to have read every book in the library. At some point I realized that that wasn’t going to be achievable so I decided to try to read all the New Releases to keep up on all new matter. Eventually I realized that couldn’t possibly happen even if I read all day, every day, exclusively. Then there were approximately 10 years where I hardly read at all.

Where this history of my reading leads is that when I picked up the reading habit again in 2019, I had a LOT of very excellent material to work through that had been missed in my absence. When I picked books to read in 2019, it was largely based on those books that got me excited on booktube, bookstagram and goodreads. I’ve been working through some of the most recommended reads and those whose reviews sounded like gems. Along the way though, a few surprise finds also made it in to my Top 10. I make no claim that these are the best written books or that they are even solid reads on a larger scale, but these are my Top 10 books I read in 2019, regardless of their actual rankings:

#10 – Carve the Mark – Veronica Roth

This book was a re-read for me. I actually meant to pick up another book, but by the time I realized what book this was, I was invested in the storyline again and couldn’t really remember how the series ended. By the time I got through the second book in the series – The Fates Divide, I remembered why I couldn’t remember the conclusion – because in my opinion it was an unremarkable / forgettable end to this story that started out so strong in Carve the Mark. All in all, this book still makes me feel good and is a solid contended in the Top 10.

#9 – Skipping Christmas – John Grisham

This was the only other re-read on my Top 10 List. I started this book as a selection for the #ohwhatfun readathon, in the midst of all the crazy, Christmas fun, and thoroughly enjoyed it again. Maybe next year I’ll have to forgo all the presents, decorations and mayhem for a carribean cruise.

#8 – Talking As Fast As I Can – Lauren Graham

This was the first audiobook that I listened to, which was read by the author themselves and it was a FANTASTIC journey with Lauren, who really sounded like a best friend in the back of my head…

Obviously, this book is for fans of Lauren’s hit show, Gilmore Girls, and if that wasn’t your thing, really, REALLY, don’t waste your time, but it was a fantastic story and a great trip down memory lane. Well done!

#7 – Roar (Thirty Women, Thirty Stories)- Cecelia Ahren

This book was truly a random pick off the library shelf and clearly has a strong, feminism leaning, so if that’s not your thing, then totally bypass this suggestion, but for the most part I found the stories incredibly cute, funny and insightful. I would say that probably 75% of the stories were gems and fantastic, however there were a few, particularly near the end of the book, that just didn’t do it for me. But for a random pick, I was thoroughly impressed and entertained.

#6 – Kingdom of Ash – Sarah J. Maas

In preparation for this final book of the series, I did a complete series re-read in 2018 / 2019 because I knew that I had skimmed over some parts of the previous stories to get to this point. The re-read and the series conclusion did NOT disappoint!

Probably my favourite part of this book was, let’s say a character “evolution” more than a “development”. So many of the characters ended this book in a different frame of mind / role than I had expected them to at the beginning of the book. The fact that this series featured several different love interests / plot lines that actually made me change who I was hoping would match up is a huge plus for the storytelling, because I am usually very loyal to the first matchings and can’t get away from that… Just typing about this series gives me all the feels again and makes me think about another re-read for 2020.

#5 and #4 – Clockwork Princess / Clockwork Angel – Cassandra Clare

Although the second book of the Infernal Devices series (Clockwork Prince) didn’t actually make my Top 10 list, it was still a solid read, but I just found myself less invested in that story as the others.

Clockwork Angel, at #5, made me fall in love with the Shadowhunter Universe again, and made me forgive Cassandra Clare for writing about something other than Clary and Jace.

And Clockwork Princess, at #4, was just a wonderful read, that I was completely mesmerized in and couldn’t tear myself away from. I laughed, I cried, I cheered, it was a wonderful experience. And the tie-ins to the “The Mortal Instruments” series, which happens years in the future, were gems that maybe I should have guessed at, but it had been a while since I had last re-read the original series.

#3 – The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

Okay, I’ll admit that I had read sooooooooo many great reviews of this book, that I was almost afraid that if I ended up liking it, I would be pandering to the court of public opinion. I had picked it up as an e-book several times and just couldn’t really get into it… until I discovered the audiobook gem that is this story being narrated by death, who apparently has a german accent.

At the end of the day, I know that this was a great read, because parts of it keep coming to mind randomly as I’m thinking or seeing something entirely unreleated, even weeks after completing the story. Also, it taught me a few choice curse words in german that my family doesn’t know so there’s that bonus!

#2 – The Raven Boys – Maggie Stiefvater

The Raven Boys, and in fact the entire The Raven Cycle series, was a book / series that I was excited to read based on booktube recommendations. I was completely expecting this to be a light, easy-reading, YA romance that would make me feel all squishy inside and get through super-quick.

The truth is, whether you agree with me or not, that this is actually a solid read. The story is very well developed, with captivating characters and just a smidge of romance to keep my heart a-flutter. This being now several days into 2020, I can say that I’ve completed the 2nd book and am now well on my way into the 3rd and the remainder of the series so far is perfectly in-line with my comments of the first book.

So glad that I picked this gem up…

#1 – Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher

If you had asked me at the beginning of 2019 if my top read would be a hardcover, e-book or audiobook, audio would have been my absolute last choice, however this was an excellent audiobook with a fantastic narrator. I only read this book via audiobook, because it was one of the relevant titles I had heard of that was also available at the library when I was looking for something to listen to. I doubt that I would have picked up either the hardcover or e-book format.

This was a great story, with a great message, even though I do feel like some of Hannah’s antics were problematic and I come from different stock in terms of how I dealt with bullying situations when I was a teenager. This book was so good, I’ve added it to my Netflix listing to watch the series.

2019 Wrap-Up

One of my favourite New Year’s activities is introspection. Now that 2019 is officially in the books, it’s time to review and reflect on a year full of personal changes, the start of book-nook, this blog and my instagram account (@heathers.book.nook).

2019 was the start of a refocusing from being fully and completely occupied with my roles of mother and professional to finally having some time to carve out for my dormant creative side. I got back in to reading in a serious way mid-summer / early September with the discovery of “goodreads”. I set and destroyed 3 different goodreads goals (12, 20 and 30 books for that period). I got seriously into watching booktube videos and decided that I wanted to be an actual part of the book community. I’m not one to actually put myself on video (yet), but I started out with this blog, secured my own URL and started a book instragram account.

Before diving into my year-end stats, a few comments about December…

December Review

By the numbers…
Total Books Read – 15
Total Books Finished – 13
DNF – 0
To be Continued in January – 2
Total Pages Read – 3846
Average Pages Per Day – 124

Still haven’t done my audiobook experience post, but fingers crossed for January. This month I read 3 hardcovers, 4 e-Books and 6 audio books. I will skip the reviews for each book from December to keep the length of this post in check, but some are part of a series that will be touched upon later or get their own review. So on to the year-end…

Year-End 2019

Keeping in mind, that I didn’t start tracking any statistics until September, so while there may have been a little bit of sporadic reading before then, it wasn’t documented and not included in these stats.

By the numbers…
Total Books Finished – 32
Total Pages Read – 12,291
Average Pages / Book – 384
Average Length of Time to Read a Book – 11.6 days
Average Pages / Day – 100

Ratings

5-Star Reads (4): Clockwork Angel, The Raven Boys, Thirteen Reasons Why, The Book Thief
4-Star Reads (10): Kingdom of Ash, Captivated By You, Rosemary’s Baby, Clockwork Princess, Roar, Carve the Mark, Get Your Sh*t Together, Talking as Fast as I Can, The Fates Divide, Skipping Christmas
3-Star Reads (12): Bared to You, Reflected in You, Entwined With You, The Turn of the Key, Sharp Objects, Blame, Clockwork Prince, I’m Not Dying with You Tonight, Irresistible, Wonder, I Hate Everyone…Starting With Me, Christmas Shopaholic
2-Star Reads (6): The Guardian, One With You, Zen-Sational Living, The Identicals, The Hate U Give, The Three Beths