September Wrap-Up (it’s been a while, folks!)

Well, when I last posted a wrap-up, it was the end of June and the beginning of Summer… I wish I could say that I just took a summer hiatus, but really, there’s plainly no excuse for why I didn’t post July or August wrap-up blogs. But onward and upward I always say!

A Quick Word about the Pandemic…

For those reading my page and saying “please God! not another pandemic rant!”… feel free to skip to the next heading. Here in Ontario we’ve just been told that we are officially in the second wave and that means more lockdowns, no more close contact with anyone outside of your home, etc.

In the spirit of Canada’s Thanksgiving (which, by the way is next weekend), I’ll start with some gratitude. I am grateful and very lucky to have a good job with a steady income throughout this pandemic. I am grateful that (so far) no one I love has been touched by this terrible illness or by the debilitating recession it has created. I am grateful to have young (not too young) children, that I can cuddle and hug whenever I do feel the need for human contact. And I’m grateful that I’m a natural introvert. There are actually so many things that I would like to hibernate away and do that it would probably fill several pandemics or at least a few more waves of this one. I’d love to read more – oh, so much more, be on here blogging more, exercising more, cooking from scratch more, cleaning my house more, hanging out with my kids more, watching movies with my husband more… so many things… But I acknowledge that these simple pleasures do make it so much easier to give up things like big family outings, vacations, community events. But I truly do feel for those who don’t have those things in their lives. Those who are going through real tragic events during this pandemic or who are feeling isolated and lonely. I do think that the next few months of varying lockdowns, less ability to get outside and enjoy the fresh air, less connection with loved ones as we stumble head-first into the holiday season will take a toll and while I’ve never been very good at expressing empathy, if you are struggling at this time, please take heart and know that I feel for you, am happy to speak with you about what’s going on, either through the comments on this page or more directly, if you need to and that we will get through this and see the rainbow on the other side of it. Hopefully as a more kind and resilient world community.

Back to the Books…

Enough ranting… here’s the goods – the September statistics:

Total Books Read: 12
Total Books Finished: 11
DNF: 0
To Be Continued in October: 1
Total Pages Read: 4,314
Average Pages/Day: 143
Hard Copy Books: 1
E-books: 6
Audiobooks: 5

September saw two 5-Star Reads, four 4-Star Reads, three 3-Star Reads and two 2-Star Reads. It was clearly the month of the audiobook, which after having not listened to any almost all summer long, I started off with “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo”, but then totally dove into “A Very Punchable Face” by Colin Jost and was hooked.

Review-Worthy Books

There were quite a few winners this month, some of which, however, were re-reads, which I won’t go over again. My faves were.

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

This book is my TOP READ for September and I wish I had the hard copy to lend out to friends and family – might have to be a Christmas plan.

The story follows a group of sisters (and one brother) who are taken from their river-shanty of a home and sold into adoption. It focuses both on the events leading up to and including the adoption and skips to their late-lives and subsequent generations and the discovery of the secret lives of their grandparents. It is a touching and disturbing tale at the same time. Even the picture on the cover of this book just reaches into my heart and squeezes. It’s definitely one to make you want to go into your kids’ bedroom in the middle of the night and squeeze them tight (in a non-stalker way of course)…

A Very Punchable Face – Colin Jost

This book was my second 5-Star Read of the Month. If you know and like Colin Jost or are a fan of Saturday Night Live, you’ll probably enjoy this quirky tale. I listened to it on audiobook and thoroughly enjoyed hearing Colin narrate his own stories. It was just a super-fun read. There were some laugh-out loud moments (and with headphones on, I’m sure I looked a little crazy) and some poignant stories that made me cry. I really enjoyed it and it was the key to my renewed interest in both audiobooks and autobiography / biography content.

The Rainbow Comes and Goes by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt

Although this book didn’t quite make it into my 5-Star Category, I couldn’t leave the blog without talking about this wonderful audiobook, the unique letter-writing format of the story and the wonderful stories and insight that this book brought into my life. It was simply a joy to listen to. I did a lot of extra driving around in my car to get through this book in record time, only to find myself wishing I had stretched it out more. It was a joy, especially considering it was about two people that I didn’t really know much about at all. Thank you for this glimpse into your lives and hearts.. It was wonderfully appreciated.

Closing Thoughts

I’m not even going to try to create an October TBR at this point – the draw towards “spooky” tales hasn’t yet taken hold of me (even after last year’s disappointing reads – maybe I’ll expand on that next time) and looking back at my July TBR created at the end of June, I don’t want to jinx my next reads.

I will be trying to get more content on my site and maybe do a site re-vamp over the next month. It has been fun sharing with you and I really enjoy the writing. I truly wish you all the best and hope that everyone stays safe and makes the most of the fall – here’s hoping for a bunch of cozy afternoons watching the leaves fall and the rain come down.

Take care…

June Wrap Up

Although mother nature let me down most of the spring (note a COMPLETE lack of posts all spring long), June brought with it the lazy, hazy summer days that make me want to curl up on the swing chair and RELAX with a good book.

June reading was mostly a few “romance” themed series, some good, some bad, and only one off-genre read, which turned out to be the best of the bunch. I’m hoping to do a comparison of the romance series for my next installment, so today’s reviews will be pretty basic.

June Statistics

By the numbers, June was a GREAT month.

Total Books Read: 10
Total Books Finished: 9
DNF: 1
To Be Continued in July: 0
Total Pages Read: 4,406
Average Pages/Day: 147
Hard Copy Books: 1
E-Books: 8
Audio Books: 0

June was a month of highs and lows in the reading world. I had two 5-Star reads, three 4-Star reads and then five completely disappointing books. The only consistent thing was all my book ratings were a surprise. The same thing happened with the volume of my reading. I would either plow through an entire book in a day or barely turn a page.

The difference this month for me, was that when I was binge-reading, it was because i couldn’t wait to get through the content, not because I was trying to increase my stats or improve chances at making my Goodreads Goal.

Review-Worthy Books Read in June

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

This book is my TOP READ for June. It came recommended by my mother, which is usually not the most reliable source of an endorsement, but man, she hit the nail on the head with this one. Opened this book on a Saturday afternoon when my husband was away fishing and didn’t put it down until the last page was turned on Sunday evening.

The story is about a girl, basically abandoned by her family in the deep south, who learns to fend for herself, is deeply connected with her natural surroundings and tries to connect with the outside world, to mostly disastrous ends. On the surface, it didn’t seem like my cup of tea, but Delia Owens gets you so caught up with this girl’s life and very invested in her well-being and the underlying relationships / romances that you just can’t turn away.

I know this book was highly acclaimed and well-received in the book community, but if you’re going to bypass it because it’s not in your wheel-house, I encourage you to at least give it a few chapters.

July TBR (where do I go from here)

I know that I need to finish the Lux Series so that I can complete my romance series comparison post, but from there I’m a little adrift for real goals. The Lux Series is the most complicated series I’ve ever tried to read (and as a fan of the Shadowhunters Universe, that’s saying a lot). But I think I want to stick to the main storylines and then I’ll consider if any of the sub-books (i.e. books from another perspective, prequel books) are of interest to me.

  • Opal (Lux #3) – Jennifer L. Armentrout
  • Origin (Lux #4) – Jennifer L. Armentrout
  • Opposition (Lux #5) – Jennifer L. Armentrout

I also have The Happy Ever After Playlist from Abby Jimenez that should be coming off hold from the Library this month.

Closing Thoughts

As life and business starts to come back on-line this month, I hope that that the slower, easier pace of life continues and that i get a nice summer of hanging out with my girls, swinging in the breeze and reading / dozing through many lazy afternoons. Take care and stay safe everyone!

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!