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 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.

Oh What Fun Readathon

First, a warm thank you to Mackenzie Lane (@mackenzieashtonlane / YouTube.com/mackenzielane) for setting up the 2019 #ohwhatfun readathon. Secondly, a most humble apology for any time on any platform where I may have or may yet refer to the readathon as “ohwhatafeeling” (mental block). Now, on to business…

TBR

So for those who don’t know, the premise of this readathon, running from December 14 to 21 is to choose either the list of “Nice” challenges or “Naughty” challenges. I’m starting with the nice challenges and will move on to naughty if time allows (yeah, sure!). My unique approach is to work on all five challenges at once, which means I have to have books at the ready all at the start.

Challenge #1 – Read a Book Set During Winter – Christmas Shopaholic by Sofie Kinsella

Challenge #2 – Read a Book With “Light” in the Title – What Light by Jay Asher

Challenge #3 – Read the 25th Book on Your TBR – An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Challenge #4 – Read an Entire Book in Christmas Pyjamas – Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

Challenge #5 – Read a Book Published in December of Any Year – Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Updates

I will be posting daily updates on my Instagram (@heathers.book.nook) and will update my blog when a milestone is reached.

So much reading … So little time. Happy Holidays and Happy Reading to all those participating.

Round-Up

Lesson Learned… NEVER start an 8-Day Readathon on the busiest work / personal week of the year…

It’s a sad state of affairs when you manage to do less reading on a readathon than you have any other time since tracking your reading.

That being said, I did manage to wholly complete one challenge and will update on the rest.

Challenge #1 – Read a Book Set During Winter – Christmas Shopaholic by Sofie Kinsella – I am 62% of the way through this book. It’s a quick read and I was hoping to be able to pound away a few hours yesterday to get it done, but that just didn’t happen.

Challenge #2 – Read a Book With “Light” in the Title – What Light by Jay Asher – If possession is 9/10ths of the law, then I should be 9/10ths of the way through this challenge. The only part I managed to accomplish was picking this book up from the library.

Challenge #3 – Read the 25th Book on Your TBR – An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir – I am 14% of the way through this book. It’s a much longer book than I thought. Fingers crossed I may actually still get this done by the end of the year.

Challenge #4 – Read an Entire Book in Christmas Pyjamas – Skipping Christmas by John Grisham – I am 11% of the way through this book. I thought for sure this would be my slam dunk because it seems to be a quick read, but the problem for me was that I wasn’t in my Christmas PJs very many hours of the week.

Challenge #5 – Read a Book Published in December of Any Year – Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher – 100% Done this challenge… yay! Whoot-Whoot! Bring on the ticker-tape parade.

Conclusion

It was so much fun being a part of the #Ohwhatfunreadathon2019, even if I wasn’t very good at it… I’ll be trolling for someone setting up a first week of 2020 Readathon for sure.

November Wrap-Up

Happy December 1!

The weather here in Southern Ontario has been up and down all month, and December is starting much the same way November did, with a big winter storm. Bad for trying to get my Christmas shopping in order, but great for starting another month with a good boost to my reading / blogging.

So November by the numbers…
Total Books Read: 15
Total Books Finished: 12
Did Not Finish (DNF): 1
To be Continued in December: 2
Total Pages Read: 4070
Average Pages Per Day: 135

This was the first month I ever “read” via audio book… I will do a separate posting on how I feel about that experience. The purist in me felt that I was cheating by reading via audio book, but it is an easy way to get a few more books in a year. The following tracks my reading by media type. Hard-copy books (blue), E-Books (beige), audio book (grey).

A brief summary (no spoilers) and rating for all the books I finished in November, 2019 is below:

The Infernal Devices Series – Clockwork Angel, Clockwork Prince and Clockwork Princess – Cassandra Clare

I gave this series 4.5-stars as a whole, with Clockwork Angel being my lowest rating at 4-stars and Clockwork Prince being my highest at 5-stars. Clockwork Princess falls somewhere in between, as it had some of the absolute best moments of the series, and some of the usual let-downs as things finally wind-up. Shortly after completing The Mortal Instruments, I purchased The Infernal Devices, however my heart just wasn’t big enough at the time to embrace a new Shadow Hunter series.

Blame – Jeff Abbott

This was the first book read in my “Random Book from the Library” ongoing challenge. I’ve always liked the idea of finding a gem in the rough that I’ve NEVER heard of by just randomly picking a book from the library shelves or by starting at “A”… This book embraced both.

The story was much more compelling than I thought it would be, about a girl suffering from amnesia after having killed a close guy friend in a car accident. The story is largely about a calamity of events as the story of what happened that night starts to unwind.

I haven’t read a lot of books with an unreliable narrator, but this one was compelling in that she was so obviously unreliable in that you often were pretty sure that maybe she was stringing you along.

I gave this books 3.5 stars. Wasn’t entirely in my wheelhouse of books I like to read, but it was definitely an enjoyable trip into the less-frequented library shelves.

Zen-Sational Living: A Simple Guide to Finding Your True Self and Maintaining Balance – Sheila M. Burke

I don’t know what I expected of “A Simple Guide” with such an incredibly complicated title, but this book was disappointing. Usually I’m all-in on some good living zen advice, but maybe I just wasn’t feeling the topic this month or maybe this book really wasn’t that good. It took me a few tries over the past few years to get into it, and I’m pretty sure I only finished it this time through sheer will-power. I gave it 2 Stars.

The Art of Woo – Using Strategic Persuasion to Sell Your Ideas – G. Richard Shell

Once again, maybe I’m just too into fiction right now to really appreciate a good non-fiction book… Or maybe it’s because I tried to do this one via audio book… Either way, this book I just could not keep paying attention to and eventually I called it as my first DID NOT FINISH of the year. No rating.

Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked – Adam Alter

This was the one exception this month to my non-fiction slump. I really enjoyed this book, although I’m concerned that maybe instead of scaring me away from the addictive behaviours it cautions, it actually drew me in more, with my new advances in blogging and instragram. Oh well, it was an interesting read and a good book overall. 3 Stars.

I’m Not Dying With You Tonight – Kimberly Jones

This was the first book that I finished as an audio book. At first I had a real difficulty with hearing the book in voices different than the ones in my head (cue mental health check), but I went for a long drive one day and found that with absorbing a big enough chunk at one time, the story held my interest. A decent story, but I do think that I may have liked it even more if I had read it instead of listened to it. 3 Stars.

Roar: Thirty Women Thirty Stories – Cecelia Ahren

This being the second book in my “Random Book from the Library” series, I wasn’t sure what to expect about this collection of short stories. But I LOVED IT! It was fantastic… By the halfway point I thought for sure this was going to be one of my favourite reads of the year. Unfortunately by the end I either got bored of the rah-rah-feminism vibe or the stories started to decline in quality and at the end of the day, this only got a 3.75-Star Rating.

Carve the Mark – Veronica Roth

This was the only re-read of the month. When I picked this book to re-read, I actually thought it was a different book, but 50 pages in I was pretty invested and decided to finish this series again. It’s not the most wonderful YA Fantasy book I’ve ever read, but the romance is pretty cute and I did enjoy this departure from some of the other materials I read this month. I gave it 3 Stars on the re-read. I seem to recall that the end of the series was disappointing so I’m mixed on getting back into book #2.

Get Your Sh*T Together: How to stop Worrying About What You Should Do So You Can Finish What You Need to Do and Start Doing What You Want To Do – Sarah Knight

Wow… that’s a mouthful. I didn’t even realize how long that title was. No need for a recap because that says it all.

I really enjoyed this book, which was the third book I finished in audio format. I think it’s the author who is also doing the reading, which is really fun. So much better than the other two audios and it really felt more like a podcast or just talking to someone (says something about my vernacular).

Anyways, this was a good, solid book and has interested me in trying the audio version of her other book “The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck”… I’ve read that one, but I think hearing her cadence will be even better. 4 Stars.

I Hate Everyone… Starting with Me – Joan Rivers

This was the third installment in my “Random Book from the Library” series. I thought it might be a light, enjoyable read and I was right. It was fine, but not quite as funny as I had hoped. 3 Stars.

Wonder – R.J. Palacio

This was my second re-read of the month, and my first “Reading What the Kids Are Reading” book. My daughter read this book and watched the movie 2 years ago and I don’t know if I finished the book along with her or lost interest part way through.

It was a fine story, but fiction geared to that age group is maybe just not my thing. I don’t have the same “outrage” response that some of my other mommy peers do. 3 Stars.

A Book So Good… You Don’t Want to Finish It

There is nothing better than that story that captivates your heart… It’s even better if it’s part of a series that can keep you emerged and entranced for books at a time. The world in which you’ve found a home, the characters which you consider family, the storyline that you are so invested in that you forgo sleep and basic needs to consume faster than you ever thought possible. Only to hit that point when you realize….

This story is going to end…

Most recently that series for me has been “The Infernal Devices” by Cassandra Clare. Currently I’m about 3/4 done the last book of the series, and I am so excited to see what happens in the end… and yet so dreading the end of the series and so not wanting to waste a single second of the experience, that this last bit of book is taking FOREVER. I only read this book when I know that no one is around to disrupt me and when I’m sure I can get at least a chapter in. So many lesser books have come and gone and been marked up on the Goodreads big board in the meantime that anyone who doesn’t know me would think that I wasn’t really into it.

So this post will be updated occasionally, as I find those rare gems of a book / series that are just too good to finish. If any of my readers have similar experiences or recommendations, please leave them in the comments.

In the meantime, I think I can get infinitesimally closer to the end without actually reading the last page, so I’d better sign off and find a quiet corner to sneak away to.