2021 Unhauled Books

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            I wasn’t sure if I was going to reveal what books I unhauled in 2021, I usually don’t unhaul books. It’s just not who I am. I usually keep every book I buy, well since I moved from Indiana. I got rid of a lot of books when I left Indiana because books are heavy. 

            I changed my mind on revealing which books I am saying goodbye to and will be donating as soon as the opportunity presents itself for me to get to the used bookstore. It’s been a busy beginning to 2022. I have gone and pulled other books from my collect for people I no longer support or books that no longer serve and I don’t want to have in my personal collection. I am trying to build a collection, not a library. Though I would love a library, that’s the dream but I digress. 

            I unhauled ten books that I read last year. I probably could have unhauled more but I didn’t want to get rid of any of the Book of the Month books that I got, I have about three that I could unhaul and not feel bad. One day, I will. 

            This is just going to be in brief. They are not in order because there isn’t really an order besides the order that I read them in. These books just aren’t for me and that it totally fine, they will find their way to someone who will love them when I couldn’t. If you liked these books, cool, I love that for you; they just weren’t for me. Not every book is for everybody and that’s fine, that’s what makes us people, we are allowed to disagree. 

            I think I unhauled most if not all of the historical fictions I read off my TBR last year, that’s a little strange, but here we are. 

            There is nothing against any of the authors on this list, I have written 17 books, (Published none of them because I am terrified of what I am doing at the moment, someone not liking it and telling the world.) so I know how hard it is to bare your soul on paper and have someone not like it. Art is subjective, it’s not for everyone and these just weren’t for me. 

            There are so many books that I love, it might just be these books, I might love other books written by these authors because a few of them have repeats in my collection that I am still trying to get through. Not every book is for everybody, I want to scream that from the rooftops and I felt it needed repeating before we get into the meat of this post. 

            So, which of the 77 books I read last year am I unhauling? 

West of Sunset by Stuart O’nan

            It was a good one time read. I enjoyed reading a fictionalized version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s later years. It was interesting but not something that I want in my forever collection. I have read plenty of historical biographical fiction and while I liked it, it wasn’t my favorite so I am unhauling it so someone else can enjoy it. 

Last Days of Night by Graham Moore

            Again, I enjoyed it as a one-time read. It was really interesting to learn about Westinghouse, Edison, and Tesla during the race to light the world with the electric light and bring power to homes with electricity. It’s fascinating, but not for my forever collection. I bought this book probably in 2014 or so and that is the case for a lot of my books, I buy them and then don’t read them because I am a mood reader. 

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

            So good, so powerful, and so poignant. World War 2 fiction is fascinating to me. I love that this is semi biographical but not at the same time. It was such a good read and I could not put it down. This again though, is a good one-time read and not one that I want to keep forever. It will be so good in someone else’s collection.

The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber

            I liked the subject matter I just hated how it was written, I don’t like reading a whole book in verse unless it is a play and those are meant to be performed. I skimmed this one, there is no shame in that and I just needed to let everyone know that. I didn’t enjoy this one, that’s my own fault because it says ‘in verse’ on the back of the book, I just missed that sentence. 

All is Fair in Love and Cupcakes by Betsy St. Amant

            Very Hallmark, that’s about all I remember about it. A baking competition and a love story, every predictable. I read it in January or February of last year so I don’t really remember much of the plot and that tells me that it didn’t leave an impact on me and it will bring someone else a lot more joy than it brought me. 

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

            I thought it was going to be more about Degas, if we are being honest. A lot of the books that I am unhauling are historical fiction. This one was just a lot for me and I enjoyed most of it, but not all of it and that’s totally okay. 

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

            There were no quotation marks and that took so much away from this book for me because it was hard to follow. It was also just weird, like super weird, I think that her brother turned into furniture because he was sad? I had no idea because I was so lost while I read this book, or struggled to read this book. 

Soulless by Gail Carriger

            If I would have read it when I bought it, I would have probably read the whole series, I enjoyed it as a one-time read and it would have been fine as a standalone but I didn’t like it enough to keep it or continue the series. It was an interesting concept, I enjoyed the read, but it was not for me in my current reading habits. 

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan

            I might have read this whole book in a day; it was that or two days. It was a fine read, it was basically a rom-com, it was predictable. Which is totally fine, I love predictable sometimes but nothing in this book really stood out to me. I don’t actually remember much of it, which is not great. I have a pretty good memory for most things but if I don’t really like a book or it’s fine, I don’t remember a lot of the plot…oops. 

Dream London by Tony Ballentine

            Another one that I probably would have loved the series, it’s sci-fi, which I usually like. It was just weird and that’s okay. I liked it when I read it, I truly did but it is not something I want in my permanent collection. I got concerned at the ending and that was what threw me into unhauling it. I know there are more in the series but I have no interest in reading them.

            Well, there it is, ten books that I got rid of from my collection. I gave my top ten might as well give my bottom ten as well. I already have a list of books that I am unhauling so far this year because when you read over 5 books in a month that you have owned for several years you are bound to find some that just aren’t your scene anymore. 

            That’s the thing about being a mood reader and buying books when you are in the mood for them and not reading them because your TBR is so long, they get lost in the cracks and then you pull them out 5 years later and you don’t like them anymore. That’s alright, I love to read and I love to read a variety of books because they amuse me. I will pretty much read anything, or at least try and I am so much of a completionist (yes, I am aware that is not a word, but that’s who I am) that I do not ‘do not finish’ books, I haven’t not finished a book since like 2016 so I get through them, because maybe the last ten pages will make the other 300 worth the read. I don’t know.

            This post was hard to write, it’s repetitive and I will link the original blurbs to all of them when this is posted so you can see in the moment what I thought about them, not several months removed. I read something like 20 books in November and December and all of them except a few were mood, so all the books that I unhauled were from my TBR. I need that to be clear. All ten books came from my original 45 book physical TBR, these are books I am going through to make sure I want them in my personal permanent collection. 

            This post was a long one, sorry. I hope that everyone has a great rest of the week and I will be back later in the week with another post. Until then, I hope that everyone stays safe, happy, and healthy.

            -MJ

January 2022 Book of the Month Review:

Title: Reckless Girls

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Rating: 3.6/5

Genre: Thriller/Suspense

Hey hey, it’s MJ, 

            There are for sure going to be spoilers in this review so if you don’t want to know anything about it, I would skip this one. 

This book started slow, I am not going to lie, I finished it in two days though and the second half went from 0 to 60 in like ten pages. 

So we start on Maui with Lux and her boyfriend Nico who seem like a really solid couple, Nico is hired to charter a boat out to a deserted kind of spooky island and they go with Brittany and Amma. It’s a lot, like so much. They meet up with Jake and Eliza on the island and they party for like a week or two. Some stuff happens and then like everyone is dead. It shifts between ‘now’ and ‘before’ and all of these timelines and story lines all weave together. Everyone has something to hide and that is made clear throughout the novel itself. 

Going from 0 to 60 so quickly made it a really slow build, I wasn’t really sure if I liked it until about page 200 or so out of 309. Like I feel like a lot of it was a little cliché for a thriller novel, I am not saying that’s a bad thing but everyone is sleeping with everyone, it’s kind of like Clue but with a lot more swearing. Like there is so much swearing in this book. I swear a lot in real life but not in writing, there is just something really permanent about it that I don’t really like. 

I can see this for sure being made into a movie, it feels very cinematic and that is really cool. The imagery was really good but I was left with questions, so many questions. 

(HUGE SPOILER!!) For example, how didn’t Amma recognize Eliza as Chloe, did she change her look that much? I was really confused by that when it was revealed unless I just missed the part where she realized it was her and never said anything, I was confused. 

I just wasn’t surprised when Nico kind of turned into a not so nice guy, I liked him at the beginning but when you get all of the “Now” perspective from one character you don’t get to know what everyone else is thinking. All of the “Before” perspectives were from different characters but the “Now” was all from Lux’s point of view, it was an odd shift from knowing how everyone got there to just knowing one person’s thoughts and feelings in the present tense of the book. 

The ending for sure left me unfulfilled it was very odd, everyone but Lux dies and she just leaves, like she killed two people and then she just goes and doesn’t look back. Everyone kills someone and it’s just a little odd and everything at the end happened really quickly. I really did feel like the book gave me a little bit of whiplash.

I liked it though, do not get me wrong, I was gripped and I read all of it in two sittings, I would call it a beach read because you can get through it so fast. If you like an island thriller where literally everything goes wrong, I would totally recommend this one for you. 

The “In The After” epilogue was a little weird and honestly it left me with more questions, like what’s going to happen to Caroline? It’s implied that it’s Lux that she goes off with but that’s where it ends. It left me with more questions than answers about the book itself and it was kind of thrown in there for me, but most epilogues are. 

I liked the book, it was a pretty good book, I cannot be upset about it, I would love to see it as a movie because I think it would be fun. I know that this was the best choice for me this month with Book of The Month and I will be looking forward to next month’s choices at the end of this month.

I am only going to tag the current year’s posts but you can click on the “book of the Month” tag and see what I read last year.

I will be back later in the week with another post so until then I hope that everyone stays safe, happy, and healthy.

-MJ 

Books I Read in January 2022

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            Something I learned last year was that I read a lot of books. A lot more than I usually do and I enjoy reading, I always knew that. Here’s the thing though; I only had six parts to this series last year because I did it every other month. There was a problem with that, some months I read 3 or 4 books or 9 but in December when I read like 14 and that means that my longest post was either part 4 or part 6 and that is a lot of books to cram into one post when I know it’s a lot to read. You can still go back and see what I read last year and proof that once I finish my TBR I solely become a mood reader is proved at the end of the year, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6

I am 100% aware of how long those posts were and I was not expecting to have posts that long. I was expecting to read 45 books and then I read over 70 and here we are in another year and this year my TBR goal alone is 50, plus my 12 Book of The Month books, and any other books that I want to read throughout the year so I have a lot of books planned this year. I know people who can read 100 books in a year and that boggles my mind. 

            So, this year I am going to be doing monthly posts about my reading habits. Y’all are going to be seeing a lot of book content and that’s just where I am right now. I love the fact that my blog while is lifestyle, lifestyle can literally be anything so here we are, on brand, on theme. 

            Like last year I have some TBR pile goals and I am going to do the break down first and as always there will be a tracker at the bottom because by now y’all know how much I love to track like everything, well I like to track things that probably aren’t super important to most, but I enjoy it. I am also keeping a Book Bullet Journal this year and you can see some of the content of that in the Intro post I did that is linked just above. 

            What do I plan on reading this year? Most of the books that are in these categories come from my current collection or books I bought in 2021. I have a lot of books and I am trying to dwindle my current collection before buying more. I have had a lot of them for a long enough time that they aren’t really my genre faves anymore, so I might as well read them and unhaul them if I don’t enjoy them.

Fiction: This is my largest category because let’s be honest, I read a lot more fiction than non-fiction and that’s just my scene so it’s okay.

            – 10 General Fiction, this has not changed from last year, I just doubled the number of books in it and that is going to be a common theme. I also feel like when you say general it’s more contemporary or whatever I want to read that doesn’t fit into other categories.

            – 10 Sci-Fi/ Fantasy, most of them are fantasy and about half of my planned Free Choice this year are also fantasy. It is very clear to me what my favorite genre outside of cozy mystery is. 

            – 10 Historical Fiction, self-explanatory, I have a lot of historical fiction in my collection and I have for a while so reading them sooner rather than later is probably a good idea on my part. 

            – 2 Thrillers, I actually really liked reading thrillers last year, but I don’t have enough in my collection to want to read more than two. 

            – 14 Free Choice, this is my flex category of books that I want to read that I can’t or don’t want to fit into a category, I thought this would be mostly cozies, but I ended up picking up several books last year that I really want to read as well as leaving some spots open for books coming out this year that I am waiting on.

Non-Fiction: 

            – 2 Autobiographies/Biographies/Memoirs, I just like to read about people, usually about people who I find really funny and this year is no different. 

            – 2 general non-fiction, one is a teaching related book the other is something fun and that is just want I want with non-fiction. 

Book of the Month:

            – 12, I mean, it’s going to be 12 there because that’s how many months are in the year, so it’ll just be my 12 BotM books. 

            Let’s get started! Also, this year because I am a literal idiot and didn’t do it last year (I might go back and augment every single post with the ratings), I am going to put my rating next to each book because why not?

Midnight Spells Murder by Mary Angela (3.5/5)

            This was the Once Upon a Book Club pick for Halloween of 2021, I got it on New Year’s Eve because well, shipping is awful right now and I didn’t want to wait to read it. It was a quick read, not my favorite cozy but the gifts that came with it were super fun. I probably will write a whole post on it at some point. It’s the second in the series so I was just a touch lost but it was good. The ending felt rushed to me which is weird for a cozy but this one was only like 203 pages which is also on the short side for books that I usually read. That is all fine, my longest book this year is like 700 something pages from my TBR so here we are. This one was a little magic and it was fun. 

The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman (4/5)

            Well, I read The Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable in like 2016 and it is about the same apartment in Paris, I was a little worried when I realized that this was the same context because I didn’t end up really liking The Paris Apartment. This one was amazing; I loved the story how it switched by Marthe from the 1880’s to the present of the 1940’s and Solange who is her granddaughter living in the 1940’s. My favorite thing about all of this is that it’s a real place and a real painting that was discovered in like 2010 which is super interesting to me. This story was complex and vivid and I really enjoyed it throughout my reading. 

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab (5/5)

            I could not put it down, I read half the book in one day and it kind of broke me. It broke my heart just a little bit like all the best books do. I loved this book, I want I Remember You tattooed on me, I loved the characters and the story so much. It hurt, so much of it hurt but this book is one of those that will go on my favorite shelf. I love the writing style, the imagery, and how real it all feels to be trapped in the world where someone doesn’t remember you. I get it. I totally get it and I would love to read it again without knowing how it ends. There were so many moments where I was holding my breath and yelling at nothing because of what was going on. This book wrapped me up like a hug, a hug that is just a little too tight but you don’t want to let go because it feels good because you just need a good hug. 

Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins (3.6/5)

            I wrote a whole post about it and that will come out next because this was my first Book of the Month book for 2022, it was good, a little beach read thriller that went from 0-60 in like ten pages and left me with a few dozen questions. I am not going to spoil it but it felt very much like Clue to me but on a deserted island in the Pacific not a manor house. 

The Runaway Princess by Hester Browne (3/5)

            It was cute, I enjoyed it but I guessed the ending about 45 pages in. Which is frustrating because it hit a lot of those cliches and I walked into this book really looking forward to it and if I would have read it in 2014 or 2013 when I bought it; I probably would have been head over heels for it. It’s not so much that anymore, a prince to come and sweep you off your feet and then pretty much give up whatever for you. (I did that like touch because normally it’s the other way around.) I cannot judge a book in 2022 standards that was written in 2012 and it was cute but it left too many threads undone for me. It was made very clear that her sister had done something but you don’t find out what that is until about 45 pages to the end, maybe later and I felt like that rushed it, that it was just thrown in as a plot point. Her being normal, not super thin, a little weird, all of those were plot points to be almost mocked and I understand because of the royal aspect, but that was a lot for me. 

Buffering by Hannah Hart (3.5/5)

            I bought this when it came out and I watched a lot more YouTube at the time, I also loved My Drunk Kitchen. My tastes have changed since then and that’s okay. It was a good book, it talked a lot about struggling with mental health and as someone who deals with that one the daily, I get it. I have moved away from certain creators on the internet and that’s totally cool, I wanted to get it read and I did. This is just a book that’s not meant for me and that is also okay. It’s meant for a lot of other people and I hope those people find it. 

Love and Gravity by Samantha Sotto (4/5)

            This book was good, it was a lot though. I love a good time travel book and the crack in the wall very much reminded me of Doctor Who. I was totally cool with that. I did like all the twists and turns and everything that happened throughout. There was a huge plot twist that made the end of the book worth it, I was for sure going to say that I didn’t like the ending but it wasn’t too bad. I enjoyed the read and I did like how it went, it ended happily and its own way. It was a really quick read and that is not a bad thing but there were moments where I was slightly confused, also really sad. 

In the Shadow of Paris by Claude Izner (3/5)

            I was so confused, it’s my own fault because this is not the first in the series. It’s a mystery and it was fine but I know very little about 1890’s Paris. Also, the perspective shifted so many times I was getting lost. Not every book is for everybody and I know that, this one is not really for me. It was fine but I had no idea who did it until it was very suddenly revealed and I was even more confused because I just wasn’t keeping up with the story. I couldn’t keep up with who was talking at some points because there would just be a paragraph space and it would switch perspectives only to switch to someone else a page later. Not my favorite book and that’s okay. I could go back and read the rest of the series but I don’t want to, it was just a little too much for me. 

The Alienist by Caleb Carr (3.6/5)

            I wanted to watch the series so bad when it came out because it sounded so cool. I enjoyed the book it was just dense like a lot of turn of the century based literature is, it was written in the 1990’s so it’s not like it’s that old. It was a good story with compelling characters and I enjoyed it. It was a lot, but most books are a lot. It was a gruesome story for sure and that threw me for a few moments but this book took me almost a week to read. For me it’s usually about three days to read a book but this one took some time. It had some amazing treatment of mental health and psychopathy from that time period, not a lot was known about the human brain and reading it through the lens of today it was fascinating.

            I was hoping to have one more on here, but that was just not the case. It will be the first one on my February post and it’s a good one. I promise, if you are into fantasy and murder plots, it’s for you. 

            I only read nine books in January, I mean compared to last January I think I only read three or four, I shouldn’t complain about reading nine books but I have seen people on the internet who read like 20 in a month and I am like “How?” I also have a full-time teaching job and you know writing that I do so I don’t have the undivided attention that some people do for reading. I also don’t have the attention span or the want for sleep deprivation to stay up all night and read books anymore like I did when I was younger. 

            This post was supposed to come out sooner, but I wanted to try and finish a book and then we had some snow so I wasn’t home to take the pictures, so this is coming out later than planned, oops! I also was not home because it snowed so I was snowed in at my parent’s house and this idiot didn’t take any pictures before she left her apartment, so it’s quite a bit later than planned!

            I will be back later in the week with another post so until then I hope that everyone stays safe, happy, and healthy. 

            -MJ 

Let’s Keep Track Shall We?: 

General Fiction: 1/10 (The Runaway Princess)

Sci-Fi/Fantasy: 1/10 (The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue)

Historical: 2/10 (The Velvet Hours, In the Shadow of Paris)

Thriller: 1/2 (The Alienist)

Free Choice: 1/14 (Love and Gravity)

Memoirs/Autobiographies: 1/2 (Buffering)

General Non-Fiction: /2

Book of The Month: 1/12 (Reckless Girls)

Extras: 1/? (Midnight Spells Murder)

MJ’s Top Ten Books of 2021

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            I cannot believe how many books I read in 2021, it is really almost twice as many as I usually read and that to me is insane, honestly and truly insane. I cannot even really begin to narrow it down to my favorites. So maybe this post shouldn’t be called ‘top ten’ it is more of a list of books that I wish I could read again for the first time because they were so good. Now you might be saying, ‘well the title is favorite’. I know, I changed it because it’s not a list, it’s just a recap of my favorite books of the year and I don’t want to rank them.

            I read several series this year so I am not going to count each book in my top ten. I haven’t completed some series though so I am just rolling with it at the moment until I do finish them, or await the next volume in the series because they aren’t out yet. 

            If you actually want to read about all of the books I have read this year, you totally can because there are six of them. Part 1 covers January and February, Part 2 covers March and April, Part 3 covers May and June. Then it gets a lot longer so strap in for a long read, Part 4 covers July and August, Part 5 covers September and October, and Part 6 covers November and December, also another long read because well I read a lot at the end of the year.  

            These are in no particular order and there may be some spoilers, I don’t know yet if there will be or not. I am starting this at the beginning of December because I have the time to start it now, but I still have almost ten books on my TBR for the rest of this year. I have so many and I will only have more next year. That’s why every month is getting their own books post, it’s just easier for me that way and then the posts won’t have so many books on them.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

            I mean, I wrote a whole paragraph about this in February when I read the book because it was amazing, I think this was one of my only five-star books of the year because it was so good. She weaves these amazing fantastical worlds that I want to get lost in. The Night Circus is one of my all-time favorite books. This one was amazing and I absolutely could not put it down. The multiple perspectives that all thread together makes it amazing and so much fun to keep up with. It’s vivid and I could not put it down, if you like fantasy and a magical library with a dark past and a society of people trying to make sure that it goes dormant then this one is for sure for you. 

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco (the entire series so Stalking Jack the Ripper, Hunting Prince Dracula, Escaping from Houdini, and Capturing the Devil)

            I have read six of her books this year because she is a phenomenal writer and her writing style is imaginative and vivid and again, this was a series I read all of them this year starting in April and finishing the series itself in October. Like I said in that post, I will one day re-read the entire series and I will tab it, I am really bad at tabbing but I am trying with re-reads. This series though is one for you if you like turn of the century true crime, badass female lead, and twists and turns throughout London, Romania, a steam ship, and Chicago this series is for sure something you should look into. 

Seaside Café Mysteries (series) by Bree Baker (the series so far so, Live and Let Chai, No Good Tea Goes Unpunished, Tide and Punishment, A Call for Kelp, Closely Harbored Secrets, and Partners in Lime)

            It is literally and legitimately no secret that I love cozy mysteries I read two of these books in a day each. I can devour cozy mysteries and I feel no shame about it. The next one doesn’t come out until April and that means that I just have to wait. I love Charm and the character of Everly is so much fun. The mysteries for sure take a little bit of a darker turn than usually a cozy mystery heroine faces, like there were near death experiences more than once in this series and that was a little jarring. Also, several of the killers have been female which for a murder mystery is not super common, the series is a lot of fun though and I am kind of unhappy that I have to wait because I read through these so fast. This is the exact reason that I am doing a TBR because otherwise I would just buy half the cozy mystery section at Barnes and Noble and not read any of the other books that I own. 

A Darker Shade of Magic (the series) by V.E. Schwab (the first two, so, A Darker Shade of Magic and A Gathering of Shadows)

            I have not read the third one yet, that is on my TBR for next year but I have not read it yet. So, no spoilers on the final book, I don’t want to know how it ends. I want to read it next year and enjoy it without spoilers. This series is one that has been on my TBR since about 2018? Or so. I honestly can’t remember when I added it to my TBR but I know that I am looking forward to and dreading reading the third one because then it’s over. This is the series that I have tried to tab, it went okay for the first one and then I couldn’t stop to put anything really in the second book because it was so good. I love the world of the different colored London’s, it’s fascinating to use a multidimensional travel scenario like this. It’s super good. (Yes, I know that is not a great sentence, but here we are and it’s staying.) I love the characters and the world building and I cannot wait to see how it all ends in A Conjuring of Light.

Kingdom of The Wicked (the series) by Kerri Maniscalco (both books, so Kingdom of The Wicked and Kingdom of The Cursed)

            I for sure am writing this post in sections because that’s who I am as a person and I finished these books super quick. I loved Kingdom of the Wicked and got sucked into Kingdom of the Cursed so fast that I could not put it down. I love Wrath and Emilia. I love the seven realms and everything that happens in the second one. So many plot twists. I am so excited for the next and final one to come out next year. The world, like the Stalking Jack the Ripper series is vivid, but this one is super magical and amazing. I feel like I am talking like a middle schooler as I talk about books I like. I don’t get to do it very frequently, so, here we are. The second one is a little spicy, it may not be for some readers but for me, it was.

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

            I watched the mini-series first and loved it, this book has been in my collection since before we moved to Arkansas, so it’s been in my library for at least four years if not longer. I loved the book, the series stuck pretty close to it and that made me so happy while I was reading the novel. It was a book that I read really early this year and then watched the series again because I wanted to. I wrote an entire blog post about the series and if you want to read that, you totally can. I love the characters and the pacing of the book itself because it is a week to the apocalypse and it needs to be stopped by an angel and a demon who are both so extra. 

Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian 

            This was my first Book of The Month and it was so good; it was one of those books where it hooks you in from the first line and then doesn’t let go. The first line talks about her drowning and I was hooked. There is mentions and instances of suicide and that’s not fun. It is a retelling of King Arthur’s court and it is phenomenal. So many twists and turns for characters that are so familiar to all of us. Merlin is shady in this one though, which is a departure from the normal mythos so that was fun. I spent the book thinking of the characters like the BBC show Merlin so that was amusing. 

The Ex Hex but Erin Sterling

            Fantasy and Romance, I loved this book, I wrote a whole post on it in November because it was my October Book of the Month, it was a really fun read and I saw someone online say it had no plot, it did. It was magic and a curse all started with a Bath and Body Works candle and too much alcohol. It was just so fun. I spent a lot of time laughing and a lot of time wondering what I had gotten myself into. I liked that magic kind of cohabitated with normal life in this one as well, it made the world feel much more real. 

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

            At the beginning of the year if you would have told me that two rom-com/romance books would be on my top ten list I would have laughed at you. Then I picked this book up and I regret waiting so long to read it. I read it in one day because I could not put it down. There are some tropes in this book that I actually really enjoyed and when the book was one of the September selections for Book of the Month I considered it, but the romance tag and the fact that they tagged it ‘salacious’ gave me pause and I read Rock, Paper, Scissors instead. I am so glad I got this one as an add-on for December though because it was amazing. It did get a little spicy, again for me, for most people it probably isn’t that bad. I loved it though, it had me closing it every few pages to silently laugh, so good. 

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

            I wholeheartedly blame BookTok for my want to read this and then I read it and I get the hype, I cannot wait to read the next one, I will probably go out and buy the rest of the series at some point soon just so I can have them when my fancy strikes me to read the next one. It was so good and felt very Beauty and The Beast to me, I loved the characters and all of the vivid imagery that were provided in this book. It is a slow start than then it gets so good. I have seen enough through BookTok that I know there are things that come up in later books that will make me dislike a character I currently like, (do not spoil it anymore for me!) If I could I would just read the rest of the series before going back to school at the beginning of January but I have met me and I need to sit with this one for a while before moving into the next one. (For some reason every time I am writing next in this post the next word that my brain wants to type is morning. I mean, writing problems?)

            There it is, my favorite books for 2021, I am writing this on Christmas but I don’t think I am going to have another book that can match up to this list and if there is there will be 11 on the list not ten. 

            I read so many books this year, finally tally is: (insert number here), my goal at the beginning of the year was 45. I found a bunch of books this year that pulled me out of a reading slump that lasted years. I love reading and it’s an expensive hobby, but it’s better than a lot of other hobbies I could have. Reading also makes you a better writer and I have written quite a bit this year, nothing like during 2020 because you know, lock down, but I am excited to really dig into my TBR list for next year because 2022 promises to be fun when it comes to what I am reading. 

            I can’t wait to do this post again next year and see what else I loved throughout the year. 

            I will see everyone later in the week with another post and until then I hope that everyone stays safe, happy, and healthy. 

            -MJ

Books I’ve Read So Far in 2021 #6: The Final Countdown

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            Yes, I do want everyone to start singing the song that corresponds with the title of this blog post. I cannot believe that 2021 is coming to a close, I am starting this post at the beginning of November with my first book after I finished my part five post. 

            If you want to see what else I have read this year, you totally can, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5. I will be doing one post a month next year because some of those posts were super long and I want to have less lengthy posts next year. I am trying and it’s going to be a lot, I am already planning blog posts for next year, so here we are. 

            This one is super long! I mean it’s really long and I’m sorry. I was not planning on reading like 14 books in December, but here we are and I am sorry.

            This might contain spoilers so if you want to read the book skip the blurb. 

            I bought a bunch of extra Book of The Month books because I have a book problem, it’s an expensive hobby, but it’s a lot better than other hobbies that I could be into.

            Like the last post in this series, I am hoping for about a dozen books (I was wrong and I am sorry!) on here and that will include the last two classics I have to read this year and that is the end of my TBR which is really cool, I just have to read them. 

Circe by Madeline Miller (4/5)

            Well, I read it in just a few days, I really enjoyed the book as a whole. Who doesn’t love Greek myths? I read The Odyssey in high school so hearing about a character that had a hand in that myth. It was easy to read and I spent a lot of time turning page after page because I couldn’t put it down. This was the Book of The Month book of the year in 2018 and this is one of those books that I have been seeing in Barnes and Noble for years and have been thinking about reading it. I am glad I did; Circe is such a multi-dimensional character and I loved how her story was told. If you like Greek myths, some feminism, magic, monsters, and some crazy situations; this is for sure the book for you. 

No Good Tea Goes Unpunished by Bree Baker (4/5)

            This is the second in the Seaside Café cozy mystery series and I didn’t need to start a new series this year but I read the first on in a day and I read well over half of this and finished it the day that I am writing this blurb. I love the characters of Charm and (spoiler alert) the two killers have been ladies, which I feel like for cozies and real life, not as common and I loved it. I have a character now that I really don’t like, but we aren’t supposed to like him. We don’t root for him, at least I don’t. I cannot wait to read the next one and I probably will before the end of the month. I have my Book of the Month book and another book or two to read first before diving back into Everly’s world. Seriously, this book was so fun and I cannot tell you how much I am loving this series so far. 

The Keeper of Night by Kylie Lee Baker (4.3/5)

            I wrote a whole post on this. It was really good and I cannot wait to read the second one, there were a lot of twists and turns with some really amazing and vivid imagery. If you want to read the actual post about it you totally can because it’s already posted so if you want to know more about this book then I suggest you click on the link here and go over and read that one! 

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco (5/5)

            I read it in two days, I could not put it down. I know that this book made it’s rounds on TikTok but I picked it up because I have read the other series that Kerri Maniscalco wrote which was Stalking Jack the Ripper, I read the entire series this year because it was also amazing. This one was vivid and amazing. Wrath and Emilia make such a great team and the ending made me want to keep reading so I will be going to Barnes and Noble tomorrow and picking it up because I really want to read it. I love stories with family, magic, a curse, and the sometimes blurring lines between light and dark. It pulled me in from about chapter two and I could not put it down. I read half of the book yesterday and the other half today. Lots of blood mentioned and murders so if you aren’t cool with that, I would skip this one, but honestly, I wouldn’t skip it, it’s amazing. Apparently the second book is spicy and I don’t know how I feel about it but with the plot of this one, I want to read it. 

Tide and Punishment by Bree Baker (4/5)

            This is exactly why I chose to do a TBR this year because otherwise it would be a lot of cozies, and while I love cozies, I can go through them in two days if I have the time read. Spoiler alert, another lady killer. That I kind of predicted when I started this because of the pattern from the last two. I love Charm, I also really love cozies so there is no shock that I love a small town with a fun heroine who has a really close family. I also love Hallmark movies so it should shock no one. I am already excited to read the next one and that will be shortly, I just want to read some cozies because I haven’t gotten to read many this year because of my TBR. I am still doing a TBR next year and cozies will be threaded through the list as well as at the end because I will have the time with no real plan on reading or a list to go on. I cannot wait to read the next one and see where it goes from where this one left off. 

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides (3/5)

            I am going to preface this with not every book is meant for everybody and that is totally cool. This book was fine, I didn’t love it and I didn’t hate it. I felt like I was reading about three different books at the same time. There are a lot of what felt like throw away moments, and holy mother of plot twists Batman. I don’t think I mean that in a good way either. Like I did not see the ending coming, well I kind of did I made a joke early (super spoiler) what if her dead husband was the murderer and I wasn’t super off. It was a lot, I cannot describe how much of a lot that it is, it was a really interesting premise of making someone feel like they are insane, it just wasn’t one of my favorites and that is totally okay. I have read 60 books this year, I am allowed to not be head over heels for all of them. I am also pretty new to reading thrillers for fun and again, not every book is for everybody. What I like and dislike are very different from what other people like and dislike and we can all agree that books are great, but there are books that are out there that may wow us while other people dislike them and vice versa. It’s okay, this one was just not for me in my current life stage and in my current reading and genre habits, and that is okay. 

A Call for Kelp by Bree Baker (4/5)

            Can y’all tell I am pretty much finished with mt TBR for the year, look I found all the cozies. I was not planning on opening up this document for the second day in a row, but here we are. I read this in one day (I’m on Thanksgiving break, so I have the time.) It was really good; I love the story and the characters and the very near-death experiences that Everly finds herself getting into. This one was really good and (spoiler alert!) the killer in this one was not a woman which I was cool with. This one for sure did keep me guessing the whole time I was reading it and I am a sucker for a good relationship. I love the built relationship of Everly and Grady, it’s so much fun. Seriously, read the whole book in one day and I need to stop doing that, but here we are anyway. I’m also now rooting for the person that I didn’t want to root for when he was introduced in the second of the series (No Good Tea Goes Unpunished) I like him now that he is not a potential suitor. I am reading at least another book or two before I read the next one in this series because if I don’t, I will read four books this week and I just don’t want to. Seriously amazing series though, if you like cozies I would for sure give this one a try. 

Last Summer at The Golden Hotel by Elyssa Friedland (3.6/5)

            Another Book of the Month add-on because I have a problem. I liked this one. It’s all about family and how secrets can rip a family apart. It reminded me of Not a Happy Familybut with less murder. I read it in a day and a half because I just needed a second full day of reading during my Thanksgiving Break. It was fun and it was a good story, it took me some time to get into it but when I did, I couldn’t put it down. There are so many tangled relationships and family drama that is evident throughout that it felt like I was watching a movie and I for sure would watch this movie. I wish the dog was in it more though, he felt like an afterthought and that was a little weird. I completely forgot for a while that he was even a character in the story and then he disappeared? I’m not really sure maybe I missed something but it was a fun what a lot of people call a beach read.  

A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab (4.9/5)

            This is the second in the Darker Shade of Magic series, I loved it so much. I read it in like four days, I think. I know that’s not super quick but I have read enough books this year that I wanted to actually savor reading a longer book instead of blowing through another one. This one was amazing, I loved the Element Games, the dynamics shifting, and all of the characters that were featured. I cannot wait to read the next one, and it is on my TBR for next year so that’s really exciting. I love the characters and I will be reading a few V.E. Schwab books next year including A Conjuring of Light and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue. There were so many twists and turns in this book and it left me on a cliff hanger, I have had so many cliff hangers this year and all I want to do is read the next one; like right now. I am not going to read it right now because I want to space out my reading. If you want to see what I thought about A Darker Shade of Magic, you totally can. Also, I still want Kell’s coat, I think that was such a cool idea.

Closely Harbored Secrets by Bree Baker (4.3/5)

            Seriously, I told y’all that there would be a bunch of cozies throughout the end of the year, and there sure are. I literally just ordered two more because I have a problem. Some people love romance, I love a good cozy mystery. This one was amazing; I figured the killer out in this one most of the way through the book because I binged like 250 pages in one day. Again, I have a problem. Everly and Grady are probably one of my top five cozy mystery couples. They are amazing and this book really showed that they are meant to be, no spoilers. I loved the little add ins of the ghosts and the unraveling of a centuries old story. It was so good; I could not put it down and I found myself smiling through most of the book even though for a certain part I wanted to throw it against a wall because I was upset with a certain turn of events. I cannot wait to read the next one and then have to wait until April for the follow up. I really do hope that this series is nowhere near completion because I need some Sun, Sand, and Tea in my life. 

Kingdom of the Cursed by Kerri Maniscalco (5/5)

            I am going to preface this one with, I should have tabbed both of the ones in this series, when I do my re-read I will, because there were lines in this one that had me rolling with laughter and I want to go back and read them over and over again. This was a little spicy, I will not lie about that but I could not put it down. I cannot wait for the final installment in the trilogy with the cliffhanger this book left it on. I loved all the princes and all of the crazy twists and turns in this book. I read it in like three days just because I have to be a person. This one is one of my top books of the year because it was just so good. I would suggest this series to anyone and everyone, the imagery is amazing, the characters are amazing and sarcastic and I love them, and the world building it is amazing. This for sure is a lot of moral grey area and it’s so fun. I laughed so much while reading this and I really do regret tabbing this book; next time. I rarely re-read books but some of the books I have read this year for sure deserve a re-read in the future. 

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (3.5/5)

            I love pretty much every retelling of this story and I finally read it. Half of the Christmas movies that I own are retellings of this quintessential Christmas novel. I read the whole thing in like an hour. It was only like 68 pages for the Dover Thrift edition so it was not a hard read. I don’t know how it’s taken me this long to read it because it’s one of those things that is so much a part of our popular culture that I have no idea how I haven’t read it before now even though I have heard the story over and over again in cartoons, in TV shows, and in films. 

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint (3.5/5)

            This book was good, this is the second Greek mythos-based novel that is in this specific post since I started it with Circe. It was not my favorite book ever; it was good though. It got sad and I will for sure say if you are averse to mentions of suicide or the death of children, maybe don’t. It was a quick read when I actually got into it. I don’t really have much to say about it, it made me a little sad and a little confused and then there was some weird stuff. 

The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox (3.5/5)

            Do you want to read a Hallmark movie? This is for sure the book for you. I wrote a whole post on it that will be out at the beginning of January so if you want to know my more in-depth details on it, go read it over there. I have read 68 books this year so far and they can’t all be my favorites. 

The Complete Sherlock Holmes Volume 2 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (3/5)

            I skimmed it; I feel bad about that but reading ten classics in a year was as mistake especially when two of them were over 600 pages. I love Sherlock Holmes but like I said with the first one; I should have read it as an audiobook. I will probably do that eventually, just listen to it because I think I would enjoy it so much more. It was a good book, but it was just long and I couldn’t find the strength in myself to read it completely all the way through. I skimmed and I hate skimming books because each novel deserves your complete attention. It’s Sherlock Holmes and the character and stories are amazing, but reading it was hard and I just couldn’t get interested and gripped by it like I do with most of the books I read. It is a masterwork of fiction, that is no lie, it just was difficult to get through. 

Partners in Line by Bree Baker (4/5)

            This one was really good, I for sure had moments where I wanted to throw it across a room because of Everly and Grady, I love them but I got mad a little throughout this one. I cannot wait for the next one to come out because I need to know what happens next. I loved this whole story and I honestly didn’t guess the killer until it was revealed and I love a cozy mystery where I am guessing until it’s all over. I love how her relationship with Wyatt has changed and progressed through this series because when he showed up, I hated him. This book shocked me at a certain point that I don’t want to spoil so I am not going to say it but I was upset. This one was a lot, it was a good a lot but it was a lot. 

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood (5/5)

            I read it in pretty much one sitting, like I only took breaks to go to the bathroom, let the dogs I am dog sitting out, and eat; I could not put it down. This was one of those books that blew up and I could have gotten it for a Book of The Month in September, I got it as an add-on this month. I regret, whole-heartedly regret not reading it sooner. I found my new favorite funny book quote in this book and that is, ‘carry yourself with the confidence of a mediocre white man’ I laughed so much while reading this book and it does get a touch spicy, but I could not put it down. It was fun and pretty much every other page through at least the first half of the book had me closing it so I could laugh silently or like a dog squeaky toy. I love a good grumpy and sunshine trope relationship and this one, it was so fun and so good. I loved the characters and just everything about it, it hooked me from the first page and didn’t let me go until I closed the book. 

The Falcon Always Wings Twice by Donna Andrews (4/5)

            I have been waiting to read this one because my Barnes and Noble just never got it, shame on them. The Love Hypothesis gave me a little bit of a book hangover so it took me like three days to read this one. It was good, I love all the characters in Meg’s world since I have been reading this series since like 2016. I have all of them that are out at the moment if they are out in paperback because you know that your girl like paperback more than hard cover if I can manage it. I loved the ren faire and I honestly didn’t figure out who the killer was until like a chapter before it was revealed, I had my suspicions but other than that, no idea. I hopefully will get the next one read before the end of the year as well because that’s just who I am as a person. The next book I am reading it a BookTok favorite so pray for me. 

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (5/5)

            Well, I am way behind the times on this one but BookTok introduced it to me and here we are. I read most of it in a day, I just didn’t have the motivation to read and then it got good and I know why everyone loves Rhys. It is totally worth the hype with a very Beauty and The Beast feel mixed in with a mad queen and ridiculousness throughout. I could not put it down once I got into it and I feel like all of my favorite books this year have been fantasy. I have always loved fantasy and from everything I have seen on TikTok about this book I am for sure in for a rollercoaster. It took a while for me to get into it but when I did, man, I read from chapter 15 (pg 131) to the end of the book. So many twists and turns and so much going on, I cannot wait to crack into the second one at some point in the new year. I probably won’t wait to read it and that just means that the free choices on my TBR might be a little out of order. 

Gift of The Magpie by Donna Andrews (4.3/5)

            This one had a happy ending! I was so happy. Normally you don’t like the people who dies, I loved this book, it was so good and so happy. I love a good Christmas cozy mystery. I love meg and her cast of characters; I have been reading the books for years so it’s like a weird extended family and I love them. This one was back in Caerphilly and I missed the townsfolk that I have learned to love so much since I started reading the series. It’s number like 30 in the series and finding the earlier ones is hard if you want a physical copy, but it’s so worth reading like all of them because I love the characters and let’s be honest Spike, he steals the show constantly. I remember reading the first one and not knowing exactly what was going on, and now these characters are so familiar to me and they are all amazing. I read this one in one day and I am hoping to get like three more books read by the end of the year. 

In A Holidaze by Christina Lauren (4/5)

            It was cute, it was a Hallmark movie meets Groundhog Day, I read it all in one day. It was a super quick read but I wanted to keep reading it so I did. This was book 75 this year and I really rather enjoyed it, I was not sure if I was going to, but I love a good romantic comedy and this was a lot. I like the mechanic that she was reliving the same day or week over and over again trying to find happiness. It was really fast paced and so fun. The Epilogue, like the one in The Holiday Swap probably could have been left out, but that’s just me. I like a good wrap up but I also like the unknown when it comes to books, letting the reader make their own conclusions. It was a really cute book though. 

Petals and Poison by Jess Dylan (3.5/5)

            I read the first one earlier in the year and I honestly can’t remember much of it. It was a fun little book but the ending left me meh, it was kind of anticlimactic and that’s a little odd for a cozy mystery. I like the development of the characters and this is only the second book in the series. I know that the next one comes out next year and I’ll read it because I like the characters and the story. This one was fine, it was absolutely fine. 

Absence of Mallets by Kate Carlisle (4/5)

            I bookended the year with two of her books! That’s so weird and exciting. I love Shannon and I found myself really enjoying this ninth installment of her series. She’s a lady carpenter and that is so important because girls can build stuff too. I seriously have walked through a Home Depot and a Lowe’s and had guys ask me if I know what I am looking for and I just want to do the Ron Swanson thing from Parks and Rec when he says “I know more than you” sometimes. I loved the story and I still hate Whitney, this one had a lot of subterfuge but I figured out the killer kind of early on, so either I am getting better at picking out the killer or this one was a fluke. It was good though, a nice short read for my final book of 2021.

            Can y’all tell by this post that I am 100% a mood reader? I read what I want to, that is 98% the reason that I have decided I have to do a TBR every year because otherwise I would not read any of the books I own. I would just read what I want and that means buying more books. While I will still buy all sorts of books (thanks BookTok) I need to stick to at least part of a list. I need to go through the books that I own and unhaul the ones I don’t want.

            Speaking of unhauling, I normally don’t, normally I keep every book I read. This year because I read so many and I know that I will never crack them open again I am just going to get rid of them. I am not going to tell y’all which books I am unhauling but there are about eight from this year. I am not saying them because for some people those might be their favorite books and my favorite books might be ones they hate. We are all allowed to like and dislike books and stuff without hatred or malice, I promise. We all like what we like and that’s okay. 

            As I did last year, here is a picture of all the books I read this year except four, one that is my mother’s and is at her house, and three that I read at school. This is my Book Stack and I couldn’t put it in one pile without it falling over, so two piles this year. Spoiler alert about a minute after I took this picture the stack on the right fell over and half of it ended up on the windowsill behind it which was funny. 

            By the time that this post comes out, I had to move some things around so it’s the beginning of January, Happy 2022! I am hopefully halfway or completely done with my first book of the year. 

            I am hoping to hit 70 books again in 2022 but I am not holding myself to that goal, my TBR is at 50 so my GoodReads goal will start at 50 as well because then I can just go up from there. In like July of 2021 I told my mom I had another 20 books on my TBR and she questioned if I could do it (my mother reads a lot more than I do) and I took that as a challenge so I read almost 40 more. 

            Alright, I think that’s enough because this post is super-duper long and that is part of the reason that I am doing monthly next year not bi-monthly. Too much. I will be back later in the week with another post so until then, I hope that everyone stays safe, happy, and healthy!

            -MJ 

Let’s keep track shall we?:

Classics:  10/10 (Alice in WonderlandTuck EverlastingThe Secret Garden, Dracula, The Complete Sherlock Holmes Volume 1, A Confederate Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Peter Pan, Frankenstein, A Christmas Carol, The Complete Sherlock Holmes Volume 2)

Historical Fiction:  5/5 (The Painted Girls, The Last Days of NightThe Marlowe Papers, Everyone Brave is Forgiven, West of Sunset)

Sci-Fi/Fantasy:  5/5 (A Conspiracy of Alchemists, Dream LondonSoulless, The Starless Sea, Good Omens)

General Fiction:  5/5 (The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris, Me Before You, All is Fair in Love and Cupcakes, Bridget Jones’s Diary)

Memoirs/Autobiographies: 2/2 (Yes, Please and Scrappy Little Nobody)

Non-Fiction:  1/1 (Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire)

Thrillers (one is non-fiction because I am an idiot, but it’s still thrilling): 2/2 (I, Ripper and Depraved

Free Choice:  15/15 (Eaves of Destruction, A Wrench in the WorksShot Through the Hearth, Stalking Jack the Ripper, Premeditated Mortar, Hunting Prince Dracula, Death in Bloom, A Study in Darkness, Escaping from Houdini, The Dalek Generation, Live and Let Chai, A Grave Matter, A Darker Shade of Magic, Capturing the Devil, Star Wars: The Last Jedi)

Book of the Month (late addition): 6/6 (Half Sick of Shadows, Not A Happy Family, Rock Paper Scissors, The Ex Hex, The Keeper of Night, The Holiday Swap)

Extra’s (books I read during my TBR and after I finish it): 21/21 (how?) (See Something, Idiot, A Tale of Two Cookies, Circe, No Good Tea Goes Unpunished, Kingdom of the Wicked, Tide and Punishment, The Maidens, A Call for Kelp, A Gathering of Shadows, Closely Harbored Secrets, Kingdom of the Cursed, Ariadne, Partners in Lime, The Love Hypothesis, The Falcon Always Wings Twice, A Court of Thorns and Roses, Gift of the Magpie, In A Holidaze, Petals and Poison, Absence of Mallets)

Books I’ve Read So Far in 2021 Part #5

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            How is it that I am already writing the fifth installment of this series? That feels impossible. 2021 had been a whirlwind and I can’t believe it is already the end of October. As usual I am writing this post incrementally so it is the first of September when I am writing this first blurb. 

            I feel like I have read so many books this year and I really have because I haven’t just been reading cozy mysteries. I am actually reading from a To Be Read pile which is weird and exciting because it means that I am finally getting books off my shelves that have been there since college. 

I am missing one here because I lent it out and haven’t gotten it back yet!

            If you want to check out what else I have read this year, you totally can, just click on the part and it’ll take you to those posts. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 (which is really long so prepare yourself.)

            I am hoping that this list has about a dozen on it, unlike part 4 which had 17 books. That is so many books and I probably should have split it out. Maybe next year I will put a limit on the post, like if one month has over 7 it gets its own post. I don’t know if I will do that, but it was a lot to read in one sitting for one post. 

The Painted Girl by Cathy Marie Buchanan (2.8/5)

            This is my last TBR historical fiction this year, which is crazy to think that I have finished one of my categories. It’s really exciting though. This book was a lot, I read three historical fictions in a row and that is super taxing on my brain. I need some modern in my life even just for a moment. It was good though, not my absolute favorite, but still good. Each chapter split the perspective between two sisters, which is an interesting writing device. There was a lot of drama and as one of my teaching friends put it, ‘It’s historical fiction, wait til it gets sad.’ It got sad and confusing. I love Edgar Degas, I love impressionist and post-impressionist art. I have a magnet of The Dancer on my fridge. I have been to the Art Institute in Chicago and seen his work. I thought when I bought this book it would be more about him, it really wasn’t. It was fine, I bought it in like 2014 or 2015 so my tastes have changed since then, but if you like 1880’s Paris, the ballet, a family struggle, and painting; it might be for you. 

A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz (3.5/5)

            Alright, I liked this one. It was a little romantic, a lot of adventure, and a strong female character. I don’t think that I can ask for much more in a book. I mean really. I have had this book for at least five years and my mom read it before I did. I plan on adding the sequel to my list of books to read next year and eventually getting the third and final one as well. I liked it though, it took me a minute to get into it and then I read 40 chapters in 2 days and the last 16 on the third day. It was twists and turns and actions, betrayals, and a spark that kept me wanting to read it. If you are into steampunk and magic, I for sure would recommend this one. This is also my fourth historical thing in a row and I need a break. So here I am loving fantasy like always and ready to read the next one next year because I cannot wait to see what happens with Marsh and Elle. 

Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney (3.9/5)

            This book blew my mind. It was so much you guys, so much. I really enjoyed it though. I wrote a whole dedicated post on it because that’s what I do for Book of The Month and I enjoy doing it that way. I know that it is kind of annoying to have to click to another blog post to read a full review, but that’s how we do it around here. It was a thriller and I am still reeling from it, everyone is crazy, there is a billion secrets, and you will not believe how everything unfolds. It’s crazy and that’s all I’m going to say about it. 

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender (2.8/5)

            It was a good story, that’s what I need say first and foremost. I liked the story, but the formatting had me having trouble reading it. There were no quotation marks and that was hard for my brain to comprehend and process. I desperately wanted to go and take a pen to it as I read to put in the marks myself. I liked the premise when I picked up the book, it sounded amazing and then I read a review online about six months after I purchased it where the person doing the review also complained about the lack of quotation marks. Again, the story was great but the formatting made it difficult to follow along at points. 

A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (5/5)

            So good, I really enjoyed this book. I have been following the author online for a few years now and this book has been on my to be read list for a lot longer than I would like to admit. I hate that I waited so long to read it, especially since The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is the second book on my TBR for next year. I have heard so many good things about this book and I was not disappointed. I want to go out and buy the other two like tomorrow even though I don’t know when I am going to get around to reading them. I loved the story and the characters, the twists and turns of all the London’s in the story. I have seen the opening line about Kell’s coat on the internet for years now and reading that line for myself was exciting. I loved it so much, if you like fantasy, magic, and just a touch of sass this is for sure a book for you. I actually tabbed this book and I am not great at it yet, but I’m trying. 

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (3/5)

            I grew up on the Disney version of this story. I grew up on the Disney versions of a lot of classical stories and this was for sure different than the Disney version. All the big things are still there and it was a good story. It was only like 160 pages long and it took me like four days to read because classical literature is dense. I say that with every classic I read. I am still working on Sherlock Holmes Volume 2 and at this point I will be lucky to finish it by the end of the year. That’s the goal folks, the end of the year. I did enjoy the book, it, like a lot of Victorian literature is tragic and a little dark. I have another retelling of Peter Pan called The Child Thief and I started reading it in high school and never finished it. I plan on reading it eventually, I promise. So, there is it another classic to tick off my list and that is so exciting at this point. 

See Something by Carol J. Perry (3.8/5)

            I wasn’t planning on reading a cozy right now, I was planning on reading a non-fiction that I though was a fiction because I am an idiot. That will be the next on the list. I read this one because I was at my parents for a few days and needed something non-hard cover to read on the bike. I chose this one. I loved it; it was so much fun but by now everyone knows that I love a good cozy mystery. I love the Witch City Mysteries because they are just slightly magical. It’s not an overarching theme, it’s just part of Lee’s life. I don’t want to spoil anything but something in this book is a long time coming and it made me smile like and idiot for like a minute and a half last night when I finished it. I can’t wait for the next one because I love these characters, I love the series, and I can’t wait to see what happens next in Lee’s life. Well, all the things that will happen next in Lee’s life. 

Depraved by Harold Schechter (3/5)

            First book of October, how is that possible. I bought this book years ago and I thought at the time that it was fiction; because apparently, I cannot read. I can read, that is proved by the fact that I have read like 48 books this year according to my Good Reads list. It was a really interesting story though, I love turn of the century true crime, who doesn’t like Jack the Ripper or H.H. Holmes. He was a devious and devilish sort of man. He was the devil in the White City, I know there is a book by that name as well that I want to read eventually. I think that serial killers are fascinating, let me rephrase that, I think that long dead serial killers are fascinating. It’s a true account of everything that he did from arriving near Chicago to his trial and hanging. (It’s not a spoiler, it was over 100 years ago, calm down.) It was such an interesting and diabolical story all wrapped up in the glamour and hardship of the later 19th century. Normally to me non-fiction is dry, but this book kept me turning page after page because it didn’t read like a non-fiction it read like a story and who doesn’t love a good story. 

Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco (4/5)

            I cannot believe that this is the last in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. It was a little spicier than I am used to with this series. It was so good though, there were so many twists and turns throughout the book and it didn’t take me long to read. This series conclusion was absolutely phenomenal and I will one day read the whole thing again, yes that’s right this series deserves a re-read and I am planning on tabbing the books the second time I go through them. I loved how everything wrapped up and man this one had me on the edge of my seat for longer than I am used to with a book. After finishing Depraved this was a really good fictional telling of the horrors of H.H. Holmes and the murder castle. The imagery in this, like all the others, is very vivid and I could not have asked for a better wrap up to Audrey Rose and Thomas’s story. 

The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling (4.3/5)

            Well, BoTM told me it was fantasy, it’s also romance. I wrote a whole blog post on this that will be out next month. I am not going to spend a lot of time on this here. I loved it, even though it did get a little saucy. I was laughing so hard throughout the book and it was such a cute little campy story. I really do want a shirt that says ‘Never mix vodka and witchcraft’. 

Star Wars: The Last Jedi by Jason Fry (3/5)

            I did not grow up a Star Wars fan, it just wasn’t a part of my life. I knew about all of it of course because I was a child when the prequels came out. Truth be told I didn’t watch all of the prequels until last year or the year before. I like Star Wars and I didn’t hate the new trilogy, I liked it. I know a lot of people hated it though and that’s totally fine, that’s your opinion. I watched the movies and I like to read novelizations of movies; I always have and this was just another in the list of books that I have read that were movies first. It’s The Last Jedi which I know a lot of people hated, I know that because I am a human on the internet and that means that I get to see everyone’s opinions of everything all of the time. It’s a quick read and I enjoyed seeing a different side of what I had already seen on film. I don’t complain about many books and this was fun, it was a good retelling that gave a little more information and that’s all I can ask for. 

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (3/5)

            Reading this many classics this year was a mistake, like a huge one because I am not actually enjoying them. Classic literature is just not my cup of tea and I still have two more to read and Sherlock Holmes is one of them and I crave death. This is one of my best friend’s favorite books and I didn’t really like it. I liked the concept but it was just a lot. I found myself skimming it and being bored with it even though Frankenstein’s monster is such a popular character. The classic horror character is not articulate like the creature in the book so that was fun. It was sad and there was a lot of death which made it hard to read. It also had a fairly ambiguous ending and as someone who likes a conclusion that made me itch a little bit. I think this is another one of those books where if I listened to it as an audio book I would have probably been a lot more invested but just reading it didn’t do it for me. 

Idiot by Laura Clery (4/5)

            I was one of many people to absolutely die laughing while watching some of her sketches on Facebook, she’s so funny and this memoir is so honest. I don’t know what it’s like to have an addiction, I have a lot of it in the family though. I read this entire book in a day because I couldn’t put it down. As someone who grew up near Chicago on the Indiana side, I understood the humor of staying in the town you grew up in. I did not, but many of my classmates did. Her humor is not for everyone, but that is how comedy works. It’s not universal, not everyone finds the same styles of humor funny, I just like funny people. If there is any sort of self-deprecating humor, that is my kind of funny. It was a good read and I will eventually read her sequel to this novel, but that will be a little ways down the road. 

A Tale of Two Cookies by Eve Calder (4/5)

            I am taking a break from my TBR because it’s just two classics and I will be done but I don’t want to read A Christmas Carol until December and Sherlock Holmes the daunting size of that book has me craving death. This one though, I have had this book since it came out and I was going to read it earlier in the year, but my mom was reading it so I couldn’t and then I got busy with my TBR. I read the first two in the series back-to-back in November of last year and I could not put them down. This was another great example of that even though I had to pace myself on this one because it’s been a long week. I love Kate and the inhabitants of Coral Cay. This is a more unconventional cozy, most of the cozies have the main lead (usually female) in the room with the killer, this has much more fun endings to it, the person still gets caught, but it doesn’t involve violence. I really like that about the book, I also would love to experience Coral Cay for myself because the picture of this little community is so vivid throughout the novel and I cannot wait for the next one, I want to see how Kate gets on with everything that’s going on and I want to continue to experience this fun little beach town over and over again. 

            I kind of forgot that I needed to wrap this post up when I was finished with it. I am posting this on Halloween and I am in the middle of reading another book, which should shock no one. I’m really enjoying it, but it will be not on my TBR because the only two books left on my TBR, as I mentioned in the last blurb and two classics and I need to actually read things beyond that. I am almost done which is so hard to believe but I for sure had a goal of 45 books this year and I have read 54 so I think I have hit my goal.

            I will be back in the middle of the week with another post so until then I hope everyone has a great start to their week and Happy Halloween! 

            -MJ

Let’s keep track shall we?:

Classics:  8/10 (Alice in WonderlandTuck EverlastingThe Secret Garden, Dracula, The Complete Sherlock Holmes Volume 1, A Confederate Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, Peter Pan, Frankenstein,)

Historical Fiction:  5/5 (The Painted Girls, The Last Days of NightThe Marlowe Papers, Everyone Brave is Forgiven, West of Sunset)

Sci-Fi/Fantasy:  5/5 (A Conspiracy of Alchemists, Dream LondonSoulless, The Starless Sea, Good Omens)

General Fiction:  5/5 (The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris, Me Before You, All is Fair in Love and Cupcakes, Bridget Jones’s Diary)

Memoirs/Autobiographies: 2/2 (Yes, Please and Scrappy Little Nobody)

Non-Fiction:  1/1 (Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire)

Thrillers (one is non-fiction because I am an idiot, but it’s still thrilling): 2/2 (I, Ripper and Depraved

Free Choice:  15/15 (Eaves of Destruction, A Wrench in the WorksShot Through the Hearth, Stalking Jack the Ripper, Premeditated Mortar, Hunting Prince Dracula, Death in Bloom, A Study in Darkness, Escaping from Houdini, The Dalek Generation, Live and Let Chai, A Grave Matter, A Darker Shade of Magic, Capturing the Devil, Star Wars: The Last Jedi)

Book of the Month (late addition): 3/6 (Half Sick of Shadows, Not A Happy Family, Rock Paper Scissors, The Ex Hex)

Extra’s (books I read during my TBR and after I finish it): 2/? (See Something, Idiot, A Tale of Two Cookies)

Books I’ve Read in 2021 Part #4

Hey hey, it’s MJ, 

         So here was are in the last days of August or the early days of September. I am starting this at the beginning of July and I am hoping that by the time that this is posted I have read like a lot. I have over half of the books I want to read this year still currently sitting on a shelf. I am so hoping by the time that this goes up on the blog that I have made a significant dent in that list. 

         This year is for sure overall different from my book habits of years of the past, I actually have a To Be Read pile, I usually just read what I want. That’s why last year I read 20 cozy mysteries. I have well over 100 books in my collection that I have had forever and not read, so for now those are going to take precedence. That will also be true for next year and the year after as I have already picked the books I plan on reading, at least some part of them. 

         Well here I am with the fourth of six of these posts this year and hoping that there is like a dozen books on this list because I need to read more. If you want to know what else I have read this year you can click on the number and it’ll take you to that post: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Soulless by Gail Carriger (3/5)     

I have had this book in my collection since late 2014 and so it’s moved with me a few times and I have another book by the same author that really sparked my interest in reading her work. Soulless was very funny and by now everyone should know how much I love Victorian England. This was much more my taste in 2014-2015 with supernatural creatures and all of that. I liked a lot of the characters, but I don’t know if I will read the rest of the series because there were some parts that were a little much for my sensibilities. I don’t read romance any more, I used to, but not so much now. There are some characters in this book that had me rolling with laughter while there were some parts where I just skipped or skimmed. That is really just my personal taste in books though, it was cute and a fun story to read with an interesting mystery element. That all being said I don’t know if I will continue to read the series, I know I said that already but I feel it needs to be said again. I love an outspoken main female lead especially when it’s written in this time period, but for me if you want a strong female lead in this time period without the more adult content I really would suggest the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. 

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave (3.5/5)

         I liked the book, World War 2 era Britain, very interesting. I will say this, I did not like the n word used so much, I know that it was common place at that time and historically accurate, but not super great to the modern ear. I liked the book otherwise. I love a good love story that is touching and can be tear filled when necessary. Love is war and war is hell. I had a number of family members serve in World War 2, my paternal grandfather was a gunner on the USS Pensacola, and according to him when he was alive, he was the only one on his gun that survived. My paternal great uncle, my grandfather’s brother, my Uncle Jack, was a Marine and lived the rest of his life with a drinking problem. My maternal grandfather was an army doctor on the front lines in France, he never talked about the war. My maternal great uncle, my other Uncle Jack, was in a field hospital in London, also a doctor. I can’t imagine what World War 2 was like, I have only seen it through the lens of history in both fictional and non-fictional accounts. This book was good, it mixed characters and struggle, and hardship, but also love and commitment. It was good. 

The Complete Sherlock Holmes Volume 1 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (2.5 (because it was so long)/5)

         This took me like a month to read, it was so much. I love Sherlock Holmes, I have read a number of books that use this character, I have watched movies and TV shows and I love the character. This book was so long though, I found myself skimming it and I never skim books. I wish that it was split a little differently but that’s what I get for buying the Barnes and Noble versions in 2012. If it was split out a little more I think I would have enjoyed it much more than I did. 

Dream London by Tony Ballantyne (3/5)

         It was weird, it was good, and interesting. I feel like I don’t really have words to describe this book. It took me some time to get into and then I read like 300 pages in a day. I am not used to reading books from a male point of view, usually the narrator or main character is female. I have had this book in my collection since I was in college, the first time. (I have two bachelors and a masters, so I have been through a lot of schooling.) It was good when I got into it, and I loved how the chapters were titled. (you will just have to see for yourself if you want to) I love the idea of something starting to change the city that you are living in, the theme kind of reminded me Annihilation, which I read about this time last year. When I say this, I mean in regard for something happening to a place that was normal before and no one is sure why. It’s vivid and a little confusing, but the story is meant to be confusing and rushed. There is a lot of swearing so if you are sensitive to that, this may not be the book for you. I’ve been watching Loki and for some reason Angel Tower and that whole concept reminded me of the show, again, I don’t know why, but it did. 

A Study in Darkness by Emma Jane Holloway (3.6/5)

         This is the second book in the trilogy and I read the first one in January of 2016, I remember enjoying it, but I don’t remember much about the story. Which was a problem as I read this one, I really did enjoy it though. It puts a twist on Jack the Ripper for sure and I have now read what feels like a half dozen books this year where Jack the Ripper is a figure. It’s very strange to have that much contact in different novels with one true crime character. Though I have read a lot of Victorian era fiction this year, so I should not be surprised. I read this book in 4 days I think, it was just really good if you like steam punk and Sherlock Holmes. I plan on reading the third and final novel in the series next year as one of my free choice books because I have had the series for at least 5 years now and I actually need to get things read that I have in my current collection. 

The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber (1.5/5)

         I liked the subject matter and the content of the book, however, I didn’t like how it was written. It was written in verse and while I thought that would be cool, I feel like I absorbed almost nothing. It made it a very quick read because I read this book after finishing A Study in Darkness. I love the conspiracy theory that Shakespeare wasn’t a real person, that it was someone else who wrote all of his plays under a pen name, it’s fascinating. It was an interesting read, but the form of the book itself and how it was written in verse made it difficult for me to read. I like a novel, I love a good book of poetry, but I am not a huge fan of a book written in the form of many poems. It’s just not for me, it might be for you and that’s super cool. I read the back and thought how cool it sounded, I didn’t look into the book before buying it at least a few years ago, I also missed two critical words in the synopsis on the back, in verse. This would be a really good audio book, I don’t listen to audio books, but this, like a play should probably be read to you; you should listen to it. I now want to do more research on Christopher Marlowe because I know very little about him and this book did give me some understanding, but also confusion because I didn’t absorb much of what I was reading.  

A Confederate Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain (2/5)

         This one also took me almost a month to read and I feel like I didn’t gain much from reading this book. I know that I should like the classics, but they are a little hard to read with a modern ear. Sometimes it’s books like this that also need to be read aloud and listened to. I love Arthurian legends, who doesn’t? It was an interesting premise, bringing someone from the 19th century into the sixth and allowing modern (well modern at the time of writing the novel) technology to be implemented. It would be like going back to the time of the American Revolution and bringing cell phones and Wi-Fi, you would probably be burned as a witch. I did skim some of it because I was finding myself bored, I don’t like to be bored when I am reading a book and I was reading two at a time this month trying to make up for the fact that I have not read enough books so far this year. We all had to read something by Mark Twain in high school, where I went we read Tom Sawyer, I SparkNoted it and 11 years removed from high school, I can say that with no shame. Mark Twain, while a cherished American writer, is a little dry for me. 

Escaping From Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco (4/5)

         I did not think that I would be reopening this document for the fourth time this week and the second time today, but here I am. I could not put this one down, I really couldn’t. I love this series, it’s now one of my favorite series and I only have one more book left in it and I’m salty about that. It was so good, it reminded me of The Night Circus which is my favorite book. I love circus and carnival stuff themed around this era of Victorian England. I love Aubrey and Thomas and this novel got a little interesting with the added intrigue of the ringmaster, if you want to find out his name read the book, I promise it’s worth it. I read it in three days and I do not regret it, though I do because that means I’m ¾ of the way done with the series and that I am not okay with. I didn’t pick the killer, I never do in her books and it sets up the next one so well with a certain turn of the century serial killer. I am so excited to read the next one, though that will probably be in November or December because I have a number of books stacked up in front of it. I love the Tarot cards that are illustrated at the end of the novel and I cannot get over how detailed and vivid imagery that Kerri Maniscalco has in her novels. To me it doesn’t really read YA, it just has young characters. 

Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick (3.8/5)

         I like funny books by funny people, that should shock no one anymore. I think Anna Kendrick is hilarious and I have for years. I was a teenager when Twilight came out and I was at the proper age for Twilight-mania, I didn’t read the last book. I was in college when Pitch Perfect came out and a bunch of my sorority sisters all went to Buffalo Wild Wings (as you do in a sorority in college) and went to go see it together. I have very fond memories of that evening. I loved this book, I laughed out loud, alone in my apartment a lot throughout reading it. This book came out in 2016 so a lot has happened since then, but these books are almost a time capsule to a time before today, before all of the things that have happened since 2016. It was funny, it was touching, and it got a little weird, but I would expect nothing less. It was good, give it a try if you want to, I don’t think that you’ll be disappointed. 

The Dalek Generation by Nicholas Briggs (3/5)

         About once a year I read a Doctor Who book, I really enjoyed the series for a long time. I don’t get BBC America at the moment so I haven’t watched since Peter Capaldi left, but there was a time when I bought a lot of Doctor Whonovelizations. This was one of them. I don’t really have much to say about it, I enjoyed it and 11 was my favorite Doctor so it was cool. It was also interesting to see the tables turned with the Doctor’s oldest foes. It was good, it was a quick read, and I don’t even know if you could get this book if you wanted it, but if you like Doctor Who, it’s worth a read. 

Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire by Rafe Esquith (4/5)

         This book was in a box of books that I got from a teacher that I worked with, she was retiring and we went through all the books in her office. She spent the last several years of her career as a literacy coach (and my across the street neighbor) in the school where I was an instructional assistant while I was getting my Masters in Education. I found this book in one of those boxes, it had been in a box for years. This year has been difficult with teaching, I lost out on a job that I really wanted because of circumstances beyond my control. But it was something that I really wanted. Reading this book helped restore my faith in things, even just for a moment. I couldn’t put it down because I needed to read about someone that has been in this profession and has seen so much. I worked in a high poverty, high gang activity, and high risk district when I still lived in Indiana. That district taught me a lot and prepared me for pretty much anything a classroom can throw at me. Even though this book came out in 2007 most of the advice is still relevant and I don’t know whether I should laugh or cry about that. It feels like we haven’t gone anywhere in education in over a decade and the kids are the ones who are suffering. You cannot go into sixth grade with a first grade reading level, but it still happens. It’s broken and no one seems to know how or wants to fix it, everyone wants the Band-Aid, blaming the teachers, blaming the funding, blaming the curriculum, and blaming everything else. The kids are suffering and they shouldn’t be. 

Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian (4.5/5)

         I wrote an entire post about this that came out a few weeks ago and I will say it again here, the book was phenomenal. I cannot describe how much I loved it. I love fantasy and historical fantasy is always cool. If you want to stay spoiler free don’t go and read the post, it’s full of spoilers. I will leave you here with the first line and a warning, “I will die drowning; it has always been known.” It does talk about some sensitive topics, like mental health and suicide, so if you are sensitive to those walk into it with that knowledge. As someone who deals with their own mental health issues on the daily I still loved it, those issues were handled well, and it was so good. 

Not A Happy Family by Shari Lepena (4/5)

         Like Half Sick of Shadows there is going to be a dedicated post on this book as well, it’ll be out in a few days. It’s a good murder mystery that kept me guessing the entire book. I had no idea who had actually done it until it was revealed at the very end. This book like the last one I read shifts perspectives a lot and it made the tension in this book palpable. The characters were convincing and even though I have never seen Knives Out it gave me Knives Out vibes, it was something about the trailer that made me think of it when I was reading this book. 

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan (3/5)

         It took me awhile to get into it and then I read like 200 pages in a day. It’s a cute story, it’s heartwarming. It was also sad. I can’t describe it any other way, I enjoyed it. I was left a little confused by the epilogue, but sometimes that happens because the end came on so fast and it felt like there were still loose ends. I don’t mind loose ends, it leaves interpretation to the reader and leaves you to draw your own conclusions. I have heard Paris is a beautiful place, I cannot speak French, I regret not taking it in high school. The book mentioned Notre Dame a lot and it was published a number of years before the fire but that is one place that I always wanted to see. That and all of the art museums, I just love old historic cities. It was good, it was cozy, and it was a quick read once I got into it. I read from chapter 10 to the end of the book in one afternoon. I hadn’t meant to, but I got sucked into it and that meant that I read most of the book. Oops. 

Live and Let Chai by Bree Baker (3.8/5)

         It’s a cozy! I love cozies and that should shock no one, I have written a lot of blurbs on cozies. I even wrote a cozy suggestion post last year. I really liked this one. The last name Swan will always remind me of Once Upon a Time which I loved when I was in college so that was fun. It was a really quick read, I started it in the morning and finished it in the evening with lots of breaks in between because I had other things I had to do. I was not going to read it in one day, I did though. It’s about an iced tea shop in a fun little beach town and it had me guessing on who done it until about the last five or six chapters, I did figure it out before the end of the book. For a cozy, that is odd for me, but I figured this one out. I would recommend it if you like a good little cozy mystery and I plan on going to buy the rest of the series or at least the next few this week so I can read them soon. (Because after I am done with my year TBR, I can read whatever I want and it’s all going to be cozies, prepare yourselves.)

The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore (3/5)

         I love historical fiction, that is not a secret. This one has been in my collection for quite a long time. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when I got this book, it’s about the war over the light bulb between Edison and Westinghouse, with Tesla thrown in as well. It’s focused on Westinghouse’s lawyer, it’s really interesting. I feel like normally this wouldn’t be a book that I would pick up, but it was so cool. I learned a lot and I now want to read the non-fiction accounts that are talked about at the end of the book. It took me almost a week to read just because it was the first week back to school and I have not had a lot of time to read this week. I loved it, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it when I read the synopsis in the front, I don’t know what possessed me to pick up this book from the book annex at Barnes and Noble when they used to actually have books in the Annex. (Now it’s coffee table books, cook books, and a small section of regular books and it makes me sad.) If you like inventions and law then this one is for you. There was a brief moment in my life that I thought I would go into law, (entertainment) it was a very brief moment, but I find law fascinating. 

A Grave Matter (Lady Darby Mystery #3) by Anna Lee Huber (3.5/5)

         This is the third in the series and it just keeps getting better. Everyone should know by now that I love a book with a good relationship. Strong, stubborn, and independent woman and the man who just has to deal with her and her ridiculous behavior. Maybe that’s just the relationship that I am looking for because I am a ridiculous person. I love a good mystery and this is a really good one even as someone who normally doesn’t read realistic fiction that takes place before about the Victorian era, this takes place in the 1830’s. Like I said though, I love this series. I have been reading it since like 2017 or so and I am only on the third book because I am so bad about reading the books I already own. The grave robber aspect of this one was really interesting and the twists and turns of who did it and the reactions and revelations that took place throughout the novel itself. Keira is an amazing protagonist and her and Gage are really cute. I am reading the next one next year for sure, it’s already on my list and I need to finish all of the ones that I own because with the promises made in this one I cannot wait to see where it goes. 

         So I read a lot more than I thought I was going to, just under 20 books in two months and that is so insane to me. I wasn’t planning on having a post this long because I wasn’t planning on reading this much in two months and then I did. So here we are, I hope that you liked the post because it is so much longer than I expected it to be. 

         I still have a chunk of books to read and every time I look at the books shifting on my shelf it makes me feel better that I am getting closer and closer to my goal. I have already decided that if I hit my goal before the end of the year I am just going to read cozy mysteries and I am totally cool with that. I kind of miss them ,but I am also getting a chance to read such a variety of books that I have been sitting on my shelves for years just collecting dust. 

         Eventually when I move into a house a plan on being able to unbox all of my books and have a library of my own because that really is the dream. A library all my own because I can’t live in an actual library or a book store even though that would be really cool. 

         Well that’s my book list until my next book post, which by the time this comes out I might already be ready to start the next one. I hope that everyone has a great rest of the week and I will see everyone on Sunday with a new post. 

         So until then I hope that everyone stays safe, happy, and heathy. 

         -MJ

Let’s keep track shall we?:

Classics:  6/10 (Alice in WonderlandTuck EverlastingThe Secret Garden, Dracula, The Complete Sherlock Holmes Volume 1, A Confederate Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,)

Historical Fiction:  4/5 (The Last Days of NightThe Marlowe Papers, Everyone Brave is Forgiven, West of Sunset)

Sci-Fi/Fantasy:  4/5 (Dream LondonSoulless, The Starless Sea, Good Omens)

General Fiction:  4/5 (The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris, Me Before You, All is Fair in Love and Cupcakes, Bridget Jones’s Diary)

Memoirs/Autobiographies: 2/2 (Yes, Please and Scrappy Little Nobody)

Non-Fiction:  1/1 (Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire)

Thrillers: 1/2 (I, Ripper

Free Choice:  12/15 (Eaves of Destruction, A Wrench in the WorksShot Through the Hearth, Stalking Jack the Ripper, Premeditated Mortar, Hunting Prince Dracula, Death in Bloom, A Study in Darkness. Escaping from Houdini, The Dalek Generation, Live and Let Chai, A Grave Matter)

Book of the Month (late addition): 2/6 (Half Sick of Shadows, Not A Happy Family)

Books Read so Far in 2021 Part #3

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            Well it’s July? Or is it June? I really don’t know at this point, it’s probably June, I think that’s when this post is coming out, for me, it’s still May. I for sure should have started this post two books ago but here I am needing to write two books worth of information all right now. 

            Well this was supposed to go up in June but your girl is an idiot and posted her Bullet Journal update a week early, so here we are in the first full week of July with this update, that should have been out two weeks ago. Sorry about that, it’s been a scattered couple of weeks in my brain. 

            I decided after my last post to actually write out all the titles of the books I have read throughout the year next to their category because it seemed the easiest way for me to keep track as I move through the year. Especially for the categories that are not free choice. 

            If you want to know what else I have read this year you can click on the number and it’ll take you to that post: Part 1 and Part 2.

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler (3.3/5)

            I love funny books by funny people and Amy Poehler is a really funny person. I have had this book in my collection pretty much since it came out and that means it’s been on my bookshelf for a while and I finally got around to reading it. I should have read it years ago. I loved Parks and Recreation, it was such a good show and one of those shows that stuck with me even after I watched it. I didn’t really ever watch SNL but so many amazingly funny comedians have come from that show that have such an influence on the pop culture sphere and I love it. I liked reading a memoir that took the past and the present and mixed them. I feel like I should have more to say because it was a 300+ page book, but I don’t really have much to say. Beyond, if you like comedic people, you will probably like this book.

Premeditated Mortar by Kate Carlisle (3.5/5)

            I think this one actually has gotten me caught up with the series and now I am upset that I have to wait for the next one to come out. This book didn’t have a murder until like halfway through the book which for a cozy mystery was strange but I wasn’t too upset about it. I want to visit some of the places that are described in this series and The Gables is for sure one of those places. It was more focused on other things and I think that was nice, I want more books in this series and I know there will be more. I love all of the relationships, friendships, and family relationships that are interwoven through this series and I am so glad we are seeing an expansion on the characters and the universe as a whole. I am so excited for the next one. 

Theodore Boone: The Fugitive by John Grisham (3/5)

            I read this to make a vocab quiz for my sixth graders, you can actually still see my sticky tabs for potential vocal words and their context sentences. I read it in like a day and a half because it is a book meant for middle schoolers. It’s also the fifth book in the series, but I get why so many of my middle schoolers love the series. I now want to read the rest of them, or at least eventually get them for my classroom library. I really don’t have much to say except this is the first John Grisham book I have ever read even though he is an incredibly prolific writer. I liked it and if you have a middle school aged student, they may like the Theodore Boone series as well. 

Dracula by Bram Stoker (3/5)

            Classic number 4 on the year, which is really good because it’s taken me like three weeks to read this book. I love classic literature but it’s so dense. I understand why it is a classic and has spurred so much literature and pop culture along with it. I love the character of Dracula in more modern times. It was a dense read, I liked it, but I am glad I am done with it. I like the diary format in books, I always have. It was one of those books that I enjoyed but I slogged through it. I feel like I don’t have much to say about it besides when I was picturing the characters I was picturing the characters from NBC’s version of Dracula from like 2013-2014. The next book I am reading is the second in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series and I am already enjoying it. 

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco (4/5)

            I read it in four days. That is all I have to say. I loved this book just as much I loved the first one in the series which was Stalking Jack the Ripper. So good, I don’t feel like I have much to say on it because it is just one of those books that you need to read, the imagery is amazing throughout and everything is so well tied together. I love the relationships of the characters and the whole aesthetic. Normally I am not a YA reader, which I think I mentioned in the blurb about the first book. I could not put this one down, I read it while I was working out and I think it made my workout’s better because I was so gripped by it and I cannot wait to read the next one. I won’t be reading it for a while now because I am following a list and if I deviate from it I won’t read all the books I want to get done this year. If you want a gothic Victorian mystery with just a touch of flirtation and moments that make you roll year eyes in the best way possible, this series is for sure for you. 

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (3.8/5)

            I don’t want to spoil anything, but it’s been out for almost a decade and there was a movie. I cried a little bit reading it. It was a lot to process. I have read another one of her books and that was in 2016, I read Last Letter to Your Lover. I liked this one a lot better. I feel like I am writing really short sentences and I am sorry for that, this will be one of those books that sticks with me for a while. It was heart wrenching and I really want every story to end happily, even though I know that not all stories end happy. We all look for the good and we hope that at the end of the book or the movie that the characters get their happy ending. I would recommend it if you like something that will both make you very happy and very sad at the same time. 

Death in Bloom by Jess Dylan (4/5)

            I am in the middle of reading The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes Volume 1 also at the moment but I needed a break because classics are long. I was going to read another cozy, but my mom is reading that one right now so I switched gears. I bought this one on a whim when I was getting the new Eve Calder cozy and at the moment I am dealing with a lot of reliance faith, fate, destiny, and manifestation for something in my life. Picking up this book and reading over the last few days where, manifestation is a big theme I felt like it was fate. It’s a really good story though and I am looking forward to reading the next one when it comes out later in the year. That is such a problem with cozies, I read so many and then run out of ones to read. There is a corgi in this one and everyone by now should know my love of dogs, also I love flowers and arranging fake ones is a hobby of mine. If you like a small town, old acquaintances becoming new friends, and the gossip that happens when something goes wrong in a small town. I think you’ll like this one. I also wish that Sierra’s grandmother was my grandmother too, if we are being completely honest with ourselves.

            A bonus picture of the fact that I finally cleaned out my reading chair in my office so now I can actually sit in my office and read in a comfortable chair that isn’t covered in blankets and random stuff that I just pile there.

            I was really hoping to have at least one or two other books on here because we are now over halfway through the year and I have not even read half of the books I have been slated to read this year. I will say this the classics really do slow me down, I cannot believe people read all of that back in the day. Man have we slipped. 

            I am currently reading two books in tandem because The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is super long, I mean so long, it’s like 650 pages and it’s so dense. So I am going to read other books while I read it otherwise I am going to get bogged down and not get anywhere close to my goal this year. 

            I will be back at the end of August with another post like this one, hopefully there are a bunch of books on it because my showing this year has not been so great. 

            There will be another post on Sunday so look forward to that, it’s a DIY and I love it so much. I hope that everyone has a great rest of the week and into the weekend, stay safe, happy, and healthy. I’ll see y’all later! 

            -MJ 

Let’s keep track shall we?:

Classics:  4/10 (Alice in WonderlandTuck EverlastingThe Secret Garden, Dracula)

Historical Fiction:  1/5 (West of Sunset)

Sci-Fi/Fantasy:  2/5 (The Starless Sea and Good Omens)

General Fiction:  3/5 (Me Before You, All is Fair in Love and Cupcakes and Bridget Jones’s Diary)

Memoirs/Autobiographies: 1 /2 (Yes, Please)

Non-Fiction:  /1

Thrillers: 1 /2 (I, Ripper

Free Choice:  7/15 (Eaves of Destruction, A Wrench in the WorksShot Through the Hearth, Stalking Jack the Ripper, Premeditated Mortar, Hunting Prince Dracula, Death in Bloom)