December Book of The Month Review:

Title: The Holiday Swap

Author: Maggie Knox 

Hey hey, it’s MJ, 

            There will probably be some spoilers and that is pretty much how I am going to roll with these because if you want to read it you can skip this and I will see you next post. If you aren’t sure you plan on reading it then feel free to read on and see if maybe I can convince you one way or another. 

            I gave this book a solid 3.5 out of 5, it was a little predictable for me. 

            So, if you want to read a Hallmark movie this one is for sure for you. Identical twins Charlie and Cass are both living their own lives and then Charlie gets a head injury causing her to lose her sense of taste and smell while filming a Christmas special for the TV cooking show that she works on. So she and her sister switch which causes a lot of ripples in their respective real lives. 

            They felt like real people and that’s cool, but my one issue with this book was that it just felt like a formula. That’s why I call it reading a Hallmark movie, which is fine I love Hallmark movies. Someone meets someone, they fall head over heels for each other in days, something dumb happens that separates them, and they meet under the mistletoe at the end. That literally was how the last chapter before they skipped a year ended. 

            It was fine, it was cute and cozy and who doesn’t love cute and cozy? 

            There are certain characters who were not given that much time which was odd for how important they were to the characters, like Charlie’s friend and make-up artist who just disappeared near the end, like I have no idea if she ended up in Starlight Peak. 

            I am still trying to figure out how Book of the Month tagged this as a love triangle, which I only found out about after I ordered the book and was concerned for it because that is not something I usually read. This is just a cozy love story, that’s it. Like I get where it comes from because Cass almost gets engaged to a guy but breaks up with him and he doesn’t take no for an answer (which is not okay) and then Charlie comes into town and assumes Cass’s life and meets the cute firefighter and he thinks she’s Cass and it gets awkward, but I don’t consider that a love triangle. 

            I wanted the Christmas themed one though because who doesn’t love a seasonally relevant book to read, I love a seasonal book. I read like 100 pages in one day because it did take me a while to get into and I feel like the plot was a bit thin and it didn’t grip me. It’s a Hallmark movie. (take a drink every time I say that and then when the post is over go watch a Hallmark movie.)

            It was cute and sweet and I scrunched up my nose a few times while reading it while smiling. 

            I feel like I should say more about it, the last chapter which is a year later is kind of pointless to me, I kind of wish that it just would have ended with the kiss under the mistletoe and then it was left open to interpretation, it was predictable. 

            Not every book is for everybody and that is totally okay, if you read this book, you might love it and that is amazing, I am glad that it sparked joy in you. I love books that you cannot stop talking about and that spark your joy, this one just didn’t do that for me and that’s okay. 

If you really want to read my other reviews, you totally can. I have a few so far because I started getting BoTM in July, so you can click on the month and get my little review: July, August, September, October, and November.

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

-MJ

November Book of The Month Review:

Title: The Keeper of Night

Author: Kylie Lee Baker

Hey hey, it’s MJ, 

            Well, this book was a lot, and I mean that in a good way. It for sure took me a while to get into because the beginning just felt more slow build to me even though it was really fast paced. If you don’t like spoilers, I will see you with the next post because like I do for the rest of my BoTM reviews I am not going to keep the spoilers out. 

            This is my 5th book so far this year, I know I said that in October and that just proves that I cannot count. Somedays I am really good at things and then other days I am just not. Sorry, I am human. 

            I gave this book a 4.3/5 because I don’t like to give just a whole number rating, I am one of those people but GoodReads makes me rate them one just the standard start system and Book of The Month gives you three options, love, like, and dislike. I liked this one. 

            This week has been a lot for me because it took me from Monday to Saturday to read it, normally I can burn through a book in a few days, but with how my week was it was just not feasible, I didn’t even want to read that was the amount of stress that I was under. As I am writing this, we only have one week until Thanksgiving Break and while I love the kiddos and the adults I work with, that week off cannot come fast enough. I just need a break.

            So, here’s the gist of the story, Ren, is half Shinigami and half Reaper she is bullied because she’s different, she does something to someone and has to flee England for Japan where she wants to find belonging. She is given an assignment by the Goddess of Death to kill three Yokai (these are the spirits in Japanese folklore. (I took like six years of Japanese in high school and into college, I need to get back into it.)) who are taking more than their fair share of souls. So, the story is Ren’s journey with her brother and the mysterious Hiro to do the bidding of the Goddess of Death.

            There are a lot of twists and turns, which was for sure expected and they for sure kept me turning page after page because I read the last 10 chapters in one day and that’s a little bit less than half of the book and here we are. 

            The ending though was what really got me, it was very much “that escalated quickly” and I was sitting there with my hand over my mouth over and over again because I didn’t think it could get any crazier and then it did, repeatedly. 

            I don’t want to give away the ending but there is a second book, this is a duology apparently according to the note at the end of the book so you know that I will eventually get the second one when it comes out next year because it left it at a cliffhanger and now, I want to read the next one, I want to know how everything concludes. 

            The ending itself was shock after shock and I felt like there is going to be so much that happens in the second half of this series and I am ready for it. 

            The imagery in this is amazing and it’s so well written, the emotions felt very real throughout the entire novel from the highest highs to the lowest lows. I would for sure recommend this because let’s be honest, I recommend most books that I read because I read a lot. I know a lot of people who don’t read what I do and that’s totally cool, there is plenty that I don’t read, but we can all agree that books are great and everyone should probably read more. 

            If you want to know what else I have read this year from Book of The Month, you totally can, just click on the month: July, August, September, and October. There is one more month in this year and I am excited to see what the options are for December; I am hoping for a fun holiday book. 

            Well until my next post I hope that everyone is staying safe, happy, and healthy and I will be back later in the week with another post!

            -MJ 

October Book of The Month Review:

Title: The Ex Hex

Author: Erin Sterling

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            As I said in my 5th installment of my Books Read in 2021 series, here is the long form and more in-depth review of my October choice from my Book of The Month. It was a lot of fun and I am going to tell you all about it. 

            I wanted a book this month for BoTM that was a little magic and this one was the most magic one that was on the list. It was described as a fantasy, there is for sure some romance. Just a few pages and if you know my reading habits; romance is not something that I typically read. This one wasn’t too graphic and that made me super excited because I didn’t know really what to expect when I cracked the first page. 

            I am going to say this just because, this is a book review and that means that there will be some spoilers. So, if you are planning on taking this book for a spin; stop reading and I will see you all with the next post. 

            I am still figuring out how to write long form blog posts with book reviews, so just for now, bear with me. 

            Alright, I gave this one a 4.3/5, which is a super high score for me because usually I don’t love books. I have only rated like three books a full 5 this year and I really want to start being a little laxer on ratings. I love to read and I pretty much read anything and everything, so when I rate books, I need to give them more stars. 

            I have been reading a lot of books with multiple perspectives recently, which is fine. This one is told from both of the main character’s perspectives and it’s so much fun. 

            There is a lot of swearing in this book so if you are a little adverse to that; I would skip it, but it had me rolling. I absolutely loved the humor in this book and the characters were so much fun. I loved the fact that the hex was caused by a broken heart, too much vodka, and a Bath and Body Works candle. The main character reminded me of Jess from New Girl, I cannot tell you why but she did and I loved it. 

            It was a really quick and easy read that I could not put down. I read it in like three days and I loved it so much. I know that I have been saying that over and over again and I feel like that’s okay. I don’t get excited about books because I have had enough people in my life not share my excitement for books so I don’t share my excitement. 

            Rhys is portrayed at the beginning as an ass, I mean he kind of is and then you fall in love with him and Vivienne’s relationship because you want to root for them no matter their past. They fight ghosts, living plastic skulls, and an old curse that goes beyond anything that Bath and Body Works can do. 

            It’s old magic meeting new magic and I could not get enough of the fun and fast paced rom com that this was. I love a good rom com, there were so many in the mid-2000’s and the early 2010’s that I can still remember to this day. This is like Hallmark meets a romance novel and it was so much fun. I love a good fun book and this was one of the most fun books I have read this year.

            There is not a lot of physical descriptions of intimacy in this book, which for me was a plus when it comes to a romance. I just don’t enjoy reading a lot of “BookTok” style books because there is a lot of graphic descriptions and I just don’t enjoy that. I used to, back in high school I read a lot of stuff that was probably more mature than I should have, I don’t read it now and that’s okay. Tastes and book choices change over the years, I used to hate thrillers and I have read like four or five this year alone. 

            If you want a quick, almost beachy feeling read, this book is for sure for you. It was a lot of fun and I need more fun in my life. Who doesn’t need more fun in their life while we deal with what is going on in the world? 

            I want a cat that just screams “Treats!” over and over again, I can’t have cats but I love the idea of a cat that just screams at me when it wants food. The characters are fun and feel real also it’s modern, I haven’t read a modern novel since September. (It’s the second full week of October as I write this.) It was the last cozy I read and then before that it was my September BoTM, I needed something modern in my life before I go back into fantasy and historical before I finish my TBR. 

            I have bought add-on books so far but I don’t think that they will be long form all by themselves, I got The Maidens and Circe. Both of which I am really excited for, but they will be in blurb form more than these longer form reviews. 

            If you really want to read my other reviews, you totally can. I have a few so far because I started getting BoTM in July, so you can click on the month and get my little review: July, August, and September

            Well, I hope that everyone has a great rest of the week and I will see everyone over the weekend with another post. If you do read this book, I hope you enjoy it. To me it was a whole lot of fun and I really do want a shirt that says, ‘Never mix vodka and witchcraft’ because that is so much fun.

            Stay safe, happy, and healthy.

            -MJ 

September Book of the Month Review

Title: Rock Paper Scissors

Author: Alice Feeney

Hey hey, it’ MJ,

I need to preface this post, sorry there was no post on Wednesday, I was going to post something but my Wi-Fi is out and I am trying to not use all of my hotspot data on my phone. I could have posted it at school but this week had us in the eighth ring. So my Wi-Fi is still out and it will be until they can run an entirely new hard line into my apartment because everything is rusted. That’s fun, it’s so fun, last week was like the worst and I can only hope that it gets better. I need better, I need some joy, and I just kind of need a win.

Now onto the review though…

            Wow. 

That’s all I can say about this book for my third month of BoTM. I wasn’t actually sure how I felt about the choices when they came out at the end of last month. This was the least objectionable to what I like to read. 

There will spoilers because this is a review and that just happens! If you want to read the book then stop reading and I will see you with my next post. 

I read it in like three days and I would for sure give it like a 3.9/5. It was so good, slow start but there was so much subterfuge that my brain is still processing what happened throughout the novel.

It’s told from two perspectives at first with interstitial yearly anniversary letters, you think that letters are being written by the main female character and then things get weird. Another perspective is introduced and you have no idea who this women Robin is to the main characters. It took me well over half the book to put any connections together because of how the story is woven. 

It is woven masterfully by the way, I was guessing and hooked most of the book while my brain slowly started to explode in my head because of everything that was going on. It’s just a lot and there isn’t really another way to put it. 

Marriage seems hard and you think that this marriage has been going on for years and then someone cheated on their spouse, that’s super true but the woman who we meet at the beginning is not the first wife, it’s the one that he cheated on his wife with and I needed to stop reading for a moment and process that. 

This is one of those books that sticks with you, it will stick with me for the foreseeable future because it blew my mind. I am going to say that over and over again because usually books don’t blow my mind. Usually they are kind of predictable and usually I like predictable, this one, this one was unexpected. So many lies, twists, turns, and just a hint of crazy. 

I have so much that I want to say but I am still reeling from this book, it was so much and I could not put it down I read most of the book in two days, I just couldn’t get enough and it kept me wanting to keep turning pages while making me question everything I had read to that point. 

I like multiple perspectives and this one has less than the last few I have read, I like when and author puts the perspective as the chapter title; it’s so helpful when reading. I don’t mind the switching perspectives especially in a thriller because you get to see everyone’s innermost thoughts. 

I also really liked the limited cast of characters that you see throughout the novel itself, I love a good locked room mystery and this was that. A converted chapel in Scotland where a weekend away was supposed to save a marriage, an ex-wife planning revenge, and a snow storm keeping everyone in place. 

Everyone in this book is crazy, I have to say that for sure; no one was the hero. No one was a victim or just a villain, love makes you do crazy things, but this book is full of so many lies and crazy situations that I am still trying to figure everything out. 

I like the mix of present and past with the letters, I think that letters in a book are fun, they provide information that may not be in the full plot line, the letters condense entire years into a few pages and it’s so good. 

I have started so many paragraph’s with I but here we are because it’s my review. Book of The Month is really great and I am so excited for next month’s choices, I need to not get another thriller. I need to branch out in what I am reading genre wise, but this one it’ll stick with me for a while because it blew my literary mind. 

If you want to read the other Book of The Month’s that I have gotten this year, you totally can because I just started this in July: July and August.

I hope that everyone has a good week and I will see y’all later in the week with another post. Until then I hope that everyone stays safe, happy, and healthy!

-MJ

August Book of The Month Review:

Title: Not A Happy Family

Author: Shari Lepena

Hey hey, it’ MJ,

         I know that some of you, if you read my Book’s So Far Part 4 post, will have seen a very short blurb on this book because I had this post coming out a few weeks later even though I read the book last month. 

         I read it in three days, I was not planning on reading it in three days, but I did. It kept me guessing from when the murders happened to the end on who actually did it. I was shocked.

         I gave this book a 4 out of 5 because I apparently like thrillers now. Who knew? I probably liked it most because it’s a murder mystery and everyone knows that I love a good mystery.

         If you are planning on reading it, skip this post because I will be spoiling like all of it. I won’t spoil the murderer, but I don’t plan on keeping all the spoilers out of this post. 

         The book is told from several perspectives, I would say roughly a dozen or so in total and that really added to the overall tension of the novel because it kept switching. It gave a full picture instead of being told by one narrator who is either a character or outside of the story itself. This was a good read and it did the omniscient perspective so well. 

         For some reason the phrase, ‘those who live in glass houses should not throw stones’ comes to mind and I cannot put my finger on why. You have an entire family that is being put through a murder investigation, all of them have secrets, and they all proceed to turn on one another. You are left wondering and guessing who actually did kill Fred and Sheila Merton.

         I cannot imagine having parents like that to be honest, but I have friends or at least people I went to school with who did have parents like that. Nothing was ever good enough for them. (My parents weren’t like that but my grandmother was, so I do get it on some level.) Competition and being measured up against your siblings builds animosity and that was a huge theme in this book. 

         Also with the subtle hints that their father was straight up a psychopath, that is proven in the book but I don’t want to spoil that. 

         You learn so much about the Merton kids, from the lies, the scandals, the problems that they all seem to be able to cover up because that is what society needs to see, that is what is expected of them. I wouldn’t want to live like that. 

         Like I said this book kept me guessing on who actually had committed the crime and I was shocked when it was finally revealed. The author throughout the book led the reader to contemplate several possibilities on who the murderer could actually be but the real murderer came out of left field and I was so surprised. 

         The ending itself did leave me with questions because it kind of goes unsolved in a way, or at least no one is prosecuted for it. I think that the Epilogue does give some potential for justice to finally be served and I would love to see that in novel form, to see the family have to live through it again after finding out who actually did it. I think that would be a really good sequel. 

         In truth, I wasn’t sure if I would actually like this book. I was wrong, I could not put it down. Because of the short chapters and how often it switches from character to character it keeps you engaged and flipping pages because you want to know if any of the suspicions are correct. 

         I cannot say that this book has a happy ending, it’s not meant to as books like this usually don’t. Everyone survives, that’s about all we get, it’s not happy, relationships and trust is broken and because the end skips a year we as the reader don’t really know how anyone is doing. We don’t know if their relationships have really survived or if they are working on their demons; it was clear in this book that everyone needed therapy. Like years and years and various kinds of therapy to get over the trauma. 

         If you like the pristine family that is really hiding like a mountain of crap, a murder, an investigation, and a whole bunch of lies folded in, this is for sure the book for you. 

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

         -MJ 

July Book of The Month Review:

Book: Half Sick of Shadows

Author: Laura Sebastian

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

         I have been thinking about doing book reviews passed my little blurbs that I write when I read a book normally. If this isn’t your scene, that’s totally cool. Also if you are planning on reading this book and you don’t want spoilers, scroll away.

         I decided that this year I have not actually purchased enough books and I have been thinking about doing Book of The Month for a few years now. I love the idea of getting a new book every month. I didn’t choose a July book, I chose one of the June books (Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian) because this book came across my Facebook feed in an ad and I loved the cover. I also really love the Arthurian legends so here we are. 

         I gave this book a 4.5/5, which is a very high score for me. I loved the bad ass ladies in this book. We all grew up with stories of King Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, Morgana, and the Knights of the Round Table. We all grew up on it whether it was on TV with shows like Merlin, movies like Sword in The Stone, or books like The Once and Future King. I was exposed to all of these forms of the Arthurian legend and they stick with you. Knights, swordfights, magic, and destiny. Destiny and fate are very large themes in this book. You cannot escape your fate and destiny. 

         Elaine is a Seer, I think that would be an amazing but terrible power, to see all the possibilities of the future. I would like to know the future some days, but knowing that, knowing what would or could happen to the people you care about. That would kill me. I love the character though, she’s amazing and a powerful force that sits just behind Arthur. 

         Most stories tell you that Merlin is at his hand and has been since he was a child, in this Merlin is kind of sketchy. 

         I want to visit Avalon, I want to see it, the island beyond the mist. The one where the Fey live, I think it would be cool. You know that all of the people around Arthur are young, but I think even I forgot how young they were. We think of kings as middle aged or the most part, at least I do. You can disagree with me and that’s fine, but they are all young and they have so much on their shoulders. 

         There is for sure a trigger warning in this book and that is drowning and suicide, I really don’t see it as that in this case, it’s an escape a way to change things. If you read it you’ll see, it’s done beautifully. 

         The first line of the book hooked me, “I will die drowning; it has always been known.” That is such a powerful first line and I aspire in my writing to have that kind of first line! 

         It’s tragic, it’s heartfelt, it’s obligation and duty, it’s magic and manipulation, and it’s woven together beautifully. This book blends the past, present, and potential futures together without incident and with such care that nothing feels out of place. I want more. I know that the book has ended, but it left me wanting more. I love a good happy ending and this one doesn’t have a happy ending, it has an ending that leaves threads loose. There is nothing wrong with that, I loved it, but let left me wanting more. It did end a lot different than I expected it to, but it was a fitting end. I suppose the challenge to an author is to allow people to think one thing was going to happen and then throw all of your expectations out a window. I am totally cool with throwing all of my expectations out of the window when it comes to a book that I really enjoy. 

         The writing was beautiful and descriptive, I could picture places and almost hear what was going on on the page. I can lose myself in a book like that, I have a very vivid imagination. 

         I would recommend this to anyone who likes fantasy, Arthurian legends, badass strong female leads, and learning that sometimes fate and destiny, while binding, are not the end all be all. 

         I will be back later in the week with another post so I hope until then everyone has a great start to the week. Stay safe, happy, and healthy out there. 

         -MJ