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

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

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)

2022 Book Bullet Journal Intro

Hey hey, it’s MJ, 

            So TikTok made me want to do this and here we are. I made a Book Bullet Journal so here we are with another Bullet Journal to add to my list of things to update daily. I just need something else to work on, right? Well, here we are and I am doing a book Bullet Journal. Thanks, TikTok, I don’t even remember the username of the person who inspired it and I feel bad about that, I have seen it from a bunch of people though and everyone does it different, so I am rolling with what works for me. Like my regular bullet journal what works for me might not work for you and also this is my first year doing it, next year this format may not work for me either.

            I am just going to go over the front pages and then my overview of January, I’ll do recaps next year so we are going to roll with it. I went with really simple theming this year because I don’t have the time to do two overly complicated themes. I also don’t have the time to do a lot of work so here we are and I am mostly done with 2022 and I will learn things throughout just like I did with my Bullet Journal. 

            So, pages, let’s talk about those. 

Genre Breakdown: It’s a list for all the genres I plan on reading this upcoming year. I already have most of my books pulled for this so that’s exciting. I just wanted to have a full list of what I was going to be reading in each category. 

The Game Plan (the books I am actually reading): I have this in sections, fiction I have all of the books on my To Be Read list listed in each of their sub-genres. Then non-fiction, which I am not planning on reading many because non-fiction is not my scene. Free choice is of course a large portion of my list this year, like it always is. I have a lot of the books filled out here, but not all because I am not really sure about the other few that I will want to read next year. Final category is my Book of the Month books and I am excited to fill these out next year. 

Ratings and Genre: My plan is to read 50 books next year; I will probably read more which is always fun. This will only be the fifty books on my TBR, I will probably have another page later in the journal for all of my extras that I end up reading when and if I finish my TBR. 

Reading trackers: I messed up on the first one so day 31 is on the top above the rest because I am an idiot. It’s just did I read and then how many pages I read. It’s just a good way to keep track of how many pages I read in a day since some days I read 10 pages and some days I read well over 100. There are also days when I read an entire book and I feel like I need a color for that too. (An idea for 2023, right?)

Stats and Stack: Yearly stats, there will be monthly stats as well in each month which will be a lot of fun. The second is my book stack, I do one every year and I will have one every month as well which will be a lot of fun with that too because I want to have the same information in multiple places because that it how my brain works, lists on lists on lists. 

Top 10 of 2021 and 2022 5 Star Books: I mean, I love a good top ten and I have read some really good books this year (you can check all of those posts out if you want to, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5, part 6 will be out later this month and if I remember I will update the link here so you can check it out) so I will have a place to record those. 2022 five stars, it’s pretty self-explanatory, I’m going to record my 5-star books. 

Get the Picture: Tiny book covers, I just want to have a few pages of fun little book covers. I have so many book covers to print for all of the pages I need them for. 

            I was going to show my monthly pages for at least January but I am thinking that I will leave those as a surprise for when I get around to writing the updates as the months go on, because why not. I really enjoyed making this journal and I am hoping that this year teaches me new things as I move into doing this again in 2023. 

            Well, I will be back later in the week with another post, so until then I hope 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 

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)

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 

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)