May 2022 Book of The Month Review:

Title: Darling Girl

Author: Liz Michalski

Rating: 4/5

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            Well, here we are, I have had book of the month for almost a year now which is super cool because I had read a lot of really amazing books. This was for sure one of them, it was a lot. I am going to start out by saying that.

            There are going to be spoilers so if you want to read the book, stop reading this, I will see you in the next post. 

            A Darling, Wendy’s granddaughter, has secrets and they are starting to pile up and spill out. This book had a really slow start and then it really kicked off, you have to get through like the first 30 or so percent of the novel but after that it moves fast. 

            Holly is trying her best, she lost her husband and one of her twin sons and her daughter is in a coma, she’s trying to keep a company together while also trying to grow it and raise a teenage boy who is brooding and she’s trying to protect him. Her daughter’s blood has some sort of healing protein, which, cool. 

            Her daughter goes missing and that’s a lot because she’s been in a coma for ten years. So she goes to London, she suspects that Peter Pan, yes that Peter Pan has her because Peter is the girl’s father. There is mention of sexual assault so that is for sure a trigger warning for those of you who don’t like that. Peter is unhinged, like super unhinged. This is why heroes are overrated, well, what we know of them. 

            There is a lot of mentions of the original book, which I read last year and of course we have all seen the Disney film. 

            The twists and turns of trying to find her daughter take her to a hook handed man, and of course thanks to Once Upon a Time all I could picture was Hook from that show and well, here we are. Private detective with a motorcycle who’s a combat vet, he’s brooding and so much cooler than Peter.

            It’s a lot of deception and lies, there are for sure a lot of those throughout the story, I liked Holly as a character, when you are given two impossible choices you have to pick the lesser of two evils and that’s about what it is for her. 

            Peter Pan has had a lot of retellings over the years, I have a few of them in my collection from the original to The Child Thief by Brom, which needs to be on my list to actually read because that book is beautiful. I started it my senior year of high school (so 2010) and it’s been on shelf ever since, but I wanted that book for such a long time and it was worth the price.

            This book was great, I actually really enjoyed it once I got into it. The ending comes up quick and it leaves it open, I don’t mind the openness of it. I wish that they would have wrapped up what happened with Elliot though because I feel like that could come back and bite someone in the butt later on. 

            Her company was kind of secondary to the rest of the story which I was totally okay with. 

            There is a lot of family expectations in this novel and that’s totally cool as well, that dynamic really did spur the story forward throughout because while Holly is the main character seeing Jane, who is Wendy’s daughter and a typical London socialite grow and change throughout the story was really nice. I love a good dynamic character, but who doesn’t.

            Peter in this one is kind of terrifying, like I wouldn’t want to be young forever and there is a lot of loss of innocence moments throughout, innocence in different ways mind you. 

            Seriously though if you are trigger by drug use or sexual assault, I would tread carefully, it’s not a big theme but they are both still there in the story. 

            Alright if you want to see what else I have read this year, you totally can, January, February, March, and April.

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

            -MJ 

Books I Read in May 2022

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            Well, here we are, in May, how? How is it already May? Aldo how am I currently (at the time of writing this part of my post on May 3rd) at 44 books read. How? Last year I didn’t hit the 40’s until August, it’s May. 

            I blame BookTok and my need to read like 100 pages a night. I would probably be at 45 or 46 if I hadn’t taken some nights off…oops. 

            I am hoping to be done with my TBR pile by the end of the summer and then just read what I want the rest of the year, which will be super dangerous because when I get sad, I buy books. Seriously though, my love language is books, I have determined that. Just books, buying them, reading them, talking about them, writing them; that’s it, that’s me.

            Well, I have my first book though and I want to talk about it!

A Study in Death by Anna Lee Huber (Lady Darby #4) (4/5)

            I love this series, I picked this series up because I was in a bookstore in like 2015 this was the book on the shelf and wanted it, but this was the fourth one in the series so I had to order the first one and then I read it in like 2016, I read the second one in 2020, and the third one last year. I love the series because Kiera is amazing, but I love a strong Victorian woman in a time that women were meant to be seen not heard. This one had me guessing throughout, I didn’t guess until it was pretty much revealed and I love a mystery that keeps me completely guessing until the end. I cannot wait to read the next one, it’s on my TBR for next year already because I have very little self-control when it comes to mysteries. (All books, I’m lying, it’s all books.) If you like a strong heroine and Scotland, I would suggest this one to you. 

A Not so Meet Cute by Meghan Quinn (4.8/5)

            I read it in one day, this book had me in a choke hold from about chapter two. It took me a second to get into it and then, man, did it hook me. Fake dating and all of that is a trope that would not work for me in real life, but in books it always turns into real dating. Huxley. I mean…that’s it, that’s the sentence. I loved the whole book, it was so good, the ending was a little abrupt but I am totally for it. It was spicy, not as spicy as I figured it would be, this was a ‘I saw three sentences on TikTok and bought it.’ This was for sure a BookTok made me buy it book, and it was so good. He flies her to Portland for a concert! Where are these guys in real life? I mean, they exist, I hope? It was really good and the scene in the dining room, wow. 

The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma (2/5)

            This one had such potential. I didn’t like it, I thought the premise was super interesting when I picked it up, time travel in Victorian London, sign me up. It was three stories and I was confused, the prose was great but so dense that I skimmed parts because I was getting bogged down in it. Lots of lies and deceit, I just didn’t like it. I have the second one, I will be unhauling without reading because I cannot suffer through another 600-page novel that I am not enjoying. That’s right, I read the whole thing because I cannot DNF. Like there were like 30 interesting pages in the mid-500’s and that was it. It starts out literally with a guy picking a gun to kill himself. That was trigger for page one and it didn’t get any better than that. 

Darling Girl by Liz Michalski (4/5)

            I wrote a whole post on it, literally a whole post because this was my May Book of the Month, so that will be out soon. I really enjoyed it, there are a few trigger warnings (drug use and mentions and depictions of SA) so go into that mindful to that if you want to read it. It’s fast paced and very twisty, sometimes we don’t like the hero anymore, though all villains are just heroes in their own minds. 

A Clockwork Heart by Liesel Schwarz (3.6/5)

            I read the first one in the series last fall and I ordered the third as I was finishing this one. It’s good, I liked the story, it was for sure a slow start and this one hurts. Like you want people to have a happy ending and I know there will be bumps in the road to a happy ending, but if this one doesn’t end happy you bet your sweet bippy that they will be unhauled. I will unhaul them if I am left feeling unfulfilled because the Goodreads reviews say that there was supposed to be a fourth one, well the third one was published in 2014 and nothing since then. Right, it picks up with Elle and Marsh, who I love together, then he gets taken made into a zombie and she’s trying to free him. The ending hurt! It hurt so much! 

The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan (2.5/5)

            I wanted to like it, I really did, like I bought this and I was so excited because who doesn’t love a royal love story (this was seriously a pretty carbon copy to a certain royal love story we saw in the early 2010’s). It was so long! It had some really funny parts but the rest of it I slogged through, there was just so much needless and senseless drama involved. Like this book was just not for me I guess and that’s fine. Like they didn’t need to have his brother in love with her too, that was so unnecessary. I will not be reading the second one because I don’t care, I honestly and truly do not care about the resolution of Bex and Nick’s story, this will be unhauled. I almost DNFed this book a half dozen times but I would have stressed about not finishing it. It had so much potential and I found myself just trying to get through it, I don’t read ahead, I read ahead because I really did want to see if it was worth finishing. It had a happy ending? I have no idea because I gave up my interest in it. Seriously, so much potential and it just didn’t do it for me. Not every book is for everybody and this one was clearly not for me. (This was book fifty of the year though.)  

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow (4/5)

            I liked it, it took a while for me to get into it and I really left the door open (pun accidental but intended) for a sequel because there are a lot of threads left unbound. The splicing in of the Ten Thousand Doors really detracted from the story for me. I understand having to put context on things but they were so long and wordy, like those are what took me the longest and after they ended it was so much better and a much more fun story to read. I loved the characters and all that and do I hope that there is a second one of January going through all of these worlds and opening the doors back up, yes, I really do because I would read that. I would read that hardcore. I know that it’s a story within a story within a book and I understand that, but I need to have a more resolved ending than how this epilogue ended. 

In Falling Snow by Mary-Rose MacColl (2.5/5)

            I didn’t really enjoy it. There were too many randoms shifts in the timeline, if it would have all been WW1, I think it would have been better. There was too much drama and a lot of stuff that just felt unnecessary to the plot of the story. It left me feeling unfulfilled and that’s okay. The World War One stuff was compelling, the present? 80’s? I am not really sure when it took place in the “present”, but I was confused and it was just odd. I wasn’t even sure if it was taking place in Australia in the present or not, I think it was? I really don’t know, I think so. The chapters were either like three pages or 60 pages and that’s too much. Too much! I was just confused for 450 pages, it had potential, it didn’t deliver. 

            So that’s it for May, I had a really unfulfilling reading month and that is disappointing. Like I read nine books, I will be unhauling three and I wasn’t super wowed! by any of them. That’s so hard, why was A Not So Meet Cute the most exciting book I read this month. I liked most of them, I did, but some just left me feeling like I could easily stop reading all together, and I know that I am on book 54 of the year and we aren’t even halfway through the year. I know that some of them will not be winners, I am completely aware of that because when I bought a lot of them, I was a different reader. 

            I have some books that I will be reading in June that I am super excited about and I am so looking forward too, I want to get through the TBR so I can read whatever I want. I changed my Goodreads goal from 75 books to 100 books and I cannot believe that I did that. (I also didn’t think that I would have already finished writing three entire books this year already, but here we are.) 

            If you want to see what else I have read this year, you completely and totally can, some months are better than this one, I promise: January, February, March, and April

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

            -MJ 

Let’s Keep Track Shall We?: 

General Fiction: 5/10 (The Runaway Princess, Since You’ve Been Gone, Admission, Delicious, The Royal We, )

Sci-Fi/Fantasy: 5/10 (The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, Hiddensee, The Crystal Cave, Sword of Destiny, The Map of Time, )

Historical: 7/10 (The Velvet Hours, In the Shadow of Paris, And Only to Deceive, Radio Girls, Black Rabbit Hall, A Study in Death, In Falling Snow, )

Thriller: 2/2 (The Alienist and Meddling Kids)

Free Choice: 8/14 (Love and Gravity, A Fate of Wrath and Flame, City of Lost Dreams, It Devours!, A Court of Mist and Fury, A Study in Ashes, A Clockwork Heart, The Ten Thousand Doors of January, )

Memoirs/Autobiographies: 2/2 (Buffering and Always Look on The Bright Side of Life)

General Non-Fiction: 2/2 (The Happiness Advantage and Teacher Misery)

Book of The Month: 5/12 (Reckless Girls, A River Enchanted, Dating Dr. Dil, Kaikeyi, Darling Girl, )

Extras: 12/? (Midnight Spells Murder, Hot Vampire Next Door S1, Twisted Love, Malibu Rising, A Deal with the Elf King, Hot Vampire Next Door S2, The Fine Print, Well Met, Book Boyfriend, The Sound of Stars, Twisted Games, A Not So Meet Cute, )

Books I Read in April 2022

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            Last month was not a great showing on the number of books that I was planning on reading but I kept up such a pace in February that a mini-slump was inevitable. I knew it was coming and clearly March was that month, oops. I had such plans on where I wanted to be on my TBR this month. If I want to actually hit the goal that I thought that I would get to I would need to read a little over a dozen books and I just don’t see that happening, it might, but who knows. I am going to try, but I am not going to burn myself out to get there. 

            I have read 33 books so far and as I am writing this; I only have another hundred or so pages in the book I am reading, hence why I started this post today because I know I’m going to finish it and I need to have this part started before I do. I want to get a good chuck of my TBR read earlier in the year so I can read whatever I want later, I’m beginning to think that is a mistake because being a mood reader means that I want to buy all the books that I see that I think I might like so here we are. I do not have the room for more books but I could be doing things that are a lot worse. 

Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase (4/5)

            It was a slow start but when I got into it, I could not put it down. I know that I say that about a lot of books, this one was no different though. It was good, there was a moment in it where I almost hurled it across the room because incest is not allowed in this house. (It was a lie so we are good.) I guessed the plot twist pretty early on, but it was a fun read and felt very cinematic overall. The Epilogue was weird and it felt completely unnecessary to be completely honest. It had a really happy ending before that though and I was smiling a lot throughout it. I am not 100% when the “modern” timeline took place actually, I just couldn’t pin point it. I was happy with the read overall though and that is my fifth historical fiction (yes, I’m counting it as historical) of the year so I am half done with that category which is a lot of fun. 

Book Boyfriend by Claire Kingsley (4.2/5)

            Well, it was short, sweet, and hella spicy. Like I read it in two days because I finished the one above and started this one on the same day. It was so spicy, like there is spicy and then there is SPICY this one was that. It was cute, it really was and it was one of those books that kept me turning page after page. I loved the characters and the plot was interesting, I mean it was a lot, but it was such a fun, quick read. I will probably read the other two in the series that focus on Alex’s siblings. If you want a cute little romp with something I wish would happen in real life, someone buying you books in a bookstore like they would buy you a drink, this one might be right up your street.

Always Look on The Bright Side of Life by Eric Idle (4/5)

            I love Monty Python, I watched The Holy Grail in high school, I was probably just a touch young to watch it and then one of my first Netflix binges after I moved to Arkansas was finally watching all of Flying Circus, twice. I love the humor and I for sure will make random references every once in a while, I for sure have said “and now for something completely different” to my students before and they just look at me. I have also said Ni over and over again like a crazy person. I loved reading about one of my favorite Pythons, I think that the humor has both lasted for decades and also become so quotable and timeless. I have for sure also said ‘nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition’ in casual conversation to see who understands it. Reading stories about these storied figures in pop culture history was fascinating to be completely honest, man times were wild and there were chapters dedicated to people who changed the world because of who they were. I laughed, a lot, while reading this book and now I want to go back and watching Flying Circus again. My copy is also signed because Barnes and Noble did that in like 2018 and I had to have it. 

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel (3.5/5)

            It was my April Book of the Month book, if you want a full review of it, you can totally can when it comes out in a few days. I liked the book; it was not super for me and that is totally cool. Not every book is for everybody and that is what is really cool about having varying reading tastes. You don’t have to 100% love everything, not every book can be your favorite book. Some books are just there to teach you things. 

The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow (4/5)

            This came out right before the pandemic and reading it now almost hurts. It’s YA dystopian alien fiction. It was good, maybe I’m not the target demographic but it was good. The ending was weird and I have no idea if there is a second one because I was confused by the ending, it felt like it came up too quickly and I don’t feel like it was resolved, but it leaves it open so who knows. It was a super cute little love story between a human and an alien trying to save the world from more aliens, it kept me engaged throughout the novel so that’s always a good thing. This is one of those books that I could for sure being made into a film, it was written like a movie and I enjoyed it overall.

Pleading the Fish by Bree Baker (4/5)

            This is the last in the series and I am upset about it! I love the series and I hate when series ends, I mean really, it’s short for a cozy series to be completely honest, only seven books. I loved Charm and all the characters. Like reading it was very Once Upon a Time for me for some reason, I think it was the names, I don’t know. I loved it though, but I am sad that it’s over. The epilogues were weird, I got really confused for a minute and had to re-read them because you know it skipped like thirty years between one epilogue and the next, there were three. The story was good, it was a little bland for me though to be honest, I loved the love story in this more than the mystery in this one, which for me is really odd when it comes to cozies. I am just a little crushed that this was the last one. Now I have to find a new series to read, dang it. 

Twisted Games by Ana Huang (4.3/5)

            I couldn’t put it down; I literally told my cousin that it’s like The Princess Diaries but they do it. It was so good and it ripped me apart the same way that Twisted Love did, this one is a lot spicier though, like so spicy. I love Ana’s writing, she’s great and I cannot wait to read the other two in the Twisted series. I love Bridget and Rhys and how it followed for a little while at the beginning alongside the timeline of Twisted Love, the twists and turns had me turning page after page. I loved the found family aspect, though I for sure called the plot twist like 200 pages in, I was even right about the character that the twist pertained to. I don’t know if that is a good or a bad thing, she laid some amazing groundwork for it. This one had a lot of very traumatic moments, so if you are averse to that, I would avoid it. Though it seems the whole series is like that and Ana, don’t rip my heart out again, please! Like I love a happily ever after and I am no above throwing books across my office! (Then carefully picking them up and apologizing to them.) 

A Study in Ashes by Emma Jean Holloway (4.2/5)

            This is the third and final in this series, I read the first one in 2016 and the second one last year. I loved this series, it was so fun sherlock Holmes, sky pirates, steampunk, a London ruled by the steam barons. This book was dense and the ending did leave me with questions, but that is totally cool. I have had this book on my shelf for a long time and it was so worth the wait. I wasn’t really sure how I would feel about the series when I purchased them, but it was amazing. I wanted so much different for the main character in the first book, but the person she became was dimensional and I loved watching her grow through the series and the trauma that she went through. 

Delicious by Ruth Reichl (3/5)

            Three is a generous score. I liked most of the book though, that’s the only reason that it is getting a three. It had so much potential, it was so good and then like 75 pages from the end it shifted. I hated the ending; it was so quick and left me absolutely unsatisfied. The wrap up was an email and it just felt so rushed. Like if you like this book, cool, I loved parts of this book but the ending and a lot of that felt inconsistent with the rest of the novel. I was so hopeful that I would like this book because I was enjoying the read so much, the ending ruined it for me. 

            Well, I only read nine books in April which I wanted to read more, I had a goal of 13, but April came through and kicked me in the teeth so here we are. I read some good books this month and some that I will be unhauling at the end of the year. Though I am on book 42 of the year so that means there are books that I probably won’t like. I also bought a bunch of books in April because I have a problem. 

            If you want to see all the other books that I have read this year, you totally can with January, February, and March

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

            -MJ 

Let’s Keep Track Shall We?: 

General Fiction: 4/10 (The Runaway Princess, Since You’ve Been Gone, Admission, Delicious, )

Sci-Fi/Fantasy: 4/10 (The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, Hiddensee, The Crystal Cave, Sword of Destiny,)

Historical: 5/10 (The Velvet Hours, In the Shadow of Paris, And Only to Deceive, Radio Girls, Black Rabbit Hall, )

Thriller: 2/2 (The Alienist and Meddling Kids)

Free Choice: 6/14 (Love and Gravity, A Fate of Wrath and Flame, City of Lost Dreams, It Devours!, A Court of Mist and Fury, A study in Ashes,)

Memoirs/Autobiographies: 2/2 (Buffering and Always Look on The Bright Side of Life)

General Non-Fiction: 2/2 (The Happiness Advantage and Teacher Misery)

Book of The Month: 4/12 (Reckless Girls, A River Enchanted, Dating Dr. Dil, Kaikeyi, )

Extras: 11/? (Midnight Spells Murder, Hot Vampire Next Door S1, Twisted Love, Malibu Rising, A Deal with the Elf King, Hot Vampire Next Door S2, The Fine Print, Well Met, Book Boyfriend, The Sound of Stars, Twisted Games,)

BookTok Made Me Buy It

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            I never and I truly mean never thought I would be writing a post like this. BookTok is a thing that has taken over my life. I have over a dozen books in my Amazon cart because of it and it’s because there was one line on the internet that hooked me in. It’s a problem, I didn’t used to buy books at the rate I am currently buying books and that is really a problem for me! 

I did put them in the order that they are pretty much on my TBR. I have only read to Book Boyfriend. Which is about in the middle.

            I have bought a lot of books this year and most of them were because of TikTok, the others were because of Book of the Month, but BookTok has a hold on me. There are books that I claimed for a long time that I wouldn’t read, like ACOTAR (which I love!) but then the internet got ahold of me and I have discovered something that is highly addictive. 

            So, this is just going to be a list, more or less, there will be some blurbs with books that I have already read but I am only going to talk about the ones that are currently in my collection, not in my Amazon cart Save for Later section because it would be a much longer list then. 

            Everyone knows how much I loved The Love Hypothesis, that was one of the first BookTok books that I actually bought and that was in December, that’s right, December. The other one that I bought because of BookTok was A Fate of Wrath and Flame, that book was amazing and I am really excited for the second one that comes out in June I think, I have no idea where it’s going to go, but I always hope for a happy ending. 

I could say that BookTok also convinced me to buy Kingdom of The Wicked and Kingdom of The Cursed because I saw it there for a while, but I would have bought them either way because I read the Stalking Jack the Ripper series last year as well and I love her writing. She’s one of those authors that I will pick up her books knowing nothing about them. 

            Next was A Court of Thorns and Roses, I devoured that book and I just finished A Court of Mist and Fury. That book broke me and I have something like 20 books until I read the next one, I am so excited for the next one. I am waiting until A Court of Silver Flames comes out in paperback before I grab that one, which is in September. September is going to be a big month for all the books that I am waiting for. 

            Then I fell down a hole, and I do mean a hole, I found my wait onto another section of BookTok and well, none of those books I can take to work, let’s just put it that way. Is it a weird side of TikTok? Yes, but man do I have a lot of books in my Amazon cart because of it. 

            So, what have a bought this year alone that really belong on the BookTok made me do it list? I have to consult the Book Bullet Journal for that because there are several and most of them were read in February where I read 15 books, which for me is a record. 

            Also, a lot of these authors are on TikTok and that’s usually where I find their books so it’s been fun to see what people are out there writing. Hot Vampire Next Door is a lot, it’s good, but so much and the first two are out in paperback, the third will come out eventually and I know that. I could read it on Kindle Unlimited, but that would not be a good idea and I really like physical books. 

            The Twisted series by Ana Huang is amazing and I have only read the first one, I have the other two that are out and I am waiting for the fourth one because I love the idea of intertwining standalones because that’s so fun. 

            Deal with the Elf King was one I saw there as well and I don’t remember what made me add it to my Amazon cart but I did and it was sweet, it was a lot but really cute. The second in the series is also sitting in my Amazon cart as well because why not, just need a little hit of serotonin that books have been giving me lately. 

            The Fine Print was the last one that I read because of BookTok, it was…a lot and the sequel to that is also in my Amazon cart because I have a problem, I straight up have a problem and here we are, not regretting any little bit of it. 

            I hope y’all can sense a theme here, hence why I cannot read them in public, or ar work, or with other people around, they are all a lot. 

            Those are the ones I have read so far so I am going to do a quick fire of the other ones that I have in my TBR as extras because I needed to have some actual choice books in my list that I didn’t mick from my shelves. Book Boyfriend I will start here today and hopefully by the time that this post comes out I will be done with it, long done with it. Also, there is Twisted Games which is the second in the Twisted series which I am looking forward to. Twisted Hate is later in the TBR pile, but it’s up there and I am looking forward to it, it’s a thick book. A Not So Meet Cute which I have heard good things about. Hooked which I have heard is dark, I don’t know how I am going to feel about that one, but here we are. It Happened One Summer because the internet told me to and I loved Schitt’s Creek which was an inspiration for this one. Not the Witch You Wed which is a paranormal, again, here we are. A Winter’s Promise which I know a little bit about because of the internet but I don’t know a lot about it and that’s always fun, I think that one is YA so I don’t expect it to be risqué at all and that’s the hope here. 

            Like I said I have about a dozen in my Amazon cart and that means that this list will grow, I joke that I could be doing drugs or other things, instead I buy books. I am looking forward to a lot of the books on my BookTok list and I know that there will be other books that join this list even if I never make another post like this, I probably will when I actually buy and read more. I don’t need to buy more books though so I am going to try and keep myself from buying any more books at least this month. 

            Well, there you have it, if you are interested in seeing what I have actually read this year, you totally can with January, February, and March. If you want to see how I track my books, that’s cool too with my Book Bullet Journal for January and February. I will be back later in the week with another post so until then I hope that everyone has a great time until then, I also hope that everyone stays safe, happy, and healthy. 

            -MJ 

February Book of the Month Review:

Title: A River Enchanted

Author: Rebecca Ross

Rating: 4/5

            Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            Here we are with another Book of the Month review and this one was over 400 pages, that is such a long book, but I enjoyed it so much. It was really interesting and this will probably contain spoilers because I read like 200 pages in a day and that’s just where I am at the moment. I wasn’t going to write this post tonight but here I am; I was also not planning on finishing the book tonight, but again, here I am. 

            This book had an amazing story spun throughout with the almost Highland feeling with all of the spirits and the warring clans on the same island. I feel like I just read something similar with warring clans and I have read ten books so far this month and it’s only the 16th so I don’t actively remember at the moment because my brain is falling asleep and I am the sleepy tired. 

            I loved the magic system in this book, using the spirits and the enchantments through tangible objects was so interesting to use as a mechanic. I love legends and myths and this weaved those elements into it so well. I also loved that all of the magic and enchantments seemed to be through skills and careers and that is again so cool. 

            It is part of a series and according to Goodreads the next one comes out in December so I will hopefully be reading it in December because the cliffhanger had me wanting to throw this book across my office. I am in pain and I don’t like books that leave me at a cliffhanger and leave me in pain.

            This book did take a while for me to get into it, it was for sure a slow build. The first hundred pages or so had me wondering if I was even going to enjoy it and then it got good. It flipped between perspectives and it was done so well. I just read another book that shifted perspectives and it didn’t feel necessary. This made the story, this one multi-dimensional and I enjoyed it so much. 

            The dynamics of the characters and their lives was so cool, I loved all of the family elements in this and I am wondering how the ending of this book will affect all of those relationships into the next book. 

            I really liked the characters and all of the threads woven together where their lives overlap. I thought it was all going to be told through Jack’s perspective but I was glad that it wasn’t. 

            Brief summary of the plot, Jack a Bard is called home by the Laird of his island of Cadence because little girls are going missing. He finds out that the Laird wasn’t the one who called him, it was the Laird’s daughter who was Jack’s nemesis when they were children before he was sent to the mainland for school. Let’s be honest they are enemies to lovers and that’s fun. They are considering trade with the West of the island who they don’t get along with and the Heiress wants that trade to begin but the Heir of the West is…I don’t want to compare him to a piece of anatomy, but he is (that makes sense when you read the book). Jack has the ability to call the spirits for the earth, water, and wind and they have to because those spirits have the answers they seek about the missing girls. 

There are so many plot lines that snake together and it was so interesting and compelling after you get passed that first chunk of the book. Some people might be hooked from page one, I was not, I was hooked from about page 100 or so. 

If you like fantasy, the power of music, and the Scottish Highlands aesthetic; this one is for sure something that might be for you.

If you want to see the other books I have gotten this year and my feelings on them, you for sure can because I love linking things to things, January was an adventure.

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

-MJ 

Books I Read in February 2022

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            Here we are again with another month and another set of books that I have read, again, I am doing this monthly so there will be less books on these than my posts of last year. There were so many in some of them last year and it was too much. If you want to read about the 9 books I read in January, you totally can. 

            I am hoping to shrink my TBR pile even more this month and read a few more books that BookTok made me order. I mean I am easily swayed when it comes to reading, so I bought six books in January because of BookTok…It’s a lot. 

A Fate of Wrath and Flame by K.A. Tucker (5/5)

            The second one comes out in July and I will be preordering it soon, like really soon. This was the first book that BookTok made me buy and it was because of one exchange. I bought the book for like four lines of dialogue. It was so good; I loved the spinning of the worlds and it was such a fun read. I laughed, I questioned my very existence, and I read 300 pages in one day. One day! I loved the story and the characters and it was just a touch spicy and it is for sure enemies to lovers and who doesn’t love that trope? I mean I really do and here we are. It was totally worth the 492 pages; it was so good I could not put it down. I cannot wait to read the next one because this one left off at a cliffhanger and I want a happy ending because I like books with happy endings and this was for sure only my second five-star book of the year. I saw people reviewing it that they didn’t like the politics in it, I didn’t really think that I thought that it added a layer of realism and intrigue to it, and the twist was something I kind of figured but it’s fine. I cannot wait to read the next one and see how this story concludes, or keeps going I am not sure if it’s a duology or a series, we’ll find out I guess. 

Hot Vampire Next Door (Season 1) by Nikki St. Crowe (4.3/5)

            It is rare for me to buy a book and read it in the same week, this was a novella and it is a serial on Kindle. I saw it on TikTok and it is spicy, a lot spicier than I usually read. It was really funny though and I didn’t really mean to read it but it was only 132 pages and I did, while finishing the book that is right above this one. I laughed a lot, I cannot wait to see where it goes in Season 2, which I will buy when it comes out in paperback because I don’t read e-books. I really should have a “TikTok made me buy it/or at least add it to my Amazon cart” post. Maybe down the road I will. It was a really fun little paranormal romance with so much going on. It was fun, it was sexy, and overall amazing.  

And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander (3.8/5)

            Three out of the last five books I have read have been historical mysteries and this is was my favorite of the three. I have had this book in my collection for probably nearly a decade, maybe not that long but who knows. I bought the 8thbook on clearance and bought this one after. I have not read any of them until this one, the second is on my TBR for next year and I might read it sooner than that but who knows. I loved the intrigue of this one, I hated Emily’s mother but that is modern sensibility as opposed to the Victorian morals. The story had me guessing until we actually find out who is guilty. It’s not a murder mystery! Which is super cool because I loved the fact that it was about stolen antiquities and I hated the person who was actually behind all of it from the beginning. I wrote in my book bullet journal in my thoughts section that I wanted to punch him. I am really excited to read the series. (Even though there are 15 published and the 16th comes out later this year.) I cannot wait to see what happens next in Emily’s life. 

Twisted Love by Ana Huang (4.3/5)

            Well, this is another book that BookTok made me want and I read it in one day and I read 100 pages in another book. It was really good and I could not put it down. I mean my reading tastes have for sure changed since last summer. I am going to be honest about that one, I don’t know why. It was hilarious at parts and absolutely broke me at others. It was so much, like so much and I could not put it down. Mind you it is currently February 5th and I already have four books on this post! That’s so many! I cannot wait to read the rest in this series since they are intertwined standalones. So excited for them, I cannot order any of them at the moment though (spoiler alert, I did order them…oops) because I promised myself that I would whittle down my physical TBR before I bought anymore and I bought 6 books because of BookTok in January and that is so many. Y’all, BookTok is a wild place, a really wild place and I have never had more fun reading. 

Since You’ve Been Gone by Anouska Knight (3.8/5)

            I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this one. I really enjoyed it, I saw some mixed reviews and I need to stop looking at reviews. It was really cute and I have had it in my collection for a long time. This is one for sure that I don’t think I would have liked when I bought it but I read it in two days. This was the book that I read 100 pages in when I was reading Twisted Love, I read two books this weekend. It’s the 6th… I mean really. I need to stop devouring books this fast. It was a really cute story and so much. There were parts where I had to put the book down and laugh because I love a good rom-com. I was a teenager and into college at the height of the rom-com movie phase. There is a lot of talk about death in this one but it was good and showed that dealing with grief is not a linear and straightforward thing, it can take a long time to get over. It was a powerful story and it was fun, super fun. 

City of Lost Dreams by Magnus Flyte (4/5)

            City of Dark Magic is one of my all-time favorite books and I should have read this in like 2016 when I read the first one but I didn’t want to finish the series and here we are six years later and it didn’t have the same magic for me. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved the book. I called the plot twist early on though, and for me that’s odd. The ending left me a little underwhelmed because it just felt too sudden and almost too peaceful for the rest of the book and even the one before it. I loved the time travel mechanic and who doesn’t love a sarcastic immortal dwarf. It’s a good book and I need to go back and reread the first one. I loved it so much when I read it and it was a good duology. 

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (3.5/5)

            Well, this book got so hyped last year and it was a lot. I enjoyed it to an extent but it is not my favorite. The fact that it was told through the eyes of what felt like 30 people was a little much for me and the ending was lacking. It just kind of ended and it was very odd. It was a fine book but it was not my favorite. It was an interesting story and it only took me three days to read and that’s pretty normal for me. I read it, I liked it enough, but it not going to be a top ten read this year. It was just a lot and all of the family drama was interesting but a little much for me as a reader. 

A Deal with the Elf King by Elise Kova (4/5)

            I read it in two sittings because I couldn’t put it down, the blurb on Malibu Rising I wrote yesterday to give you some context. This was another book that TikTok made me buy, I don’t even remember what enticed me to it. It was real cute, like real cute. It had very strong Beauty and the Beast vibes which I was totally there for. It was predictable in the best ways and there was a moment there were I was thinking that it wouldn’t end happily and y’all know your girl almost threw it across her office. It was such a fun read about learning and being in a new place and how sometimes you find what you are looking for when you aren’t even looking. It was a touch spicy, just a little and that’s fine. I really enjoyed the magic in this story and I will be reading the other books in this series when I get a chance to order them but I am putting myself on a self-imposed book buying ban until at least my birthday (except my BoTM) because I really need to stop buying books and then neglecting the books that I own and need to read. 

Hot Vampire Next Door (Season 2) by Nikki St. Crowe (4/5)

            It was really good, I read it in about an hour literally the day it showed up at my apartment. There were for sure some parts where I would urge you to read the content warnings. I had to stop reading for a minute an collect myself because I was in shock, let’s just say if you are averse to blood… I wouldn’t recommend it. I cannot wait for Season 3 and I could read it on the Kindle but I don’t like eBooks, I never have. This book left off on a soft cliffhanger, I don’t want to call it a hard cliffhanger but it’s still a cliffhanger. I want to read the rest of it. I love the characters and the story is absolutely bonkers. I mean it’s really bonkers but I am really enjoying it. It’s spicy and I mean it, well, it’s spicy for me. I know people who can blow through a lot spicier content than me with a straight face, I will sit and blush like an idiot. That’s just who I am as a person. Seriously, TikTok made me buy it and that’s just apparently who I am at the moment. 

A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross (4/5)

            I was not planning on opening this document again tonight, I did though and here we are. I have been reading this through the last two books so here we are. I really enjoyed this one and I wrote a whole post on it because it was my February Book of the Month. So that will be out next week at some point so I am not going to go into heavy detail here. I enjoyed it and the next one doesn’t come out until December so that’s a bummer. 

The Fine Print by Lauren Asher (4.4/5)

            I even liked the epilogue in this one and everyone should know by now how much a detest epilogues. I could not put this book down and I am reading a non-fiction at the moment as well so I needed a break from that. I loved this book; the concept is amazing and well I mean it’s a theme park that feels very much like a certain mouse themed park and that was a fun thing. Rowan is so grumpy; I love the grumpy/sunshine trope though so that was fun. I really liked how there were some tough topics discussed and that was so important to see in a book like this. It’s spicy, it’s real spicy. I cannot wait to read the second one though and that comes out somewhere near the end of the month, which is next week and I am really excited for it because let’s be real; I love series like this that focus on one group or family apparently. 

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor (4/5)

            This was a gift from my step-grandmother when I graduated from high school in 2010. At the time I thought it was an odd gift to give someone at 18. Now at 29, I see the value. I have an undergraduate degree in psychology and reading this book made me remember and realize how much of my time as an undergrad was spent trying to chase the high of positive psychology. This book was great, it’s non-fiction which for me takes a lot longer to read but the contents of it were fascinating and I am going to try and implement them in my real life. It’s a lot, it’s so much trying to be happy at work somedays but we all try and we all want to do better (at least I hope that’s the case). It was eye opening to read this book that was published in 2010 that it still holds true because we went through another crisis and I feel like most of us throughout the pandemic have been living in a constant mode of crisis and uncertainty. It’s a good read if you are interested in psychology and I know that Growth Mindset is on my list of books to buy and has been for years. We are allowed to be happy in all aspects of our lives, it just takes time. 

Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire (3/5)

            I didn’t really enjoy it and that is okay. I have had this in my collection for years and I was hoping it would be much more fantasy and much more about the nutcracker than it actually felt like it was. I didn’t really like the pacing; it was just a little weird for me and it wasn’t a book that is for me. That’s totally cool because it is for someone else. I just didn’t jive with the story and the style of it. I thought it was interesting but it was just odd in many aspects and jarring in others. It was just weird. I don’t really have anything else to say about it, it just wasn’t my favorite. 

Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford (3/5)

            This book has been in my collection for a long time. I liked the idea of the BBC in its infancy, there is a lot of espionage and I didn’t know that one of the characters was a real person. Not until the end. I expected very different things from this novel. I liked the character of Maisie, but there were a lot of things that I didn’t particularly enjoy. I know men treated women like this back in the day, but man, I wanted to punch things reading parts of this book. I expected more radio, less fascism. It was a lot and it just wasn’t for me and that is totally okay. I have read 14 books this month, and I have read almost 25 this year, we are bound to find a few that aren’t for me.  

            I didn’t expect to read this many books this month, I read 14 in December and this post is just as long or longer which is insane. I have trained myself to read like 100 pages a night and some nights that goes by super-fast, sometimes it takes me a long time. I had some highs and lows this month in my reading because some of my TBR books are just things that I am forcing myself to get through. I don’t DNF, I just don’t because what if it gets good ten pages before the end and that makes it all worth it? Will that actually happen? No, but do I think maybe someday it might? Maybe. 

            I have no idea how I read so much this month besides a few AMI days and books that I just couldn’t put down. I think on average it took me something like two days to finish each book which is insane and a breakneck pace that I cannot sustain. I need to not condition myself to do this because I will be finished with my TBR by the summer and I don’t need to be. 

            I cannot wait to read some of the books that I have planned for March and I am going on a book buying ban until my birthday so I cannot buy the four or five books that I have sitting in my Amazon cart, I need to get off BookTok because it’s one sentence and I am buying a book, which honestly seems a little insane; but here we are. 

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

            -MJ

Let’s Keep Track Shall We?: 

General Fiction: 2/10 (The Runaway Princess, Since You’ve Been Gone, )

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

Historical: 4/10 (The Velvet Hours, In the Shadow of Paris, And Only to Deceive, Radio Girls, )

Thriller: 1/2 (The Alienist)

Free Choice: 3/14 (Love and Gravity, A Fate of Wrath and Flame, City of Lost Dreams, )

Memoirs/Autobiographies: 1/2 (Buffering, )

General Non-Fiction: 1/2 (The Happiness Advantage, )

Book of The Month: 2/12 (Reckless Girls, A River Enchanted, )

Extras: 7/? (Midnight Spells Murder, Hot Vampire Next Door S1, Twisted Love, Malibu Rising, A Deal with the Elf King, Hot Vampire Next Door S2, The Fine Print, )

MJ’s Book Rating System

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            Honestly, I saw this idea scrolling through TikTok really early on Sunday morning and I had never really thought about how I rate my books and how subjective ratings can be. I rate books different than other people and other people rate different than me and that is really interesting. 

            Since I have been reading and rating a lot of books lately, I think I need to go over my rating system because I never really thought about how I rate books, I just rate them and then move on. My ratings might straight up depend on my mood while I am reading the book and that has to be okay. 

            I am a mood reader so while I am working through my TBR my scores tend to be lower and that’s not fair to those books, but if I didn’t give myself a TBR I would never read half the books I own and that seems even worse. 

            I also rate on a sliding scale, I rate books whole numbers and decimals depending on how much I like them because I hate straight whole number ratings, do I rate just whole numbers? Of course I do, but I also rate .1-.9 as well. 

1 Star (1-1.9):

            I don’t think I have ever rated a book at a one that I ended up finishing. This rating is for books that I have DNFed and the last book I DNFed was Gossip. I also rated Crimson Peak a one as well because that book was a lot and I originally rated it higher and then reevaluated because I couldn’t. I finished it and didn’t pick up another book for several weeks. A one start rating for me is really rare because I usually only pick up books I think that I am going to like and I am a little more selective now than I was at the time. One stars for me are the books that give you that feeling in your stomach that something is wrong, that you just need to put the book down and leave it down.

2 Stars (2-2.9):

            I rated three books last year in this category because they were hard to get through, they were all classics and that’s fine. I didn’t enjoy them. 2-star ratings are pretty much just as rare as my 1-star ratings because I am selective. Usually 2-star books are just not well written or they have subject matter in them that should have been a trigger warning. There are very few books outside of the classics that I have rated 2 stars. I rate classics like that because they were really dense and I slogged through them, I don’t like taking months to read books because I am annoyed. The classics also need to be listened to and I think if I listened the audio books, I would like them a lot more. A 2-star rating for me is that feeling of creeping dread, you know something weird is going on but you don’t know what it is. 

3 Stars (3-3.9):

            Most of the books I read fall in this category. They are good, they make have a few things that I don’t really like but they also have things that I really do. 3 Stars is kind of my catch all because it’s average. I don’t like to rate below this benchmark because I know how hard writing is, and what might be for me may not be for someone else and vice-versa. Most of my TBR books end up here which is totally fine, I just finished Malibu Rising and gave it 3.5 because while it was good it was a lot and it moved too fast for me to keep up, also the ending left me feeling unfulfilled. It was a good story and a great idea; it was just not 100% for me. A 3-Star rating gives me the ups and downs, it makes me smile and feel for the characters, and it makes me want to keep reading. 

4 Stars (4-4.9):

            These books are amazing, I don’t give many 4- and 5-star ratings so if a book is 4 stars it means that I really enjoyed it. It means that I couldn’t put it down and I loved the story, the characters, and everything else about it. Sometimes these books are books that make me feel so much. Like I read a lot of books and most of them do not wow me. To get a 4-Star rating the book has to wow me, I have only rated a handful of books 4 Stars this year. Last year when I got to mood reading, I rated a lot of them 4 Stars and that is because they made me feel a lot of things. These are the books that I devour in just days or a day, if I read the whole thing in a day, it’s usually in this category. I know that a lot of reader like to put books in this category and if you look at my GoodReads list I rate a lot more books a 4 than I actually do because I cannot do half ratings, so if I think it’s 3.5 or over, I rate it a four. Is it always a four? No, but if I can’t rate it by half or decimal then I have to go with the closest whole number. (#TeacherProblems)

5 Stars:

            I rarely rate books 5 Stars, I can count on about seven fingers the books that I have rated five stars since the beginning of 2021, I don’t rate books this highly often because this means that they blew me away. These are the books that I want to reread as soon as I put them down, these are books that have touched a part of me in my heart and in my brain where only a few books get to live. I know that 5-Stars seems like an unattainable rating and for me, it kind of is. These are books that go on my trophy shelf in my bedroom, they don’t get packed up at the end of the year with the rest of my books and that is really cool. There are some 4-Star books in there as well. These books take you for the ride of the book with them, they transport you to that world and you feel like you are there immersed with the characters, these are the books that I recommend to people, or buy for people even though they may not like them and it breaks my heart just a little bit when people don’t like my favorite books, it’s subjective and I know that.

            So that’s my rating system, pretty much in as many words and I can describe it. I hadn’t ever thought about justifying my rating system even though like half of my posts at the moment are about books because that is a big part of my life right now. I had a weird week at work last week and this post will come out two days after Valentine’s Day so just know that I needed to make a list. Work wasn’t bad, my kids were being a lot, but other things happened that made it a good week and I am hoping that as you are reading this I am having a good week out here in academia. 

            So, until I see y’all again with another post on Sunday, I hope that everyone has a great rest of the week and I also hope that everyone stays safe, happy, and healthy. 

            -MJ 

2021 Unhauled Books

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

West of Sunset by Stuart O’nan

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

Last Days of Night by Graham Moore

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

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

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

The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber

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

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

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

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

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

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

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

Soulless by Gail Carriger

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

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan

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

Dream London by Tony Ballentine

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

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

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

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

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

            -MJ

January 2022 Book of the Month Review:

Title: Reckless Girls

Author: Rachel Hawkins

Rating: 3.6/5

Genre: Thriller/Suspense

Hey hey, it’s MJ, 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-MJ 

Books I Read in January 2022

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Non-Fiction: 

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

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

Book of the Month:

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

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

Midnight Spells Murder by Mary Angela (3.5/5)

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

The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman (4/5)

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

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

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

Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins (3.6/5)

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

The Runaway Princess by Hester Browne (3/5)

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

Buffering by Hannah Hart (3.5/5)

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

Love and Gravity by Samantha Sotto (4/5)

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

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

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

The Alienist by Caleb Carr (3.6/5)

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

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

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

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

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

            -MJ 

Let’s Keep Track Shall We?: 

General Fiction: 1/10 (The Runaway Princess)

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

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

Thriller: 1/2 (The Alienist)

Free Choice: 1/14 (Love and Gravity)

Memoirs/Autobiographies: 1/2 (Buffering)

General Non-Fiction: /2

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

Extras: 1/? (Midnight Spells Murder)