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      

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

         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

         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

         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

         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

         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

         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 

         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

         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

         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

         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:

         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 

         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

         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

         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

         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

         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)

July Book of The Month Review:

Book: Half Sick of Shadows

Author: Laura Sebastian

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

         -MJ 

Books Read so Far in 2021 Part #3

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

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

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

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

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

Yes, Please by Amy Poehler:

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

Premeditated Mortar by Kate Carlisle 

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

Theodore Boone: The Fugitive by John Grisham

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

Dracula by Bram Stoker

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

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

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

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

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

Death in Bloom by Jess Dylan

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

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

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

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

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

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

            -MJ 

Let’s keep track shall we?:

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

Historical Fiction:  1/5 (West of Sunset)

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

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

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

Non-Fiction:  /1

Thrillers: 1 /2 (I, Ripper

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

Books I’ve Read So Far in 2020 Part 4

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            Writing this post like this seems like such a better choice for me so I think I will continue to write my little blurbs as I finish a book because to me in hindsight and foresight that seems like a much better plan moving forward. 

            So here we are with part four and hopefully the end of my 40 books this year goal. I had a middle schooler tell me today (I’m writing this the day before Halloween so to give y’all some context) that she didn’t trust anyone who read for fun and that to me is so weird because I love to read but I guess that’s not always the case. 

            Welcome to the end of 2020 though and I am hoping maybe by now everything has leveled off but who knows at this point. (haha)

            While you read this post you may be wondering, MJ why so many cozy mysteries? I don’t know I just have really been enjoying them and they are quick reads an that’s about all I can say about them now, I just really enjoy them. 

            So what did I read after my last post of this nature? 

15 Minutes of Flame by Christin Brecher 

            I wrote a whole post about this book and how cool it was so I don’t really want to say all that much here but I will say at least a little, hopefully by the time this comes out I have read the first two in the series, honestly I hope they are underneath this one somewhere soon because I really want to read them. I really enjoyed this book for a kind of Halloween mystery and I liked the concept of the story line of this novel as well as the writing style so overall this would be a book I would suggest to anyone who likes the cozy mystery genre in general.

Crowned and Moldering by Kate Carlisle 

            So I took a break from this one to read 15 Minutes of Flame and then another little break because I was a little burnt out reading and wanted to write like 25 pages in a few days instead but then I got back into this and let me tell you I had the time to finish it in one day and I did.  It was so good and it kept you guessing about who the killer actually was. It was a lot of high school drama being dragged back up and as someone who didn’t like high school it felt very real. I love the character development and the whole world building of this series. My Barnes and Noble doesn’t have the next one so I have to order it which is always a pain because I have to wait to read it but maybe that will make me read them slower, that is utterly doubtful but I can joke about it. 

Murder’s No Votive Confidence by Christin Brecher

            So this is the first book in the Nantucket Candle Maker Mysteries, I read the third one first because it came in as the Once Upon A Book Club Halloween box and as I mentioned above I wrote a whole post on it, so if you are interested go read it. This book was great, I couldn’t put it down. After reading the third book I knew some of the character relationships already but to see them be created and introduced in this novel gave them a new meaning which I really enjoyed. I also really like the idea of having special candles at a wedding that seems like such a fun idea. I don’t know if I would ever do that in reality but I love the idea. It was a really quick read and I still love the story and the characters, it took me a long time to figure out who did it because these books are written giving so many avenues and logical explanations and threads to suspect multiple people. This is one of those series that pull you in from page one and don’t let you go until the very last words and I will probably be reading the second one next so I will be caught up with where the series is currently. 

Murder Makes Scents by Christin Brecher 

            So this is the second in the series and it was so good, it was half spy novel half cozy mystery. It was such a good book, I still love the expansion of the cast of characters throughout a series like this. I was just shocked how much spy novel this one was like actually, I liked the element but it was such a departure from the other two in the series. It wasn’t actually a really long book only like 240 or so which is pretty short for a cozy mystery but it is a pretty quick read and I really enjoyed it. I know that I say that about most every book that I read but isn’t that the point, you want to enjoy what you are reading and if you don’t enjoy it you won’t keep reading it so I want to enjoy what I read. I think that most of November will be cozy mystery month because I still have two more books to read at least this month and I am kind of on a cozy mystery kick. 

And then there were Crumbs by Eve Calder

            I already bought the second one, I finished it in the morning and went to Barnes and Noble instantly because I needed to read the second one; like right now. It was so good, I loved the twists and turns with this book. I love all the characters and there is a poodle in it and by now I feel like everyone should know that I love poodles because I grew up with them so a poodle in a story is an automatic win for me. This was one of those books that I could not put down, the chapters are nice and short, some are only a page or two and so when I flipped through to see the total chapters in the book and saw that there were 69 chapters I thought it was daunting but it was a quick read with a really interesting conclusion on who done it. Let’s just say, it was someone’s ‘just desserts’. Seriously this had been one of the best mysteries that I have read all year and November is mystery month so I’m excited to dive into the next one. 

Sugar and Vice by Eve Calder

            So I read the second one, I could not put this one down and now I am sad because the next one doesn’t come out until next year and I have to wait for it. I love the series, I really really do. I love the characters, the world that is being built, and everything about the mysteries in these novels. So far they are not the traditional “the heroine is trapped about to die” kind of mysteries and I love the change of pace. Again there is a poodle, love poodles so I love the character of Oliver. Seriously these books keep you guessing until the very end and I read most of this book in one day because I could not stop reading it. Today it was rainy and windy so it was the perfect day to curl up with a book. This is one of those series so far that has just blown me away, I want to read more like right now but I have to wait…I don’t wanna but it keeps you gripped from page one and doesn’t let you go until you read the last word. Also I want to make like all of the cookies that they mention in this series, seriously. 

Terns of Endearment by Donna Andrews

            This is something like the 25th book in the series and let me tell you it’s one of my favorites. I love the characters and the mystery and this one was really cool, like an augmented locked room mystery with the whole cast of characters that I have come to love over the last few years reading this series on a cruise ship that “breaks down” in the middle of a cruise to Bermuda. It was one of those books that kept me gripped to it. It was such a bait and switch mystery that was kind of reminiscent of any of the cruise ships breaking down in the last several years. I loved that it had writers in it on the cruise and expanded on a universe that I found by accident looking for a Halloween themed mystery book a few years ago (Lord of the Wings) and have been hooked ever since. I have the next one and I will be cracking it open tomorrow.

Owl be Home for Christmas by Donna Andrews

            I know, another cozy mystery but at least this one is Christmas themed, this is again another Meg Langslow book and I love the series so much. This like that last was also kind of a locked room mystery with everyone trapped in a hotel for Owl Fest 2019, I mean that sounds fun. I was confused about one thing though, one the back of the book it said that a character was going to be there and I don’t think she was even in the book but I could have just glazed over her, it was just odd. There were a lot of twists and turns in this book and I was shocked but not so shocked about who the killer was. I was shocked by the reason and I feel like it was just another classic case of ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’. I was also a little surprised when it resolved with several pages left to go and then I understood why, no spoilers if you want to read the series. I love seeing returning minor characters in series like this because it just weaves an amazing story and world that you can think back to the last time you saw that character. Overall great book, can’t wait to read the next one. 

City Girl, Country Vet by Cathy Woodman

            I am a sucker for romantic comedies, I have been for years and I have had this book in my library for years now and I finally decided it was time to read this. I read it in a few days because I could not put it down. I love the small town aesthetic and this book pulled me in and didn’t let go. I know that the rest of the books in this post are cozy mysteries, even the next one that I am reading, this one was so good though. It wrapped up a little bit of Romeo and Juliette, a little rom com, and a little vet TV show. All of the characters felt real and different which was really nice because not everyone got along and you didn’t have a repetitive story line that you get in a lot of rom coms. I really enjoyed this book and there are more in the series and I may have to read them, I found this out from Barnes and Noble’s website the other day and I may read more eventually because I liked the characters and the writing style. 

Deck the Hallways by Kate Carlisle

            Look at me going back to cozy mysteries because well, why not? I really enjoyed this one because it was Christmas themed also I read it all in one day, it is also my 40th book this year so that’s also really exciting because that was my goal for this year and I wasn’t sure if I was going to get to that goal this year. But that is not what this post is about it’s about the book that I read, it was so good I really liked it. The story line was awesome with a whole lot of twists and turns and so many familiar characters that just immerse you back into the story. This one involved an ax, a banker, and a Victorian house that is being renovated into apartments. It was great and heartwarming to read even though there was a murder but that’s one good thing about a cozy mystery it’s not just a murder mystery it’s also the building of a community and the allowance to have jokes and fun while still solving a murder. I still love the character of Shannon Hammer because lady carpenters for the win. I cannot wait to read the next one to see the further progression of this series and I actually have the next one so there is a good chance that I will be reading that next because well cozy mysteries. 

            I thought maybe I would get another book read this year but since I finished the last one I just haven’t had the motivation to read, though I did hit my goal of 40 books this year. I may read another one before the end of the year but I had to put this post up early because my fabfitfun box still hasn’t shown up and it shipped like the second of this month so there’s that. I just needed to get a post up and I figured this one would be good. 

If you want to know what other books I have read this year you can with parts 1, 2, and 3.

            This is the first year in three years that I have actually hit my reading goal and next year I have plans to read even more and I have a list of genres and titles that I plan on reading next year which is always a crap shoot whether or not that I actually get them done. 

            Well 2020 is almost over and that’s fine, I did get one of my goals done this year and that was my reading goal. I know people who read 100 books a year and that to me is just too many because I don’t have the time but I can get away with 40. I enjoyed most of the books I read this year but isn’t that the point of reading, to enjoy it? 

            Well we have this post and one more this year and I am excited about that because I am excited to see what 2021 brings in regard to my content. I have a lot of hopes for next year and I will make a goals post in January.

            I will see y’all later in the week for another post, I am really hoping that it’s my winter fanfitfun unboxing but who knows so I will be back Wednesday with a post regardless! I hope everyone had a good holiday and has a good start to the week! 

            -MJ

PS a bonus! This is the stack of books that I read this year, except for three which I gave back to my mom because they were hers but this stack is huge!