Books I Read in January 2023

Hey hey, it’s MJ.

            I set my Goodreads goal to 75, my physical TBR pile this year is 55 and I feel like after reading 130, that’s right, 130 books last year I can hopefully hit at least 75 this year. 

            I would go through what I am reading and how I am doing my book bullet journal differently this year, but I don’t know if I am actually going to. I am going to give the TBR categories. 12 each of general fiction, science fiction/fantasy, and historical because those are my three largest genres, 4 non-fiction, and 2 thrillers, along with 15 free choice books. That whole list is done. It has been mostly complete since midway through last year. Next year I have no idea what my TBR is going to look like.

            I have already finished my first book of the year so let’s talk about that, like every year there will be a tracker at the bottom because that is what I need in my brain, more lists and things. 

            There might be spoilers, I am putting that up here because I think that giving my honest review unfiltered is how it’s always been. 

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones (4.3/5)

            I grew up on the animated version of this, that was the reason that I bought the book and now I need to go and watch the movie again. I really want a movie that follows this book exactly because it is much more adult and grown up than I thought it was. I did enjoy it, there is a lot going on throughout, Wales surprised me. Sophie was sometimes a hard character to like, though Howl was as well, if we aren’t fooling ourselves. I still like the ending; it is much more compelling than the movie ending and I really did enjoy it throughout. I need to not compare the book to the movie because the movie had to curb the story to a younger audience, it was still good though!

The Gown by Jennifer Robson (3.3/5)

            It was good, until it wasn’t. I expected something different from this book, more royal wedding and all of that less sexual assault. It shifted between 1947 and 2016, I thought that was fun. It was and it was so good even though it took me a good hundred pages to get into, but a very out of place sexual assault of one of the main characters really threw me. It came out of nowhere and didn’t fit into the overarching plot at all, I do really mean, at all. It kind of sullied the rest of the book for me even though the rest of it was moving and amazing, but that’s what is going to stick with me about this book. The fact that the main character was raped because she wouldn’t give away information on the wedding dress of then Princess Elizabeth. The 2016 part of it was fun, though a little contrived and that was fine because it was fun. The ending didn’t feel like it was pulled together enough for me though, it just kind of ended, almost suddenly and I was left feeling adrift. 

Lunar Love by Lauren Kung Jessen (3.6/5)

            It was really cute, super-duper predictable but really cute. So very very clean which was totally fine. I liked the story, I liked the characters and the tropes, I will never be a fan of the third act break up because that’s not something I enjoy. This was my January Book of the Month so there will be a more in depth review on this soon. 

Cocky Roommate by Claire Kingsley (4/5)

            Okay, I read the first one last spring which was Book Boyfriend and I liked that one, I really did. This one was a lot, I liked Kendra and Weston even though Weston started out with me wanting to smack him in the head with the book that was about him. I liked so much of it, the trauma, the building back up, but I will never be okay with the third act break up and he was dumb about it. I did enjoy the ending though I feared him proposing at Alex and Mia’s wedding which I would have been really upset about because I don’t believe in someone proposing at someone else’s wedding. I cannot wait to read Caleb’s story and I will get to it eventually since the person I borrowed this one from is getting that one in the mail in the next few days. 

A Poisoned Season by Tasha Alexander (4/5)

            I read the first in the Lady Emily mysteries last February and loved it. I have number 8 and 9 but not 3-7, so those are on my list of books to buy. A list that is continually growing and that’s a problem. I really enjoyed this book and was not expecting to blow through it in two days. I love Emily and Colin; they are a trip. I liked all of the twists and turns in this one and I didn’t predict the killer until it was revealed. I really didn’t and that is totally cool with me. All of the rumors swirling in this book remind me that while I find Victorian England intriguing, I as a modern woman would not want to be in that time frame (I wouldn’t know any better then, but as a person living in 2023, I think it’s interesting but would not want the pressure of it.) I would love Sebastian to make a reappearance, for no reason or every reason, I don’t know he just seems like a mess. 

You Will Get Through This Night by Daniel Howell (4.3/5)

            This is a practical mental health guide; I will go back and review passages and exercises. I am someone who has struggled since I was a teenager with my mental health (I am finally medicated and that has made me much more even.) I was in therapy for a few years late high school early college but when you have four therapists in three years because they keep moving it gets hard to trust. This was such a good book, it was part memoir, part mental health guide and there was a lot of practical advice. Split into three parts and that was such a good idea. Dan and his best friend, Phil, popped up on my Tumblr back in about 2015 and I started watching their content, they were two creators who got me back into watching videos and made me feel better. I watch their Sims 4 series around Christmas every year because it makes me smile. 

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham (3/5)

            This one was not really for me it seems. When I bought it I was a much bigger Gilmore Girls fan than I am now. (I bought this book in 2014.) It just wasn’t for me; I didn’t really like the writing style. It was based in 1995 and that that was enough of the recent past that it was a little uncanny valley for me. The whole thing with the guy from her acting class that had a thing for her and then her roommate getting broken up with and then might have a thing? Who knows? The premise was interesting but I found the main character annoying on so many occasions. It felt like things just came out of nowhere and I was trying to consolidate them in my brain. The ending left it so open and just didn’t tie everything up enough for me to even say that would have saved it, it didn’t because it left it open and that didn’t feel like a semi-cliffhanger needed to happen. I also got the title wrong for years I thought it was Someday, Maybe Someday. 

Dark Horizons by Jenny T. Colgan (3.2/5)

            It’s a Doctor Who book and I bought a lot of them several years ago, I am slowly witling through them because I don’t really watch it much anymore, it ebbed a while back. It was fine, Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor was my favorite so I like when it’s one of his adventures. Though there were some weird elements in it, Vikings was a cool choice, the Arill were a cool bad guy or antagonist, whatever you want to call them, but I didn’t like the writing style or the pacing. Though I have read several of her books under her non-Doctor Who umbrella and I should have known. I had to look it up to see if it was the same author who wrote this one as well as The Littlest Chocolate Shop in Paris, and Meet Me At The Cupcake Café,which are both books that I have read and unhauled in the last few years. Well, that’s good to know. 

Mindset by Carol S. Dweck (4/5)

            I have a Psychology degree and I teach; I wear a lot of hats with my educational background and I have been meaning to read this book since about 2015, seriously, I watched one of her TED talks and wanted the book. I never bought it. It’s dense, I will for sure say that and I did skim some parts that didn’t apply to me as a person, but a lot of the research was fascinating. I always tell my students that they need to believe in the power of ‘yet’, “I can’t do it.” Okay, you can’t do it…yet. We grow through what we go through and I thank that there is such this stigma on having to be the best at everything and failure is not an option. I have grown into a growth mindset over the years but still am fixed in some things. It is just the way of the world. But it was such a good read and I cannot wait to apply it more to my life personally as well as my life as an educator. 

Portrait of a Scotsman by Evie Dunmore (3.8/5)

            It was good, not my favorite in the series but still good. It was so much, very Beauty and The Beast, I thought that Tristan was a lot from the second one, Lucian is more. I don’t know how that’s possible, he’s so much. I loved the treatment of the social classes in this one, I really did, it was fascinating. Like they both needed to get over themselves so much though throughout the book, and if it wouldn’t have been a happy ending, I would have rioted. Everyone else in this series has gotten their happy ending and if Hattie didn’t, I was going to be upset. He’s so respectful, that was one thing that stood out to me, like he’s an ass, but so respectful to her. The drama near the end with her going to France, it was a little weird and that was what threw me from this being a four star book to being a little less than that. 

            According to this I only read 10 books, I didn’t I read 13 but I am not reviewing the first three Percy Jacksonbooks because I am reading them for Battle of the Books at school. So I read 13 books in January which is insane.

            There were a few books this month that were just kind of meh for me and that’s totally fine, it is the point of a TBR pile, I have to thin out some of the books that I bought almost a decade ago because they no longer might serve me like the books that are on my Amazon list, or on my Want to Read list on Goodreads, I have new tastes than I did when I bought a lot of the books I own, so it’s time to either love it or leave it. 

            I will be back next month with hopefully just about as many books, I am actually closing this post out on the 31st because I am starting a new book today and I am not going to finish it, I work for a living so therefore I don’t have unlimited reading time, even though today is an AMI day at school because weather. 

            It’s always weird to have the first post of the year like this one because I just have nothing to link down here, so with that being said, there is a link up top to December of last year and that has all the links to the rest of the books that I read last year. 

            I will be back in a few days with a new post, I am going about it a little different this year, I am going to post what I want, when I want. I am not going to try and stick to a schedule because this is for me, this blog is for me and if anyone enjoys any part of it, that’s super cool.

            So, until we meet again, I hope that everyone stays safe, happy, and healthy!

            -MJ

Let’s Keep Track Shall We?: 

General Fiction: 1/12 (Someday, Someday, Maybe, )

Sci-Fi/Fantasy: 1/12 (Howl’s Moving Castle, )

Historical: 1/12 (The Gown, )

Thriller: /2

Free Choice: 2/15 (A Poisoned Season, Dark Horizons, )

Memoirs/Autobiographies: 1/2 (You Will Get Through This Night, )

General Non-Fiction: 1/2 (Mindset, )

Book of The Month: 1/12 (Lunar Love, )

Extras: 2/? (Cocky Roommate, Portrait of a Scotsman, )

Battle of the Books (it’s for school!): 3/?  (The Lightening Thief, Sea of MonstersThe Titan’s Curse, )

December 2022 Book of the Month Review:

Title: Babel 

Author: R.F. Kuang

Rating: 3.8/5

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            There are probably going to be spoilers, there are going to be some brutally honest opinions on this one, and I am not going to apologize for that. So if you want to not know, cool, I’ll see you soon for another post. This is just something that I need to get out. 

            I finished the book two days ago and this book threatened to put me in a reading slump, which was super disappointing! With how this book was hyped up and the fact that everyone loved it I am trying to figure out why I just couldn’t get into it like everyone else seemed to. 

            I walked into it not knowing much besides the fact that everyone who I had seen online who read it was head over heels for it, it was over 500 pages. I slogged through it, I liked it, I did, but there were so many parts where I felt like I was reading a whole bunch of stories rather than one cohesive one. 

            All the twists and turns, it was a fascinating novel, it was very well written, and it was a good story underneath all of the prose. There was just so much prose and footnotes, I have never read a fiction book that has so many footnotes, it felt like I was reading a nonfiction because sometimes it was half the page that were footnotes. I didn’t read them, if I wanted to read footnotes, I would find something non-fiction.

            The story itself was fascinating and compelling, pretty much until patricide and then everything fell apart and like everyone died. I loved the story of coming up at Oxford, of learning to be as a person. I loved the translation institute, the use of silver and match-pairs to aid in technology with magic. I loved that element; it was so cool. There were so many parts where I thought of The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman, which was book that I loved so much earlier in the year. 

            When everything started to fall off the rails, I got sad, I got unhappy with the fact that it felt like everyone became a martyr, that that was the only way out of the situation. I know that not everything can have a happily ever after, but I love a happily ever after and just to have so many of the main characters die, that was difficult to stomach. So many people died, I know that to spark a revolution blood must be spilled, but a lot of it felt almost needless. 

            Like imagine the fall out after the thing happened at the end of the book, that is what I am not going to spoil because it’s a big culminating event that left me questioning my own sanity.

            Letty’s betrayal threw me, her whole character though threw me, I never liked her and then she did what she did and I was pissed, for so many reasons. 

            I wanted to love this book; I really did. I wanted to see the hype and the mastery that everyone else saw because this was such an anticipated book. I loved the concept, but it was so dense and could have been slimmed down a little bit in density and page count. I love long-winded prose; I write a lot of long-winded prose there is no denying that. I know that I do because here I am writing this. It was just a little too much for me, felt too much like a non-fiction for me really to immerse myself in it. 

            Everything in this book felt like a means to an end, like everything was set in motion on the path to destruction really early on, that everyone was done for even before they started and I understand that might be one of the points, that there is no such thing as a happy ending, it’s blood and sacrifice and everyone suffers. 

            There were so many good things about this book, it was vivid and amazing, the story was compelling and the characters felt like real people. There was just a lot of things that chafed me funny. Not every book is for everybody, I have learned that several times this year with so many of the books that I loved that others didn’t and vice versa. 

            That is my last Book of the Month for 2022 though and there were for sure some real hits and misses this year, which is surprising, it really is to be honest. I feel like there were some that I loved so much and some that I just couldn’t wait to finish. 

            If you want to check out what else I have read for Book of the Month this year, you totally can, I have read 12 and this is finally December where never month I don’t have to link a billion posts again at least for a few months. Seriously though, if you want to check out what else I have read you totally can; January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, and November

            Alright, I think that I need to stop because I might like this book more the longer that I am away from it. So, until my next post I hope that everyone stays safe, happy, and healthy! 

            -MJ 

Books I Read in December 2022

Hey, hey it’s MJ,

            Well, here we are in December, I want to go back to January MJ and tell her that we are rounding out into the 120’s in books, I cannot believe that since my goal with my TBR was 50, my actual goal was 75 and here I am going to hopefully hit somewhere in the high 120’s by the end of the year. 

            I read so much this year and loved so much as well, but there were also several that I didn’t really like and I will be making a part two to my unhauled books of the year (you can check out part 1 if you want to). I read so much and a lot of the books kind of have blurred together, I might actually have to do some rereading because I need to, I need to really go back and savor the books. I didn’t this year as much as I usually do and that was difficult for me to realize as we round out November and move into the 12th month of the year. 

            I am hoping to read 13 books this month, but like I said, I have some chunky books to read this month. I am reading Crescent City at the moment and that book is 800 pages! Come on now! I love the series so far and by the time this comes out I will be done with it for quite some time. 

Crescent City: House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J. Maas (5/5)

            SARAH! That ending!? The book was so good, but the ending had me almost throwing it across my office, it almost ended up on the floor. Why? Why can’t we have nice things and everyone staying in their own lane? It was so good, I called none of the twists, none of them but I said some words at the end of this book that I cannot repeat in this blog post, I said them out loud to my empty office though. I really enjoyed the book, I did, I loved the world building and the character building and Bryce and Hunt 5ever, if that is not endgame, I will riot. I will, I promise I will. I have put up with a lot of heartache reading anything that SJM has written, like I love the ACOTAR series and CC is so good, I am only one book into ToG so that’s going. Seriously, I walked into this book knowing that everyone was going WTF at the ending, I get it now and I am in pain. 

Ten Rules for Faking It by Sophie Sullivan (3.8/5)

            It was really cute and sweet and very clean. Like it was super slow burn, there was no kissing or anything until in the 300’s and this book was only 369 pages. (Spoilers and all that.) I want to know what happens with Stacey and Rob because they would be so cute. I love Chris and Everly, they both needed to get over themselves and they finally did. Everyone by now knows that I need an HEA when it comes to a romance novel or a romantic comedy or something of the nature, so it was good. I really did enjoy it, I wanted something more from it though and I’m not sure what that was. I liked the treatment of anxiety in this because as someone with it, less now that I am medicated, knowing exactly what that feels like though. Knowing the rushing thoughts and not wanting to be in crowds or in situations I can’t control, I felt that to my very core. I had friends in college who pressured me to be social, to go out to bars, to drink. Not being in control in a large crowd triggers my anxiety, like I have had a panic attack in a crowd before. So seeing that in this, it was great to see it treated as a real issue, as a problem, not as something that everyone has to fix. 

This Savage Song by V.E. Schwab (5/5)

            I love her writing style whether that’s her adult fantasy series or her YA, this book took me a little while to get into and now I need the second one, I will get it eventually. I love the worlds that she creates and whatever August became near the end, that was super cool. I want to know how Kate and August’s story ends. The story kept me invested from pretty early on and the plot had me guessing and wondering what was going to happen next. The monsters are super interesting and I am so looking forward to the second. 

Babel by R.F. Kuang (3.8/5)

            This was my December Book of the Month book so a more in-depth review will be out soon. I wanted to like it, I actually wanted to love it because of how much the internet and TikTok hyped this up. I liked it, it was a well written book, but it was not the five-star book that so many people made it sound like it would be. There were footnotes, in a fiction text, there were copious footnotes and it read so much more like a non-fiction than a fiction. The concept was super interesting, but it just didn’t wow me like I expected it to and I was so excited to read this one. 

A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhew by Manda Collins (3.8/5)

            I liked it! It was really cute. It for sure reminded me of the Lady Darby mysteries by Anna Lee Huber and the League of Extraordinary Women series by Evie Dunmore. It had a lot of similarities in my head to those. It was really cute though and I enjoyed it, I blew through it in two days and that is always fun. It was sweet, kept me turning pages, and I laughed more than once. The murderer did shock me, well, partly shocked me. I had kind of figured it out early on at least in part and so when it was true it made sense. I could read a whole series with just Kate and Andrew, I really could. I have the second one so I will be reading that eventually. I could have actually used an epilogue in this one, or at least a more buttoned up ending, there was just a very open ending and I know that it’s a series, but I want a good closure for pretty much any romance novel. 

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon (4/5)

            It was so cute! I blew through this book; it was so much fun and as a human who has a degree in Radio and Television Production (and went on to do other things) this book hit really close into my heart. It reminded me a little bit of Ten Rules for Faking It which I read earlier this month. This was a little spicier though and I really liked Shay and Dominic. They were so much fun and who doesn’t love a fun couple in a rom-com. I really hated Kent, he seemed like the worst and I guess that he got his so, it’s okay. I know that this one had some mixed reviews, but I really enjoyed it. I really did and that’s really all that matters. 

A Lust for Blood by K.C. Smith (5/5)

            It was so good! I love a good curse mechanic with true love, who doesn’t love a curse mechanic with true love? The whole concept of bloodlust as a creature and the gods interfering with things, it was so good. I love the book as a whole because I got a special edition and let’s be real Garren and Oriana are end game, if they don’t get a permanent happily ever after, I’m gonna be upset. This is apparently the first in a trilogy (?) I hope so because I want more of their story, more of their adventures. I want more in general, it does get a little spicy, which is fine. It was such a fun book to read though, I don’t give many books five stars, this one was for sure a five star book for me. 

For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten (5/5)

            It was so good! I loved the concept throughout the whole beginning, the relationship that forms between Red and Eammon is so much fun and so tortured. It feels very Beauty and the Beast which I absolutely loved, I read it in two days. I could not put it down and I didn’t want to. I cannot wait to read the second one because I want to see where it goes. I really didn’t 100% like her sister, I hope there is a lot less weakness and sniveling in her in the second book. The whole plot that was subversive to this with Kiri and Arick, it made the story so much more interesting and painful. So painful. There was also just a lot of pain in this book but also so much that I smiled at and laughed at, a lot less laughter, but it was so good and I will be ordering the second one here shortly. 

Between by L.L. Starling (5/5)

            This was a TikTok made me buy it book and then it was gifted to me by my cousin. It’s 737 pages of really fun fantasy and I loved it with my whole being. I laughed so much throughout the whole and having it split almost down the middle between Sasha and Lorn, that made it so much more fun seeing how their interactions truly affected the other person. I swear though, Lorn needs to not do the thing and the High King needs to just stop, whatever they are planning and that nonsense, like don’t ruin this really cute relationship for me. The next one doesn’t come out until late next year and I am going to be chomping at the bit about it until then. I cannot wait to see what happens with the coven, with Lyla, with Ash, with Sasha and Lorn as she does become the Queen of Between. Seriously, the artwork in this was fun, the characters were great, and the world is a mess. Who doesn’t love a truly messy fantasy world that gives very hard Labyrinth meets Monty Phyton vibes? Also its starts out with a drunk unicorn headbutting a car, what’s not to love?

From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout (5/5)

            We shall rise. (I had to!)

I heard some mixed reviews on this one, I knew some of the spoilers because of the internet and you know it’s popularity over on the clock app. I read it in two sittings, seriously, I could not put it down. I cannot wait to read the second one. There were so many points throughout where I wanted to smack all of them, every character in the book and some parts that broke me. Like I knew about the betrayal because of the internet, but that didn’t make it hurt any less or make it any less shocking. I love the ‘touch her and die’ trope, I really do and the ending! Now I have to wait and that’s just not fair. I want to go out and get the second on like right now, I’m not going to but dang do I want to. I love Poppy, she’s a secret badass and she’s amazing, all around amazing and the plot twists, I called a few of them but not many. I loved the world building and the relationships. I definitely fist pumped a couple of times when certain characters got theirs, I wanted them to get theirs. Seriously, it was awesome, I will never look at a certain melon the same way and that doesn’t seem fair, but here we are. 

Dance With the Fae Prince by Elise Kova (4.3/5)

            It was really cute. I read the first in this series in February. They are all stand-alone’s set in the same world which is really fun. I did call like 95% of the twists but I read it in one day, seriously. I was not planning on reading all of it yesterday into last night but I did and I don’t regret it one little bit. It was a really fun read; I liked the characters and the world building. It was very Cinderella which was for sure what it promised, I am excited to read the rest of them when I get a chance hopefully next year. 

A Court of Sugar and Spice by Rebecca F. Kenney (4.5/5)

            I want to preface this with, make sure you are aware of the trigger warnings because this book goes hard, I do mean that in so many senses of the word. It was really good; I loved the story as a whole and there is apparently going to be a sequel which is fun. This one is…spicy…like, MJ from a little over a year ago would have smacked me when I told her about it. I saw a snippet on TikTok and it lived in my brain, I showed the snippet to a coworker and she said “I wanna read that” so I bought it. I love the story of The Nutcracker and this one was, dark, twisted, spicy, and a little weird. It was good though, I was expecting it to be not as good as I found it but man, it was interesting and kept me reading.

            So, that’s it. It’s December 30th and I am not going to have time to read a whole other book before the conclusion of the year, so this is where I leave this post. I am going to do it the same way next year, once a month…if I keep the blog going, that is still a little up in the air to be honest. I haven’t had the joy or the time this year to really focus in on this as much as I need to or have wanted to in the past which is not fun. I like blogging but it doesn’t seem worth it to only put up a few posts a month because I get overwhelmed. 

            I read 130 books this year, that’s right, 130. I wanted to read 75, my TBR was 50 and here I am, in December and I read 130 books. I joked at the beginning of the year that reading 100 books in a year seemed like an impossible task and then I found my love for fantasy and apparently romance (?) because I don’t know where that came from. But I started to read more things this year that I wanted to read along with my TBR and I plowed through so many books.

            I don’t know what next year holds, I really don’t and that’s fine. I want to say that I want to set my goal immediately at 100, but I am shooting for 75 at the moment, I don’t want to set a goal that I am not sure is achievable two years in a row.  

            Now, it is time to close out my Book Bullet Journal for the year, it is time to prep and plan for next year’s reading, the Bullet Journal for next year is already done and very different from this year’s. It’s better. 

If you want to check out what else I read throughout the year, you totally can, January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, and November!

            So, until next time, I hope that everyone stays safe, happy, and healthy. 

            -MJ

Post TBR Reads: 35/35 (Go Hex Yourself, Bringing Down the Duke, Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood, Love on the Brain, The Devil in the White City, The Shadow in the Glass, Sky Pirates, The Orphan Witch, Mr. Dickens and His Carol, Throne of Glass, Not Your Average Hot Guy, Kingdom of the Feared, Six of Crows, Well Matched, What Lies Beyond the Veil, The Masked City, Book of Night, Defy the Night, Til Death, A Rogue of One’s Own, Hook, Line, and Sinker, Piranesi, Death on The Nile, The Summer of Broken Rules, Much Ado About You, Bride of the Shadow King, Crescent City: House of Sky and Breath, Ten Rules for Faking It, This Savage Song, A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem, The Ex Talk, For the Wolf, Between, From Blood and Ash, Dance With the Fae Prince, A Court of Sugar and Spice)

Unplugged Book Box: 6/6 (The Woman in The library, They Drown Our Daughters, The Last Housewife, Throw Me to the Wolves, The Secret Garden of Yanagi Inn, A Lust for Blood)

Book of The Month: 12/12 (Reckless Girls, A River Enchanted, Dating Dr. Dil, Kaikeyi, Darling Girl, The Stardust Thief, The Bodyguard, Small Angels, Other Birds, Sign Here, The Heart Principle, Babel)

November 2022 Book of The Month Review:

Title: The Heart Principle 

Author: Helen Hoang

Rating: 3/5

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            There are going to be spoilers. I can promise you that. So, if you don’t want spoilers, walk away, I’ll see you next post. 

            I want to start this one off by saying that this book was a Book of The Month selection from August or September 2021, I would have to look at the hardcover, but I don’t want to walk over to it. I only got this one because none of the books this month actually interested me. That’s a little sad that all of the book selections this month didn’t actually look like anything that I wanted to read. So it was one of those ‘member favorites’ selections because I wanted to get my add-on which is The Kiss Curse which is the second in The Ex Hex series, which was my book of the month in October of last year. 

            I wanted to like this book, I wanted to like it so badly and the beginning had such promise and then it got to the point where it was making me itch. I like the idea of overcoming trauma in books, it makes so much sense because that’s what people do. 

            This book as a whole felt really disjointed, I have never liked the ‘I want an open relationship before marriage’ trope, you want that…cool, we are breaking up. For good. Her boyfriend was an ass and I know that’s what we are supposed to think so we can like Quan, so we can get invested in their relationship.

            I get anxiety, I have that and depression with a touch of OCD for certain things, I am probably neurodivergent and I know that everyone experiences neurodivergence differently. What I go through someone else with similar issues may not experience. I have a degree in Psychology and I preferred the differential diagnoses, that’s a personal opinion. I grew up with someone who had Asperger’s but he was male and his manifested differently than others. Again, no diagnosis is the same, none of them. Am I glad that there is more exposure to conditions? Yes. Am I glad there is more research? Yes. 

            I needed to say that because I finished the book last night and I had to walk away before writing this post. I had to step away from it before I could write about it. 

            I am not Asian, but I understand the cultural implications of expectation from a lot of those cultures. I get generational trauma, I understand caring for elders and giving up everything for that person.

            Her sister was the worst, seriously, the worst. 

            Her father had a stroke and her sister took over the whole situation and then forced others to get involved, her mother forced her to almost marry a man who had suggested an open relationship, and her family has this insane expectation as to who Anna should be because she masks everything. 

            Saying no is hard, saying no is so hard because I do the same thing. You take things onto your plate because you don’t want anyone to be disappointed in you, you go through the torture and pain of other’s words and expectations because you want them to like you and not think there is anything wrong with you. I felt that. 

            There was a lot about Quan and Anna’s relationship that I really liked, I did, they fit well and I was happy that they got together. 

            The ending though, the ending left me with a lot of threads and the last forty or so pages spanned two years. Two full years and that felt very strange, it left me feeling unfulfilled to be honest and I just had to step away from it like I said because I had to temper my temper before I wrote this post. 

            Was it my favorite book this year? No, it wasn’t and I am on book 113 now, I think. I know that my tastes change throughout the year or even throughout the month but I found myself smiling so much less at the end of this book than I did the beginning. I know that was part of the content, it was heavy. It was so heavy for a contemporary romance. 

            This was the third in a series and I don’t plan on reading the other two even though I have heard of them, even though they were popular for a while. I don’t think that they are up my street and that’s okay. 

            If you want to check out what else I have gotten from Book of The Month this year you totally can, January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, and October

            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 November 2022

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            Well, here we are in November. I wanted to read more in October and I didn’t so here I am hoping that I can read more in November. I will have a whole week off later in the month because of Thanksgiving Break so I will hopefully have time to read and then just deal with it.

            The first book of the month only took me a few days to read, but has been on my Want to Read list for almost a year? If not about a year. I don’t remember at the moment. Mood reading is my whole life for the rest of that year and at this moment, I am totally cool with that. 

Defy the Night by Brigit Kemmerer (5/5)

            I blew right through this book. It was so good and it kept me engaged from about page one to page 443. I loved Tessa and Corrik and reading it from both of their perspectives made it so much more fun. The second one is already on my want to read list because I want more. I loved the whole story and it was so much the whole time. Like it kept me guessing as to what was going on and who was behind all the things. I want to see how they all grow as people in the second one and there were parts of this book that broke me apart a little. The reveal! I kind of called it, but I really liked all of the twists and turns that led from the beginning to the end. 

Til Death by Carol J. Perry (3.2/5)

            This was book 12 in the Witch City Mysteries and I love the series as a whole. This one though, it didn’t even hit the mystery part until halfway through the book. It was a lot of messy plot lines and maybe that will set up for later books, but it felt very disjointed and I wasn’t actually a huge fan of it. Like her uncle killing her parents? Like he orphaned a child and got away with it for 30 years? It just didn’t feel like the other Witch City books, there was just something about it that fell short for me. Maybe I am getting out of cozy mysteries, I don’t know. I just didn’t love this like I have loved the others. Like I said there was a lot of disjointed plotting and it felt like it took forever and a day to actually get to something interesting. Even then though, it didn’t feel like it was the quality and the caliber of the rest of the series before this one. Like there was this big build up to the wedding and then the wedding got like a chapter before moving on. Lee getting a Jeep had more coverage than the wedding which is really strange because the first half of the book was the prep and lead up to the wedding. A murder at the wedding would have been more fulfilling than this book was. 

A Rogue of One’s Own by Evie Dunmore (4.3/5)

            I loved it, I loved Bringing Down the Duke as well. Like Tristan and Lucie are so much, in all the best ways. Everyone should know by now I love a good enemies to lovers where the guy for sure falls first! Victorian politics and decorum are a mess. I am glad that I don’t live in that time because no thanks. Her cousins are the worst, seriously, the worst. It was such a fun read and I read more than half in one day because it sucked me into the story and then didn’t let me go until the ending. I cannot wait to read about Hattie and Blackstone in the next one but that is way down on my list so that very well could be an early next year read. 

Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey (4.2/5)

            Wow, this one was a lot angstier than It Happened One Summer also a lot less spicy which I was okay with. I was so worried that Fox and Hannah wouldn’t actually make it and that to be honest would have been so sad about that. Like Fox holds my heart and he needs to be protected, he’s kind of a lot but so is Hannah. I liked the first one a little better, but this one had a very different vibe to it. Fox and Hannah just work and it makes sense to be honest. For him to have this persona that he tries to live up to in the first book, then you find out why and I want to give him a hug. People are the worst to be completely honest. He tries to change for her and I was like, ah yes, he falls first but she’s not far behind. I love their relationship to be completely honest. 

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang (3/5)

            This was my November Book of the Month because none of the choices sounded good. I should have just kept my credit for next month because I wasn’t a huge fan of it. There is a much more in-depth review that will be coming out soon. 

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke (3.5/5)

            It was weird. Good but weird, I think that it was good anyway. It felt like a weird cross between The Starless Sea and Annihilation, I loved the idea of this place with the halls and the statues. The ending was weird though, I understand the mind fracturing and all of that. I know that this is a favorite of a lot of people and it’s been on my list for a long time. It was good, but it was also very strange, I know that’s kind of the point. I went into it blind so that was for sure a better plan than knowing anything. I liked that it was told in the forms of a journal or multiple journals. The random capitalizations were a little weird though, but I understood it. Like it was a lot, some of it was great and some of it was confusing, but that’s totally fine. 

Death on The Nile by Agatha Christie (3.5/5)

            This was written and published in the 1930’s I wanted to read it because they made a movie. I was not a huge fan and that’s okay. I love mysteries, I really prefer the cozy variety. This was a lot as a whole book, there was so much convolution. It ends in a murder/suicide and the detective figured that would happen, which was really strange. It didn’t actually start to interest me until like halfway through the book. There were just so many things going on, there were so many perspectives and I cannot judge it on the standard of today, but it’s just not 100% for me and that’s okay.  

The Summer of Broken Rules by K.L. Walther (3.8/5)

            I liked it, it was cute. That’s about all I have on it, it was insta love and v Taylor Swift inspired. I liked the premise of the game of Assassin and the story kept me wanting to read it. The whole thing with her ex felt like it was just thrown in there to be a plot point. I was not a huge fan of how her friends/cousins acted with the situation about her sister, like grief is hard and she completely shut down, which was her choice and how she was grieving. I did like the cast of characters though and I love big families like that, I don’t have a big close family, it’s small and everyone is slung across the country. We don’t spend almost any time together and the last time all of my cousins and I were in the same room was a wedding in 2017 and even then, it was just the four of them and their families. It was very small and quiet so there we are. I do wish sometimes that I was part of one of those big families that got together every year, but I’m not. 

Much Ado About You by Samantha Young (4.2/5)

            It was so cute! Like I read it in two days and I smiled so much. I didn’t really like the twist, but it was still a happily ever after because if it wasn’t I would have been upset. I loved the village so much, the bookstore, the whole cast of characters was so much fun. I loved all the Shakespeare references throughout the book. I really liked the main couple because of course I have to. He for sure fell first and head over heels because it was insta love for him which was super cute. I loved Shadow so much; I love when an animal character is featured so heavily. It was a lot of healing old wounds and all of that which was a really good story. A lot of emotional trauma came out through this book and so much of it was solved. 

Bride of the Shadow King by Sylvia Mercedes (4.5/5)

            It took me some time to get into, but man do I ship them. Seriously. Some of the words were a lot because they were not in English and that’s okay, but it did detract from the story a little bit for me, like translations? Please. This for sure was a TikTok made we want it book. It was really good and such a slow burn, I will be getting the second eventually because let’s be honest, I need to see how their story ends but the third one doesn’t come out until next September, so I am going to wait a while before I buy the second one. There is so much in this book and I am wondering, if they would have been up front and honest about all of it, would it have been a very different story? Because let’s be real, boy is pining. I am so scared to see what happens in the second one though because it’s going to be rough, I just know it. 

The Secret Garden of Yanagi Inn by Amber A. Logan (4/5)

            This was my November Unplugged Book Box book, it was really good and if you want a more in depth review (yes I promise this every time and then I don’t post anything for two months) it will be up in a few days. It was a good book if you like ghosts and The Secret Garden and Japan, it was for sure worth the read even though it took me some time to actually get into it. 

            Okay, I did want to read more in November, but honestly, life likes to get in the way and I read some chunky books this month. I have no idea how many I am actually going to read in December, my goal is 13, that’s my goal every month but I have three books that are at least 550 pages so that might be a stretch. I have two weeks off for Christmas break, so we are going to try. I promise we are going to try.

            There were a few books this month that I wanted to love, I wanted to really enjoy, but I didn’t and that’s okay. There were a few that left me wanting more of them and not having anything else. I had two books this month that I will be unhauling because I don’t want them in my permanent collection, that’s just the thing at this point. I have books that don’t bring me the joy that I want them to, so I will be saying goodbye to them at the end of the year. I feel like I say that a lot of months and that’s just how it happens because I know that I have more now than I even did last month with the separation of time. 

            If you want to check out what else I have read this year you totally can; January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, and October.

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

            -MJ

Post TBR Reads: 25/? (Go Hex Yourself, Bringing Down the Duke, Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood, Love on the Brain, The Devil in the White City, The Shadow in the Glass, Sky Pirates, The Orphan Witch, Mr. Dickens and His Carol, Throne of Glass, Not Your Average Hot Guy, Kingdom of the Feared, Six of Crows, Well Matched, What Lies Beyond the Veil, The Masked City, Book of Night, Defy the Night, Til Death, A Rogue of One’s Own, Hook, Line, and Sinker, Piranesi, Death on The Nile, The Summer of Broken Rules, Much Ado About You, Bride of the Shadow King, )

Unplugged Book Box: 5/6 (The Woman in The library, They Drown Our Daughters, The Last Housewife, Throw Me to the Wolves, The Secret Garden of Yanagi Inn, )

Book of The Month: 11/12 (Reckless Girls, A River Enchanted, Dating Dr. Dil, Kaikeyi, Darling Girl, The Stardust Thief, The Bodyguard, Small Angels, Other Birds, Sign Here, The Heart Principle, )

October 2022 Book of the Month Review:

Title: Sign Here 

Author: Claudia Lux

Rating: 3.5/5

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            There are going to be spoilers because I had some feelings about this book and some of them weren’t great. They are my opinion and that’s how it always has been and always will be, no one is going to be sending me books anytime soon. I can pretty much guarantee that because I don’t hold punches. 

            Seriously, if you want to read this book, I will see you with the next post, if you don’t want the whole thing spoiled, I will see you later, bye. 

            So, where do I start? This book was marketed by Book of the Month as a tale about hell, someone living and working there and working toward a promotion. I didn’t know it was also going to be a murder mystery with like teenagers being killed either by murder or accident. Like there were so many twists and turns in this that I felt like I was getting whiplash.

            The chapters were super short and they switched between like a half dozen or so characters and that was just too many. I didn’t really get that feeling of much of the story being in hell or who the main character actually was. I didn’t find half of the characters likable. I wanted to like this book so much, but there was like references almost to grooming teenagers and a lot of stuff that just rubbed me the wrong way.

            Like the holy army militia thing that Cal grew up in and the story of her father, I get religious cults and extremism but all of that just felt so unnecessary. 

            This book felt like it was about a half dozen books all trying to be one book. If it was the story about hell, cool. If it was the story of the Harrison family and their clearly glaring issues, cool. Cal and her family dynamic about growing up in a religious cult where fighting was a rite of passage, cool. It was all of those things plus like some really unnecessary plot devices about cheating and manipulation. 

            With all of the shifting, with all of the almost lack of emotion in this book it just didn’t grip me, reading parts of it was a slog. 

            It all pretty much starts out with a murder, well, not all of it starts that way, but the Harrison family sections, it was an accident or maybe it wasn’t. I still have no idea, to be completely honest the whole storyline with Sarah and Gavin, that whole thing with Gavin that just hit me in all the icky places. Cheating is a pretty common trope in books but he seduced her to kill her child, to take revenge for the death of his sister. Like there was nothing solved. 

            I would have been so much more interested in the story involved with the underworld, with Peyote and Cal and the deals department, that would have been so much cooler and that’s what I thought I was getting because Book of the Month is pulling baits and switches on me this year it seems, which is annoying. 

            The narrative about self-harm and drug use, that hit me in a place that I don’t want to be hit, I never used drugs but I had some dark times as a teenager and I would have liked a trigger warning on that one. I would have also liked a trigger warning on a few other things throughout this book, but here we are. 

            I feel like I am just tearing this book apart, and I did like parts of it, but those parts were overshadowed by a lot of stuff that was really messed up. It left me more confused than satisfied at the end and that’s never fun when you are trying to love most of what you read. This left me underwhelmed.

            If you want to read about what else I have read this year you totally can; January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, and September.

            Alright, 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 

September 2022 Book of the Month Review:

Title: Other Birds

Author: Sarah Addison Allen

Rating: 4.6/5

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            Well, here we are in fall, finally. I am hoping that by the time this post comes out that it’s not like 90 degrees outside, that at this point is the goal. 

            Alright, there might be spoilers, I don’t know yet. I never really do as I start these posts whether or not there is going to be spoilers for the novel. I try not to, but in the course of a review it might happen. 

            I read this book in one sitting, I didn’t mean to. Seriously, I didn’t mean to read it all in an afternoon but it was a quick read. It took a minute for me to get into and then when I was into it, I couldn’t put it down. 

            This is book 90 of the year for me which is crazy because I didn’t think I would get anywhere close to that number. 

            So, this book shifts between characters pretty frequently and that worked in this novel, in some it just doesn’t, but in this one it made sense because you are seeing the lives of the people who live in the Dellawisp condos and I love the quirky cast of characters in this novel. You meet Zoey first, who is moving across country, well halfway for school and because her father doesn’t want to be a part of her life. Everyone knows how much I love the found family trope, everyone by now should. 

            There is a death in the building and it’s Zoey and Charlotte cleaning out the apartment, it’s building relationships between the residents and bringing up old issues and secrets. It’s half a ghost story too, but in the best way. I would say more guardian angels rather than ghosts. Frasier, the caretaker, can see them, but they are just there at the fringes and that was such a fun concept. 

            Seriously, the relationship building in this novel was amazing, that made this novel so fun and so worth the read because it felt real, it felt like the natural progression of how you find people who make you whole. 

            Mallow Island seems like a fun place and I would have liked to have seen more interaction with it, but I understood why most everything happened at the condo complex. I liked the bird aspect throughout and the invisible bird that followed Zoey around, it took me most of the book to figure that out, but I loved that symbolism. 

            There are so many characters mentioned that were in the fabric of the main cast’s lives that you never see in person and I thought that added so much to the story as a whole. One decision, one person can make such a difference in your life and that’s true in reality as well. 

            I would for sure recommend this one, it’s an easy and quick read that holds a lot of meaning through its pages. The shifting perspectives and the chapters of the reality and the ghost stories was done so well and the added in ghost stories gave so much more to the story than at face value. 

            I really enjoyed this one, I really did and I would suggest it if you like found family, a bit of quirk, and some magical realism, a touch of drama and intrigue as well. There was a moment that this book went from zero to sixty in about seven seconds and then it hit its conclusion pretty fast as well, but again, that worked here. 

            If you want to see what else I have read this year, you totally can with the rest of my Book of the Month posts for January, February, March, April, May, June, July, and August.

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

            -MJ

Books I Read in September 2022

Hey hey it’s MJ, 

            So, here we are in September. I am mood reading the rest of the year because I finished my yearly TBR in August, how? I did though so here we are and I am going to read whatever I want for the rest of the year. That’s super dangerous, it really really is. 

            I will still have my Unplugged Book Box books as well as my Book of the Month books, but other than that I am not sticking to a list. I have all the books I plan on reading on a shelf by my desk and I just keep adding to that list. Also, I have a list on Amazon that is just books, there is like 45 in there now…I have a problem. 

            Also, everything is terrible so I need so happy and books are about the only thing that brings me joy at the moment, isn’t that sad? Seriously, have to replace my car windshield (it will be in by the time this post goes up) and a lawn mower threw a rock through my living room window, both panes so that has to be replaced as well (the apartment complex I live in has to do that) September has already been a long month and I am currently only three days into it. 

            Alright, enough rambling. Here we go. My goal for September is 13 like it was last month and the month before that. Though I am reading a few really thick books this month so we will see.

Go Hex Yourself by Jessica Clare (5/5)

            It was so cute! It was for sure a Star Wars fan fiction, like The Love Hypothesis, did that stop me from reading it and loving every moment? No, I loved all of it and that’s the most fun thing about all of this. The story was really cute, it was a little spicy and the characters were so much fun. I cannot wait to read the next one that comes out next year. So many tropes that I love and that means that this was a five-star book for me. Dru is a lot and for sure my favorite, I want an aunt like her. I loved the magic system in this so much. There was nothing in it that I didn’t like, well there were a few lines that were questionable, but overall, I loved it! 

Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore (4.3/5)

            It should shock no one that I love Victorian based literature, seriously I have read a billion books where Jack the Ripper is a character, it’s not really that many but I think I read six last year. I love that era, it was insane. Like the treatment of women was not great, but it is such a fun era to read. This book was do good, I devoured it in two days, I read over 100 pages in it after finishing Go Hex Yourself, oops. I read the other 200 pages the next day. I couldn’t put it down. I get what so many people like historical romance, I have never watched or read Bridgerton and I don’t plan on it but this series with a strong and opinionated lead female and a duke who is so much. Like I love enemies to lovers, I really do and this was so good. I cannot wait to read the other two, which I already own because I was hoping that I would like the series. It was spicy, I will say that, though I feel like that is just going to be a pretty blanket true statement throughout the rest of the year. 

Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas (5/5)

            I love ACOTAR, everyone knows that. This one was better. I called none of the plot twists, none of it. I loved it so much; it broke me to my very core a few times. I love all the characters and I am not one to order hardcovers, the next book will be here tomorrow, I ordered it before I even finished the book after it broke me because I could not wait for it to come out in paperback. I love Bryce and Hunt so much. Like I was so amped up about this book the whole time I was reading it. It took like 80 pages or so to get into and then I could not put it down! 799 pages is totally worth it, it’s so worth it and I loved it. I cannot wait to see what happens next and there was so much death and destruction, but I cannot tell you that I loved this book enough times. 

Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen (4.6/5)

            This was my September Book of the Month book so there will be a whole post out about this book in a few days, I really enjoyed this one if you can’t tell by my score of it. I read it in one sitting and it was such a fun read. 

Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood (5/5)

            I have been waiting to read this book since I read The Love Hypothesis last December, I read it all in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down, seriously I have finished two books this weekend. I loved the whole thing, cats and Star Wars, enemies to lovers, the growth of relationships even when things get hard. I loved the whole book, the bad guy, that was insanity. The whole thing was amazing and I cannot get over it. I feel like I will have more things to say eventually because I am wrapped up in this book a little tightly. I loved the dynamics between Bee and Levi, but again I loved Adam and Olive too so that should shock no one because apparently Ali Hazelwood is an instant buy author for me, who knew. I really did enjoy this whole book because it’s insane, I laughed so hard so many times and the pure gut-wrenching pain of it as well. Seriously, five star book and I cannot wait for Love, Theoretically which apparently comes out next year! 

The Last Housewife by Ashley Winstead (3/5)

            This one was a lot. I love a good thriller as much as the next person even though that is not really my genre. I liked it but there were a lot of things in it that really hit me and I wasn’t sure how I felt about it, besides uncomfortable. This was my Unplugged Book Box book so that full review will be out with that post soon. 

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson (4/5)

            It’s non-fiction. I love turn of the century serial crime. Jack the Ripper and H.H. Holmes were fascinating and I have read a number of books in the last few years when they are characters. This is true crime though and it wraps in the Columbian Exposition as well and I grew up near Chicago so I knew a lot of the places mentioned. Some of the parts about the fair we a little boring, I expecting more Holmes less landscape architecture. I read Depraved last year and I really enjoyed that because man it’s creepy! Like I don’t understand serial killers though I don’t think I would want to dive into their brains. He was charismatic and killed a bunch of people, the total still isn’t known. It was fascinating as a whole. 

The Shadow in the Glass by JJA Harwood (3/5)

            I wanted to like it, I wanted to badly to like it and I did, until I didn’t. I am going to spoil the fact that it didn’t have a happy ending and that did ruin it for me. I liked the idea of a dark Cinderella retelling; I was not on board for magical abortion. Seriously, that was where it lost me. For the first hundred or so pages I had no idea what was going on and then it got good and then it got not so good again. I grew to hate the main character throughout the story. Like she’s 17, she’s 17 and bargains away her soul for wishes. I get Victorian politics and social structure but this one was a lot and I didn’t enjoy it. I love a good love story and a good dark tale, but this tried too hard to be both and left some weird threads dangling at the end. 

Sky Pirates by Liesel Schwarz (4/5)

            This was the third in the Chronicles of Shadow and Light. I read the first one last year and the second earlier this year. It left it open, but apparently there was supposed to be a fourth, this book came out in 2014 so…I have a feeling that it’s over. I really enjoyed it. I love Elle and Marsh, I mean I love Elle in general who doesn’t love a strong female character, but this book had me rooting for Dashwood and Elle too. That’s such a problem. I read it quickly and I was totally okay with it because it kept me turning page after page. The oracle element was really cool, but it always is and Patrice is still the worst. I wish that it wouldn’t have left it open in the epilogue. I wish there was more closure, but there wasn’t so I will just have to roll through it on my own. It was a really fun book though and I would suggest it if you like steampunk as much as I do. 

The Orphan Witch by Paige Crutcher (3.6/5)

            It was good, super predictable but good. It took me a while to get into it and that was one thing that bugged me. I want to be thrown into the story. I loved the magical mechanics of this story as well as the Library. I love books with ridiculous libraries, we should all know that by now. I love ridiculous and/or magical libraries. They are so much fun. There was a lot in this book that I really liked, there were things that I didn’t. The fact that her family flipped on her was a little off putting and something I called early on. True was the worst and I didn’t miss her. The ending left me slightly unfulfilled and that’s okay. I did enjoy it, would I read it again? No, would I suggest it to others? Yea, sure. 

Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva (3.6/5)

            Well, I read A Christmas Carol last December and who doesn’t love the Dickens classic? It’s a cultural phenomenon and has been for almost 200 hundred years, or so. It was fine, I liked it, but I didn’t love it. The story of the creation of A Christmas Carol felt a little weird in this one. I know it is fiction and that means that liberties can be taken. I liked it, but I wasn’t in love with it. I like historical fiction and there is so much going on in this book. 

            Well, there you have it, I read 11 books in September all while my body merked itself because I stopped taking my probiotic and then suffered the consequences. Seriously, it was bad, all bad for weeks. 

            I had a few really amazing books that I got to read this month, some were not my favorite and that’s totally okay. Seriously, you cannot love every book you read, it’s just a little disappointing when you pay for them and they aren’t great, but that’s the break of it. 

            I am on book 98 of the year so that’s really exciting since my original goal was 75 and now it’s 100 which I should hit like this week? Maybe next week? 

If you want to check out what else I have read this year, it’s a lot, but you can: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, and August.

Normally here would be my ‘Let’s Keep Track’ count, but I finished my TBR, so I am going to modify it slightly, if you want to check out the TBR look at August’s post. That’s the last one it’s going to be in. I am changing it up because I want to and not have a few hundred words down here.

Post TBR Reads: 9/? (Go Hex Yourself, Bringing Down the Duke, Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood, Love on the Brain, The Devil in the White City, The Shadow in the Glass, Sky Pirates, The Orphan Witch, Mr. Dickens and His Carol, )

Unplugged Book Box: 3/? (The Woman in The library, They Drown Our Daughters, The Last Housewife, )

Book of The Month: 9/12 (Reckless Girls, A River Enchanted, Dating Dr. Dil, Kaikeyi, Darling Girl, The Stardust Thief, The Bodyguard, Small Angels, Other Birds, )

August 2022 Book of the Month Review:

Title: Small Angels

Author: Lauren Owen

Rating: 3/5

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            As usual there are going to be spoilers. I feel the need to start out with that because I should. 

            Alright, so overall, the story was interesting, but it wasn’t for me. There were a lot of things in this book that were so interesting, the woods, the tales of Harry Child and all of that. The family bound to the forest, the rituals and necessities that they took to keep the village safe from him and what had happened to him. 

            If it was just a ghost story, if it was just horror, it would have been fine. The add in of Chloe and Sam’s wedding, I understand that her actions were the catalyst for it, but the wedding felt unnecessary as a whole event. It was interesting and further the plot, but it could have been something else because the characters started to become unlikable with their weaponized ignorance of what happened in the woods and their unwillingness to even acknowledge it. 

            Not every book is for everyone and this one wasn’t for me and that’s okay. I liked so much of it but there was just stuff in it that felt unnecessary, there was a romantic subplot which was strange and really didn’t feel fleshed out or needed. (I don’t read a lot of LGBTQ fiction; I support the lifestyle, of course, but it is not generally a subgenre of fiction that I read.)

            There were also errors in the text, I counted six or seven that were in the formatting random dialogue marks words that should have been one that were separated and I know that is in the revision and editing process, but it was noticeable. 

            Overall, it was interesting, it was horror and there were parts of it that gripped me, but the characters, I just feel connected to and that makes things hard when you read through them. I feel like I am repeating myself and I will apologize for that because I feel like I am bashing someone else’s work. This had an audience, that audience is just not me. 

            The ending was good, well the ending with Harry, the rest of it felt rushed but left threads open, it’s a story told in a story which is super interesting and I love a good book within a book. This just didn’t hit for me because it shifted through four perspectives. 

            There were parts that confused me, there were and that’s true in a lot of novels, you can have parts that make no sense in the whole of it. The imagery was great and I feel like I am doing pro, con, con, pro like I am back in my college sorority when we were trying to end on a good note. 

            It was interesting and a compelling horror story in its own way, but not for me as a reader. We will not love everything we read and this was the only one of the books this time with Book of The Month that even piqued my interest, out of seven books this month I think, this was the only one that interested me because it was all thrillers. Maybe I should have chosen one of them. 

            I don’t know, okay, I don’t because I have such a mixed bag of feelings on this book and I feel like I am not articulating this well for someone who writes as a hobby and teaches children as a profession. I am always really on the fence about unhauling BoTM books, but there are three this year so far that I don’t want in my permanent collection. Which is fine.

            If you want to check out what else I have gotten with Book of The Month this year, you totally can, January, February, March, April, May, June, and July.

            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 August 2022

Hey hey, it’s MJ          

Happy August! (well September now, so Happy September!) 

By the time that this comes out in September I will be back in school, which is totally fine it just means less time to read. My hope and I do really mean my hope is that I finish my predetermined 2022 TBR this month! I only have seven books left on the TBR and I am hoping that even with my extras this month that I will be able to get all the way through it. I just want to be a mood reader the rest of the year! 

I didn’t expect to open this doc up on August 1st but I finished my July Unplugged Book Box book today and I figured I might as well get it done. As of this moment I have read 74 books this year. That’s insane since in 2021 I read 77 books in the year; I am in shock that I have read so many this year. I joked early that I thought that people who read 100 books in a year were insane, my goal is now 100 this year. I blame BookTok and sadness. 

The Woman in The Library by Sulari Gentill (3.7/5)

            I wrote a whole post on it a few weeks ago so you can for sure go and check that one out. It was really good; I love the novel within a novel concept because that it hard to do overall. I have seen some less than stellar attempts in the past, but this one was overwhelmingly the novel so I was totally cool with it. Leo gave me the creeps (for good reason). It kept me guessing until the very end and that was so exciting. It was a solid novel that made me want to go and check out Boston. 

The Fifth Heart by Dan Simmons (2.2/5)

            I hated it, I slogged through 600 pages of unfulfilling novel and I hated it. I should have gone with my instincts after like 200 pages to DNF it, but I feel bad doing that. It had such potential but shifting between character perspectives and formatting between sections. It was weird. There were too many plot lines going on, there was too many subversive moments and I hated it. Sherlock Holmes is fiction or not fiction in a book that is fiction. I was confused, I was concerned, and I hated it. This one was not for me and that is totally okay. You may love this book and I might not see the merit or whatever, but I didn’t enjoy reading it. I should have put it down and moved on. 

The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman (4.3/5)

            I read all but the first 36 pages in one day. I could not put this book down. I love the characters, the concept, and the world building. I have already ordered the second one because I had to. I had to have it already even though I am not going to be reading it anytime soon. I loved all of it, it kept me wrapped from the first page to the end. I love Irene and Kai and I cannot wait to see where that goes. I love detective stories; we all know that and to have an almost Sherlockian style mystery just with magic and alternate realities was so much fun after the last book I read. Like we know that the library has secrets and I am so looking forward to seeing where it goes in the next book. 

It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey (4.6/5)

            Y’all when I say that I couldn’t put this down, I couldn’t! TikTok made me want this one and now I want to read Hook, Line, and Sinker so bad. It was so good, I loved the characters and the world building in it, I want to visit this place now. It was spicy, it really and truly was but I have a few of her books on my want to read list and I have seen her on TikTok more than once. This was not supposed to be my next book, I was supposed to finish my Book of The Month book first, but I slogged through the first 100 pages yesterday and needed a good book. I finished it this morning. I was up until 11:30 reading it last night and up at 7:30 reading it this morning. That was how much I loved it, I really loved Piper and Brendan’s transformations throughout the book, it was so cute. They are a lot and I would want it no other way, can’t wait to see how Fox and Hannah get on. 

Small Angels by Lauren Owen (3/5)

            There will be a whole post out about this next week, this one wasn’t for me. This was my August Book of the Month and y’all know by now that I post that as a whole thing all by its lonesome. It was an interesting story and concept but it fell really flat for me. It’s just not my kind of fiction and that’s alright, it happens. I have read a lot of books this year and not every single one of them is going to be a winner. 

Star Wars: Resistance Reborn by Rebecca Roanhorse (3/5)

            It was a filler book between The Last Jedi and The Rise of Skywalker, it was fine. It was very much a filler with a lot of characters that I couldn’t connect with and a plot line that was messy. It was not bad, but I was so shocked that there was no perspective from Rey, it was a lot. The writer I feel like ships StormPilot and I agree with that so here we are. I also kind of wish that there was an interlude with the First Order. I was glad that I read Bloodlines a few years ago otherwise there would have been other things that didn’t make sense in this book as well. For a casual Star Wars fan, it was a lot. 

Well Played by Jen DeLuca (3.7/5)

            I wanted to love this one as much as I loved Well Met, it paled in comparison. Catfishing, but make it faire? I liked it, I really did, but it just didn’t feel like a cohesive story, maybe because it starts off where Well Met pretty much ended, well the Epilogue, I think? I am not actually sure and then it went to the next year, taking little snippets of time throughout the year so that spacing was odd for me. I liked Stacey and Daniel, I thought they were fun, but the lies were a little much. I loved the cat, Benedick was a great addition to the story and I am glad that she got out, okay I am. I am glad that Stacey gets to live her life. I thought that problem was going to be with her mom throughout. I will never stop hating the third act break up, I won’t. It’s a very overused trope in contemporary romance, and I am always glad to see a happily ever after or at least to the end of the epilogue, but I don’t like the third act break up. 

They Drown Our Daughters by Katrina Monroe (2.8/5)

            This one wasn’t for me; it was in my Unplugged Book Box for August and when that post goes out you can see a more in-depth review of it. It had some really good parts and some that just didn’t sit right with me. This might be someone’s favorite book and that’s awesome, I love that for you. I don’t read horror very often and this one just wasn’t for me. 

A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab (5/5)

            I loved this whole series, I read the first last September and then the second in November, I think. I don’t remember at the moment, but I could not put this one down. I love the world that has been built in this series and all of the characters feel very real. This one hurt, it hurt so much! I loved it though so much, the arcs throughout and the magic, I can’t! All of the twists and turns left no threads loose and I can’t say enough good about this book. The ending I felt like left it open and I think that she’s writing more in The Threads of Power, I’m not sure. I would love more with these characters, but I don’t know if that is happening. I loved the entire series though V.E. Schwab like Erin Morgenstern write these beautiful, thrilling, and vivid worlds that suck you in and don’t let go.  

Meet Me at the Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan (3.5/5)

            It was cute, but very predictable. I didn’t dislike this one as much as I disliked The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris. The main character going back to her ex who was clearly the worst, that hit me in a place. I liked the friendships developed throughout the story and it was cute. It was a tale of picking yourself up after great loss and keeping going. That seems a common theme in Jenny Colgan’s books, a new life in the face and wake of a tragedy. There is a second one that I will not be reading, like it felt very tacked on that (spoilers) Austin is moving abroad and she’s willing to go with him to expand her business. I thought that felt a little sloppy and just a ploy for a sequel. It could have wrapped up nicely in one book not with a Christmasy sequel. It was cute and I enjoyed it, but not that much. 

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker by Rae Carson (3.7/5)

            It’s a movie tie in, I love a good movie tie in novel. I saw the movie when it came out and I did enjoy it. I really did, but I am also not a super huge Star Wars fanatic, I like Star Wars as much as a normal fan. I liked the movie and I know that a lot of people didn’t. Reading it was still different than watching the movie but I did enjoy both the novelization and the film. I really don’t have much to say about it though, if you have seen the movie and enjoyed it you will probably enjoy the book as well.

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas (5/5)

            This is the last book for my 2022 TBR, of the fifty that I picked for this year I have read 49, one I did DNF. This book was hilarious, I laughed so much, the snowball fight had me just about rolling. I liked the different perspectives and I know that this is the bridge between ACOWAR and ACOSF, which my copy should be here at some point this month, I ordered a paperback and I am hoping it’s the same size or I will be taking it back to Barnes and Noble and buying their exclusive version. I loved it, I read it in one sitting because I wanted to get it done. I’m still not a huge Nesta fan and maybe ACOSF will change my mind, I don’t know if it will though. This series showed up in my life because of BookTok and I would say it was probably my gateway series to a lot the other books I have bought in the last year or so. I want to go back to MJ at this time last year and tell her about all of this. She would laugh at me because I have read 85 books this year. She would laugh, hysterically. Az actually talked in this one, it was like a miracle. 

Talk Bookish to Me by Kate Bromley (4/5)

            Alright, there is going to be a major spoiler for this book, so if you want to read it, skip this blurb, I promise it’s a big deal. The revelation of him actually being engaged at her friend’s wedding almost broke me. I was so mad! Like there is still a happy ending but that almost ruined the book for me. Yea, soulmates are great and all but he was engaged! To the woman that he claimed to have cheated on her with when they dated in college. I loved watching their relationship flourish and then that happened and I was gutted. Like it left a bad taste in my mouth. I loved the book within a book aspect. The epilogue was weird, but if you know me, I think that most epilogues are weird and I am not a huge fan of them. 

            Alright, well I read 13 books in August which is insane. August has been a rollercoaster for me that’s for sure and at this point I don’t know what the rest of the year is going to look like. I am 20 books ahead of my goal which is insanity. I have read 86 books so far this year and I finished my TBR with A Court of Frost and Starlight. I finished 49 of my 50 TBR books, I did DNF one because I couldn’t get behind it. I think that my goal of 100 would have been lofty at the beginning of the year. 

            There were sure a few books this month that I could have done without reading and that’s totally okay. Not every book is for everybody there were also some really amazing books that I have read this month. Now I get to mood read the rest of the year and so this series is going to turn spicy, it’s going to just be fantasy and romance because that is apparently who I am now. I didn’t know that about myself until like October or November last year and now here I am…I am allowed to read and enjoy what I read and enjoy. I have to be a professional human all day and so when I get home and decompress, I want to read what I want. 

            Alright, well I think I need to stop on this post, it’s getting super long. If you want to check out the rest of the books that I have read this year (if you are so inclined or want to see my ramblings about books) you totally can! January, February, March, April, May, June, and July!

            So, until next time I hope that everyone stays safe, happy, and healthy and I will see y’all later in the week with another post!

            -MJ

Let’s Keep Track Shall We?: 

General Fiction: 10/10 (The Runaway Princess, Since You’ve Been Gone, Admission, Delicious, The Royal We, The Long Dark Tea Time of The Soul, One Evening in Paris, Solsbury Hill, Girl Online: Going Solo, Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe)

Sci-Fi/Fantasy: 9/9 (because one has been DNFed) (The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, Hiddensee, The Crystal Cave, Sword of Destiny, The Map of Time, Dreams of Distant Shores, The Invisible Library, Star Wars: Resistance Reborn, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker)

Historical: 10/10 (The Velvet Hours, In the Shadow of Paris, And Only to Deceive, Radio Girls, Black Rabbit Hall, A Study in Death, In Falling Snow, Sea of Lost Love, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, The Fifth Heart)

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

Free Choice: 14/14 (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, The Beast’s Heart, A Court of Wings and Ruin, The last Days of Magic, The Devil’s Workshop, A Conjuring of Light, A Court of Frost and Starlight)

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: 8/12 (Reckless Girls, A River Enchanted, Dating Dr. Dil, Kaikeyi, Darling Girl, The Stardust Thief, The Bodyguard, Small Angels, )

Extras: 21/? (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, Not the Witch You Wed, Hot Vampire Next Door S3, Hooked, The Flatshare, The Cartographers, Twisted Hate, The Library of the Dead, A Winter’s Promise, Well Played, Talk Bookish to Me)

Unplugged Book Box: 2/? (The Woman in The library, They Drown Our Daughters, )