Books I’ve Read so Far in 2021 Part #1

            Hey hey, it’s MJ, 

            Here we are in 2021 and here I am with my first batch of books I have read this year. I mentioned last year that I was going to read kind of differently this year and I want to break that down in this post so going forward it makes more sense because I am going to be reading some different things than I did last year and this year also I have increased my number read goal to 45 even though I for sure have also written 42 in various places but I am hoping to get 45 but if I only get 42 I won’t be all that upset. 

So what is my attempted reading book list this year? 

I am going to give you a list that comprises of 45 books so just bear with me. I own most of the books I plan on reading already so they are mostly already pulled from my collection and piled on the shelf in my office because why not. I am doing this to branch back out and not just read cozy mysteries this year, granted I will be reading a bunch of them because they are quick reads but I want to have a variety. 

-10 Classics (hopefully)

            I am not going to list them but it’s basically just a collection of classics I already have and throwing darts at the Barnes and Noble classics collection. 

-5 Historical Fiction

            I read a lot of pre-World War 1 English historical fiction and I haven’t picked one up since then so I plan on reading 5 historical fictions this year. 

-5 Sci-Fi or Fantasy

            I love sci-fi and fantasy but I haven’t been reading them lately so I have already picked five out of my collection and they are on the list.

-5 General Fiction 

            Just random books, they can be whatever genre of fiction that I kind of feel like but most of them are just regular books. 

-2 Memoir’s/ Autobiography’s 

            I like books about people written by the person it’s about, I read a few last year and I have had several in my collection for years and it’s time to give myself a reason to read them. 

-1 Non-Fiction

            It’s going to be education related because that’s kind of my life so I plan on finding one that interests me, I may have one or two so we’ll see when it comes to that. 

-2 Thrillers

            I like serial killers and true crime as much as the next person and I have some fictionalized versions of actual serial killers so I plan on reading them this year and I am both dreading and excited for it because I haven’t read a thriller in years. 

-15 Choice

            This is where the cozies will show up and just random books that I want to read because between all of the categories that I am putting myself under this year I still want to just read random things and have the flexibility to do that so 1/3 of the books are my choice. 

            Alright on from that, I will probably keep a count of how many I’ve read this year in each section and put that at the bottom just to keep me accountable to it because it’s me and if I don’t I will just read whatever I want all year and all of those classics will just go back in the shelves and I don’t want to do that. 

            Let’s be real though, of course my first book of the year was a cozy though so we are just going to roll into that. 

Eaves of Destruction by Kate Carlisle

            Shannon Hammer as always is amazing and I love the series, I am going to do a suggested cozies post at some point soon so you know if you haven’t been following along you can just see what I enjoy reading. This one had so many twists and turns and I could feel the insanity of the person who actually committed the crimes. I loved the introduction of the character of Amanda, another woodworker and that’s again really cool because ladies doing carpentry is always a win in my book. I had to look up what an orangery actually looks like and I love them. I want a sun room made of glass on my house when I grow up. I still love the continued world building and I can’t wait to dive into the next one but I am going to hold off and read something else from my list first. 

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll

            So I grew up with the Disney versions of this book and my goal is still 10 classics this year and so this was my first. I actually really enjoyed it, I know it’s a lot, it’s very fanciful and it’s supposed to be that way. Someone I knew in high school called it a Victorian Acid Trip and I have never done acid but I can understand what they meant because the movie is very trippy. It’s just a really interesting book because it’s taking something that I have only seen in animated and live action films but reading something so familiar but also reading Through The Looking-Glass it was much different than the movie and I thought that was pretty cool. I really enjoyed it and it wasn’t a hard read, I read it in two days and for me that’s about average overall for my book read time when I actually get a chance to sit down and read. This book, if you like the movie, you should read because it’s the original classic that has become so familiar over the years to so many audiences. 

Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding 

            Guess who didn’t know that this book was originally published in the 90’s, me, I had no idea. I saw the movie years ago, I think I might own it or I just watched it on the internet; honestly I cannot remember. I am a single human being approaching 30 and I am in that bubble where so many of my friends are getting married and having babies so I understood a lot of the feelings in this novel. Times have not changed much to be honest. I read it in pretty much two days because it was based around the premise of a diary so it was easy to read and digest and having seen the movie first I knew kind of what to expect but it was rather funny at parts and gave me a new take on really what we say we are going to resolve in the new year every year. I might read the other Bridget Jones novels at some point because let’s face it, I have been proven over and over again to love funny books. 

West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan 

            So I have read a few books about authors from this time period including The Paris Wife and I really like reading about early 20th century authors that we consider to be masters of the written word today. Truth be told though, I have never read any of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s actual books. I am planning on it eventually but I have never gotten around to reading any of them, even The Great Gatsby which is one of those books that so many people have read and look at you funny when you haven’t read it or at least seen the movie. I find the lives of creative people of the past fascinating and that includes authors, artists, and actors because even if it’s fiction it gives such a perspective on a real person no matter the fictional underpinnings. It was a long read but it kept me interested and that’s really all that matters. I cannot tell you how long this book has been in my collection and if you like reading about people who write, this is a good one to do that with. 

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett

            I mean I watched the mini-series on Amazon Prime when it came out and I even wrote a blog post on it all that time ago. You can read it if you like. I loved the book, the show did it justice which sometimes is not the case. Though the book was also different from the series in some regards but it still read like a film and I couldn’t put it down. It’s separated into days unlike many books that are separated into chapters and it has so many story lines that finally come together at the end and it’s fantastic. Because there is a series (and I am watching it again because I can) I can see each character clearly in my head by their series counterparts and the casting was amazing because it just fit as I read the book. I feel like I am disjointed on this one but I still love the idea of a flaming Bentley blasting Queen racing toward the end of the world. 

A Wrench in the Works by Kate Carlisle

            Second cozy mystery of the year because I needed a break for all of the rest of the stuff I was reading. It was a really quick read, it only took me two days in like two hour and a half long blocks because that’s just how my day works. It was a good book and it kept me turning pages, it was really good, though I have not read a book by Kate Carlisle that I haven’t liked. This one was really fast paced and I loved meeting Chloe, Shannon’s sister, for the first time in the series after hearing about her through several books now. Whitney, that character, grinds all of my gears because she reminds me of people that I went to high school and even college with. I went to a university in my home town and a lot of the students would call people from town “townies” and there was also this connotation that they were better than the people who lived in town and that bothered me quite a bit. So that theme throughout the series is sure a true problem and I get it. 

Esperanza Rising by Pan Munoz Ryan

            I read this with the sixth graders I work with, it was one of those books that I heard of but had never actually read but I did and as a coming of age book and a learning who you are kind of book for middle schoolers, it’s great. It’s really impactful in so many ways and seeing it through the lens of being an adult but also reading what kids had to say about it was fascinating to me. It is a quick read but if you have a middle school aged kid in your life, it’s worth the read. I did volley back and forth on whether or not to put this one on the list but this list is all the books I have read in 2021 so that means that it goes on the list! Also with this group I am going to get to read Tuck Everlasting and I’ve never read that one either so look forward to that eventually. 

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

            I normally don’t get super excited for books but Erin Morgenstern writes amazing books I cannot describe them in words but The Night Circus is my favorite book and being able to read another one of her works (finally after it sat on my shelf for a while) was like coming home. There are no words for how good this book was, all of the threads coming together and creating what I would describe as a literary masterpiece. I have so many words but no words at all, it was more sweet than bitter which I loved and the symbolism throughout had me turning pages faster than I could read and actually process them but I couldn’t stop. I want to read it again already and I just finished it, I also put it down for like a week and a half but that was an accident and I wish I hadn’t. It is so vivid I could see it in my brain, it was like watching a movie that I didn’t want to end. It’s fanciful, fairy tale-esque, and just down right amazing, (I feel like I say that a bunch but it’s true), I cannot describe how this book made me feel, I have no words even though I have so many that I want to say but none of them would accurately articulate how good this book was. I want to go to the Harbor, I want to get lost in stories, and feel like I am surrounded by magic. If I did long form book reviews this would be at the top of my list but I just don’t do that no matter how much I would like to. I will leave you with this, and Fate fell in love with Time. (How cool is that?!)

            Well that’s it for part one and below I put a counter of all the genres that I plan on reading this year so you can follow along. I was hoping to get ten books read in January and February and I was on track for that and then things changed so here’s hoping that I get more read in March and April, I think I am going to do every two months this year instead, like I did the last several months of last year just because I don’t want these posts to be TL:DR kind of posts. (My next book is my first thriller of the year so look forward to hearing how I feel about that one.)

            I hope that everyone has a good start to the week and I will be back mid-week with another post!

            -MJ

Let’s keep track shall we?:

Classics:  1/10

Historical Fiction:  1/5

Sci-Fi/Fantasy:  2/5

General Fiction:  1/5

Memoirs/Autobiographies:  /2

Non-Fiction:  /1

Thrillers:  /2

Free Choice:  2/15

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!

Books Read so Far in 2020 Part 3

Hey hey, it’s MJ.

            I’m doing this one a little different, I am writing this in September and I have no idea when this is actually going to be posted but I realized after doing my last book update that I forgot some of the things that I wanted to say about the books and doing it this way I think will make my life a little easier and that is just progressively writing this as I finish a book because it means that I have a better memory of what I read as I go. So this post might seem a little disjointed and there is for sure a reason for that; I am not writing it all in one day I am writing it when I finish a book and I think that might be a better format. I don’t know so you’ll have to let me know your thoughts on it. 

            So what have I read since the last post? 

A High End Finish by Kate Carlisle.

            So this was for sure the first book I have read since June so bear with me on a review. Overall I really enjoyed it, it had me guessing who the killer was until about 25 pages until the end so that is the mark of a good mystery novel, keep the reader guessing. It did take me a while to get into it, the chapters are long which can both be amazing and terrible when you want to finish a chapter and it’s another twenty pages. I am one of those people who prefers to stop at the end of a chapter than in the middle so that was a little frustrating. It had a slow start and a shocking attempted sexual assault in the first chapter which was a cozy mystery was a lot for me and I had to put the book down for a while before I was even sure if I was going to continue reading it. It took a while to pick up but when it really got into the meat of the story I couldn’t put it down. I love the girl power in this novel as someone who helped build a house it’s cool seeing ladies building things as cool. Like most cozy mysteries the names are ridiculous and the town is cute but I really enjoyed this novel overall. Can’t wait to get the second in the series and read it to find out about more of the hijinks that Shannon gets up to. 

Christmas Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke

            So this is a Hannah Swensen mystery but it happens several years before the first book which is Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder, it was interesting to see the characters before you meet them in the first novel. This one didn’t per say have a real murder in it which was interesting because I am so used to Hannah finding a body. This one was different it was about the whole community coming together to put on a Christmas Ball for one of their residents. It also involved a book with in a book which again is interesting and I read a book earlier in the year that had the same thing. This one in the context of the novel was more autobiographical to the character that the story focused on outside of the characters that I have come to know and love that are in this series. It was interesting to see how different some of the characters were though in this, like Delores; Hannah’s mother. It was overall a really good book and I blasted through it in two days, also having recipes in it never hurts which is  one thing that this series is known for and I want to try about 98% of them, cook and bake my way through Hannah’s recipes but that is a job for another day. 

If Walls Could Talk by Juliet Blackwell

            Clearly I am on a mystery kick, maybe because I can read through them rather quickly, I love a good cozy mystery and I really like the ones with nods to the supernatural like this one. I have another series that I love and that is the Witch City Mysteries by Carol J. Perry so having another one to read will never be a problem for me. Though like a lot of cozy mysteries Barnes and Noble has the first one and then like the eighth one so if you start the series late good luck finding them in a store. Beyond that though, I really enjoyed this one like I said about A High End Finish, normalize ladies in construction and carpentry. It was good and kept me guessing who was behind it until like 50 pages before the end which was great. This one kept me guessing and making me want to keep reading, I want a book that sucks me in and doesn’t let go, it makes for a great read. The characters are well built and dynamic which makes for a good story overall and I feel like I am repeating myself but because it’s the first book there is a lot of world building and exposition on relationships of the characters and I can’t wait to see how the series progresses. 

Warlock Holmes: A Study in Brimstone by G.S. Denning 

            So I like Sherlock Holmes in most iterations that you find that character in, I recently rewatched the BBC version because quarantine. So this one with a twist of magic was a fun retelling or rather a fun reworking of the classic Conen Doyle tale of A Study in Scarlet. There were also a few other cases in this and I enjoyed reading through them as well. It took characters that were so familiar and flipped them on their heads. There is a second novel and probably a third but I have had this book for quite some time and I think actually I bought the second one first. Overall I enjoyed it there were funny bits and bits that were surprising so good on you for keeping me turning the pages on an old classic. I am looking forward to reading the other four that I have found on the internet but I think I am going to take a break between them because this book was a little heavy, not a super quick read but worth it. 

Supernatural: Bone Key by Keith R.A. DeCandido

            Yes this is a TV tie in like the Doctor Who ones that I love, I used to watch Supernatural a lot, I was late to the game of course because I didn’t watch it until it was on Netflix and then I stopped because it was just a lot for me but I have been watching it again recently because I am a completionist when it comes to TV shows that I like, I mean really. It’s a good show and I love it but with it ending I wanted to catch up with it. I pulled this one out of my bookcase a week or so ago and decided just to finish it. This book was written over a decade ago and it’s kind of obvious because of the technology references but it reads like an episode but with such a vivid storyline. Stuff at the time that might not have been possible with special effects on TV. It took place in Key West and lots of ghosts with some twists and turns so if you like the show you will probably enjoy the read. I love all of the show tie in novels mostly because they give you extra stories with these characters that you love and sometimes all you want is one more story. 

One Bad Apple by Sheila Connolly

            I love mysteries and that is no secret because there are like three just on this list and that means that I read three mysteries in September which is not a record for me but is an interesting note. I liked this book, it was really good and I honestly didn’t see the murderer coming, like I had no idea who it was going to be until it was suddenly happening and that is both a great thing and a weird thing, usually I at least have an idea as to you did it and there was a lot of subterfuge with who did it and how the case was going to be solved. I like the characters and I am excited to, when I can find it, read the next one. 

The Night Garden by Lisa Van Allen

            I read this whole book in one day, it was such a good book and I had the time on my hands. It was one of those books that I couldn’t put down and I really want visit the gardens mentioned in this book because they sound absolutely breathtaking. It was one of those stories that sucks you in and doesn’t let you go. I just needed to finish it because I needed to see how the story ended. I couldn’t believe that I read it all in one day but I could not put it down and it was beautifully written with such vivid imagery and it was amazing. I thought about this after I finished writing this little blurb but the book for sure gave me Pushing Daisies vibes and maybe that’s why I liked it so much, it had some really great elements and characters that you rooted for and it was just one of those pieces of fiction that sweeps you up and doesn’t put you down until the very last word.

Everything is Awful and Other Observations by Matt Bellassai

            I love reading books by funny people and this one had me laughing silently to myself as to not look like a crazy person. I watched Whine About It when it was still on the internet, I think it came out on Wednesday’s and I would come home from work and watch it because it was so funny. I saw this book in Barnes and Noble right after it came out and I had to get it, it’s taken me a lot time to actually read it but I did it and I found it so funny. I also like reading books from people on the internet if that hasn’t become clear yet. So having another book from a person of the internet who is also funny is always a win in my book. 

Girl Online: On Tour by Zoe Sugg

            I watched a lot of YouTube, I still do and a few years ago I watched a lot more than I do now, I still subscribe to a bunch of people but I just don’t watch as much as I used to. I bought this book twice, I have a signed copy as well because at the time Zoe was one of my favorite YouTubers, I still enjoy her content but I am in a different headspace now. It took me some time to get into this book because I am in that different headspace but it was a good book and because it’s been so long since I have read the first one I had to remember everything that happened in the first one. I have been dealing with anxiety since I was in middle school without knowing what it was until late in high school and I still deal with it on the daily, every time I post a blog every time I have to talk to someone, every time there are too many people I feel like the world is closing in on me so being able to read about a character like that would have been something I needed in high school but finding it in my early 20’s was still okay. It’s a good book, YA and the middle in a series of three so I will read the third one eventually, hopefully not four years from now like I did with the first one and this one. 

Murder, Take Two by Carol J. Perry

            This is part of the Witch City mysteries, the first is called Caught Dead Handed and I have been reading the series for almost two if not three years now because I wanted a Halloween mystery to read and I love every single one. This one took me a while to get into just because I was in a reading funk but it didn’t take me all that long to read and I really enjoyed it. This one was a little different than novels in this series in the past and it had me guessing who the killer was until the last few chapters, I was really thrown off on who it actually was which is still one of the marks of a good mystery novel. As someone who was behind the scenes in TV in college this is one of those series that I love because the main character is a reporter as well as a whole host of other things and I just really like cozy mysteries if that isn’t hard to tell but if you like cozy mysteries I would suggest this series over all. 

This Old Homicide by Kate Carlisle 

            This is the second in the series that started with A High End Finish and I read it in like three days, I want to start off and say it was great. It had me thinking one person was the murderer, changing my mind, and then making me realize I was right in the first place. I can’t wait to see how the story progresses through the rest of the series; I have the third one on deck to read soon but I need a mystery break because I have a Once Upon A Book Club box coming in the mail (by the time this post goes up I hope to already have it) so I will be reading that sooner rather than later because I did it last year too with the House Witch and I didn’t finish it until December and I don’t want to do that again this year. But back to the book at hand! I am loving meeting and getting to know these characters like you do with a cozy mystery series and I cannot wait to read the third one. A side note: I really dislike Whitney and I know I’m supposed to but I don’t really just don’t like her. 

            I read a lot of books in two months and I am now down to ten books to hit my goal by the end of the year and I really hope that I can hit my goal for the first time in three years so that is something that I am looking forward to. 

            Long kind of disjointed post but here it is eleven books that I have read in the last few months and there will be another post before the end of the year. 

            I will see y’all later in the week with another post, hoe you have a good rest of the week!

            -MJ 

Books I Have Read So Far in 2020 Part 2

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            So this post is a little late I am dealing with migraines and some eye issues so that meant that I have been spending a lot of time recently not being able to look at any sort of light. I am getting over it but it means that I haven’t been able to be near my laptop much and therefore my post is late, sorry.

Well here we are again with another book post. Disclaimer time, I have not read much since the end of June. I am working on reading one now but I am not going to be done with it before the end of the month. Quarantine really hit me in July where I was just tired all the time. Living with depression and anxiety during a time of quarantine isn’t fun and I just couldn’t get the motivation to just sit and read so all of these books I read in May and June because I still want to hit my goal of 40 books but as the months pass I don’t know if I will actually hit that goal this year, oops. 2020 came in like a literal wrecking ball and I swear all of my goals for this year have kind of gone out the window. I wanted to wrap up six works in progress this year, I am going to be lucky to really wrap up three and for someone who writes a lot that tells me that I have been distracted this year. 

            It’s only 8 books this time so three books shorter than my last post and that means I am only 19 into my goal of 40, it is still doable if I actually buckle down and read but I have to get the motivation to sit down and just be and I don’t have that at the moment, lots chaotic energy going on in my head at all times.

Here we go though, what other books have I read so far? Mild spoilers so proceed with caution.

The Fairest of Them All by Carolyn Turgeon: 

            This book was a gift because my best friend knows that Tangled is one of my favorite Disney movies, this book however was a lot. I did finish it because I don’t like to leave books hanging though this will be one that goes in my donate pile. I am not a huge fan of books that use incest as a plot device and this one, oh man. It weaves Snow White and Rapunzel and while it’s an interesting concept there is a lot about it that I was not a huge fan of. I love fairytales and the moment they start changing my Disney childhood memories I get uncomfortable. Grimms Fairytales are fine because those are meant to be like that but this one just, while well written had some themes I am not a huge fan of. 

The Plot is Murder by V.M. Burns:

            The whole reason I even purchased this book was that it had poodles on the cover, my family dogs have always been standard poodles but toy and mini poodles are really cute so having a book with poodles in it is right up my street. I love cozy mysteries and if I can ever find the second on in a Barnes and Noble I will read it but Barnes and Noble has a bad habit of keeping random volumes in the store and then just not having the next, I saw one that was volume one and volume four and that was all they had which is a pain when as a person who absolutely devours cozy mysteries I can’t actually read a series. This combined a few of my favorite things though, murder mystery, book shops, and dogs so I cannot be mad about any of it and this book is a book within a book which is an interesting concept to me so kudos for that. 

Rest Ye Murdered Gentlemen by Vicki Delany:

            Another cozy mystery, let me be honest hale of this list is cozy mysteries because they are all a plot formula and they are fun to read. This one was amazing from what I remember of it, I read it in May so I really need to start writing my little blurbs about them after I finish reading them but I don’t and then I suffer for it. It has an interesting cast of characters and the main character runs a Christmas shop and as someone who loves that time of year I love it so much, again if I could get the second one I would be reading it by now but sometimes that’s just too much to ask for. 

The Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski:

            My best friend is obsessed with The Witcher and I watched the Netflix series which was great, give it a watch if you like this kind of stuff. It was a lot of blood and stuff so caution to those who was faint of heart. It’s a book of short stories and some of them are from the first series of the Netflix series so I had a lot of familiar characters and I had to laugh at the fact that in the English translation the bards name is Dandelion because it’s amazing. It’s a good book and I have a few of the others so I plan on reading them eventually I also plan on playing the game but that will be down the road. 

Key Lime Pie Murder (Hannah Swenson #9) by Joanne Fluke:

            I read eight and nine out of order because I am an idiot and I had them backward in my bookcase. Again a cozy mystery because at this point no one should be shocked, they are easy to read. I like the Hannah Swenson mysteries and they have some of them on Hallmark as movies so that’s always fun. This one was county fair themed and I have many fond memories of our county fair in Indiana so I was able to picture it really well in my head and it was a good fast paced read overall. 

Cherry Cheesecake Murder (Hannah Swenson #8) by Joanne Fluke:

            I read them out of order but that’s okay, I’ve done it before. I liked this one and it kept me gripped from page one to when I closed it when I was finished with it. I loved the story over all with the movie intrigue and mystery that seems to befall Lake Eden like all the time. That is one unbelievable thing about cozy mysteries like 20 murders in one small town over the course of a few years. I know that is the point but it’s still less than believable. It’s fun though and I really enjoy the series. 

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer:

            I wanted to watch this movie so badly and then I got rid of Hulu so I have to buy it. I saw a lot of reviews for the book that said it would leave me with more questions than answers. I really enjoyed the book it’s written in such an interesting way where no character has a name only a profession and that is so interesting I have never read a book like that before and I want to read the other two. It was fascinating and it kept my attention because it kept me wondering what was going to happen next and questioning if anything I thought I knew about this novel already was real. It was amazing, weird, suspenseful, and conjured up interesting and beautiful imagery.

Only Human by Gareth Roberts: 

            Huge Doctor Who fan, I still haven’t watched the 13th Doctor because no one in my life has BBC America but I plan on watching it eventually. But this book was the Ninth Doctor and Rose and was written for the 50th anniversary so it’s not a new book. I like the novels written that could be stories on the show and come from the imaginations of writers who are fans of the show. Reading them after watching the show you can almost see it in your head though and I have read a number of Doctor Who novels, there are more that I want but it’s hard to find some of them because I was not a fan until late 2012 because at the time it was on Netflix, as was Torchwood which I also loved. If you like Doctor Who and reading these novelizations are a great companion to the show when you are missing it.

            So that’s it, all the rest of the books that I have read so far this year and I am hoping that my last post of the year I have to split because I don’t want to bombard y’all with 20 books in one post, that’s the goal people that’s the goal. Who knows what the rest of the year brings because at this point 2020 is just one to go in the bin so I guess we will see. 

            I will see all of you later in the week with a new post!

            -MJ

Books I Have Read so Far in 2020

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            So something I have for sure been doing while in quarantine is reading, not as much as I want to but still I’m reading. My goal is 36-40 books this year and I’m eleven in, I have a lot more reading to do this year. I have no specific genre that I read, I read mostly anything if we are being honest. A few years ago I read a lot of historical fiction and I burned myself out on that for a while, but other than that I actually really enjoy reading. 

            I read 32 books last year and 12 of t hose were read in December as I made a last ditch effort to reach my 35 book goal. I haven’t hit my book goal since 2017. My goal in 2018 was 35, I read 6. I have been tracking all the books I have read since 2016 and I wish I could say that I have read more than 116 in those four and a half years but here we are. In reality I would ideally be up around 50 books a year but life doesn’t work like that all the time.

            Okay getting away from the long winded introduction,  here are the books I have read so far in 2020:

Spending the Holidays with People I Want To Punch in The Throat by Jen Mann:

            I read this in one day, New Year’s Day actually, I do enjoy reading essays that people have written about events in their lives and bonus points if they are funny or something I can relate to. This book was hilarious to say the least and it makes me want to read her other collections of essays because I think they would be just as amusing.

Star Wars: Bloodlines by Claudia Gray:

            I am a relatively new Star Wars fan, I don’t read a lot of the novelizations, I read a lot of Doctor Who novelizations and even Marvel but Star Wars is still pretty new for me. I was in elementary school when the prequels came out and didn’t see any of them until I was in high school, I spent a weekend in 2018 watching all of the original trilogy and I have seen all of the new ones as well. I know that the new ones get a lot of hate, but I didn’t hate them but again; I’m new. The book was dense, I liked it; it was a pretty good lead up to the events that happen in The Force Awakens and it continues to reinforce the fact that Leia Organa is a certified bad ass. 

I’ve Got This Round by Mamrie Hart:

            Again, a book of essays. I like hearing people’s drunk stories because I don’t really have any of my own and I like it that way. Reading the things that other people get up to and are up to telling others about is amusing to me. Mamrie is a great story teller and she is a very funny entertainer, I used to watch her on YouTube when I was in college; not so much now but I still enjoyed reading the second one of her novels. If you like humor and alcohol fueled adventures this is for sure a good read for you. 

Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes by Cory O’Brien: 

            I saw and excerpt of this on Tumblr probably four years ago and I bought the book because of it, I really like myths and stories of the like so reading an almost satirical telling of all of these really heavy myths; it’s just a lot of fun to read. It gives a different perspectives of all of those myths and it makes them a lot more fun to read. 

It Gets Worse by Shane Dawson:

            Like I said, I really like essays and I read his first book I Hate Myselfie in one day in December, I have been a Shane Dawson fan since 2012-2013 somewhere around there and rediscovered him in 2018. It was good and very honest throughout. 

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt:

            This book is going to be the oddity in this list and you may be saying, this seems like an off choice between two autobiographical novels. Well this we read for One School One Book and I couldn’t put it down. I work with elementary school kids and this book was a really feel good novel, it is a great story about overcoming, about embracing what makes us all different and that it doesn’t matter how we learn as long as someone is willing to take the time and figure out that maybe we all learn a little different and that doesn’t make us any less. 

Girl Logic by Iliza Shlesinger:

            I love Iliza’s comedy specials and her podcast is hilarious, the book was fine. I think I would have liked it better as an audiobook but I did enjoy reading it. I know that sometimes my girl Logic gets the best of me.

Mortal Arts (Lady Darby Mystery #2) by Anna Lee Huber:

            This is book 2, book one is That Anatomist’s Wife, it’s based in the late 1800’s in The United Kingdom, this one was in Scotland and once I got into it I couldn’t put it down. I love mysteries, usually of the cozy variety but this one is a little more serious. It wove a vivid tale of how mental health care was drastically different in those times and how that affected the people who suffered with it. 

Lark! The Herald Angels Sing (Meg Langslow Mystery #24) by Donna Andrews:

            This is one of those cozy mysteries I was talking about. I have read every book in this series and I have loved every one. I am going to write a review on the first book for a post alter in the month, when I do I will link it here because this series was what inspired me to try my hand writing mystery. (it’ll happen one day but I think for now I will stick with fiction.) This is one of my favorite series by far though, I actually read the 19th book first because I wanted a Halloween mystery and then I went back and painstakingly tried to buy the rest of the series.

Ghost Hunters Adventure Club and The Secret of The Grande Chateau by: Dr. Cecil H.H. Mills:

            If you want a mystery novel that has just a touch of satire and enjoys breaking the fourth wall between the characters and the author as well as the outside world do I have a book suggestion for you. It does start a little slow but as you get wrapped up in the mystery it becomes compelling and overarchingly funny. It actually had me guessing who the culprit was until it was revealed; I never saw it coming. So good.

Civil War by Stuart Moore:

            I love Marvel, I have the Civil War comic and I have read it so I knew what was coming but I like reading the novelizations because it allows for more detail and the ability for someone to visualize it without looking at pictures. It is nothing like Civil War the film which is one of my favorite Marvel movies, the only real similarity is the Registration Act, that’s about it. If you see them as completely separate entities they are both great. There are a lot more characters in the comic and novel but you know, studio licensing. 

            I hope to tell you more of the books that I read this year because, books. There isn’t much else I have to say in this post so I will see everyone in a few says with a new post.

            Stay safe, stay healthy,

            -MJ