May 2022 Book of The Month Review:

Title: Darling Girl

Author: Liz Michalski

Rating: 4/5

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            -MJ 

Books I Read in May 2022

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Darling Girl by Liz Michalski (4/5)

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

A Clockwork Heart by Liesel Schwarz (3.6/5)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            -MJ 

Let’s Keep Track Shall We?: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Books I Read in April 2022

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

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

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

Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase (4/5)

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

Book Boyfriend by Claire Kingsley (4.2/5)

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

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

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

Kaikeyi by Vaishnavi Patel (3.5/5)

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

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

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

Pleading the Fish by Bree Baker (4/5)

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

Twisted Games by Ana Huang (4.3/5)

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

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

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

Delicious by Ruth Reichl (3/5)

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

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

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

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

            -MJ 

Let’s Keep Track Shall We?: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BookTok Made Me Buy It

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            -MJ 

Books I Read in March 2022

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            I don’t know how we got here. I really don’t, it’s March, somehow. I read 15 books in February, only 14 made it to the last blog post because I finished the other one after the post came out, so I read it in February but it’s on this post. There is just too much some days. 

            I have literally a dozen books in my Amazon save for later cart because I am on a book buying ban until the end of April (I made it to the tail end of March, my bad), I’ve bought 14 books this year and it’s March. That’s a lot of books, I love books though and I am such a mood reader and BookTok doesn’t help. It doesn’t help one little bit. 

            I am starting this month off with a book that is not on my TBR, it was an extra add-on I got with Book of the Month. I am learning that I need to mix in extra books that I want to read in with my TBR books so I don’t hit the dreaded reading slump because no one needs that. 

Well Met by Jen DeLuca (4.3/5)

            I couldn’t put it down. I love a good rom-com and enemies to lovers; it’s a really good trope and I loved this book. It was super cute and super real. I read like 230 pages in one night because I couldn’t put it down and the rest of the series so far is in my Amazon cart because I want to read the rest of it! I loved the family angle and the Ren Faire angle so much, the handfasting bit was so fun and I love Emily and Simon, this book for sure gave me New Girl vibes and I was here for it! It was super cute and had me laughing out loud several times alone in my apartment. It’s a rom-com so it’s a little spicy, but tame compared to some of the books I read last month. 

The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart (4/5)

            This book came out in the 1970’s. I want to preface it with that, who doesn’t love an Arthurian legend though? I love Arthurian legend and this is a telling of Merlin growing up and it was really good. It was a lot to read but totally worth it. The next one is already on my TBR for next year, do I think I will complete the whole series? I am going to try. I pictured only the characters from BBC’s Merlin the whole time I was reading it because why not. There is so much in the legend and the canon of Arthur and his round table. I have The Once and Future King in my collection as well, I should have read that in high school, I didn’t, it was a mistake to not read it then but I didn’t want to. I’ll loop back around to it eventually. It was interesting seeing the origins of Merlin who is such an intragyral character in fantasy, the idea of him spans much further than the legends themselves. 

Teacher Misery by Jane Morris (4.3/5)

            I am a teacher, this book was hilarious, it hurt so much at some points though because it is so true that it’s pathetic and it came out before the pandemic! Like I cannot imagine what could be added if the pandemic was included. There were so many things that had me laughing but also nodding and shaking my head because apparently it is not uncommon for things that I have seen or heard that happen in schools happen in more than one place and that seems a little ridiculous. TeacherTok is a real place that I have found myself in and we are all going through it y’all. This book was hilarious, real, and I wish I could say shocking, but it wasn’t. It was a reflection of the current state of our education system and while I love teaching, I love my kids, and my school family, but some days you just want to sit at your desk and cry because it’s overwhelming at all times anymore. Please check in on your teacher friends, we are not okay. 

Dating Dr. Dil by Nisha Sharma (4.4/5)

            This was my March Book of the Month so this one has its whole own dedicated post. I am going to brief overview it here, but if you want to know my more in-depth feelings on it you can check that post out when it does, I will link it here so you can read it if you want. It was cute and I enjoyed it a lot, it had a lot of interesting topics and fun moments. A little spicer than I am used to when it comes to more of the romantic comedy genre. It was a really fun book though and if you are looking for a cute enemies to lovers and fake dating rom-com, this one is for sure something that you might want to look into. 

Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz (2.5/5)

            I didn’t like it, actually there were no redeeming qualities for me when I read this book. I bought it when the movie came out because I wanted to read it before I saw the movie. I never saw the movie and this book has been in my collection since like 2013. Maybe I would have liked it more then, but now, it gave me all the icky feelings. Like it was boring, the drama was predictable and annoying, and the ending was terrible. Like I didn’t like the main character at all, I feel like I should, I feel like I should have felt bad for her and everything she went through, I don’t. I am angry about this book, like this is the closest I have gotten to DNFing a book since like 2016. I put off starting this book for almost a week and read another book instead. It wasn’t good. I normally say that not every book is for everybody and I do still think that. A lot of people liked this book, I was not one of them. Normally I can find qualities in a book that I like, this one had none for me. The relationships and friendships felt forced and unnatural, the plot lines were a lot and not in a good way, and I found myself skimming sections because I didn’t care to read them. Most of the time I at least kind of recommend the books that I read; I don’t recommend this one. This is one that will be leaving my collection at the end of the year and I won’t be sad to see it go. 

It Devours! By Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor (4/5)

            I have been an avid listener of the podcast Welcome To night Vale for a long time, I actually need to catch up on it because I loved the series and then I stopped listening to podcasts. I forget them, sorry, my bad. This is the second novel from that universe and this one was a little weird; in Night Vale though that is 100% par for the course. This focused-on Carlos and his band of scientists trying to figure out why pieces of the town are being devoured. The Joyful Congregation of the Smiling God makes a large appearance, that was fun. I was not a huge fan of the ending to be completely honest, I liked the rest of it, it was a lot of fun. Violent, but a lot of fun. Just the end made it a little less cohesive, also I like happy endings and it really wasn’t 100% that. It was fun though and I will eventually read the third novel, I just have to get to it. 

Sword of Destiny by Andjez Sapkowski (4/5)

            I mean, I like The Witcher Netflix series, it’s fun. I started reading it because my best friend was obsessed with the game, at the time she had played something like 1,300 hours and that to me is insane, more power to her. I have played something like 500+ on Animal Crossing so I understand that better now. It was good collection of stories, some that were in the series already and a few that I would like to see in the series in the future. The one with the mermaids was fascinating, I will say this, they are different than the series for sure. Some are closer to what you see on screen and some are vastly different. I am excited to read the actual series and I will probably read it later in the year when I am done with my TBR. 

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero (4/5)

            This took me days to read. It was good, Scooby Doo meets Supernatural. It was weird, I am going to put it that way, it was just weird, but it was fun. I enjoyed reading it, I am on vacation so I didn’t read it like I should have. There were a lot of comments on Kerri’s hair, which was really weird. The whole book was really weird, it was a good weird though. Like I wanted to go back and re-read things but I didn’t, it was interesting though and I did enjoy it. It was written a little strangely which was okay, again, the book is strange. I feel like I want to say more about it and I really don’t know what to say about it though, I enjoyed the book, that’s the bottom line, it was just a little odd and I can’t think of any more synonyms for it. 

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (5/5)

            I couldn’t put it down and it’s like 600 something pages. I get why the internet gives one of the characters a not so nice nickname, I completely understand I swore at him a lot throughout reading it. I want to go to the Night Court; I want to be there and I loved all of those characters that I have been seeing on the internet. The imagery is stunning and I cannot wait to read the next one. The end, it broke me a little, actually it broke me a lot, there was swearing, almost tears, and just heart break; absolute heartbreak even though we all know there are more books in the series. If I was reading these when they came out, I think that the waiting for the third one would have killed me. I love Rhys, that should shock no one I always go for that type in books, he’s a lot, but in the best way.

            Well there you have it, I only read nine books in March, there is one that isn’t on here because it was for One School One Book and we read Frindle

            I for sure wanted to read more in March and I expected to because I was off for a week with Spring Break but we traveled and it was like 2000 something miles in the car and I can’t read in the car. So, I didn’t read as many books as I wanted to.

            My goal in April is 10 books, I think, I had a much more ambitious goal but I don’t see that happening because I didn’t read all the ones I wanted to read in the month of March. That’s okay though, reading 15 in February was an unsustainable. 

            If you are curious what else I have read this year, you totally can and see what I read in January and February. This list will grow and grow as the year goes on and I am looking forward to it. 

            I hope everyone has a great day and I will be back soon with another post! So, until then stay safe, happy, and healthy. 

            -MJ

Let’s Keep Track Shall We?: 

General Fiction: 3/10 (The Runaway Princess, Since You’ve Been Gone, Admission,)

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

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

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

Free Choice: 5/14 (Love and Gravity, A Fate of Wrath and Flame, City of Lost Dreams, It Devours!, A Court of Mist and Fury, )

Memoirs/Autobiographies: 1/2 (Buffering and )

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

Book of The Month: 3/12 (Reckless Girls, A River Enchanted, Dating Dr. Dil, )

Extras: 8/? (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, )

MJ’s 2022 Book Bullet Journal Update#1: January and February

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

            I don’t know how we are already in March; I have no idea how that happened, but here we are. I also did not expect to read as much as I did in January and February, but again, here we are. I want to be able to go back to beginning of 2021 MJ and tell her that I have read like 20 books in the first two months of the year when last year I only read like eight books in two months. I blame BookTok and the fact that I have now trained myself to want to read 100 pages a day. It’s better than snacking or spiraling while overthinking because I do that more than I would like to admit. 

            Doing a book bullet journal this year has scratched an itch in my brain that I didn’t know that I had, it makes me happy and that’s really what’s important to me at the moment. I like making lists and crossing things off or updating things, if you have followed me for any length of time you know that. 

            I did post an overview of my Book Bullet Journal in December, so if you want to see the beginning pages, go ahead, there was nothing about my monthly layouts there so that’s always fun. 

            Let’s dive right in though, I like doing updates because it holds me accountable to actually doing it and that’s what I need at the moment, accountability. 

            All of my months are set up the same way and I know that I will make changes next year, I already have a list. This year is a learning year, a year where I can do proof of concept to see if it is sustainable, I did the same thing with my regular bullet journal and so far, so good. 

January: 

Cover: Simple like ringing in the new year and a quote from one of my favorite books from last year The Starless Sea (if you like fantasy, I would recommend it). Also, the highlighted days are days that I finished reading a book, it was just a last-minute thing that gave me a visual to see the number of books and how quickly I was reading them. There is no color on this one, I just kind of forgot to color in the gems, maybe I’ll do that later, who knows.

Books Read Page: Just a condensed visual of what I read, who it was by, and the dates that I read it. I track that through GoodReads too and several other places. I track a lot of things more than once because that’s just who I am as a person. 

Thoughts/Insights: I saw this layout on TikTok and I was like “yep, this is for me.” Text and visual is how I like to learn and how I like to see things so here we are and in January because I read nine books, eight fit here and one had to go in the back. (I am going to have more thoughts pages next year for sure.)

Monthly Stats: I started out with just the first column which is books read, books bought, genres I read, author breakdown, pages read, average rating, and # of five-star books. As well as the Book of the Month as well. I ended up adding Average page count, average reading time in days, and # to unhaul very late in January because I love stats and I am genuinely curious about all the things that I am tracking on a monthly basis. 

January Recap: I messed up on this one, oops. I don’t really like the colors so I am going to work on that as the months go on to make that standardized, I want all of them to look the same and I kind of dislike the colors on my ratings chart for sure as well as my format chart, the colors just make me a little angry and that’s just me. 

Monthly Book Stack: I have a yearly as well, I like the monthly as well though and I for sure made them bigger in February because these ones are too small and again, it was January, this is a building year for my book bullet journal. 

            Between each month I have an extra page so between January and February I have the covers of my Book of the Month books. 

February:

Cover: I liked the idea of stuff hanging, I chose hearts. My covers for my Book BuJo are super simple because my regular Bullet Journal is really detailed and I needed to not do that in two separate things, I would stop to be honest, I would just not do it; I know my limits. Also, a Princess Bride quote, because duh. 

Books Read: There are a lot more this month because I read 15 books in February (yes, that’s right, 15) In all honesty and fairness only about half of them were on my TBR, the other half were BookTok made me buy them. This month was a lot. 

Thoughts/Insights: So many books so little space. I will for sure being doing four pages instead of two when I do this next year. Yes, I am color coding the stars to the month I am reading them in. I love to color code.

Monthly Stats: Carbon copy of last month just different stats. 

Recap: Again, carbon copy of last month just with different stats. I know that’s a little repetitive and lame, but I like this one better. 

Monthly Book Stack: They are so much better than January and I really like the larger book style this month that I didn’t do in January. 

            This months between month page is my Book of the Month ratings, I didn’t subscribe to BotM until after I started my Book BuJo last summer so I had to add them in, next year they will just get their own pages at the beginning in the front. We are working on it y’all, working on it. 

            Well, that’s it for this update, I think there are enough updates in this post and pieces so here we are at the end and I will be back in April with another update, because I have a problem. 

            Until then though, I hope that everyone has a good rest of the week and you all stay safe, happy, and healthy.

            -MJ 

February Book of the Month Review:

Title: A River Enchanted

Author: Rebecca Ross

Rating: 4/5

            Hey hey, it’s MJ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-MJ 

Books I Read in February 2022

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twisted Love by Ana Huang (4.3/5)

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

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

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

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

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

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (3.5/5)

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

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

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

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

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

A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross (4/5)

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

The Fine Print by Lauren Asher (4.4/5)

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

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor (4/5)

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

Hiddensee by Gregory Maguire (3/5)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            -MJ

Let’s Keep Track Shall We?: 

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

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

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

Thriller: 1/2 (The Alienist)

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

Memoirs/Autobiographies: 1/2 (Buffering, )

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

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

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

MJ’s Book Rating System

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

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

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

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

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

1 Star (1-1.9):

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

2 Stars (2-2.9):

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

3 Stars (3-3.9):

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

4 Stars (4-4.9):

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

5 Stars:

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

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

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

            -MJ 

2021 Unhauled Books

Hey hey, it’s MJ,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

West of Sunset by Stuart O’nan

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

Last Days of Night by Graham Moore

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

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave

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

The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber

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

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

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

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

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

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

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

Soulless by Gail Carriger

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

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan

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

Dream London by Tony Ballentine

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

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

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

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

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

            -MJ