May Wrap-up 2019

Hello readers! Please excuse my very late May wrap-up. We have a new dog, and I’ve been getting basically nothing done.

I started the month coming off of the Magical Readathon, so I took it easy at first and read a couple more Nancy Drew Diaries books. First I read Once Upon a Thriller, and then Sabotage at Willow Woods. The books in this series are pretty consistently 4-star reads for me. They are pretty good, feel totally authentic to the characters, and I would definitely recommend them to middle-grade readers looking for some fun mysteries.

Next up, I scrambled to read my new book club book in less than 2 days because I am a procrastinator extraordinaire when it comes to book club. The book was The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf. This story follows Melati, a teen in Kuala Lumpur in 1969, who struggles with undiagnosed OCD. She thinks she has an evil djinn inside her head telling her that she must do its bidding in order to keep her loved ones safe. When race riots break out throughout the city, Mel does everything she can to reunite with her mother and help her new friends. This book is a lot heavier than anything I would normally pick for myself, but I thought it had a great representation of OCD, and I learned a lot about Malaysia in the 1960s that I didn’t know before.

After that, I went back to some easier reads, and picked up the next few Nancy Drew Diaries books: The Secret at Mystic LakeThe Phantom of NantucketThe Magician’s Secret, and The Clue at Black Creek Farm. Again, these were all 4-star reads for me.

Still in the mood for mysteries, but looking for something a little more mature, I went for the next book in the Agatha Raisin series by M. C. Beaton, Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener. Much like the Nancy Drew Diaries, these books are enjoyable and fairly well written, and are typically a 4-star read for me. Agatha only gets better with time, so I’m happy that my library carries quite a few books in the series.

My last book of the month was Cast Long Shadows, the second novella in the Ghosts of the Shadowmarket series by Cassandra Clare. These novellas provide interesting information and context for the rest of the Shadowhunters world, but this one is nothing special on its own.

I also read 5 or 6 romance novels in May, but I’ve completely lost track of when I read which books and have started to confuse them with my June reads, so I’ll probably do a combined May/June romance wrap-up.

Some hauls and event wrap-ups might be coming soon! Until then, happy reading!

Advertisements

Independent Bookstore Day Recap and Haul

Hello readers! I’m trying out something new today based on some feedback I got on instagram. April 27th was Independent Bookstore Day. Here in DC, there are so many local indie bookstores that I had trouble deciding what to do. I wanted to hit up some of my favorites, visit some of the ones I haven’t been to before, and maybe even try the full DC bookstore crawl. In the end, I realized that my anxiety needed me to take it a lot more slowly than that. I have been making progress on dealing with my anxiety since I started therapy again last fall, and it’s going pretty well. When I started, I was at the point of feeling full blown panic every time I broke from my routine. Now I can leave the house, go to a new place, meet new people, and still feel anxiety, but not have it turn into an awful panic spiral. But visiting 12+ crowded bookstores all on the same day sounded, well, not at all fun. So I reassessed, and decided to go to just my favorite bookstore – One More Page Books. I’ve been to OMP a bunch of times before. I know the booksellers there, I’m familiar with the layout of the store, the parking situation, the drive to get there. The wild card here was the potential for it to be super crowded, which I was willing to deal with.

I made the right choice, because I had lots of fun. One More Page had lots of fun events going on all day long. There was the Book Seller Bake Off, where each of the booksellers baked a dessert and brought it in for everyone to sample. The cake-pops won, but I didn’t try anything because I’m paranoid about my food allergies.

There was also Battle of the Books. Each of the booksellers picked one of their favorite books to represent, and whoever sold the most copies won. I was convinced to pick up Fierce FairytalesRed-Tails in Love, and Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of DeathFierce Fairytales is a collection of feminist poems inspired by classic fairytales. I’m not a big poetry person, but I’m always trying to challenge myself and try new things, and I thought this would be the perfect book for that, since I already love fairytales. I already talked about Agatha Raisin in my April wrap-up. I borrowed the book from the library, and loved it, so it went into the pile too. Red-Tails in Love is the story of birdwatchers in Central Park and how they followed a pair of nesting hawks over several years. If you know me, you know I am terrible at reading non-fiction, but I challenged myself to read 5 non-fiction books by the end of the year, and if anything is going to keep me interested, it’s birds.

Speaking of birds, I also picked up a book that I have been eyeing since early this year. It’s called The Field Guide to the Dumb Birds of North America. It’s amazing and hilarious. All of the birds are renamed to reflect their true selves, and have an accompanying illustration. My current favorite is the European Shartling. Check it out, and get it for any friend who likes birds.

One More Page was also running a pet scavenger hunt. There were pictures of pets hidden all throughout the store. If you found one, you could take a picture with your phone and once you had found them all, you could pick from the prize box. I was doing pretty terribly at the scavenger hunt until I teamed up with a 3-year old, who luckily didn’t realize that I was the only one benefitting from the partnership. Anyway, we (she) eventually found all the pets and we each got a prize. I took home a slightly damaged, but still beautiful, MinaLima edition of The Little Mermaid.

Lastly, I picked up several books that are on my immediate TBR or that I’ve already read, and know that I want to re-read:

My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows – I don’t know much about this book other than it’s a historical fantasy re-imagining of Lady Jane Grey’s story, and everyone keeps telling me that it’s amazing and I need to read it. I also read The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand, and loved that, so I have a pretty good feeling about this one.

Archenemies by Marissa Meyer – the sequel to Renegades, and one of my favorite reads of the year so far.

Undying by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner – the sequel to Unearthed, which is like Indiana Jones in space.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer – a Beauty and the Beast retelling that everyone is raving about, so of course I need to read it and also have it for my retelling collection.

The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu – the first book in the new Eldest Curses series which follows Alec and Magnus as they get up to typical shadowhunter/warlock mischief.

Anyway, that’s all for my recap of Independent Bookstore Day. Let me know if you like this type of post or want to see more event recaps or hauls. Happy reading!

April and OWLs Magical Readathon Wrap-up 2019

Hello readers! In April, I participated in the OWLs Magical Readathon. This readathon is themed around the OWL exams from Harry Potter. There are 12 subjects, and one prompt for each subject. There’s also a really neat Wizarding Careers booklet, so you can decide which OWLs to do depending on which career you want. I went ahead and took all 12 OWLs, so I didn’t read much outside of this challenge in April.

First up, I read Sherwood by Meagan Spooner for the Ancient Runes challenge, which was to read a re-telling. I had every intention of reading this book for the Fantasy Adventure-a-thon at the end of last month, but I barely read any of it, and decided to take it back up for my first OWLs challenge. This book is a retelling of Robin Hood. Robin of Locksley is dead, and Marian decides to fill his role and protect the people of Nottingham. I was kind of confused by this book at first, because I was under the impression that it was fantasy. I thought that Robin was still alive and was using the magic in the ring to communicate to Marian. Thinking that, I was totally rooting for the wrong ships. I ended up reading some spoilers for the end of the book because I was so confused about where the plot was going. But there is no magic in this story, and once I knew where the plot was headed, I was totally on board for the ride. All in all, I didn’t love this book quite as much as Hunted, but it’s still a great retelling.

Next up, I read Rebel Angels by Libba Bray for my Defense Against the Dark Arts challenge which was to read a book starting with the letter R. Rebel Angels is the second book in the Gemma Doyle Trilogy. I am not totally in love with this trilogy, but I like it enough to keep reading it. I love Libba Bray, but you can tell this is some of her earlier work.

The next challenge I completed was Divination, which was to read a book set in the future. I chose Wires and Nerve, a graphic novel sequel to the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer. The storyline was enjoyable, but I would rather see these characters in a traditional novel format.

Then, if you follow me on instagram, and you were watching my stories, then you followed along with my intense 24-ish hours of trying to read this entire book before a bookclub meeting that I wanted to go to. The book was The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton. I really enjoyed this book, even though I read it so quickly. And luckily, there are flowers on the cover, so I could also count it towards my Herbology reading challenge to read a book with plants on the cover. I had a few nitpicks with this book, mostly that certain plot elements were set up and then there was no follow-through, but I expect a lot of the loose ends will be addressed in the sequel. This book also falls into the “burry your gays” trope (meaning that all of the openly queer characters are killed off). I think a lot of my issues with this book can be chalked up to the author’s first time writing fantasy, so I’m not too upset about it, and I will definitely be picking up the sequel.

Then, for the Charms challenge to read an adult novel, I finally read The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson. This is the second book in the Mistborn series, and boy was it good! Apparently, a lot of people don’t like this book as much because they say the plot moves much more slowly, but I was on the edge of my seat pretty much the entire time. The ending was amazing, and I am so amped to read The Hero of Ages.

Next, I read Libba Bray’s Lair of Dreams for the Potions challenge to read a sequel. This is the second book in the Diviners series, and I loved it even more than the first. We got so much more character development, the villain was amazing, and much like in the first book, the imagery is so vivid that I felt like I was watching a movie instead of reading a book.

For Muggle Studies (read a contemporary), I read Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death. If you like cozy mysteries, the English countryside, quiche, and unlikeable characters that just need some love to help them be better, then this book is for you. Anna Bright, author of the upcoming debut, The Beholder, recommended this book, and it was just what I needed. I immediately picked up the second book, Agatha Raisin and the Vicious Vet and used it for my Care of Magical Creatures OWL – read a book with a land animal on the cover. I now have the third book checked out from the library, and I see myself binging on the entire series at some point, so thanks Anna!

For History of Magic, the challenge was to read a book published at least 10 years ago, so I picked up the third Anne of Green Gables book, Anne of the Island. This series is so soothing. I don’t want to spoil anything, even though this is a classic, so many of you probably already know how certain events play out. I won’t give away any details, but I was so happy with the ending of this book. I actually teared up.

Transfiguration was the hardest challenge for me, because I don’t own any books with sprayed edges. Alternatively, you could read a book with a red cover, which was my plan, but all of my red books are on the heftier side, and I didn’t leave myself that much time to complete this challenge. So, I headed over to Overdrive, and checked out a copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz that happened to have a mostly red cover. I listened to this audiobook fairly quickly. It was interesting to see the differences between the book and the movie, and I am definitely interested in reading the next book in the series.

For Arithmancy, I had to read a book written by more than one author, so I finally got around to reading Son of the Dawn by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan. This is the first novella in the Ghosts of the Shadow Market series. It was good. My heart squeezed for little Jace.

For my very last challenge, Astronomy (read a book with “star” in the title), I read The Curse of the Arctic Star by Carolyn Keene. This is the first book in the Nancy Drew Diaries series, which is a modern, middle-grade take on Nancy Drew. I loved this book. It has a lot of the same feel as classic Nancy Drew, but it’s in the first person, which for me makes it a bit more fun. And even though the target audience for this book is meant to be younger people, Nancy is still in her late-teens, so it feels like something anyone could enjoy. At this point, I had completed all 12 of my OWLs, so I went ahead and read the second book in this series, Strangers on a Train. I also really enjoyed this book, and I have been bingeing on this series ever since.

Because I was so focused on the OWLs readathon, I didn’t read any romance this month, so there won’t be a romance wrap-up. I’ll be back soon with a recap of Independent Bookstore Day! Until then, happy reading!

 

Monthly Goals Check-in

Read at least one classic: Anne of the Island, and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Read at least one adult novel: The Well of Ascension and both Agatha Raisin books

Read at least two already owned books: The Belles, and Son of the Dawn. I also own Sherwood and Lair of Dreams, but those are very recent acquisitions, so I won’t count them.

March Romance Wrap-Up 2019

Hello readers! Welcome to my third romance wrap-up! I think this series is working, and I’m actually feeling less and less embarrassed about my romance-reading habits. This month, I read 5 romance books, all by the same author.

Last month, I started the Bedwyn Saga by Mary Balogh, and I liked the first book. So this month, I decided to continue with the series, and ended up finishing it. Overall, it was pretty fun. I did get a little sick of the fake-engaged/fake-married trope, which featured in all but the last book in the series. None of the books were as steamy as Lisa Kleypas, or as funny as Tessa Dare, but I did get pretty invested in all of the characters and wanted to see a happy ending for all of them.

I’m going to keep this post short instead of talking about each of the books separately, because honestly they’re all pretty similar to each other. I don’t think I’ve discovered a new favorite romance author, but I’ll probable pick up another one of her series if my library has them.

If you are curious about this series, or my thoughts on romance in general, and want to know more, feel free to hit me up on Twitter or Instagram, because I am always happy to talk books! Otherwise, happy reading!

March Wrap-Up 2019

Hello readers! I had a weird reading month. I picked up a lot of books, and finished comparatively few of them. I’m still making good progress on my goodreads challenge, I’ve just been in a weird reading mood and sometimes would rather re-watch My Little Pony than finish a book I started.

The first book I read this month was The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson. This was my first Sanderson and my first adult high fantasy and I am really happy to say that I liked it! I have a few small issues with it, like the romance was pretty weak and it probably would have been better to just not have it at all, but overall this was a great book and I am so excited to continue with this series.

Something really cool happened this month. I got approved for an early copy of A Dangerous Collaboration the newest Veronica Speedwell novel. I am obsessed with these books and they just get better and better! I really can’t recommend these books enough. A Dangerous Collaboration follows Veronica as she accompanies Stoker’s older brother, Tiberius, to a remote island off the coast of Cornwall. She has been promised some rare glasswing butterflies in exchange for her company, but more than one person at this house party seems to have an ulterior motive. It’s creepy and delightful and everything I could have wanted out of the next book in this series.

Next, the Re-Readathon happened. I had some pretty ambitious plans for this readathon, and I ended up only reading one book: Geekerella by Ashley Poston. It was just as good the second time, if not better. I am so glad I re-read this book because The Princess and the Fangirl just came out, and I am so ready for it! I’m a little bummed that I didn’t manage to re-read more books, but I am a mood reader, and I just wasn’t in the mood for what I put on my TBR. Instead, I picked up Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow, fell in love with this world, these characters, and this story, and so immediately picked up the sequel, Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow. These books have been very hyped and for good reason. It’s like all the best parts of Harry Potter, and Percy Jackson, and A Series of Unfortunate Events, but also completely different and totally wonderful (or wunderful?) in its own way. I hit a bit of a reading slump after finishing these books because all I wanted was to go back to Nevermoor with Morrigan and Jupiter.

Luckily, I managed to kick my slump because I had a bit of a deadline to motivate me. I knew I wanted to read at least the first book in Libba Bray’s Diviners series before I met her at NoVa Teen Book Festival. So I read The Diviners as my first book in the Fantasy Adventure-a-thon. This was a book that I couldn’t read right before bed because it’s pretty spooky and I am easily scared. But that just tells you how good Libba Bray’s writing is. She paints the setting so vividly and pays attention to even the tiniest of details, so I just couldn’t help but be totally creeped out. It was such a good book! And then I met Libba Bray, she signed my book, and we had a nice long conversation about pasta and Toni Morrison, so we’re basically best friends now.

The last book I managed to squeeze in this month was A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab. This wasn’t a new forever favorite for me, but it was still an enjoyable fantasy novel and I do really like the magic system.

Check back soon for my romance wrap-up, and until then, happy reading!

 

Monthly Goals Check-in

Read at least one classic: I started a couple, but didn’t finish any. I’ll keep trying.

Read at least one adult novel: The Final EmpireA Dangerous Collaboration, and A Darker Shade of Magic

Read at least two already owned books: The Diviners and A Darker Shade of Magic. I guess I could also count Geekerella, but my intention with this goal was to read books I own and haven’t read before.

 

Adventure-A-Thon Midweek Update

Hello readers! We’re a little over halfway through the Fantasy Adventure-A-Thon and I thought I would do a quick little update. I have significantly pared down my reading list. For one thing, I have never read seven books in one week, and I’m not about to start now, especially when all seven that I picked are on the longer side (if they were all middle grade, it might be a different story). For another, I have kind of a lot going on this week compared to the past few months. I started a new volunteer job, and I’m working a book festival this weekend. So I’m down to three books that cover all seven challenges: A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab,  The Diviners by Libba Bray, and Sherwood by Meagan Spooner.

I have already finished with The Diviners. I really liked it, and part of me wants to immediately continue with the series, but the other part of me is still really creeped out by the first book and having strange dreams about ghosts and serial killers. This book works really well for this readathon because it works for several challenges. It takes place in the 1920s, so that covers Fate, it is the first in a series, so that’s Adventure, and it has quite a few plot twists, so that’s Bewilder.

I’m currently reading, and very close to finishing, A Darker Shade of Magic. I’m liking this book, but not quite as much as I want to like it. Part of me feels like I am enjoying it mostly because it reminds me of other things I like. For example, the protagonist’s name is Kell, which reminds me of Mistborn, and White London reminds me a lot of Narnia when it’s under the White Witch’s control. Anyway, this is the group book, so that covers Fellowship, and we can go ahead and count it for Potions too because I’ve had a drink with me the entire time I’ve been reading this book.

Lastly, I’ll read Sherwood by Meagan Spooner this weekend to cover Cliff, a book with a nature word in the title, and Toad, a book with green on the cover.

Wish me luck for the rest of the readathon, and happy reading!Fantasy+Adventureathon+Map

Fantasy Adventure-A-Thon TBR

Fantasy+Adventureathon+Map

Hello readers! I’ve decided to participate in the Fantasy Adventure-A-Thon created by Novel Thoughts. This is a choose your own adventure style readathon taking place from March 25th through March 31st. I will be playing for team Mermaid. I haven’t completely committed to a TBR yet. I have a longer version, with a different book for each challenge, and then a shorter version where some of the books are counted for more than one challenge.

Fellowship – Read the group book:

A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Cliff – Read a book with a nature word in the title:

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

or

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas

Toad – Read a book with green on the cover:

Sherwood by Meagan Spooner

Fate – Read a book set in the past:

The Diviners by Libba Bray

Adventure – Read the first book in a series:

Three Dark Crowns by Kendara Blake

can also count ACOTAR, ADSOM, or Diviners

Potions – Read a book while drinking a drink:

Inkmistress by Audrey Coulthurst

or

any other book already on my TBR

 

Let me know if you’re participating and what team you’re on! Happy reading!