October Monthly Wrap Up

Hey Readers,

It’s been awhile since I posted a wrap up of my monthly reading. This month wasn’t the best month for me in terms of amount of books read but I was really happy with the books that I did read. This month I read one huge book, I finished half of second even larger book, a book that was on my most anticipated release list for this year, and a spooky read (since you know – it’s Halloween).

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I’m behind on my reviews (am I ever going to catch up?) but here are some quick thoughts about each of the books I read this month while I work on getting full length reviews up!

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Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3) – Brandon Sanderson

I loved this book and this series. It took me two months to finish this behemoth of a book and every single minute I spent reading this book was 100% worth it. The character development for all of our main characters, and for Dalinar’s character especially, had me feeling my feelings. I don’t know how many times I have texted friends who have read it already in all capitals yelling about said feelings. Journey before destination.

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The Butterfly Garden (The Collector #1) – Dot Hutchison

In a bout of insomnia I read this book in one night, from the first few pages I was hooked and it didn’t feel like I was awake all night (although I definitely felt it the next day). It is a dark and twisted story of a man called The Gardener who has kidnapped young women and tattooed butterflies on their backs. While I did really enjoy the story I do think that a reader does need to suspend their disbelief when reading it to get fully into the story.

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A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara

I just finished this book last night and I honestly don’t think I’ve read a more depressingly beautiful book in my entire life. I don’t know what else to say about it right now other than that this book will stick with me for a very long time.

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Vengeful (Villains #2) – V.E. Schwab

I waited anxiously by the door for my copy of Vengeful to be delivered when it was released and I was not disappointed. V.E. Schwab could write an instruction manual and I would probably read it as if it was the most wonderful piece of writing, sure, but she did it again with Vengeful. I love all of these characters, and Mitch needs to be protected at all costs.

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*BONUS* The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time #1) – Robert Jordan

I started a reread this month of The Eye of the World with one of my friends this month and though I didn’t finish it (I got sucked into A Little Life) I got about 200 pages in. I forgot how much stuff happens right off the bat in this book! I’m looking forward to rereading the first seven of these books so that I can finally finish this series.

 

– Hannah

Review: City of Ghosts

Hey Hi Hello my friends, I know its been a long time between posts and I’m really hoping life calms down soon but if we’re going to be honest I’ll sleep when I’m dead. I’m coming to you today to talk to you about Victoria Schwab’s latest: City of Ghosts. Friends, Schwab did it again, proved exactly why she’s at the top of my list for favorite authors, and why I buy multiple versions of the same book because I can’t imagine not having ALL of the Victoria/V.E. Schwab books.

City of Ghosts is Schwab’s newest middle grade novel about a girl who almost drowned, the ghost boy who saved her, and her exciting jaunt through Edinburgh, Scotland and its many ghosts. I don’t read a lot of middle grade novels, so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I opened its pages, and those thoughts were swept away as I devoured this book from the first page to it’s last in one day.

“In the end, I guess mom was right.

I have one foot in winter and one in spring,

One foot with the living, and one with the dead.”

Schwab’s storytelling is what kept me rapt as I read this middle grade novel as a 28 year old woman. It maintains some of the darker elements of her other YA or Adult Fantasy novels, while also maintaining a whimsicality that worked well to keep it perfect for a young reader to follow along with 12 year old Cassidy Blake. The book was also so perfectly atmospheric, it made me feel like I was in Edinburgh with Cassidy experiencing the sights and sounds with her. It definitely would be the perfect spooky fall read if you’re looking for something “Stranger Things mixed with Ghost Hunters”-esque.

While I did really enjoy the book, I did have a couple of quibbles. The first is I thought characters could have been more fleshed out. I enjoyed Cassidy Blake, however I wish I had gotten to know a little bit more about Jacob (maybe thats to come in book 2?) or even Lara Jayne Chowdhury. I am looking forward to where she brings these characters in book 2 and will definitely be picking it up once released.

The second is that the plot seemed fairly simplistic and pretty straight forward. There weren’t many twists and turns that kept me guessing as to how the story was going to end. However, this may be a situation of not having read enough middle grade, and having too high expectations.

Over all, City of Ghosts was a delightfully spooky story with easy to devour writing, a friendship I’m a little bit jealous of (who doesn’t want to be best friends with a ghost), and lots of dead things. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a fun, quick fall read.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

– Hannah

Review: The Girl in the Tower

Now – before I get into this review, which I am SO EXCITED to do – this is the second book in a series, so this review may have some spoilers for the first book, The Bear and the Nightingale.

“Think of me sometimes… When the snowdrops have bloomed and the snow has melted.”

Synopsis from Goodreads: “The magical adventure begun in The Bear and the Nightingale continues as brave Vasya, now a young woman, is forced to choose between marriage or life in a convent and instead flees her home—but soon finds herself called upon to help defend the city of Moscow when it comes under siege.”

Orphaned and cast out as a witch by her village, Vasya’s options are few: resign herself to life in a convent, or allow her older sister to make her a match with a Moscovite prince. Both doom her to life in a tower, cut off from the vast world she longs to explore. So instead she chooses adventure, disguising herself as a boy and riding her horse into the woods. When a battle with some bandits who have been terrorizing the countryside earns her the admiration of the Grand Prince of Moscow, she must carefully guard the secret of her gender to remain in his good graces—even as she realizes his kingdom is under threat from mysterious forces only she will be able to stop.”

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If you loved the first book in The Winternight Trilogy: The Bear in the Nightingale, you will love it’s sequel. This book, actually this series, is some of the best historical fiction I have ever read. The combination of the history and folklore of Russia is absolute perfection. And the way that Katherine Arden flawlessly combines history, folklore and the fantastical makes this novel a magical and compelling read. If you ignored my previous warning of spoilers, and you haven’t started these books, I need you to stop what you’re doing right now and go read them. Okay? Go. Now.

Before I go into my more detailed review – this book shouldn’t be read as a stand alone. You should definitely start with The Bear and the Nightingale (it’s worth it). Arden doesn’t start the book with a lot of refresher information, she jumps right into the action and that is one of the things I love most about it. There were definitely details that related back to the first book, but I never felt like we were rehashing plot points that had already been discussed and wrapped up. It was like I had just turned the page of the first book into the second and it really helped the pace of the book (which was excellent throughout).

This book was also fantastically feminist. Vasilisa (Vasya) is a fiercely independent woman who has no desire to comply to 14th century Russian culture and rules. She risks her life, and her family’s lives, in order to try and find herself and her purpose, without being forced to spend her life locked away as some man’s wife or in a nunnery. She fights for what she believes is right, without fail, no matter what the consequences might be. She is smart. She listens to her heart. And above all, she knows that being a woman does not make her any less of a person than if she was a man. She is a woman who I ardently admire.

“Do you think that is all I want, in all my life—a royal dowry, and a man to force his children into me?”

Side note: Hi my name is Hannah and I am hopelessly in love with a frost demon named Morozko.

The relationship between Morozko and Vasya was an absolute treat to read.  Morozko’s desire to keep Vasya safe, and Vasya’s refusal to be treated as anything less than she is, is a combination that I am 100% here for. And while Morozko does try and protect her at all costs, with spring coming fast, the Winter King can only do so much. As Morosko and Vasya struggle with their feelings for one another their relationship goes to new depths that will make you fall in love and Katherine Arden doesn’t hold back any punches either.

“You are immortal, and perhaps I seem small to you… But my life is not your game.”

This book is atmospheric, magical, beautiful and heartbreaking. I am always nervous when moving on to the second book in a series when I loved the first book so much because I am nervous of the second book not living up to my expectations. This book lived up to and surpassed my expectations. It was a page turner and there were many times that I had a hard time setting it down. Arden’s characters have been added to my short list of characters that I would absolutely die for. The last book in the trilogy, The Winter of the Witch, set to be released in August 2018 is one of my most anticipated of 2018. I can not wait to see where Arden has Vasya going next in her journey. I have very high hopes.

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– Hannah

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February Wrap Up

So I know I’m late with this February Wrap Up as we are already 4 days into March BUT better late than never right? …Right?

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(Thank you Walter.)

February was a short month and I didn’t get as much reading done as I had wanted to. I had wanted to read quite a bit of fantasy, thanks to the Fantasy in February challenge that I was participating in. All, except for one of my books, were fantasy books and I really enjoyed them for the most part but I really fell in love with the first trilogy I read so I ended up deciding to take my time with it so I could really enjoy it. This however, did have an impact on the amount of books I was able to get through, but I wouldn’t go back and read them faster if I had the option to, so I’m okay with it.

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(This was my February TBR list.)

The Unread Shelf Project

So I’m doing a really good job about reading only books on my Unread Shelf list. I have not reread any books and I’m doing a really good job sticking to my TBR lists. In February I ended up being able to get through seven more books from my Unread Shelf.

Y’all… I CAN’T STOP BUYING BOOKS.

I know. I know. January I was on a complete book buying ban and that went TERRIBLY. So February I was like, I can make it through one month without buying a book. That can’t be too hard. I mean, get yourself together and have a little self control.

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(Justin literally can’t even with me right now.)

I’m not even going to lie to myself anymore about being on a book buying ban. Is it worth it to deprive myself of all the books that are practically begging to be on my shelves? I don’t think so. And it certainly isn’t worth buying the books and then feeling guilty for having so utterly failed in my book buying ban. SO I’M GIVING UP. I mean, if buying books is my vice, it could be so much worse. I could have worse vices and we all need one so…

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(My friend Gwen sent me this, and if it’s not accurate to my life, I don’t know what is.)

My Blog

February was a really good month for me and my blog. I got up three reviews and I made a post about my favorite literary bad boys for Valentines Day. So I am really pleased with how February went. But since nothing is perfect, I know I could improve for March, so my goals for March are to:

  1. Post one review a week, hopefully going up on Sundays.
  2. Try and get a post up that isn’t a review but still having to do with books at least twice.

I’m feeling confident March will be a good month to succeed with those goals. I have a pretty awesome TBR which I’m super excited to get through.

Books I Read

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Out of the nine books on my February TBR I got through six of them, which for a short month I am pretty pleased with. I also read my IRL BookClubs pick of Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King, which if you read my review (found here) you’ll know I wasn’t super impressed by it which I was disappointed about. Other than that book though I really enjoyed the books that I read in February and it was awesome being able to get back into reading fantasy, a genre I always love but sometimes forget to read since their is always so many classics and contemporary fiction that I want to get to as well.

  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab – 5 ⭐️’s
  • A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab – 5 ⭐️’s
  • A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab – 5 ⭐️’s
  • The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert – 3 ⭐️’s
  • Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve – 3 ⭐️’s
  • The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden – 4 ⭐️’s
  • Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King – 2 ⭐️’s

Next Month

In March I don’t have any specific challenge that I am participating in but I do have a pretty awesome TBR planned. A couple of the books on my list are The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah and An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. My book club’s pick this month is The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn. So I know March is going to be a good month and I can’t wait.

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How was your February? Did you participate in Fantasy in February as well? I want to hear all about your month so let me know in the comments below!

– Hannah

Review: The Immortalists

I’ll be honest with you, the thing that first drew me to this book is the cover. I mean look at it, it’s stunning. I kept seeing it on my Instagram feed and I wanted it. I marked the date it was going to be released on my calendar and I picked up that day. What I was expecting was a book of fantasy, filled with magical realism, but thats not exactly what I got.

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Synopsis; from Goodreads:

“If you were told the date of your death, how would it shape your present?

It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

Their prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11, hoping to control fate; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.”

Chloe Benjamin sets her novel up in four acts. One for each sibling, from the sibling who dies first to the sibling who dies last, each their own period piece as well. Simon, embraces his identity and sets out to find love in San Fransisco’s queer community in the 80’s. Klara, a traveling magician in the 90’s. Daniel, a man who seeks the security of domesticity, in the wake of 9/11 America. And Varya, a female scientist in 2018, who ultimately denies herself any sense of a fulfilled life.

I was fully invested in both Simon and Klara’s stories, finding myself crying as I finished each of their sections. My fiancé, who witnessed one of these moments proceeded to look at me like I was crazy as I wept over my book. However, I was less than interested in Daniel’s story and I was disappointed with Varya. I expected more from Varya. Set to live a long life, she refused to live one at all. It felt unfair to Simon and Klara especially. Both of them robbed of long lives, Simon dying at 20 and Klara dying at 32, both of them tried to live as much as they could while they had the chance.

I gave this book 4 stars. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. Like I said, I was hoping for magical realism, more of a fantasy read, it was not that at all though. It was much darker than I was expecting. I don’t mind dark novels, they are actually some of my favorite, I just wasn’t expecting that from this book. The way Benjamin stays above giving a direct answer is what I enjoyed the most. Were the Gold’s always set to die on those specific dates? Did the fortune teller tell the truth about their deaths, or did the Gold’s, believing the date to be unchangeable, hurtle themselves towards their own deaths, each decision they made pushing them towards what would eventually lead to their deaths?

– Hannah

January Wrap Up

I am so thankful January is over. January was the month from hell, and I’m pretty sure it was actually 458,603,837 days long. Every time I thought January was close to ending there were still like 10 more days until the actual end of the month. Let’s just say I am SO ready to start fresh in February.

I wanted to use today to reflect on how my January went in terms of my goals. How did I do in accomplishing them? Do I want to change any of them? Do I have any new goals? Basically, what worked and what didn’t. So without further ado…

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(Nothing motivates me more than this song.)

The Unread Shelf Project

I did a pretty good job with some of my goals this month for January, but for some of them I fell off the wagon. And by “I fell off the wagon,” I mean I threw myself off the wagon and let it leave without me. I may or may not be referring to my book buying ban and how well it didn’t go. (I am 100% talking about how badly I did with my book buying ban.)

All of the books that I read this month were books on my unread shelf. So I did a really good job being able to cross those off my list. I read seven books this month, six physical books and one book on my kindle. So in the sense of working through my unread books that were already on my shelf, I did AWESOME. The key word unfortunately is already.

Confession time: I bought a lot of books this month. I bought books when I went to Maine to visit a friend from college, I bought more books from my local bookstore, I went to Barnes and Noble twice leaving with books and I ordered some off of Amazon. So yeah, I threw myself off that wagon pretty hard. I know I don’t want to keep adding to the books on my Unread Shelf because then I won’t be able to accomplish my large goal for that, which is to get to 100 or less unread books on my shelf. I also know, I LOVE to buy books. There is no where I love being more than at the bookstore (except maybe Disney World), and there is nothing I hate more than leaving the bookstore without buying any books. So, how do I fix this going forward?

I think I am going to try and get back on the book buying ban, but keep it to smaller time frames. I thought I was a moderator, someone who can only do something in moderation, but apparently I’m an abstainer. I need to completely abstain from something otherwise it becomes an extremely slippery slope. So for February, I’m going to try and not buy any books, and reevaluate how that goes at the end of February. Wish me luck.

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(Thanks Lando)

My Blog

For my first month of blogging ever I’m feeling pretty good. I know there are things that I’m looking to improve for next month, like making sure I get my review’s up. I read seven books in January and I was terrible about getting my reviews up. I need to start setting time aside after I finish a book to write my review. So that is my plan for next month. I mean look at all these good books I read this month!

 

Books I Read

I am very proud of the amount of books I read this month. I read seven books in total this month and I don’t remember the last time I read so many books in one month. And as a bonus, there was only one that I didn’t enjoy as much as I wanted to enjoy it. So it was a great month not only for amount of books read but quality of the books I read too. I even had a couple 5 star reads which was exciting!

  • The World According to Star Wars by Cass R. Sunstein -⭐️⭐️
  • The Power by Naomi Alderman -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (and so far definitely number one on my list for 2018 favorites)
  • Strange Weather by Joe Hill -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Red Clocks by Leni Zumas -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • The Immortalists -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • My Absolute Darling -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I do have some reviews that I’m working on for The Immortalists, and My Absolute Darling which will hopefully be coming in the next week so keep a look out!

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Next Month!

I am SO excited for February. I’m participating in a fun challenge started by Alisa over at @worldswithinpages (on Instagram) and here is her blog, called Fantasy in February. Where the goal is to read strictly fantasy. I am really excited for this because I love fantasy but I always get sucked up into classics and contemporary fiction. I’ve gotten some really good recommendations and I can’t wait to get started. Join us or follow along with the hashtag #fantasyinfebruary on Instagram!

I also started an IRL book club with some of my friends at work and our first book is Sleeping Beauties by Steven King and Owen King which I am the most excited to read.

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What books did you read in January? Was your January like mine or did you have a great January! Tell me about your month in the comments below!

– Hannah