2019 Monthly TBR Challenge & Happy New Year

Happy New Year’s Eve bookworms! Cheers to a festive and happy new year! I am so ready for 2019~

Inspired by a recent video that I watched on the channel, Hailey in Bookland ((click on the channel name to view her January TBR)), I have decided I am going to institute a monthly TBR challenge.

Basically, this involves 5 challenges I need to complete every month. This will be in addition to any ARCs I will be reading for a particular month. The 5 challenges are as follows:

  1. Read a book that was released in 2018
  2. Read a new release from the current month
  3. Read a new release from the next month (I can use any ARC for this)
  4. Read a sequel to a series you have started but haven’t finished
  5. TBR Jar picks

*A note on the TBR Jar picks: Today I created my first ever TBR jar. I wrote down on scrapes of paper pretty much all the books that I own on my ‘unread’ shelf ((over 250)) and put them into a decorative box. Every month I will be pulling 3 random slips from the box and trying to read two out of the three. I just selected my three books to choose from in January and they are as follows:

  • An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson- YA Fantasy released in September 2017.
  • A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston- YA Fantasy Retelling released in October 2015.
  • The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin- YA Paranormal Romance/Horror released in September 2011.

I haven’t quite decided yet which 2 of the 3 selected I am going to read yet but I am leaning towards, An Enchantment of Ravens and The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. I will certainly keep you posted on that. Every month I am going to try to complete all of the challenges listed above and I am hoping this will help me keep focused, as well as helping to clean up my backlist a little bit.

Thank you so much for sticking with me over the course of 2018! I completed 139-books this year and am absolutely blown away by that number. Looking forward to seeing what I can accomplish in 2019. Best wishes to you all and happy reading~


Review: Insane Mode: How Elon Musk’s Tesla Sparked an Electric Revolution to End the Age of Oil by Hamish McKenzie

Insane Mode: How Elon Musk's Tesla Sparked an Electric Revolution to End the Age of OilInsane Mode: How Elon Musk’s Tesla Sparked an Electric Revolution to End the Age of Oil by Hamish McKenzie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“Even if it died tomorrow, Tesla has already achieved what it set out to do: accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable transport. It has convinced the world that electric cars can be great.”

I really enjoyed Hamish McKenzie’s overview of the pending electric revolution within the auto industry. I learned so much, particularly in regards to the progress various nations around the world are making to be rid of gas powered vehicles.

Full disclosure: I am a HUGE Elon Musk fangirl and Tesla shareholder.

This being said, my enjoyment factor for this book may be a bit heightened compared to an average reader who perhaps doesn’t have that love ((ahem, background)) in regards to Musk & Tesla. I believe in him and his passion for his companies and their products is absolutely contagious.

As far as the format and writing for this book, I think they were both very well executed. McKenzie has a journalism background and I think that definitely shines through in the best ways. His ease with explaining a fairly large and complex sector of the market was impressive and I appreciated the way he examined the big picture; aka. looked at the issue of transitioning to electric vehicles from a global perspective and the effects that it could have long-term.

If you are a gear head or a tech guru you should definitely check this book out. It is loaded with up-to-date information on where we stand in our transition away from the internal combustion engine into a more sustainable, as well as potentially autonomous vehicular future.

Whether you are a believer yet or not, it stands to reason that within a generation or two, the kids of the future will look at our current gas powered vehicles like my nieces and nephews look at rotary dial telephones. This concise book is a great start to understanding the history, scope and issues in a nonpolitical way and extends forth a positive outlook on the future while also questioning how these changes will affect our economy and society in future.

My parting words are, Elon, I love you…oh and I want to thank the publisher, Dutton, for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity to read a book early and provide my feedback. Cheers~

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Bookish Regrets: The Ones That Got Away

Good day bookworms! As you can tell from today’s title, this post is all about my bookish regrets. The books I wish I would have read in 2018 but never got around to actually picking up. In an effort to keep this post a reasonable length, I have narrowed my list down to the top 6. Without further ado, here are the books that got away from me this year:

  1. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (Release Date: January 2, 2018) – This was one of my most anticipated books of 2018. I received it in my January OwlCrate box. I was so excited. Jumped up and down. Never read it. What gives, Meg? Seriously? For those of you who may not be familiar, this is a YA Fantasy book that follows a girl, Jude, who must live in the Faerie world after her parents brutal murder. Holly Black is queen of the Fae and I have heard pretty much nothing but good things about this. The second book in the trilogy, The Wicked King, is releasing on January 8, 2019.
  2. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Release Date: February 27, 2017) – This YA Contemporary story topped the NY Times Bestseller lists too many times to count. This story follows 16-y.o. Starr Carter after she witnesses her childhood best friend, Khalil, get shot by a police officer. Khalil doesn’t survive and soon his story is headline news. Starr, as a consequence, is torn between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. This book has been adapted to the big screen which was released in October. I would like to see the movie but definitely want the opportunity to read the book first. With an overall Goodreads rating of 4.56 out of 5-stars, this is one the, if not the, highest rated book on this list.
  3. Everless by Sara Holland (Release Date: January 2, 2018) – The premise of this YA scifi/fantasy story is one where a world is run on a currency of time. The rich are able to tax the poor into the ground, extending their own lives by centuries. It sounds a bit like the 2011 movie, In Time, starring Justin Timberlake but more fantasy world focused as opposed to dystopian. As you may recall if you follow my reviews, I am a sucker for any story that examines time, whether it be in creative ways like this or more mundane uses such as time travel, jumps or loops. Either way, I was so excited for this book to be released and got it almost right away. Did I ever pick it up? No. No, I didn’t. Also, it is important to note that the next book in the duology, Evermore, is releasing on December 31, 2018, and yes, I have preordered it.
  4. Wildcard by Marie Lu (Release Date: September 18, 2018) – I was so pleased to see that one of my most anticipated book releases of 2018, if not the most, was being released on my birthday. I ordered in months in advance. This is the second book in the Warcross duology. Since Warcross was my favorite YA release of 2017, I had been chomping at the bit for this one. Alas, I still haven’t read it. Why do I fail at life?  
  5. Children of Blood & Bone (Legacy of Orisha #1) by Tomi Adeyemi(Release Date: March 6, 2018) – This debut YA Fantasy novel was easily one of the MOST hyped books of 2018. I had preordered a copy well in advance of the March release date with the full intent of reading it directly upon receipt. Well, it made this list so I think you can see how well that plan went. This story follows Zelie as she tries to bring magic back to her world. Based on Nigerian folklore, I have really heard nothing but good things about this one. I can’t really explain why I never ended up picking it up. It is quite large, coming in at 525-pages, so maybe subconsciously I was avoiding that commitment. Either way, I definitely NEED to read this in 2018 before the sequel releases in March.
  6. Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1) by Maureen Johnson (Release Date: January 16, 2018) – This is another book that I purchased right around its release date. This is a YA Mystery book that is set at a private school in Vermont. If you follow my reviews at all, you may recall that boarding school or private school stories are some of my favorite. I’m not sure what it is about them. Something about the teen dynamic in an environment with fairly minimal adult supervision that I find extremely entertaining. Basically you know some messed up stuff is going to go down when kids are left to their own devices. This story sounds so interesting. It basically involves a cold case from the time the school first opened. A new student, Stevie Bell, a true crime lover, decides she is going to solve the case but once she starts looking into it, the killer apparently returns. This book has a sequel releasing next month (January 2019) and I have already preordered it so I definitely need to pick this one up ASAP. I know I am going to love it. I have heard great things about the audiobook so I am end up reading this first one via that format.

I am hoping to get to most of these within the first quarter of 2019; especially the ones with sequels releasing this year that I plan to read! What books got away from you this year? Any of these make your list as well? I want to know – leave a comment below or contact me via any of my social media links.

Cheers & Happy Reading~

Review: Killing Adam by Earik Beann

Killing AdamKilling Adam by Earik Beann
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

With nonstop action and a hella good storyline, this high tech scifi thriller definitely kept me engaged from start to finish.

Set in the not too distant future, our world runs on ARCs. No, not Advanced Readers Copies, but Altered Reality Chips. These chips, inserted directly into the brain, allow people to experience anything they want at any time. They are basically living in their heads in a virtual reality world.

People are so addicted to their ARCs, they are tuned in all the time and thusly, tuned out from our ‘real’ world almost completely. This makes goings pretty tough for the minority of humans who are ARC-incompatible. Our protagonist, Jimmy Mahoney, is one of those few. Due to a head injury he sustained during his career as a professional football player, Jimmy is unable to have an ARC and therefore unable to connect with pretty much the rest of society, including his wife Michelle.

Jimmy’s main interactions come from his time at a support group for other ARC-incompatibles. Here he meets Trixie, a mysterious woman who ends up recruiting Jimmy to join the fight against the singularity running the system behind the ARCs, Adam. This is putting it in the simplest of terms but basically that is how our main action begins.

Overall, I had a really great time reading this novella. It is short, just over 200-pages, and is packed with action and intrigue. The whole story takes place over only a couple of days. It would have been great if it could have delved a bit deeper into the world and the characters but I understand not every book can be 400-pages long.

There were a couple of cringe-worthy sexual comments/jokes towards the beginning that were a big turn off but I am glad I stuck with it because the story definitely deserves to be read. If you are the kind of reader who likes your scifi to be so close to the truth you could see the premise actually happening in our own world in 15-to-25 years than this is absolutely a book you should pick up. It was close enough to home and what is going on currently in our tech sphere that it made it not only plausible but creepy AF.

I would definitely pick up more books by this author in the future and want to thank him for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity to provide my feedback!

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Review: Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

Girls Made of Snow and GlassGirls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

☆☆☆☆.5 stars rounded up!!

All she would remember was the story that would be passed down by those watching: the cruel stepmother, and the wronged princess who had returned from the dead to strike her down and take what was hers. She didn’t want their story to end this way. And more than that, she knew she had the power to change it.

This Snow White retelling was completely original and definitely took me by surprise! This is a debut? Seriously? Melissa Bashardoust’s creativity and originality is on full display with this story.

Lynet and her regal stepmother, Mina, have always had a close relationship as far as ‘step’ relationships go. Young Lynet has admired her and aspired to be strong and smart just like Mina. She never knew her own mother and discovers during the course of the story that a magician actually made her from snow under her father’s orders.

Mina, motherless herself, feels her unbeating heart is perfectly normal. She doesn’t know that her own magician father actually cut out her heart at one point and replaced it with one of glass. After living most of her young life feeling unloved, Mina’s goal of marrying Lynet’s father becomes reality for her and she becomes Queen. She is fond of Lynet and feels they have a special bond.

However, when Lynet’s father suddenly decides to make her the Queen of the Southern Territories, displacing Mina as their figurehead, things dramatically change. Now Mina looks at Lynet as a competitor and we all know the best way to take care of competition…

I know from the synopsis it sounds a little strange but trust me, it works. There is some chasing, some running through the woods, some injuries, a potential queer love interest, girls being their own damn heroes and a whole lot more.

I read this book as part of Retellathon. Retellathon is a readathon hosted by some great Booktubers which I am really hoping turns into an annual affair. I used this to satisfy challenge #2: ‘True Love’s Twist’ – read a queer or gender-flipped retelling.

If you are like me and love retellings I would highly recommend this book. It is dark, it is different and it is definitely worth picking up. I cannot wait to see what Bashardoust comes up with next! **I actually read this book in July 2018 but just realized that I had never reviewed it. I guess I was so busy with Retellathon that week that I put it off! Better late than never…

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Review: Hunting Annabelle by Wendy Heard

Hunting AnnabelleHunting Annabelle by Wendy Heard
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Unfortunately, Hunting Annabelle wasn’t the story for me. I did not like this. It started out promising, as the author’s writing is actually quite strong, but the story, yeah, just did not do it for me.

Around the 50% mark was where it seemed to turn for me and I never got my interest back. Our protagonist, Sean Suh, is a Korean-American in his early 20s who you discover early on has some pretty strong urges to hurt and kill young women. In fact, you learn that he acted on these urges at least once in a severe enough manner to have him sentenced to a psychiatric prison. However, at the point where we meet him, he is living with his overbearing and severe mother in a different state from where he committed his crime(s).

As I mentioned, I enjoyed the beginning. It started off strong. It is revealed to you overtime the extent of Sean’s illness and resulting actions and I enjoyed the way that was slowly unfolded for us. He is very much an unreliable narrator and it is unclear early on how much of his thoughts you can actually believe as the truth.

After a certain point however it just got to be too much. Then plot twists occurred where my eyes legit almost rolled out of my head. I just didn’t buy what the author was trying to sell. It completely lost me on the story.

By the final 20% I just couldn’t. I had to push to make it through. However, just because this story wasn’t for me, in no way makes this a bad book. The author’s writing style is very fluid and easy to read. The suspense and uncertainty at the beginning definitely kept me turning the pages. If you are okay with the plot twists, this could probably be a really strong book for you. It is very violent, very messy, very over-the-top but also explores some interesting topics of identity and mental health.

There are readers for every story but unfortunately, this one just didn’t work for me. I want to thank the publisher, Harlequin – MIRA, for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity and I would read more books by Wendy Heard in the future.

**Please note, the protagonist in this has been diagnosed with schizophrenia but he doesn’t self-identify as such and I in no way can comment on how the rep was for that.

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Review: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Little Fires EverywhereLittle Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The relationship between mother and child can be a beautiful thing.

However, it’s not always and it’s not exclusively. Oftentimes it can be messy, complex and immensely stressful for both parties.

In Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng, weaves an intricate tapestry of such relationships.

The resultant story is one of family, loyalty, community and independence. When I went into this book, I thought it was a story, set in the mid-1990s, about the adoption of a Chinese baby by a white family in suburban Ohio and the resulting community reactions/interactions based off that adoption. There is an adoption. The baby is in fact Chinese, but this baby, her birth mother and her adoptive parents are only a very small part of this deeply emotional tale.

Full disclosure, I never cried but I was moved. I was angry at times, sad, emotionally drained. I had my curiosity peaked, I had my temper flare and most importantly, this story made me think about it even when I wasn’t reading it.

I think that is a sign of a strong literary fiction novel doing its job. I had never read a Celeste Ng book before and I was deeply impressed by her subtle way of totally drawing the reader in to the emotions, drama and angst of her characters.

I definitely plan to read more of Ng’s books in the future. Additionally, I did listen to the audiobook for this and thought that the narration was excellent!

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Top 5 Wednesday: Most Anticipated 2019 Releases

2019 is looking like it is going to be an epic year for new releases. I have so many books on my tbr already that narrowing down all of them to a top 5 is a daunting task. I have decided to just focus on the first quarter of the year and only one genre to generate my top 5. The five books listed below are all being released sometime between January 1, 2019 and April 30, 2019. The genre I have selected is YA Fantasy. Without further ado, here are my top 5 selections:

  1. Slayer by Kiersten White (Release Date: January 8, 2019) – If you were ever a fan of the hit series Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, you are probably aware that this book is coming out very soon. I was so pumped when I heard of this book’s existence. First of all, Kiersten White is a hugely popular author and this, a whole new story taking place within the Buffy universe, yes, sign me up! Side Note: ((aka super exciting news)) I was alerted today by the publisher, Simon Teen, that I actually have won a pre-release copy through a Twitter Sweepstakes I entered so should have a copy of this shortly! You better believe I will be reading it in January!
  2. White Stag (Permafrost #1) by Kara Barbieri (Release Date: January 8, 2019) – The last child in a family of only daughters, 17-year-old, Janneke is being raised to be a male heir. While her sisters are training to be good wives and loving mothers, she is being taught to hunt and fight. After her village is attacked, Janneke, the only survivor, is taken prisoner by the evil Goblin King, Lydian. As she finds herself becoming more monster than human, Janneke begins to question who she really is and where she truly belongs. You guys, this books sounds action-packed and brutal and that is totally my aesthetic. Side Note: I am lucky enough to have been included in the Blog Tour for the release of the book so stayed tuned for that in the beginning of January!
  3. A Curse So Dark & Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer (Release Date: January 29, 2019) – Beauty & the Beast retelling. Need I say more? I discovered Brigid Kemmerer this summer when I read her deeply moving YA Contemporary, Letters to the Lost. I was drawn in 100% by her writing and truly loved the story that I was told within those pages. I pretty much decided after that I would read anything this lovely lady produces. I have pre-ordered this and will most likely drop everything once it arrives and get to reading! 
  4. Sherwood by Meagan Spooner (Release Date: March 19, 2019) – Speaking of retellings, I read Meagan Spooner’s retelling of Beauty & the Beast, Hunted, earlier this year and gave it a full and enthusiastic 5-star review. It was so dark and so twisted; as you know, also my aesthetic, that I was over the moon when I discovered Spooner had a new retelling being released in 2019. This sounds so good, you guys. Basically, this is a re-imagining of the story of Robin Hood. In this tale, after the untimely death of Robin Hood, his fiance, Maid Marian dons his green cloak and takes up his bow to fight for the people of Nottingham. Marian needs to become her own hero. In Hunted, one of my favorite aspects was how Belle was no longer a damsel in distress. She saved her own damn self and it was awesome. I know I am going to love this one just as much!
  5. Wicked Saints (Something Dark and Holy #1) by Emily A. Duncan (Release Date: April 2, 2019) – Firstly, let’s get out of the way right now, this book has one of the most beautiful covers I have ever seen. I love the stark white background and then the image of the majestic castle and the font with what looks like blood dripping down off of it. Hello. Heart eyes. I love you. The main tagline for this book reads: “A girl who can speak to the Gods must save her people without destroying herself.” Then she meets a boy. They must save a Prince. Danger lurks around every corner. There is an assassination plot. I mean, this sounds spectacular. I was so excited to be asked to take part in the Blog Tour for the release of this book. My post date is April 12th and I can’t wait to share my thoughts on this one with you all. I am going to try like heck to hold out on reading this until March but truth be told, I don’t have the best will power when it comes to anticipated books and I already have a copy so…

Are any of these books on your ‘most anticipated books of 2019 list’? What is on your list? I want to know about the books you are most looking forward to next year. Leave a comment below or reach out to me on any of my social media platforms.

Cheers & Happy Reading!

Review: Senile Squad by Chris LeGrow

Senile Squad: Adventures of the Old BluesSenile Squad: Adventures of the Old Blues by Chris LeGrow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.50-stars rounded up**

The Old Blues have gone rogue!

Equal parts cozy mystery + police thriller + comedy, Senile Squad is an enjoyable ride through the streets of Omaha with the wackiest bunch of retirees around! The premise of this story was completely unique and so much fun.

What happens when policemen retire? Set out to pasture before they are mentally ready, this set of lovable Seniors has the opportunity to continue serving and protecting their community, and that’s exactly what they do, in often dirty & hilarious ways.

When a group of high profile citizens, nicknamed The Bureau, come up with an idea to assist the local police force by creating a ‘retirement’ home for Senior Citizen police officers, they just plan to run secret undercover ops and send along tips to the necessary police units. What ends up happening is so much more than that. Energized with the renewed sense of ‘being needed’ and ‘serving a purpose’ the retired Officers end up giving more than was ever anticipated.

The main plot revolves around a ruthless gang leader who uses brute force and extreme violence to solidify his rein of the local neighborhoods. The Old Blues are sick of his bullshit and pull out all the stops to clean up their streets and make them safe for all. These old man are often underestimated and they use that to their advantage. Flying under the radar, and relying on their many years of experience, they’re able to infiltrate neighborhoods and gather intel that regular Officers would never be able to obtain.

Was this perfect? No.
Was this a super entertaining story? Yes.
Do I think you should read this? If you have a good sense of humor, DEFINITELY!

Thank you to the author for the providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I appreciate the opportunity!

Original:I’m in the mood for a mystery with some humor! Picking this one up tonight and really looking forward to it.

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