March Wrap-Up 2019

Hey bookworms! Another month come and gone…

I had quite a successful reading month in March. I completed 16-books which seems extraordinary. My record is 17 in a month, which I actually set this past January. Although I didn’t beat that record, I am still proud of being able to get to that many things.

The books I completed, along with their star ratings, are as follows:

  1. For Better and Worse by Margot Hunt   |   2.5-stars
  2. A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue by Mackenzie Lee (audiobook)   |   4.5-stars
  3. Pet Sematary (re-read) by Stephen King   |   5-stars
  4. The Everlasting Rose (Belles #2) by Dhonielle Clayton   |   3.5-stars
  5. The Daughter of Moloka’i by Alan Brennert   |   5-stars
  6. The Anomaly  by Michael Rutger |   4-stars
  7. Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez   |   5-stars
  8. Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder & Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe   |   5-stars
  9. Too Much is Not Enough by Andrew Rannells   |   5-stars
  10. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black (audiobook)   |   5-stars
  11. The Nightmare Girl by Jonanthan Janz   |   4-stars
  12. Mirror, Mirror: A Twisted Tale by Jen Calonita   |   3.5-stars
  13. Beautiful Bad by Annie Ward   |   3.5-stars
  14. The Child Finder (Naomi Cottles #1) (audiobook)   |   5-stars
  15. One Day in December by Josie Silver   |   5-stars
  16. The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman   |   3.5-stars

As far as my monthly TBR-challenge is concerned, I completed all 5 tasks this month as follows:

  • New Release from 2018: For Better and Worse released on December 11, 2018.
  • New Release from current month: Sal & Gabi Break the Universe – ARC received from Rick Riordan Presents, thank you!
  • New Release from next month: Mirror, Mirror – ARC received from Disney Book Group, thank you!
  • A Sequel: The Everlasting Rose (The Belles #2) – ARC received from Disney book Group, again, thank you!!!
  • TBR Jar Picks: The Cruel Prince & One Day in December which were both 5-star reads. My TBR Jar was very kind to me this month.

I have big plans for April. After not participating in any reading events in March, I am actually going to be participating in three reading events this month: The Dragons & Tea Book Club read of When The Moon Was Ours by Anna Marie-McLemore, Fantasy-A-Thon and the month-long OWLS Magical Readathon!

I actually haven’t set my TBR for Fantasy-A-Thon or the OWLS, I will be working on that today. Luckily, I can overlap with all of these so I am really looking forward to it. We’ll see how it goes. Goal is to read at least 15-books this month.

How did you March go? What was your favorite book of the month? What was your least favorite? I want to know! Leave me a comment here or contact me through any of my social media links.

Cheers & Happy April!

 

Review: The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman

The Devouring GrayThe Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**


Sawkill Girls meets Strange Grace…

BRANCHES, STONES, DAGGERS, BONES…

Welcome to Four Paths, New York, are words Violet Saunders could have done without. Riddled with grief after the loss of her sister, Rosie, Violet is forced to move to Four Paths at the start of her senior year. Not great.

It quickly becomes clear that Violet’s mom, Juniper, has a very strong connection to Four Paths. In fact, she is a member of one of the founding families. The founders are treated like royalty in town — quite literally worshipped as deities.

Why, you may ask?
Because they were the ones to capture the monster, trap it in the gray and continue to protect the townsfolk from it.

There are a lot of details that go into this story. The history of the town, the history of the founding families, the rituals, the powers, the secrets, the betrayals. It’s a lot.

Basically, the monster trapped in ‘the gray’ is no longer as dormant as he used to be and teens that are each a part of one of the four founding families come together to fight back. There are familial and friendship dramas, secrets and investigations, love gone awry — all the stuff. It’s in here.

At times, I felt like I should have been taking notes, which decreased my ability to relax into the story. Additionally, there were a lot of rapid perspective shifts that tended to knock me out of it as well. While the content was quite interesting, the flow seemed a little off for me.

It was definitely dark, which is one of my favorite things, and the characters and history of the town were compelling. I loved the ending. It gave me chills and I will definitely read the next book in the duology.

I even feel that I could reread this one. It may be easier the second time round as I have a better handle on what is going on.
For a debut, this is impressive and I hope a lot of readers pick it up!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Disney Book Group, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to hearing what other readers think of this one.

View all my reviews

Review: One Day in December by Josie Silver

One Day in DecemberOne Day in December by Josie Silver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thank you TBR jar for selecting this bloody brilliant book for me!

I am not a romance reader and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that I opened this one up with a fair amount of trepidation. I actually believe one of my comments upon starting was that I thought chances were 50/50 that I would DNF it. The thought of that now — utterly ridiculous!

I am floored by how much I loved this story.
The humor was perfect for me, I loved the pace and I fully appreciated how it was messy and frustrating and never easy — so is life, am I right?

It’s a long book but upon finishing I feel that it couldn’t have been any shorter. To get the full impact of missed chances requires a long scope and that is exactly what this book delivers.

I feel like past-Meg who watched Bridget Jones Diary for the first time and felt, yes, there, a character whose love life I can relate to…

I am so impressed with Ms. Josie Silver and thoroughly look forward to reading more by her in future!

View all my reviews

Review: The Child Finder (Naomi Cottle #1) by Rene Denfeld

The Child Finder (Naomi Cottle, #1)The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m speechless.
Those last couple of lines gave me the deepest chill.

Naomi was once a missing child.
Now as an adult, her solitary focus is finding others who need to be found.
She remembers nothing of her life prior to being ‘found’. The only thing that is clear is that she escaped from a horrific situation.

Her current case is to try to discover what happened to little Madison, who went missing in the mountains while hunting for a family Christmas tree. Long thought dead, as how could a little girl survive alone in deep snow and freezing temperatures, Madison’s parents hold out hope that she is still alive.

What struck me most about this story is the overall tone of the writing. Obviously, Naomi is experiencing lasting effects from her early trauma. She is plagued with strange dreams and over time more and more pieces become available in her memory. We learn about her foster mother, Mary, and adoptive brother, Jerome, and their relationships.

There is a lot about this book that is heartbreaking but it is told in such a magical, whimsical way. It’s like all of the horrors of the real world packaged into a old-time fairy tale.

I can see how some people may not enjoy this as much as I did. It is a slow-burn and there is nothing about it that will keep you on the edge of your seat. However, if you love to sink your teeth into some good, solid writing with engaging characters, this book is for you.

There is a second book set to release later this year following Naomi and I absolutely will be reading it. This one leaves off in a perfect place to continue on with Naomi’s personal story and I am really looking forward to reading about what she ultimately finds.

Well done!

View all my reviews

Review: The Anomaly by Michael Rutger

The AnomalyThe Anomaly by Michael Rutger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Splendid!

I was so excited when I first heard about this book. Explained as a mix of The X-Files meets Indiana Jones — how could you not be excited by that?

This story follows rogue archaeologist, Nolan Moore, whose main profession is hosting an obscure web docuseries called, The Anomaly Files. Mostly watched by conspiracy theorists and people just searching for odd videos, Nolan holds fast to his belief that the truth is out there.

When we meet Nolan and his rag-tag crew, they are following in the steps of an intrepid explorer who in 1909 discovered a cave deep in the heart of the Grand Canyon. The descriptions he left lead Nolan to believe that the cave holds great mysteries and he is dying to get to the bottom of it.

Before too long, Nolan and his crew find what they seek and that is when the real fun begins…

Due to super unfortunate, Indiana Jones-esque circumstances the crew finds themselves trapped. The cave seems to come to life around them and become a character in its own right. Is it out to get them? Maybe. It’s a heck of a good time finding out.

This book is quietly creepy in the best way, playing to inherent fears such as claustrophobia and nyctophobia. It got under my skin, I can tell you that.

The second half gets deeper into some interesting sci-fi elements that were fairly well done. The pace did really speed up towards the end as well and I was satisfied with the ending. I would definitely read more from this author. There are a lot of creative ideas woven throughout this story and I enjoyed the characters quite a bit, even the unsavory ones.

I would recommend this to people who like a mix of horror and sci-fi, as well as to anyone who is into archaeology and unexplained history. The fact that this involved a crew for a web show was also unique and pretty fun. Well done!

View all my reviews

Review: The Nightmare Girl by Jonathan Janz

The Nightmare GirlThe Nightmare Girl by Jonathan Janz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

That was a delightful little gore fest!
My first Janz but certainly not my last.

Originally published in 2015, The Nightmare Girl was recently re-released by Flame Tree Press. Thank you so much to them for sending me a copy to read and review.

As mentioned above, this is my first Jonathan Janz novel and I really wasn’t sure what to expect going in. I had a lot of fun reading this and definitely plan to pick up his other works.

This story follows our protagonist, Joe Crawford, a contractor and family-man who frequently loses out on jobs because he is too honest with his customers. Joe is an every man and I was drawn to him immediately.

When he witnesses a young mother abusing her toddler in a gas station parking lot, he can’t stand by and watch. He steps in and does something about it. Once the police are called, and the child ultimately removed from the mother’s home however, his fate is sealed, and it isn’t good.

Before you know it, Joe and his family are on the receiving end of threats and acts of violence from the young mother, Angie’s, family and friends. A pagan fire cult. Yeah, her family and friends are all members of a local pagan fire cult…

I really enjoyed the pacing and plot development of this one. One of my favorite aspects, Joe’s best bud, Officer Darrel Copeland. He was just such a fantastic addition to this story. I loved their time spent together. There was some great banter, humor and loyalty and while a lot of the plot elements were dark, I felt this relationship added a nice contrast.

There were some great fight scenes, a lot of gore that made me cringe and a satisfying ending. The descriptive text was so solid that I could picture these scenes playing out in my head like a movie. I would highly recommend this to any horror fan. Give it a shot, I don’t think you will be disappointed!

View all my reviews

Review: Mirror, Mirror (A Twisted Tale) by Jen Calonita

Mirror, Mirror (Twisted Tales, #6)Mirror, Mirror by Jen Calonita
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Ahhhh, Snow White. I have always had a soft spot in my heart for this story but let’s be honest, we all know my favorite character is the Evil Queen.

Jen Calonita’s retelling is perfect for Snow White fans, no matter your favorite character, as it is told from alternating perspectives of Snow and the Evil Queen, named within these pages, Ingrid.

There are multiple small twists to the Disney version, most of us are familiar with, and it was just enough to give it a new and exciting feel. While paying homage to the original story, you still feel compelled to keep turning the pages to find out what is going to happen.

There is nothing super ground-breaking about this but I think if you go into it just looking for a fun, quick read — an escape from the world — you can have a heck of an enjoyable time with Mirror, Mirror. That was what I was hoping for when I picked this up and I got it.

I would have liked a bit more depth to the characters, Snow and the Evil Queen both, but I do think they had enough nuance to keep you engaged with them. I also feel like this reads more on the younger end of the YA-spectrum, maybe even verging on Middle Grade, so just know that going in.

Overall, I would recommend this to any Disney fan, especially people who like to get the villains perspective every once in a while. This is the second book I have read in the Twisted Tales series and you better believe I am going to keep reading them as long as they are putting them out!

Thank you to the publisher, Disney Book Group, for providing me a copy to read and review! As always, I appreciate the opportunity and am excited to discuss this with other readers.

View all my reviews

Review: Too Much Is Not Enough by Andrew Rannells

Too Much Is Not EnoughToo Much Is Not Enough by Andrew Rannells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was absolutely EVERYTHING a memoir should be.


All the stars for a star!

Andrew Rannaells grew up in Omaha, far from the glittering lights of Broadway, but he always felt he was meant for the stage. He felt a pull for a life outside of Nebraska and throwing caution to the wind, made that happen for himself.

This witty and candid memoir follows Rannells from his early days of community theater, through his first days in NYC, his attempt at college, friendships, turbulent relationships, successes and losses. Along the way you feel drawn in, like you are more of a friend than a reader.

I really enjoyed this. I giggled a lot, I shed a few tears, I learned some things, felt inspired and even a bit jealous at times. I mean, he had an apartment he designed to be just like Carrie Bradshaw’s! How could I not be a wee bit jealous of that?

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Andrew’s work or even people just looking to read something about a boy, from Nebraska, taking on the world and against all odds, crushing it.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Crown Archetype, for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review. I had so much fun with it and appreciate the opportunity!

View all my reviews

Series I Need To Finish

Good day bookworms! Today I wanted to write about some series that I really need to finish. Series can be a major commitment, particularly epic fantasy series, and I often struggle to get through them. I have a few that have been looming over me for a while now that I just need to finish! It is almost April, the first quarter of the year almost complete, and I have made zero progress thus far. Not good.

Without further ado, let’s get into the series I need to freaking finish already:

  1. The Dark Tower series by Stephen King – This seven book series, plus one companion novel, is a huge undertaking. Literally 1,000s of pages long it personifies what it means to be committed to a series. I have read the first five books of this series, pretty much back-to-back, and took a wee break from it at the beginning of the year, giving up on book six just 82-pages in. I need to finish this. It really is great, it’s not that I’m not enjoying it, I’m loving it. It’s just a lot. It’s very complicated, a multi-universe story that spans time and space and cultures, but seriously, two books left! I CAN DO IT!!
  2. A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin – As with The Dark Tower series, this is an EPIC fantasy series that I absolutely love. The difference with this one, it’s not completed yet. Martin is still working on book 6, The Winds of Winter, which has been pushed back a few times as far as release date goes. The first five books of this series come to over 5,000-pages, so, again, it’s A LOT. Thus far I have read the first three books of this series, enjoying each one a little more than the previous, and really need to move on. I wouldn’t plan to finish this one this year but I would at least like to complete the fourth book, A Feast for Crows. With the final season of the smash-hit, HBO series beginning in April, I feel like I will be on a Game of Thrones high after that and it may be a good time to pick this one up. There is also the companion novel, Fire & Blood, which released at the end of last year, that I also own and want to read. Ultimately, I will include that as part of the series.
  3. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas – Again, another epic fantasy series, but this one in the YA category which makes it a little more manageable. This seven book series wrapped up last year and I wouldn’t mind finishing it this year. I am hoping to complete this series before I begin her other popular series, A Court of Thorns & Roses. I have read the first four books of this series and loved them so much. The characters, the scope of the world-building, the action, it’s all really well done. There’s angst and drama and I’m here for that. I have all of the books just sitting on my shelves, waiting to  be picked up, not sure why I am putting it off at this point. Even if I don’t complete this during this calendar year, I would like to get at least two more books in the series completed.

Those are the main three series I am into right now. I do have other trilogies, duologies, etc., that I need to complete as well but as far as longer series go, these are them. I feel like once I am able to complete these (George R.R. Martin, I’m looking at you…) it will be a giant weight off my shoulders. Problems of a bookworm, am I right?

What are some series that you need to complete? Are any of these ones looming over you as well? I want to know! Comment here or contact me through any of my social media links!

Cheers & happy reading~

Super Delayed Review: The Outsider by Stephen King

The OutsiderThe Outsider by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have been thinking about this book a lot lately.
Why, you may ask?

The answer is because this was my favorite book of 2018 and I never wrote an actual review for it. Full disclosure, I preordered this, started it on release day and then took my sweet ass time completing it, finishing in August of 2018. The fact that I never reviewed it haunts me.

Am I the only person this happens to?

In an effort to appease some of my guilt, let me get a few thoughts down:

I really enjoyed the topics explored in this book. Particularly, the idea that sometimes the court of public opinion is much more unforgiving and harsh than any court of law.

I also enjoyed how King showed vignettes of various flawed characters in the town where our drama unfolds. He described so well the way that the main event affected various people throughout the town like when a stone gets thrown in a pond. It created ripples spreading out and enveloping many lives. I loved this. It reminded me a bit of the way things roll out in Needful Things.

And of course, most of all, I loved my second favorite character from The Bill Hodges trilogy making an appearance!

I knew it was going to happen and I waited and waited and waited and then…

Reunited and it feels so good!!!

The supernatural elements were also fantastic in my opinion. There were classic King scenes that gave me absolute chills and left me wanting to leave the light on when I went to bed.

I would definitely recommend reading The Bill Hodges trilogy first. If you do and you don’t like it, this may not be the book for you. Maybe. I don’t know. I’m on the fence. I think for people who are huge fans of that trilogy, it makes this book extra special.

I suppose you could read this on its own, I just can’t attest to what your experience will be. For me, half the thrill was getting a character I thought I would never see again back in my life.

I know I will end up reading this again someday. I love to reread King books. Most likely if I do read it again, I will read the entire BH trilogy with this one added on the end.

Original: This officially wins my ‘Favorite Book I Read in 2018’ prize. Forever may it reign.

I do still plan to write a review for this someday. I really do. I annotated and everything but how do you review perfection? Just, how?

View all my reviews