Status Update: The Passage by Justin Cronin

This morning I reached the 50% mark on my reading of The Passage by Justin Cronin. I am reading this book along with my book buds, The Floatin’ Troopers group, from Bookstagram (the bookish subculture within Instagram). This is a long novel which had been recommended to me by a number of different book people whose opinions I respect. The paperback copy I am reading is 784 pages of fairly small font; quite an undertaking. We slated this book as our May/June read as we figured it would probably take a while for everyone to get through.

Up until this morning I have been listening to the audiobook version along with reading a hard copy. This has allowed me to progress fairly quickly so far through it. Unfortunately, my 2-week library loan expired this morning and someone else had a hold on it so now I am down to just my paperback copy.

The Passage is a post-apocalyptic survival story of epic proportions. It is actually a trilogy – I am little surprised by that, as I feel like the story could be wrapped up concisely in this one book…where is this story going to go? I am so curious. I am not sure I will end up reading them back-to-back as I may need a break after this one.

It reminds me very much of The Stand by Stephen King, which if you have been following me at all, you may know is my all time favorite book which I recommend to everyone! The ultimate good versus evil tale. This story, The Passage, starts off in a fairly similar vein – we all know the story – government experiment gone awry and the rest of mankind pays the price. Similar to The Stand, this story follows the survivors tales in the aftermath of the big event – in this case the time is called ‘AV’ which I am assuming means ‘after virus’. There is a lot of character development in this story and I love to see the converging story lines.

As luck with have it, news just dropped this week that FOX has greenlighted a television series adaptation of this story. However, I have heard that one of my favorite characters from the book, Alicia, is not going to be in the series. I don’t really understand how that is possible since she is one of the main characters in the story who affects a lot of other storylines…seems strange but I will definitely give the show a shot when it is released.

Do you enjoy reading post-apocalyptic fiction? If so, what are some books you would recommend in the genre? Have you read this series? What did you think of it? I would love to hear!  Let me know in the comments below!

Happy reading! Cheers~

Top 5 Favorites – 2018, Quarter 1

Happy Friyay Geeks & Gals! Today I thought I would write-up a list of my top 5 books that I read in the first quarter of the year (January 1st to March 31st). I have watched a few booktube videos that inspired this idea for me. It was really hard to choose just 5 so I will definitely be including an ‘honorable mentions’ list at the bottom! So, without further ado, let’s get into it. In no particular order:

  1. The Shining by Stephen King – This was my second time reading this psychological horror classic. The first time I read it, I was in high school and not going to lie, it scared the shit out of me. The slow burn narrative style and descriptions of the happenings at The Overlook Hotel, leave you with a feeling of dread and suspense throughout the book. Certain aspects sent chills right down my spine! Without giving too much away, I will just say elevators, topiary gardens and playgrounds are spooky to me now. As an adult, I think I have an even greater appreciation for this book in regards to the more ‘adult’ themes of addiction, family life and career struggles and aspirations. I certainly picked up more details my second time through as well and I know I will end up reading this fabulous book again in the future. The Shining is hands down one of my favorite books of all time!
  2. The Troop by Nick Cutter – I finished this book back on March 18th and still haven’t written a review.  The reason for this is mostly I am nervous about being able to adequately express how much I enjoyed it. This is a horror novel that follows a group of boys who are taken by their Scoutmaster to a island off the coast of Eastern Canada for a weekend camping trip. When a very ill stranger stumbles into their cabin a horror is unleashed that is beyond all expectation. The characters were so well drawn and their relationships and inner thoughts and desires so well expressed that in spite of being a horror novel, this can be appreciated as a true character piece. In a way, it reminded me a lot of the Lord of the Flies – with this, I am thinking of how each character is sort of placed into a stereotypical societal role and then we see how those roles play off one another. Among the group of boys we have the tough guy, alpha male; the nerdy, know-it-all, mother of the group; the golden boy who excels at sports and gets along with everyone; a wiry, cagey little guy with the absent father and bad temper; and finally the sociopath who’s inner thoughts are a horror story unto themselves! I was so impressed with the quality of Cutter’s writing and have already purchased another book of his, The Deep, which I plan to read in May.
  3. The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman – This is a prequel to Hoffman’s novel, Practical Magic, which was made into a very successful movie starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock. In this book we get to follow the early life of the Practical Magic Aunts, Jet & Franny (along with their brother Vincent, who I personally, didn’t even know existed – sorry Vincent!). At its core, this book is a beautiful coming-of-age tale/family drama sprinkled with magic. Hoffman’s writing style is so lyrical and flows in such a way, that as a reader, you can completely immerse yourself in the story, forgetting the world around you. In my opinion, no one does magical realism better. It can be a truly beautiful experience. I cried, I laughed out loud and as I closed that final page my soul wept with the fact that it was over. Yep, I loved this book.
  4. Red Clocks by Leni Zumas – This books sticks in my mind mostly due to its originality and boldness. The story is present day and follows the lives of four women as they experience different ‘women’s issues’ from their perspectives of age, familial status and place in society. The content was topical and didn’t shy away from very difficult topics related to sex, women’s health and motherhood. The writing style was riveting and kept me engaged from the very beginning until the final chapter. This is definitely a story that will make you think and as a woman, I felt that there were aspects to each character’s arc that I could relate too. I felt the author showed real courage in writing this book and appreciate her quality of work (this was her first published novel, y’all!). I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next!
  5. A List of Cages by Robin Roe – This YA Contemporary novel is honestly one of the most moving stories I have ever read in my life.  Because of this, I think it would definitely take a spot in my favorite books of all time list. This one took me completely off guard. I had heard it mentioned over and over again on booktube and finally picked up a paperback copy for myself on the cheap from Amazon. I annotated it as I was reading and there are literally tabs galore on that baby! The story follows the perspective of two male high school students who have had completely different life experiences but come together in this most charming way. These characters are so well drawn. Julian, so sweet, innocent and trapped in his loss. Adam, fun, popular and extremely caring. I love the relationship of the two boys and how it evolves over the course of the book. This will be a hard one to forget. It was heartbreaking, I was shattered after reading it but also filled with love and hope. I ended up feeling a strong connection to these boys, just such good eggs, the both of them. There is a strong message of kindness and empathy here that should not be missed! I highly recommend this one.

So, those are my top 5 for the quarter, however, I have read a lot of good books so far this year, some honorable mentions would be: The Wastelands (Dark Tower III) and Wizard & Glass (Dark Tower IV) by Stephen King; NOS4A2 by Joe Hill, MacBeth by Jo Nesbo, The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner, Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills, Final Girls by Riley Sager and Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. What have been your favorite books that you have read so far this year? I want to know! Leave a comment below or message me on Instagram or Twitter – contact links on the side menu bar. Thanks for reading!

Cheers~

Currently Reading Status Update

TGIF Bookworld!  I haven’t written anything in a while – I guess I have been feeling uninspired this week.  I just wanted to give a general status update today for my current reads.  Right now I am currently reading 7 books.

First up is my audiobook, Night Film by Marisha Pessl.  I first learned about this book through booktube.  I recently went on a long (8 hours round-trip) road trip and thought it would be the perfect book for that and it totally was! The book in its entirety though is over 20-hours so I am still working on it. The story is very dark, very creepy and involves some mixed media, such as emails, newspaper & magazine articles as well as online forum posts. The protagonist is an fallen-from-grace investigative reporter who starts looking into the apparent suicide of the daughter of an uber-famous and mysterious film director. I can’t even begin to describe more of the book than this. It is so brilliant, laugh out loud funny at times, jump out of your seat in fright at times, never-ending mind f*ck. I am absolutely loving it!

Next up, I have two ARCs I am currently working on.  MacBeth by Jo Nesbo is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare series and is a modern day retelling of…you guessed it, MacBeth. This version of the story takes place in the 1970s in a city in Norway teeming with crime, drugs and corruption. As expected, ambition is the theme of day with this one. So far so good, it is very long but very well done. I strongly anticipate between a 4 and 5 star review with this one. This book is set to be released on April 5, 2018.

The next ARC, I just started last night so am not too far into yet, is The Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody. Right now it looks like this is going to be the first book in a YA-series set in the fictional city of New Reynes, dubbed the City of Sin of apparently very similar to our Las Vegas. This story follows our main character, Enne Salta, as she travels to the city of New Reynes to investigate the disappearance of her mother, Lourdes. She has very little to go on and pairs up with a young, well-known and well-connected card dealer and gang member, Levi Glaiyser. The expected publication date for this one is April 10th by Harlequin Teen.

My current non-fiction read is (STILL) Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  I have been reading this book since last Fall.  It is a big one and a dense one and there are days I feel like I will seriously never finish it! When I am reading it, I am enjoying it and learning soooo much but at over 900-pages it is no surprise that this has turned into a 6-month labor of love!

Next, I am continuing on with two series.  The first of which is The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. I am on the 4th book now, Wizard & Glass which is significantly different from the first 3 of the series. In this book, we are getting mostly backstory on Roland of Gilead, which is fantastic as he is such a mysterious and layered character! I love learning more about his earlier life in another place and another when. I have chosen to read this entire series back-to-back as it is so detailed, I am afraid I would forget great swathes of information if I were to take time off in between the books. At this point, I am ball-parking having this series completed by June 1st.

The next series continuation for me is the third book in the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas. This is a YA-high fantasy series following the kickass female protagonist, Celaena Sardothian. This book, Heir of Fire, is proving to be just as exciting as the first 2, dropping us off pretty much right where book 2 left off. Currently, there are 6-books, plus a prequel in this series, with a 7th book due to be released this Fall! I am hoping to complete this series prior to the new book release so I can read it as soon as it comes out. So far with this series, I have been taking a 1-book break in between the books before moving on which seems to be working for me.

The last of my current reads is, Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills. This is a fantastic YA-contemporary that I received in my OwlCrate book box a couple of months ago. This story follows high schooler, Claudia, as she navigates the ups and downs of her senior year in high school. Central to this plot is a high school production of A Midsummer’s Night Dream! The dialogue is so witty and frankly, downright hilarious, I am absolutely loving this book!

In other news, I received my first bullet journal today so I am looking forward to jumping on that train!  I have been seeing them all over booktube and finally couldn’t resist. I am planning to use it to track my monthly reading goals, hauls, wrap-ups, etc.

Have you read any of the books that I am currently reading?  Happy to hear your thoughts on any of them in the comments below!

Cheers!

2018 – the year of the book!

Today’s post is simply an excitement post about how great 2018 is going to be for all things books!  Fellow worms, it is only January and we have seen some great new books released already this year.

As you may know, if you follow my posts at all, one of my new faves just had its official release day yesterday – so Happy Book Birthday to Reign of the Fallen -and a big congratulations to the author, Sarah Glenn Marsh! This book is a dark and dreamy YA-fantasy that had me hooked within the first few pages.  If you are looking for an exciting new fantasy series with all the bells and whistles, please do yourself a favor and pick this one up.  I mean, the cover love alone -it’s gorgeous!

Yesterday I also received my hard copy of The Cruel Prince by Holly Black.  If you are not familiar with Holly Black’s writing, it is YA-fantasy generally involving the fae-folk and this book is no different.  The official release date for The Cruel Prince was January 2nd – I have been looking forward to it for so long and can’t wait to get to it! Early reviews of it are pretty solid, many calling it lovely and magical….yeah, I could use some of that in my life, so planning to start this one as soon as I can.

There are way to many more exciting new releases this year to possibly list here but the following are some of the ones I am really anticipating and that I will most likely be getting hard copies of: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, The Hazel Wood by Melissa Alpert, Untitled (Warcross #2) by Marie Lu, Catwoman: Soulstealer (DC Icons #3) by Sarah J. Maas (!!!!), Throne of Glass #7 by Sarah J. Maas, and Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3) by Amy Kaufman.

What books are you most looking forward to seeing released this year!? I really want to hear, that way I can add any I am missing to my tbr list!

As always, happy reading bookworms!

 

Status Update: The Serpent King

Hi bookworms! Happy Tuesday to you! Today I wanted to write a little bit about my current audiobook – The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner. Originally published in March of 2016, this is a YA-contemporary coming-of-age story set in a small town in Tennessee.  It follows the POV of 3 main characters: Dill, Lydia and Travis.

I went into this book with no real expectations. I had heard a lot of buzz about it through bookish social media channels last year and really had heard nothing but good things. This being said, YA-contemporary is not my go-to genre – I generally prefer sci-fi/fantasy books. I am about 75% through this  now and to say that I am enjoying it would be a vast understatement. This book is legitimately rocking my soul to its core. The characters are so real, so innocent, I feel what they are feeling. True Story: This morning, while walking my dog and listening to the audiobook, I was crying. Actual tears! While walking down the road at 7:30 a.m. listening to this book.

The three main characters are high school kids, in their senior year, all on the verge of adulthood. Trying to navigate that transition and only one of them has the family support to make it a smooth transition.  The other two, oh the other two, I want to hug them, help them and tell them it will all work out. I haven’t done too much research on the author, Mr. Jeff Zentner, but the writing in this is so real it makes me pause to think whether or not this could classify as an ‘own voices’ narrative – the emotional depth and experiences in this book seem so important – it’s like these characters are actually alive. How much of this can be traced directly from Mr. Zentner’s life? I do not know the answer to that, and may never know, but it makes me feel such a swelling in my heart for this book and all it is about.

If you ever have the chance to read this book, or listen to the audio, I could not recommend it more highly. I am so glad that I stepped out of my comfort zone and read this one. It was worth every moment and every tear!

Cheers to emotionally charged books!

~Meg

Status Update: Reign of the Fallen

Expected Publication Date: January 23, 2018

I started reading my e-ARC copy of Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh on Sunday….I am already 40% through it and that is while reading 6 other books and working full time!  I am loving this one – I want to be reading it all the time, I cannot put it down! Firstly, a big thank you to the publisher, Razorbill (Penguin Group – Penguin Young Readers Group) for providing me with an early copy. This could be up there in the running as one of my top books of 2018!

Reign of the Fallen is a YA Fantasy book with a female protagonist who is a master necromancer in her city. I am totally engrossed in the magic system of this book – I love the necromancers, the healers, the royalty, the shades, the deadlands…..I could go on and on. The characters are very likable – I have had my pulse raised, my heart crushed, my spirits soaring in anticipation….do yourself a favor, if you like YA, get yourself a copy of this book.  I know I will be buying a hard copy once it is released….I mean, look at the cover and with a story this intriguing, I will definitely want to read it again!

Happy Reading Lovies!

2018 Bookish Goals

Good morning bookworms!  Well, I am finally home and back with all of my books, which makes me very happy.  I watched a lot of ‘booktube’ while I was away on vacation and really enjoyed hearing about everyone’s book goals for the year, as well as their most anticipated reads. I wanted to put down my bookish goals for the year here; mainly so that I can hold myself accountable to what I write.

1. My Goodreads reading goal for the year is 62 books.  I should have no problem with this as my goal in 2017 was 50 books and I ended up reading 77. One of the things that boosted my number for the year was my introduction into audiobooks which I mentioned in an earlier post. My reason for not selecting a higher number for this year is that I have a lot of really large books on my TBR (to be read list), including It by Stephen King, continuing the Dark Tower series (next up, book 5 which is 700 pages), reading book 4 in the Song of Ice and Fire Series and a possible reread of The Stand. I know those will all take up a lot of time so I didn’t want to set my overall goal too high.

2. Focus more on my blogging and reviewing every book I read instead of just rating them. It is easy to fall into the trap of just assigning a rating to a book once you finish it on Goodreads, thinking you’ll go back at a later time to write a review and then forgetting about it.  I did that a lot this year so I would like to get better at being sure to review all of my books upon completion. I have started carrying a notebook where I take notes while reading if I have any thoughts or feelings on a story that I want to be able to remember. I am hoping this will help me come review writing time.

3. Book ban and #unreadshelfproject2018 – so this is a big one and will probably be my most difficult goal. I have put myself on a book ban until I clean up my unread shelves (see photo above for example of my cluttered bookshelves)! I buy so many books but then get distracted when new releases come out – I am participating in the unreadshelfproject2018 on bookstagram to try to help me clean up this issue. I have put myself on a book buying ban until April 1st to help this process along.  It is so hard, you guys! I want all the books! A friend of mine had given me a Barnes & Noble gift card for Christmas so I allowed myself to use that yesterday (that was my one exception) and now I am done until April (sheds tears of sorrow…..).

4. Start booktube channel by the end of the year! You read right, I am planning to bring megsbookrack to YouTube with my very own booktube channel. I need to get a studio space set up for that, etc., so am hoping to be able to begin on October 1, 2018. That is the current goal – mostly because I need to be able to do a Spooktober TBR video! Everyone knows the best month to read is October!

So, those are the goals I have set for myself for this year. What are your bookish goals? I would love to hear them!

Cheers and happy reading!

Another great thing about 2017….

Happy Saturday my bookish friends!  Earlier today I was watching a few different booktubers and it is definitely the time of year for wrap-ups!  While I was thinking back over the books I have read this year (73 books in all, if you’re interested in that sort of thing), I tried to pull together my top 5 to 10 books. This is a much harder task to do than one would think.  I haven’t decided what exactly those will be for now so decided to write a little bit today about an author, new to me, that I discovered in 2017.

Octavia E. Butler (1947 – 2006) is a phenomenal American science-fiction writer who I certainly wish I would have discovered earlier in life.  Her writing is intelligent, heartfelt and oddly prescient of today’s political climate, e.g. The Earthseed Series, (please look this up on Goodreads if you haven’t heard of it).

Kindred, originally published in 1979 was the first Butler book I read and I am very glad I started with that one.  In fact, I feel that is a good starting point to anyone new to her writings. I’m not sure I can properly convey in words how much I enjoyed this book. First person slave narrative portrayed by a person not of that time, seeing that time with fresh eyes; a true examination of American history. Categorized as a science fiction novel, the only sci-fi element really was the time travel that allowed Dana, our protagonist, to travel back through time to antebellum Maryland. It was seamless and simple and worked very well with the story. I was moved to the point of tears in the last portion of the book and my brain was still running in circles hours after finishing it. I loved everything about this book. It didn’t shy away from harsh topics: rape, slavery, race relations – I found it real and meaningful. I would recommend this book to anyone, everyone – get your copy today!!

2017 Wrap-Up, Post #1

With the end of the year rapidly approaching, I thought it may be a good time to work on some year-end wrap-up posts.  In book news this year, I discovered audiobooks.  One reason I had never considered audiobooks a viable option for me was the price, they are really expensive!  However, due to a bookish forum I am a part of on Facebook (specifically the Owlcrate subscribers forum) I discovered the Overdrive app which allows me to loan audiobooks from my local library for free!  What a revelation.

How does it work? It is so simple! I browse their electronic library, check-out the book I want and download it directly to my phone on loan for 14 days. Now I can listen to books while walking my dog, driving to and from work and cleaning around the house.  Having made this discovery has really enhanced the number of books I can get through per year and has truly become a staple of my every day life.

One of my favorite books that I have read this year was actually my 2nd audiobook – The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (the pen name of the beloved J.K. Rowling – yes, that J.K. Rowling).  Originally published in 2013, this gritty crime novel introduces us to the gruff and brilliant detective, Cormoran Strike and is the first book in a currently four book series.

As an audiobook the narrator they chose was wonderful; absolutely perfect for this story. I hope he continues on as narrator for the rest of the series. The story itself was right up my alley. I love characters like Cormoran – gritty and flawed yet super intelligent, humble and genuine. I really enjoyed the chemistry between Cormoran and his accidental assistant, Robin. I can’t wait to watch their relationship grow as the series continues. The mystery was very strong – it never let up and the police procedural aspect with which Cormoran went about his investigation was spot on, I felt. I will definitely be continuing with this series! Well done, JK!

Status Update: The Darkling Bride

Hello book friends!  I just wanted to give a quick status update on my progress through The Darkling Bride by Laura Andersen.  As I may have mentioned in a earlier post, I received an Advanced Readers Copy (ARC) of this book from the publisher, Ballantine Books, in exchange for an honest review which has an expected publication date of April 2018.

I am currently just over 60% through this book.  I am loving it!  Originally, I went into the book thinking, historical fiction, but I have discovered it is really so much more than that.  The book does weave a bit of historical fiction into what is actually more of a modern day murder mystery.  The main storyline takes place in a very old (and possibly haunted) castle in the County Wicklow.  Our protagonist, Carragh, is an archivist sent to the castle to archive their extensive historical library.  There she finds not just books but mystery, suspense, gothic settings, a potential love match, long guarded family secrets and an unsolved murder that sees its investigation rekindled.

There is so much to love about this book and I am hoping that many, many readers get to enjoy it as much as I am once it is published in the Spring!