2021 releases I was excited for but didn’t get to

So in 2021, I was able to acquire quite a few new releases that were on my radar, mainly thanks to my Book of the Month subscription. Did I read them? I wouldn’t be doing this week’s Top 10 Tuesday post if I had. LOL. As you know my 2021 wasn’t my best reading year and I wasn’t even close to hitting my reading goal. This year is quite the opposite and I jumped out of the gate at a full sprint. It remains to be seen whether my stamina will last through the remainder of the year, but I do have plans for most, if not all of the books on this list.

How could I not be excited for a book by the Fresh Prince himself? This came out toward the end of the year and I had started the book, but then life got in the way. I plan to read this as my nonfiction option in February.

I had every intention of reading this as soon as it came out in September. However, I knew it was going to end up on one of my book club lists so I purposely held off. I might still read it beforehand because I am itching to get my hands on it.

After reading “The Great Alone” I knew that I wanted to read more by Kristin Hannah. Then this book was announced at the beginning of 2021. When it came out I immediately ordered it and then – you know what happened next. It went on a book stack and was never read. Although now that I am rereading the summary for this I am getting an idea about another book that I can read with this one for a future post.

“Behold the Dreamers” is one of my all-time favorite books and one that I recommend highly. So I immediately bought Mbue’s new book as soon as it came out. And for some reason I have yet to crack it open. Luckily, my book club is reading this later this year, so it will be off my TBR soon enough.

I bought this book because I loved Whitehead’s “Nickel Boys.” I got this in September right while in the process of buying a house and packing my apartment. However, I plan to get it off my TBR and read it next month.

This book sounded so interesting that I couldn’t help but pick it for my December book of the month. It says that it’s a story of fairy tales, our fear of the dark and losing yourself within the wilderness of your mind. I will blame not reading it because of the holidays. I might push this one off to the spooky season.

Not sure why I haven’t read this one yet. The summary sounds so good and I really want to know what the connection is between all these characters. It reminds me of a book I have read before, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

Every immigrant story I have read have ended up on my recommended lists, so when I saw this book come out, I immediately got it. It’s rather a short book but I have yet to read it.

Another immigrant story, but this time a nonfiction one. This came out in September, which was when my reading was barely non-existent. I plan to read this one in the spring.

What releases were you excited for and didn’t get to? Have you read any on this list? What did you think?

Monday reading check-in (1/17/2022)

Happy Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day! I hope everyone has had a wonderful week. This past week was much better than the week prior in all aspects. We are halfway through the month and I am amazed at how much reading I have gotten done. I have read three more books than what I planned to read this month so my wrap up at the end of the month is going to be lengthy. Just this past week alone I managed to read four books and started a fifth! Here is a recap.

Book recently finished

I liked this book but I am not fully sure what I think about it. Woolf’s writing took some getting used to and while I had understood what was going on, I felt like the whole meaning of the book was just out of my grasp. I think this is a book that I will have to read more than once. My thoughts are similarly laid out in my review.

I am so glad that I finally read this book. It deserves all the hype that it is getting and is definitely a five-star read. Reid is quite the storyteller. I felt like Evelyn Hugo was a real actress and found myself wanting to look up the movies that she starred in. Then I would remember that it was fiction and be disappointed. More of my thoughts will be laid out in a review later in the week.

I now understand why Michaelides’ “The Maidens” was disappointing to many people, after this jaw dropping novel. It had all the twist and turns that I love in the novel, the second guessing of every character, the unexpected twist and it not being over to the last page. I read “The Maidens” before this one and I was disappointed with it. I am glad that I didn’t give up on his writing because I absolutely loved this book. When are they making this a movie? LOL

After “The Silent Patient” I was on a thriller kick so I picked up this book I got at the end of last year. It didn’t disappoint. Camille is a grieving mother after her daughter was three years prior. She is learning to cope in the best way she knows how, when she gets invited to join an online group for grieving mothers. What she doesn’t realize is that its more than a forum for them to talk about their grief, it’s about revenge. This book definitely sucked me in and didn’t let me go until the end.

Currently reading

This book has been on my personal bookshelves for 10 years and I thought it was about time that I get around to it. I put it on my winter TBR and since I have been plowing through books lately, I decided now was as good a time as any. I am thoroughly enjoying Harold Evans’ account of his forays in journalism and the history lesson of the time period as he moves through the decades. It’s making me nostalgic of my own reporter days and the stories my editor used to tell me. I have a ways to go before I finish this 500+ page book but I have no doubts it will only get better.

Reading next

Both of these I need to read for book clubs which will be having their discussions in the beginning of February so I need to get them out of the way. Book Thief is a reread for me but I haven’t read since it first came out. I am really excited for Time’s Arrow, mainly because it’s a story that goes in reverse, meaning we start with the main character in the present day and it ends with him as a baby.

Review: ‘Into Thin Air’ by Jon Krakauer

Climbing Mount Everest has never been on my bucket list. Mainly because I’m not much of a climber, also I’m afraid of heights and probably most important, I HATE the cold. But even if I were of the thrill seeking type and Everest piqued my interest, I would probably veto the idea after reading this book.

In 1996, Jon Krakauer is assigned by Outside Magazine to report on the commercialization of Mount Everest, but as a mountain climber himself, Krakauer proposes that he not only report from base camp, he do the climb as well. What he didn’t know is that the climb would be a fight for survival after a storm hits the mountain. The 1996 Mount Everest Disaster would leave eight climbers dead, several injured and ultimately change the lives of all those who survived.

“Into Thin Air” is Krakauer’s account of what happened in a personal narrative that transports readers to Mt. Everest. During this whole book, I felt like I was having a conversation with Krakauer as we travel from his home to various locations in his journey around the world until finally we reach the mountain.

Not only does Krakauer help you see everything he saw, but he captures all your senses. I couldn’t help but snuggle down into my fleece reading blanket as I could feel the wind pummeling the mountain and feel my fingers curl with the cold. I was shivering alongside him in his tent as he tries to get warm.

Interspersed with the details of the events leading up to the disaster, Krakauer also provides some historical context behind why Mt. Everest has become so popular, relaying the various expeditions to conquer Everest, the Nepal and Tibetan government efforts to increase tourism, the background of the Sherpas who know how to traverse the mountain and help guide climbers.

Krakauer notes that he wrote the book not long after returning home and that he has been told that he should have waited to put some time and perspective between him and what happened. Krakauer admits that he needed to get the story down on paper as a way of putting some closure to what happened, but I think it makes the story all the better. It is obvious that he does his research and conducts interviews to fill in where he can’t remember, but overall, he provides an emotional rawness to the story that probably would have been lost if he had waited. We get to know all of the individuals who were involved on that fatal day and we can’t help but feel the loss as he felt it.

This book was hard to put down and every time I did, I couldn’t wait to pick it up again to find out what had happened. However, I know that many of the other survivors have written their own accounts, some of whom have been critical of this book. It would be interesting to read what they remember and compare.

If you are interested in Mount Everest, this book is definitely a must read.

Books I want to read because I saw the movie/TV show

This post is all because of “The Witcher.” While watching the first season last year, I saw it was adapted from the book series. I never heard of “The Witcher” until it had appeared on Netflix and then, not only to find that I loved it, but also that it was adapted from books, I knew I had to read it. Then the second season came out a little while ago, and it seemed that the books appeared on shelves everywhere, mocking me because I had yet to read them. So I got to thinking about all the books I want to read because I saw the movie or TV show. Here are some of them:

Of course The Witcher series. The show is so good and the fact that it is also a video game just says how universal this story is. It would be interesting to compare the books to the show.

I absolutely love the HBO show Game of Thrones and even though my husband owns the series, I have yet to read them. Why? I have no idea. But this seriously something I want to do soon. I am particularly interested in how the story is different than the show, since we all know that they changed some of the storylines, especially after the show went past the books.

While I have read the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy after seeing the movies, I have yet to read “The Hobbit.” I have seen bits of pieces of the movies because they haven’t grabbed my attention like LOTR but I know that I would love the books. I own the book but have yet to crack it open.

After seeing the movie, I bought “The Martian” at a library book sale with every intention of reading it. And yet it still sits unopened. However, last year I read Weir’s “Project Hail Mary” which I loved and have a renewed focus on reading his most well-known work.

I absolutely love the movie “Bridget Jones’s Diary” so when I heard that it was actually a book, of course I wanted to read it. From what I can see from the reviews, you either love this book or hate it. If I had to guess, I am going to love it.

One of the books that has been on my bookshelves the longest is “Great Expectations.” It was actually my sister’s book but I took it. We had seen the movie (Gwyneth Paltrow version) when we were kids and ever since then it has been on my TBR. I have started the book many times but for some reason or other I put it down. I think in part because I was too young to understand Dickens. I think now that I am older, I will have no trouble.

This book was purely a purchase because I had seen the movie and wanted to read more about the famous horse and the people who made him famous.

Ever since I have seen this movie, I have wanted to read this book. Yet every chance I have to purchase a copy I never seem to. No idea why. I think I may just have to borrow this from the library and get it over with.

I love the Jurassic Park movies and it was only until a few years ago that I realized that these were books. Michael Crichton has been on my TBR for awhile because he has written a number of books besides Jurassic Park that I wouldn’t mind checking out. I heard that he is a really good writer.

“The Three Musketeers” and “The Man in the Iron Mask” have also been on my TBR since I saw the Leonardo DiCaprio movie of “The Man in the Iron Mask”. Then I realized that the book was a series and since I generally knew the story of the “Three Musketeers” I knew that I to read both.

The movie has haunted me since I saw it when I was younger. Who can ever forget the girl in the red dress? When I saw the book at a library book sale, I instantly picked it up. Yet I haven’t read it, mainly because I know how sad this book is going to be and I waiting for the right time. But is there ever the right time to read about this subject?

The Jungle Books is a book I will probably get to sooner rather than later. It’s on my Classics Club list so I am hoping that I will get to it this year. Of course I have seen the Disney version of this movie. I have yet to see the live action version but maybe I can watch them after I read this book.

What books do you want to read because of the movie or TV show?

Book Club discussion: ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee

My reread of “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee was just as enjoyable as the last two times, the most recent was in 2019 and my views on the book are similar to what they were then, which are outlined in my review.

We read this book for the Modern Library Book Club and unlike my 2019 discussion for the SARAH Book Club where everyone liked the book, this time we got mixed reviews. It raised the question of whether “To Kill A Mockingbird” is dated for the current time and if Harper Lee tries to make race a sentimental issue.

Everyone thought that Harper Lee was a good writer, and for the people who loved the book, they thought it genius on how she was able to weave different subplots together, which ultimately made this a strong book. Like me, many thought that every character had a role to play, though it was split between Atticus and Scout on who the favorites were. Atticus, for none other than taking up a case he knows he can’t win and Scout for being the one to tell it like it is in her childlike way.

While Scout is technically an adult when she is telling this story, she is narrating it through how she viewed it as a child, which I think is so important in how the more serious issues in this book are portrayed.

One member who grew up in the 60s in the Midwest said he never heard of this book growing up. Having read it for the first time this year, he thought thought that the book was probably considered radical where he was from and was never publicized there. He was glad that he finally got the chance to read it and loved it.

For those who didn’t like the book, thought it was too sentimental. That the Black characters are held to a different standard, that they are completely innocent, or they are treated as children, which bothered them. Many had read “Go Set a Watchman” which portrays Atticus quite differently than in “To Kill A Mockingbird”, and wondered why Lee never wanted the manuscript published, whether she was trying to hide the truth. This where the debate came in.

Some argued that Harper Lee was writing for the time, and trying to show through Atticus, that despite his true feelings, the idea is to treat others the way they want to be treated. Others brought up the book “Caste” which they said would provide a whole new perspective on the topic.

Others argued that the book was inclusive, and beyond race, it showed that you could be different. Scout was different from the other girls she grew up with; Boo Radley, some thought, probably had some mental disability but he wasn’t treated any differently by the adults. Can I just say that I loved the part when Scout finally meets Radley? Her reaction is so unexpected.

Despite the debate, everyone thought that the book was good for what it was and everyone left still friends.

Have you read “To Kill A Mockingbird”? What did you think? Let’s discuss!

Review: ‘To the Lighthouse’ by Virginia Woolf

Where do I begin when it comes to this book? I am writing this right after having finished it. Maybe it’s not a good idea. I feel like I am adrift like the boat when the wind goes out of its sails and it just rocks with the waves. I am not sure what to think about this book. At some levels, I can see the hints of brilliance that people rave about when they discuss Woolf, and at the same time, I feel like I haven’t grasped it just yet, it’s just beyond my reach.

I think part of the problem is the style of writing, which is a mix of stream of consciousness, and the other is that it doesn’t have a linear plot. When we open this book we are met by Mrs. Ramsey with her husband and family of eight children at their vacation home with some friends. The first part of the book is about the day or two they are there and we go from character to character and get a glimpse into their minds, what they are thinking about themselves, about the other people around them and the events occurring. In this way, we get to know who everyone is. All the while, the underlying question is whether going to the lighthouse will be feasible due to the weather.

The second part is about time passing over the years. The house almost becomes a metaphor for the family, reflective of how time has changed the family dynamic as people die, marry, give birth and so on.

Then in the third and final part of the book, the family returns to the house some years later, quite altered, and they make plans to do what they didn’t get a chance to do so many year before.

I know that the lighthouse is supposed to be symbolic of something but I haven’t quite figured it out. Maybe I am completely overthinking this whole book and it really is as simple as it seems.

I think this is a book that you have to read several times to get the full meaning behind it. With each reread, you will uncover another little secret that was held from you before.

As for Woolf’s writing, once I got used to her style, I rather enjoyed reading it. There is no doubt that she has a way with words. You still can picture what is going on around you but you can’t quite put your finger on the underlying current, almost like Lily Briscoe trying to paint the picture of the family but can’t quite get the picture to become clear.

I gave this book three stars, aka a neutral rating, because right now I don’t know what to rate it. This can change as things become more clear to me.

Have you read “To the Lighthouse”? What did you think? Let’s discuss!

The most recent additions to my book collection

For this week’s Top 10 Tuesday, by That Artsy Reader Girl, we are discussing the most recent books to our collections. Most of the books I have recently acquired are from Book of the Month but last month, my husband and I went to Manchester, Vt. for our annual getaway weekend. In town is the Northshire Bookstore, which has a used book section and where invariably I acquire a few books that I have been wanting to read. So here are the top 10 in no particular order.

Monday reading check-in (1/10/22)

The first week of January was a rollercoaster ride. It started on the upside with everything going smoothly and then peaked over the hill and went speeding to the bottom. The Omicron variant is running rampant in our neck of the woods and it seems that everyone is getting it. My anxiety is at all time high, especially because Friday I found out someone in my family has it, someone who I wished would never get it again because it almost killed them in 2020. Luckily, their doctor acted quickly and they are hopefully on the mend. It is a waiting game. Luckily I have had my reading and this blog to keep me distracted. I am ahead in my reading, which I know won’t last, but I am riding the crest while I can. Here is a recap of the books I read over the last week, the books I am reading now and what I plan to read next.

Recently finished

If there is one thing I am sure of after reading this book, it is that I will NEVER go to Mount Everest. Not that it was ever on my bucket list, since mountain climbing is the last thing I would ever try, but even if there was a shred of hope, Krakauer solidified the fact that I will never go. Maybe I will travel to that corner of the world and happen to glance upon its peak from afar but that is as close to the mountain as I will ever get. Krakauer recounts the 1996 disaster, of which he was a part of, partly on assignment, partly to fulfill a longtime dream. He recounts it vividly and in detail from the beginning to the end. If you are looking for a nonfiction book to read that will draw you in, this is definitely it. Krakauer is becoming one of my top nonfiction authors.

My reread of “Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi was just as enjoyable as the first time. I forgot alot of the details about this story and it was nice to refresh myself with the story of Effie and Esi and their lineage through history. My five star rating still stands and I can’t wait to discuss this with the Capital District Book Club later this month. It turns out that we will be talking about this book in the Metaphorically Speaking Book Club as well as Gyasi’s second work “Transcendent Kingdom”, which I have yet to get to.

Currently Reading

This book has been sitting on my bookshelves since college. In fact, it still has the used book sticker on the spine from when I bought it at university. I don’t know what to think of this book right now as it is different from what I am used to. It is stream of consciousness, which is hard for me to used to, but surprisingly I am getting through this really fast. However, I think it is one that I am going to have it sit on for awhile before I can fully grasp it.

What I am reading next

“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” arrived in my January Book of the Month box and I couldn’t be more excited. I have heard nothing but good things about this book and so now I need to know what all the hype is about. I have also never read Taylor Jenkins Reid so this will be my introduction to her writing.

Book Club List (part 3)

In the final listing of book club picks for 2022, I am sharing the titles from the Metaphorically Speaking Book Club, a small group of girls who just want to talk about books. We just had our book selection event the other day and many of the books we will be reading have been on my TBR. Since the book selection was this month there won’t be a book and we are not planning to read a book in December. I am really excited for these selections.

February –
The Book Thief
by Markus Zusak

March –
Shallow Waters
by Anita Kopacz

April –
Transcendent Kingdom
by Yaa Gyasi

May –
by Yaa Gyasi

June –
Apples Never Fall
by Liane Moriarty

July –
Friends Like These
by Kimberly McCreight

August –
Midnight Library
by Matt Haig

September –
Before We Were Yours
by Lisa Wingate

October –
Bed Stuy
by Jerry McGill

November –
It All Comes Back
to You

by Beth Duke