TBR list for October 2021

October is going to be a real treat. And I mean that sarcastically. Remember when I said that I have a big announcement to make? Well, we are in the process of buying a house and we will be closing on the 22nd. If my eyes are not deceiving me that is next Friday! WHAAT?! How are we already into the second week of October? That means this post is really late, lol.

If the packing and the getting ready to move isn’t enough, it is officially budget season for the Legislature, which means for the next two weeks I am going to be in meetings every single night. And that is on top of the day-to-day work that we have to get done.

I honestly don’t know how much reading I am going to get done this month, but I am hopeful. Books are what ground me and one of the things that helps me destress. Most of my books have been packed already but I kept this pile out for the month of October.

Book Club Picks

“We Begin at the End” by Chris Whitaker

This is the October read for the Capital District Book Club and I am bummed that I can’t go to the discussion. I just finished this book and it absolutely broke my heart. There are two parallel stories: Walk, the police chief in a small coast California town, dealing with the fact that Vincent King, the friend who he put away in prison 30 years ago, is coming home. Then there is 13-year-old Duchess, the “outlaw”, whose mother, Star, grew up with Walk and Vincent and has become more and more depressed so that Duchess has to look after things. Then there is an unexpected death following the return of Vincent, that affects Duchess and Walk in more ways than they will come to know.

War of the Worlds” by H. G. Wells

I read this book back when I was a teenager so I am excited that we are reading it for Modern Library Book Club for the month of October. I remember enjoying this book, which is about an invasion of Martians who destroy everything in their wake and attempt to end human civilization.

Personal Picks

The Wish” by Nicholas Sparks

The newest book by Nicholas Sparks is officially out and while this is the only book that doesn’t fit the creepy and thrilling jive I got going, I can’t wait to curl up and dive into it. I usually fly through his books and I am sure that this one is going to be no different.

Maggie Dawes is a successful photographer and has traveled all over the world, but now she is home in New York City, struggling to come to terms with a medical condition. As the holidays come around, she becomes dependent on an assistant at her gallery and becomes close to him. As she reflects on her life, she thinks back to her youth and another man who she used to know.

The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde

I was planning to read this last October and never got around to it, so it is on the list once again. I am so intrigued by this book, which is essentially about a man who sells his soul for eternal youth. It is rather a short book so it shouldn’t take me that long to get through, especially if it is as good as it sounds.

The Maidens” by Alex Michaelides

This book has been calling my name ever since I received it in my BOTM box. I have heard some mixed reactions – either people love this book or they hate it. Now I need to know for myself, but it sounds perfect for October – death, secret societies, mysterious professor. What isn’t there to like?

Midnight Sun” by Stephanie Meyer

I needed something light and fluffy to mix into the mix and Twilight book have always been quick and easy reads. Besides I need to know Edward’s story once and for all. This book has been on my shelf for way too long.

What are you reading in October? Have you read any on this list? Let’s discuss!

September 2021 reading wrap-up

One minute, I am counting the days until October and then the next we are a week into the month. And so I am just getting to my reading wrap-up. For some reason, September felt like it took ages, so much so in fact, when I looked back at all the books that I read, I was surprised that they were all part of the same month. I even forgot that I read a few. So being that this is already late, I won’t belabor the point and get right into it.

I wasn’t planning on reading “The Other Black Girl” by Zakiya Dalila Harris at all. But then the New York Writer’s Institute kicked off its annual Writer’s Series with a talk with Harris. I have seen this book making its rounds all over the blogosphere and making all the lists, so I figured why not. I went out, bought the book and went to the event. I was so glad that I did. Harris is so personable and it was nice to get the scoop behind the book, which I should add is definite read. I have been thinking about this book ever since I read it. I have since recommended it.

This was a pick for the Society for Avid Readers Book Club, but unfortunately I didn’t make the discussion. I really liked how honest Rebekah Taussig is about her disability as well as how people treat her or how she sees people treat her. It was a real eye opener and can make you a little uncomfortable. She points out the unintentional things people do that make her angry. I think that everyone should read this book.

Can I just say that this probably one of the best thrillers that I have read in a long time. Have fun trying to figure out who the killer is in this one because every single character has skeletons in their closet. Ellem does a fantastic job rounding out each character so that at points you like them and want to be their friends and then the next you are shocked by what they did and want nothing to do with them. I am just disappointed that the Metaphorically Speaking Book Club ended up not meeting in September so we didn’t get to discuss this book.

It has only taken me over 20 years to read this book, but I am so glad that I finally did. In the Modern Library Book Club, we pass around a Conch shell and whoever has the shell can speak. Now I understand where the shell comes from, lol. This book was partly disturbing as the children begin to return to their primal roots and begin to turn savage with each other. Though I couldn’t help chuckling by their reactions at the end.

This was a really interesting read about “The Troubles” in Ireland. If you don’t know much about it, Keefe does a really good job laying out the main characters, though there are many, and how they all play a role in what happens. He focuses the book around one particular disappearance and shapes the story from there. This book caused quite a discussion in book club and some of our members could vouch for the accuracy of the book, whether through personal experience or through secondary sources.

I was planning to read this in October but I ended up going to New Jersey and listened to the audiobook on my 3-hour trip down and back. I absolutely loved this book. Joe Talbert has to complete a biography for an English writing assignment and heads over to a nearby nursing home where he ends up getting paired up with Carl Iverson, a convicted rapist and murderer, who is dying and has been medically paroled to the nursing home to live out his last days. But as Joe begins to interview Carl, he realizes that maybe there is more to Carl’s story than previously thought. Talk about there being two sides to every story. You are definitely going to need tissues for this one.

Books I didn’t finish or get to

I had every intention of reading “Night Draws Near” but other books seemed to get in the way. I am not giving up on it but I fear that it is going to back to the bookshelf to wait a little bit longer. As for “Middlemarch”, my problem was that I put it down to read other things and had trouble getting back into it. I am nearly done with it, and I hope I do finish it, but it won’t be before my book club discussion, though all indications are that everyone loved it.

What books did you read in September? Have you read any on this list? Let’s discuss!

The End-of-Summer Book Tag

I saw this tag on Em @ The Geeky Jock earlier this month and thought it was a nice wrap-up to summer reading. So I thought I would give it a shot.

What was your favorite book this summer?

This book was a pleasant surprise. I had never read V.E. Schwab before but I had heard nothing but good things about the author. Well, I am now a fan. Honestly, if it wasn’t for book club, who knows when I would have gotten around to this book.

What was your least favorite book this summer?

I only got 40 or so pages into this book before I put it down for good. It was a book club read but I just couldn’t get into it. The character thinks she is the only one left alive on earth but the character seemed to be rambling on about random things. I think the author was trying to set up what isolation has done to her and even aludes to her having a psychotic break, but I just wanted to know what happened and it felt like we were never getting there. Perhaps I should have given this book more of a chance, but I just wasn’t interested.

What was your favorite classic this summer?

This was such a charming little book about getting older. It focuses on five people who live with each other and in typical fashion, they bitch and moan to and about each other when they are together but in the privacy of their own rooms, they deal with their own maladies. My classics book club has some seniors in the group, who said this book came a little too close for comfort in terms of reality, but they enjoyed it nonetheless.

Did you stray into a different genre and pick up a new and exciting book?

I am not one to read too many thrillers but I am so glad that my book club picked this one last month. I am still thinking about it. Every character has skeletons in their closet, making it hard to determine who the killer is in this small neighborhood. When you think you have it figured out, there will be another sudden twist that makes you rethink everything.

What was your favorite movie adaptation this summer?

I don’t think I watched any movie adaptations this summer, surprise, surprise. But I did just find out that The Witcher, which my husband and I watched on Netflix during the pandemic, is actually a series. I may just have to look into reading it.

What was your favorite new release?

I had not read Andy Weir before this book and now I am a fan. Although this book gets a little technical, I still understood everything that was going on. Right from the start, you are on this amazing adventure with the main character trying to remember who you are and complete a mission that you learn is to save Earth. Buckle in because it’s one hell of a ride.

Book Club Discussion: ‘Ending Up’ by Kingsley Amis

I had never heard of this book before the Modern Library Book Club requested it. Although it is quite a small book, just under 200 pages, it delivers quite a punch.

We follow five elderly characters who live with each other. There is a lot of griping and jokes, but at the end of the day, each of them has to deal with the same issue – the facts of life and getting older.

The book started out funny, just like I thought it would. I have been around the elderly my whole life so I know that they love to joke around, but when we get the characters alone, we know that this is just a fa├žade and each is dealing with their own issues.

There is Bernard who loves to play pranks on the others which is absolutely hilarious until the end when one of his jokes backfires. Bernard reminds me of the old grump who is nasty to everyone but deep inside he just wants the attention.

Shorty is the butler and ex-lover to Bernard. He is a drunk but tries to moderate his drinking. One of my favorite scenes is Shorty trying to pull himself up the stairs to his bedroom and his tottering at the top. It was just so vivid. He goes around the house singing ballads about the others, though whether they realize it is another story. Absolutely hilarious.

Marigold’s character is a bit sad as she is slowly losing her mind. Whether Alzheimer’s or dimentia, it is never determined, but Marigold tries to come to terms with it in the best way she knows how. She is also very opinionated and literal to the point that she doesn’t understand the jokes.

Then there is Vera who is the serious one of the lot and takes care of everyone and everything. Finally there is George who suffers from the after effects of a stroke and tries to write his book. Of everyone, George seems to be the most positive one.

Everyone at book club enjoyed this book, though for some, the plot of the story hit a little too close for comfort. Despite this, they thought Amis’ was a genius writer. Some thought he was a bit negative, which was irritating to them but they still enjoyed the book.

It is a short classic that has a lot to it and you will surely get something out of it every time you read it. Definitely worth the read.

Summer 2021 TBR wrap-up: The books I finished, didn’t get to and read instead

I feel like I just did the Spring TBR wrap-up not that long ago and now here we are. Another season has come and went. However, even though the summer has flown by, I am quite surprised by how much I did read. I actually did way better than I did in the spring. So here are the books that I finished on my TBR, the books I didn’t get to and the books I read instead.

What I finished

What I didn’t get to

What I read instead

What did you read over the summer? Have you read any on this list? Let’s discuss!

TTT: Books I plan to read this fall

It is officially the end of summer.. or is it? While we are starting to get cooler mornings and nights, the afternoons are still peaking between 78-80 degrees here in upstate New York. However, it may be coming to an end. Today, the high is 73 and it looks like next week, the weather is officially in the 60s – officially sweater weather.

There is a lot going on this fall in terms of life changes, so I am not sure how much reading I am going to get done in the next two months, but it’s always good to have goals. I will have more news about that soon in an upcoming post. So let’s get on with this week’s Top 10 Tuesday with what I plan to read this season.

I am ashamed at how long this book has been on my TBR shelf and I am determined to read it once and for all, sooner rather than later.

Another book that I bought and never read. I have heard mixed reactions to this last book in the series, which takes the POV of Edward. I am quite interested since I have always been on Team Edward. The Twilight books have always been quick reads for me, so I plan to knock this out in a weekend.

This is a fairly recent release, but I have already seen quite a few reviews on it, and boy have they been mixed. It seems that you either love this book or hate it. I guess I have to read it to find out. I haven’t read Michaelides yet, but there is nothing like murder and secret societies at an old university to set the tone for the season.

If memory serves me right, I was supposed to read this last fall and never got to it. I am so intrigued by this book that my curiosity is at an all-time high. I am determined to get this off my TBR this season.

This book is coming out next week and I can’t wait. Nicholas Sparks is back to writing the way he used to when he first started out and I have absolutely loved the last few books he wrote. It has made the anticipation of this book so much harder. You better believe I am buying this book the day it drops.

Murder, secrets, family drama….sign me up. I have become a Liane Moriarty over the last few years and while I have not read all of her books as of yet, I liked what I did read. Her most recent book has come out just in time for fall.

We are reading this book for November in the Metaphorially Speaking Book Club, but how could I not put it on the list? This is a coming-of-age novel about Emmaline who lives on a remote island with her father, who teaches her about the natural world with her senses. When she is thrown into the real world, Emmaline learns about love, ambition, betrayal and revenge. To understand her past, she must figure out who she is. I really can’t wait to read this book.

This book has been calling to me from my bookshelf since I bought it a few weeks ago. I have heard this book is really good and it just sounds so charming. This is definitely a book to crack open on a day when I can pass away the hours cuddled in a blanket in my reading chair.

For some reason I have a sudden urge to read this book and I keep thinking about it. I have yet to read anything by Taylor Jenkins Reid but I have heard nothing but good things about her writing. I think it is time to rectify this situation.

November is Native American Heritage Month and I wanted to read something about the culture. This book came up on the list when I did some research. I feel like I don’t read enough stories about Native American culture and I am trying to rectify that this year.

What do you plan to read in the fall? Have you read any of the books on this list? Let’s discuss!

Monday reading check in

I skipped last week’s check in simply because there really was no update from the week previous. My life has been so busy lately, I wasn’t able to read as much as I did the week previous, but I am taking a staycation this week so I am sure that I will be able to catch up in no time.

What I recently finished

I had heard of the Troubles in Ireland but I never knew the full history. “Say Nothing” is an interesting read about that turbulent time in Northern Ireland and the people involved. There was so much to talk about in book club, from the different players, the families that were impacted, the religious discrimination, the role of America and so much more. I think for the most part everyone in book club thought that this book was well done.

Books I am currently reading

I know, I know, I am still reading this. I put it down for a little bit so I can read some other things, but I am back to it this week, especially since I have the time to get it done.

I am kind of switching between “Middlemarch” and this nonfiction book about the Iraq War. I know, heavy reading. This has been on my bookshelves for too long and it’s about time that I read it.

What I plan to read next

I had never heard about this book until book club but it sounds really interesting. College Joe Talbert goes to a local nursing home to find a subject to interview for an assignment. He meets dying Vietnam veteran Carl Iverson who has been medically paroled to the nursing home after serving thirty years for rape and murder. Talbert tries to reconcile the veteran with the murderer and is determined to unravel the truth behind the conviction. I am sure that this book is going to have many twists and turns. I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

What are you reading this week? Have you read any on this list? Let’s discuss!

TTT: Books I have enjoyed with numbers in the titles

For this week’s Top 10 Tuesday, by That Artsy Reader Girl, we were asked for our Top 10 books with numbers in the titles. I was actually surprised by how many books have numbers in the titles, and how many of them I have actually read. Here are the ones that I have read the most recently and have enjoyed:

What are some other books with numbers in the titles that you would recommend? Let’s discuss!

TTT: Books guaranteed to put a smile on your face

When I saw this week’s Top 10 Tuesday’s prompt, I smiled to myself. If there is one gripe that we get in the Capital District Book Club, one of the biggest of the book clubs I am a member of, it’s that most of the books we read are heavy and focus on serious themes. Members have asked if we can read some more light hearted and happy books. And of course the one “happy” book that everyone picked to read, no one liked. But then I got to thinking. What are some of the books I have read that made feel warm and happy inside. Here is what I came up with.

Ok so you had to know that this was a given for this list. I used to read this every year and to this day, it remains one of my “feel good” reads. I absolutely love this book and it remains in my Top 10 all-time favorites.

This book is just so magical. Yes, Matilda goes through some hardships, but it’s those hardships that makes Matilda find the magic inside of herself and overcome the obstacles in her way. And the ending just makes you all warm and fuzzy. I want a Ms. Honey in my life and I am 34 years old!

Another magical book. I recently just rewatched the movie and I love it. Sara is sent to a boarding school when her father has to go off to war. At first, Sara is welcomed and treated like a princess. But when her father dies and leaves her penniless, Sara is subjected to work for the boarding house. However, Sara has a powerful imagination which she uses to overcome her hardships. I still cry out of happiness at the ending of this story.

This is a charming and endearing book about books. It’s a collection of letters between Helene Hanff, a freelance writer and a used-book dealer in London over a period of 20 years. I absolutely loved this book and thought Helene was hilarious the way that she would pester the book store when they couldn’t find a book she wanted. Even though Helene and the book seller never meet, they have an incredible friendship and it just shows how powerful letters can be. I seriously wanted to pick up a pen and write a letter to someone.

I will never forget reading this book for the first time (for fun) and the minute that I fell in love with it. It’s the classic love story and I am sure that it will make quite a few lists for this prompt. I think everyone knows what this book is about so what else is there to say?

The only time I was sad while reading this book was when it ended. I actually listened to the audiobook for this and I am glad I did because the narrator was able to apply the right voice. The book is a collection of letters by Annie Spence, a librarian, to the books that she likes and dislikes as well as the books that are circulated in the stacks that need to be replaced and other that have long been forgotten and need to be “retired.” I absolutely loved listening to this book.

This is a book that is somewhat of a fairy tale. Set in 1920’s Alaska, Jack and Mabel are childless and are drifting apart. Then one snowy night they run outside and make a snow child. When they wake up the next morning the snow child is gone but they discover a little girl at the edge of the wood. As they try to understand this child who seems to be out of a fairy tale, Jack and Mabel begin to think of her as their own daughter. This was definitely a magical read that made me want to hug the book to myself.

What books would you recommend that put a smile on your face? Let’s discuss!

Monday reading check in 9/6/21

Happy Labor Day everyone!

It’s been a three-day weekend and I have been using the time to read. I was supposed to go down to New Jersey to visit my parents but after an altercation with my neighbor that involved me calling the police on her twice, I was left drained and exhausted.

However, even with this bit of drama in my life, I have been flying through the books I am reading. I think I have read more books over this weekend, than I have in a month all year. I only have 2 1/2 books left to read on my TBR. Which is crazy since we are only in the second week of the month.

What I recently finished

I have been eyeballing this book for awhile, but I wasn’t planning to read it yet. Then the New York State Writer’s Institute kicked off their fall events, starting with a Q&A/reading with Zakiya Dalila Harris at the University at Albany Campus. I immediately bought the book to bring with me to the event to get signed. I also started reading it prior to the event and got sucked in. This is a quick read and one that doesn’t disappoint. I can’t believe that this is Harris’ first book. Harris definitely puts a new spin on workplace competition. This thriller is full of twists and turns that will leave you dumbfounded in the end.

I read this for book club which will be meeting in a week to discuss. I would say that is a must read for everyone. You may think you know what it’s like to be disabled or think that you can understand, but unless you are, you don’t. Rebekah Taussig provides her perspective of how people interact around her and uncovers the truth about the cultural, political and societal impacts that her disability has on the world – mainly how people run on assumptions about a disabled person needs or wants. This book is truly eye opening and may make you feel unexpectedly uncomfortable.

I finished this book this morning and I still can’t wrap my head around this book. JK Ellem is the master of twists and turns because I really couldn’t figure this book out. Everyone is the bad guy. Every time you think you know, you don’t. Every single character has skeletons in their closet and you have to read to the last page to get any sense of finality. I haven’t read a book like this in a while. My brain is still trying to wrap around everything that happened. Though I would say their are some seriously dark and twisted things that happen which might be triggering.

Ok so I have owned this book since I was a little girl and had never read it. It’s actually good, though a little disturbing. You have a group of boys who are stranded on a deserted island. They try to stick to the habits that they had grown with. They select a leader and put rules into place with everyone having a role. However, eventually nature takes over and you see what happens when humans are left with just their primitive instincts. This book is only 200 pages but there is so much to unpack between its pages.

Books I am currently reading

My read of this book continues as I have to finish parts 5-8 for the Modern Library Book Club. We discussed the first half of the book and every single person is enjoying it so far – the language, the characters, the plot. It’s soo good. However, I am now taking my time with it.

This the September read for the Capital District Book Club. Apparently this book is about a murder that happened in Northern Ireland during the time of the “troubles.” I am not too familiar with this in Irish history but I am sure that I am going to quickly get educated. I started this book today and I hope to be done with it before the end of the week.

What I plan to read next

This is another book that I have had on my bookshelf for quite a long time. I think that the title of the book says it all. Given that it is the 20th anniversary of 9/11, I thought it was fitting to read about the war that resulted in what happened. I am even more interested in seeing the other sides of things.

What are you currently reading? Have you read anything on this list? Let’s discuss!