November 2022 TBR

The holiday season is among us! You can’t go to any store around here without it looking like someone vomited Christmas everywhere and you hear the Christmas carols playing over the intercom. To me, Christmas doesn’t start until after Thanksgiving, when Santa arrives at the end of the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, but hey, that’s just me. I will continue to enjoy the fall until then. Though, with the mild weather we have been having, it feels like we are going back a season rather than forward.

I am starting November with a focus on my mental health. Work has been crap and it has severely impacted me mental health. I am working on lowering my stress and getting my anxiety under control. Thankfully I have books to help.

My November reading list is light primarily because I don’t want to cause undue stress by creating an unrealistic TBR and also because the holidays are in a few weeks. With my husband and I hosting Thanksgiving and the family coming in early, I highly doubt I will get barely any reading in.

Book Club picks

Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty” by Patrick Radden Keefe

This is the November read for the Capital District Book Club and it is definitely interesting. It’s about the Sackler family who made a name for themselves in the pharmaceutical industry. It is the same family who owns the company that made oxycontin, which today has become the forefront of the opioid epidemic in the US. I am definitely enjoying this book so far, though I am not that far into it. I did read Keefe’s other book “Say Nothing” earlier this year for the same book club which was also good.

Gringos” by Charles Portis

This is the December pick for the Modern Library Book Club and I don’t much about it except that it takes place in Mexico. Everyone in book club is looking forward to this read so it must be good. Charles Portis is also the author of the book, “True Grit” of which movie adaptations were made, most recently in 2010.

Personal picks

The House of the Seven Gables” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

I started this book a few weeks ago but I have yet to finish it. I enjoy it while I am reading it but then I put it down and forget to pick it up. I really want to finish it so I am moving it on to this month’s TBR. I really want to learn the secret behind the house. I am getting Shirley Jackson vibes right now but I don’t think I am correct. Hoping to be done sooner rather than later.

The Cartographers” by Peng Shepherd

Another book leftover from last month but since it’s on my seasonal TBR as well, I figured I might as well get to it. Besides it’s a bookish mystery. This is right up my alley. It is also on my personal shelves and I need to get the number of unread books down.

What are you reading in November?


October 2022 wrap-up

October has come and gone. In fact, as I sit here writing this, it’s already a week into November. So you can say that this is a little late. But that is life.

It has been a challenging few weeks at work which means that nothing in my personal life has gotten done. The stress has been so much that my anxiety has skyrocketed to the point that it has become difficult to make the simplest of decisions. Thankfully I had scheduled vacation for this week, not knowing how much I was going to need it. It has been giving me to a chance to calm down, relax and do the things I enjoy. But I am taking it one step at a time.

Which brings me here. I realized that the months totally changed without me noticing and thus I never really wrapped up my reading. I feel a little unmoored as it is a way of me resetting for the new month. But I guess, better late than never.

“Dreamland” is the newest book by Nicholas Sparks and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s a bit different than his other books but it still has that unexpected twist that leaves your mouth hanging open. I particularly liked how this book focused on music and is set outside the Carolinas, which is also rare for Sparks. It’s not my favorite of Sparks’ books but it is still very enjoyable. You will get sucked into the story and only emerge back to reality when you close the book.

Another book has finally gotten off the forgotten shelf on my personal TBR. Louisa May Alcott is another author that I am trying to get through and though I have had this book far longer than I can remember, I only just cracked it open. I am so glad that I finally got around to it. Knowing that gothic fables were her passion, I held no doubt that this was going to be a good one. It is a story that is based on the legend of Faust, where the main character makes a pact with the devil and the impact that has on his life. I was definitely turning the pages wanting to know what was going to happen.

“Once Upon A River” was the October read for the Capital District Book Club and it definitely fit the theme. This book was magical in every sense of the word. I felt like I was reading a fairy tale. There were parts of the plot that irked me some, especially the way the village treated the little girl who is at the heart of the story. However, that didn’t take away from the overall experience. I missed the book club discussion which was disappointing because I wanted to hear what everyone else thought. I definitely want to read more of Setterfield in the future.

I had never heard of this book before someone in the Metaphorically Speaking Book Club proposed it for a monthly pick. In fact, it was actually hard to come by, However, I eventually obtained a copy and started reading. I didn’t think I was going to like this book so didn’t go in with many expectations. I finished it and felt like I need to reread it, not only for the enjoyment of it but also because there was so much in this short book, that surely I missed something. The themes that McGill sprinkles throughout the plot are subtle and yet have a profound impact on the characters. Definitely worth a read.

Talk about a well written book. If you haven’t read “The Talented Mr. Ripley”, stop what you are doing and read it right now. Patricia Highsmith is an artist the way that she develops the character of Ripley, making this more than a normal read. It’s more of a character study on someone who is manipulative and leads a fraudulent life, masquerading as someone else. The first book was genius and have heard each book only gets better. This is a series I might just have to finish. As for the movie, well it just doesn’t compare. I actually stopped watching it, because it was so different from the book.

Have you read any of the books on this list? What did you think? What did you read in October? Let’s discuss!

October 2022 TBR

Fall is definitely in the air here in upstate New York. The leaves are changing colors and it’s nice to just stand at my window and look at the trees outside. Some areas have foliage peaking in terms of the colors. I don’t know what it is but there is definitely a different atmosphere when it comes to this time of the year. Though for me, it’s the start of the busiest times.

My work schedule gets even more hectic and unpredictable. I will be lucky if I can get a lot of reading in but I don’t give up trying. I continue to bring a book with me to read during lunch and am trying to restart the habit of reading before bed instead of watching YouTube videos, a habit I picked up during COVID.

I am excited for this month’s TBR with several mysterious and thrilling books in the queue.

Book Club reads

The Talented Mr. Ripley” by Patricia Highsmith

I don’t know much about this book except that it is a thriller. Member of the Modern Library Book Club were very excited about reading this, many claiming that they had read the whole trilogy years ago. It sounds like it will be perfect for the spooky season.

Once Upon a River” by Diane Setterfield

I had seen this book make its rounds on the blogosphere but I didn’t know much about it. I was intrigued when the Capital District Book Club chose it. I have started reading it and I am enjoying the writing. Definitely has the touch of a fairy tale and can’t wait to delve more into it.

Bed Stuy” by Jerry McGill

This book was surprisingly hard to find. None of the libraries had a copy of it and it wasn’t in the local book stores. It sounds really good though and I am kind of getting vibes of “The Reader” from the summary. Whether that ends up being true, remains to be seen.

Personal picks

A Modern Mephistopheles” by Louisa May Alcott

Most people know Louisa May Alcott for Little Women and her other children’s novels, but I discovered years ago that her true passion was writing thrillers. I have read a few over the years, which were pretty good. However, this one I just couldn’t get into, until now. Maybe it’s the time of year but I have had a yearning for some dark classics. This one doesn’t disappoint.

The House of Seven Gables” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

How can you think of October and not think of Hawthorne’s writing. “The Scarlet Letter” immediately comes to mind but since I have read that notable work, I figured that I would go with one that I have yet to read. It is set in a haunted mansion so I would say it definitely fits with this month’s theme.

The Cartographers” by Peng Shepherd

This book definitely sounds interesting. A cartographer’s father is found death with a strange map in his possession. The map is rare and valuable and she must figure out the secret behind it. I have a feeling this is going to be filled with twists and turns along the way.

What are you reading this month?

September reading wrap-up

Well September is gone. I swear I am losing days somewhere. I feel like it was only yesterday that I writing my TBR for the month and now I am doing a wrap-up. With that being said, it’s going to be a short one because I only managed to get to a handful of books.

This was definitely different from Mandel’s first book, “Station Eleven” and not what I was expecting. I did enjoy it as it was filled with interesting characters and twists and turns. I kept reading because I needed to see how the different story plots were going to interweave and how the characters were going to end up. Mandel has knack for jumping between story lines just at pivotal moments that makes you want to get back to the one previously.

FINALLY. I have finally read this classic that has sat on my shelves for so long. Unfortunately I was unable to go to the book club discussion due to a last minute work event which was a totally bummer. I really wanted to hear what other people’s thoughts were on this book. I loved it. It was like looking back at history as we follow Francie Nolan growing up at the turn of the 20th Century. It was like sitting at my kitchen table with my parents listening to their stories of growing up. I couldn’t get enough.

I started out loving this book but I was a little underwhelmed by it in the end. I enjoyed reading about the history of the west and really loved the cultural references to the food, languages and customs of the family. But in terms of the plot itself, I felt that this could have went so much further than it did, especially when it came to the character of Luz.

I think this is the first Nicholas Sparks book that didn’t make me cry. But it’s Nicholas Sparks so of course I loved it. We follow the relationship of Colby and Morgan Lee who meet while both are vacationing in Florida. Miles away, Beverly is on our own journey of building a life after fleeing from an abusive relationship. The whole time I was trying to figure out how the two stories were going to intersect and Sparks just doesn’t give any hints up until the reveal, leaving the reader wondering what the hell just happened. I definitely wasn’t expecting this one.

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

Books on my 2022 Fall TBR

The weather is getting cool and the leaves are changing colors. That’s right, it’s time for fall. For this week’s Top 10 Tuesday, we are honoring the change of season with our fall TBR lists and I couldn’t be happier. There are so many books on this list that I have wanted to get to and I just couldn’t put it off any longer.

Of course Nicholas Sparks is on the list. He always puts out a new book around this time of the year and this year is no exception. “Dreamland” comes out today and I will be running to the book store after work to get my copy.

I have seen these on so many fall reading lists as a highly recommended dark academia book. I read “The Goldfinch” several years ago, but never got around to “The Secret History,” despite owning it for years. I really need to know what the hype is about.

Strange the Dreamer” is another book that keeps popping up on recommended lists. Given it’s magical theme, I figured now was the perfect time to try this book again. It has been on past seasonal TBRs and somehow I never gotten to it. I need to rectify this.

Many people know Louisa May Alcott for “Little Women” but her true passion was for darker writing. While I have read many of her other works, I have yet to get to “A Modern Mephistopheles.” However, I recently got the urge to read some classics. The premise describes this one as a study of human evil and it’s consequences. Perfect for the spooky season.

I recently acquired “The Alienist” by Caleb Carr in a library book sale and have been dying to read it. Plus it sounds intriguing and mysterious.

Who doesn’t know the story of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”? I have seen the movie countless times, but I don’t think I have actually read the book. If I did, it was so many years ago, I can barely remember. This was a nice short book that will be a reprieve between my other larger books.

Talk about the spooky season, “The House of Seven Gables” is described as gothic horror. I am not too sure what this book is about except a haunted New England mansion. Haunted is all I needed to hear.

I almost forgot that I had this book on my shelf. I have been wanting more mystery and thrillers in my life and “The Cartographers” seemed perfect. Besides it’s about cartography. Sold.

“Northanger Abbey” is one of the Jane Austen books I haven’t read. I was surprised when it showed up on a fall recommendation list, only to discover that it’s a bit gothic and mysterious. Well, if that didn’t intrigue me, especially given that it’s Austen. Besides I need to start checking off my classics list.

“The Talented Mr. Ripley” is our October read for the Modern Library Book Club. I have been wanting to read it for awhile. I may try to watch the movie along with it.

What is on your reading list for Fall?

September 2022 TBR

Hello book admirers! September is upon us which means summer is ending and fall will be beginning. I am sad to see summer go but kind of excited for the season because it will be the first year that we can decorate the house. I have already started buying harvest decorations and can’t wait to put them out.

I have taken advantage of the quiet weeks at work and have managed to get ahead in writing some posts for the blog so look out for some consistent content from me. I know, surprising. But with budget season rearing it’s ugly head in October, my work schedule is going to get hectic and who knows if I can keep up.

I have only gotten halfway through my summer TBR so my reading list this month will be filled with the remainder of the list along with my leftover book club reads from last month. I am actually going to go in opposite order than I usually do and put my personal TBR at the top of this list.

Personal TBR

“Woman of Light” by Kali Fajardo-Anstine

I have been reading some really good books lately from my personal TBR and I have no doubts that this is going to be another. This epic covering five generations of family is about survival, betrayal and family betrayal. Need I say more?

“Dune” by Frank Herbert

This has been on a TBR list for awhile and since I received it as a gift at the start of the summer, I have been dying to read it.

“Parable of the Sower” by Octavia Butler

This book has made the rounds in recent months. I felt like everywhere I turned people were talking about it or I would see it on TBR lists. I read Butler’s “Kindred” for book club a few years ago and loved it. I have a feeling that this one is going to be even better.

“The Glass Hotel” by Emily St. John Mandel

I really don’t know much going into this book and I don’t know if that is a good thing or a bad thing. I didn’t know much going into “Station Eleven” and I ended up loving it, even if was a few months of a real life pandemic that would change our lives in ways we never thought imaginable. I have heard mixed reviews about this one and I am curious if it’s because people had expectations.

“Everything is Illuminated” by Jonathan Safran Foer

I loved “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” and this one sounds just as good. I have a feeling I am going to be a mess after this one and it’s going to hit me in a way just like his other one did.

Book Club reads

“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith

This is one of the other leftovers from August. I just didn’t get around to reading it but I am excited to. I have heard nothing but good things.

Another leftover from August but this is one I am struggling with. Once I get done with “When We Were Yours” I really need to sit down and tackle this. I have to read over 200 pages for book club discussion next week. The only good thing is that we split this book up and the second half will be discussed in October. However, if I am not liking the first 200 pages, I will probably put it down.

What are you reading in September? Let’s discuss!

August 2022 reading wrap-up

Did we even have a summer? Maybe it’s because I barely made it to the beach this season or that we have comparably mild weather, except for one or two heat waves, but I feel like we didn’t really have a summer. Yet no matter how much I want to deny it, I can’t get away from the crowds going back to school shopping. I love the fall but I had such a fun month that I don’t want the summer to end just yet.

We had family come up, had a few really good days in Saratoga Springs either just hanging out in the downtown or going to the racetrack. We had a barbecue at my house for my husband’s job and even made to Moreau State Park for some relaxation. Overall, it was fun and relaxing.

My reading wasn’t too bad either. I continue to stay close to my Goodreads goal and maybe, just maybe, I will reach my goal this year. We have a few months left of the year so anything is possible but I am keeping optimistic. I kind of slacked off with my book club picks this month and read some books on my summer reading list instead.

This was a surprise for me. We had to read it for the Capital District Book Club and I didn’t anticipate being so engulfed by it. Atul Gawande doesn’t beat around the bush on getting to the point and manages to use anecdotes blended with data to get his point across. A review of the book based on our discussion in book club will be up tomorrow.

This book hit me in a way that I wasn’t expecting. I have been getting the itch to write again and this book brought up points that I completely related with. I am still trying to parse through my thoughts on this one but I should have a review up by the end of the week.

I was struggling to get through my book club read and decided I needed something fun. This was perfect. It has the right blend of adventure, magic and intrigue. It definitely has some major Aladdin vibes throughout and I was all for it. I am just bummed that I have to wait for the sequel. Hoping to have a review up soon.

Ahh Chuck Palanhniuk never disappoints with the satire. My introduction to Palahniuk was “Invisible Monsters” which was definitely weird but made some good points about society and vanity. He does the same in “Lullaby.” I am still trying to wrap my head around all of it and the point he was trying to make but I couldn’t put this down. I just wanted to know how it ended.

Both of these are book club reads that I have yet to finish so they will be transitioning to September. “Gravity’s Rainbow” is the one I am struggling with. I have only read 30 pages so far and I just don’t want to go further. I will probably try a little more but if I’m not feeling it, I will probably put it down.

“Before We Were Yours” on the other hand is an intriguing read. I only just started it but I am halfway through and expect to be done before the week is over. The fact that this is based on a true story has put a whole new perspective to this and giving all the feels, mainly anger at this point.

What have you read in August? Have you read any on this list? Let’s discuss!

August 2022 TBR

How are we halfway through summer already? I feel like it just started. And yet, we have a little less two months left. Back to school and Halloween supplies are already surfacing in the stores (really?!) and it makes me sad. I don’t want the summer to end, but I will just have to make it a point to enjoy what we have left all the more.

Usually at this time of the year, I have given up all attempts at trying to master my TBR list or trying to catch up. Usually I am so far behind in everything that I just throw my hands up in the air. Surprisingly, that is not the case this year. I am right on track to complete my Goodreads challenge, provided that nothing gets in my way in the four months we have left, and I am not too far behind in my other goals either. I may even master them yet. It makes me all the more motivated when I look at the month ahead.

Book Club picks

“Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters Most in the End” by Atul Gawande

I had no clue what this book was about when I started reading it this week in preparation for the Capital District Book Club this month and it’s a bit of an eye opener. Gawande provides an interesting perspective of how medicine and medical advances have skewed our view on what it means to live and die. I am not too far along and have a ways to go but so far I am very intrigued by the subject matter and have no doubts that this will be fruitful discussion among the group.

“Before We Were Yours” by Lisa Wingate

This is the September pick for the Metaphorically Speaking Book Club and I am looking forward to getting my hands on it. From what I know, it’s based on a true story about children who were kidnapped by an orphanage and then given to other families. While Wingate’s book is fiction, I have a feeling that it is going to feel more biographical than fiction.

“Gravity’s Rainbow” by Thomas Pynchon

The fact that the Modern Library Book Club has broken this book into a two-month read has me a little nervous. Not only because of it’s size (760 pages), but also because of the subject matter. I have heard that it can be a little dense and we all know what that has done in the past. Whether I actually get through this book has yet to be determined.

“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith

This has been a book that I have been wanting to read for a long time so I am kind of glad that it’s on the September list for the Capital District Book Club. It’s a bit thick so I figured I should get a head start on it, but I heard that it’s really good. It apparently is about an impoverished family living in Brooklyn New York during first two decades of the 20th century. I couldn’t find much else about it so I guess I will just have to read it and find out. This is also on my Classics Club list so there is that.

Personal picks

“Writers and Lovers” by Lily King

I recently saw this book featured on a booktubers video about the 20 books to read in your 20s. I have been meaning to read it for a while and I am going to bite the bullet and just do it. I loved King’s “Euphoria” and with another one of her works soon to hit the stores, I might as well get going on this one.

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

July 2022 reading wrap-up

I am truly enjoying the summer this year, more than I thought I would. We had some family visit, went on a few memorable outings, had a few barbecues and are just enjoying life. Work is a bit slow at this time of the year, so I have been taking advantage of the down time, reading during my hour lunch break, and what a difference. I am surprisingly on track with my Goodreads goal, when normally I am so far behind that I just get discouraged and go down the spiral. I managed to read everything on my reading list and then some.

I am officially a fan. After hearing so many good things about this book, I can officially say that those people were right. Was it the most mind blowing piece of work that I ever read? No, but it was a sweet story with a heartfelt message that definitely made me feel warm inside. This story is not necessarily about the plot, which is pretty predictable from the beginning. It’s about the characters, their development and the emotional attachments the reader can’t help developing for each and every one of them.

This book was a complete surprise for me. I kept putting it off because it was for my Modern Library Book Club and I seriously thought it was going to be boring and a slog to get through. The premise didn’t reveal much and the cover wasn’t very appealing. And yet, I enjoyed it. It wasn’t as funny as the summary made it out to be but there were a few parts that made me laugh aloud. It also gave you something to think about. I am still trying to gather my thoughts about it into coherent sentences and hopefully will have something to say when we discuss it in book club this week.

I have seen people either love this book or hate it. I officially am in the love category. There is so much to this book that is so relatable, especially when it comes to regret. I couldn’t help but compare Nora Seed to myself. Even though we definitely had a different life journey, what she goes through made me all the more appreciate the life I am currently living.

Another Bridgerton book is done. “When He Was Wicked” is all about Francesca and while it wasn’t my favorite of the Bridgerton clan, I enjoyed reading her story. I felt that Francesca was a little more traditional than that of her older sisters and I missed the sibling banter from the other books. However that won’t deter me from reading the rest of the series.

I am struggling to decide which book of Kline’s I like more. I loved “Orphan Train” when I read it a few years ago and didn’t think her other books were going to match up. However I was wrong. I couldn’t get enough of “The Exiles.” Kline manages to bring to the forefront a part of history that is not often talked about. It made me cry happy tears and sad tears. I loved it.

Since I enjoyed “The Exiles” so much, I figured I might as well read the other Kline book that was on my shelf. It didn’t disappoint and was a little different from her other two works. This time, Kline takes an artists’ work and writes a whole story around it. I wondered so much which parts were fiction and which were real, that I ended up doing my own research.

July 2022 TBR

Summer has only just begun and yet, if you go to the store, the abundance of school supplies that are out would make it feel much later. It feels like the stores get ready for the next season and/or holiday earlier and earlier. The plus side is that now is the time to get your summer stuff on sale. However, I don’t spend my days at the stores much in the summer. I would rather spend them outside on my deck with a refreshing beverage and engrossing book in my lap. And so I like to beef up my reading list during this time.

Book Club reads

The House on the Cerulean Sea” by TJ Klune

I have lost count of the times I have heard someone say they loved this book, whether in the bookish community on here or from people I know. I am so glad that we are reading this for July in the Capital District Book Club and even better, I get to moderate our discussion. If you have any questions you think that we should ask our group, feel free to leave them in the comments. I have only just started this book and I am loving it already.

Lucky Jim” by Kingsley Amis

I don’t know much about this other than that it is a satire of college life and postwar manners, as it is described. Members of the Modern Library Book Club recommended it and swear by it. I guess I will just have to see.

The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig

This is the August read for the Metaphorically Speaking Book Club and I am not sure what to make of it yet. The premise sounds interesting but I have seen enough mixed reviews about it that it seems to be a book that each individual has to read and make their own opinion.

Personal reads

When He Was Wicked” by Julia Quinn

The sixth book in the Bridgerton series is about Francesca. I feel like I am part of the Bridgerton family at this point and while some of the stories are better than others, I am too invested and need to know what happens to each of them.

I will probably also add a nonfiction to the pile but I am undecided on what I want to read. I am just going to have to read what I am in the mood for.

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