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.

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!

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

Review: ‘Madame Bovary’ by Gustave Flaubert

It’s not surprising that “Madame Bovary” caused an outrage when it first came out. Nor is it shocking that this book made the rounds and became a classic. Not only was it relevant then, but it remains relevant now.

If you are looking for a happy ending, this is not the book for you. Slowly, we watch Madame Bovary, a young Catholic girl who was raised in a convent, get married to the first man who ever pays her any attention. Call it naivete, youth, whatever, she quickly realizes that she has made a mistake. But being a good Christian wife, she attempts to live with that mistake by being the ultimate good housewife and do her “duty”. However, she becomes bored with her situation, and seeks to fulfill her more romanticized yearnings. She turns to adultery.

You would think that is where her debauchery ends, but no. Her character further declines from lying and deceitful to greedy and vain. She longs for the finer things in life and goes so far as to steal from her husband to get it, making flamboyant purchases, racking up IOUs and paying for her adulterous escapades. Or as we like to say in modern times, keeping up with the Joneses.

It is inevitable that this will all culminate to her ruin. How can it not?

Readers of the 1800s must have been shocked, damn near outraged, that Gustave Flaubert had the audacity to write about the insights of women. How dare he write about a woman who doesn’t love her husband. How dare he assume that bored housewives will inevitably cheat on their husbands. The outrage! The fact that the French government unsuccessfully tried Flaubert for obscenity is quite laughable.

Methinks thou dost protest too much.

Aren’t all stories somewhat based on truth? They were probably mad that someone actually had the chops to actually publicize what everyone already knew. They can no longer put on airs. Flaubert alludes to this as some of the villagers end up blackmailing Bovary to keep her secret. At least Flaubert wrote a fictional story about it, but it must struck a little too close to home for some.

I am pretty sure that this book made the rounds among the populace very quickly and for good reason. Moving away from the plot, Flaubert is known for his writing style, one that he perfected over a grueling number of years and pushed him to be known for ushering in the age of realism in literature.

Although this book was written in 1856, it is notably different from works of the same era. For one thing it was very easy to read as it lacked the dense language that often bog down similar books of the time. Flaubert focuses on telling the story in the most simplest of terms and in a way that everyone can understand. He doesn’t hold punches. And while he has the decorum not to go into intimate detail about Madame’s affairs, he doesn’t allow the reader to interpret it any other way. His descriptive writing doesn’t leave anything to the imagination and you can follow Bovary as if you were her accomplice.

If you didn’t know when this book was written, you would have thought it was written today. Which is why this book stands the test of time. Unfit marriages continue to happen today, and more often than not, the couple realizes they made a mistake and go on their separate ways. Unfortunately some of them don’t end before someone does something hurtful to the other. It is just sad that Bovary’s ending was a bit more tragic.

Book Club list (Part 2)

It’s part two of the book club list mini series where I share the titles that each of my book clubs will be reading for the year. Yesterday, I shared the list from the Modern Library Book Club where we mostly read modern classics. Today, we are going to the Capital District Book Club, which selects its books through a democratic process. We gather suggestions loosely based on each month’s theme, alternating between fiction and nonfiction, and then vote on the top three suggestions. We are only about five months out so I only have the selections up until May. Let’s get to it.

January –
by Yaa Gyasi

(Fiction/Historical Fiction)

February –
Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party” by Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin Jr.

(Nonfiction/Black History)

March –
The Pull of the Stars” by Emma Donoghue

(Fiction/Women Authors)

April –
Braiding Sweetgrass
by Robin Wall Kimmerer


May –
How Beautiful We Were
by Imbolo Mbue

(Fiction/Stories from Around the World)

We haven’t selected the rest of the year yet but the themes are as follows:

  • June – Memoir Biography (NF)
  • July – Beach Reads (F)
  • August – Science/Heath (NF)
  • September – Classics before 1960 (F)
  • October – Current Affairs (NF)
  • November – Anything goes (F)
  • December – No book (Meet and Greet)

2022 Book Club TBR list (Part 1)

With the new year upon us, my book clubs are putting together their lists of the books we are going to read for the year. If you don’t know this already, I am part of four book clubs. Two of them have completed their lists while another is halfway through and the fourth… well they go month-to-month so we never really know too far in advance what we are going to read. With so many books already on the TBR, I thought I would share what each book club is reading for 2022 in a multi-post series.

I am starting with the Modern Library Book Club, aka my classics book club, which I now run after the original organizers left. Originally this book club formed to read all the books on the Modern Library’s Top 100 Novels list, but after completing the list, we are now reading books that members thought should have made the list. So far all of the books we have read have been amazing. And the list for 2022 has some really good ones, including some favorites. But enough of my gabbing. Here are the 12 books we are reading in order, starting with January (Titles linked to Goodreads).

January –
To Kill A Mockingbird
by Harper Lee

February –
Time’s Arrow
by Martin Amis

March –
Their Eyes Were Watching God
by Zora Neal Hurston

April –
A Long Long Way
by Sebastian Barry

May –
Death in Venice
by Thomas Mann

June –
Kate Vaiden
by Reynolds Price

July –
The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway

August –
Lucky Jim
by Kingsley Amis

September/October – “Gravity’s Rainbow
by Thomas Pynchon

November –
The Talented Mr. Ripley” by Patricia Highsmith

December –
by Charles Portis