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!

Back to School Series: Books I remember reading in middle school

It has been 20 years since I graduated 8th grade and moved on to high school. Yet, I can still remember some of the books that I read in middle school like it was yesterday. I still remember watching some of the movies that went along with the books, some of which made me cry my eyes out in front of my peers. I remember some of the discussions that we had and my personal feeling with them. As we are now in the part of summer when most families are getting ready to go back to school and as part of this week’s Top 10 Tuesday’s school freebie, I thought I would kick off a series about the books I read during my school years. Today’s post are all the books that I remember reading in middle school.

Where the Red Fern Grows
by Wilson Rawls

This book was a sixth grade read and one that I have never read again since. Why? Because it involves dogs and we all know what happens to dogs in books. And it wasn’t enough that the teacher made us read the book, but she also played the movie in class. Yep, yours truly was a sobbing mess by the end. For this reason I will never forget this book as long as I live.

Old Yeller

The same teacher in the same sixth-grade English class had us also read and watch Old Yeller. I think she had a thing about books with dogs. Like seriously? Don’t get me wrong, the story was good but I think she just wanted to make me cry at this point. I don’t remember any other books that we read in that class because of this.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

This was a summer reading option for us. I remember being hesitant about this book but it intrigued me. I still remember this book totally not being what I thought it was going to be about. I actually did enjoy it and was glad that I read it. Funnily enough, this book continues to be on the summer reading list for the school district I went to.

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

This was another summer reading book in middle school for us and another book I thoroughly enjoyed. I would never have read it had it not been for school. The district now has “Brian’s Winter” on the reading list which is the third book in the Hatchet series.

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

If there is one thing I remember from seventh grade, it is that we did a whole Holocaust unit. During that period we read “The Diary of Anne Frank” and subsequently watched the movie. The Holocaust was always interesting to me and I tried to learn everything I could about it. I think I even ended up taking out Maus I during this time. I really don’t understand why parents are against it, I really don’t.

Night by Elie Wiesel

We read this book either in the same unit in seventh grade. Parts of this book will forever stay with me. As an adult, I have not only bought this book for my personal shelves but his other books as well.

And Then There Were None
by Agatha Christie

The district is now reading Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” for summer reading going into eighth grade, but in my time, we had to read “And There Were None.” It was this book that made me fall in love with Agatha Christie and while I have a lot of her books yet to read, I thoroughly enjoyed the ones I did read. I still remember getting to the last part of the book and being shocked by the way it ends.

That Was Then This Is Now/
The Outsiders by S.E Hinton

Eighth grade was a year of great books starting with these two. I can’t talk about one without the other because we were taught them right after each other. I can vaguely remember That Was Then This is Now being about violence but The Outsiders will always be a favorite. Who can ever forget Pony boy and the gang? Oh god and the movie with Patrick Swayze. C’mon! These are definitely classics.

The Red Badge of Courage
by Stephen Crane

Crane is known for his use of imagery in this book about the Civil War and it is probably for this reason that I can still bring up images from this book.

What books do you remember reading in school? Stay tuned for when I delve into the books that were required reading in high school.

Review: ‘The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row’ by Anthony Ray Hinton

How would you feel if you were sentenced to death row for a crime that you know you didn’t commit? No matter how many times you try to explain, to the cops, to your attorney or to anyone that would listen, they just don’t believe you. Take all that emotion and frustration and you probably have what Anthony Ray Hinton felt for 30 years as he sat on death row fighting in the courts to prove his innocence, hoping that he could fight long enough before he was given his death date.

In his book, “The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row,” Hinton details what happened when he was convicted of two murders, which occurred while he was working at a job that he clocked in for with a guard. So how the hell was he convicted? Simple, he was black. As one police officer put it:

“You know, I don’t care whether you did or didn’t do it. In fact, I believe you didn’t do it. But it doesn’t matter. If you didn’t do, one of your brothers did. And you’re going to take the rap. You know why? … Number one, you’re black. Number two, a white man gonna say you shot him. Number three, you’re gonna have a white district attorney. Number four, you’re gonna have a white judge. And number five, you’re gonna have an all-white jury.”

I was fuming when I read this especially since there is nothing you can do about it. And then, as if you aren’t angry enough, Hinton describes the court process, his public defender’s lack of effort, his sentencing and the many, many years of waiting for a court to hear him long enough to prove his innocence. Hinton is angry which is completely understandable but what I don’t understand is how he is able to rise above it. I am not sure, if I was him, I could have. After some time, he manages to put aside his anger and begin helping his fellow inmates.

“I was born with the same gift from God we are all born with – the impulse to reach out and lessen the suffering of another human being. It was a gift, and we each had a choice whether to use this gift or not.”

It’s not until Hinton gets an attorney that is willing to listen and is willing to fight, no matter how long it takes, no matter how blatant the racism is by the courts, does Hinton stand a chance. But what is sad is how much of this happens today.

As I was reading this, I couldn’t help but wonder, is the prison system the modern day version of slavery? It’s well known that people of color make up the demographic of the prison system. And the way that the system is set against them, you can’t help but wonder.

“The good old boys traded in their white robes for black robes, but it was still a lynching.”

And even though we know that Anthony Ray Hinton finally gets his freedom, you have to wonder at what cost. Hinton describes the emotional and psychological trauma of being released. The world as he knew it had completely changed and he had to relearn everything. And it makes you wonder, how many have stories similar to his.

This is a book that everyone should read and I do mean everyone. Especially government officials who have the power to actually do something in terms of reforming laws or ensuring that this stuff doesn’t happen. This is a book that is going to stay with me for a long time.

Monday reading check-in (1/24/2022)

We are finally approaching the end of the month. Is it me or did January take forever? The stack of books I have read this month continues to grow and I am astonished. I can’t remember the last time I read this much. I only got to two books over the past week, simply because “My Paper Chase” was a nonfiction read of over 500 pages. But given that I am 6 books ahead in my Goodreads challenge, I am fine with some books taking me longer. However, with my work schedule picking back up and meetings scheduled for the next week, I know I won’t get as much reading done. So let’s get to what I am planning for this week.

Books I recently finished

I really enjoyed this book. I had seen some mixed reviews on Goodreads, with the main criticism being that if you don’t know the newspaper industry, you won’t know what he is talking about, which I can understand. However, for me, a former reporter, I loved going back to hear about newspapers in days long gone and it made me nostalgic for the hustle and bustle of a reporter’s life. With decades of experience in the industry, Harold Evans also takes the reader on a ride through history. I hope to have a review of this book up this week.

I was worried that because this book was going in reverse that it would be a slow read. I was wrong. This book is like a tape that is being rewound. It moves quickly and the pace is quick. I read this in one sitting. Basically we go through the life of Todd Friendly which is being narrated by his doppelganger. However, the doppelganger doesn’t know that it’s his life in reverse and thinks that this the norm, people walk backwards, talk weird, and slobber into their cups. It becomes unsettling when we get to certain points in the book, when reach things we know to be bad but narrator thinks they are good because they are going backward. It’s a really interesting concept for a book plot and I think Amsley does it really well.

Currently reading

This is the last book on my monthly TBR. It’s technically a reread for me but I haven’t read it since my first time so it’s like reading it for the first time all over again. I had given it five stars at the time and so far it looks like the rating will remain the same. Although it’s over 500 pages, it’s a quick read.

Reading next

Since we still have about a week until February and I will have finished my TBR, I figured I might as well slip this one in. I have had this on my shelf along with Zusak’s “Bridge of Clay,” neither of which I have read. Since this is the smaller of the two I decided to go with this one. It sounds really interesting, especially since it starts with the characters in the midst of a bank robbery.

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

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 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)

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!