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.

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!

May 2021 reading wrap-up

It’s been a crazy two months and in some ways I am sad to see May wrap up. My husband and I finally had the wedding we have been waiting three years to have.

It’s why I disappeared for the last month and a half. I thought that I had most of the wedding planning done but what I didn’t anticipate was all the drama that comes just weeks before the wedding. And not all the drama was good. At one point I was so depressed I couldn’t even read, let alone write about what I had read. However I am happy to say that despite all this, things worked out for the better and my husband and I had the wedding we had dreamed about and with the people we cared about celebrating with us. Then it was off for a mini honeymoon to the Poconos.

It was during that trip to the Poconos that I finally began to relax, my mind cleared and I began reading again. Voraciously I might add and it hasn’t stopped since I got back. I read nearly as many books in the past two weeks as I do in a month. And as you probably noticed, I began writing on the blog again. So you can say I am officially back.

So here are the books that I have been devouring this month.

So I did get sucked into the Bridgerton series and watched the first season of the Netflix show in a weekend. Then I found out it was a book series and I HAD to read it. I started the Duke and I back in March but due to the drama that unfolded, I never got around to finishing it. I figured it was the perfect book to bring on a honeymoon and I was right. I took advantage of the balcony we had overlooking a pond during a quiet morning and read most of the book in a sitting. And then it just spiraled.

“The Duke and I”, aka Daphne’s story, was in words what Netflix had created visually. I was happy about this. Of course there were some differences as the show does pull in tidbits from the other books to provide some context to the other characters, but overall the book and the show are pretty similar as I explain in my review. I rather enjoyed Daphne and Simon’s story and I was glad that I started the series.

In fact, the following two stories, “The Viscount Who Loved Me” and “An Offer From a Gentleman” are just as enjoyable as we read about Anthony Bridgerton and Benedict Bridgerton and their romances, which I am happy to say are all different. Anthony’s plan is to marry without love just to fullfill his duty as the heir of the Bridgerton property and Benedict ends up meeting a mysterious women at a masquerade that ends up haunting his dreams. Each of these stories I loved differently. As I explain in my review of The Viscount, I loved the love-hate relationship between Anthony and Kate which leads to some comical situations that had me laughing aloud. The opposite was true of An Offer. I didn’t think I was going to even like the story and ended up loving it. It was one of the more emotional of the three and actually brought me to tears, which I explain more here.

I honestly didn’t think I was going to like “The Diviners” by Libba Bray because I am not a huge fantasy reader. This was a book I received through a care package during COVID last year from my book club and was not even on my radar. But then last week, something made me pick it up and I absolutely couldn’t stop reading it. In fact, it is one of the creepiest books I have read in some time. This is also a series and since the book left some things unresolved, I now have to read the others. I am hoping to have a review on this soon because honestly it was that good.

“The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett was the only book club read I managed this month though I was unable to attend the discussion due to the wedding. However my maid of honor is also in the book club and we began to discuss it and all the themes that this book uncovers. And oh how there are so many. I wish that I wrote down all of my feelings after I finished this book so that I could provide a review. This book definitely plays on your emotions. I was sad, angry and happy for all the characters at different points in this book. They definitely felt very real to me and many of the discussions that were occurring I could see happening in real life. There is a reason why this book gets some nods. If you haven’t done so, read it.

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

February reading wrap-up

Seriously, how has it been two weeks since I last written anything? And now it’s the end of the month. I can’t believe that spring is right around the corner, though I couldn’t be happier. While I didn’t have to deal with the winter as much as I normally would if I had been commuting regularly to work, I am not sorry to see it go. I welcome the warm weather and can’t wait until I can open my windows to let the fresh air in.

Though I have been MIA in the last two weeks – thanks to work – I have still been getting some reading done. And I have read some really good books.

So I finally got around to reading this book and I must say that it was better than I expected. Micaiah Johnson brings an interesting concept about multi-verse travel. In this particular story there are multiple earths and you as an individual have a doppelganger on each. You can only travel to that earth if your doppelganger is dead. Many of Cara’s doppelgangers are dead which makes her an asset as a traveler to find out what is going on in these parallel worlds. Johnson does a good job of mixing mystery and intrigue into the story. You get backstory by bits and piece and mixed with the presents occurrences, it makes for a quick read. I enjoyed reading this book.

I knew that when I first saw this book, I was going to fall in love with it. And I wasn’t disappointed. I loved reading Adunni’s story and seeing her persevere against all odds – even as she is sold into marriage and then sold into slavery, as she is beaten for nonsensical things and starves because of neglect. While she does get depressed at time (who wouldn’t?!) I felt like Adunni’s fighting spirit always broke through to help her survive. I loved reading her journey to find her louding voice and when she finally finds it. This book made me happy and it broke my heart, made me hope and made me angry. It’s definitely a must read.

So you probably have heard me rave about this book. I read it a few years ago after randomly finding it at the library and absolutely loved it. Basically, instead of a prison system, criminals are chromed based on their crime. Hannah is a red for murder. After being released from prison, Hannah attempts to navigate her new life, being an outsider – her family has all but disowned her, the man who she loved has moved on and she has nowhere to go. As she deals with the harsh reality that the color of her skin has exposed her to, Hannah questions her faith and the life that she once lived. I was scared that when I reread this book I wouldn’t enjoy it as much but if anything it made me love it all the more. There were things that I didn’t notice before and the multiple issues that Jordan raises – separation of church and state, women’s rights, the justice system, faith – seemed to be more poignant this time around than they were upon my first read. I would still recommend this book and I can’t wait to discuss it in book club.

Unfortunately, there were a few books I didn’t get to …

I was really looking forward to reading these but I just didn’t have time. However, I am going to keep them on my list going into the new month. Nightwoods is a book club read so I plan to read that in the next few days.

Books I didn’t finish….

So I got this book from the library but it was only a 14-day loan. Unfortunately I had to return it before I could finish it. From what I did read, Kendall highlights some interesting points about the feminist movement. Particularly about how there are issues beyond equal pay and equal rights. Issues such as gun violence, hunger, poverty and housing are issues that affect everyone but particularly women. She provides data and information about how women are probably more affected by these issues than others, and minority women even more so. And she argues that these are issues that the feminist movement should not ignore.

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

October reading wrap-up

So when I was doing my reading list for this month, I failed to remember how busy October gets at my job, what with the release of the County budget.

This year, it was even more so since we front loaded all the budget review meetings into a week. So for the last two weeks of October I have been working 12-hour shifts pretty much every night during the week, leaving my weekends to sleep and get caught up on news of the Presidential election.

Suffice it to say, I didn’t get much reading done this month except for three books. Others I have started but haven’t managed to finish yet and then there are those I just didn’t get to.

You all know by now that whenever Nicholas Sparks releases a new book, I jump on that right away and this was no exception. “The Return” was a quick read, as Sparks books usually are. However, it wasn’t my favorite of his books. I felt the book was a little predictable and lacked the usual surprising twist that is a trademark of his.

While I wanted to read this book, I was little hesitant about doing so, especially when I heard it was nonfiction. I have had it on my bookshelf for a few months before the Capital District Book Club selected it for October. I thought it was going to be a boring book about a library fire. However, this book was far from boring. It was intriguing. Not only does Orlean go into the LA fire of 1986 but she uses that to get into what makes libraries so great and even weaves in her own personal experiences with libraries. I gobbled up this book in a few days. I was just bummed I couldn’t participate in the book club discussion due to budget meetings.

“The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson was the perfect book for October so I am glad that the Modern Library Book Club selected it for this month. I have seen the movie “The Haunting” starring Liam Neesen so I knew some of the story, or at least I thought I did. Basically a doctor decides to do a study on fear and the psychological effects of the supernatural so he enlists two females for the study who have had weird things happen to them. Also there is the heir to the house, a young man who is just there to keep an eye on things. While I enjoyed the book, I feel the movie ruined it for me to some degree. The movie added a few plot points that weren’t in the book, so when I finished the book, I felt like it was cut short. I plan to watch the Netflix show to see how it compares.

So guys, what I did do this month was join another book club. Wait, before you start screaming that I am in four already, I swapped out the Barnes and Noble Book Club, since I wasn’t really feeling the books they were selecting. Instead I joined a small book club, the type of book club where a bunch of girls drink wine gathered in someone’s living room. Anyway “Hidden Figures” is the book they will be discussing the first week of November. I haven’t finished it yet, but it should be done by the time we talk.

“Transcendent Kingdom” is another book I have started but have yet to finish. It’s starting a little slow for me but I have a feeling that the ending is going to deliver a sucker punch. At least I am hoping anyway.

I was actually looking forward to reading this book, but alas I ordered it from the bookstore and to this day, I have yet to receive it. So I couldn’t go to the SARAH Book Club this month. I guess I will get it when I get it.

The other book I didn’t get to was:

I guess I will get to it when I get to it. Though it is still high on my to read list.

So when I am not reading books, I am usually watching movies or shows. My husband and I watched the “Comey Rule”, which with the ever present election looming over us, it is a good reminder of what happened back in 2016. Then we got into “The Boys” the anti-hero show about a group trying to take down a hero organization based on lies and falsehoods. It was bingeworthy good, and my husband and I finished both seasons in a few weekends.

As for Halloween, well, we didn’t really get any trick or treaters and now my husband and I are eating all the candy.

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

September Reading Wrap-up

Here were are again. I kind of feel like we were just here not too long ago but a month has seriously gone by.

With the United States in the midst of the 10-year Census and a Presidential Election quickly approaching, my job has gotten busier than ever. While we are county government, it is just as important for people to understand how the Census and voting are going to affect them on the local level. I swear I start my day at 8:30 every morning and then I blink, it is over. There are some days I forget to eat lunch until my stomach loudly protests. Between organizing events and going to meetings, plus all the other stuff that crops up in between, I am going non-stop. I love my job but sometimes it leaves me no room to do anything else.

So even though I love to read, I frankly didn’t get to half of the books on my reading list this month. I just didn’t have the brain power by the time I got home. I was only able to get through three books.

“Where the Crawdads Sing” was the September pick for the Capital District Book Club. It was always a book I wanted to read but it wasn’t at the top of the list. If I got to it, then fine. I am so glad that I finally read it because I loved it. Owens writing is beautiful. You can tell that she is a wildlife scientist that has spent years out in nature. Her descriptions are so vivid and made an enjoyable read.

“East of the Mountains” is this month’s read for the Modern Library Book Club and I can’t wait to discuss it. It’s a bit different than Guterson’s “Snow Falling on Cedars” but it was great in it’s own way. It highlighted the internal struggle between the will to live and the courage to die. I bet group will have a lot to say about this one.

For some reason “Anxious People” took me a long time to read, but I think it’s one of those books where you have to absorb it slowly. I ended up loving it. This book throws a bunch of characters together in a hostage situation and little by little we unearth each character’s story. It is amazing to me how despite what people want to show you, what they are actually going through it completely different. It’s kind of humbling. Everyone should read this book.

What have you read this month? Have you read any on this list? What did you think?

August reading wrap-up

So I am still confused how we flew threw August so fast. It feels like yesterday that I was writing my August TBR list and now I am wrapping things up. Of course this post is late because it wasn’t until Labor Day that I realized we reached September. Don’t mind me, I must have been lost somewhere.

Given that the month flew by so fast you can imagine I didn’t get everything done I wanted to but surprisingly I accomplished a few things. I managed to take my staycation, which was absolutely glorious. I didn’t realize how much I needed vacation until the night I left work and had an anxiety attack just thinking about everything I would miss. I got over that real quick when Monday rolled around I didn’t have to go to work. Before work, every little would bother me. Now? Well it’s all cumbaya. I just shrug my shoulders, sigh and move on.

I was able to finish all the books that were on my TBR. I was nervous because I didn’t think I was going to do it.

This was an interesting read though I didn’t necessarily agree with all of it. Like Oluo says in the beginning, the book will probably make you uncomfortable and it certainly did. In fact, it was a difficult book to discuss even in book club. We all managed to provide our opinions about it but we avoided getting down into the nitty gritty of it. Even the minority in the group was uncomfortable about getting into it. It just shows how difficult this topic is.

This was a fun read and it was better than I expected. I was surprised by how much I got out of it as it highlighted a lot about family, understanding what we do and the extent we will go for forgiveness. While I enjoyed it, I don’t think I will be rereading it any time soon.

I haven’t read Edith Wharton since we were assigned “The Age of Innocence” in college so I was glad that this popped up for the August read in the Modern Library Book Club. I thoroughly enjoyed this book though it was definitely a sad story to read. Poor Ethan Frome. This man seriously can’t catch a break, from losing family, having an ailing wife and then failing to capture love when it was right in front of him. For such a short story Wharton definitely packaged a whole lot. There was definitely much to talk about.

I want to thank whoever it was that decided to add this book to the care package I received a few months ago from book club. If you hadn’t I probably wouldn’t have read this book and it would have been a damn shame. I absolutely loved this book and though it’s fiction, it is definitely a great book that reflects what is going on in the US about how minorities are targeted by police. However, Tayari Jones goes a step beyond that to highlight what happens to a marriage as a result. I haven’t stopped thinking about this book since I read it. Some more of my thoughts can be found in the review.

Ok so I am a little late but I have finally read “Caraval”. This was another book that I wasn’t planning to read until I received it in the care package. However, unlike “American Marriage”, I wasn’t exactly wowed by this one. I am actually a little disappointed after all the hype but maybe it’s just me. lt was enjoyable and held my attention long enough to keep the pages turning. However I don’t think I will be rushing out to go buy the second book.

I absolutely loved this book but not everyone in book club felt the same. It is a story about survival – in the wilderness and in an abusive relationship. I will say that the book could have ended a little sooner, which some people complained about, but it didn’t matter to me. Hannah created a world that was so vivid that I could see Alaska as if it was just outside my window, and was great in setting up the plot.

July reading wrap-up

I feel like summer just started and somehow it’s already nearing its end. This whole COVID-19 situation has put a damper on everything. My summers usually involve Fridays at the pool or at least one weekend at the Jersey Shore with my mom and me at the beach. Not this year. Though I did make it to the lake last week, it just highlighted all the more how this summer is different from all the rest.

The good thing about this month is that we finally have some new employees at work and so my work load is beginning to level out. I feel like I can breathe again and maybe, just maybe, I can have a much better work/life balance.

Speaking of, now that I have some more time to myself, I did manage to get through all but one of the books I had put on my TBR.

This was a book club read for the Modern Library Book Club, and we will be discussing it in a few days. It’s a hard book to get through as it deals with some depressing topics. I am still trying to put my thoughts together on this one, so it will be interesting to hear what others have to say.

The second of the Stephanie Plum series wasn’t my absolute favorite but it was still enjoyable over all. These books light, fun reads with quite the cast of characters. Grandma Mazur continues to be my favorite character by far. Her antics are downright hysterical. You can read my review for more about this book.

Margaret Atwood has definitely moved up to one of my top 5 favorite authors. None of her work is ever the same and she definitely delivers in “Oryx and Crake”. This dystopian book is about a viral plague that takes out mankind and the reasons why. As I said in my review, Atwood seems to have taken what was going on in the scientific community at the time and thought of the worst case scenario to come up with this tale. The scary thing is that the book was written in the early 2000s but it seems like we are living it now.

Not going to lie, I was afraid to read this book. I absolutely loved “Everything I Never Told You” and I didn’t want to read a book that might not be as good. I am so glad that I finally took the plunge. I absolutely loved this book. Celeste Ng has a way of creating characters that you can’t help but have feelings for. I seriously felt something for everyone in this book. I can’t stop thinking about it.

Kate Morton is another one that knows how to weave a story and create a cast of characters that you can’t forget. I was first introduced to her a few years ago when I read “The Forgotten Garden” and I am not sure why it has taken me this long to read more of her. This book seriously kept you guessing. Morton threw so many possibilities into this tale that each new idea seemed just a plausible as the next and yet it’s not until the end that the truth is revealed. I really have to read her other works.

The book I still haven’t finished….

I just don’t have any motivation right now to finish this book. It will remain on my night stand until I do but for now I am taking a break.

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