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!

Monday reading check-in (10/24/22)

Sorry for the disappearing act for the last few weeks but things have been really hectic at work. We are in budget season so there are a lot of meetings, which means long work days. It doesn’t leave much room for anything else. Then last week I was sick with a really bad cold or touch of the flu. I am almost 100%, except for a lingering cough that is just annoying at this point.

I have been reading while I can and have enjoyed some really good books of late. Here are the latest:

Recently finished

Currently reading

Reading next

What are you reading this week?

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!

Monday reading check-in (10/3/22)

Happy Monday, book admirers!

It’s probably that time to remember to take a moment, breathe, clear your mind for a second and go on about your day. At least that is what I try to tell myself as my days are getting busier by the moment. Sometimes it feels that I don’t have a moment for myself and I am learning to take time out of my busy schedule to just breathe. I deserve it. It’s why I have been trying to actually take a lunch break and read, if just to help me reset. Easier said than done, but I still lug around a book with me, if only for the gentle reminder. I wasn’t so successful last week but yet managed to read more than one book.

Recently finished

Currently reading

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What are you reading this week?

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?

Monday reading check-in (9/19/22)

Happy Monday, book admirers!

This week starts the fall season and I am excited to decorate for the season. The weather is already getting cooler in upstate New York and according to the foliage tracker, the leaves are starting to turn. Tis the season. And with that means, transitioning into seasonal reading. I will have my fall TBR out later this week. But until the official start of the season, I am trying to get the last of my summer reads in.

Recently finished

Currently reading

Reading next

What are you reading this week?

Back to School Series: Books that were required reading in high school

In part 2 of my back to school series, I am focusing on the books I had to read in high school. Since I read so many books in high school, especially my senior year, I decided to split this post up. The books in this list are from grades 9 to 11.

“To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee

This was a must read for all incoming freshmen and I was the only one to read it. As a result, the teacher gave me extra credit if I wrote up an essay on it. I got a 100. Not a surprise since I absolutely loved this book and was trying to get all my classmates to read it. Yes, I was a book pusher even then. If you have been following me for awhile now, you know that I have read this book multiple times in recent years, most recently earlier this year for the Modern Library Book Club

“Romeo and Juliet”
by William Shakespeare

I was so happy when we were finally introduced to Shakespeare and of course it had to be Romeo and Juliet. I was kind of nervous when we started this because I thought it was going to be difficult. Having older siblings who had read Shakespeare in previous years, I had tried reading it too, but didn’t understand a word of it. I guess I was not old enough to understand it because by high school, I totally got it.

“Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck

We had also read this in middle school but our teacher had us reading it again in high school. “Of Mice and Men” was my introduction to John Steinbeck. This is always a hard one to read given what happens between Lenny and George. I have been meaning to read more of Steinbeck but never seem to get around to it.

Julius Caesar” by William Shakespeare

This is the only book I remember reading in sophomore year. Maybe because I hated it, lol. It was just so boring and I had no interest. I still remember the teacher, my first male English teacher, standing in front of the room discussing this book and reading aloud parts of it. I also think this was the year I realized that I belonged in honors English because all the books we read during this year were ones I had read already for enjoyment.

The Crucible” by Arthur Miller

My introduction to honors English started with the Crucible and I absolutely loved it. How can you forget John Proctor and the love affair with Abigail Williams. How she is accused of being a witch because of her adultery. I also liked the movie with Wynona Rider and Daniel Day Lewis that we watched along with it.

The Scarlet Letter”
by Nathaniel Hawthorne

The other book we read during this time was The Scarlet Letter, another great classic. At the time I couldn’t decide which book I liked more, but over the years, The Scarlett Letter has definitely come out on top.

The Great Gatsby”
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

I definitely was not a fan of this book back in high school, mainly because I didn’t enjoy learning about the twenties. I should probably give it another try now that I am older.

The Catcher in the Rye
by J.D. Salinger

Another book I didn’t enjoy. I had read this book previously and didn’t like it so I thought that upon reading it for school, I would get more out of it. Nope. I am tempted to read it now that I am an adult but at the same time, wasn’t twice enough?

Passage to India” by E.M. Forster

In my senior year, my AP history teacher assigned us to read a book about colonialization. He recommended this one to me after I asked for a suggestion. I absolutely loved it and ended up getting an A on the paper. This book is a fixture on my shelves and one that I have read at least once since.

What books did you read in high school? Let’s discuss!