Tag Archives: Book Reviews

March Books

So, the last two months, I’ve been reading 4 to 5 books a month on average, but this month, I barely read 3 books, and two of those books I started at the end of February.

I think that’s indicative of how much has changed in just four(ish) weeks. As I was trying to figure out why my reading amount had gone down, I realized some of the differences this social distancing due to COVID-19 has brought to my life.

  1. Because my son no longer has outside activities, I no longer have that time to read, or really doing anything like write my blog, clean my house, plan meals, work out, etc. So, I have to pick and choose what I want to do during his nap times, or my early morning time or right before bed time.
  2. All of the “free” time I just mentioned is subject to change. Sometimes my son sleeps longer, sometimes he doesn’t. So, I make a list as quickly as I can and chip away at it throughout the week. Reading tends to be pushed to the bottom of the list or left off completely.
  3. And finally, the reason reading is such a low priority is that I simply don’t have the mental energy for it right now. There are bursts of time that I will read a lot, but the bursts are getting farther apart. It requires turning off the anxiety and the to-do lists that are constantly running in my head lately. Fiction seems to be a better fit for me at this time. Nonfiction can’t seem to keep my brain from wandering to a to-do list.

Now, overall, I’m doing okay, and I did manage to enjoy three books this month. Here they are:

All Systems Red by Martha Wells – This was the Life’s Library book club pick. I don’t usually read science fiction, especially set in space or dealing with half-human robots. The first half of the book (which was only 8 chapters) was a bit slow as it tried to build the world, history, and politics. But the second half of the book was amazing and well worth trudging through the first half. It follows a SecUnit who is assigned as security for a research team on an unknown planet. Several unexplained glitches happen and the team starts to realize that there may be someone or something trying to sabotage their mission. It was really good. I will definitely lend it to some of my science fiction friends who may not have read it yet.

The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson – Excellent ending to this murder mystery trilogy. There were so many reveals, even at the beginning of the book. And so many plot twists. I got so invested with these characters that I was even mad at Stevie at one point because I just wanted to shake her for some of the assumptions and decisions based on those assumptions that she was making. Which, to me, indicates a good book. Highly recommend this trilogy.

Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi – So, this is the second book in her series based on African mythology. As always, I don’t want to give any spoilers, but this book definitely gave me that typical second movie in a trilogy feel. It had a lot of war, a lot of politics, and a lot of information about the world. And it ended on an excellent cliffhanger. I did struggle in this book as well with a desire to throttle characters who made prideful decisions that could have avoided certain outcomes. Of course, pride does that, but it was done so well in this book. Looking forward to the next one!

I learned a lot about myself through my reading experience this month, or lack thereof. I think I will be focusing this next month on more of my preferred genre, since we are living in strange times. Thankfully, I have a few on my shelf I haven’t read yet. Here’s hoping to a better reading life in my new rhythm in April!

Have you noticed a change to your reading life in this social distancing world? What books have you read lately? Do you have a preferred genre?

February Books

My February TBR

So this was the stack of books I set out to read in the month of February. I actually read more than just these books, and I didn’t completely finish the stack. However, I knew I would be reading at least a few of these into March. Here’s how the reading month went.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler.  This was a Life’s Library book club pick, and I knew nothing about it going into it.  I had never read anything by this author before, but I knew that she was very respected and lots of people enjoyed her writing.  I liked this book, but it gave me nightmares.  It’s a dystopian novel set in 2024 (the book was written in 1993).  It felt like our society would only have to take a couple of steps in the wrong direction to end up on the pages of this book.  It’s a heavy book, full of violence, sexual assault, promiscuity, and language.  But it will stretch you in much needed ways.

Followers by Megan Angelo.  I think I found out about this book either by Instagram or my local library’s website.  I believe this is a debut novel.  It is also a kind of dystopian future, but I didn’t feel as deep into this story as I did with the Parable of the Sower.  It follows two characters, Orla and Floss, in present day who are roommates chasing after fame and all the promises of being famous and then jumps every other chapter about forty years into the future after a big event called The Spill suddenly made people distrust the government and putting any of their information online (this reveal didn’t feel realistic, which it doesn’t have to, but it took me out of the story a bit).  In the future, we follow Marlow who lives in a town that is watched by millions of people (like a Truman Show type of town) and she begins to question the life that has been written for her by the powers that be.  All of the book centers around this idea of fame and the cost it takes to get it.

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily and Amelia Nagoski.  I loved this book.  I heard about it on a podcast, and I’m so glad I picked it up.  It addresses stress, the science behind it, and how we can survive it.  It is directed to women and the stressors that most women face (including the patriarchy and the bikini industrial complex).  Everything was fascinating and challenging, and I felt like the authors really tried to take on this subject as clearly and with as much data as they could.  It’s definitely one that I will re-read at some point.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E Harrow.  The book for the Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club. This was such a sweet story of fantasy and imagination.  January Scaller lives with a rich bachelor while her father hunts for priceless treasures all over the world.  One day, she manages to open a door into another world, but when she tells her guardian about this experience, she is locked away and convinced that she needs to put away such childish fantasies.  But these doors keep coming back into her life, and with a door comes change, she just has to have the courage to step through them.  Reminded me a bit of The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern.

Don’t Overthink It: Make Easier Decisions, Stop Second-Guessing, and Bring More Joy to Your Life by Anne Bogel.  This is the third book I have read by this author, and I was able to be a part of the launch team for this book (which let me read the book before it came out).  Anne is the kind of writer that makes you feel like you are chatting with a friend over coffee when you read her books.  The kind of friend who does excellent research on a topic that she can’t wait to share with you.  I made so many notes with this book, great points to remember and incorporate into my life.  Highly recommend!

Rhythms of Renewal: Trading Stress and Anxiety for a Life of Peace and Purpose by Rebekah Lyons.  This was a book recommended on Instagram by some other authors I follow.  I had been wanting a book about stress coming from a Christian perspective.  But I think I was expecting something a little different than what I read in this book.  I thought I was going to get more of “when this happens, it’s good to remember this” kind of language, but the book seemed to be a list of self-care options that worked for the author throughout her life.  Things that may help others.  I think I preferred Burnout because there was more science of why things work which is what my brain really likes.  It was still a good book, and the last couple of chapters raised my overall rating, but it wouldn’t be the first book I would recommend about stress or even Christian self-help.

I am currently reading Children of Virtue and Vengeance by Tomi Adeyemi and The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson, both continuations of their series. So far, I’m enjoying them as expected, one being a book based on African mythology and the other a murder mystery (this is the book it will all be revealed!). Both are YA, and I will be sharing my March TBR (with these books included) on my Instagram, so check out that sneak peek there!

Did you enjoy any books in February? What’s next in your reading life?

February TBR

This year, I’m trying to read four books a month. I completed this goal last month with It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way by Lysa Terkeurst, Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness, Devian by Shanna Bosarge, and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I might do something with all my classic reviews at the end of the year, or maybe towards the middle of the year, we shall see. But the other reviews are linked above.

This month is Black History Month, and I thought it would be interesting to read only black authors this month. So, here is my line up.

For my nonfiction, I’m reading I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown. This has been on my TBR since last year, and a friend of mine read it and said it was a good read. Also, I follow her on Twitter, which is really where I find a lot of the authors I enjoy.

For my classic, I’m reading A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. This is my classic pick for the month. I think I read this in high school, but I don’t remember it. I wanted to switch up my classics and read a play, so this was a good match.

For YA Fiction, I’m reading On the Come Up by Angie Thomas. I read her first book, The Hate U Give last year and really enjoyed it. This book takes place in the same neighborhood but follows the story of another girl who faces homelessness while trying to make a name for herself as a rapper. It isn’t pictured above because it comes out tomorrow.

And finally, my Adult Fiction will be Mycroft Holmes by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Anna Waterhouse. This was a random but fascinating book. I like Sherlock Holmes, and I came across his second book, Mycroft and Sherlock, at the library. When I realized it was the second book, I stopped reading it and placed the first book on hold. And yes, this is the basketball player. Apparently, he is a huge Sherlock fan. I’ve already started this one and it’s already fascinating.

I’m also reading A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit for the Life’s Library book club and Reviving Old Scratch by Richard Beck for another book study, but they are on different time frames. The four books above I will try to actually complete this month.

What are you reading this month?

January TBR

For those of you not familiar with the bookish vocabulary, TBR stands for To Be Read. Last year I read 40 books, much to my own surprise. This year, I have a goal to read 44 books. So, for my TBR each month, I plan to try to read four books, so that will give me a month margin of error.

Of course, being who I am, I love to categorize and label, so I thought I might try to do that with me TBR. I want to read a classic, an adult fiction, an young adult fiction/middle grade, and a nonfiction book. I have a lot of books on my shelf that I haven’t read yet, so I’m hoping to read one from each category.

This month, here are my hopeful books I will read:

The Bell Jar by Silvia Plath. I have had this book since college. I’ve tried to pick it up and read it twice but something has always come up to pull me away. I’m hoping third time’s the charm.

It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way by Lysa Terkeurst. I love her work. I got this book as soon as it came out last year. I’ve already begun it, and it is SO good so far.

Devian by Shanna Bosarge. This was an impulse buy at the end of last year. The author was selling her book at a farmer’s market. There is a lot of world-building and people who can control the elements. I’m excited to jump in.

Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness. Her All Souls trilogy is one of my favorites. This book is a continuation of the story more than a sequel. I have already read a few pages into the story and I’m loving it.

So those are the four main books I am reading this month. Of course, that didn’t stop me from going to the library last week and picking up a few more books that piqued my interest. But we shall see how fast I get through these four first.

What are some books you are reading this month?

The Last Books of 2018

Hey Everyone! I hope you have had an amazing December. Our holiday was filled with family, fond memories, and many first experiences. In short, it was lovely.

Photo by Mikes Photos on Pexels.com

I managed to complete three books this month (thanks long travel trips and sleepy babies!) which brings my grand total to 40 books this year. In truth, I started with a 24 book goal, so I am really pleased with 40!

So, below are the reviews for the last three books of 2018. Did you read any great books this year? I’m always up for adding to my TBR.

The Song of Princes (Wakefield Dynasty, #6)

The Song of Princes by Gilbert Morris
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is a continuation of a goal to complete this series that I started as a teenager. I hadn’t read this particular book in the series, but it seemed very different from the books before it. Up to this point, Morris has focused a lot of the plot on the evolution of politics and religion in England, including some historical people like the Oliver Cromwell and John Wesley. And as the series has continued, the Wakefield line has become more and more of a supporting plot than the main story.

Until this book.

Very little of the religious or political history is included in this book. There is mention of the war between the English and French in Canada, where one of our main characters goes, but he leaves the war to become a fur trapper. An entire chapter is devoted to the art of fur trapping.

And from this point on, the story becomes somewhat of a soap opera. There are duels, people who die that turn out not to be dead, unrequited love, men fighting over women, and women who are cheating on their men. There are heavy Christian overtones. Like in all of the books, the characters go on a journey to find themselves and God. But even one of the characters at some point makes a reference to the fact that their life is like a “something out of a very bad novel.”

There is no profanity, but there are a lot of sexual references in this one. Of course, nothing detailed but lots of references to “his desire” or “her womanliness”, even one of the characters is noted to have a lot of passion in the lovemaking department. It was pretty cheesy and not really what I remember in the other books. There are some mentions of violence – a slap, people dying in war, but again nothing detailed.

At least the other books had some interesting facts about history, but this seemed like a detour into a Cain and Abel allegory. Like someone complained that there wasn’t enough romance in the last few books so the author went into overdrive. I have one more book in the series to go. I hope it ends on a better note!

A Gathering of Eagles (Wakefield Dynasty, #7)

A Gathering of Eagles by Gilbert Morris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The final book in the series. Gilbert Morris has taken us from Henry the 8th to Napoleon in seven books that traveled from Wales to America to London, Spain, and France. The rise and fall of politics and religious sects throughout England. The series, for me, was a solid three stars overall, including this final book.
Like the book before it, this story strays from the religious and political intrigues, leaning heavily towards a more soap opera romance. He pokes fun at himself in this book. One of the major characters is obsessed with romance novels, and through her own adventures finds that reality is much more interesting and important.
The writing was, again, not really for me. It’s heavy on the descriptions of clothing and food. The plot took a while to pick up but it flowed really well towards the end. Everything was tied up nicely, and the ending was good.

Of course, no profanity, just like the other books. There was some kissing but now real sexual content. There was more violence in this book than others in the series. A majority of the book takes place on ships, and there is a good bit of naval warfare.

I would probably recommend this series to someone who really likes historical fiction and heavy descriptions in their stories. Overall, it’s not an amazing series, and I had some problems with a few of the books. But it’s not a bad series, and I did learn some things about the religious and political revolutions in England which were interesting.

If You Come Softly

If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this book as part of the Life’s Library book club because I wasn’t very familiar with this author. I had heard of her book Brown Girl Dreaming, but it never made it to my TBR list. It is on it now because I really enjoyed the way she writes (and there were a few poems in the back of this edition of the book).
The story is about a white Jewish girl and a black boy who go to the same private school and fall in love. It’s about racial stereotypes, interracial couple stereotypes, family relationships, and how we become who we are.
I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but the book moves pretty fast. The chapters are short, but the writing is still able to pull you into this world and meet all the characters.

I don’t think there was any profanity in the book. As far as sexual content, it was mostly just kissing, holding hands. The story is about that first love so it is pretty innocent and sweet. There is some violence but it’s not graphic, and that’s all I will say so that it doesn’t ruin the book for others.
Even though the book was written in 1998, it still is very much relevant for today. It isn’t dated at all. It could all happen today.
And it’s a story that needs to be told, needs to be read, right now. Highly, highly recommend!

Favorite Books of 2018

Reading has slowed down significantly as the holiday season arrived.  Plus, I’ve been spending a good portion of my time in November putting together furniture.  Still, I thought it would be fun to look back over the books that received five stars.  I definitely saw some trends that I thought I would share with you.  All of the links will send you to my reviews of each book.

Favorite New Author:  This year, I started following Victoria “V.E” Schwab on social media.  I had heard of her books, and that people really loved them.  So, I started with The Archived series, which I checked out of the library.  I absolutely loved both The Archived and The Unbound.  Which led me to pre-order her new middle-grade book, City of Ghosts, which I again, of course, loved.

Favorite YA Books: In addition to the above books, I also really loved a few newer authors, as well as a couple of authors I was already familiar with their writing.  Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi introduced me to a new African mythology, and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas was a poignant and beautiful contemporary novel about grief and racism.

I also thoroughly enjoyed Thunderhead (the second book in the Scythe series) by Neal Shusterman and Library of Souls (the third book in Mrs. Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series) by Ransom Riggs.  I’ve read Unwind by Shusterman many years ago, which I liked.  I’ve also been reading Riggs’ series for a couple of years now and plan to read this next book (which I already own) Map of Days that continues the story of his Peculiar series.

Favorite Adult Books: All of the adult authors I enjoyed this year were new to me.  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern was an impulse buy that I really enjoyed and probably prompted more impulse buying this year than I have in a long time.  How to Stop Time by Matt Haig made me tear up at the end.  It actually answers the question of how to stop time through this fictional, magical story.  And What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty was a surprise because it wasn’t the main story that made me love it so much, but the subplot of her sister and infertility that kept me turning the pages (and I think I cried at the end of this one, too).

Favorite Non-fiction/Memoir: Kathy Khang’s book Raise Your Voice is a perfect narrative of this moment in history.  It challenged the reader to face the excuses used to stay quiet when we need to speak up.  And on a completely different level, Anne Bogel’s book, I’d Rather Be Reading, was a perfect collection of essays for any reader to relate to.

All of these authors have inspired me in so many different ways and prompted me to see life from new perspectives.  I think they have all taken a part in shaping me this year, and I look forward to seeing what new favorites will come into my life next year!

What are some of your favorites? 

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab: A Review

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City of Ghosts
by Victoria Schwab

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my third book written by Victoria Schwab that I’ve read (which I’m trying to slowly remedy) and I absolutely loved it. It made me want to visit Edinburgh, Scotland. It’s the first middle-grade novel that I have read in a long time, but since I have enjoyed everything she has written so far, I was happy to add this to my read list.
The story is about a girl, Cass, who had a near-death experience and now sees ghosts, namely her best friend Jacob who is a ghost. And her parents also happen to be writers of the paranormal (though they do not see ghosts). So, when they get an opportunity to travel to Scotland for a documentary, they do. And her adventure begins.
The plot moves along quite fast, and it is a very easy read (I read it in less than 24 hours which is big since I have a baby). And there are questions that aren’t answered in this book that I hope will be answered in later books. I’m looking forward to the next one.
There is no profanity in the book. And there are no sexually explicit scenes, in fact, there really isn’t any romance at all which I found refreshing and appropriate for the target audience. There is violence, namely ways that people die. Cass is able to enter the veil and see ghosts playing out their deaths over and over again on a loop. It’s not explicit, but it definitely was sad.
If you want a good mystery wrapped up in a beautifully descriptive city, with a little spooky thrown in, then I would highly recommend this book.