Stacking the Shelves #4

I distinctly remember, after buying the books I featured in Stacking the Shelves #3, that I told myself to “cool it.” I knew I could not go “cold turkey” because purposefully denying myself something only makes it worse. As such, I was only going to stick to my monthly Book of the Month boxes.

            I lasted barely more than a week.

            I have no one to blame but myself. I truly believed this stretch of unemployment would not last longer than a month or two. That I at least would find another temp job shortly. At the time I am writing this, I am still unsuccessful in finding either temporary or permanent work.

            As you can clearly see, for a long time, my unemployment did not stop me from buying books. However, I got a reality check with student loans around the corner.

            In the meantime, here are books I bought from June 27th to July 5th (in no particular order):

Upgrade by Blake Crouch

The It Girl by Ruth Ware

These were the two selections I chose to go inside my July 2022 Book of the Month box. At first, I was not excited for them, but I blame that on the mood I was in during that time. I settled for Upgrade and The It Girl, the two I am most surprised I chose. I ended up buying other selections as they became available on Pango Books, which you will see later.

I’ve already read Upgrade and it was my first book by Blake Crouch. At the time my July box came, I was looking to get out of the reading slump I was in. Unfortunately, it did not exactly work. I’m glad I read it, though, because I really enjoyed it. As for The It Girl, it is the latest mystery release by Ruth Ware, an author I want to read more of, and it is a murder mystery centered around college friends.

Phantom Heart by Kelly Creagh

Juniper & Thorn by Ava Reid

For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing

Tripping Arcadia by Kit Mayquist

Heiress Apparently by Diana Ma

The Meet-Cute Project by Rhiannon Richardson

Dangerous Women by Hope Adams

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

The Operator by Gretchen Berg

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

The House of Brides by Jane Cockram

You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty by Akwaeke Emezi

Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara

Woman on Fire by Lisa Barr

While Paris Slept by Ruth Durant

The Woman in the Mirror by Rebecca James

Three Sisters by Heather Morris

Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

First Born by Will Dean

You’re Invited by Amanda Jayatissa

The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

The Siren by Katherine St. John

Jane in Love by Rachel Givney

Yes, all of these books were bought on Pango Books. No, not all at once and several were bought as bundles from different stores.  

Many of these books are older titles I’ve wanted for years. For various reasons, I never purchased them when I saw them in bookstores or online. Most were hard to find or expensive, hence why I pounced on them when a seller offering them at a cheap price on Pango Books.

            You might have also noticed several of these books are newer releases or the other Book of the Month selections from July. People will read books once then sell them, or accidentally bought multiple copies, or decide they are not interested, etc. There are a multitude of explanations, but their consumerism succeeds in feeding my own. I’m getting such a good deal in comparison to buying from bookstores and online. So much so, I’m not entirely sure if I am saving money or losing it to Pango Books.

This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede

Our Crooked Hearts by Melissa Albert

Not Good for Maidens by Tori Bovalino

Together We Burn by Isabel Ibanez

The Hotel Nantucket by Elin Hilderbrand

The Lifestyle by Taylor Hahn

The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle by Jennifer Ryan

In the latter half of June, I made two separate orders to Barnes & Noble during online sales. This Vicious Grace, Our Crooked Hearts, Not Good for Maidens, and Together We Burn are four of my most anticipated releases for the second half of the year. As for the last three books, The Hotel Nantucket, The Lifestyle, and The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle, these were Book of the Month selections from June. All of these I was interested in, but there were others I added to my box instead.

What is your favorite cover of a book you’ve bought this year?  

Top 10 Tuesday: Ten Books I Love That Were Written Over Ten Years Ago

For all the years I’ve been reading, it was pretty easy to come up with books for this list. I almost used entirely classics, until I reminded myself I graduated from high school in 2012.

            Ten years ago—sometimes, it’s hard to believe it has been that long.  

           The ten books here are ones I read and loved in high school or even before. Those books are:

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

I read Speak in my sophomore year of high school. I had borrowed it from a classmate who also liked reading. But it was recently that I bought my own copy. In fact, I have two versions of Speak: the original novel and the graphic novel adaption. Me owning two editions of the same book really says something about my feelings on it.

The Mediator series by Meg Cabot

Teen Idol by Meg Cabot

Avalon High by Meg Cabot

Jinx by Meg Cabot

Heather Wells series by Meg Cabot

Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot

Yes, this makes the list more than ten. However, if there was any author that defined my teenaged years, it was Meg Cabot. I despised The Princess Diaries books, despite loving the movies (blasphemy, I know). The Mediator, though, was my absolute favorite series by her. Suze Simon was my icon and Jesse da Silva was my first book boyfriend.

Teen Idol was the first of Meg Cabot’s books I read. It was also the first time I truly felt myself represented in a book. The same can be said for the main characters in Queen of Babble and the Heather Wells series (which I never finished, sadly). Although, in regards to the latter, the plus-size representation might not have been ideal.

After The Mediator books, another of my absolute favorites by Meg Cabot is Jinx, with Avalon High coming in second. The former is darker than most of her other books, with a unique take on modern witches. The latter is the one I think started my love of retellings.

The Darkest Powers trilogy by Kelley Armstrong

The Darkest Powers trilogy is the series I attribute to being the foundation for my love of fantasy. I don’t remember how I found The Summoning, the first book in the series, but I completely fell in love with it. I liked the second book, The Awakening, but the finale, The Reckoning, is likely my favorite in the trilogy.  

I reread these books several times throughout high school. Unfortunately, I hadn’t reread them since and made myself unhaul them this year. I could not bring myself to reread them, afraid they might not have been as great as I remembered them. Plus, given that they were written in 2008-2010, I would not be surprised if The Darkest Powers trilogy is packed with the problematic tropes of the day.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

Anna Dressed in Blood is another iconic book from my adolescence. I had read multiple times throughout those four years, as well as into my first year of undergraduate. I don’t know a lot of people who have read this book, which is a shame because it’s amazing. I can’t bring myself to part with it, or even its sequel Girl of Nightmares, yet. It is a darkly beautiful young adult horror/paranormal novel with a bittersweet ending. The kind that you do not see often in YA novels but is deeply appreciated once in a while.

Bliss by Lauren Myracle

Bliss is another book I reread multiple times between eighth grade and high school. It is a horror young adult novel set in Atlanta circa 1969. Bliss is the fourteen-year-old daughter of hippies sent to live with her grandmother while her parents flee to Canada to escape the draft. Bliss is a sweet, somewhat naïve girl eager to make friends, which makes her a target for a troubled classmate a little too fascinated with the Manson Family murders. And that is simply scratching the surface for how dark Bliss gets.  

Beware, Princess Elizabeth by Carolyn Meyer

Fun fact about me: I was obsessed with the Tudor era when I was fourteen and this book is the reason. I happened upon Beware, Princess Elizabeth while browsing books at my school library. I proceeded to borrow and reread it at least five times in the years following. I think I even owned a copy at one point. Beware, Princess Elizabeth brought alive Elizabeth I, one of the most famous queens in England’s history.

Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz

Many of the books on this list probably would not be able to stand the test of time, if you know what I mean. Blue Bloods, in my opinion, is likely one of those series. The idea of angels living on Earth as vampires as punishment seemed cool at first. Then, eventually, it got a little too weird, to the point where I never finished the series after the third or fourth book. Though, after the release of the companion novel After Life, I am considering borrowing them from the library and doing an entire series reread for fun.

House of Night series by PC Cast and Kristin Cast

Like Blue Bloods, I never actually finished the House of Night series. I loved them when I read them in high school, but got distracted as time went on. With House of Night in particular, there were too many books. I attempted to complete the series in my senior year of undergraduate, only my time with this series had gone by. I’m sad about that, to be honest; House of Night was genuinely fun.

Wicked series by Nancy Holder

I do not recall ever mentioning the Wicked series on this blog. It is another witch series, and it was very, very dark. Dramatic, with dead parents, forbidden love, and lots of death. That’s really all I remember.

Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, my teen years were defined by urban fantasy and paranormal romance. Thanks to Twilight, vampires and werewolves were all the rage at the time. Since I was Team Jacob, I preferred werewolves, which led me to picking up Blood and Chocolate. It was actually published in the 1990s and was already established as a well-known werewolf paranormal romance at the time. Blood and Chocolate is another book that likely has some problematic content, to the point where I don’t think I would ever be fully comfortable rereading it.

What is a book you read and loved ten years ago that you could never reread?

Let’s Talk Bookish: Reviewing Books?

When I started my blog in September 2016, the goal was to review books. At the time, I was determined to pursue my writing career and hoped someday I could write book reviews for a living. Most of my early content is book reviews or book recommendations. But over the years, those posts slowly petered out. It has reached a point where I rarely do them. Of course, I love writing and books regardless, and it was partially what led me to pursue library science. I just share different sorts of bookish content.

            What makes me want to review or not review a book in the first place? Simply put: if I do, or do not, have anything to say about the book.

 I do not review every book I read. That said, I do try to write something if I think of it. On Goodreads, I will include somewhere between two sentences and two paragraphs. Sometimes, I will mention if a book is a star-rating like “4.5 stars” and/or the format I read it. I will do the same in my monthly wrap-ups. Rarely, these days, do I write longer individual reviews for books on my blog.

            Are some books harder to review than others? They can be, depending on the book and how I feel after reading.

            Sometimes, a book has comments I do not agree with, like Women and Other Monsters by Jess Zimmerman. Other times, there is content I feel I am not in a position to comment on, like Land of the Cranes by Aida Salazar. Every once in a while, a book affects me so deeply emotionally I do not know how to review it coherently, like Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

            Do I review books I disliked? Ironically, I have no trouble writing reviews for books I really, really disliked.

            There have been books that made me so angry, I needed to vent. This will either be on Goodreads or even in their own reviews on my blog. Some of my angriest book reviews are those for A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell, Invisible by James Patterson, and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz. I remember I was worried to review Aristotle and Dante because of how beloved the book is. But come to find out, I was not the only one disappointed. The other two had been even bigger disappointments.

            Have I regretted those reviews? Nope! It felt good to let the anger out. I never received any hate for them either. Not that I cared, but it was nice not having to deal with that anyway.

I also will not delete reviews that are “outdated” or do not follow what I think of the book now. I leave the original reviews alone. If I reread a book, I include a new review in the Goodreads box under the old one (they don’t get a new review on my blog if they had one), explaining my new thoughts and why I feel that way. I do not disregard my original review and the reader I used to be. People change, books do not.

Stacking the Shelves #3

It’s been a while since I posted a Stacking the Shelves post or a book haul. Although, that is not exactly a good sign.

            I’m sure none of you are surprised. If you have followed me for a while, you know I’m a book hoarder with a terrible book buying problem. Honestly, I might not have been so bad if I was currently employed. Except I am not employed and I have not been employed for five months.

While I managed to score a few job interviews, nothing has worked out so far. Truthfully, I was hoping it wouldn’t take so long this time around for a temp assignment; full-time permanent work was still up in the air. I had a few hopefuls, which is partially why I bought so many books in my last haul. At the time, I thought my finances were all right. However, at this point, I don’t think they are anymore. Especially since student loans will be in repayment soon.

Over the next three weeks, I’ll be posting three Stacking the Shelves posts of the books I’ve bought between June 16th to August 1st. This week are books I bought between June 16th to June 21st. Which were:

The Light of the Midnight Stars by Rena Rossner

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Unsurprisingly, the majority of the books I’ve bought this summer are from Pango Books. This used bookstore app gets me all the time with the books people sell on it. I’ve found so many titles that I wanted for so long. The Light of Midnight Stars is one of those books. It is a historical fantasy set in the Hungarian woods following three sisters descended from King Solomon.  

            I bought the Book of the Month edition of On the Come Up along with Wintergirls and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson from the same store. Speak is one of my all-time favorite books and I finally bought a copy after so many years. Wintergirls is one of Laurie Halse Anderson’s backlist books I have wanted to read for years. On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s sophomore novel I was, admittedly, slightly more interested in reading than The Hate U Give because it follows a female rapper.

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang

I bought The Kiss Quotient, the first book in this series, a few years ago midst all the hype it was getting. I finally caved when someone was selling both succeeding novels at reasonable prices.  

A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poison by Kate Khavari

Her Majesty’s Coven by Juno Dawson

For all the used books being sold on Pango Books, there are also new releases. People’s consumerism feeds into mine. One store in particular was selling two 2022 releases I was eager to purchase. A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons follows a newly minted research assistant using her unique set of skills to clear her professor’s name. Her Majesty’s Coven follows a group of childhood friends and witches who secretly work for the British government.

Family of Liars by E. Lockhart

Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak

These are two more 2022 releases I gladly purchased when I saw someone selling them for so cheap. Family of Liars is the prequel to We Were Liars. Hidden Pictures is a horror novel following a nanny whose five-year-old charge starts drawing frightening pictures that lead her on a desperate search to protect him.

Horrid by Katrina Leno

Among the Beasts & Briars by Ashley Poston

Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar

The Lost Village by Camilla Sten

Three of these books are special editions from previous Owlcrate boxes. Before Book of the Month, I was briefly subscribed to Owlcrate. I never rejoined, mostly due to the fact that I’m not into the extra goodies as much as I am the book. That said, I cannot deny some of their special editions are really pretty.

Among the Beasts & Briars follows a gardener’s daughter charged with the task of saving the sickly queen by using lost magic from the woods. Horrid follows a teenaged girl who moves into her mother’s childhood and uncovers dark family secrets. Star Daughter is another fantasy inspired by Indian mythology. The last book, The Lost Village, is not an Owlcrate book but it is a horror novel set in an isolated, deserted town following a mysterious cult that I have wanted to read for several years.   

Counterfeit by Kristin Chen

The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill 

More Than You’ll Ever Know by Katie Gutierrez

The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager

Ordinary Monsters by J.M. Miro

Cult Classic by Sloane Crosley

These last six books were not bought online from Barnes & Noble during a sale. That is another common trend you will see in these upcoming Stacking the Shelves.

            Counterfeit follows a struggling stay-at-home mom who joins an old friend in selling counterfeit handbags. The Woman in the Library is a closed-door murder mystery set at the Boston Public Library and one of my most anticipated releases of summer 2022. More Than You’ll Ever Know is a mystery following a woman with two separate lives and two husbands, one who eventually kills the other. The House Across the Lake is the newest release by Riley Sager and follows a recently widowed alcoholic who sees something she shouldn’t have in the cabin across the lake. Ordinary Monsters is a historical fantasy set at an elite Victorian boarding school. Cult Classic is a mystery with a rather weird plot that I think I should go into blind.

What book(s) have you bought recently?

WWW Wednesday: August 10th, 2022

I can’t remember the last time I felt so settled in what I wanted to read next.

            So far, my reading has been going well in August. I have a small TBR currently sitting on my nightstand I plan to finish in the coming weeks. It seemed like a good time to do a reading update.

Recently Finished

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Educated by Tara Westover

Long Live the Pumpkin Queen by Shea Ernshaw

Project Hail Mary is a library book and it is my first book by Andy Weir, who I have only heard good things about. However, while this book was good overall, I was slightly disappointed. The protagonist was likeable and the writing was good, but the humor was off and the hard science went right over my head.

            Educated is an audiobook I read on a whim from Libby. It is a memoir I’ve heard only good things. After reading it, I can understand why this book is so allotted. The writing was great, exploring the complexity and toxicity of family. Particularly, the fluidity of memory.

            Long Live the Pumpkin Queen is another library book as well as one of my anticipated releases of the summer. The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of my favorite movies. In fact, I rewatched it before reading this book. Long Live the Pumpkin Queen was fun, fast-paced, and entertaining. I looked for any chance to keep reading. Sally was given her own kind of agency. That said, the writing could have used an editor.

Currently Reading

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

Run Rose Run by Dolly Parton and James Patterson

I will be starting these books later today. I’ll be reading The Atlas Six, one of my library books, along with the audiobook for Run Rose Run, a TBR book I’ve been meaning to read as soon as possible. It is rare I read two books at once. The Atlas Six was my next read anyway, but the audiobook for Run Rose Run came in earlier than expected on Libby.

Reading Next

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

Walk the Vanished Earth by Erin Swan

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

Slewfoot by Brom

What I read next depends entirely on when my holds for Slewfoot or My Best Friend’s Exorcism comes in. At this moment, I am first in line for the audiobook of My Best Friend’s Exorcism. I’m also hoping the Slewfoot audiobook will come in early like Run Rose Run did. I’ve put this one on hold before, but I had to set it aside because of my reading slump. If neither happens, then The Shining Girls will likely be my next read.  

What are you currently reading?

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Books with Crowns

You know what one of my favorite tropes is? Royalty—runaway princess, lost princess/queen or prince/king, etc. And yet, I somehow own almost no books with crowns on the cover. If there are more, I don’t have the patience look at the moment. So, instead, here are the five I managed to find.

            Also—I have not read any of these.   

Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart is the first book in a duology following two sisters who team up to take down the patriarchy. It was popular when it came out, but it has fallen to the wayside since then.

Rule by Ellen Goodlett is the first book in a royal fantasy duology that was compared to Pretty Little Liars. It follows three half-sisters vying for the crown and the stalker taunting them with their secrets as they try to defend their kingdom.  

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson is probably one of the more popular books on this list. The first book in The Remnant Chronicles, it follows a runaway princess as she is being pursued by an assassin as well as the prince she left at the altar.  

Fairest by Marissa Meyers is another very popular book. It is the novella attached to The Lunar Chronicles, providing the backstory of the series’ villain.  

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen is the second novel in the Queen of the Tearling trilogy. This is another series that was once popular but has since fallen out of favor. I read the first book, The Queen of the Tearling, years ago and still have not completed the series.

Recommend me a royalty-themed book!

Let’s Talk Bookish: All About E-books

When Kindles came onto the scene years ago, I avoided them like the plague. At the time, I believed technology had already taken so much and books could not be next. (Dramatic, I know). To this day, though, when I read, the point is to get away from screens and scrolling.

            Don’t get me wrong; I would be lying if I said I have not become intrigued by e-books in recent years. Several Christmases have gone by where I have contemplated asking for a Kindle or some other kind of e-reader, but I never did. Whether or not that will ever happen remains to be seen.

            Over the past year, however, I made an effort to try reading e-books on my phone. Before I swore them off for good, I wanted to actually give them a chance. As of right now, I have read eighteen e-books in 2022. As such, I can safely declare e-books are decidedly not for me.

            That said, are e-books the future of books? Honestly, I hope not….Still, there is a 50/50 chance they could eventually take over with all the iPads, iPhones, Kindles, and other e-readers. Inflation makes physical books even more expensive while e-books always seem to be on sale. Not to mention physical books admittedly take up more space than any kind of e-reader.  

            Despite my gripe, I would be a liar if I said e-books are without merit. They are easier to carry around. When I read e-books on my phone, it was more comfortable to read on the train than a physical book. The e-books were easy to access through or Hoopla and Libby, the apps I mainly used. I also flew through the e-books faster than I typically did physical books. At least, the e-books I chose to read: picture books, poetry, and novellas.

            But regarding e-books, there are more disadvantages than advantages, in my opinion. And it goes beyond not having the book smell.  

Looking at a screen too long makes it uncomfortable to read. The font is harder for me to read with my near-sightedness. While a phone might be easier to read on the train, e-books, at least for me, are too uncomfortable to read for longer periods of time. Not to mention the battery; physical books don’t have batteries.

            Are e-books strictly better than physical books? Ummm….NO!

            Physical books are better. I love the feel, smell, look, etc. I am a visual learner. They tend to be more comfortable to read with my near-sightedness. I could go on. I, personally, do not enjoy e-books unless for picture books. But even then, I do not enjoy them much.

            Do all avid readers prefer real, paper books? I think it depends on the person. Personally, I think most readers prefer physical books, but e-books are still books and can help people get through their physical TBR pile. People with kids, long commutes, etc. probably think Kindle/e-books are easier to read depending on their individual circumstances.

            Do I ever find myself missing one or the other? Like I said, I do not mind e-books, but I definitely prefer physical books and audiobooks. If I read a string of e-book children’s books, I start to miss physical books. Mostly because my eyes start hurting by then.

            All this aside, each their own. To me, e-books can never replace physical books. Overflowing shelves be damned.

All the Books I Want, and Need, to Read in August 2022

Another ambitious monthly TBR ….

            I am slowly coming out of a reading slump. I’m currently in the middle of two books and, fortunately, I’m enjoying both. But with this renewed desire to read comes with the realization that it’s over the halfway point of 2022 and there are so many books I need, and want, to read.

            When I say “need to read” I am referring to the books I recently posted on my TBR Shame. All of them have been on my physical to be read pile for too long. It has reached a point where I feel compelled to reread previous installments before continuing.

Truthfully, though, I’m not mad about it. I’ve felt slumpy on and off since my last temp job ended. Like I said, all of these series were favorites, which are frequently the sort of books I reach for when I’m in a slump anyway.  

            That said, there are a lot of other books I want to read in August. I recently went back to the library and borrowed a few books. I’m in the mood for nonfiction, specifically nonfiction audiobooks—memoir, true crime, etc.

            Will I read all these books? We shall see. In the meantime, here are the books on my August 2022 to be read pile.

Library books

Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

This is one of the books I am currently reading. While I am overall enjoying it, it’s been slow going. The science bits are going right over my head. I’m 52% of the way through, so I do intend to finish it soon.

The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

I can’t name a more hyped 2022 release than The Atlas Six. People either love this book or hate it. When that happens, I would rather borrow it from the library. I am curious to see which camp I will fall into once I read it.

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

I’ve checked out The Shining Girls from the library before. Besides wanting to read the source material before watching the TV adaption, a time-travelling serial killer sounds super exciting to me.

Walk the Vanished Earth by Erin Swan

Walk the Vanished Earth is a book that caught my while browsing. It is a literary fiction fantasy following seven generations of a single family, starting in 1873 and going all the way to 2073. From the synopsis, this is a book I think I am better off going into blind.

Long Live the Pumpkin Queen by Shea Ernshaw

How to Read Now: Essays by Elaine Castillo

These final two library books are holds I’m currently waiting for.

In case you are unaware, I am a massive fan of The Nightmare Before Christmas. Long Live the Pumpkin Queen is one of my anticipated releases of the summer. This book follows Sally, the Frankenstein heroine, after the events of the film, her growing relationship with Jack Skellington, and contemplating the secrets of her creation while juggling her responsibilities as the future Pumpkin Queen.  

            How to Read Now: Essays is a nonfiction book of essays on reading in the modern age. That’s all I needed to know about it.

Audiobooks

Red Roulette by Desmond Shum

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

Unmasked by Paul Holes

Last Call by Elon Green

Lately, I developed a major craving for true crime. Most of these were on the list of nonfiction I hoped to read in 2022.

Unmasked is the only one not on that list. It’s a memoir written by the detective who caught The Golden State Killer and his career solving America’s toughest cold cases. Red Roulette follows the author’s investigation into the disappearance of his ex-wife in China. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is another true crime memoir surrounding the Golden State Killer, this one following a crime reporter determined to solve the mystery. The Five is about the five women killed by Jack the Ripper, giving agency back to the victims through their stories. Last Call follows the investigation into a serial killer targeting gay men in New York.

Educated by Tara Westover

As of today, I am 33% of the way through the audiobook of Educated and I am enjoying it way more than I expected to. When I started reading, I was on the hunt for a book to get me out of the slump. I’d only ever heard good things about this memoir’s audiobook, so it seemed like the place to start. Educated has exceeded all expectations I’d previously had.

She Said by Jodi Kantor

I borrowed the audiobook for She Said mainly due to the fact I recently saw the trailer for the movie. I’d heard of this book, but all I knew was that it’s follows the reporters who broke the story about the sex scandals in Hollywood.

When Women Invented Television by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

The Queens of Animation by Nathalia Holt

The Science of Women in Horror by Meg Hafdahl

Women Invented Television centers around four women who helped lay the foundation for the TV industry. The Queens of Animation is another book about the female animators who worked at Disney. The Science of Women in Horror is similar, this time following women’s roles in the horror media industry. I’ve read a criminally low amount of women’s history books in 2022 and I must rectify that.

Dark Archives by Megan Rosenbloom

Dark Archives is a historical nonfiction into the practice and history of using human skin to bind books. That’s all I needed to know.

Entreat Me by Grace Draven

Entreat Me is a dark romantic retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Grace Draven is an author I’ve been meaning to try and this book seemed like a good place to start. 

Slewfoot by Brom

I particularly enjoy reading horror in the summer months. Slewfoot follows a red-haired widow teaming up with a mysterious creature from the woods to take down the villagers determined to destroy her.

Bittersweet by Susan Cain

Bittersweet is another nonfiction, this one a study on how sorrow and longing impact individuals’ lives, as well as creativity, love, and compassion for others.

The Girl who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

The Girl who Drank the Moon is a middle grade fantasy novel high on my radar after enjoying the author’s most recent release. It follows a girl who is abandoned in the woods as a baby and raised by a kindly witch who accidentally fed her moonlight, giving the girl a unique set of powers.

TBR Books

The Library: A Fragile History by Andrew Pettegree

The Bad-ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer

Considering I’m in such a nonfiction mood, I might as well take the opportunity to read the only two nonfiction books on my physical to be read pile.

Run Rose Run by Dolly Parton and James Patterson

Run Rose Run is a book I simply want to clear off my physical TBR as soon as possible because I have a love/hate relationship with James Patterson. Hopefully I will like it because the co-author is Dolly Parton, but I am still keeping my expectations low.

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco

I think of Stalking Jack the Ripper as one of my all-time favorite series, except I have only read the first two books. The negative reviews surrounding Escaping from Houdini stopped me in my tracks. So much so, I put the book off until Capturing the Devil Came out. Then, I kept putting it off, for reasons that change depending on the day.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman

The Toll by Neal Shusterman

The Arc of the Scythe trilogy is one of the newer series on my physical TBR. Given there is potentially a companion novel coming out, might as well finish the trilogy. Of course, I genuinely enjoyed Scythe when I first read it and want to see where the books go from there.  

What books do you want/need to read before the end of 2022?

July 2022: A Wrap Up of More Quantity Than Quality

Yes, I read fifteen books in July. Am I thrilled about that? I’m not exactly sure.

            As it happens, this time of the year, I fall into a reading slump. It’s the kind of reading slump where I want to read all the books and I cannot decide at all what to pick up next. So, I just don’t read anything. I felt it coming on at the end of June and it carried unexpectedly into July.

            For the first week or so, I only wanted to pick up picture books. I wanted to read, but not full-length novels. This method usually gets me out of a slump. But this time, the solution was mostly temporary. When I did get around to reading a novel, I struggled to read it. To make matters worse, I was genuinely enjoying it.

            In the past two weeks of July, I chose to take a break from reading. It worked; I got my energy to read back. More on that tomorrow.

            In the meantime, here is my July 2022 wrap up. There are a lot of books here, and I do not have a lot to say about them.  

America, My Love, America My Heart by Daria Peoples-Riley

4 stars

Libby e-book

The writing was good and I really liked the artwork.

Hardly Haunted by Jessie Sima

4.5 stars

Libby e-book

This picture book had cute artwork with a sweet underlining message.

Help Wanted: Must Love Books by Janet Sumner Johnson

5 stars

Libby e-book

The artwork was cute and the storytelling was fun with a super sweet ending.

Off to See the Sea by Nikki Grimes

5 stars

Libby e-book

I liked the writing, but the beautiful artwork is what got to me.

Fry Bread by Kevin Noble Maillard

5 stars

Libby e-book

Simply, a beautifully written and illustrated picture book.

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

5 stars

Libby e-book

The Paper Bag Princess was a delightful surprise, with old-timey artwork style, solid storytelling, and strong feminist themes.

Oona by Kelly DiPucchio

4 stars

Libby e-book

Another picture book I enjoyed mostly for the beautiful illustrations and cool-toned underwater color scheme.

Land of the Cranes by Aida Salazar

5 stars

Libby audiobook

Besides picture books, middle grade and poetry books are other works I reach for when I’m in a slump. Land of the Cranes is both. It is a middle grade novel-in-verse that shone a light on the flaws in the American immigration system. I liked the writing; it steadily got more emotional and beautiful as the story went on. By the halfway point, I got sucked right in. The protagonist felt like a real child struggling to cope with a terrible, complicated reality. I was crying my eyes out by the end. Unfortunately, this did not exactly get me entirely out of the reading slump. Not that I wouldn’t recommend it, though.

Nina by Traci N. Todd

5 stars

Libby audiobook

This is a beautifully written and narrated nonfiction picture book about iconic jazz singer and Civil Rights activist Nina Simone.

Bright Star by Yuyi Morales

4 stars

Libby e-book

A beautifully illustrated picture book I was recommended on Goodreads that I read on a whim.

Wishes by Muon Thi Van

5 stars

Libby e-book

Another beautiful picture book I read on a whim after Goodreads recommended it.  

There’s a Ghost in This House by Oliver Jeffers

5 stars

Library book

A cute, spooky picture book with a message that went over my head.

The Little Ghost Who was a Quilt by Riel Nason

5 stars

Library book

The Little Ghost Who was a Quilt is simply a cute picture book about accepting your differences.

Pencils, Pens, and Brushes by Mindy Johnson

5 stars

Library book

I absolutely loved this feminist picture book. The author brought these incredible women alive and they were all talented in their own ways. If you ask me, they were the true masterminds behind the Disney movies.  

Upgrade by Blake Crouch

4.5 stars

TBR book

Science fiction is a genre I do not often reach for and Blake Crouch’s books have intimidated me in the past. But something about Upgrade made me want to read it after I got my July Book of the Month box. I’m glad I did, though.

            I primarily read Upgrade in hopes of beating the slump. At first, it seemed to work. It entertained me while I waited out my jury duty summons (which I escaped, thankfully). But in the days after, it was a struggle to focus. Only it was not the fault of Upgrade. It was the fault of the reading slump. Prior to reading Upgrade, I’d heard only good things about Blake Crouch. The genetics stuff went over my head and I was not crazy about the second half of the book. But overall, I enjoyed it. The writing was engaging. The plot was fast-paced. The hero, Logan, is one you can root for. He’s likeable, loves his family, and has a strong moral compass. Truthfully, he was my favorite aspect of the entire book.

When was the last time you were in a reading slump and how did you get out of it? 

TBR Shame: Books I’ve Been Saying I Will Read for YEARS…but STILL Have Not

I don’t know what it is about me….

Over the past couple of years, I developed a bad habit of avoiding books I actually want to read. It seems that, no matter how many times I say I will read them, I always find an excuse not to. I cannot explain it any better than that.

            Prior to the pandemic, I blamed it on graduate school. Most of the books on this list are well over 500 pages. While studying for my Master’s in Library and Information Science, I often only had the brain power for school reading. Outside of that, I frequently reached for books I was not as excited for because I did not want to risk distraction from my studies. Even though there were probably times I needed the distraction. Of course, that does not mean I did not stumble upon hidden gems. They just weren’t the books on my priority TBR most of the time.

After the pandemic, I blame my lack of focus and desire to read on stress. Stress of ongoing unemployment. Stress of spending money on new books, even though I should be saving as much as possible and spending my limited funds on other things. Stress from my intrusive and uncomfortable thoughts. All this stress deeply affected my ability to focus on reading, especially in 2020.

            Discovering audiobooks in 2021 did improve my reading. I read more last year than I ever have. The only drawback was that not all of the books were the “priority” ones on my physical TBR. Specifically, series I labeled as “favorites” but kept putting off finishing.

            I hope to finally read these books in the second half of 2022. But I need to publicly shame myself first.

            The books I’ve been saying I will read for years, but still have not are:

Fierce Like a Firestorm by Lana Popovic is the sequel to Wicked Like a Wildfire and the concluding novel in the duology. I truly enjoyed Wicked Like a Wildfire when I read it. However, I’ve heard mixed things about Fierce Like a Firestorm, and this is partially why I think kept putting it off.

Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh is the concluding novel in the duology, with the first book being Flame in the Mist. I had planned to read Smoke in the Sun as soon as it was released. Why I never did depends on what was going on at the time—new books, graduate school, etc.

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab is the sequel to This Savage Song and the concluding novel in the duology. Again, I enjoyed the first book and had every intention of reading the second one as soon as I bought it. Only it never happened, obviously.

Now I Rise by Kiersten White

Bright We Burn by Kiersten White

Now I Rise and Bright We Burn are the second and third novel, respectively, in the same trilogy. The first book was And I Darken. This trilogy is proof on how I steadily fell behind on series. I prefer series, so it’s not like I have commitment issues. It was more of me getting distracted by other series with new books coming out as I waited for other installments in ones I already started.

Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco

Unlike most of the series on this list, I do have an explanation as to why I have not completed the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. When Escaping from Houdini was released, I had planned on reading it as soon as possible. Then, the particularly negative reviews happened. It was so bad, it made me want to put off Escaping from Houdini until the finale, Capturing the Devil, released. Even now, though, I don’t know if my heart could take it.

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

Truth be told, I developed a “complicated” relationship with Sarah J. Maas since I started reading her books.

When I first read the Throne of Glass series and the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, I adored them. Then, with each book, the rose-colored glasses slowly came off. It eventually reached a point where I actively put the succeeding novels off. Their respective page counts certainly did not help. All that aside, I do plan on finishing the Throne of Glass series by reading Tower of Dawn and Kingdom of Ash. I also plan on catching up with the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by reading A Court of Wings and Ruin and A Court of Silver Flames by the end of 2022.

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare

Ghosts of the Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare

The only reason I have not read the remaining books in The Dark Artifices trilogy as well as the latest anthology, Ghosts of the Shadow Market, is their size. Big books were definitely not my favorite thing when I was in grad school. When I did try to read them, it took me much longer than it usually would have. But now audiobooks have taken over. So, hopefully, I will finally complete my potential new favorite Shadowhunters series before 2022 is over.

What is your biggest TBR shame?