Reading

My Favorite Books From the Last 6 Months

I’ve actually been reading this year (not enough for my Goodreads challenge, but that’s beside the point), so I wanted to look at my favorite books from the first 6 months of 2020.

Non-Fiction

  • If You Tell: A True Story of Murder, Family Secrets, and the Unbreakable Bond of Sisterhood by Gregg Olsen
    • This book is a nightmare in written form. The fact that it’s non-fiction is a nightmare unto itself. It’s a horrible tale of child abuse, murder, and the awful compiles on top of awful. I listened to the audiobook which lessened the emotional distance between me and what was happening. It feels weird to say this was one of my ‘favorites’ but it basically blew my mind like no other so I think it deserves a space on the list.
  • Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
    • I loved this book. I bought the ebook, and I definitely plan on reading it again. I recognized myself, or people I know, in a lot of the stories she tells throughout the book. I don’t know why this was so easy to connect with when I have struggled to connect with similar books. Highly recommend.

From My Favorite Authors

  • Alone in the Wild by Kelley Armstrong
    • I’ve read all of the Rockton novels, and knew I was going to read this one as soon as I found out it was being published this year. I haven’t read any of her other books/series, but they’re on the list for sure. I really enjoy the concept behind the Rockton novels – basically a hidden town in the Northern bits of Canada for people who have something to hide from. It’s a bit of a romance series, but the mystery (read: insanity) is the big draw.
  • Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James
    • I’m a huge Simone St. James fan, and this was my second read through of this novel. I like the time period – post WWI – and the creepy atmosphere she gives most of her books. She does have 2 modern day novels, and the one I’ve read was also great and I definitely have the other one on the to be read list.

Other Fiction

  • The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
    • This is a rough read, but it was also really satisfying to finish. It didn’t make me cry, but I definitely had some serious feelings about it. The setting is Alaska and I found it really interesting to read about life (even fictional) in rural Alaska. Definitely check it out.
  • Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
    • Shane has been bugging me to read this for literally years, and I finally did. It is a crazy roller coaster ride. It’s super depressing in parts, but it also left me with a really interesting sense of hope. I only guessed about half of the major twisty twist, which doesn’t happen often these days, so that’s a cool plus. I don’t really want to talk too much about it, so I don’t give away any spoilers. Needless to say, I’ll be reading more books that Shane recommends.

I’ve been saying “oh, I only want to read things that aren’t challenging – I don’t want to think” for a couple of years now, and this list is showing me that I really do like to challenge myself sometimes. I might need to push myself to expand my reading circle and try out some more mentally challenging reads.

In case you’re wondering, I’m 4 books behind on my 2020 reading challenge. I’m just not worried about it. ūüôā

Sarah

Life & Family · Reading

Reading Through A List of Authors My Mom Left Behind

The day my mom passed, I was standing in my parents’ kitchen aimlessly looking around. Under a magnet on their secondary freezer, I saw a couple sheets of notepad paper entitled “Grocery Author List”. I snuck it into my pocket as if my dad wouldn’t have let me have it if I had asked. I didn’t have a plan for it, I really just wanted her handwriting.

When I got home, I tucked it into the back of the little notebook I record all the books I’ve read (well, the past 2 years worth). I didn’t really forget about it, but also didn’t think about it much. At some point (I’ll have to check my twitter), I declared I would read through the list and I did indeed read a book or 2, but didn’t go further than that. I’ve thought about it off and on the past few months and decided to go for it.

Recently, I went through the author list and added the first books of series (or a stand alone if there wasn’t a series) for each author. I made a Goodreads list specifically for this little side project of mine, which topped out at 50 books. I did leave/add a couple of books that I’ve already read, since technically the authors are on the list. The authors write one of 3 genres: cozy mysteries (most with puns for titles), non-cozy mysteries, and fantasy. Luckily, I enjoy all of those genres, to varying degrees. I also have a soft spot for puns, so I’m not mad that a number of them are named things like “Thyme for Death” and “Lye in Wait” (both are actual titles on the list).

I’m a little concerned that I won’t be able to find a lot of the books, since a lot are from the 90s/early 00s and most don’t seem like they were best sellers. I haven’t checked the library yet, so hopefully several will appear there. I can think of a few that I know they have, though, so that’s promising.

Is this a weird thing to do? I’m going to do it anyway, but I do wonder about that a bit.

Read: 2/50

~Sarah

Reading

Summer Time Reading List

Summer starts on Saturday! I wasn’t going to post this until Friday, but I’m more interested in this than whatever else I was going to write this week.

I am a huge mood reader, so reading lists are generally not very useful for me. However, I love making them. Right now, I’m really into space fiction (I’m calling it that instead of sci-fi because I want it in space), the apocalypse, and fantasy so that’s what I’ve loaded this one up with. That’s no guarantee that I’ll still be into that next month though – I’ve been reading historical romance for most of this year.

Since I got a Kindle for Christmas, I’ve been reading a lot more ebooks than physical books, so I made sure I picked 5 physical books from my actual bookcase.

An Audiobook & What I’m Currently Reading

(Audiobook) SpecOps (Expeditionary Force #2) – Craig Alanson ~ I finished the first one in the series recently and seriously loved it. If you enjoy space-based fiction, aliens, alien invasions, physics that may or may not be real, and humor this is a series you should read.
Outbreak: A Post Apocalyptic Survival Thriller (Surviving the Virus Book 1) – Ryan Casey ~ Yes, I’m currently reading a book about an apocalypse caused by a virus during a pandemic. Don’t judge me.
A Year Without the Grocery Story – Karen Morris ~ Okay, not going to lie, the instability of the world has hit me. The Wendy’s down the road doesn’t even have hamburgers right now. While I think we’re good on food, I want to learn more so in the future

5 Physical Books

All The Weyrs of Pern – Anne McCaffrey (my favorite author OF ALL TIME) ~ I haven’t read Anne McCaffrey in so so long. My favorite series actually isn’t on Pern, it’s the Freedom series, but I want to reread all the books I used to love and this is on the list. It’s a definite comfort read.
Revenger (Revenger #1) – Alastair Reynolds ~ I’ve kind of put off reading his works since hard sci-fi has never been my favorite genre. I care that there’s artificial gravity, not how fast the habitat has to spin. I recently read a hard sci-fi book by Neal Stephenson (Seveneves) that I managed to really love even if I did have to re-read part of the book repeatedly to grasp the science, so I decided to try more hard sci-fi.
Altered Starscape & Darkness Falling (Andromedan Dark #1 & #2) – Ian Douglas ~ I’ve actually read Altered Starscape already, but it was long enough ago that only remember bits and pieces. It’s one of my favorite genres – a generation ship.
Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood – William J. Mann ~ I’m a huge true crime nerd, especially historical murders. William Desmond Taylor’s murder in the 1920s is generally regarded as unsolved and I think this book tries to lay out a solution, so I’m intrigued.

5 Ebooks

The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon ~ Did I already start this book and then stop for literally no reason? Yes. It’s supposed to be amazing, and the part I read was super good, so I’m stoked to pick it back up.
The Pioneer (The Pioneer #1) – Bridget Tyler ~ I love a good “humanity leaves Earth for the stars” novel, and I do enjoy a good YA book once in awhile, so this has made the list. I think this’ll be a good book to read while laying out in the backyard.
Children of Time (Children of Time #1) – Adrian Tchaikovsky ~ Another “humanity leaves Earth for the stars” story. Apparently when I decided I was back into sci-fi I went hard on those. In the description the phrase “mankind’s worst nightmare” so I’m even more into that.
Broken Lines – James Hunt ~ This is more of a novella, but I thought it would be fun to read a not-virus-related end of society story this summer. I don’t know much except for it’s about an EMP & the main character is separated from their family. These are incredibly hit or miss.
Spirit of the Bayonet (ŇĆkami Forward Trilogy, #1) – Ted Russ ~ This would be the military sci-fi entry for the summer. These are also hit or miss, because if the story skews too far military instead of science-fiction I stop being interested. Depending on the characters/character development though, I can take more of the military though, so we’ll see.

I’ll update at the end of the summer (if I remember, and if the world is still a thing) to let you know if I read any of these, and what else I read – if anything.

~Sarah

Monthly Recaps

February in Review

What I Read

I’m also ‘reading’ 5 other books, but I’ve been reading one of them (Terminal World) since about October. I lost one of them under the bed (An Impartial Witness), and just found it. One I accidentally found out the twist (Castaway House) so I’m waiting until I forget the twist to finish it. The other two I’m actually in the middle of reading – Ashes to Ashes by Tami Hoag & a alien invasion audiobook called Fear the Sky. I’m still at least 2 books behind my Goodreads challenge, but I’m normally 4-5 behind so I’m not too bothered.

What I Watched

Highlights:

  • Umbrella Academy
    • I’m watching this with Shane and I love it! It’s so weird that it’s right on the border of what I would normally like, but the characters are so lovable I’m into it. One of my favorite things is Shane’s pure and uncomplicated love of Ellen Page, which immediately transferred to Vanya, her character.
  • King of the Hill
    • FINALLY FINISHED.

Shows:

  • Most Haunted {me as a paranormal investigator, even if I’m a skeptic}
  • Haunted {supposedly non-fiction, but I feel like it’s fiction}
  • Hellier {a really weird paranormal hunter documentary}
  • Shut Eye
  • The usual background watching:
    • Unsolved Mysteries
    • Forensic Files
    • Bob’s Burgers
    • American Dad

Movies:

  • Polar {Super strange, but also good}
  • Unbreakable {Still haven’t seen Split or Glass, but I’m working on it}
  • Universal Soldier {I had never seen this classic Van Damme flick which was apparently a travesty to Shane}

What I Cooked/Ate

  • Broth fondue with thin cut steak, etc.
  • A great spaghetti meat sauce from a jar + canned tomatoes + a little of this + a little of that.
  • Finally went to a pancake house – apparently Myrtle Beach is famous for pancake houses. I got chocolate chip pancakes with fresh whipped cream and it was amazing.
  • A box of cereal, dry, by the fistful.
  • So many chicken wings.
  • Diner!
  • Steak N Shake – obvs.

What I Did

  • About a year ago I randomly met a girl on reddit & we’ve been email buds since then. Anyway, she came down to MB for a conference and we finally got to meet! We hung out at the restaurant in her hotel and had a great time. We were wearing the exact same shoes – gray keds in the same style.
  • Built a little stand for my laptop. I still need to put on another coat of paint but so close to being finished!
  • That’s it – it was a pretty chill month even with the shenanigans going on in the background. I didn’t post in February, after the first few days, and I enjoyed the time off!
Top Ten Tuesday

Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2019

  • The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
    • I love a good mystery and this one looks like a great one. Who doesn’t want to know why a woman shoots her husband in the face and then never speaks again?
  • The Au Pair by Emma Rous
    • The comparison to VC Andrews is enough to make me want to read this one. I’ll be requesting it from the library.
  • Watcher in the Woods by Kelley Armstrong
    • Is it cheating to put a book that’s next in a series you’re reading? I really enjoy the Rockton series. I discovered it while I was packing to move and I had both audiobooks and ebooks so I could read or listen when needed.
  • The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
    • The buzz around this one is big, and it looks like a very interesting fantasy novel. It’s also huge. I’m excited.
  • Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
    • Written by the authors of The Illuminae Files. That’s enough for me, but the description also sounds great.
  • Shadow Captain by Alastair Reynolds
    • Not going to lie, I’m eagerly anticipating this one for Shane. He loves Alastair Reynolds and he can’t wait to read this one.
  • The Similars by Rebecca Hanover
    • I need to read more YA sci-fi, because I really love it and haven’t read much of it lately.
  • The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs by Katherine Howe
    • I love Katherine Howe. I’ve read all her books, and I’m not about to stop now.
  • The Summer Country by Lauren Willig
    • I haven’t read much historical fiction set in Barbados, but I’m very interested in this mystery.
  • Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal
    • Pride and Prejudice plus a culture I’m fairly unfamiliar with? Sign me up.
Reading · Top Ten Tuesday

Best Books I Read In 2018

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature currently run by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Happy New Year!

I hope that 2019 is the best year yet.

I realized while making this list that I read very few books I really loved in 2018. I can do better in 2019. Obviously not every book I read will be a winner, but I can definitely choose books that are more likely to be ones I really enjoy. Anyway, I’m fairly sick (thanks allergies), so I’m presenting this list without commentary.

  1. City of the Lost – Kelley Armstrong
  2. The Broken Girls – Simone St James
  3. The Queen’s Poisoner– Jeff Wheeler
  1. As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride – Cary Elwes
  2. Incendiary: The Psychiatrist, the Mad Bomber, and the Invention of Criminal Profiling – Michael Cannell
  3. Classic Style: Hand it Down, Dress it Up, Wear it Out – Kate Schelter
  4. The Bullet Journal Method – Ryder Carroll
  1. Obsidio – Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman
  2. About a Dog – Jenn McKinlay
  3. Before We Were Yours – Lisa Wingate

I hope you have an excellent first day of 2019.

Blogmas · Top Ten Tuesday

My Top Ten on My Winter TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature currently run by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature currently run by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Usually, I don’t really look at these TBR lists after making them, but I feel like this is a pretty accurate representation of what I’m going to be reading over the next couple of months. Especially Terminal World, I’ve been reading it off and on for months, and Shane (who loves it), is starting to get his feelings hurt. The rest of these fiction books are ones that I’ve been really looking forward to.¬†

  1. All the Weyrs of Pern ~ Anne McCaffrey 
  2. Terminal World ~ Alastair Reynolds
  3. Avalon – Mindee Arnett
  4. A Winter Flame ~ Milly Johnson
  5. The Mysterious Affair At Castaway House ~ Stephanie Lam

On the non-fiction side, I’ve been looking at figuring out this whole ‘being a super responsible adult’ thing, hence the style books, the book on writing, and the book on bullet journals. The Murder Room is just going to be a great read.¬†

  1. The Curated Closet ~ Anuschka Rees
  2. Classic Style: Hand it Down, Dress it Up, Wear it Out ~ Kate Schelter
  3. The Murder Room ~ Michael Capuzzo
  4. On Writing ~ Stephen King
  5. The Bullet Journal Method ~ Ryder Carroll
Blogmas · Reviews

Catching Christmas {Review}

I accidentally read a Christian Christmas Romance novel, guys. I found this book while wandering the aisles of my local library and the book jacket only talked about the fact that there’s a taxi driver who has to ferry an old lady with dementia around town.

It was pretty cute though. The last half was definitely  heavier on religion than the first half, though. The main character/taxi driver/ex-chef is pretty funny in his determination to be mean while failing at it completely. He also has the deepest hatred of Uber that I’ve ever encountered. 

Miss Callie (the old lady with dementia) is a terror, and while she’s adorable in the novel, in real life I’d hate encountering her in real life. In the novel she’s a character that everyone loves and supports. Though her son-in-law kept her from seeing her granddaughter for most of her life (for good reason, really). That’s fairly glossed over.

I really love the trope of hating each other then loving each other, and Catching Christmas does that one really really well. The author does misunderstandings really well, too. They have a very realistic ‘bumping of heads’ in the beginning and get over it in a realistic way as well. 

There’s a moment where the book went from normal story to Christian fiction and it’s a fairly small part of the novel overall. This book is a really sweet Christmas tale that involves the elderly, a taxi, and a sweet romance. 

-S-

Blogmas · Reviews

The Christmas Tree Farm Mysteries {Review}

Thanks to NetGalley.com for giving me a copy of Twas the Knife Before Christmas in return for an honest review.
Cover for Twelve Slays of Christmas

I got a copy of the second book in this series (‘Twas the Knife Before Christmas) from NetGalley and decided to read the first book as well. It wasn’t super needed, since the second book is fairly independent of the first. 

I really like both books, by the way. They’re very sweet little cozy murder mysteries with a likeable main character named Holly (her cat’s name is Cindy Lou Who, which I enjoy) who lives in a Christmas obsessed town on a Christmas obsessed tree farm/tourist attraction. She’s super nosy and has to investigate the Christmas-related murders, even though her life is threatened on the regular. Holly can just not trust law enforcement, even though the sheriff (who has a seemingly unlimited number of deputies for the size of the town) is a homicide detective from Boston. I really think that he’s better at the whole death investigation than she is.  There’s a wee bit of romance that’s very much a side story and is honestly mostly forgotten about in the second novel. Which is oddly the only thing that got on my nerves.

The author stuck with the conceit that Mistletoe, Maine only has murders at Christmas, so Twas the Knife Before Christmas is set a year after the end of Twelve Slays of Christmas. Nothing has seemed to move forward for Holly, though. She’s still living in her parents’ guesthouse (though they’re building an inn) and isn’t sure if they guy she’s been dating for  year is her boyfriend or if they’re exclusive. I feel like that’d be a conversation you’d have over a year-long relationship. Could be wrong, but it feels weird, especially since he’s weirdly jealous/possessive. He just doesn’t seem the type to leave her ‘available’. There’s a semi-explanation given, and I like the story line, but the effect on their relationship doesn’t seem real. 

Overall, I enjoyed both books – I’ll read anymore that Jacqueline Frost rights, for sure. They’re adorable little Christmas cozy murder mysteries that are all resolved neatly and there are some quality death threats thrown in there. I definitely suggest reading these for some light Christmas reading!

Blogmas · Top Ten Tuesday

My Top Ten 2019 Bookish Resolutions

Top Ten Tuesday is a feature currently run by That Artsy Reader Girl.

Today is a freebie for Top Ten Tuesday, so I thought I’d revisit one of my favorites (on another blog) – Ten Book-related Resolutions.

  1. I always do a Goodreads Challenge – mine for 2019 will be the same as 2018: 60 books.
  2. I’d like to (finally) complete a Popsugar Reading Challenge and/or a Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. I think I’ll bend the rules a little bit and let a book count for 2 categories on each list (if it can).
  3. Cut my ‘owned-and-unread’ list down a bit. I have way too many books to read that are already on my shelf.
  4. To go with that, I don’t want to buy any books in 2019. The exceptions are if I’m buying them for someone else, a book for book club, or if it’s a book by one of my ‘must buy’ authors (Karin Slaughter and Simone St. James). 
    • Note: Shane says this is impossible, and he’s usually right about these things, but I’ll be happy if the book buying is cut waaaay down.
  5. Get my Goodreads shelves figured out. I deleted 90% of my shelves awhile ago and it’s getting on my nerves.
  6. Along those lines, I need to go through my TBR pile on Goodreads and get rid of whatever I don’t want to read anymore.
  7. Read difficult books – I read a lot of mindless novels, but I’d like to learn something or have challenges to the way I think….or even just the hard sci-fi Shane reads that seems interesting but daunting.
  8. I want to get back to science fiction, fantasy, post-apocalyptic fiction, etc. Not that I’ve stopped reading it entirely but I tend to reach for something murder-y or romance-y.
  9. Read some non-technical technology nonfiction. I’m not sure what to call it – the philosophy of technology? I know what I mean, anyway.
  10. Read some non-fiction that will help me improve.