I finally felt like I found my stride again this month. I only reviewed one but it was a great month of reading and I’m hoping that I’m able to keep it up and finish the year off strong. I’m currently at 117 read going into December so I’m already pleased with my progress. November has already been extremely cold so I’m looking forward to curling up on the couch with a book or three. 🙂
Best of the Month: Recursion by Blake Crouch ★★★★½
If you’ve been following me lately, you’ll know I’ve been struggling a bit with reviewing. I haven’t been forcing it and only writing when the book actually inspires me to do so (good or bad). Recursion got reviewed this month for all good reasons. 🙂
Least Favorite: The Unwritten, Vol. 3: Dead Man’s Knock by Mike Carey ★★★
I had read the first 5 installments of this series forever ago so I’m re-reading those so I can finally finish it. But installments like #3 make me question my decision because boy, can these be some severely wordy graphic novels. The story itself is interesting but sometimes they lose me.
Biggest Surprise: The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) by Holly Black ★★★★
This was an enormous surprise because this was actually my third time attempting to read this, but dammit, I finally succeeded. And really enjoyed the heck out of it. So much that I actually completed the entire trilogy in a single month. Crazy to think what I’d be missing out on if I never gave it another shot.
Biggest Disappointment: Meet Cute by Helena Hunting ★★★
Like many before me, I was fooled by the cuteness of this cover. I’m not sure why this was the chosen cover (nothing wrong with the actual cover) but the insides don’t even come close to matching it. The story itself is much more serious and definitely lacking in “cute”. The whole thing was unfortunately pretty predictable too.
What were some of your favorite reads from November?
It never fails, I make a game plan for the month and I end up doing the opposite. I’ve been struggling for a while now to balance blogging and reading and have for many weeks ended up avoiding both completely, but I feel like I’m finally getting back into the swing of things, at least in terms of reading. Blogging is still a whole other matter but, baby steps. I did manage to post some reviews this month so I’m considering it a success. I didn’t manage to read quite as many horror books as I planned on but I read a whole lot of other things and all in all it was a good month.
Best of the Month: Before the Devil Breaks You (The Diviners #3) by Libba Bray ★★★★★
By this point, I’m already fully aware that Libba Bray is an incredible storyteller, but she continues to astound me with how much better she seems to get. This series is simply fantastic. Complex and creepy storytelling with one of the largest cast of characters that amazingly enough all end up being central in some way to the plot. January Lavoy is an absolute marvel and is quickly becoming my favorite audiobook narrator ever.
Least Favorite: Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren ★★
It’s sad, but I think I’ve fallen out of love with CL. I’ve read every single one to date and with each new release I feel they keep getting less and less special. (And actually, I’ve already attempted their upcoming 2020 release and it’s sitting firmly on my DNF shelf). I think it’s time to call it quits.
Biggest Disappointment: The Unkindest Tide by Seanan McGuire ★★★
This series has been consistently well but this installment had me all frustrated. It took me ages to get through and I just wasn’t loving it and I couldn’t understand why. Still not sure if it was the book or myself (and my mood) to blame.
After “Mediocre March”, April went immensely better, thank goodness. I thought for sure I was headed straight for Slumpville. I finally managed to find a non 3-star read (and even read my second 5 star of the year!) I participated in the OWL’s Magical Readathon and while I didn’t do as well as I had hoped (I thought I could read all 12, lol) I did manage to read 8 (with the 9th being a DNF). Not bad, if I do say so myself.
I got a little sidetracked and ended up reading a few unplanned ones as well.
I’ve been once again having a hard time writing reviews and I’ve been trying to brainstorm ways to make reviews fun and interesting again not just for me but for my readers. Is it just me or are standard reviews just not as exciting anymore? For me, at least in terms of writing reviews, I need to get back to basics and start doing what I used to do and what worked for years: keeping a notebook, taking notes, writing down quotes, jotting down random feelings. Being able to refer to this when I actually sit down to write makes it so much easier for me because it gives me a starting point rather than sitting down with all my thoughts and being overwhelmed and just moving on to the next book. Hoping to get find my groove in May a little more.
Best of the Month: Like Lions: A Novel (Bull Mountain #2) by Brian Panowich ★★★★★
I absolutely loved Bull Mountain (that one got 5 stars from me too) and I was so anxious to get my hands on this sequel that I ordered a copy from across the pond before it was available in the US. I’m so glad I did. This was just as fantastic. I can’t wait to see what Panowich has in store for us next.
Least Favorite: The Right Swipe (Modern Love #1) by Alisha Rai ★★
I’ve heard many great things about Alisha Rai and was drawn to this new contemporary romance series of hers that involves the world of online dating. I was definitely in the mood for some fluff but the characters + story just didn’t do it for me.
Biggest Surprise: Unholy Ghosts (Downside Ghosts #1) by Stacia Kane ★★★★
I bought this way back in 2015 and it’s always been one of those I mean to start but never do, typically because I’m unwilling to commit to a new series. I’m a huge Urban Fantasy fan though so I always felt guilty when I’d see it on my TBR. I’m not sure why I’m quite as surprised as I am that I loved it. I never knew I needed some dark Urban Fantasy in my life but this was the answer. I can’t wait to pick up the next installment.
Biggest Disappointment: Vicious (Villains #1) by V.E. Schwab ★★
I bought this one in 2015 too! This was the month of knocking out the metaphorical dust bunny collecting ebooks, apparently. It was one of those that I kept holding off on picking up because everyone truly raved about this title (and Schwab in general.) Yes, this was my first Schwab too. I’m disappointed on many levels.
I had one of the best and worst reading months in March. It was the best in terms of quantity but the worst in terms of quality. I had nothing but 2 and 3-stars (okay, two 3.5 stars but still about the same in terms of mediocrity) and I’m really surprised I didn’t end up in Slumpsville. It was close, but in April I decided to join a readathon that has proved to be a lot of fun so far, so I’m hoping I’ve got more than mediocre reads to look forward to this month.
Best of the Month: A Friend is a Gift You Give Yourself: A Novel by William Boyle ★★★½
This was such an interesting twist on your standard crime/mob boss thriller types where we’re told the story through the eyes of the females. Shockingly violent at times but once this story gained speed, it was a hard one to put down.
Least Favorite: Cold-Hearted Rake (The Ravenels #1) by Lisa Kleypas ★★
I’ve been trying to branch out and try new historical romance authors so this was my first endeavor into Kleypas. I’m not sure if I picked the wrong series to pick up or what but this one was not a favorite. I’m thinking I should have gone with the one that’s been on my TBR for years instead, Mine Till Midnight.
Biggest Surprise: The Power of the Dog (Power of the Dog #1) by Don Winslow ★★★½
I’m not sure Biggest Surprise is the best description of how this one ended for me, but close enough. Admittedly, I’ve been reading this story since October. Yes, 2018. I was constantly putting it on the back burner in favor of other reads but I was glad I finally got around to finishing this. Winslow is quite a writer.
Biggest Disappointment: Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid ★★★
I’m starting to think that any non-contemporary romance TJR is just not for me. I didn’t love The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and I didn’t love Daisy Jones. Everyone else sure seems to but they sure aren’t for me.
I only read 4 books in December so I didn’t even bother doing a Rundown. This month, I think I finally found my groove again when it comes to reading. Only 9, but it felt like a success. Still trying to work on getting back into a reviewing groove but for now, at least I’m reading again.
Best of the Month: One Day in December by Josie Silver ★★★★★
This was a completely spontaneous Audible purchase and I’m so glad I took the chance. I thoroughly enjoyed this love story and the dual-narration was absolutely superb. I can’t wait for more from this author.
Least Favorite: The Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #2) by Rick Riordan ★★★
The Hammer of Thor was far from the worst book I read this month, I did give it 3 stars after all, but it was the one I was least impressed with. Honestly, I’ve been pretty unimpressed with the entire Kurt Cobain, *cough*, Magnus Chase series from the beginning. I’m so unimpressed that I’m not even interested in picking up the next book, but considering it’s the last in the trilogy I probably will just to see it through.
Biggest Surprise: The Child Finder (Naomi Cottle #1) by Rene Denfeld ★★★★
I read Denfeld’s debut and while The Child Finder was a completely different genre, I never really intended on picking this one up. I was in need of an audiobook and picked this one up completely at random and ended up being pleasantly surprised at how enthralled I was. Will definitely be picking up the next book in the series.
Biggest Disappointment: 99 Percent Mine: A Novel by Sally Thorne DNF
I adored The Hating Game and I’d been anxiously awaiting Thorne’s next release with crazy anticipation. Suffice it to say, I couldn’t even bring myself to finish it and I’m “disappointed” is the understatement of the year.
Yes, I’m well aware that the month ended over two weeks ago. 😂 November has been an odd one for me and I’m having a difficult time sitting down to read or blog even though I have buckets of time on my hands now that I’ve found myself jobless. I’m used to rigid scheduling and working my ass off, so having hours upon hours to just do whatever is causing me to develop a bit of an eye twitch. lol Relaxing? What’s that? October was a productive month of reading but November isn’t shaping up to be real great. It is what it is.
Books Read = 24
That looks like more than it really was, I swear. Four of them were shortish stories and another four were graphic novels.
Apparently, I didn’t post a single review! lol Sounds about right.
There are a couple review books I read in October that aren’t listed since I’ll be reviewing them… eventually.
Best of the Month: The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle ★★★★½
This was my first LaValle and it’s not going to be my last. I have no idea why I waited so long to pick up anything of his up but this one was a perfect introduction. This was like dark Urban Fantasy + Lovecraftian horror and it was near perfect.
Least Favorite: The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut #1) by Mary Robinette Kowal ★★
I bought both books in this series at the same time because I anticipated that I would adore this. I am so disappointed. I really loved the beginning of this but the love definitely died. Kowal really goes all out trying to cover all the things (women’s rights, race issues, religious issues) and while I love a good book on empowerment and focusing on issues that need discussing, it began to feel like the primary focus of the novel rather than the whole saving the world bit it was supposed to be about. Also, the sex scenes were super fucking awkward.
Biggest Surprise: Roomies by Christina Lauren ★★★★½
This has been the year of Christina Lauren for me (this is my fourth of theirs) and while not my absolute favorite due to a little sputtering at the end of this one, it still surprises me how much I love their books. I don’t read a whole lot of fluff but this is some real good fluff. Exactly what I’ve come to expect for this dynamic duo.
Biggest Disappointment: Every Heart a Doorway (Wayward Children #1) by Seanan McGuire ★★
I’ve loved pretty much everything of McGuire’s and (much like The Calculating Stars) everyone I know raves about this series but it super didn’t work for me. Everyone talks about how whimsical this series is and I really thought that I’d love it but I didn’t like the characters, the world-building, or the unnecessary gruesome aspects. This is, unfortunately, going in the series graveyard.
I managed to read and review this month, yay me. haha I read a total of 17 books this month (3 of them were short stories but I’m counting them) and 5 of them managed to be review books. I ended up DNFing 5 additional review books as well because sometimes, despite your best efforts, sometimes books just don’t work out. After reading 5 and DNFing 5 others, my review pile is in a much more manageable state. I actually cleaned up all of my October review books (which is great since I’m all about the horror at the moment!) How did you guys do this month?
Best of the Month: Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett ★★★★★
I don’t know why I went into this one with the lowest of expectations, but sometimes it can be hard to fall in love with the first installment of a fantasy series, especially when there’s so much worldbuilding involved. Bennett did an amazing job of bringing the world, characters, and a thrilling story to life. Sure this is a chunk of a book but such a great read you’ll be dying for the next installment!
Least Favorite: Dirty Angels (Dirty Angels #1) by Karina Halle ★★
I read and loved Halle’s Artist’s trilogy, where Javier is first introduced, but the introduction to his own spinoff trilogy was very clearly not for me. Halle posts all sorts of trigger warnings about her books and openly admits that her books are dark and violent and not for everyone… but I read dark stories. Dark stories can still be fascinating… but this? Ehh. Just seemed gratuitous and the romance was an eye roll.
Biggest Surprise: Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them by Jennifer Wright ★★★★★
I picked this one up as an Audible daily deal and while I’m an odd ball and am fascinated by plagues and diseases, I didn’t expect to like this one quite as much as I did. Jennifer Wright’s sense of humor was a fantastic pairing with the more gruesome aspects. Super informative and never dry, Gabra Zackman’s narration was a joy to listen to.
Biggest Disappointment: Wildcard (Warcross #2) by Marie Lu ★★
Warcross was all sorts of fun and I had been looking forward to this release all year. I was worried that because I hadn’t taken the time to do a re-read that I’d be missing out on remembering certain things but Wildcard went a completely different route than I anticipated and I was honestly quite bored the entire time. Which is strange because that’s how I felt about the last Marie Lu series finale… suspicious.
I broke my record for most books read in a month! I had an incredibly productive reading month despite life shit… reviewing? Not so much. lol I posted one single review. The words just weren’t coming for me and I was much more in the mindset to simply fall into another story rather than sit and analyze, which is better than no reviewing and no reading. Hoping to get more into it a little so that I can maybe not feel quite so rusty when I do actually sit down to write. I tried getting into sitting down and at least jotting down some of my thoughts immediately after finishing but that doesn’t always work best for me. Oh well, I’ll figure it out. 🙂
Best of the Month: The Winter Long (October Daye #8) by Seanan McGuire ★★★★★
I gave another installment of Toby Daye 5 stars but I really super loved this one (and I read 4 of them this month — finally caught up though!) This is one of my all-time favorite Urban Fantasy series. I’m going to be so sad having to actually wait for releases now.
Least Favorite: Sabrina by Nick Drnaso ★★★
I was super intrigued by a graphic novel being longlisted for the Booker so, despite my general indifference to anything nominated for a Booker, I put this on hold at the library. My general indifference for Booker nominees continues.
Biggest Disappointment: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid ★★★
Everybody and their damn mother loved this (except my mother — we buddy read this and she was also underwhelmed lol). I’ve loved a lot of Reid’s books but this one just didn’t manage to hit the mark for me. 3 stars is actually pretty generous the more I think about it. Baa Baa black sheep.
I had my second most productive reading month in July! Which is even crazier when I actually look at my book spreadsheet because apparently, I didn’t even finish my first book of the month until the 11th. Which is great because, not sure if anyone noticed, but I didn’t do a June Rundown because… I read 4 books. lol It was a massively busy month at work trying to get everything done before my two-week vacation to Ireland so my priorities were elsewhere. But I’m back at it! I read some pretty great books too (and actually wrote some reviews) so fingers crossed I can keep up that momentum into August. 🙂
Best of the Month: We Are Where the Nightmares Go and Other Stories by C. Robert Cargill ★★★★½
I’ve read several of Cargill’s novels and have thoroughly enjoyed them but I was pretty blown away at his short fiction. It takes a real talent to tell a story effectively in a short amount of words and boy did he ever accomplish that task. There were a few stories that I didn’t care for as much as the others, but Nightmares is a solid short story collection for horror fans.
Least Favorite: Invitation to a Bonfire by Adrienne Celt ★★★
I read a stupid amount of 3 star reads this month, so picking a least favorite is basically my most mediocre read. I’ve been actively trying to accept review books only when I’m very much looking forward to these. Invitation to a Bonfire was one of those. The inspiration behind the story was intriguing but calling it a psychological thriller was way far off base. It should’ve been a DNF, honestly.
Biggest Surprise: Queenpin by Megan Abbott ★★★★
I’ve read Abbott’s Dare Me and The Fever and loved them both. In the early days of Abbott’s career, she primarily wrote female-centric noirs. I picked up Queenpin for $0.99 years back but kept putting it off. This past weekend, I decided to spontaneously participate in Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon and I picked up a few shorter stories that I could knock out and this was one of them. I don’t know why I waited so long. I also need the rest of her noir books, stat.
Biggest Disappointment: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara ★★★½
Yes, I listed this under biggest disappointment but that might be a bit of an exaggeration in this case. Unfortunately, it fit the bill best. I had high hopes for this one following all the hype with this book being released and shortly after the police using DNA to identify the Golden State Killer. I’m a big ol’ True Crime fan so I had my sights on this one for quite some time, but the need to read it became extreme. It was very obviously incomplete at the time of her death and was pieced together by her husband in the best way he could, but it was obvious it was working with an incomplete puzzle. I am still glad I read it, I am still glad that he published this posthumously, but I do so wish she had the opportunity to truly see the story to its end.
I had a most productive reading month. I finally feel like I’m getting back into the swing of things and no longer headed towards that rut that I kept feeling close at hand. I started a new reading challenge of sorts, where I’m trying to give more attention to the books that I’ve purchased (physical, ebook, and audio) and I made more progress than I expected. Of the 14 total books I read this month, 3 were review books, 3 were from the library/Kindle Unlimited/freebies, and a grand total of 8 were books that I purchased. Not bad if I do say so myself.
Alright, so I did say I had a productive reading month… but I didn’t post a single review. ha I have a few that I definitely plan on reviewing in June.
Best of the Month: Lock In (Lock-In #1) by John Scalzi ★★★★
Lock In was one of those books that I bought and its been languishing on my unread shelf. I decided to pick up the prequel story first and while I’m not usually one that geeks out on uber science-y stories but I really did with that one. It was a fantastic introduction to Lock In and I really enjoyed this strange robot/detective mystery (and the follow-up Head On was equally great.)
Least Favorite: A Girl Like Her (Ravenswood #1) by Talia Hibbert ★★
I figure I should say that for starters that this is a genre I read irregularly and super isn’t my thing so I may not be the best judge of character. I had heard a ton of great things about it and was one I could read to take advantage of my Kindle Unlimited membership but… something about this one rubbed me the wrong way. I technically DNF’d this and called it quits around 70%.
Biggest Surprise: Only Human (Themis Files #3) by Sylvain Neuvel ★★★★
I’ve loved this entire trilogy (and I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, the audiobooks are the freaking best ever) but this finale still comes as a surprise because I always hate series enders for one reason or another. This wrapped up the story nicely and I’m really pleased with the story arc Neuvel crafted.
Biggest Disappointment: A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3.1) by Sarah J. Maas ★
Admittedly, I wasn’t a fan of A Court of Wings and Ruin either, but I was hoping that this spin-off series Maas is planning would draw me back into this fantasy world. I had been debating whether or not to actually pre-order it but I eventually did and I’m actually angry with myself for not following my gut instinct. lol I had even had this rated 2 star initially but nope, there really wasn’t anything that I liked about it. 1 star.