Summer 2019 Reading Recap

Since I haven’t been keeping up with my monthly reads I thought I would recap what I have read over the summer.  It is hard to believe that summer is nearly over.  Though as someone who lives in the south the cooler weather of Fall probably won’t make its way here until mid October.

From May to July, I have read 15 books.  This might be my most productive summer, in terms of reading, that I have ever had.  Usually Fall and Winter dominate when it comes to the amount of books I manage to get through the most during the year, but for whatever reason the past few months I’ve found more time to pick up a book or two.  Also managing to squeeze in a few audibooks does help to up my reading count.

So here it is! What I’ve read lately:

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I managed to read more nonfiction than I have in the past.  In fact, 2019 might be the year of nonfiction for me, especially since I read 4 of them in the past 3 months alone.  As for my favorite, I would have to go with Storm Glass by Jeff Wheeler.  It is the first in a series, and I’ve had to pace myself so I don’t go through it too quickly.

I think I managed to do quite well in reading a large variety of books.  Though I think being able to read this many in a such a short amount of time for me probably won’t be how I finish out the year.

Happy Reading,

Meghan

April 2019 Wrap Up

Here is what I read in April!

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I didn’t read as much as I have been this year but I’m still on track to make my goal in 2019.  Of the three books I read in April I think my favorite was Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid.  That was my first time reading one of her novels and I’m sure I’ll continue to read her books over time.

What did you read in April?

Happy Reading,

Meghan

The Library Book Book Review

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Title: The Library Book

Author: Susan Orlean

Publish Date: October 16th, 2018

Reading Format: Audio book

Summary:

The Library Book is a Nonfiction book about the fire that happened at the Los Angeles Library in the late 1980s. It tracks the day of the fire, the accused arsonist, and how the Los Angeles Library system works in modern day.

Review:

Nonfiction is usually a hard genre for me to tackle. If I do read Nonfiction it is normally one that is strictly historical. While there is history in The Library Book about the fire most of what Susan Orlean focuses on in her book is how the city of Los Angeles runs their library system. As a fellow reader I did find this part interesting because I got to see an in depth look of how a library functions.

I did listen to this on audio which made the experience of reading it easier. I typically can become quite bored with the overload of information over time. Susan Orlean did a good job of looking at the arson and also questioning if the fire that destroyed the Los Angeles library should have been considered an arson in the first place. This kept my interest going and while it did lag in some places I did want to finish it.

After reading The Library Book I think that I am now more willing to read more books in this genre. Though I’ll admit they will more than likely be in the audio book format going forward.

Rating:

3 out of 5

Happy Reading,

Meghan

Save the Date Book Review

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Title: Save the Date

Author: Morgan Matson

Publish Date: June 5th, 2018

Reading Format: Hardback

Summary:

Charlie is the youngest of 5 kids. Her mom is a famous comic strip writer and illustrator who is currently about to end her famous comic based off of the family’s life. And her older sister Linnie is getting married at the family home they all grew up in before their parents sell it. Let’s just say the few days leading up the the wedding isn’t as smooth sailing as the Grant family would like it to be, and Charlie is there in the middle of all of it.

Review:

Before I get into my review completely let me start off by saying something a little about myself that will be beneficial to understand my feelings about Save the Date. I am an only child. The only siblings I have are two stepsisters but I by no means do I understand what living in a large family is like. With all that now out of the way, let’s get into it.

Charlie Grant is about to graduate from high school and head to college in the fall. But before her school year wraps up, Linnie, the oldest daughter of the Grant children, is about to get married. She has decided to marry her long time boyfriend in the backyard of the house she grew up in before their parents sell it. This means that all the other siblings, including an estranged brother, and many relatives and friends are all headed to the Grant household for the weekend. As you can imagine all sorts of problems spring up along the way.

One of the biggest hang ups that Charlie has through out the book is that she doesn’t know how to move forward in life. She is stuck in the past and the only thing she is focused on all weekend is that the family will all be together again under one roof. To her it is about recreating how everything use to be and trying to prevent some of the biggest changes coming her way. Such as, her parents choosing to sell the home she has only ever known and her mother ending the comic strip about the families life. She is also internally torn about college. Charlie has technically chosen to stay at home and attend the local college her dad teaches at, even though she has been accepted to may other schools around the country including Northwestern University in Chicago.

While the story line about the wedding is how the book is marketed, the larger story line, or rather the real story line, is about the Grants. Charlie is a little immature for my taste, but she did grow on me by the end of the book. I loved Bill (aka Billiam, not his real name just something one of the characters call him) he seems like the nerdy male lead that has been missing in some of the books I’ve been reading lately. The book very much reminds me of Father of the Bride. So if you like that movie then Save the Date would be a book I would suggest you check out. It would also make a great book to add to your summer reading list.

Rating:

3 out of 5

Happy Reading,

Meghan

Lady Midnight Book Review

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“You belong where you’re loved.” 
― Cassandra Clare, Lady Midnight

Title: Lady Midnight

Author: Cassandra Clare

Series: The Dark Artifices

Publish Date: March 8th, 2016

Reading Format: Audiobook

Summary:

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Review:

At this point I’m all in when it comes to the world of the Shadowhunters and everything Cassandra Clare wants to give us. I’ll probably read every book she publishes, but I’m not so sure that The Dark Artifices series is my favorite. It might actually be my least favorite of the three series so far, however, it was still a 4 star read for me. This is obviously because Cassandra’s writing is quite good. She makes a world unlike any other and her characters will make you fall madly in love with them (aka Jim Carstairs). With all of that said Emma and Julian are a too tragic for me personally. Both are orphaned and carry a heavy weight of losing their parents in such violent ways. Julian is forced to live with the guilt of how his parents died (I won’t spoil how if you haven’t read The Immortal Instrument series yet) and become the unofficial father to his four younger siblings.

Lady Midnight is a heavy book. I’ve already read the second book in the series so I know it only gets heavier down the road. Though I would expect no less from the author. Tragedy is her forte.

At the moment I have not completed the series. I think I’m going to need to take a little time before I jump into Queen of Darkness.

Rating:

4 out of 5

Do you read Cassandra Clare’s books? Which was your favorite series?

Happy Reading,

Meghan

Crazy Rich Asians Book Review

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“You love your children so much, you do everything to try to protect them, and they don’t even appreciate it.” 
― Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians

Title: Crazy Rich Asians

Author: Kevin Kwan

Series: Crazy Rich Asians

Publish Date: June 11th, 2013

Reading Format: Audiobook

Summary:

Rachel’s life with Nick seems pretty normal until she agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with him and his family. She is unprepared for the world Nick comes from and the extravagant life his family lives.

Review:

I have yet to watch the movie for Crazy Rich Asians. I wanted to see it the moment it came out, but for some reason I have it in my head that I needed to read the book first. At the moment I’m glad I’ve read Crazy Rich Asians first, although I haven’t seen the movie yet so the feeling may be short lived. I think the main reason that I’m glad I read it is that this book is so much more than a girl who discovers her boyfriend’s life is different than she knew it to be. Crazy Rich Asians is about family. About it dynamics and the relationship between parents and their children.

I think my biggest take away is that I don’t know that I would necessarily paint Eleanor (Nick’s mother) as the antagonist of the book. She does some wrong things certainly, but the reasoning isn’t as black and white as it may seem. Nick is after all her only child and she has existed in the Crazy Rich Asian world a lot longer than her son or his girlfriend ever has. Eleanor understands the pressures associated with it and I think that is what clouds her judgement about Nick and Rachel the most. She is only trying to protect her son and make sure he has an amazing life ahead of him. If anything Eleanor ‘s flaws are what is most displayed in this novel, but I would not describe her as an evil villain by any means.

Rating:

4 out of 5 stars

Have you read Crazy Rich Asians? Did you like it? Or do you plan on reading it? Please let me know in the comments.

Happy Reading,

Meghan

My Reading Goals for 2019

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a lovely New Year’s Eve and have enjoyed your time with family and friends over this past holiday season. I personally have to work today. Booo! But I thought I would share my 5 goals for my reading life in 2019.

First I would like to achieve my forever goal of reading 50 books in one year. I’ve never gotten beyond 41 in the past 3 years I have done the Goodreads Reading Challenge. I hope to at least get as closely as possible and have been collecting as many books and audio books as I can over the past several weeks.

My second goal is to read from my shelves more, both physically and from my Kindle shelf. I own many books like anyone else does that runs a book blog, but I’m not good at reading what I already own. I like to call it the “Oooh something shiny” problem, where I pick a book I already own only to immediately replace it with a book I find in a store. Thus, something shiny. It’s a costly habit I would very much like to break.

My third goal could seem counter productive to my second one (depending entirely on how you view it), however, I hope to concentrate more on what is on my TBR list already. Now I do tend to add more and more books nearly everyday to it, but the beauty of using something like Goodreads is I can sort my TBR from oldest to newest. Therefore, whatever I place on my list 5 years ago can show up first rather than the three new books I placed there this morning. It should help me to cross off items from my TBR and make more room for new ones.

I want to expand on the genres I read from. If you read my last post, My Top 10 Reads of 2018, then you’ll know that 2018 was the year of the Middle Grade novels. The genre I have chosen for this year is Biographies and Memoirs. I don’t read much nonfiction in general, other than the occasional historical book; but mostly I like my fiction novels because I like to escape when I read. I hope to find some pleasure in reading about other people’s lives and will continue to read them for years to come.

My last goal for 2019 is to find my perfect reading spot. Right now I read in two places, my bed on evenings and weekends and at my desk at work on my lunch break. I would love to have a place perfect for me that feels peaceful with as little distraction as possible. As it stands now, I’m constantly diverted from reading either by my iPad, TV, or the sounds of the office during my lunch hour. I’d even enjoy reading outside more, but it is January and Georgia is at the moment experience consistently rainy weather. So being outside will probably me more reserved for Spring and the later half of Fall.

That is my reading goals for the new year. I’d love to know if you have any, so please share in the comments below!

Happy Reading,

Meghan

Top 10 Reads of 2018

I can’t believe this is the last day of 2018 already! I don’t know what happened to this year, but I feel like it ended faster than any other.

But what better way to recap the year than to list my 10 favorite books I read in 2018. This year I felt like I discovered many different things about myself as a reader, such as: I fell in love with Middle Grade fiction and learned that just because a book or book series is really popular doesn’t mean I will like it.

I feel like I had a pretty good reading year. I reached my reading goal of 40 (after lowering it from 45 when I realized I wasn’t going to make it). I also discovered new podcasts that focus on books and reading, which inevitably expanded my TBR list even further. And I hope all of this will motivate me to reach my reading goal in 2019. So without wasting anymore time here is my favorite reads in 2018.


10.

I found a guilty pleasure read in 2018, or should I say I found many. But the one that sticks out the most to me is Snow in Love. The title is cheesy and the plot is predictable, but I fell in love with YA Romances just as quickly as the main characters do. And who knew that you could find ones specifically focused around the winter season. I thought they only revolved around the summer time but I was clearly wrong. Also reading these at the beginning of the year really gave me a head start in my reading challenge and out of the winter blues.

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9.

This is the first of a few Middle Grade novels to make my top 10. Rick Riordan has written so many books that sometimes it is hard to know where to start. Originally I was going to continue on with the Percy Jackson series, but I read the first book at least seven years ago and was sure I would be lost just picking up where I left off without rereading from the beginning. The Sword of Summer was a kindle deal one day and so I figured that it was destined to be the next book by Riordan that I should read. This book was very funny and I laughed out loud a few times along the way. If you like Norse Mythology and Rick Riordan I would highly suggest this book.

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8.

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab is a YA Fantasy/Dystopia novel that I couldn’t put down once I started. It was fast paced and gave me all the feels toward the end. I haven’t read Victoria Schwab before This Savage Song, but I would love to read more novels by her in the future.

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7.

Where do I begin with Pride and Prejudice? First I’ll start with I’m sorry to myself that it took me so long to read it. I love a love story and Pride and Prejudice is one of the all time greatest love stories out there. But now I can say I have read it and as soon as I finished I knew this would be a book that I will read at least once a year going forward.

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6.

If there is any author I have heard the most in 2018 it would be Louise Penny. Up until this year I had never heard of the mystery author, but decided to give in. Still Life is the first in a very long series that centers around a French Canadian Detective named Gamache. I believe that one of her books will always make it on my list to read in the fall.

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5.

Whimsical is the best way I would describe Caraval. It’s how I like my fantasies best. Magical and full of wonder. I enjoyed Caraval so much I pre-ordered the second book, Legendary, in the series at the beginning of 2018. I don’t usually pre-order many things, but I wanted to go back into the world of Caraval as soon as I was able.

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4.

Classics were a new category for me to dive into this past year. There are many I feel I have missed out on as a kid and I’m trying to catch up on most of them now. The Chronicles of Narnia has been at the top of my TBR list for a long time. I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and it was everything I wanted it to be and more. I plan to read them slowly, so I’m taking my time and putting off reading the next book in the series for as long as possible.

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3.

I didn’t get into the whole Hamilton craze. In fact, if a song were to come on from the musical I wouldn’t know a single word from it. Reading a book, however, from the fictionalized point of view from his wife, Eliza Hamilton, is one way to get me interested. My Dear Hamilton is the second book by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie. There other novel was America’s First Daughter about Patsy Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson’s eldest daughter. Each book tells the tale of how America came to be established through the eyes of the women who witnessed it and influenced it. My Dear Hamilton gives me a great appreciation for all that Eliza Hamilton went through to make sure her husband didn’t die in vein.

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2.

Lemons, oh Lemons. The heart of this book is exceptional. I wasn’t expecting it at all when I bought it. I thought it would just be about two kids spending their summer vacation hunting down Bigfoot, but I was so wrong. If there is any book I were to give to everyone it would be Lemons.

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1.

I seem to always find my favorite book each year at the very end. Nevermoor did not disprove that theory. Morrigan Crow was one of, if not my favorite character this year. It is such a fantastic book that even though it is classified as being Middle Grade I believe everyone of all ages would fall love with Nevermoor.

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Well that concludes my final post for 2018. I’m excited to see what books I’ll get my hands on in 2019, and I hope to be able to read much more than I have ever done before. I hope you all have a wonderful New Year’s Eve. And be careful!

Happy Reading,

Meghan

My Dear Hamilton: Book Review

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“I was someone before I met Alexander Hamilton. Not someone famous or important or with a learned philosophical understanding of all that was at stake in our revolution. Not a warrior or a philosopher or statesman. But I was a patriot.” –Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie, My Dear Hamilton

Title: My Dear Hamilton

Authors:  Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publish Date:  April 3rd, 2018

Reading Format: Paperback

Summary:

 My Dear Hamilton follows the life of Eliza Hamilton.  The book is a fictional biographical look at one of America’s founding Mothers and wife of Alexander Hamilton.

Review:

 I was highly anticipating this book when I saw that it was coming out in the Spring of this year.  I actually wasn’t waiting in anticipation because of the whole Hamilton craze that is happening right now, but rather because I loved the authors first book together America’s First Daughter.  And I’ll just go ahead and say that My Dear Hamilton did not disappoint.

The book is all told from Eliza’s perspective and it begins during the American revolution, and before she meets her husband Alexander Hamilton, and moves through the different stages of her life up to her later years.  Before I read this book there wasn’t a whole lot I knew about Eliza Hamilton other than who her famous husband was.  My Dear Hamilton changed all that for me.  Even though this is a fictional book, Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie did such a wonderful job with their research. The novel entwines the tragic and beautiful parts of Eliza and Alexander’s love story quite well.  And delves into them as both a couple and individuals so that Eliza shines throughout the story rather than being diminished to the background of Alexander’s life,  which is why I chose the quote from the book above.  During each of my reviews I try to use a quote under the cover of the book to showcase the story.  Kind of like a small highlight to lure you into the book review.  This particular quote stood out to me more than the others I have chosen in the past and I think that is in large part to the fact that Eliza Hamilton as a character has stood out to me the most this year in my reading.  She was a profound woman who existed in a time that history likes to write out, so I’m grateful that My Dear Hamilton tries to rectify that by not only making Eliza the main character but also by taking the time to research her and the other women during the Revolution.

I highly recommend reading My Dear Hamilton as well as their other book America’s First Daughter.

Rating:  4 out of 5 Stars

 

Happy Reading,

Meghan

Caraval: Book Review

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“Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find yourself magic in this world.”
― Stephanie GarberCaraval

Title:  Caraval

Series: Caraval Series

Author:  Stephanie Garber

Publish Date:  January 31, 2017

Genre: YA/Fantasy

Reading Format:  E-book

Publisher’s Summary:

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Review:

I was almost certain that I might not come across a book this year that I would truly enjoy, but Caraval may have saved the day!

Caraval has been on my want-to-read list ever since it came out last year and I’ve almost bought it a dozen times while in Books-a-Million, but for some reason would decide to go with something else.  However, Amazon came through (or I suppose the publishers of the book did) when it was a Kindle daily deal sometime back in January or February.  I immediately bought it and couldn’t wait to start reading because I knew by reading the description of the story that Caraval was just going to be a book I would love.

And I was right. This was exactly the type of story I like.  It’s fantasy with romance and a magical world to get lost in, which are all prefect elements to books I love to read.  I will admit though that the beginning was a little slow for me, however that isn’t very uncommon in fantasy novels because world building is apart of the genre and that usually takes up some of the plot.  It was easy to get over though because once the main characters were in Caraval the story really began to take off and I couldn’t put it down. T

There is so much mystery surrounding the game of Caraval and it’s creator, Legend, that as the reader you seem to get lost in this magical place as much as Scarlett does.  And I think this makes her as the narrator of the story  a great idea because you see Caraval through all of Scarlett’s first time experiences with the game.

Also the imagery that came to my mind while reading the book showed to myself at least how much I liked Stephanie Garber’s writing.  She brings Caraval’s world to life well by her descriptions of the places and people Scarlett meets while in the game. I didn’t feel overwhelmed at anytime by the magic in the story or the world building either, but I could tell while reading the book that there was so much more to explore in this world in future books.

Which I’m super excited for the next book in the series that I already pre-ordered.  When I finished the book and knew I had to pre-order the next one, that was the best way for me to tell I really liked Caraval.  Plus I don’t have to wait that long, as it comes out the end of this month. Yay!

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Happy Reading,

Meghan