Book Haul: March Mystery/Thriller Book Buying Madness

Something I hadn’t realised until recently is that this is the first time I’ve ever actually done a book haul post. Pretty crazy, especially considering I’ve been blogging since 2017. It’s probably because I tend to list my hauls as part of my monthly wrap ups. But there’s a first time for everything after all, and now seemed like the time. With my newbie status in mind, I made sure to check out some other blogs for hints on how to format this. From what I could see, most people tend to copy the book covers off Goodreads, list the synopsis and some brief thoughts, and go on their merry way. Smart, efficient, practical. But me, oh no. Past Ashley was like, I should take proper photos of everything!

Never. Again. Let it be said here: past Ashley is stupid.

Moving along, as the title suggests, recently I’ve been really in the mood for mystery/thriller type reads and, as you do when you get fixated on something, I’ve bought a few of them over the last couple of weeks. Okay, more than a few. Here are the new additions to my shelves in all their (annoying printed sticker) glory.

Final Girls – Riley Sager

Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout’s knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media’s attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy’s doorstep. Blowing through Quincy’s life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa’s death come to light, Quincy’s life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam’s truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.

Surprisingly, I’ve already finished this one! I was really in the mood for a quick, satisfying thriller one day and after enjoying Sager’s The Last Time I Lied earlier this year, I thought this might be just what I was after. As it turned out, it wasn’t quick or satisfying. The main story took so long to finally get going and I wasn’t very keen on most of the characters. The big reveal was disappointing, too. Another one of those cases of a good premise and poor execution, I’m afraid.


Stillhouse Lake – Rachel Caine

Gina Royal is the definition of average—a shy Midwestern housewife with a happy marriage and two adorable children. But when a car accident reveals her husband’s secret life as a serial killer, she must remake herself as Gwen Proctor—the ultimate warrior mom.

With her ex now in prison, Gwen has finally found refuge in a new home on remote Stillhouse Lake. Though still the target of stalkers and Internet trolls who think she had something to do with her husband’s crimes, Gwen dares to think her kids can finally grow up in peace.

But just when she’s starting to feel at ease in her new identity, a body turns up in the lake—and threatening letters start arriving from an all-too-familiar address. Gwen Proctor must keep friends close and enemies at bay to avoid being exposed—or watch her kids fall victim to a killer who takes pleasure in tormenting her. One thing is certain: she’s learned how to fight evil. And she’ll never stop. 

This book was on my 2020 TBR and I never got around to buying or reading it. So, when I found it on sale on the kindle store last month for less than $2, I couldn’t resist hitting that ‘buy now’ button. I think it’s the cheapest book I’ve ever bought! I’ve seen quite a lot of positive reviews for Stillhouse Lake and the premise is intriguing, however I know it’s the first installment in a series and there’s a cliffhanger ending, which I’m sure will drive me crazy.


The Nowhere Child – Christian White

Kimberly Leamy is a photography teacher in Melbourne, Australia. Twenty-six years earlier, Sammy Went, a two-year old girl vanished from her home in Manson, Kentucky. An American accountant who contacts Kim is convinced she was that child, kidnapped just after her birthday. She cannot believe the woman who raised her, a loving social worker who died of cancer four years ago, crossed international lines to steal a toddler.

On April 3rd, 1990, Jack and Molly Went’s daughter Sammy disappeared from the inside their Kentucky home. Already estranged since the girl’s birth, the couple drifted further apart as time passed. Jack did his best to raise and protect his other daughter and son while Molly found solace in her faith. The Church of the Light Within, a Pentecostal fundamentalist group who handle poisonous snakes as part of their worship, provided that faith. Without Sammy, the Wents eventually fell apart.

Now, with proof that she and Sammy are in fact the same person, Kim travels to America to reunite with a family she never knew she had. And to solve the mystery of her abduction—a mystery that will take her deep into the dark heart of religious fanaticism where she must fight for her life against those determined to save her soul…

I realised looking at my 2020 reading stats that although I live in Australia, I read barely any books by Australian authors or ones set there. It’s kind of sad, so consider this my first step in trying to improve that somewhat. From the blurb this seems like an interesting approach to the kidnapping type story so I’m looking forward to getting around to reading it. The Nowhere Child was shortlisted for quite a few Australian literature awards (what gave it away I wonder, could it be ALL THE PRINTED STICKERS??!!) so fingers crossed it’s a good read.


A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder – Holly Jackson

Everyone in Fairview knows the story.

Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town.

But she can’t shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day. She knew Sal when she was a child, and he was always so kind to her. How could he possibly have been a killer?

Now a senior herself, Pip decides to reexamine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent . . . and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn’t want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger.

I’ve been meaning to buy A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder for a while now so the fact that I finally did isn’t much of a surprise. Unlike the other books on this list, it’s a YA Mystery read. I’ve been burnt by other YA books in this genre before so I’m a little wary but I’ve seen so many great reviews that I’m really hoping for a home run with this one, particularly since there’s another two books in the series after it.


In the Woods – Tana French

As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children. He is gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.

Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a 12-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox (his partner and closest friend) find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.

In one of my recent posts I mentioned wanting to give some of Tana French’s books a try and In the Woods is the first in French’s Dublin Murder Squad series. You can read them out of order but I’m a bit of nut when it comes to that sort of thing so the first book it is. She’s a popular author in the genre so I hope I enjoy this because it’ll mean I have plenty of other books from her back catalogue to work my way through.


The Good Daughter – Karin Slaughter

Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind.

Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s happy small-town family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father—Pikeville’s notorious defense attorney—devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.

Twenty-eight years later, Charlotte has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer herself—the ideal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again, and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatized, Charlotte is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it’s a case that unleashes the terrible memories she’s spent so long trying to suppress–because the shocking truth about the crime that destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won’t stay buried forever.

Like Tana French, Karin Slaughter is another big crime author with a healthy backlog that I’ve wanted to give a go for some time. Picking where to start with her books was a tough decision but The Good Daughter is one of her highest rated on GR and the blurb for it definitely grabbed me more than for some of her other books. I know that my grandma enjoys her books occasionally so, at the very least, I’ll have someone to chat to about it.


Death on the Nile – Agatha Christie

The tranquility of a cruise along the Nile is shattered by the discovery that Linnet Ridgeway has been shot through the head. She was young, stylish and beautiful, a girl who had everything – until she lost her life. Hercule Poirot recalls an earlier outburst by a fellow passenger: ‘I’d like to put my dear little pistol against her head and just press the trigger.’ Yet in this exotic setting, nothing is ever quite what it seems…

Let me first say, Agatha Christie is a literary queen and amazing. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t buy this because of how pretty the hardback special edition is. I’m not sure how I missed this but over the last few years Harper Collins has released a couple of Christie’s books with brand new, special foiled covers. They have a chosen quote on the back and nice, patterned end pages. As you might have guessed, I’m now determined to collect them all. I decided to go with Death on the Nile first as I know the new adaptation is releasing soon. While I’ve seen other adaptations before, I’ve never read the book and there’s no time like the present, right?


And that’s that! While I have bought a few other reads recently, they’re from other genres and I’ll probably save those to include as part of my end of month wrap up, as per usual. What books have you recently purchased and are looking forward to reading? Have you read any of these books and if so, what did you think? Or even better, do you have any other good mystery/thriller recommendations for me?

July TBR: Ignoring my Existing TBR and Buying a Bunch of New Books

I have a list of purchased books sitting on my bedside table to help me keep track of them all and ensure I don’t let “the stack” get out of control. So, the logical thing to do in order to keep this list manageable would be to pick a TBR for July from these books. Right? Right?

Yeah, that would be a noooooo.

Instead, I went to the bookstore and bought a bunch of new books to read. Because clearly I want both myself and my credit card to suffer. Feel the joy. Here are the books I’ll attempt to tackle in July (50% of which I have a high chance of disliking. Woo?):

The Secret History – Donna Tartt

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There seems to be two kinds of responses to this book. 1) This is fantastic and 2) What is this pretentious load of boring bullshit? As I’m sure you can guess, I hope I fall into camp one. TSH is about a group of New England University Classics students who take part in a Bacchian rite and end up killing one of their classmates. It’s dense, slow, and supposedly full of terrible people. What a page turner, am I right? Yet, somehow it’s also a lot of people’s favourite book and apparently addictive. TSH has been around for a while now (28 years in fact) but if you haven’t heard of it, you’re probably familiar with Tartt’s more recent hit, The Goldfinch.


Conversations with Friends – Sally Rooney

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I have no idea why I have the sudden urge to read this book, but the sudden urge I do have. I was kind of lukewarm towards Rooney’s Normal People and didn’t really see myself reading anything else from her, but then I watched the TV adaptation, loved it, and now here we are with a copy of Conversations with Friends. It’s about a college student named Francis and her ex-girlfriend Bobby who end up drawn into the world of a journalist named Melissa and her husband, Nick. Francis soon begins an affair with Nick which changes her outlook on life and herself. I’m probably flirting with disappointment on this one but I live in hope.


The Little Drummer Girl – John Le Carré 

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Yes, we’re trying some espionage. I know, not my usual wheelhouse at all. I’ve probably read one book in this genre period. Temporary insanity, maybe? This is another one of those cases where I saw the adaptation, liked it (probably because I adore Florence Pugh) and decided I’d read the book. It’s also a book I’m very nervous about not enjoying because COMPLICATED. But hey, you never know unless you give things a try. The Little Drummer Girl is about an actress named Charlie being used by Israeli intelligence to infiltrate a Palestinian Terrorist cell and capture their leader. I don’t anticipate this being an easy novel to read but sometimes it’s good to challenge yourself. At the very least I’ll be able to say I’ve tried le Carré , right?


Such a Fun Age – Kiley Reid

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My only not brand new purchase this month, I picked up Such a Fun Age on audible a few months ago. However, until this month, I just haven’t been in the mood to listen to it. Well, its time has come! I’ve heard some good things about the story, ideas and light, easy writing style so I’m looking forward to it. Such a Fun Age tells the story of an African-American woman named Emira who babysits for a wealthy, white family. After taking two year old Briar to a supermarket, Emira is accosted by security and accused of kidnapping her. Things kind of go pear shaped when Briar’s mother, Alix, tries to get justice for Emira. The book looks at race, privilege, white saviors, cultural awareness and more. I’ve heard the ending is a bit disappointing but I’m expecting an enjoyable story for the most part.


If I Never Met You – Mhairi McFarlane

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While romance is usually associated with summer, I’m feeling like bucking the seasonal trend. Plus, I definitely need something light to break up the rest of this month’s selections. I shamelessly love a good fake dating trope so this is pretty much gold for me as far as the blurb goes. The story revolves around Laurie who sets up a fauxmance with the office playboy, Jamie, after her partner of 10 years leaves her and shortly after shows up with a pregnant girlfriend. Meanwhile Jamie is in need of a respectable girlfriend if he wants to impress the higher ups. I’m looking for some fun banter, cuteness, laughs and a teensy bit of steam.


Five books for July. I have absolutely no clue if I’ll manage to read them all or just get stuck on one for over two weeks (pray for me – I started The Little Drummer Girl first). Guess we’ll have to see. I’m keen to try a few things which are very different from my usual reading choices but at the same time, this could also be a recipe for disaster.

What’s the number one book on your TBR for this month?

And That’s a Wrap: March and April 2020 (+ O.W.Ls Magical Readathon Results)

Another two months of this crazy and unpleasant year down. Slowly, at least in the southern hemisphere, we’re making our way towards winter time. Horray! I’ve read some really great books over the last two months (and some pretty average ones), and, despite the struggle, ended up completing my O.W.Ls magical readathon with almost all the subjects I wanted to.

March

I had a great month of reading in March numbers wise. I read nearly everything on my planned TBR except one book and ended up finishing on a total of eight books. Considering I read about four a month at the moment, this was a nice surprise.

The Diviners – Libba Bray ★★★★.5

Why did I put this off for so many years? The Diviners was like and yet so different from other stuff I read. I loved the 1920s New York setting, which was so vivid – the language, music, costumes, controversies, attitudes. The other standout was the great cast of characters each with their own quirks, personalities and special abilities. The story was engaging, fabulously dark, and a little bit ballsy for a YA novel. I’m really looking forward to getting stuck into the rest of the series and getting to know the characters even better. Bring on the ghosts and magic.

Red Rising & Golden Son (red rising 1 & 2) – Pierce Brown ★★★★.5 & ★★★★★| Reviews

These two books were rereads for me and both were just as good the second time around. It’s always nice to reaffirm your original feelings about a book or series. I finished them in about a day or so each because, much like before, once I started I couldn’t stop. Red Rising still has a slow start (which is the reason for the less than 5 star rating) but overall I love it. This is definitely one of my favourite series.

The Bromance Book Club – Lyssa Kay Adams ★★★.5

As far as romances go, this was a pretty cute and original story. I really enjoyed the fact that instead of focusing on two people falling in love for the first time it was about a couple working on saving their marriage. The story gets contrived at points, the characters frustrated me a teensy bit, and I wish I’d been able to laugh a bit more, but overall an enjoyable and sweet read. Plus, bonus points for the smart commentary on sexism and gender roles. A very self aware romance!

The Clockwork Angel (The infernal devices 1#) – Cassandra Clare ★★★★

Considering I haven’t read this since it first came out about ten years ago, I knew going in I’d probably feel differently about it. It’s definitely still good – a great setting, likeable characters, and the story’s pretty enjoyable as well (if slow at points). However, I will say that I found Tessa a bit blander, Will more angst-y, and the humour not as laugh out loud funny this time around. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right mood for it? Jem is still a precious cinnamon roll though and I love his and Will’s friendship.

The Dutch House – Ann Patchett ★★★★.5

One of two surprises this month, I really liked this one! The Dutch House is the first Ann Patchett book I’ve read and it’s so nice to finish something where the hype is accurate. This isn’t my typical read but there’s something about well-written books which follow certain characters through chunks of their lives which stick with me. It’s a slower, quieter type of read (sort of a modern fairytale) which focuses heavily on the relationship between two siblings and their connection to their childhood home. Some people won’t be so keen, but I found it weirdly relaxing. Then again, it may just be Tom Hanks’s soothing narration on the audiobook…

Jane Anonymous – Laurie Faria Stolarz ★★

I was super intrigued by the concept for this one – a teen who gets kidnapped and has to try to reintegrate into her life after 7 months in captivity. I liked the structure of the book in switching back and forth between the past and present, and the way it dealt with Jane’s mental state following what happened. Yet, for some reason, I couldn’t get into the story or connect with the characters. It also didn’t help that I could see the “twist” coming from miles away which ruined the suspense somewhat. However, this might be a case of it’s not you, it’s me.

Wolf by Wolf – Ryan Graudin ★★★★.5 | Review

Surprise of April no. 2. Wolf by Wolf is my new hidden gem recommendation. It’s an alternate history story set in a world in which Germany and Japan won WWII. They celebrate their victory every year with an epic and cutthroat motorcycle race which, this year, the resistance decide to use as an opportunity to assassinate Hitler. The plot has great momentum, I really liked the characters (especially the lead, Yael, a shapeshifter and survivor of Auschwitz), the romance doesn’t overwhelm the story, and it ends on an exciting note. I’m massively looking forward to reading the sequel.


April

In April I participated in the O.W.L.s Magical Readathon hosted by G at Bookroast. If you missed my original post about the readathon, you can find it here. Normally I find that readathons spur on my reading but this time around, it put me on the verge of a slump. The first half of the month was very slow. I ended up putting one book down 100 pages in because I knew I wouldn’t finish anything else if I continued. In the end, I was able to read enough to fulfill the subject requirements for my career choice, Trader of Magical Tomes, and one of the two bonus courses I’d planned to do. However, this was only because the comic I intended for my second bonus course fit the prompt for Charms (and made up for the book I abandoned). Phew!

history of magic: Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb 1#) – Tamsyn muir ★★★★

This is definitely one of the weirder things I’ve read. It’s also confusing, dark and quite unique. So pretty much what people said it would be. I have complicated feelings toward GtN. While I enjoyed it and was super interested in the world, magic and characters, there’s not a lot of explanation for things and feeling massively lost through large chunks of the book certainly put a dampener on it. It also takes a little bit of time for the plot to find momentum. However, there’s so much awesome potential here and I’m excited to see what happens in the sequel.

transfiguration: Sword of Destiny(The Witcher 0.75#) – Andrzej Sapkowski ★★★★

Weirdly, I think I enjoyed this second short story collection more than the first. Geralt does a lot less monster slaying here but the adventures were so much fun – mermaids, a quest to kill a dragon, Geralt running around Novigrad with Dandelion trying to catch a shapeshifter… I wasn’t as fond of the Yennefer related material (it reads very melodramatic, but perhaps it’s the translation?) but really enjoyed Geralt and Ciri’s introduction. A pretty easy read. I’ll likely pick up the first novel further down the line.

Ancient runes: The Honey Don’t List -★★.5 stars | Review to come

This wasn’t my original choice for the Ancient Runes prompt but it’s what I felt like reading by the time I got around to completing it. I went into this one with low expectations after reading some mediocre reviews and while it definitely wasn’t anywhere near as good as other CL books I’ve read, it wasn’t a bad read either. The concept was decent and I liked that there was a good focus on both of the romantic leads’ individual stories. However, I wish there had been more humour and much more time devoted to building the romance.

Charms: Fence Vol. 1 – C.S. Pacat, Johanna the Mad, Joana Lafuente ★★★★

My usual attitude towards anything sports related is: Zzzzzz… So I was super surprised by how enjoyable this was! It’s pretty short (being a comic) but the story’s fun, the characters have strong personalities, and it’s quite funny too. I even went looking to buy the second volume as soon as I finished. It’s safe to say I’ll be continuing with the series.

Herbology: Morning Star (Red Rising 3#) – Pierce Brown ★★★★★ | Review

Just like my re-reads of books 1 & 2 in March, this was similarly amazing. Morning Star is my favourite book of the series and I loved getting to experience it a second time, despite all the emotion the darn thing involves! I’m sure I’ll read these books again in the years to come. Now, I’m ready to try my hand at Iron Gold again, finally.

I bought a few books over the last couple of months and after feeling ready to start requesting ARCs again, I ended up getting two Netgalley approvals as well, Bookish and the Beast & Mexican Gothic, which I’m looking forward to. Here are the new additions to my shelf which I still have yet to read.

My blogging has been lower in frequency lately, especially this month due to my new Animal Crossing addiction *facepalm*. Still, here are the posts if you missed them:

Instead of blogging, reading and taking photos for my bookstagram, these are some of the things that have been occupying my time lately.

With the whole cinemas being closed thing, I’ve been watching more new TV than movies. However, shortly before everything shut, my sister and I went to see the latest adaptation of Emma which I enjoyed. It does get a little slow around the middle but otherwise, it’s good. The scenery and costumes are great and Anya’s really well suited to the role.

TV wise, much like with The Circle, in March I caved to FOMO and watched Love is Blind. I know, I know. As expected, it was a mindlessly enjoyable trainwreck. Also in March I binge-watched my way through season 3 of Elite, one of my favourite guilty pleasure shows.

More recently, I finished Normal People. I’ve read the book the show is adapted from and surprisingly, this is one of those cases where I liked the adaptation a lot more, despite the two being very similar. While I was lukewarm about the book, I thought the show was great. It’s shot wonderfully and the acting is fantastic and heart-wrenching. I found the linear storytelling much easier to follow and the slightly altered ending was a big improvement. I’ve also already hit the soundtrack up on Spotify.

And, last but not least, I recently bought myself a Nintendo Switch Lite and a copy of Animal Crossing New Horizons and…it’s taken over my life. I named my island Isla Sorna, after one of the islands in Jurassic Park, and have been fishing, chopping trees, selling fruit, and getting into the stalk market! This thing chews up hours of my time and I’m having so much fun designing my island.


And that’s a wrap on March and April 2020! I hope you’re all well and taking care of yourselves under the difficult circumstances. Let me know what you’ve been up to and the books/things that have been getting you through social distancing/isolation.

And That’s A Wrap: Jan and Feb 2020 Edition

Just like that, the first two months of 2020 are over. It feels as though it’s gone fairly quickly even though I’ve done basically nothing except work, read, blog and watch TV. Exciting stuff, I know. So far I’m really enjoying this more laid back approach to my yearly reading goal. There’s been a lot less stress and I’ve managed to tackle a few bigger books. There are also so many books that I’m super excited to read and re-read in the coming months which is such a great feeling. But let’s get to recap, shall we?

JANUARY

The Whisper Man – Alex North ★★★.5 | Review

A solid start to the year. The Whisper Man was an enjoyable read and well written. The characters were developed and realistic, and despite a few lulls in momentum, the story was engaging. As far as crime or thriller novels go, it was a decent book but where the novel really excels is its focus on grief and father-son relationships. The potential paranormal element was also a nice surprise.

Skyward – Brandon Sanderson ★★★★★ | Review

A re-read before tackling Starsight. Skyward was my favourite read of 2019 and after a second go around, I’m still 100% sure it was the right decision. I love this book – the characters, story, action, world building, humour and writing. It’s just fantastic all around.

Starsight – Brandon Sanderson ★★★★.5 | Review

I was nervous going into this but, in the end, I shouldn’t have been because Starsight was a great sequel. It was certainly different to Skyward in terms of its approach to plot, sense of momentum and themes, but still good different. I did miss some of the characters from book one but I loved seeing Sanderson’s universe expand in an exciting way and seeing our lead, Spensa, continue to grow.

Loveboat, Taipei – Abigail Hin Wen ★★★.5 | Review

Summer camp in Taipei! I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. While it’s pretty predictable, has too many side characters and tries to cover more heavier themes than it should, it’s still a good read. Loveboat does well where it looks at ideas of belonging, family and identity, and I really sympathised with the MC, Ever, and her classmates’ difficulties. The setting is a lot of fun and I picked up quite a few new bits of info about Taiwan. Also, yes, there is a love triangle but as both sides of it were likeable, it didn’t bother me much.

FEBRUARY

Becoming – Michelle Obama ★★★★★

I went with the audiobook on this one and I’m so glad I did. Listening to Michelle tell her own story, all the way from childhood through to leaving The White House, was both engaging and inspiring. I learnt a lot from this autobiography and in it Michelle discusses a wide range of things including politics, family, parenting, relationships, growing up working class, and the experiences of African Americans. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

A Little Life – Hanya Yanagihara ★★★★★ | Review

I did not see this book coming. I decided to read it on a whim and it ended up being the most surprising and emotional reading experience I’ve had in a long time. The writing was gorgeous and the characters just felt so real to me. It’s a long read and deals with some extremely tough subject matters (e.g. child sexual abuse, suicide, domestic violence, etc.) but despite the few issues I had, I honestly loved this book. It broke my heart and I cried. Hard.

10 Blind dates – Ashley Elston ★★★

This was a sweet, rom-com-esque holiday read. It’s nothing particularly memorable and unlikely to bump your favourite YA romance reads off their thrones, but it’s fun. 10 Blind Dates is exactly what it claims to be – a girl being set up on a bunch of blind dates with different guys to help get her mind off a break up. Plus, there’s a happy ending. I liked Sophie as a heroine and really loved her crazy, enormous, Sicilian family, which is really the heart of this book. If you’re after something light and cute (which I needed after A Little Life), this is a good choice.

The Family Upstairs – Lisa Jewell ★★ | Review to Come

For the majority of its run, I found The Family Upstairs a decent read. Even with the cult, child abuse, and mysterious deaths, it somehow gives off this weirdly laid back vibe which makes it very readable. I think it may be the writing. I liked the concurrent past and present timelines and although the twists in the story aren’t particularly shocking, I was okay with them. This would have been a 3 star read if not for the ending, which felt flat, weird and lazy, and my realisation that almost an entire plotline could have been removed without damaging the story at all.

To avoid you guys having to see the same book covers over and over again, I’m only going to include the books that I bought over the last two months and still have yet to read. Plus, it makes me look so much better spending wise. Also, although Crescent City was purchased this month, because it’s a pre-order, I won’t get it till after release day on March 3rd.

Just in case you missed them and there was something that would have interested you, here are my posts from Jan & Feb (excluding the book reviews which are linked above).

Life

As I mentioned earlier, life for me has been largely uneventful for the last two months. However, as I’m sure you’ve heard, I can’t say the same for my country. This summer has brought absolutely terrible bushfires, devastating floods, an extension of our longest and worst drought in history, and now a cyclone. Australia has always been a land of extreme weather, but this year’s has been far more extreme than ever before. I am extremely lucky to live in a city area where the impacts of things like this aren’t as prevalent but so many others haven’t been so fortunate. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to watch the news everyday for months on end and see images of people crying over the ruins of burned down homes, wildlife injured, killed or without habitats, and farmers desperately praying for rain in regions that look like dusty wastelands with the remaining livestock almost skeletal in appearance. The photos below come from near my grandpa’s farm in an area of regional NSW where fire destroyed more than 21,500 hectares of forest in just one day. I hope that things will get better soon because honestly, anything has to be better than this.

TV & Movies

On to something less serious. Here are some of the TV and Movies that have been occupying my time over the last few months. There’s a weird mix. There was the amazing (Sex Education S2, Unbelievable), good (Ready or Not, The Little Drummer Girl, Little Women), terrible yet addictive (The Circle), disappointing (P.S. I Still Love You, Titans S2) and just not my thing (Midsommar, Marriage Story). And yes, I may have fallen in love with Florence Pugh just a little bit.


And that’s a wrap on January and February 2020! I hope you’ve had a good start to the year and that there are plenty of fabulous books on the horizon for you.

And That’s a Wrap: November Edition

Only one month to go before 2019 is over and we begin both a new year and a new decade. I recently reached my revised reading goal of 65 books and have managed to cross a few books off my purchased TBR of late, so I’m feeling quite relaxed going into December. Here’s how November went:

The Wicked King – Holly Black ★★★★.5 | Review

Why yes, this is the second time I’ve read this in 2019. I can’t remember as far back as January so a re-read was necessary to prep for The Queen of Nothing‘s release. As expected, still fabulous and once again finished it in the blink of an eye.

Darkdawn – Jay Kristoff ★★★.5

Having been putting it off since September, I finally hit up Darkdawn. It ended up taking me a while to get through because of some pacing issues, repetition and my reaction to a few plot choices. I admit, I’m just the tiniest bit disappointed because I love this series and have been waiting so long for this book. However, despite the negatives there were still a bunch of things I liked – Jonnen and Mia’s relationship, the new pirate characters, Mia getting revenge on SO MANY PEOPLE, Jay taking digs at his own writing, and the usual amounts of sass. Not my favourite, but not bad either.

The Queen of Nothing – Holly Black ★★★.5

Another release I’ve been dying to get my hands on & again one that didn’t reach my expectations. *sigh* I liked The Queen of Nothing, don’t get me wrong, I just have issues with it. The main ones are that I feel as though it (a) was lacking the drama, twists and scheming of books 1 & 2, (b) left some plot strands hanging while resolving others in quick, unfulfilling ways e.g. Taryn’s deceptions, Locke, Jude’s banishment, etc. (c) and…the ending was both a little anticlimactic & cheesy. Regardless, the pacing was good and Cardan & Jude turned out to be end game so I can’t complain too much.

More Than We Can Tell – Brigid Kemmerer ★★★

An enjoyable read but not as much as Letters to the Lost. I love the fact that Brigid isn’t afraid to tackle real issues and heavy themes in her YA novels. This book looked at child abuse, trauma, and online harassment/bullying, and I feel as though it largely handled them compassionately and well. I really like Rev as a character and it was great to see him in greater focus here but I wish the climax to his story had been different. I wasn’t a huge fan of Emma – despite what she was going through, I couldn’t get on board with how awfully she treated the people around her. There was also a side character’s story which I feel could have been handled better. Overall though, I still liked this one.

Three Women – Lisa Taddeo ★★★

My latest foray into non-fiction. I found the writing in Three Women to be stylistically odd but also a bit frustrating as it frequently got bogged down by tangents, mundane details and philosophical musings about life, people and relationships. Content wise, I enjoyed myself and easily maintained the motivation to read it from start to finish. The stories of each of these women are not”the norm” enough for this to be considered the case study on female desire that it’s been marketed as, nor is it the super feminist read it’s been claimed to be. However, if you look at it purely as three stories of women’s different, individual experiences with sex and relationships, it’s interesting and entertaining.

I only bought four books this month. One I’ve already finished, and another I’m a fair way into so I’m pretty happy with that. I’m sure I’ll pick up a few more in December with gifts, sales, and extra down time over the Christmas break to read.

After taking a few months off, I returned to my blog this month with some good momentum and I’m happy with how things turned out. Here’s what I published in November:

This month I’ve been eagerly counting down the days until my office shuts for the Christmas break. I’ll get an absolutely wonderful two weeks off and as someone who works in real-estate and doesn’t usually get even two days off in a row, I am beyond excited. Christmas is my favourite time of the year so I’m looking forward to stuffing myself with good food, spending time with my family & cats, and recharging my batteries. I could do without the hot, humid weather but you can’t get everything you want.

I’ve also started thinking about potential holidays for 2020. Even after Christmas, I’ll have a lot of annual leave saved up and as someone who hasn’t had a proper holiday since January 2018, my travel bug is getting antsy. I’m still not sure where I’d like to go, but I’ve got plenty of time to decide.

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Movies and TV wise, this month I completely fell in love with Lucifer. I binged all 4 seasons on Netflix in less than two weeks and let me tell you, the withdrawal has been HARD. I’ll just be over here, sitting in a ball until season 5 drops some time next year. In movie land, I went to see Doctor Sleep and Charlie’s Angels, both of which I really enjoyed, and also sat down to watch The Knight Before Christmas (on Netflix) which was…er…well, pretty darn terrible.


That’s it from me for this month. I hope you’re all doing really well and that November has brought you some good things. Happy reading for December, everyone!

And That’s a Wrap: June ’19 Edition

Six months down, six months to go. I’m now almost exactly halfway towards my reading goal for 2019. Up until the beginning of last week, I was about 3 weeks behind on my challenge which was stressful to put it mildly, especially since I’ve consistently been ahead of the game up until this month. Still, I’m pushing through. Let’s have a look back at June.

This month was a light one for me in terms of the number of books finished. I had a slow start to the beginning of June and my motivation to read was fairly low for some inexplicable reason (even though I was reading books I was enjoying). It’s improved a little in the last few weeks but we’ll have to see how July goes. The books I managed to finish this month were:

Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor ★★★★.5 | Review

Strange the Dreamer was a re-read for me. I knew there was no way I’d be able to tackle Muse of Nightmares without doing one. As expected, the book was just as good as the first time around. I love the world building, characters, and absolutely stunning writing – Laini makes magic with words. While the plot is slow, I really enjoy it and the book definitely goes out with a bang.

Muse of Nightmares – Laini Taylor ★★★★

While I didn’t enjoy this as much as Strange the Dreamer, I still think it’s a really good book. I appreciate how Laini was able to expand her world and story in an unexpected direction, however, I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the resolution to that expansion. It was great to get some more backstory on the Mesarthim and answers to the questions from STD. The book treats its characters well (plus introduces compelling new ones) and I like that it still manages to keep smaller roles in the picture.

All the Bright Places – Jennifer Niven ★★★.5

This is a tough one to review. For the most part I found ATBP mildly enjoyable. It has some really lovely moments and the characters are okay (even though Finch does seem a little ‘manic pixie dream boy’). The book also puts a spotlight on some heavy topics like suicide, abuse and mental health – even though I’m questioning the way these were handled at times. However, the book does feel a bit emotionally manipulative and even with the author drawing on her own experiences, the ending still feels like something you’d find only in a novel. This was an up and down read for me which made scoring it hard. I have to say though, Jennifer Niven’s author’s note is an easy five stars.

Magic for Liars – Sarah Gailey ★★★

Harry Potter meets Noir. The concept for MfL is great and I was quite excited about it. In the end though, the execution could have been better. Despite dealing with some emotional things, the characters and story didn’t connect with me as much as they should have. There are a few plot elements that feel kind of thrown in without much real purpose and I wasn’t so keen on the ending itself. However, I did enjoy the way magic was handled (a little more scientifically) and the general mystery aspect (even if it did take a bit of time to warm up).

The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss ★★★★★

It’s been about four months and by George, I’ve finally done it. And what a fabulous ride it was. I’ve had this book on my to read list for about 8 years(!) and kept putting it off for fear it’d be slow and disappointing. While I can understand why it may not appeal to some people, that wasn’t the case for me. I thoroughly enjoyed reading TNotW at a leisurely pace – the characters, the incredible and extensive world building, even the writing itself, it’s all fantastic and I understand why it’s considered a masterpiece of the fantasy genre.

In June I added four books to my physical TBR. NOS4A2 and Recursion were both bought using birthday money (and credit on my Dymocks membership card – win).

This month Book Depository also had a good sale going on and FINNNAAALLLLYYY the hardback edition of Winter was discounted. I’ve been waiting a very long time for this. There was a happy dance involved before I hit the order button.

Magic for Liars was an ARC approval but weirdly enough I was only approved for it on release day. Still, I’m not going to complain about a free copy of a book I was interested in reading.

I meant to read Beartown in June but with my lacking motivation for the past month, that just didn’t happen. I’ve started it today and I hope it’s as good as people have said. Last month I bought Legendary and in order to refresh my memory, I’ll probably do a re-read of Caraval some time in July as well. As for the rest of this month’s reads, it’s a bit of a mystery. We’ll see how I feel as the weeks progress.

MUSIC

Songs I had on repeat in June were:

  • Don’t Throw it Away & Rollercoaster – The Jonas Brothers (Happiness Begins)
  • Never Really Over – Katy Perry
  • You Need to Calm Down – Taylor Swift
  • Outta My Head – John Mayer & Khalid
  • Star Maps – Aly & AJ

TV & MOVIES

I watched less TV & movies in June than usual but what I did watch included:

  • Stranger Things S1 & S2 (rewatch to prepare for S3 in July)
  • Started HBO’s Chernobyl mini series
  • Started Veronica Mars (rewatch to prepare for S4 in July)

LIFE

  • This month both my sister and I celebrated birthdays – we’re 4 years and 3 days apart. They were both very low key this year. Twenty-six is a…littttttle bit scary but I guess time progresses even if we don’t want it to.
  • At work we’ve been preparing to move to a brand new office which we finally did just a few days before the end of the month. It’s going to take some getting used to but it’s good to have a bit more space.
  • I’ve been wanting to get back into bookstagram lately but boy, finding the right light during winter is hard. One minute the sun is there and the next, poof, behind a cloud. *sigh*

And that’s a wrap on June. Not the best month reading or blogging wise (except for my finally finishing The Name of the Wind, which I’m psyched about). Here’s hoping for a better month in July all around.

And That’s a Wrap: May ’19 Edition

Another month is over and the next one begins. As usual, that means it’s time for a wrap up. Overall, May’s been a pretty decent month for reading, book purchases and well…life, I guess. Let’s review, shall we?

Verity – Colleen Hoover ★★★★.5

Unlike Colleen’s other books, Verity is a thriller and it’s a dark one at that. But god, was this addictive. Once I started, I had so much trouble putting it down – I just needed to know what happened. While it does involve a romance, there’s a lot more to the plot than that. You may guess some of the twists but it’s enjoyable all the same and the ending is far from clear cut.

One True Loves – Taylor Jenkins Reid ★★★.5

Having only read Reid’s later work, I was interested to see how her early romantic contemporaries compared. One True Loves is a decent read. There’s real emotion behind it and the characters are easy to sympathise with, even if the premise is unbelievable. If you’re looking for some chick lit, this is a fairly enjoyable pick. Unfortunately for me though, it’s not something I’d consider memorable or be keen to reread in future.

Red, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston ★★★★★ | Review

You guys have heard me gush about this book enough this month. It was sweet, sexy, and funny. It’s massively LGBTI positive and the characters are great. I don’t usually read much in the way of new adult but if there are more reads like RW&RB out there, maybe I should!

Slayer – Kiersten White ★★★.5

As I mentioned in my recent Buffy book tag post, I’m a huge BtVS fan so there was no way I was going to be able to resist this. The world building is great and it’s clear how much White adores Buffy. Unfortunately though, the plot is slow for long stretches and predictable. Also, on numerous occasions the characters’ actions are very frustrating. Yet, things certainly pick up in the last third or so and I found that Nina as a protagonist grew on me as the book progressed. There were also some nice emotional moments. If I’m in the mood, I may pick up the sequel when it releases.

Aurora Rising – Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman ★★★.5

Amie and Jay are back with more space adventures! I was massively excited for this release and while I enjoyed it, I can’t say I loved it. The characters are likeable but after everything, I still feel like I don’t know them very well and haven’t properly connected. For this reason, the ending didn’t really hit me as hard as it should have, but points for being unexpected. The world building was really good and I’m looking forward to spending more time in this version of our galaxy. The plot certainly has momentum, but I’m not too sure how I feel about the choice of the antagonistic element here. Still, I’ll definitely give the next book a go.

After – Anna Todd ★

Yeah, yeah. I knew this would be trash, I was just interested in finding out what kind of trash. Plus it was something easy to read on my trip to Melbourne. Not only is the romance extremely toxic, there’s basically no plot (it pretty much just alternates between Hardin & Tessa fighting and having sex) and the writing itself is pretty darn awful (has Anna Todd ever heard of contractions before? Everyone in this book talks like a robot). How this was so popular, I have no idea.

Four books this month, two of which I read during it, so not so bad at all! Originally I had no plans to continue with the Caraval books but with Finale having just been released and it popping up EVERYWHERE, I caved and bought Legendary.

I’ve wanted to read the His Dark Materials books for years now and just never really gotten around to it. This month I had an extra credit on my audible account so I thought why not now? Especially with the new HBO series releasing later this year.

Book Memes

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Adaptations I’d Like to Watch

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Books Published in the Last Ten Years

WWW Wednesday | 15.05.19

Book Reviews

Again, but Better – Christine Riccio

Middlegame – Seanan McGuire

Red, White & Royal Blue – Casey McQuiston

Book Tags

The Buffy the Vampire Slayer Tag

I’ve already begun my reread of Strange the Dreamer in preparation to finally read Muse of Nightmares which has sadly been sitting on my shelf for far too long, being it’s gorgeous orange self. I have no ARCs to read in June and there aren’t any new releases I’m anxiously waiting around for either so that means I can actually read some books off my existing TBR – this month I’m thinking Beartown and All the Bright Places.

Movies, Television & Music

As you’d expect, I went to the movies to see Aladdin this month. Sure, there are some flaws but on the whole it’s a fun way to spend a few hours. Major props to the costume department and set designers who did a phenomenal job. Also, does anyone else have a huge girl crush on Naomi Scott, or is it just me?

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In May, my two TV obsessions were Killing Eve (my Top 10 Tuesday list pushed me to finally watch it) and The Bold Type. Killing Eve was different from what I expected but so good. It somehow has this weird blend of drama and dark humour, plus Jodie Comer is amazing. The Bold Type is additive as hell and I’m absolutely in love with it. While it can be a little heavy handed on some issues, I really like the humour and characters. I’m almost finished season 2 now and having a blast.

Music wise, Aly & AJ are still playing through my speakers on repeat but have been joined by Marina’s new album Love + Fear, some Carly Rae Jepsen and a bit of Betty Who.

LIFE

This month I took a three day trip to Melbourne to finally see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! Ahhhhh! I was so excited as I’ve been wanting to see this for for almost three years now. There was a point where I even thought I’d have to go all the way to London for it. I still have a few issues with the story (as I did when I read the screenplay) but the production itself is absolutely wonderful. How they manage to make all the magic happen on stage, I’ll never know. I also had absolutely no idea that they’d completely redone the theatre itself – new carpet, chairs, wall coverings, windows, all designed especially for this show. Crazy. Still, my friend and I had a great time. So worth the money and effort.

And that’s a wrap on May. As always, I hope you all had a wonderful month and wish you the best for the next one. What was your favourite book of May? What are you most looking forward to reading in June?

And That’s a Wrap: March ’19 Edition

March 2019 is over, and April begins. I say this every month, but it honestly feels like the year is just flying by. In a few short weeks, it’ll be Easter and I’ve done basically NOTHING in 2019 yet. Well, I have read some books. There’s always that. Speaking of which…

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet – Becky Chambers ★★★★

This book was exactly what people said it would be – a richly developed group of characters travelling across space. While the plot itself isn’t super action packed and does get slow, it’s okay because I loved the crew of the Wayfarer – they’re this wonderful, oddball family. The world building is fantastic and I have to admire how well Chambers managed to created so many distinct species. Such a wonderfully diverse read which really advocates acceptance.

Again, but Better – Christine Riccio ★★.5

I was looking forward to a fun and more mature YA contemporary with this one. Unfortunately, while the book noticeably improved after the midway twist, I had a lot of issues with the plot and writing (e.g. excessive detail, weird chapter cut offs, constant 2011 references, etc.). I often found myself bored through large sections and had trouble connecting with the characters. There were a few engaging and sweet moments, but I can’t help feeling extremely disappointed.

A Curse so Dark and Lonely – Brigid Kemmerer ★★★.5

I’m a big Beauty and the Beast fan so I was majorly excited for this release. I enjoyed the slightly darker tone, inclusion of a strong protagonist with cerebral palsy, and fact that Kemmerer was able to bring her own spin to the original story. Although, some of the things I wasn’t so keen on were the bland world building, slow paced and repetitious plot sections, underdeveloped villain, and at times forced chemistry between the two leads. A decent retelling but I’m not sure if I’ll read the sequel.

Daisy Jones & The Six – Taylor Jenkins Reid ★★★.5 | Review

While not nearly as enjoyable as Evelyn Hugo, Daisy Jones shares a similarly great sense of place and realism. Some people may be put off by the documentary transcript style but chronological ordering and sticking to common topics helps retain a degree of flow. The book deals with some heavy themes and although we only get to know a few of the characters well, Reid digs deep on them. There’s a great sense of female empowerment throughout and bonus points to Reid for actually writing full songs for the band too!

The Boy Who Steals Houses – C. G. Drews ★★★★.5

Somehow managing to be both wonderfully fluffy & sweet, and heartbreakingly sad, TBWSH straddles these contrasting tones exceptionally well. The characters are loveable, the dialogue is funny, and the book features some fantastic autism rep. I did have a couple of issues with loose ends and elements of writing style, but overall I really enjoyed this contemporary, which at it’s heart is all about family.

The Vanishing Stair (Truly Devious 2#) – Maureen Johnson ★★★★

Welcome back to Ellingham Academy, home of the unsolved mystery. TVS is just as fun as book one but without the slow introductory section. The death of Hayes takes a back seat this time around, with focus turning to Ellie’s disappearance and the Ellingham kidnappings, both of which we get big answers on. There’s some relationship drama and the book ends on a dramatic cliffhanger than makes me eager for book 3.

Legend – Marie Lu ★★★

Legend isn’t up to the standard of Warcross but that’s okay. There were a few not so great things – (a) the characters are only 15 and kicking ass, like what the? (b) why do we need a rushed romantic story aspect?, and (c) elements of the world building were a little vague. These aside, I didn’t mind the characters themselves, the plot was fairly engaging (especially the last third), and I generally found it an easy, alright kind of read. I’ve heard the books get much better as we go on so I’ll probably read the sequel at some point.

In March, I bought 3 books and was approved for 1 ARC (The Boy Who Steals Houses). With TBWSH due to come out next week, I made sure to tackle it soon after I received it. Originally I’d planned on reading another one of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s books this month but after remembering that Daisy Jones was coming out, I couldn’t resist getting stuck into it right after I bought it. In the end, only two additions to my physical TBR which I’m super happy about!

I’ve largely stepped back to just two posts a week this month which I’m finding more manageable. I’m not sure if I’ll go back to three in April. I guess we’ll see! As usual, just in case you missed March’s posts, here they are:

Top 10 Tuesday

Book Reviews

Book Tags

Miscellaneous

Next month, I’ll once again be taking part in the O.W.Ls Magical Readathon hosted by G at Book Roast. I had a great time doing this readathon back in 2018 so I’m looking forward to the second time around. I’ll be putting up a post this week which lists the prompts I’m doing and the books I’ve allocated to them. I’ll also detail the wizarding profession I’ll be aiming for with my subject choices.

TV/MOVIES

  • I saw Captain Marvel at the beginning of this month and enjoyed it. It’s not the best Marvel movie I’ve seen but it’s pretty good. Yay for female superheroes! Goose the cat (or Flerken) is for sure my fave.
  • I managed to finally track down The Hate U Give. As far as adaptations go, I think they did a pretty good job and Amandla’s acting was great. I’m still mad that it was so hard to find a way to see this in Australia though. Ugh!
  • I’ve been alternating binge-ing two series this month. The first is The Marvellous Mrs. Maisel which I’ve only heard amazing things about for AGES. Turns out they were all correct. It’s fabulous and so funny. Nothing beats Amy Sherman-Palladino dialogue. The second is Game of Thrones. Last year I started a re-watch in prep for season 8 and stopped half way through season 2. Then, at the beginning of the month I realised just how close the premier date was for the new season. So, I sat down and set myself the task of finishing the rest in time. I’m now at the end of season 6 so it’s looking like I’ll be fine. I’M SO KEEN FOR SEASON 8.

Other

  • I had a visit from one of my lovely best friends! She lives in Canberra (we met when I was studying at uni). Our annoying schedules often make it difficult to link up but we make it work. It’s always so nice to see her – we shop, eat bad food and have a great time. I was also FINALLY able to give her her Christmas present!
  • My family and I went to see a production called “Potted Potter”. It’s a Harry Potter parody show in which two British guys condense the events of all 8 HP books into one 70 min show. They play all of the characters and utilise a random assortment of props. It’s ridiculous but also very funny.
  • I’ve decided to try my hand at Bullet Journaling to help get me on track with a few things – goals, habits, easier reading tracking, etc. I went out and bought the journal yesterday. Now I just need to make the time to sit down and design it. Considering tomorrow is April, I’m clearly doing well with my time management… *face palm*

I hope you all had a wonderful March and read some amazing books. What were the best and the worst books you read this past month? And what are you hoping to read in April?

And That’s a Wrap: February ’19 Edition

Two down, ten months to go. As usual, this year feels like it’s going very fast but luckily enough, I feel good about where I am with my reading progress. I’m balancing backlisted books with new releases, tackling some bigger reads, and still fitting in a couple of re-reads. All in all, things are well in Ashley’s book world. Let’s break February down:

I managed to read a total of 7 books this month. In order to reach my 2019 reading goal, I need to read 6.6 books a month which means things are so far so good, especially considering Feb is a short month. As usual, there was a mix of star ratings, but also a new favourite!

King of Scars – Leigh Bardugo ★★★

KoS was one of my big 2019 anticipated releases and I had high expectations for it. But unfortunately, it ended up a three-star read for me. I still adore the characters, Zoya and Nina are my queens, but the plot wasn’t engaging enough for me in large parts. There was a lot of nothing for a long time and once the point of the main plot was finally revealed, I just don’t think I was that keen on it? Still, the dialogue remains on point.

99 Percent Mine – Sally Thorne ★★★.5

This was a cute, fluffy read. I enjoyed myself, but it did suffer from a lot of the same problems I had with Sally’s first book, The Hating Game. There isn’t a whole lot of plot, the male lead has a couple of annoying alpha male moments that don’t go with the rest of his personality, and the climax of the story is melodramatic for what it is. This aside, it was an enjoyable read with some amusing and sweet moments and a couple of hot scenes.

City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments 3#) – Cassandra Clare ★★★★

While CoB and CoA haven’t held up as well on rereads ten years later, City of Glass surprisingly did. I’m shocked! I had a great time rereading this. It’s definitely my favourite book of the series, easy. It’s got great tension, twists, high stakes, and the dialogue is good too. I also enjoyed the fact that it featured more Alec, Simon, Izzy and Magnus. I think I must just have a thing for books featuring potential-end-of-the-world battles.

City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments 4#) – Cassandra Clare ★★

Okay, so this book isn’t absolutely awful like I remember but it’s not close to good either. If you completely ignore the nonsensical, eye-roll worthy, and stupid Clary-Jace storyline as well as the climax (gosh, they’re bad). The rest of the book is passable but of course, we can’t factor out those things. So two stars it is.

American Panda – Gloria Chao ★★★

I’m conflicted over this one. It’s a pretty adorable book and it was great to read something dealing with Chinese characters and culture (Woo, diversity!). However, it’s weird, but I couldn’t help feeling extremely frustrated and suffocated by the behaviour of Mei’s family. While I get that’s the point in order to empathise with her, it kind of put me off and dampened my enjoyment. Otherwise, I liked that the romance didn’t dominate the plot and Mei, herself, was a very likeable MC.

Normal People – Sally Rooney ★★.5

I normally enjoy books with this kind of subject matter but with Normal People, while I thought the characters were okay and I was able to sympathise, I just never fully bonded with them. At times, the writing can be great, and others it’s clunky and full of monotonous details. The novel touches on a lot of important themes – class, sexuality, abusive relationships, mental health, suicide, but in the end, I just felt as though many things had been introduced and not fully developed or handled satisfyingly. I wish more had happened to the characters & changed in their lives. I was constantly waiting for the shoe to drop, and while something did happen, I finished the book on a feeling of…flatness. Overall, a disappointing read for something so talked about, but somehow, still something I’ll think about for a while after.

Skyward – Brandon Sanderson ★★★★★

Gosh, this was GOOD. I now fully understand the Sanderson magic. The pacing in this novel is perfect – a balance between exciting action and hit you in the feels emotion. The characters are well written and wonderfully developed over time, the dialogue is excellent and often very funny, and the world-building once again shows off just how great Sanderson is at fantasy/sci-fi writing. Amazing. I cannot wait for the sequel!


Yeah, yeah, I bought too many books again. What else is new? I just want to read everything, okay! But I need more hours in the day (preferably less of them at work, but a girl can dream, right?). All in all, nine purchases (of which one is still on its way from the UK – Priory). I was also lucky enough to get approved to read a copy of Christine Riccio’s debut novel, Again, but Better. I know a big chunk of the online bookish community is super hyped for this one so I was massively surprised to get access to it.

It was a lazy girl month blogging-wise. Here is my very sad list of posts from February. Here’s hoping I’ll do better in March.

As I mentioned above, I tend to get through around 6 books a month at the moment, but as I like to maintain a little flexibility, here are just three books I plan to tackle in March (two of which I’ve already started):


And that’s a wrap on February! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful month in books.

Tell me what your favourite and least favourite reads of the last month were. My favourite was Skyward and least fave was City of Fallen Angels.

And That’s a Wrap: January ’19 Edition

Just like that, the first month of 2019 is over. Finito! For those of you who aren’t friends of mine on Goodreads, I’ve set myself a reading goal of 80 books for this year. I managed to hit 90 in 2018 (after a lengthy, last-minute cram week but that’s neither here nor there…) so I’m fairly confident that this will be achievable. That’s only about 6-7 books a month. Easy peasy, right?


I’m really happy with how things are progressing so far for the year. I read 8 books in Jan (& one was even over 500 pages *shock*). Three of my most anticipated releases for 2019 came out this month and surprisingly I managed to read two of them straight after purchase. Look at me go, being organised and stuff.

The Cruel Prince – Holly Black ★★★★ | Review

My first book of 2019 was a re-read because my memory sucks and I’ve found that in order to properly enjoy a sequel, you kind of need to remember what happened in the first book… TCP was just as good the second time. I may have even enjoyed the first half more this time because I knew where things were headed. I also gained a much greater appreciation for Jude as a character – the girl is a total badass.

Fangirl – Rainbow Rowell ★★★★

I’m so glad I finally read this one. The poor thing’s been sitting on my shelf for ages. While I’m not crazy obsessed, I did really enjoy it. I liked the fact that the story was a little more mature due to the university setting and that the book took the time to deal with some more serious topics like broken families, binge/underage drinking, and mental health. Cath was sweet, and expectedly, very relatable. I also thought Levi was pretty adorkable, too.  

The Wicked King – Holly Black ★★★★.5 | Review

So damn good. I finished this in less than a day and it was a blast. It has a bit more momentum than book one and the world building was expanded on slightly. There were more twists and turns, the toxic romance between Jude and Cardan was addictive, and gosh, the ending. Holly Black gets me every time. Love.

The Gilded Wolves – Roshani Chokshi ★★★.5 | Review

There were quite a few things I really liked about this book – the concept, great cast of characters, sense of diversity, pacing, and twist ending. Yet, my enjoyment was greatly affected by the fact that the world building confused the hell out of me, leaving me lost and disconnected through a lot of major plot points (especially during the climax).

Truly Devious – Maureen Johnson ★★★.5 | Review to Come

It took me some time to warm up to this one (the first third is over-padded with intro info) but after a while, I had a great time. I’m always on the lookout for a good YA crime/thriller fic. Everything about this book is very quirky – the tone, writing, oddball characters, secluded private school setting. Sure, it’s unrealistic but it’s also a lot of fun. However, I do wish the ending had held more closure on one of the book’s two big mysteries.

The Quiet You Carry – Nikki Barthelmess (ARC) ★★★| Review to Come

This was an honest and raw read which handled some heavy subject matters such as domestic violence, paedophilia, sexual assault, the US foster care system, and suicide. For the most part, it’s a decent debut with some solid characters and real emotion behind it, but, unfortunately, it also suffers from some pacing issues around the middle and a degree of melodrama & cheesiness in the last third.

The Poppy War – R. F. Kuang ★★★★★

Oh my gosh. I loved this book, but boy, was it INTENSE. The writing is great, especially the world building. Every time you think you know where things are going, the plot just flips. It didn’t hurt that it also included two of my favourite tropes – training academies and mentorship. I really liked Rin as a protagonist – she’s strong, well-written, and the perfect underdog. I do have to say though, this is definitely not a story for the squeamish. Despite the quieter first section, this is a book about War in all its horror. Some sections are very graphic. But if you’re up for action, magic, and nail-biting drama, this is a perfect choice.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin ★.5

It’s raining tropes (bad ones this time). Damaged girl meets bad (yet, still somehow perfect but really super controlling) boy. He understands her in a way no one else seems to be able to & she somehow changes him. There’s even the gorgeous-mean-girl nemesis and the funny, outsider new bestie. I believe there’s a paranormal story buried somewhere underneath this eye-roll worthy romance but from what I could see, it doesn’t make much sense. *sigh*

Nine purchases and one ARC approval. It’s a lot, but in my defence, I’ve already read 4 of them and am currently working on the 5th. Not too bad after all? Huh? (She tells herself, over and over again).

Obviously, I plan to get through more than this but here are a couple of books I hope to tackle this month:

I’m already stuck into King of Scars (I couldn’t wait!) and so, so excited. Normal People looks to be a nice, short read but the reviews for it have been amazing. City of Glass will be a re-read and hopefully get me re-started on my efforts to finally finish TMI series so that I can read The Dark Artifices. Fingers crossed!

Book Tags

The Fellowship of the Ring Tag

Other Book Reviews

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang & The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

To Best the Boys – Mary Weber (ARC)

Discussions

What’s so Good about Fanfiction?

Top 10 Tuesday

Books I Meant to Read in 2018 but Didn’t

Miscellaneous

2019 Releases to Get Excited About – Part 3

New Additions to my Goodreads To-Read Shelf


And that’s a wrap on January. How was your first month of 2019? What’s your new reading goal and are you on track?