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February Wrap-Up

Ahhh, February – the shortest month of the year and the one that a) either feels like it is going to last forever or b) just flies by – you never know. Its also the month where it can be 60+ degrees somedays and on others snowing and storming. I know I don’t regret the snow day we had last week from work, or the fact that I had several days where we had a delayed work start (which is solid because I can get my workout in earlier in the day rather than in the evening). February saw me read (or listen) to 30 books – which is on the lower side of my normal reading (of course it doesn’t help that I have like 10 different books in progress…lol).

New Authors Discovered
February definitely was a GREAT month for discovering new authors – Of the 30 books that I read, 9 were by new to me authors, and at least 4 of them have been added to my read more in the future pile. I already have several books by Fredrik Bachman checked out from the library and on the pile for March and waiting (impatiently) for the next book by Helen Hoang. The Kiss Quotient (Helen Huong) gets the award for the most unique but likeable characters; and Saving Meghan (D.J. Palmer) for the most unlikeable characters (and yet I found myself completely sucked in). I also forsee a binge read of the J.A. Jance series that I started (Joanna Brady series)

Series Continued
I continued to dig into the multitude of series that I have in progress this month. I binged on books 2 and 3 in Kristi Belcamino’s Gabriella Giovanni series and then bought the remaining books in the series so that I could finish reading it in March. I also read the next installment in Rosalind James’ Escape from New Zealand series (I totally fall into the delayed gratification for this series, by trying to ration the books that have been released). I finished up Lauren Dane’s Ink and Chrome Trilogy (although I’ll flat out admit that it wasn’t my favorite book in the series) and jumped back into Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid Chronicles (the third book def. suffered from that transition in series weakness – or at least I think so). I also continued with the next book in Lucy Lennox’s Made Marian series. JD Robb gave a solid installment to the In Death series with Thankless in Death (I finished up the last chapter of that on the first of the month) Finally, after discovering him in January, I buddy listening to the remaining 2 books in the Reckoner’s series by Branden Sanderson (although technically I finished up the last bit of the third book on the first day of March).

Diversity Challenge
February saw me read a book that hit both a neurodiverse character and by an author that identifies as such – I think of the 30 books that I read this month, The Kiss Quotient was in my top 3 favorites for the month. I loved Stella as a character and the romance between her and Michael had the right amount of sexual tension building throughout. I laughed out loud in several places, in particular, her lesson plans that she made for her sexual experiences. In addition, to the Kiss Quotient, I also rediscovered my enjoyment of m/m romances (specifically this month ones by Mary Calmes) and I’m part-way finished with Halsey Street (Naima Coster) which showed up on my kindle screen one night and caught my eye. I should have it finished in the next couple of days.

Tackling the TBR
Of all my various reading goals, this month my goal of tackling Mt To-Be-Read/Mt To-Be-Listened was the most successful. Of the 30 books that I read, 9 had been on my TBR pile for longer than three years and another 3 for longer than a year. I already mentioned it, but Thankless in Death was probably my favorite lost on Mt TBL that I got to this month (even though I did technically finish it up in March, over 90% of it was listened to in February). I also started Maya Banks KGI series (the first book has been on Mt TBR since 2012 and for some reason and I don’t remember buying them all, but I own books 1-8…I think I might have a TINY problem…) I also had to laugh when I requested a book from the library (The Winter Over) to discover that I had actually bought back in January 2017 (and I have now created a shelf on Goodreads called – “totally forgot I bought that” for those random finds).

My Top 3 Reads for February:
The Kiss Quotient – Helen Hoang
Beartown – Fredrik Bachman
From Lukov With Love – Mariana Zapata

What About You? How was your February Reading? Did you discover any new must-recommend authors?

 
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Posted by on March 1, 2019 in Month in Review, Uncategorized

 

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Buddy Read – Bleak House – Charles Dickens


Welcome! Come and join Moonlight Reader and me in our buddy read of the Dicken’s classic, Bleak House.

About Bleak House:
Bleak House opens in the twilight of foggy London, where fog grips the city most densely in the Court of Chancery. The obscure case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, in which an inheritance is gradually devoured by legal costs, the romance of Esther Summerson and the secrets of her origin, the sleuthing of Detective Inspector Bucket and the fate of Jo the crossing-sweeper, these are some of the lives Dickens invokes to portray London society, rich and poor, as no other novelist has done. Bleak House, in its atmosphere, symbolism and magnificent bleak comedy, is often regarded as the best of Dickens. A ‘great Victorian novel’, it is so inventive in its competing plots and styles that it eludes interpretation.

Proposed Reading Schedule: (subject to real-life)
Week 1 (25Feb-03Mar) – Chapters Preface-12
Week 2 (04Mar-11Mar) – Chapters 13-24
Week 3 (11Mar-17Mar) – Chapters 25-36
Week 4 (18Mar-24Mar) – Chapters 37-48
Week 5 (25Mar-31Mar) – Chapters 49-60
Week 6 (01Apr-07Apr) – Chapters 61-67
Week 7 (08Apr-14Apr) – Extra Week (if needed)

Discussion Questions:
Well, i’m still looking for some good discussion questions – so there may be some posted at the end of each week, I’m really not sure yet 😉

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2019 in Buddy Listen

 

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January Wrap-Up

I don’t know about you guys, I’m still kind of in shock that its the last day of January – I mean, this first month of the year just flew by…it seems like just yesterday we were ringing in the New Year (or in my case, sleeping through the new year after falling asleep during my Captain America binge). While its not as cold in DC as other parts of the country (my sister informed me that with the wind-chill it was -50 in her neck of the woods this week) – we are still suffering some of the “polar vortex” and I’m having visions of the blizzard from the movie, The Day After Tomorrow (which is a great watch if you have never seen).

And now onto the summary of my January reading and listening…overall, i’m going to call it a successful month with 24 books either read or listened to.

New Authors Discovered:
Brandon Sanderson – I finished up the month listening to the first book in Sanderson’s Reckoner’s series (YA dystopia set in what was one Chicago). It was so good that I’ve already requested the second book in the series and can’t wait to listen to it in February (yay for a road trip next week). I also FINALLY read Angie Thomas‘ The Hate U Give (yeah, I’m pretty sure i’m the last person in the country to read it), but it lived up to the hype (which is what I was afraid of and why I put off reading it as long as I did).

Series Continued:
This month saw me continuing several series that I had in progress – including the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs; The Department Q series by Jussi Adler-Olsen and the Shadowlands series by Cherise Sinclair. I was kind of disappointed in the middle of the series Kate Daniels book (which was really all about her best friend Andrea) – I mean, she was ok as a secondary character in the series, but a full-novel just didn’t work for me, I think I like her even less as a character right now…which is disappointing since I love the rest of the Kate Daniels series.

Diversity Challenge:
One of my goals for 2019 is to read more books by diverse authors and with diverse characters (thanks Robin Covington for that awesome challenge!). I read several books this month that fit into the bounds of that challenge – specifically, The Poet X about the daughter of Dominican immigrants trying to find her place in the world, told through poetry; as well as The Hate U Give which fit both an author and character of color categories. I also added more books than I can count to my list of prospective books that will fit into the challenge.

Tackling the TBR
One of my others goals for this year is to start digging into my epic kindle archives for books to read (because I have like 5000+ at last count)…i’m giving myself a personal goal to read at least 5 books each month that I have had on the pile since before January 2017. I fell slightly shy of that goal this month, with 3 books complete and 1 still in progress. The oldest book off my shelf that I read was Silent in the Sanctuary, by Deanna Raybourn, that I added to Mt TBR in November 2011. The other two books I finished were purchased in 2014 (Gunmetal Magic – Ilona Andrews) and 2015 (Extreme Love – Abby Niles). But I’m not too worried, because right now I have at least 5 books slated into my February reading that will help me with this goal.

How was your reading month? Stop by and tell me what your favorite read was or how you are doing on your reading goals for the year!

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2019 in Month in Review

 

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2019 Diverse Reading Challenge

A few weeks ago an author I’ve previously read and is pretty much on my go-to pile (the amazing Robin Covington) posted on her facebook page about a reading challenge she wanted to undertake in 2019. The goal of the challenge is to expand the diversity of your reading choices by including more diverse authors and characters. While 18 books (1 for each character/author) will barely scratch the surface of the availability of diverse books – it will hopefully give me a starting point to consistently consider more diverse reading choices.

Here’s finding new authors to read and love in 2019!

 

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2019 – First Book of the Year

Year 3. This is my third year of participating in First Book of the Year hosted by Sheila from Book Journey. Although this is the first year when I haven’t really had my first book planned out and known in advance – which is why its January 1 and i’m just posting my first book of the year now. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was even going to participate this year – but I was recently inspired by Robyn Covington to expand my reading list year by increasing the diversity of the books I read. And kicking off that challenge as my first book of the year seemed to be the way to go.

So drumroll please…my first book of 2019 is going to be…(and my dog – Marie – wanted to show you all her toy, Monkey…the poor thing has been beat up but she loves him)…and it wouldn’t be first book of the year without a new coffee mug

From the Goodreads description:
Michael likes to hang out with his friends and play with the latest graphic design software. His parents drag him to rallies held by their anti-immigrant group, which rails against the tide of refugees flooding the country. And it all makes sense to Michael.

Until Mina, a beautiful girl from the other side of the protest lines, shows up at his school, and turns out to be funny, smart — and a Muslim refugee from Afghanistan. Suddenly, his parents’ politics seem much more complicated.

Mina has had a long and dangerous journey fleeing her besieged home in Afghanistan, and now faces a frigid reception at her new prep school, where she is on scholarship. As tensions rise, lines are drawn. Michael has to decide where he stands. Mina has to protect herself and her family. Both have to choose what they want their world to look like.

Here’s to many great books and memories in 2019!!

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

2018 – A Reading Year in Review

As I sit on my couch immersed in a Marvel Avengers binge watch (right now i’m focusing on Captain America because i’m sooo not watching in sequence) – I figured it was time to write my 2018 reading year in review post – I would say its my blogging year in review, but honestly, blog posts have been few and far between this year. Its been both a busy one (traveling to Bahrain for 2 weeks in August, starting a new job in September and running a marathon in October) and a crappy one (losing my dog to a medical emergency in August – BLOAT sucks).

On the reading front, I didn’t read as much this as in previous years. My total read count was 273 books and a total of 84675 pages. Which when compared to last year was 66 books and 5144pgs less. But on average, the books I read in 2018 were longer (310pgs compared to 265pgs).

Now onto the actual books I read during the year:
First book marked as finished for 2018: Mr Churchill’s Secretary – Susan Elia MacNeal – I found this mystery to be interesting and its a series that I would like to continue in the future – so I’ve added at least the next book in the series to Mt TBR…(which might kill me if it ever topples over…)
Last book read in 2018: Dead Witch Walking – Kim Harrison – I have to say I was disappointed in this book – i’d heard a lot about this series and originally bought this in 2010 (so its only been languishing on Mt TBR for 8yrs)…but Rachel just annoyed me and I found her to do too much dumb, impulsive shit that got both her and her friends into trouble.
Longest Book Read: Morgan’s Run – Colleen McCullough – growing up in Australia, Ms McCullough is one of those authors that I should have read growing up – the Thorn Birds by her is a “classic” and yet while I have many of her books on my shelf – I’ve never read anything by her. Morgan’s Run was ok (I gave it 2 stars but annotated that I would have given it 2.5) – overall is was too long and needed a good editor in places.
Shortest Book Read: Another Dance – DeAnne Cameron – this was 2.5 in a series I had been reading but like my longest read of the year – this one just didn’t live up to my expectations (in this case, the fact that I had previously read and enjoyed the authors books).
Most Popular Book: The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins – read by 1,796,450 ppl – I know a lot of people loved this book but for me, I was underwhelmed – there have been many other mystery/thriller/suspense like this that I enjoyed much more (the Breakdown by BA Paris being one of them).
Least Popular Book: Another Dance – DeAnne Cameron – i’m not surprised that this also showed up as my least popular book – I randomly stumbled across her books on Amazon a while back but I rarely hear her name recommended.
Highest Rated: The Sun Also Shines – Anthony Ray Hinton – it is no surprise to me that this is the highest rated book that I read this year (and Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson who features in this was my highest rated in 2017). This book is also my most recommended book of the year – if you ever want insight into why would justice system needs to be reformed – you need look no further than this book – Mr Hinton spent 20yrs on death row in Alabama for a crime he didn’t commit and with no evidence to convict him (and the sheriff who caused this miscarriage of justice is still in a position of power).
Most Read Author: Zoe Chant – During 2018 (or rather since August when I discovered her) – I’ve read 17 books by Ms Chant. They are all included in my Kindle Unlimited package and honestly just the kind of quick easy reads you need when you are down in the dumps or just need something relatively easy/brainless.

And with that, I’m signing off for 2018 and will see you all in 2019! Best Wishes and Happy Reading!

 
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Posted by on December 31, 2018 in Blog Features, Year in Review

 

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Nonfiction November Week 1: Your Year in Nonfiction

So this is my first year participating in Nonfiction November and i’ll be honest, I think its the first time I’ve ever heard it referenced on blogs – maybe I just wasn’t reading the right ones (because lets face it, nonfiction is not a topic that lots of people read and review exclusively). But now that I know about it, it will be making an appearance on my blog in future years. This year, Nonfiction November is being hosted by Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness), Julie (JulzReads), Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Katie (Doing Dewey), and Rennie (What’s Nonfiction). I’m already having a blast looking at all the different pictures of books that people are posting on Twitter, Instagram or in the Goodreads group – I have a feeling that Mt TBR is going to grow exponentially over the next month.

What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?
So this part of the prompt was a non-brainer – but far my favorite non-fiction read from the past year is also one of the books that I have probably also recommended the most since I read it. But first, a bit of the backstory, whenever I go to the library (which is much more often that I care to admit some weeks…I’m basically on first name basis with all the staff there), I tend to do a quick look of all the new purchases the library has made in both fiction and nonfiction (and its not uncommon that at least one – or more – books get added to my check out pile). Anyways, in August, I did just that and a book called The Sun Does Shine caught my eye – first of all the cover was very bright which when compared to many other NF books that use blacks, greys and white as their predominant colors, this was an anomaly. But the second thing that caught my eye was the authors name, Anthony Ray Hinton…I couldn’t place it exactly, but I knew that I had heard or read it someone in the not so recent past. Anyways, I grabbed it to read and when I opened it up and saw the foreword, I knew why – the memoir was based on one of the cases that Bryan Stevenson discusses in his book, Just Mercy – which is probably my most recommended book in 2017.

Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year?
My nonfiction reading is always kind of diverse – mostly because a lot of the stuff I read is for different challenges on both Goodreads and other websites. A quick analysis of the 16 books I read in the past year were: Science/Math: 5 books; Biography/Memoirs: 7 Books (further broken down into Celebrity /Performers (1), Historical Persons/Groups (3); Current Persons/Groups (3); Travel/Adventure: 3 Books; Self-Help: 2 books and True Crime: 1. I guess if I had to pick, I would say that I’ve been more prone to picking up science/math type books recently (I’m counting psychology, math, economics all under this general umbrella).

What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?
See my comment above about my favorite book from the last year – as soon as I got done with reading my copy from the library – I walked in, handed it to the librarian and said “READ THIS” – thankfully, most of them listen to me (or at least I think they do) when I recommend books. He also turned around and recommended a similar book to me that is part of the One Maryland One Book project (which is one of the books I have on my pile for this month).

What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?
Well, I could sarcastically say that I hope to reduce some of the nonfiction books on my pile – but we all know that isn’t going to be the case 🙂 So I hope to discover a wide variety of books on topics that I hadn’t considered before (even if I don’t get them read during the course of the month). Katie at Doing Dewey inspired me to try my own Dewey Decimal Challenge – so I’m slowing chugging away at that – I have definitely found my comfort zone – so trying to push out of that.

Bring on Nonfiction November!!

 
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Posted by on November 2, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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