#bookhaul & Book Buying Ban

Since organizing the unread bookcase, I have been thinking about doing a book buying ban. I kinda had a vague idea of giving up buying books for Lent. I was raised Catholic, and though it has been many years since I have truly practiced any religion, every year come Lent, I give something up (to varying degrees of success) and I do not eat meat on Fridays. This was all just in the planning phase (meaning I knew I should go on a book ban but I didn’t have any real plans to).

And then I found out about Barnes & Noble’s #bookhaul sale. Armed with a Christmas gift card I hit my local store. I bought 4 books (and didn’t buy about a dozen more). My local store did not have the book I went in to buy – so of course I hopped online where I bought 4 more (because free shipping).

  • Freefall by Jessical Barry (because I love thrillers)
  • Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen (because I love time travel stories)
  • Dirty John by Christopher Goffard (because #murdermondaybookclub)
  • The Similars by Rebecca Hanover (because I love YA SciFi stories)
  • An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen (because I love thrillers)
  • Red Alert by James Patterson (because NYPD RED is my favorite Patterson series)
  • Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte (because I love YA Fantasy stories)
  • Consumed by JR Ward (because I love mystery / romance / action stories)

Dirty John is the book I went to the #bookhaul sale to buy. Red Alert is the newest book in one of my favorite fun series to read (these books are like a reading vacation to me: fast paced and fun). I already owned The Wife Between Us and after talking about both books with a fellow bookstagrammer I was leaning toward reading them back to back so when I saw An Anonymous Girl was included in the sale I didn’t hesitate to add it to the pile.

The rest of the books I choose first because of the cover and then because of the synopsis in the flap. I am a sucker for a good cover. Sometimes when I look at the preview the story doesn’t catch with me. These books had both : a good cover and good story I want to read.

Now that I’ve added these 8! books to my TBR the book ban is in full effect. Two months (March and April) minimum. The rules: no books bought until I read 7 of these books (Dirty John is scheduled for a book club in the fall) or May 1 (if i finish the books before that I still have to wait until May 1). The progress so far: I already read An Anonymous Girl and I’m currently reading Four Dead Queens (a surprising second choice because this is the exact kind of book I love to buy and then not read).

I’m honestly excited about all of these books and I’m hoping this ban stops the vicious cycle of find a book, fall in love, buy the book. And before I can read it I find another book, I fall in love again, and I read it before all the other books I’ve found and loved.

Book Review: The Wife Between Us

  • THE BOOK: The Wife Between Us
  • THE AUTHORS: Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
  • PIP SAYS!: 5/5 PAWS

It is, sadly, in fiction and in life, a cliched story: a man leaves his wife, for a younger woman. Boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, get married. Years pass. Man and women are no longer in love. Too much has happened. Too many disappointments. Maybe life hasn’t gone the way they hoped it would. Maybe the long hoped for child has never come. The woman stays, tries to do everything to make the man stay. The man leaves. The man moves on, finds a younger version of a woman who fits in his life. The woman is left with the scraps and pieces of a broken life.

In the opening chapters of The Wife Between Us this is the very story you think you are reading. Nellie is about to marry Richard. Vanessa was married to Richard. Nellie’s new life is in front of her, about to begin. Vanessa’s is crumbling without her marriage she has no idea how to live.

As a reader, I do not stay within one genre. My favorite books and kinds of books to read are usually phases. I will read a bunch of YA books or a bunch of cozy mysteries. Right now, I am deep in a Mystery / Thriller phase. When I’m asked why I read so many thrillers I always answer: “THE TWIST”. I love that moment when the author pulls off the twist and everything you think you know is turned around. I love to go back a few chapters and reread, looking for clues that I may have missed.

The Wife Between Us is an excellent thriller. It turns everything around: there isn’t just one twist at the end. There are several twists running through the entire book. Some that I guessed and some that I never saw coming. Nothing is wasted in Hendricks and Pekkanen’s writing. Every detail means something. It turns everything around : that cliche – man leaves wife for younger woman – even that lays the groundwork for a fantastic, twisted, thrilling plot.

This was one of the best thrillers I have ever read – fast paced and creative. I managed to read it in one day (and I do say this a lot – I am a total binge reader) but it was a feat for me considering how often I went back and reread passages and chapters looking for signs I missed. By the time I finished I felt like I already read it twice. It is still on my TBR shelf – I cannot wait to read it again.

What I Read in February

I went into this month with a really very overly ambitious TBR. I kinda thought that book blogging and Bookstagram would keep me going and I would get through this list because I wanted the satisfaction of having met my goals and being a bad ass constant reader. After hitting a wall mid month and throwing out my TBR I finished strong – reading everything I hoped I would – plus 2!

My final total for the month of February is 12! This brings me to 24 on the year and well on my way to my 2019 goal of 104. Here are the books I read in February 2019:

  • #YASERIESCHALLENGE2019 : ACOTAR Series by Sarah J. Maas
  • A Court of Mist and Fury (4 PAWS – a very long book and it was a fair few pages before I really got into it but once I did : I GOT INTO IT.)
  • A Court of Wings and Ruin (4.5 PAWS – I love this series but the one flaw that is in all of the books is they are really long and there are passages that probably could have been cut to streamline the plot)
  • A Court of Frost and Starlight (4 PAWS – This is more of a novella and it is meant to be a bridge between the original series and the next set of books. This was the book I really needed after ACOWAR – because while its not quite a “happily ever after” it’s a nice peek in to the lives of characters I really grew attached to.)
  • #unreadBOTMchallenge
  • The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker (3 PAWS : I read this for both this challenge and as a part of my first buddy read – I really wanted to like this book but it failed in it’s execution. It was meant to be Briseis’s story but like all Trojan War stories it ends up being about the men – specifically Achilles.)
  • The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (3.5 PAWS : I read this once I caught up with all the reading I had to do – and I met my 2 BOTM books a month goal! I had really high expectations for this book, but like the Silence of the Girls, it failed somewhat in the execution. I did not like the narrator and I did not understand why he was so focused on trying to “help” Alicia. In the end the twist is shocking but I was not invested in the journey to get there.)
  • BOOK CLUB BOOKS:
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (pucksandpages# bookclub#) (4 PAWS: This book starts kind of slow and I was not really into it at first – I stuck with it because it was a book club pick and I am so glad I did because once the book got to the heart of its plot I could not put it down. I read this book in one night. The beginning may be slow but the middle and end are beautiful.)
  • Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz (pucksandpages# bookclub#) (3 PAWS: This book had all the right pieces : a book within a book, an homage to Agatha Christie and two mysteries. But neither mystery really every took flight and the twists in both were meant to be shocking, but to me they were not.)
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by JK Rowling (pucksandpages# bookclub# HP Series Reread) (4 PAWS : This is the first book I am rereading – I joined the reread after it started – and it was absolute magic from day page one. Look for a full post on this one – but I will say this book reads like a great mystery complete with a few twists at the end.)
  • I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara (#murdermondaybookclub hosted by @jennastopreading ) (3.5 PAWS : I wanted to love this book. It is the mystery that consumed Michelle McNamara’s final years. I am an experienced true crime reader and this book scared me to the point where I could not read it at night. The depth of the Golden State Killer’s crimes is astonishing . The sheer amount of information McNamara includes in this book is overwhelming. It’s an inconsistent read – which coupled with the fact that it is a terrifying subject made it hard for me to finish. In the end – I really wish McNamara had lived to see the GSK arrested and put behind bars.)
  • FUN READS:
  • Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand (3.5 PAWS : Part fantasy, part mystery, part coming of age. I wish there was a book like this when I was 11)
  • Winterspell by Claire Legrand (4.5 PAWS: Winterspell is what a retelling should be. It honors its roots while building a fantastic new world, new story, and new point of view)
  • Bared to You by Sylvia Day (3.5 PAWS : This was purely an indulgent, fun read. I finished all the books I wanted to / had to read and I was hoping to fit in one more and I thought this would be a fast, fun read.)

Book Review: Winterspell

  • THE BOOK: Winterspell
  • THE AUTHOR: Claire Legrand (instagram)
  • PIP SAYS!: 4.5 PAWS

I tend to read in phases, or binges. Since Thanksgiving I have mostly been reading thrillers – the fast paced nature of the plot along with the gripping sense of WHODUNIT is exactly the kind of reading I am enjoying these days. If I’m not reading a thriller, I am probably reading YA SCIFI/FANTASY. It’s long been one of my favorite genres (and one of my favorite kinds of books to buy – and sometimes read – but that’s a post for another time). I bought Claire Legrand’s most recent book, Furyborn, because of the cover. Often when a book catches my eye I will take a picture of the cover so I can add it to my TBR (it’s truly a never ending list). Occasionally, a cover will be so good, and the excerpt in the front of the jacket or the back of the book so interesting that I can’t just take a picture and move on. This is how I felt about Furyborn.

Because I am a binge reader I like to buy book series (please see this post to fully understand the extent of my love of series) or several books by the same author. One of the first “features” I did on Bookstagram was “Author Week”. I read and loved in a dark, dark wood by Ruth Ware and then read the three other books she has published.

After finishing Furyborn, I immediately turned to the internet to find out when book 2, Kingsbane, would be released (May 22: I CANNOT WAIT). I looked up her other titles and found that there were a few that sparked my interest. I ordered them from Amazon (because Prime) and dove right in.

Growing up I was not one for traditional fairytales. It’s not that I didn’t believe or didn’t want to believe. It’s almost ironic, that in a life filled with books, I preferred my fairytales animated. By the Walt Disney Company. I know that many of these movies from Cinderella to the Sleeping Beauty to the Little Mermaid are derived from classic fairytales. Even if you combine my love of a good happily ever after love story with my love of reading I still never sought to read the stories behind the movies I loved so much.

I am not very familiar with the Nutcracker story. I believe at some point in my childhood I may have seen the ballet. It is not a story I remember liking. I am only familiar with a few concepts: a girl named Clara, a nutcracker, and mice or rats. This did not deter me from wanting to read Winterspell, on the contrary, it made me want to read it more.

Clara Stole is the mayor’s daughter. With the passing of her mother many of her duties fell to her. She tries to be a mentor for her sister, she tries to care for her father. She makes public appearances on behalf of her father. She tries to help run the household. But even as she does all this she wants so much more. She trains, in secret with a man she calls Godfather, for a future that does not fully exist to her.

Not everything is as it seems. Her father, is merely a puppet. A group known as Concordia is in control of the strings. One fateful night Clara’s entire life and future are spun far from her control. And it culminates in a strange attack on her home and the kidnapping of her father. With her young sister’s fate in her hands she gives chase: she will rescue both her father and her sister though they are now separated by time, distance and magic.

Our stories say that when the human world was first made, not all of it fit. Pieces fell off the whole, like too much dough being stuffed into a small pan, and those bits dropped into cracks and were forgotten. Our stories, the oldest ones, the ones most people no longer remember, say that my country, Cane, is one of those forgotten places, hidden away in some cosmic pocket of existence, for the most part separated from the human world, but not entirely. Tenuous links connect the two worlds – like certain traveling songs, and hidden doorways and magic, if you’re able to use it.

page ix

I was pulled in from the very first words, these words. Magic will always be one of my favorite things from the literary and movie worlds (Cinderella and the Little Mermaid are still my top two Disney movies).

This book is journey through time : both the past and the future at the same time. Cane, the world where her father is taken to, exists in all times : in some ways it feels like 1890s of the original Nutcracker, in some ways it feels as modern as today.

Clara is a force to be reckoned with. She is not perfect. She is lost in her own life, and she struggles with trust and what she should believe in. But she loves her sister and her father and she believes she can save them both. This belief is what propels both Clara and the reader through the pages .

While reading this book, I found myself fully immersed in the magic of this story. This is what a retelling should be. It honors its roots while building a fantastic new world, new story, and new point of view.

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: Reading Habits

I am a book lover. I don’t just mean that I love to read books: I love the actual book. I love the feel of a book in my hand. I love turning pages as I read. More often than not, I have picked out and bought a book because of its cover.

Do I try to take care of my books? Yes. But I am careful with them? No.

THE BAD: TBR books and recently read books live in stacks around my bedroom (every surface is basically book storage in loose organization: books I’ve read are together, and books I want to read are together). I pile the stacks high and if one topples, I just tend to start smaller stacks. I read in bed and oftentimes there is a book (or two) on the bed or under the pillow. I always have a book with me, and if I’m going to be away from home for any length of time (and there may be an opportunity to read) I throw the book in my bag. I’ve read books in the bath, and on the beach. The pages can get a little … damp, and sandy.

THE UGLY: When I read a hardcover book I never leave the dust jacket on. I take it off and it often ends up on a book stack … and then flattened if I forget it’s there and drop another book on the stack. Then there’s the worst crime of all: I forget to put the jacket back on the book. These books remain naked, with no jacket because I either lost, threw out or otherwise destroyed the jacket.

I almost never read a book sitting at a table or a desk. I like to read on my couch with a cat in my lap or in bed curled up under the blankets. Because of this …. I tend to break spines when I read. And finally, PIP! and Sam are both young and adventurous and interested in anything I am interested in. And by interested I mean they are jealous of things I give my attention to. They show their interest by … taking a good bite out of the book. More than a few of my books have tooth marks in them now.

PIP! loves to sink his teeth into a good book!

THE GOOD: I never, under any circumstance, EVER do the following: fold down a page to mark my place, highlight, underline or write in books. I like to read a clean page. I don’t eat while reading a book (so nothing spills on the pages) and I don’t use my books as door stops or paperweights or put them in any real danger.

These are just a few of my most loved, most read books.

I am a book lover. If you want to know what my favorite books are you just have to look at my shelves. My reading life story can be told just by looking at the books. Is the cover pristine, spine perfect? I haven’t read it yet. Does the book show signs of being read but is still in pretty good shape? I read it, and like it – but I don’t love it. I haven’t gone back to it. Is the spine fully broken? The pages looking rough around the edges? The cover coming away at the seams? Then you have found one of my favorite books. A book I have read many times. A book I have gone back to again and again, whether it’s to do a full reread or just to revisit a favorite scene or two. If you see a book like that in my home you don’t need to ask if I liked it … the book speaks for me.

February TBR Update

Where does the time go? I feel like I just posted my February TBR list yesterday. I said it from the start – my TBR was ambitious. I love reading, and I thought that willpower would get me through. But I did not account for a number of things including:

  • Having time to do anything but going to work and coming home and reading.

I’ve known since about mid January that the pace I was reading was not sustainable, but I was having such a great time I didn’t want to stop. When I finished the ACOTAR series all I wanted to do was immediately dive back in and reread books 2 and 3. But I knew that I did not have the time to do that. I had to keep pushing forward and reading books on my list. And then reading became a chore. And then I just stopped reading.

I admit I had a rough week and weekend. Yesterday, after a lot of thought, I decided to throw out the extensive must read TBR list I had and read the books I want to read. With a little under two weeks left in February I plan to read:

  • I’ll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara (#murdermondaybookclub book – I really want to read this one)
  • Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz (bookclub# book – my pick- I love this book club. There’s just two of us – we read books and talk about hockey. #LETSGOPENS)
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (bookclub# book – her pick)
  • The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker (#unreadbotmchallenge buddy read – this is my first buddy read and I’m really enjoying the pace – we read a bit ever week then chat – and it crosses a BOTM book off the list!)

I’ve also returned to my old reading habits – reading more than one book at a time. I’ve been reading Silence of the Girls on and off all month – I read the chapters for the discussion and then I put it aside and go back to another book. Last night I indulged one of my favorite guilty pleasures: buy a new book, rush home and dive right in. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is a tremendous story – and it scared the daylights out of me. It is now my daytime only book. I went back to Magpie Murders so that I would be able to redirect my imagination to fiction and thus actually sleep.

I think I lost sight of why I joined bookstagram and why I started this blog. I love books. I love reading. I love to talk about and share books that I’ve loved (that’s a little legacy my Aunt Mary gave me). With this in mind, I am going to back to the start, diving back into books – and reading by mood. If I want to reread a book, I’m going to reread it. If I want to take a break and watch Hallmark or Hockey or the new football league I’m going to veg out in front of the TV.

I think one of the hardest things to do is learn how to balance your life. Find things you love and do them for the love of the thing. Cross things off your must do to do list. Laugh. Spend time with friends. Eat chocolate. Do the dishes. Make your bed. Binge watch a tv show. Read a good book.

Why am I sharing this? Social Media is a difficult place to navigate. It’s full of “best of” moments. We talk about our highs. We talk about the good things. And we compare ourselves to others. But we are more than just the best bits of ourselves. We are the bad days. And we are the days where we pick ourselves up, and say “I will try again”.

Happy Valentine’s Day

I am just going to say it: Valentine’s Day is a made-up holiday. There’s no definitive history on which St. Valentine we are celebrating as St. Valentine’s day was likely another effort of early Christianity to turn Pagan Celebrations into Christian ones.

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.


Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and–most importantly–romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.

from history.com

Perhaps we are celebrating a man who covertly performed marriage ceremonies for those who were not allowed to wed (and if that’s the case then today I will celebrate and honor all those for whom marriage equality is still a fight – those who have been told that their love is wrong and that their love is less than). Perhaps we are celebrating a doomed man who fell in love with a girl and just had to tell her.

I am celebrating Valentine’s Day reading a Romance Novel and baking chocolate cupcakes because anytime I celebrate anything books and chocolate are involved.

When doing research for this post I discovered that celebrating love in the name of Valentine goes back further in history than I knew. It became a holiday in the 5th Century : “Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400.”

The oldest surviving Valentine was written by Charles, Duke of Orleans in 1415. After being captured in the Battle of Agincourt he was sent to the Tower of London where he wrote the following poem to his wife, Bonne of Armagnac:

My very gentle Valentine,
Since for me you were born too soon,
And I for you was born too late.
God forgives him who has estranged
Me from you for the whole year.
I am already sick of love,
My very gentle Valentine.

history.com

I may not be a Valentine’s Day fan, and I might say things like “Valentine’s Day is a made-up holiday”. But I think celebrating Love is more important than a one day celebration. We should celebrate all the love we have everyday. To my family and my friends I say : I love you. I love you more than I can say. My heart is full and my universe is better because I have you in my life.

Book Review: The 7 & 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

  • The Book: The 7 & 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
  • The Author: Stuart Turton
  • PIP! SAYS: 4 Paws

What would you do if you woke up in the woods one morning with no idea who you were or how you got there? And the first thing you think you see and hear is a woman in peril. Upon finding the house in the middle of the trees you discover that everyone knows who you are, and no one believes you.

Aiden Bishop wakes up on Day One in that exact situation. And then he wakes up on Day Two. In a different body. And then on Day Three, in a third.

“You were a doctor,” he says. “Then a butler, today, a playboy, tomorrow a banker. None of them is your real face, or your real personality. Those were stripped from you when you entered Blackheath, and they won’t be returned to you until you leave.”

“Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder, and so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out.”

“If you don’t solve this problem by midnight in your final host, we’ll strip your memories and return you to the body of Doctor Bell and this will all begin again.”

pages 67/68/69

The Harcastle Family has invited a houseful of guests for their annual ball. Someone will die at that ball. And Aiden Bishop must solve that murder in order to gain his freedom. But it’s not as simple as that – he only knows what he can find out from manipulating the body of that day’s host. While some hosts are helpful, others are not. And each decision that he makes impacts the events and the actions of not only the other party guests but also of his other hosts.

Will Aiden Turner find the answers and win his freedom?

This was my very first “influenced by bookstagram” read. I saw about a dozen posts about this book and its very creative and different set up and narrative. It’s a mystery / thriller and that has been my genre of choice recently.

This is a detective mystery. As the reader I followed the clues and tried to piece the mystery together: who killed Evelyn Hardcastle. But this is also a thriller and the real mystery was so much more than that and the answer is so complex that it takes the efforts of eight different hosts for Aiden to find it. I admit I thought I had this one figured out … and not only was I wrong, I was missing the biggest piece.

I initially found it hard to get into the story …. it starts off slow and sluggish (exactly how Dr. Bell, the first host is feeling) and though I thought I knew what was supposed to be happening I felt lost – like I couldn’t find the plot. Once the work Aiden does within his hosts begins to pick up so does this book. The author weaves details through every chapter, every host, every decision Aiden as someone else makes. A few times I wanted to jump into the story to help him – at times Aiden’s journey seemed so much more important than solving the mystery.

This book has one narrator: Aiden. But with 8 different points of view. The entire book is a twist and a departure from the way typical mystery / detective books unfold and it makes for a very involved and fascinating read.

Although I finished this book in December, I have not shelved it yet … I definitely want to reread it – and take notes. I want to see what clues I missed and pay more attention to what Aiden says, does and sees each day in each host.

If you read or have read this book – come talk to me! I would love to know what you thought and what clues you found and what you might have missed.

Managing My TBR

I have always been a “mood” reader. I used to read two to three books at a time (I have pretty much stopped that since joining Bookstagram and writing about and reviewing books). When it comes to choosing which book I am going to start, or go back to, or finish it all comes down to mood – which book I want to read in that moment. This system worked for me for years between college and last fall when I had the worst reading slump and started about a dozen books that I DNF or quickly lost interest in.

Reading so many books in December and January was such a great experience that I gathered a really (overly) ambitious stack of books for my February TBR. I’ve known all month that in order to read all these books I would have read at a pace of three books per week and I would not be able to add a single book to this list.

Since starting Books With PIP! I have had more conversations about books with my friends than I ever have before. I love it. A friend of mine recently recommended a book to me – a book he has read and loved. The minute I got it I wanted to push it to the top of my TBR.

Me: I have so many books to read I could not possibly add one more.

700 page book I wasn’t planning on reading: Hold my beer.

With this in mind, and an unexpected day off (yay! snow day!) I have decided to read this book a little at a time in between my February TBR books – and if I have to stop reading it to finish my other books, it will still be there in March.

The Book Hangover

There is more than one kind of hangover. There’s the one where you go out with friends and having a lot of fun that night and no fun the next morning. There’s the one where you have a really deep and emotional conversation and you wake up the next morning feeling like you’ve been crying for days. And then there’s the one you experience when you finish an amazing book.

For me, there are three types of book hangovers:

THE THRILLER HANGOVER

When I finish a good thriller, if I didn’t see the twist coming, or if I guessed at parts of it, but its so good I am left completely shocked, I don’t even put the book down when I have turned the last page. I go back to the beginning and skim through, looking for clues and signs that I missed. The reason I read so many thrillers is because I love the moment when the pieces fall into place and the whole thing comes together in a big shocking moment. I also love rereading that moment once I have all the pieces and finding details that I missed.

I frequently read this books late into the night and way past my bedtime. And then I have to sleep with the light on.

Three of the best thrillers I have read lately (where I definitely went back because I had to figure out what I missed and see where the pieces were in the story and how it all fits) were:

  • in a dark, dark wood by Ruth Ware
  • (unreliable narrator with a head injury and lapses in memory!)
  • The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
  • (Old school friends hiding a dark secret!)
  • Believe Me by JP Delaney
  • (Master manipulator is the ultimate unreliable narrator!)

THE WHAT COMES NEXT HANGOVER

Sometimes I find a book with a beautifully written a story and fully realized dynamic characters that I completely invest in. I cannot get enough. I want time to simultaneously speed up (so I can find out how it ends) and slow down (so it never ends). When I get to the last page I’ve been known to stare at the final, blank page hoping that more words materialize and I get to know more: what happens in the “next” part of the story.

These are all YA books but the storytelling, the characters and their relationships are so compelling. All three of these books have upcoming sequels – and I may or may not be planning all day binge reads.

  • Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
  • (one of my all time favorite books – Wayward Son out later this year!)
  • Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
  • (I loved this book so much I read it three times. In a row.)
  • Furyborn by Claire Legrand
  • (Features two main characters with alternate narration – one of my favorite narrative devices. I am totally going to reread this book right before book 2 comes out – May 21)

THE HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO GO ON NOW HANGOVER

This kind of book hangover is rare for me. A few years ago, I went on a weekend road trip with a good friend. We went to Maine in January and got snowed in. We spent the day in our little airbnb reading. I was reading fun books but my friend was finishing a big series that she loved. I remember when she finished the book. She staggered out of her room, grabbed a handful of string cheese and could barely find the words to talk about it. But I could see the love and wonder she had for those books all over her face. We spent that night eating a pot roast, drinking wine, and talking about our favorite books for hours. It was one of the best trips I’ve ever been on.

The first time I fell so completely in love with a book series was Harry Potter. I remember staying up through the night and well into the next day reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, just soaking up every word, everything that expanded this world that I wanted to live in more than anything. I have read this series, all 7 books in a row about 4 times now. I just started the 5th. I have read the individual books countless times. When life gets hard, or my heart gets broken, or I just need some comfort these are the books I reach for. And every time I open one I am back at Hogwarts with Harry and Hermione (my spirit animal) and Ron. And every time I finish one I mourn the fact that magic and Hogwarts are not real.

Last month I gathered and organized all the books I own, but have not read. One of my biggest reading bad habits is YA Series. I tend to buy them all and then not read any of them. This year that changes. I picked the ACOTAR series by Sarah J. Maas to kick off the challenge, because 1. it is so beloved on Bookstagram and 2. That’s the series that won the poll in my stories.

  • A Court of Thorns and Roses
  • A Court of Mist and Fury
  • A Court of Wings and Ruin
  • A Court of Frost and Starlight

To be completely honest, ACOTAR was a let down. But I am nothing if not stubborn, so I kept trucking and started ACOMAF . At some point in ACOMAF (I’m not saying what point, because #spoilers) it was like the heavens opened and I saw the light. The minute I finished ACOMAF I started ACOWAR. I was planning on finishing ACOWAR at some point last weekend. I was going to read for a bit on Friday, then I was going to Do Things. Instead, I spent ALL of Friday reading ACOMAF and the fourth book, the novella ACOFAS. The second half of ACOWAR was everything I love in a book. There was nothing else for me but reading that book. Every now and then I would emerge from the words and text a fellow book friend. I went on Instagram and posted a story asking anyone who read the book to message me so I could yell about it with someone. I spent the next day at work telling anyone who would listen how much I loved this series and how it’s been for me to return to the “real world”.

I have a very ambitious month of reading planned (that just got a little more ambitious, thank you 700 page book that I wasn’t planning on reading but has now jumped near the top of my TBR). I knew then and I know now that I have to dive into another book. But I’m not ready. So of course, I’ve returned to Harry Potter. HP3 is on this month’s TBR so two birds, one stone, I read a book I need to cross off my list and I get a helping hand back to reading other books.