Friday Fall Book Tag~

I can’t believe we’re more than halfway through fall and I haven’t done a autumn-themed book tag yet! So this is more like a Almost-Done-Autumn tag, ha. This one is going to be more Thanksgiving focused because I’ve got my mom’s vegetarian stuffing on my mind 🙂

BOOK TAG RULES

  • answer the questions 🙂
  • link back to the creator (katieonthecase)
  • anyone who reads this- consider yourself tagged! or tag a few friends at the bottom.

1. THANKSGIVING: What book, series, or author are you most thankful for?

I’m going to go with book here and say Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. This heart-warming and LOL-funny book got me through a rough patch when I first moved to New York and straight up never wanted to leave my apartment. I basically was Bernadette, which was so ridiculous that it was comical. I also read it right after my mom did, and we discussed it together after, so I really felt a mom-daughter connection while reading. We ALSO recently saw the movie together, and I’m just really grateful for these bonding moments, so thank you Where’d You Go, Bernadette and Maria Semple!

2. MAC N CHEESE: What character is the best side kick or best friend?

Mac n cheese is for sure my favorite Thanksgiving side dish, and my favorite side kick characters would have to be Nora and Hopper in Night Film by Marisha Pessl. Discussing Night Film could take multiple blog posts as there are so many layers to the characters and story and and even the physical book itself, but I just want to shoutout Nora and Hopper for being the best surprising sidekicks a guy could have!

3. MULLED WINE: What character would you take out for drinks or dinner?

For sure mother-daughter duo Mia and Pearl Warren from Little Fires Everywhere! I loved the endearing bond these two quirky women shared, and I totally understand why this town felt so obsessed with them. Would love to hang out with these two, maybe do some arts and crafts after dinner!

4. TURKEY DECORATIONS: Do you have any fictional animal characters or pets you love?

If I had to choose a fictional animal friend, I would definitely want my own demon like in the His Dark Materials series. Every time Lyra had Pan by her side, it had me wishing I could have a little demon animal tethered to me!

5. PUMPKIN PIE: What is your favorite spooky book from Halloween?

This is tough because I read a lot of creepy books this year around Halloween! But the scariest one had to be The Whisper Man. This book had me legitimately closing and locking my windows, terrified even when I was safely in my own bed and with the lights on. This book wasn’t all scary though, it had such a great parenting message and the bond between generations. Recommended for anyone who loves fast paced (and I mean REALLY fast paced) creepy thrillers!

6. COMFY PANTS: What is your go-to comfort book?

As the name would imply, any cozy mystery is definitely a comfort/ guilty pleasure for me- ESPECIALLY seasonal ones. I’m on my second read of  The Diva Runs Out of Thyme by Krista Davis, so I’ll go with that one as my comfort book. It centers around a Thanksgiving stuffing competition, rare cats, crazy vlogger-types, and of course, murder. It’s perfect for this time of fall, and it’s not nearly as cheesy as some other cozies out there. My favorite aspect is the silly but cute Pinterest-style ideas at the beginning of every chapter from the crazy vlogger character, Natasha. I recommend for a cutesy and comforting Thanksgiving time read!

7. LEFTOVERS: What book or series could you read over and over again?

I have to be basic and Harry Potter! Anyone who wouldn’t say that is lying 😉

 

Happy Friday fellow bookworms! Don’t forget to tag your book loving friends to pass along the tag 🙂 and remember- if you’re reading this- tag you’re it!

July: Cased Closed

Case Closed is a wrap up of the previous months’ reads, q+a’s, top 10s, and all things books.

WOOO it’s Friday and DOUBLE WOOO I’m finally making a post after MONTHS of hiatus. It’s seriously been so long since I’ve even written a Case Closed- definitely a pretty accurate reflection of the sad number of books I’ve been reading. I’m super behind on my Goodreads challenge for 2019 too, but hey, that’s why it’s called a “challenge” right? It isn’t supposed to be easy all the time, and that’s ok!

Since it’s been so crazy at work, wedding planning, and travel, July’s Case Closed is actually going to be more of an April-May-June-July Case Closed. That being said, these will be more bite-sized reviews, so I can fit in all my thoughts, especially since it’s been awhile.

My first April read was Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller. This was my first Claire Fuller read, and actually really loved it. I know some of her other books are more cult-classics on Bookstagram and in the thriller world, but I guess I’m just going to make my way backwards to those?38589871

Anyway, Bitter Orange is not a thriller. At least, not in the traditional sense. I, for one, was certainly thrilled, but in more of a creepy, gothic, haunted house sort of way. In fact, the creepy house was probably my favorite character. That being said, this was definitely more of a character study I thought, and even a setting/house study, if that’s a thing. (And yes I know the multiple layers of symbolism of calling it a house study when that’s exactly what the main character is supposedly doing at the house- studying it.) The characters are weird, but you can’t help but want to know everything about them. Except Frances, tbh, I kinda want to know less about her and her weird thoughts.

Like I said, I loved this book, even though it was a really different type of book for me. I normally go for fast paced and un-put-down-able thrillers, and even though this was pretty slow paced, I still couldn’t put it down. I wanted to rate it 4 stars up until the very end, when one little plot piece threw me way into 5/5 territory. A subtle, simple twist that completely caught me off guard and made me suddenly want to write a graduate degree level thesis on the book (don’t worry- I won’t- for all of my readers’ sake.)

Even though I own Swimming Lessons, I have yet to read it, so we will see how that one compares! Maybe you dear readers will be seeing that one in a Case Closed to come. Until then- solid 5 stars for me for BO.

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Although I promised all bite-sized mini reviews, I want to ~close the case~ on not just one book, but five at a time. This is a symbolic wrap up, actually, a metaphor for me closing the case on an entire sub-genre of thrillers I’ve noticed recently. Part of the reason I was in such a reading and writing slump lately was because I read so many vapid, boring, and pointless thrillers that I honestly didn’t even want to review or post about. These new types of twisty thrillers are just that- twists. No actual problem, no well written characters, and no plot to actually make me really care. I felt completely empty after I finished these five books that I didn’t even want to read anymore at all. Hence why I’m currently EIGHT (I know…) books behind on my reading challenge this year. I don’t want to even put that much energy into talking about the books, so these are even less than mini reviews, these will be more like crumbs of reviews. Crumbs of rants actually?

My first rant I want to go off on is A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena. Even though 33984056._SY475_I want to go off on this book, I honestly can’t because I can’t even remember what it’s about. Some trope about losing memory maybe? Who even cares. I don’t. Something about a woman losing her memory, a plethora of dumb red herrings, and an unsatisfying conclusion are the only aspects I can really remember. So, that’s number one, in no particular order, of my vapid thrillers I somehow decided to read the last few months.

Rant number two is going to be about the The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley. Actually, 37642030let’s go ahead and combine rant two and three into one here, and talk about In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware too. All I want to say about these is that they are the exact. same. book. Group of friends go into the woods 27834600._SY475_after not talking for awhile, someone ends up dead, someone’s crazy, and everyone is on tons of drugs. These were the two most predictable books I’ve ever read, and that wasn’t even the worst thing about them. They were shallow and completely pointless on top of everything else. There, I saved you TWO reads in one. If you’ve read one, you’ve read the other!

My fourth rant is less of a rant and more of just a sigh: Behind Closed Doors by BA Paris. I 29437949know this is a bit unpopular in the thriller community, so I’m going to blame myself for this one. I try to never get sucked into reading hyped up books from Facebook comments, but this one totally lured me in. This book wasn’t bad, but it just wasn’t for me. It was more of a cat and mouse chase than a mystery, and that’s fine if you’re into that. Regardless of what you’re into, though, I still felt this book was shallow with no actual development or plot advancement, just a heart attack on the page.

My final rant is coincidentally my angriest rant of all, and the reason I’ve actually 37561550dropped psychological thrillers for the moment (hey don’t worry, I’ll always still be on the case!) This angering book is The Au Pair by Emma Rous. Sigh. This book was ROUGH for me. I’m actually getting angry again writing this out. Awhile back, I gave my first 2 star review. I gave it 2 stars because I figured, even if I DESPISED every single character, twist, and plot piece, at least I wasn’t bored. I gave it a star up from a single star just because it at least wasn’t boring, because to me, boring is the worst thing a book can be. Well dear readers, this is where I will give my first single star mini review for a book. The Au Pair is everything I just mentioned and it’s abysmally boring. I honestly can’t even believe I finished this book, when I was screaming in my car “OH MY GOD WHO CARES” every chapter. Just… skip this melodramatic, boring, soap opera of a book.

Anyway, I’m going to stop myself right here because I’m already taking up so much blog room on negative thoughts about my recent reads. Honestly though, it’s really important for me to wrap up these reads on paper/desktop screen so that I can really shift in a different direction with my reading challenge. I’m getting myself back on course by closing the case on psycho thrillers at the moment, and focusing on books with depth, lovable characters, and emotional story lines about something other than cheating or memory loss.

These books were all between 1-3 stars for me on Goodreads, so we’ll average that for 2/5 on these.

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With all of that now behind us, I want to make a shout out to two books I read in June that are going to be some of my favorites for 2019: Miracle Creek by Angie Kim and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.

I know, I know, I’m a little late to the party with Little Fires but better late than never, right? Little Fires is a beautiful, moving, and insightful piece of literature that touched me in ways I didn’t know a book could. Like I mentioned (ranted…), I’ve been reading some pretty shallow thrillers, so going right into Little Fires was like a deep, dark plunge into some emotional caves.

I honestly think I’m still processing this book after a month, but I get why it was so 34331079._SY475_popular now. It had everything I didn’t know I needed in a book: themes of motherhood and family, deep culture insights, and of course some small town secrets for good measure. The story telling and plot weaving was amazing in this book, all the characters were tied together in ways THEY didn’t even know they were, and that was a treat as a reader to watch unfold.

Besides the captivating and moving plot, I was so drawn to these characters and honestly, kind of miss them now. I wish I could hang out with Pearl and Mia, go shopping with them, and then give all of the moms a hug. Every mom deserves it for one reason or another.

I also loved how this book really made me think and really ask myself some hard questions. Without giving too much away, I will say that there are issues that come up in this book that no one should have to face, and that there is no right answer too. Who deserves to be a mother? What makes a good mother? What even IS a mother?

This book is incredible, Celeste Ng and I apologize for taking so long to read it. A re-read is definitely in the cards for me, as well as picking up Everything I Never Told You. A friend of mine said the characters are even MORE lovable in that one, so we’ll see!

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The last book I want to wrap up today is Miracle Creek which was, again, possibly my 40121959favorite book of 2019 so far. I got this book in my BOTM subscription because it seemed like everyone was getting it. I loved the cover and the name, but wasn’t sure if I would enjoy a legal thriller that had a lot of medical terms in it. Boyyyy was I wrong. These themes were not only unique, but incredibly captivating and interesting. I learned about a whole new medical tech, while also learning  insights into the immigration culture on the East Coast. Like Little Fires, I loved the themes of family- and all of the good and bad that goes into parenting.

For this mini review, I really want to focus on the characters. These characters are amazingly written. They’re raw and real, and they’re completely and fully human. I loved getting to know their inner thoughts and feelings (except Matt lol he really sucked) and their take on everything going on. Each character is flawed, but that’s what made them so believable and captivating. Each had a struggle I couldn’t even imagine, but was so well written that I felt like I was there with them.

I don’t want to give a single thing away about this plot though, because besides its rawness, it’s still a mystery, and still will keep you guessing until the very end. Go into this book knowing you won’t have a clue what’s the truth, but you will love every second of this gut-wrenching piece of literary magic.

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Alrighty lovely readers! That’s all for this month, er, last four months. Hopefully you will see me in August for more reviews and bookish fun!

 

 

Review: The Night Before by Wendy Walker

ABOUT:40867676

Name– The Night Before
Author– Wendy Walker
Genre– Mystery/Thriller, Psychological Thriller
Source– St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley
Katie’s case– 3.5/5

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DESCRIPTION:

Twelve hours earlier, she was…
Hopeful.
Excited.
Safe.
 

Now she’s gone. 

REVIEW: 

“If you keep leaving the herd, the wolves will come.”

The premise of Wendy Walker’s The Night Before is certainly a fresh one, diving into the modern world of online dating and its potential scares. I really enjoyed that this book focused on something so common in this day and age, but with more twists and turns as well as deeper issues. The plot starts simple, a blind date and a nervous girl with a damaged, and actually infamous past. The book focuses on more than the blind date, going into the territory of mental health, self awareness, and challenging upbringings. That’s all I really want to say about the plot itself, for fear of giving too much away, but just know its more than just a book about dating.

With that being said, I want to start out my review by saying that this blurb was PERFECT and should be a lesson to the whole thriller genre. The blurb was maybe five sentences, just enough to draw you in without giving a single plot line away. (Side rant: way too often I feel like I can basically guess the whole premise by just reading the long, drawn out blurbs and spoil the whole book for myself. Some blurbs give away the whole twist! OK end rant.)

As I said, I don’t want to give too much away about the plot itself, but I do want to share my thoughts about the other aspects of the book. I’ve actually been pretty torn on how to rate this one, because there were some parts I loved and some parts that I felt had potential but didn’t get all the way there. On one hand, I think the pacing was excellent and constantly kept me on my toes. This is going to be a huge hit this summer for the unique plot line and immersive writing alone. I actually had to force myself to turn off my Kindle and go to sleep- it’s that thrilling. I was constantly wondering what was going to happen, and who the real villains were.

Unfortunately I do think I figured out the plot twist a little too early for my liking, and would like to have been more surprised by the end, but that’s just personal preference. Some readers really love to use their armchair detective skills, so they would probably really enjoy this slow reveal. I think I just felt like the plot was a bit spoon-fed for me and tried to hard to make everything neat and perfect. Another possibility is that I read too much of this genre and can’t be totally shocked by what I read anymore, which is also just a personal issue!

Although I liked the pacing and the alternating perspectives, the other aspects of the writing fell a bit flat for me. I didn’t ever really connect with any of the characters, in fact, I didn’t really like any of them at all. I think they could use some more flushing out, maybe by making the book a bit longer and diving deeper into each of their histories? I don’t necessarily need likable characters, but I think I would have liked to see a bit more character development here. Although I do understand the book takes place in basically one day. Again, I really did love getting multiple perspectives on the same night and getting constant cliffhangers at the end of each chapter!

Overall, I think The Night Before is a fresh idea and I absolutely know it will be a hit this summer, I think it was just kind of middle of the road for me, and that’s ok. It was still a very fun read that I finished in a few sittings and would still most likely recommend to my other thriller friends! I will definitely be checking out Wendy Walker’s previous novels too.

Thank you NetGalley, Wendy Walker, and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC of this novel and the opportunity to enjoy early in return for my honest review.

Has anyone else read this? What were your thoughts? Comment below!

Friday Seven Deadly Sins Book Tag~~

It’s Friday, folks! Like I mentioned in my last post, I’m getting back into the swing of things after my incredibly drawn out winter break, which also means getting back into my regular blogging schedule. Which meeeeans- Friday book tags! I like doing book tags on Friday because they’re just fun and can be kind of silly, just like a total embodiment of a Friday.

I found this Seven Deadly Sins book tag from Crazy For YA and just had to do it. If you’re reading this, PLEASE consider yourself tagged because I want to share the Friday love with this fun tag.

1. Greed~ What is your most inexpensive book? What is your most expensive book?

My most inexpensive book was technically Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty because I swapped it with another bookworm! If y’all don’t know Ashley Spivey, I sincerely urge you to join her book club on Facebook! She posts the books she’s reading, her rankings, and created this space for people to do the same! For those of you who don’t know her, she’s a former Bachelor contestant who now uses her platform for activism and feminism. Can you tell I love her?! Anyway, she has a spin off group for swapping books, and I traded One Day in December for Nine Perfect Strangers. So yes, I count swapping Nine Perfect Strangers at no cost to me as my most inexpensive book!

Most expensive would probably have to be I Might Regret This by Abbi Jacobson, but let me tell you I did not “regret this” purchase. Sorry for the lame pun, but I absolutely adore Abbi from Broad City and Disenchantment so supporting her is my pleasure. I’m only a few pages in, but I can tell it’s going to be a really special read for me for many reasons, and definitely going to be worth every penny.

2. Wrath~ What author do you have a love/hate relationship with?

Definitely Gillian Flynn. It’s not that I love/have a hate relationship with her necessarily, but more of a love/fear relationship. Her books are so well written and compulsive, but they also genuinely terrify me in a way that I think can easily be confused with hatred. I usually hate how terrifying her twists are, hate the unlovable characters, and hate her gut-punch endings, but also admire her for these same abilities. So maybe I am just as twisted as her characters when I say I love to hate these sick aspects?

3. Gluttony~ What book have you devoured over and over again with no shame?

Since I have a TBR that’s a mile long, I don’t typically reread very often. I have enough trouble keeping up with my current reads and TBR let alone past books! I actually think the only book I have read more than once was The Awakening, but that was for different classes in high school and college. While I did eat this book up both times, I’m not sure if it necessarily counts since it wasn’t exactly of my own volition.

Instead, I tend to reread short stories and poetry the most. I reread Shirley Jackson’s short stories pretty frequently, I think because they always manage to give me chills even when I know what’s going to happen. I always gravitate toward the classic, The Lottery and The Summer People. I also have read a lot of poetry from Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur and salt. by Nayyirah Waheed multiple times!

4. Sloth~ What book have you neglected reading due to laziness?

Uhhh can I answer “my whole unread shelf?” Because I think it could be argued I’m too lazy to read 50% of the books I already own. In all seriousness, I’ve been picking up, reading 5 pages, and putting down the A Song of Fire and Ice series for probably almost 3 years now. It’s not that I don’t like it, or that I’m bored of it, I just have so many fast paced, compulsive, few-day reads that are so much more appealing in the moment than the daunting task of those loooong pages. I will say it is always the book I take to the beach though! A really perfect calm beach read.

5. Pride~ What book do you talk about most in order to sound like an intellectual reader?

This question made me laugh out loud, because everyone totally has a book they talk about to impress a certain crowd. For some crowds it’s The Bell Jar, for some it’s Pride and Prejudice, and for some it’s Anna Karenina, depending on what’s cool to that circle. When I was in middle school, it was definitely A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that was considered cool and smart for my crowd. In reality, I had NO idea what was going on in that book and actually haven’t picked it up since.

In recent years though, I think my answer would be The Handmaid’s Tale. When Hulu came out with the show and it was all the buzz, I would casually drop in, “well in the book…” like I was some Handmaid’s Tale expert, even though it was simply required reading for me in high school. Ha!

6. Lust~ What attributes do you find attractive in characters?

Oh my God I was in love with BOTH Tuck Everlasting brothers as a kid. I would have stayed young with them forever too…

7. Envy~ What book would you most like to receive as a gift?

Maybe this should be an answer for greed but, um, anything? I absolutely love book gifts. I received a really awesome Ravenclaw edition of Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone from my fiance for Christmas and it’s a treasure! Honestly though, if I had a friend or family member who had a book that meant a lot to them, I would love to receive a copy of it. I love connecting with people through books, like reading the same pages and wondering what they thought or felt also reading the book.

This doesn’t feel envious at all… I feel like if I wanted to say something envious, I would say like, I wish I lived at Hogwarts and I’m jealous of all the witches and wizards there! Ok that’s envious and deadly sinful.

Well thanks for stickin’ around, Bookworms! I want to read your answers too! Copy and paste these questions, or just answer below if you don’t want to post. But just know if you read this, I want you to play too! Happy Friday~~~

Winter Bookworm Bingo: Update 1!

Hello bookies! I hope everyone’s been transitioning smoothly into the New Year so far! Yes, yes, I know we are over a week into 2019 but I’m only just starting to really get back to reality after a very long, but necessary, winter break. My last few weeks have consisted of relaxation, family time, catching up with friends, wedding planning, and even getting a new job! Wooo! So I definitely can say it’s been a little hectic for me, but despite the chaos I’ve still been working on my Winter Bookworm Bingo challenge!

If it’s been so long that you’re thinking to yourself, “bingo? what bingo?” then I definitely wouldn’t blame you. Here’s a refresher for those who want to follow a long and challenge yourselves in the new year with me!

So far, I’ve officially checked off four boxes on my reading challenge, and although I would consider myself being a little behind on my challenge, I had such a lovely time with my family and friends this break, that I will cut myself a little slack for now. With that being said, here are my four boxes I have checked off, the one in progress, and the next two on my list.

DONE!

1. Female lead: The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Handa

Winter Bookworm Bingo was off to a phenomenal start with this Christmas Carol hilarious and heartwarming retelling. Everyone knows the story- Scrooge, an old and greedy, uptight man, gets visited by three ghosts and has to promise to become a better person to all of his peers. What Dickens did not necessarily imagine was a seventeen-year-old girl with a massive Instagram following and daddy’s money that has made her a capital B Brat. Cynthia Hand shows us that not just greedy older men are capable of being Scrooges, but so can pretty young women and handsome young men be in serious need of a ghostly wake up call.

I might have a different spin on this one too, I listened to it as an audiobook, which I highly, HIGHLY recommend. The voice acting for Holly was spot. on. As a California girl myself, I’m pretty used to the dramatized valley girl vocal fry, but Holly’s was excellent. I truly believed this actress was Holly Chase, a former brat turned ghost, living out her days at a secret organization for other Scrooges. Please do yourself a favor and listen to this hilarious treat of a narration.

All in all, the Afterlife of Holly Chase warmed by heart, broke it, and then warmed it up again. I didn’t expect myself to be rooting for this comedically awful teenager and her crush, but boy was I wrong. Cynthia Hand has the perfect teenage voice down to a science, along with the angst, love, and uncertainty that comes with being on the brink of adulthood. What I’m saying is- this is not just a book about ghosts and Scrooges- it’s about second changes, forgiveness, compassion, coming of age, and love. Did I also mention it’s also hilarious?! Seriously. I was laughing out loud. Five riveting magnifying glasses for my first Winter Bookworm Bingo square.

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2. Recipe: traditional Christmas fettuccine!fet

Ok so obviously this wasn’t a book to be read and checked off, buuuut I wanted to challenge myself to read and perfect a recipe for Christmas dinner. I made my family’s traditional fettuccine like all good Italians eat on Christmas, and it was a hit! I even made it again for my family’s New Year’s Eve dinner. Yes I am definitely giving five stars (magnifying glasses) for the classic fettuccine recipe!!!

Anyone else have a cultural dish you like to make around the holidays?

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3. Heartwarming read: One Day in December by Josie Silverdec

I had a whole different kind of review planned out for One Day in December, but I really feel like it is a hard book for me to review. Yeah, I read it in two days. Yes, it was compulsive. Yep, I needed to know the ending. But did I genuinely, truly enjoy it? The jury is still out on that one, folks.

Half of my mixed feelings come from the fact that I’ve never read a romance novel and I don’t usually read “chick-lit” or heartwarming stories. I prefer my romance to be in Hallmark movies and Lifetime originals, but I think I’ve learned that’s the only place I really like to be entertained with sappy love stories with predictable endings- on TV.

The other half of mixed feelings come from the content itself. I found this book to be a compulsively readable and entertaining character study. I loved how the book spanned 10 years of friendship, relationships, family issues, and of course love. I thought this time line worked especially well in this book, and genuinely was touched by some events within this passage of time. I also laughed out loud a few times, which never hurts either!

On the other hand, this book was predictable and sappy. I know that works for a lot of people, and I LOVE predictable and sappy Lifetime movies, so I totally understand the draw. Like, I don’t watch Hallmark or Lifetime to have my heartbroken and the couple not actually get together in the end. So I respect the need for this in a book too, just maybe not my personal cup of tea. Or as the British say, “cuppa.” I also felt this book was a little problematic, and I don’t want to get too into spoiler territory here, but I definitely had to knock off a star from my enjoyment level on this one. I’ll stick to thrillers!

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4. Cover with mainly blue, white, or silver: The Other Woman by Sandie Jones

Oof, this most recent book in my challenge thus far was a little rough for me. I’ve othhonestly been avoiding reviewing it because it’s been days and I still can’t gather my thoughts on this one. A couple chapters in, I definitely knew what would happen. Halfway through, I knew what would happen AND I hated the main character, Emily. I’m not really one to DNF, but I’ll be honest, this time I solely didn’t DNF because I needed to know if I was right from the beginning, despite how much I loathed Emily.

I was right, by the way. But I guess I shouldn’t blame the author for me being too addicted to thrillers that I can spot hidden foreshadowing a mile away. I actually did like the authors writing style, and I didn’t think the plot or ending was horrible. I just simply could not stand another minute of Emily’s pathetic and pitiful inner monologue. I screamed more than once reading this, and mind you, this is coming from someone who has yet to hate even the most awful of main characters in my reading career thus far. I will say though that I was really desperate to know what happened, so I can’t lie that it definitely captivated me for awhile. I think this is why I had a hard time reviewing this one, it’s such a touch balancing act of weighing my intrigue vs. my hatred to result in an appropriate rating.

With that being said, I really do give Sandie Jones credit for making me SO passionately angry at a book. I didn’t rate this one low because I thought it was boring and forgettable, I rated it low because I was so mad at the main character for such being a pushover, wishy-washy, doormat of a woman. So in that regard, an infuriating low rating > boring low rating, in my opinion. So congrats on the two magnifying glasses for making me utterly pissed off for a week, but I guess that’s still better than making me utterly bored.

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In progress:

5. Summer setting: Here We Lie by Paula Treick DeBoardhere

You know when you start a book and immediately know you’re going to love it, no matter what the ending? That’s a rare feeling for me, but I’m definitely feeling that way about a third through. I’m absolutely enthralled by the characterization and writing style, but I won’t get too ahead of myself. More to come on my next update!

Next up on my list:

6. Book gifted: Nightfilm by Marisha Pessl

Thanks Emily! So excited to read this one!

7. One word title: Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

My fiance has been begging me to read it for months- it’s up next I promise!

 

How are you all doing with your winter or 2019 reading challenges so far? Have any books you recommend that also check off these boxes? Let me know below! 

My 5 Monday: Books to Escape To

Monday already?! I don’t know about you all, but my weekend just flew by. Even though I flew from the East Coast to the West Coast and technically gained 3 hours, it still felt like I lost a whole day to travel and jetlag.

I’m not complaining though- I actually really don’t mind flying. There’s something about being in no one place, with no one you know, and having hours of silence to think (unless there is a crying child behind you, of course) that really just creates a freer feeling headspace. I always feel like I’m escaping reality when I’m in airplane, which is what inspired today’s “My 5 Monday” post! Whenever I get into that zone of feeling like I’m escaping, I like to double down a pick up a book that encompasses those same characteristics. What I would define as escapist literature would be books that have vivid settings, captivating story lines, heartfelt emotions, or a gripping mystery. Basically an immersive page-turner that can make me escape to a different time or place.

And with that, here are my 5 escapist books!

5. The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlin19286669

I first picked up this one in an airport, so for that reason alone it seems to fit my escapism needs immediately! In all seriousness though, I absolutely could not put this down from the moment I started. I wouldn’t necessarily say this is a thriller, but it has quite a few huge twists and emotional breakthroughs that really keep you hooked.

I don’t want to give too much away, so I will keep this short. In fact, don’t even read the Goodreads description, as I personally think that gives away a really interesting plot twist that I would have rather not known about going into the book. All you need to know is it’s about a young woman who goes to her hometown to deal with her late father’s paperwork, funeral, and house but finds all sorts of hidden family secrets- especially secrets surrounding her sister’s suicide years earlier.

The Silent Sister has mystery, family secrets, drama, loss, gain, and most of all- heart. I think I teared up multiple times reading this from the heartfelt messages throughout. I truly escaped my own reality by traveling to this small town, unweaving the family’s history, and growing with the characters until the very end.

4. Joyland by Stephen King13596166

Joyland is actually the first Stephen King book I’ve ever read. It’s not like I’ve exactly avoided Stephen King, it’s more like I don’t even know where to start with him. So when my fiance picked it up in one of our favorite bookstores, I knew it was finally time to start! We read this at (mostly) the same time and it made it such a fun first Stephen King experience. The cover was what immediately grabbed us, along with the almost nostalgic campy sounding description. It takes place in small town in the ’70s and is filled with carnies, a haunting murderous past, and a little coming of age narration.

I will repeat: small town, 1970s, carnivals, murder. These characteristics fit a few of my quintessential escapist needs. You’re whisked back to a tight North Carolina community, a carnival town I should stress, the place of a vicious murder, 40 years ago. Try to tell me you wouldn’t escape your current life by going to such a different time and place.

I ultimately finished this book in a few days, and was pleasantly surprised by the amount of heart and soul that this book contained. Sure there are carnies and haunting murders, but there are also bonds of friendship, families in unexpected places, and love. Now that I’ve broken into Stephen King, it definitely won’t be my last!

3. The Girls by Emma Cline26893819

I feel like this book sparked a little bit of a controversy, and it seemed like readers either absolutely loved it or hated it. I will definitely preface that this book isn’t for everyone out there, but I think most would agree that it’s a great way to escape reality for a little bit.

The Girls is another 1960s-1970s read that I devoured in a few days. Ok maybe I definitely have a fascination with the ’70s- I may or may not have once asked a hairstylist to give me Bridget Bardot hair. Similarly to Joyland, this is first a foremost a coming-of-age story, except this time about a young girl, Evie. Contrary to Joyland, I would say this book has much more emphasis on its time period and could even be considered in the realm of historical fiction. If you’re not already aware, The Girls is loosely based on the Manson girls and murders, which I may or may not have another fascination with. I was captivated by this other perspective of The Family- a young girl who is, for lack of a better word, completely normal and just learning how to be a young woman in a such a changing time and gets sucked in. It’s in this way that see just how tantalizing a tight knit group of carefree individuals is, through the eyes of an impressionable young girl. We get an insight into her psyche through her palpable descriptions and her obsessions.

I felt the descriptions of growing up as an insecure and self conscious girl was all too accurate and familiar. Emma Cline does a phenomenal job of depicting these feelings and showing how timeless insecurity and the need to fit in is. The novel is so much deeper than meets the eye, and offers a very fresh perspective on a coming of age story. I also can’t even begin to explain how blown away I was by the writing itself- I ate up every vivid description and metaphor. If the plot itself isn’t escapist enough for you, the whimsical and airy writing will be sure to do that for you. Again, even the writing isn’t for everyone, but I think it’s undeniable that Cline’s debut is fresh, unique, and truly escapist.

2. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson89724

Yes you can surprisingly escape reality in just under 150 pages! They don’t call Shirley Jackson the queen of horror for nothing, and if this story doesn’t horrify you in the best way possible and make you forget about work, tests, life, than I don’t know what can. We Have Always Lived in the Castle is eerie, twisted, sinister, macabre, yet also a little funny and endearing in a way. I know that combination sounds odd, but you have to understand the brilliance in which Jackson writes her characters and her dark story lines. It’s unclear when this story takes place, but it’s no doubt a small town back in the day- some of my classic go-to escapist qualities.

The story centers around two interesting sisters after the murder of their parents by way of arsenic poisoning. The murderer was presumed to be the older sister Constance, although we quickly start to question who the real murderer is. The younger, Merricat, protects Constance from the gossip and harshness of the town, and the two make a very unique and isolated pair. I won’t give too much away, since the book is so short as it is, but if you’re looking for a quick escape and a little chill, look no further!

1. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple13526165

Yay! You’ve reached number one through all of my ramblings! Where’d You Go, Bernadette is my ultimate escapist novel despite its deviation from the others on my list. My other 4 made me feel almost every emotion under the sun, but this one right here made me laugh out loud embarrassingly in public settings. I understand this book also got a few mixed reviews, but this book is pure comedic and satirical gold.

The story focuses on an agoraphobic, anxious, oddball mother who fails to fit in with her Seattle 1%-er neighbors. She’s quirky and silly, but also touches your heart in un-explainable and unforgettable ways. It’s also about a family in crisis when this mother disappears, and insanity ensues when her daughter tries to piece together where her agoraphobic mother could have possibly gone. The story is told in a fun and engrossing way, through series of notes, report cards, email exchanges, and official documents compiled by said daughter to solve said disappearance.

Although the story is mostly satire, it is heartwarming and ultimately the story of a mother and daughter and their irreplaceable bond. The vivid descriptions, the humor, and the quirky personalities are a different kind of escapism for me, albeit by favorite. This was my favorite read of 2017 and my favorite book to escape the madness!

Do you have any novels that you like to escape into? Whether a different time or place or with an interesting set of characters? I’d love to hear more recommendations for when you just need to unplug and escape for a little bit. Comment below! 🙂

A Friday Harry Potter Tag

Happy Friday! And I say that with extra emphasis on the “happy” for me today. In case you haven’t seen my latest bookstagram post, my fiance’s parents surprised us with Harry Potter and The Cursed Child tickets last night! It’s a two night show, so we saw part one last night and I’m already counting down the hours until I get to see part two tonight. I can’t spoil any secrets from the show, but it’s pretty freakin’ amazing and truly a one of a kind magical experience.

Since I’m still in a very Potter-ish mood today, I wanted to try out my first tag post! And what better way to get involved in a tag than a Harry Potter tag after seeing The Cursed Child?!

To be honest, I just found this tag at Jenny in Neverland’s blog and wasn’t actually tagged but wanted to use my magical mood for something fun this Friday. Also it can kind of serve as a little get-to-know-me since I haven’t officially posted one yet!

Let’s keep it going! If you haven’t done a Harry Potter tag yet- no time like the present!

1. What house are you in?

I’ve always felt a strange connection to Luna Lovegood and Professor Trelawney, so it should come as no surprise that I am most definitely in Ravenclaw! I’d like to think my witch-self reads the Quibbler religiously and practices divination too.

2. What is your Patronus?

My Patronus is an otter- I’ve taken every detailed quiz on the face of this earth and always get an otter so pretty much confirmed right? Otters represent those who are meticulous, detail-oriented, and like to use their smarts. This aligns perfectly with my house as Ravenclaw, and even with my astrological sign of Virgo. Sorry to coworkers and other group members who constantly have to detail with my determined perfectionist attitude! 

3. What is your wand?

Taken directly from Pottermore- black walnut dragon heartstring core, 13 1/4 with rigid flexibility.

wand

The black walnut wood is associated with loyalty and special charmwork ONLY if the owner is self aware and honest with him/herself about their intentions. Dragon heartstring is powerful, and bonds very closely with its owner. I also read that it is prone to accidents? Yikes! Rigid flexibility is a pretty surprising characteristic to me, as I feel that I am pretty adaptable and resilient. But this mixed with the black walnut and dragon heartstring makes me feel like the rigidness is not a prevailing factor in the wand. And yes, I am pretty tall!

4. What would your boggart be?

Easy- spiders. Many, many spiders just descending on me. I’m actually squirming in my chair right now just THINKING about multiple spiders being within 10 feet of my person. Me and Ron would be the ultimate anti-dynamic-duo when it comes to spiders. Ok moving on from the spider talk!

5. What position would you play in Quiddich?

Honestly my Quiddich position belongs in the stands… I’m excellent in the stands.

6. Would you be a pure-blood, half-blood or muggle born?

Growing up, it was always me and my dad who did everything Potter-related together. My mom isn’t the biggest fan, so I think my dad would carry the magical weight for me, making me a half-blood I suppose!

7. What job would you want to have after leaving Hogwarts?

I think I would want to start off owning my own shop, maybe in Hogsmead? Or maybe Diagon Alley. And then return to my roots at Hogwarts to become a professor and maybe take over for Trelawney.

8. Which of the Deathly Hallows would you choose?

Cloak! I mean, responsibilities to the wizarding world aside, how fun would that be?!

9. Favourite book?

Ugh, what a rude question, can I pick three?! It’s my book tag so I’m cheating and choosing Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, and Half-Blood Prince. Maybe Half Blood Prince. Yeah.

10. Least favourite book?

Order of the Phoenix? I say this because I remember having nightmares for about 4 days after certain parts…

11. Favourite film?

Once again I want to say my top three, but I’ll try to follow the rules and say Chamber of Secrets. I could just watch that one over and over again. But Prisoner of Azkaban is a very close second!

12. Least favourite film?

I think the Deathly Hallows ones. They’re just hard for me to watch and I don’t feel like I can just sit down and easily watch them like I could for all of the others.

13. Favourite character?

Ok this one is hard because I have so many different types of favorites.  I have my favorite main characters, favorite professors, favorite side characters, favorite hate-able characters, favorite underdog characters, important characters, etc. I feel like trying to answer this question with one answer would keep me up at night.

I will say Remus Lupin for now and then think about this for the rest of my life and change my answer 1,000,000 times.

14. Least favourite/most hated character?

Umbridge, hands down. I love to hate her though!

15. Favourite teacher at Hogwarts?

Since I already said Lupin, I’ll say Professor McGonagall. What bad things could even be said about that strong and intelligent woman!

16. Least favourite teacher at Hogwarts?

Ugh Professor Lockhart. So annoying. Unfortunate about his memory though…

17. Do you have any unpopular opinions about the series?

I like everything related to Fantastic Beasts and Cursed Child too. I love anything that builds the world up more, even if not perfect.

 

Alright witches and wizards! I hope everyone has a happy happy Friday and maybe spreads some magic with this Harry Potter tag! Pictures to come later from my adventures with HP and The Cursed Child 🙂