#blogmas day 30: 2018 Beat the Backlist

2018 Well, 2017 is coming to an end and 2018 is upon us! That means its about time to start looking ahead to reading plans and goals for the upcoming year. How are you feeling about what you read? Are you feeling like you missed out on anything you wanted to get read this year?

This has been a monumental year for me in terms of my relationship with books. This year I discovered NetGalley and Bookstagram!! I had already been a big reader but I started really networking and found my voice and more of an identity for myself once I started my blog. Looking back, I am amazed at how far I’ve come and how much I feel that I have grown as a reader. It just goes to show that even as an adult, we never stop growing, learning, exploring, and experiencing.

So aside from a regular yearly reading goal, I have also decided to participate in Beat the Backlist. For anyone who doesn’t know, the objective of this challenge is to set a goal consisting of books from your TBR published from 2017 or before, and then earn points for your team. Along the way there are also Bookstagram challenges and prizes and it sounds like a fun time, so I’m looking forward to it!! I’m setting my BTB goal at 40. I think that’s attainable and exceedable for me…I hope! Everything is a bit different for me now that I have a new job. Even with that number I know I’ll have to work hard.

Are you doing any 2018 challenges? What is your yearly reading goal for 2018?

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#blogmas day 29: The Afterlife of Holly Chase

Greetings everyone! I hope you’re all doing well! I’m not. My fiance has gotten me sick, unfortunately. I have just about the worst chest cough I have ever had in my life. I don’t know if its bronchitis or just a really awful cold/flu symptom but its miserable! I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone! Anyway, I hope the rest of you are healthy!

33843251So back to books. The good thing (and only good thing) about being ill is that it allows you a little extra time to read. So as you can maybe tell from the blog this week, I have posted more reviews than is typical, so I’m happy about that! As of now, I just finished The Afterlife of Holly Chase. I had never heard of this book before, but I had heard of Cynthia Hand. Plus I liked the simplistic, holiday cover and was aching for a YA holiday read and figured “This might be the Christmas read for me!” So I bought it! And I liked it!

Main character Holly Chase is a bratty, spoiled, mean, rich girl. She hates Christmas, she loves herself, she has no regard for other people….you guessed it, she’s a Scrooge. Scrooge number….sorry, I would have to look up her exact Scrooge number in history. If you read the book, you’ll see what I mean. *wink* So anyway, as you can predict at this point, Holly is visited by three ghosts intending to show her her selfish ways but she FAILS! And she dies. (Just for the record, this isn’t a spoiler. This is all in the synopsis so its fair game here.)

Here’s where things get interesting. Holly finds herself employed at a top secret agency called Project Scrooge, an agency whose goal it is to save one soul each year on Christmas Eve. As a former, failed Scrooge herself, she now gets to rehabilitate as the Ghost of Christmas Past, each year working with the team at Project Scrooge to help a new Scrooge succeed where she failed. This story picks up on her sixth year at the agency when Holly is in for a big surprise: for the first time, the Scrooge the team will be working on is a hottie! I’ll let you read the rest for yourself.

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I found Holly to be an okay character. She was definitely what a Scrooge needed to be. Ethan was a little too easy of a character to me. He was described as being so Scrooge-y, and he “had so much in common with Holly,” but then when they were together they clicked so well, I expected him to be way more of a snob considering she seemed to have given up on herself so much as a “ghost.” I thought Scrooges were Scrooge-y to everyone by nature. Apparently not in that world. Besides the main characters, there is a case of side characters who are pretty ok. They really don’t get a lot of spotlight, but when they are around, usually they boost the story for the better.

91gzci2be0el-_sl1500_I really liked to set-up of the book and the “Project Scrooge” concept. It actually reminded me of the movie ‘Scrooged’ with Bill Murray! Cynthia Hand really knows how to tug heartstrings and get readers sentimental, I’ll tell you, because there were several times in the book where I had to reach for the tissue box. Yes, this book has its cliche Christmas moments of museum dates, Dickens quotes, ugly sweaters, holiday parties, etc. etc. But y’all, its a Christmas book. Scratch that. Its a YA Christmas book! If you can’t handle that, then don’t read it. I needed some Christmas Carol re-telling in my life this year and this was perfect. Thank you, author. And with that being said….God bless us, every one! 😛

Book Soundtrack: “God Bless Us Everyone” by Andrea Bocelli ((I will be choosing something more character-Holly appropriate later on…my Spotify isn’t working at the moment))

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On the 28th day of #blogmas: And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer

I think that in some way, whether big or small, every single person can relate to this short 96-page story. Therefore, be ready for heartache. I won’t even say cry necessarily, though many readers say that they shed tears over this story. Of course it depends on your opinion and your experience. But oh, is there ache in this book. This was my first time reading anything by Fredrik Backman but it seems like his books are everywhere these days. If all of his writings are this heartfelt, then I can see why they are so popular!
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And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer is about a grandfather who, coming to the end of his life, begins confusing his son with his grandson. His once brilliant mind is still filled with thoughts of love for his beautiful wife, of constellations in the sky, the power of mathematics, and stories of his family. Each day he comes to fear more and more losing these memories, but the words he uses to describe them are so poetic and wise they move us all as an audience.

The only reason I didn’t give this novella 5 full stars is because sometimes it was just so whimsical that I just didn’t know where we were. I suppose that was maybe the point–we were supposed to feel like we were floating around in grandfather’s mind?? Lost in the memories?? Lost in space? In dimensia?? But it became a little too abstract in those moments to me. I like my feet firmly in a storyline. Other than that, the book was all but perfect to me. The characters, the heart in the story, the vivid memories, and the writing were all absolutely beautiful.

Book Soundtrack: “The Prayer” by Josh Groban and Charlotte Church

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Merry #blogmas day 26!!: The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

And now for something totally different!

After hearing so much hype about books like Gone GirlSharp Objects, etc., this is the first thing I have actually read by Gillian Flynn. I wasn’t disappointed! Granted, I wasn’t completely fulfilled either because it was only a story and, in my opinion, definitely could have been fleshed out more and gone on longer. Oh well.

26025580About the story itself: we read The Grownup through the eyes of an unnamed narrator who is crass and blunt (just a warning). She has grown up playing the innocent girl on the streets needing money. Now she is the young woman in she shop, moving between the back room giving hand jobs and the front room “seeing auras.” She is hired by a woman in a possessed house with a dangerous stepson. That is about all I can say without stepping over the edge and spoiling the story. Read for yourself to find out more.

I have to admit that I only picked it up because it was a recommendation from the hosts of the *Cramathon.* I really don’t read many stories or novellas but so far this makes two for me this year (with Marissa Meyers’ Fairest having been the first) and I have enjoyed them both so far. Clearly I should be more open to this category. It would definitely help me out in my reading goal for the year! How do you feel about stories, novellas, or other quick reads? I’m open to recommendations!

Book Soundtrack: Villains by Queens of the Stone Age

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Merry #blogmas Eve!

Merry Christmas (Eve) to all who celebrate Christmas! It is amazing to me how December 24th and 25th looks so different to so many people. Some people are at home both days watching sports or movies or general television. Others travel across town, state, or country to visit friends or family and feast on traditional foods and exchange gifts. Some still attend services or other gatherings or volunteer in the community, or even have nowhere to go or no familiar faces to go home to. Maybe these days aren’t considered a holiday. 12/24-12/25 is different for everyone and that’s okay.

For me as a musician, today was insane. I woke up for a 9-10:30 am rehearsal across town. Then I came home to whip up a salad for a family gathering tonight, wrap a couple more gifts, take a shower and get into performance mode. 3:00 call for rehearsal before a 4:30 pm performance. Then check out this picture and how beautiful this service. Singing from the loft gives you such a beautiful perspective, I tell you. So this is what it looks like when +100 people light candles to celebrate the birth of the Christ child.

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The photo, of course, barely does it justice, and I only captured about 1/3 of the people in the picture. And I had no choice but to also capture the stand lights of the string quartet as well…but it was all such a beautiful aesthetic to have the strings and the candles and the congregation singing “Silent Night” all together….SO BEAUTIFUL!!!

Anyway, singing in this church service, I went to my aunt’s house for my family’s dinner party. We did a ‘white elephant’ gift exchange. Does anyone else do those? To be honest I was very unexcited to participate (I have plenty of my own unwanted junk…why do I want other people’s surprise unwanted junk?!), but fortunately everyone was very kind (probably too kind) in what they brought to trade. Then after that we had the “midnight service” at our family church and I had to sing again there. Doesn’t the life of a musician sound so thrilling? So here I performed ‘O Holy Night’ and rocked the house and that was that!

At this point, I am exhausted and ready for Santa! I hope you all enjoy your evenings. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

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#blogmas day 22: The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Its almost Christmas, people! Only a few more sleeps! I am not done shopping, not done wrapping…but somehow I managed to finish a book and write about it! So here is a little bit about Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s The Beautiful Ones.

33574143The description of this book gives absolutely nothing away…probably because there really is nothing to give away. Honestly, I don’t mean that in a bad way, but I admit that I kept looking for hints! The Beautiful Ones is an extremely character-driven book with a sprinkling of magical fantasy woven throughout, and really, it doesn’t drive the plot at all. Looking at the cover and reading the summary, I thought maybe it would be a bit like “The Originals,” because it talks so much about family magic and relationships (minus the vampirism, obviously), and I expected that there would be a lot more talk about Hector performing and maybe Nina would even be drawn into it a little but I was wrong on all counts. The book is all about the drama, drama, drama of finding a suitable husband for young Antonina Beaulieu.

Without giving away much, I will say that I felt the book moved a little slow, but the excellent writing made up for it. The author made me feel exactly as I was supposed to toward each character. I absolutely hated crazy, psycho cousin Valerie. I enjoyed and cheered for the young and whimsical Nina. And then there was handsome, conflicted Hector. Plus all of the secondary characters. So if you’re looking for a story of magic, well-defined characters, societal courting, and of course, romance!

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On the nineteenth day of #blogmas … Tag Tuesday: The Joy of Christmas

→ Here are the questions 🙂

1. Anticipation: The Christmas excitement is real, what book release/releases are you most anticipating?

2. Christmas Songs & Carols: What book or author can you not help but sing it’s praises?

3. Gingerbread Houses: What book or series has wonderful world building?

4. A Christmas Carol: Favourite classic or one that you want to read?

5. Christmas Sweets: What book would you love yo receive for christmas?

6. Candles in the Window: What book gives you that warm fuzzy feeling?

7. Christmas Trees & Decorations: What are some of your favourite book covers?

8. Christmas Joy: What are some of your favourite things about Christmas and/or some of your favourite memories?

From @gowithflick on YouTube.

On the 18th day of #blogmas …cozy is what counts!

25594406_10100127296660279_5930864532184166917_nWhen you think of cozy reading, what essentials do you need? For me, my go-to’s are candles (yes, plural), a warm drink (usually tea), a heating pad and/or blanket), and cozy lighting. So today I bring you a recent picture from a cozy reading day. My “Baby its cold outside” mug was filled to the brim with hot tea that I got out of a recent OwlCrate box. The heating pad was a custom that I designed with BookishStarDesigns on Etsy. And then the super cute bookmark is from Knightmares and Daydreams. I really got some awesome goodies (for myself — oops) this year. I’ll have to do some more sharing posts in the coming days. Stay tuned!

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