Blogmas 30: Best Reads of 2018

As I mentioned in my last post, my yearly Goodreads wrap-up reports to me that my average rating of books that I read this year is 3.8 stars. I feel that that’s a relatively good rating. I generally do enjoy most of the books that I read. Looking at my list, though, I gave 18 books 5 stars. 18!!! (compared to 1 book with 1 star). But which do I feel were the “best” for this year? I have to narrow this down. Let’s reflect back….

27833670Dark Matter by Blake Crouch – This is my first pick for a favorite of the year because it is a book that I feel I could read again and still not get every detail out of. Yes, I already know the outcome, but there are so many subtleties to this book. Its like one of those trippy movies that you can watch over and over and still ask yourself “What the hell did I just watch??” Think Inception or a really good episode of Stranger Things. I did have a worry that things in this book might get over technical or too scientific, as the MC is a scientist and professor, but this never happened. Everything is really at just the right amount of science and maybe just crazy enough to work.

36082326-1Every Note Played by Lisa Genova – On a completely different level, there is this book here. I had never heard of this one but I picked it up once the Goodreads nominations for books of the year for 2018 came out and this was in the Best Fiction category. Me and my musical self gravitated to this simply because of the title and the characters being musicians, but at the same time, I’m always skeptical about books with music at the center as well. Its tough not to be a critic, ya know? But the author did an amazing job with the musical aspects and just the human aspects in general. I was blown away just by the fact that Lisa Genova is a brain scientist. Uhhh, seriously? Yeah. And she conducted a lot of interviews with ALS patients and caregivers and just really put heart and soul into this book. I thought it was beautiful.

And that’s it, folks. My top two books for 2018! How about you – what were your top books? Tell me here, or drop me your links to posts that share yours! I’d love your recommendations as always! Any genres! Until next time!

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Blogmas 29: Worst Reads of 2018

So looking at this past year, I think I did pretty well reading-wise! I almost hit my reading goal of 75 books which, considering how busy this year was for me, is pretty darn good I think! Goodreads informs me that my average rating was 3.8 so which books brought me down? What books did I DNF? Let’s take a look!

12813630The Coldest Girl in Cold Town by Holly Black – I haven’t read any books by Holly Black, but I know of her, of course. I figured I’d give her a go and try out this book. I didn’t really know what this book was about because I really didn’t do much more than skim the synopsis (this is pretty typical for me). Well, even in the Goodreads summary, the word “monster” is used and not “vampire,” so when all of a sudden I was reading a vampire book, I was pretty surprised. Not disappointed, though, I like paranormal! What was disappointing was the story and the characters and basically everything else. This just did not engage me at all. I DNF’d it. Sorry Holly.

74731The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore – I listened to the audiobook on this one, and while this book was funny, it seemed so pointless. Every chapter, no,  sentence was practically like “what did I just read and why?!”. This was the second book I have read by Christopher Moore and I didn’t like the other much either so I guess it was partially my fault. He just has a lot of books out there and I consider myself to have a good sense of humor, but apparently not this kind of humor. This book mixes Christmas with zombies and pot and one-night stands and…yeah. Like I said, if you’re game for mass amounts of ridiculous humor and basically no story line and fluff then go for it. I did finish this one just for the laughs but I gave it 1 star.

And there you have it…my bottom two reads for 2018. One DNF and one-one-star. What fell at the bottom of your list this year?

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Blogmas 28: First Line Friday – Verity by CoHo

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First line: “I hear the crack of his skull before the spattering of blood reaches me.”

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Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity’s notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn’t expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity’s recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.

Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen’s feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife’s words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her. (from Goodreads)

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Does any of the above sound like the Colleen Hoover we have read before? NO. Am I upset about that? Not at all! Not that I ever wanted anything different from her, but WHOA. Contemporary romance guru Colleen Hoover has made me laugh and cry and love and ache so many times, and now she’s going to give me goosebumps. I am beyond excited! I am planning on this being a January read for sure. It isn’t very long, and it sounds so good. Typically I listen to her books, but I think this one I will read with my own two eyes.

What do you think–sound like a worth-while adventure? Have you read this one yet? Or will you be skipping it?

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Blogmas 27: Review – The Witch of the North Pole

40625309The Witch of the North Pole was one of the most delightful Amazon Prime surprises I have encountered so far! Our main character, Cinnamon Mercy, is fighting for her independence working a dull accounting job on the West Coast. Then one day her eccentric grandmother rolls up and whisks her away for the holidays…to the North Pole. Turns out Grandma is Mrs. Claus herself, and she is feeling under-appreciated for all the hard work she does 364 days a year, and she’s had ENOUGH! The next witch–yes, witch–in the family line who can possibly do all the work is Cinnamon, and she’s on her own to figure out how to save “the naughties” and develop Santa’s flight plan, all before Christmas Eve. As much as she wants to use logic and numbers, Cinnamon has to listen to her heart and cast a spell of intuition to really connect with others to determine how to throw the best Winter Solstice gathering, bring Mr. & Mrs. Santa Claus together, and save Christmas for the entire world.

This book was so fun and easy to read, I enjoyed it so much! The descriptions of the North Pole were so fun, and I loved how all of the events played out. There was a huge crisis, but for once, the issue was not a murder or an affair. Just a Christmas crunch where people lost sight of their joy and priorities. Two ‘towns’ living basically together without interacting. Years of traditions being taken for granted and becoming just work rather than love and magic. Everything was written out very nicely with charming characters and good pacing. An absolutely charming holiday read! If you have Prime, check this one out!

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Blogmas 25: Tag Tuesday – The Joy of Christmas

Hello to all and Merry Christmas! If you aren’t a celebrator of Christmas then I hope you’re enjoying your day, but if you are, I hope Santa was good to you and that you are having a safe and happy holiday. Today I am coming at you with a holiday book tag because it is, afterall, a Tuesday. This tag was originally created by Sam, and you can watch the video here.

1) Anticipation: The Christmas excitement is real, what book release(s) are you most anticipating?
I’m looking forward to King of ScarsChildren of Virtue and VengeanceA Curse So Dark and Lonely….oh, so many!!

2) Christmas Songs & Carols: What book or author can you not help but sing it’s praises?
Right now I’m on a Colleen Hoover kick!

3) Gingerbread Houses: What book or series has wonderful world building?
There are a couple details I would change in the story line, but I love the detail and the make up of the Grishaverse!

4) A Christmas Carol: Favorite classic or one that you want to read
I think my favorite is Frankenstein, and I really want to read (finish) the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy.

5) Christmas Sweets: What book would you love to receive for Christmas
The new 10th anniversary editions of The Hunger Games books. Oh, and I really wanted a copy of The Disasters (I’m a sucker for that purple cover and the tagline “Space is tough- get a helmet).

6) Candles in the Window: What book gives you that warm fuzzy feeling
Vain by Fisher Amelie was a spectacular book that game me all the feels. I really enjoyed it and definitely recommend it.

7) Christmas Trees & Decorations: What are some of your favorite book covers?
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8) Christmas Joy: What are some of your favorite things about Christmas And/Or some of your favorite Christmas memories?
One Christmas (technically about three days after Christmas) my college choir was invited to and travelled to sing at the White House. It was an amazing experience! That’s probably my favorite Christmas memory.

And that’s it! I wish you all a merry Christmas, and a very safe and joyous holiday season!

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Blogmas 23: Review – The Prince and the Dressmaker

34506912In The Prince and the Dressmaker, Frances is a seamstress who aspires to become a dress designer. One day by accident she is given her chance by a mysterious employer who turns out to be….the prince! They come to be best friends who really bring out the best in each other, and help each other on their journeys toward their dreams.

I didn’t know going into this book that it was on the GLBTQ+ spectrum. I have no problem with that and honestly, I rarely read far into books anymore before starting them. I like going on recommendations of people that I trust, I like going by GoodReads ratings, and I like looking at titles and covers.

That being said, this book was SO beautiful. I loved the drawings of the dresses, and the characters were so animated in a way that that was relatable and fun. There were times when I laughed, when I was tense, when I was ready to tear up…this graphic novel had it all. I cannot recommend it enough!

Book soundtrack: “Vogue” by Madonna
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Blogmas 22: Jumping in on Short-a-Thon 2018

Hi friends! Christmas is getting so close, and I am running behind on EVERYTHING! But no apologies. I’m doing the best that I can, and its no use crying over it. That’s not what Christmas is all about. Its about BLOGGING! Nah, just kidding. But this is a big goal of mine so I am sticking to it and pushing on.

So yesterday, my friends Destiny @howlinglibraries and Kathy @booksandmunches began hosting an event called the Short-a-Thon. So Short-a-Thon runs from December 21-31 and the goal is to read shorter books and finish 2018 strong. Goodreads is telling me I am 7 books behind my goal so I am hoping this brings me closer to my goal! Its only 75 this year! I have hit +125 in years past!! However, I knew that with two family weddings this year (one of them being mine), I would probably get way less reading done. I was right. I’m not one of those people who likes to set the bar super low and then hit my goal in like, April, and then go up and up and up for the rest of the year. No, a challenge is supposed to be a challenge!! Hence, here I am grappling for my final 7 books in the last 2 weeks of December. Enter: SHORT-A-THON!!

48395131_368452943911813_999185396514422784_nCurrently I have started Mr. Dickens and His Carol, which is pretty short. I can probably sit down and knock that out pretty quickly. I went to the library and picked up 2 graphic novels that I took interest in earlier this year, along with one book that I have been hearing good things about for a long time–Every Heart A Doorway. And I have the audiobook of My True Love Gave to Me going on amidst all of this. I’m really enjoying these short stories for the most part so far! I go back to work on Thursday so if, between all of the holiday hoopla going on, I can manage to knock out at least these 4, I am in pretty good shape! I could maybe go back to my regular-size novel (White Stag) and finish that…get another short-a-thon book or two…there is hope for me yet!

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Blogmas 21: First Line Friday – Mr. Dickens & His Carol

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First line(s): “On that unseasonably warm November day at One Devonshire Terrace, Christmas was not in his head at all.”

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34275234For Charles Dickens, each Christmas has been better than the last. His novels are literary blockbusters, and he is famous on the streets of London, where avid fans sneak up on him to snip off pieces of his hair. He and his wife have five happy children, a sixth on the way, and a home filled with every comfort they could imagine. But when Dickens’ newest book is a flop, the glorious life he has built for himself threatens to collapse around him. His publishers offer an ultimatum: either he writes a Christmas book in a month, or they will call in his debts, and he could lose everything. Grudgingly, he accepts, but with relatives hounding him for loans, his wife and children planning an excessively lavish holiday party, and jealous critics going in for the kill, he is hardly feeling the Christmas spirit.

Increasingly frazzled and filled with self-doubt, Dickens seeks solace and inspiration in London itself, his great palace of thinking. And on one of his long walks, in a once-beloved square, he meets a young woman in a purple cloak, who might be just the muse he needs. Eleanor Lovejoy and her young son, Timothy, propel Dickens on a Scrooge-like journey through his Christmases past and present—but with time running out, will he find the perfect new story to save him?

In prose laced with humor, sumptuous Victorian detail, and charming winks to A Christmas Carol, Samantha Silva breathes new life into an adored classic. Perfect for fans of Dickens, for readers of immersive historical fiction, and for anyone looking for a dose of Christmas cheer, Mr. Dickens and His Carol is destined to become a perennial holiday favorite. (from Goodreads)

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I am currently almost halfway through this book and so far it is a pretty charming read. It is certainly not action-packed, but I’m just curious about how things will play out and captivated by the setting and by Dickens himself. I am glad I chose this for my holiday read this year and I can’t wait to see how A Christmas Carol forms in Dickens’ mind!

Have you read this book? Do you know much about the real Dickens? Please share!

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Blogmas 19: WWW Wednesday

Good evening everyone! I think this is a good week to catch up with a good ol’ WWW Wednesday meme. Now, if you happen to be out of the loop, WWW is a meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words. All it is is three questions that are easy enough to answer. So with that being said, here I go!

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  1. 34275234._SY180_What are you currently reading? Mr. Dickens and His Carol. I bought this book last holiday season and didn’t get to it. However, this year, I got myself into two different group reads of A Christmas Carol and I thought this would be a nice compliment to that. So far I am liking the book. I don’t think it really holds truth to the actual Dickens’ life, but its still a nice read. Basically, Dickens’ latest story isn’t doing very well and his publishers think the best move is for him to write a Christmas tale. Dickens, however, disagrees. Money is tight in the household, and the family is not used to pinching pennies, especially around the holidays.
  2. 37854049What did you recently finish reading? I just finished Sisters of the Winter Wood, because with all of the holiday things I’ve been reading, I wanted something a little different. So this still had ‘winter’ in the title, but it was different too…a fairy tale of sorts. I will be putting a review up soon, but as a little teaser, I will say that this tale of two sisters who could transform into magical beasts wasn’t my favorite read ever, but it was just what I needed.
  3. What do you think you’ll read next? I need to get to my ARCs so next up I will be reading either White Stag or Miraculum! Both are winter (Jan/Feb) releases so I am really looking forward to them. PLUS it is one of my New Years resolutions to get my NetGalley score up to 90%!

If you do WWW Wednesdays, feel free to send me your links below! I’d love to know what you’re up to!

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Blogmas Day 13: Invisible Holiday

We’re already 13 days into December….CHRISTMAS IS COMING! I feel so unprepared though. Hubby and I hardly have decorations up, and we definitely don’t have our tree yet. This weekend will be the big weekend for all things Christmas though. I am so ready!

So today I am going off the Bookending Winter prompt, which was created by Julia @ Fable Hunter. Today is her third day hosting and she’s been fab! So here we go!

TODAY’S PROMPT

*Holiday Exploration*
You received Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility for Christmas this year! Where would you go and what would you do? (Can be in the real world or a bookish one!)

harry_potter_spell_deathly_hallows_typography_gr_t_shirt-r1d60dd7f297f4e3da05fcf093c0e86e4_k2gl9_307In the real world, I would probably slip onto a plane (or two or three successively) and travel! Canada, Ireland, Russia…all over. With an Invisibility Cloak, I would do some MAJOR behind-the-scenes exploring of The Louvre in Paris! Another place I would do behind-the-scenes exploring? The White House. I’ve been in The White House before and there are ropes EVERYWHERE. It just makes you want to explore even MORE!

In the literary world, me and my invisibility cloak would be in the magical world of Harry Potter, for starters. I have always been curious about the House Elves in the kitchen and how they get everything done and up to the Great Hall. I would definitely snoop in Dumbledore’s office. And in the Potions Dungeon!!! AND the Restricted Section of the Library!!

Where would you go if you had an invisibility cloak?

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