Book Tags, Bookworm Blogging

The Goodreads Book Tag

I saw Portia do this tag recently and thought it looked fun, so I decided to do it as well! Since I wasn’t tagged, I won’t be tagging anyone either, but def would like to see your responses should you decide to do it. 🙂

What’s the last book you marked as ‘read’?

Little House on the Prairie, which I actually read during my youth! I realized when I re-read Little House in the Big Woods recently that I didn’t have the next installation marked as read.

What are you currently reading?

I’m in a mini-slump at the moment (I’ve been ill and have been mostly sleeping or watching mindless TV), so I just have my eARC of the rerelease of Half Way Home by Hugh Howey instead of my usual 2-3 current reads.

What was the last book you marked as TBR?

Dead Meat: Day 1, after seeing Destiny’s review!

What book do you plan to read next?

The Scorpio Races! I’ve had Rachel’s copy for over a year now and am finally getting around to it.

Do you use the star rating system?

Big time! It’s the same one I use here, I just round up for half stars.

Are you doing the 2019 Reading Challenge?

Sort of! I have it set to 52 (1 book a week), because I’ll just obsess and stress myself out if I focus too much on numbers. I’m at 76 right now, so it would be cool to break 100 by the end of the year, but that’s really just a casual stretch goal.

Do you have a wishlist?

I have a “I Need to Buy a Copy of This” shelf.

What book do you plan to buy next?

The Cabin at the End of the World, for #FridayFrightAThon 2019!

Do you have any favorite quotes? Share a few.

“What a strange girl you are.”
“Why?”
“Flung out of space,” Carol said.

The price of salt by patricia highsmith

Get in the shower, she tells herself.
Too sad to shower.

red clocks by leni zumas

How do people who love each other do it? How can they stand it? What is it that makes them forget they were born alone and will die separate?

the meursault investigation by kamel daoud

Who are your favorite authors?

Joe Hill, Melissa Broder, Maggie Stiefvater.

Have you joined any groups?

I’m in a few, but not currently active in any! I find the groups function difficult to use unfortunately.


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Movie Reviews, Not Books

Letterboxd Gems

Hi everyone! I decided to try a new thing here: every so often I’ll post particularly funny or entertaining Letterboxd reviews from movies I’ve seen recently. If you’ve never heard of Letterboxd, it’s like Goodreads but for movies (feel free to add me if you’d like!) and there are plenty of interesting reviews. I’ll usually sift through them after seeing a film, which is how I got the idea to share them! A lot of these reviews will have spoilers, so feel free to skip through only to films you’ve already seen if you’d like to avoid being spoiled.


Shutter Island

I really relate to Leo in this because I also don’t trust anyone that isn’t Mark Ruffalo

Letterboxed user niceguys

take a shot every time leo reminds you he’s a fedrul you ess maashull

letterboxd user leslieburke

Wow Teddy’s dream journal must be wild

Letterboxd user ellefnning

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

constance: you should…you should…YOU SHOULD HAVE A BOYFRIEND 

merricat: *shocked in lesbian*

letterboxd user eely

In The Tall Grass

Lawn of the Dead.

letterboxd user nevermore1985

patrick wilson can make me eat dirt whenever he feels like it

letterboxd user magnetaire

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Mini-Review Compilation #17

The Abyss Surrounds Us

This was a fun book! Sapphic pirates and sea monsters galore. I had a fun time with it overall and really appreciated that the power discrepancy in the romance was explicitly acknowledged. There were some bits that could have used some more fleshing out or revision (stuff like, “she suddenly stopped paying attention to me” followed a page later by “she was spending more time with me to make up for not paying attention to me” with no reasoning or resolution?) but it is a debut novel. I’m hoping to get to the sequel soon!

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Buddhism without Beliefs

This was not a complete waste of time, but was close to it. The book detaches buddhism from religion and formats it not as a belief system, but a certain way of living. At first, I was really impressed with the ideas presented and felt I was getting a lot out of it. According to Dealing with “anguish” seems to be hinged on creating a perspective in which all is temporary: our “cravings” have not always existed, thus they will not always exist. It is turning our feelings into things we can watch ebb and flow rather than something that will overtake us entirely. Action is repeatedly emphasized as the key to dharma practice.

The formatting of the book seems to be without logical flow; it felt more like a general rambling than something coherently laid out. The chapters themselves confused me, as I felt like the author was talking himself around ideas and as soon as he began to approach what I thought was the point, the chapter would end unceremoniously. It was frustrating, since it started out explaining so many interesting ideas only to turn into something unstructured and unhelpful. It seems this may have made a better essay than an entire book. Also, the author is weirdly obsessed with someone they call S, who they refer to as their enemy and who apparently riles them up often. It was strangely distracting.

Rating: ⭐⭐

The Widow of Pale Harbor

After enjoying The Witch of Willow Hall, I was quite excited for this one. Unfortunately, it just didn’t live up to expectations. I had difficulty connecting with the characters and was completely unmotivated to finish. I finally decided to put it down in favor of reading something I’d feel more excited about.

Rating: DNF


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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

American Predator [review]

American Predator by Maureen Callahan
Published by Viking on July 2, 2019
my rating: ★★★★★
Goodreads avg:
4.11 (as of 2019-10-10)
Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author Website

Most of us have never heard of Israel Keyes. But he is one of the most ambitious, meticulous serial killers of modern time. The FBI considered his behavior unprecedented. Described by a prosecutor as “a force of pure evil,” he was a predator who struck all over the United States. He buried “kill kits”–cash, weapons, and body-disposal tools–in remote locations across the country and over the course of fourteen years, would fly to a city, rent a car, and drive thousands of miles in order to use his kits. He would break into a stranger’s house, abduct his victims in broad daylight, and kill and dispose of them in mere hours. And then he would return home, resuming life as a quiet, reliable construction worker devoted to his only daughter.

When journalist Maureen Callahan first heard about Israel Keyes in 2012, she was captivated by how a killer of this magnitude could go undetected by law enforcement for over a decade. And so began a project that consumed her for the next several years–uncovering the true story behind how the FBI ultimately caught Israel Keyes, and trying to understand what it means for a killer like Keyes to exist. A killer who left a path of monstrous, randomly committed crimes in his wake–many of which remain unsolved to this day.

American Predator is the ambitious culmination of years of on-the-ground interviews with key figures in law enforcement and in Keyes’s life, and research uncovered from classified FBI files. Callahan takes us on a journey into the chilling, nightmarish mind of a relentless killer, and the limitations of traditional law enforcement, in one of America’s most isolated environments–Alaska–when faced with a killer who defies all expectation and categorization.


Wow, this one was definitely a doozy. I picked up American Predator for week one of the #FridayFrightAThon 2019, hosted by Melanie, Amy, Jen, and Chelsea. It hadn’t really been on my radar before that, but I thought it sounded intriguing and decided to participate. And oh boy, intriguing doesn’t even begin to cover it!

The book starts with a deep dive into the disappearance of Samantha Koenig, who had gone missing in Anchorage, Alaska. Detailing the investigation start to finish, Callahan reels us right into the story. Police finally tracked down Israel Keyes, who reveals to them his extensive history of crime. The story becomes more and more compelling as we learn about Keyes’ past, motives (or lack thereof?), and methodology.

I got literal chills reading this because it was so impossible to fathom someone this cold-blooded and calculated really existing. As the blurb mentions, it is truly amazing that Keyes is not more well-known! He is a fairly recent serial killer (arrested in 2012) and is frighteningly intelligent and good at what he does. Honestly, if not for a few slip-ups, it’s hard to say whether he would have ever been caught. There is even information hinting that he possibly “[began] biohacking his own body in his quest to become the perfect serial killer” through surgeries he traveled all the way to Mexico to receive.

While it sometimes comes up that law enforcement has not revealed all aspects of Keyes’ crimes, that’s never the sense the reader gets. Callahan so smoothly fills in the gaps that it is difficult to feel like anything is missing — even if there are questions unanswered, that often seems to come from Keyes himself rather than a barrier the author is unable to overcome.

Callan begins her conclusion by stating, “Any one of us could have been a victim of Israel Keyes.” And that’s the sense one gets while reading this. He criss-crossed the country and he committed crimes well beyond the bounds of the United States. He was smart and he was confident, taking people in broad daylight and in well-traveled areas. He is truly far more than your run-of-the-mill serial killer, if such a thing exists. It is clear that not much was an obstacle for him.

Overall, this was a chilling and fascinating read that I’ll be recommending left and right.


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Book Tags, TBRs

Organizing my TBR II

I was inspired by Charlotte’s recent posts to try this. If you don’t follow Charlotte, I highly recommend you do! She shares a lot of queer lit and is half of the team over at Reads Rainbow (which you should ALSO follow).

I’ve tried several TBR memes before, but I like the idea of ranking books with a numerical system! This first post is just going to be playing around a bit. Charlotte rates books based on how motivated she is to read it (1-5) multiplied by how interested she is in the premise (1-5).

I plan to start by using a similar system: priority (1-5) + interest in blurb (1-5) + average friend rating on GR (1-5) / 3. I’ll check out the final result and make my decision from there. I’m not going to make any hard rules, but my guess is a score of 3+ is good enough to stay. Very high ratings will get put on my tbr asap shelf. If none of my friends have rated the book, then I’ll exclude the friends’ ratings and only divide by 2.

  • Annabel
    • Priority, 2. Interest, 4. Friends’ Ratings, 2.5.
    • Score: 2.83, remove (I think).
  • P.O.W.ER
    • Priority, 1. Interest, 2. Friends’ Ratings, 4.
    • Score: 2.33, remove.
  • An Unquiet Mind
    • Priority, 2. Interest, 3. Friends’ Ratings, 4.
    • Score: 3, keep.
  • Night Falls Fast
    • Priority, 3. Interest, 4. Friends’ Ratings, 3.
    • Score: 3.33, keep.
  • Exuberance
    • Priority, 3. Interest, 4. Friends’ Ratings, n/a.
    • Score: 3.5, keep.

TBR at Start of Series: 1282 (lolll help me)
TBR Now: 1401 (LOLL HELP ME MORE)


I managed to remove four books today! As you can see, though, I’ve added uhhhhh over a hundred since the last time I did this. Which means I need to do this more often. Let me know if any of you decide to try Charlotte’s reorganizing as well, I’d like to see how it works for others. 🙂

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Lilli de Jong [review]

Lilli de Jong by Janet Benton
Published by Nan A. Talese on May 6, 2017
my rating: ★★★
Goodreads avg:
3.99 (as of 2019-10-08)
Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author Website

Pregnant, abandoned by her lover, and banished from her Quaker home and teaching position, Lilli de Jong enters a charity for wronged women to deliver her child. She is stunned at how much her infant needs her and at how quickly their bond overpowers her heart. Mothers in her position have no sensible alternative to giving up their children, but Lilli can’t bear such an outcome. Determined to chart a path toward an independent life, Lilli braves moral condemnation and financial ruin in a quest to keep herself and her baby alive.

Confiding their story to her diary as it unfolds, Lilli takes readers from an impoverished charity to a wealthy family’s home to the perilous streets of a burgeoning American city. Lilli de Jong is at once a historical saga, an intimate romance, and a lasting testament to the work of mothers. “So little is permissible for a woman,” writes Lilli, yet on her back every human climbs to adulthood.”


Lilli de Jong is the story of a young quaker girl who finds herself pregnant in a society where an unwed mother is a scourge and disgrace. I enjoyed the book at the start; not knowing much about quakers, I was intrigued to hear more about Lilli’s life. I also enjoyed the journal format, with Lilli speaking directly to the reader as if we were her diary. Which, in the narrative, we are.

How is it that shame affixes itself to the violated, and not to the violator?

Lilli is forced to seek shelter in a home for single pregnant women, and is lucky enough to be boarded and fed as she waits to birth her child. While the norm is to adopt one’s baby out and to continue life as though the pregnancy had never happened, Lilli stands her ground and decides that she wants to keep her baby. As expected, this leads to many difficulties.

So little is permissible for a woman—yet on her back every human climbs to adulthood.

I found it intriguing for quite a while, but over time the hurdles Lilli faced became tiresome. I’m sure the events were realistic to an extent, but it was difficult to suspend my belief when the worst seemed to happen at all times. As soon as things began turning around for Lilli, something even worse would happen. At first this was surprising and kept me on my toes, but I felt the author took it just too far. I was also quite frustrated at how Lilli behaved some of the time, she seemed to change her mind on a whim and had no idea how to make decisions that would actually benefit her. It’s likely because she was quite young, but still, it became irritating to read through. I will say that I had no issue with the writing itself. Benton knows how to create an atmosphere that will draw the reader in, and how to create interesting side characters to support her lead.

Did she go to the grave with painful secrets? Must every woman? Will I?

It was clear that Benton wanted to shed some light on the hardships women faced during this time period. As she mentions in the afterword, these girls’ stories went untold — I’m actually excited to read some of the books she used for her research. She also clearly wanted to show the deep bond a mother feels toward their child. In that respect, this may be more impactful to readers who enjoy reading about motherhood. Parts of it may be difficult if you do have a child — without spoilers, I’ll just say she and her daughter are put into some dangerous situations — but I think that would make it easier to relate to.

This knowledge is not a curse. Separation from the garden’s innocence is not a sin. It is a beginning.

Overall, while the book was well-written, I struggled with the seemingly endless tragedies the title character faced and got less out of this than I was hoping to.


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Book Tags, Bookworm Blogging

Choose the Year Book Tag

I saw that Emily did this and thought it looked fun, so I figured I’d do it as well! Emily went with the year she was born (as several other people have done), so I thought I would too (1992, btw). For fun, I also looked at the years I graduated from both college and high school (although those will not be a part of this post). It was interesting to see which books were published then!

If you’d like to participate as well, just use this link and swap out the xxxx for the appropriate year: http://www.goodreads.com/book/popular_by_date/xxxx

The tag prompts:

  1. Choose a year and say why.
  2. Which books published in that year have you read, or if none, heard of.
  3. Are there any books published in that year that sound interesting and would you read them now?
  4. Most obscure sounding book?
  5. Strangest book cover

Turns out I’ve read a whopping 13 of the top books published in 1992 — never mind that apparently half of those were Goosebumps books, ha.

And these four are all books on the list that are on my TBR!

This random Polish fantasy is definitely the most obscure-sounding.

I’m going to bypass strangest book cover, as they’re difficult to see in the list and I don’t want to go through them ALL.

Overall though, this was a fun tag! I liked looking through the lists a lot. I’m not going to tag anyone, as I just did another tag, but please let me know if you do this! I’d like to see your results as well. 🙂

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Book Tags, Not Books, Personal

The Sunshine Blogger Award #3

I was nominated for The Sunshine Blogger Award by Destiny aaaall the way back in June, and I’m finally getting around to it! Definitely check out Destiny’s blog if you haven’t already, she is consistently posting great content!

RULES:

  • Thank the blogger who nominated them and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated them.
  • Nominate 11 other blogs and give them 11 new questions to answer.
  • Notify your nominees and display the Sunshine Blogger Award in your post.

Destiny’s Questions:

  1. What was the last book you strongly disliked?
    • Rebel Girls, which is a bummer because it had such potential!
  2. How does your star rating system work for your reviews (if you use one)?
    • 5: Loved it
    • 4: Really liked it
    • 3: Liked it
    • 2: Didn’t like it
    • 1: Hated it
    • Pretty simple!
  3. What are your favorite pizza toppings?
    • Hmm, I’d say probably just pepperoni! Classic, and delicious. 🙂 I’ll fw most pizza toppings though, haha.
  4. Would you rather read a great plot with mediocre characters, or a boring plot with amazing characters?
    • This is a great Q! I’d have to say a boring plot with amazing characters, for sure.
  5. How many books are you currently reading, and which one is your favorite so far?
  6. What was the last book review you posted?
  7. Do you prefer MG, YA, NA, or adult books?
    • I would say right now I prefer adult, but I enjoy everything except MG (with exceptions!).
  8. Is there a popular author you’re NOT interested in reading anything by? (Elaborate if you’re comfortable doing so!)
    • Yes! I’m having trouble remembering off the top of my head, but I know there’s at least one.
  9. What marginalized rep would you most strongly like to see more of in books?
    • Selfishly, bi polyamory! For a group I’m not a part of, I’d have to say qpoc.
  10. Do you listen to music while reading?
    • Never!! I absolutely cannot focus, and it would have to be instrumental and match the tone perfectly for me to be able to.
  11. Do you prefer book twitter or bookstagram?
    • Book twitter! I feel like it’s easier to interact with and I honestly just always forget about bookstagram, eep.

My questions:

  1. Do you listen to any podcasts? If so, what are your favorites?
  2. Do you genre hop when you read or do you tend to stick to the same genres?
  3. What’s the best movie you’ve watched so far this year?
  4. 2019 release you’re most excited about reading?
  5. What’s your favorite way to treat yourself?
  6. Describe your ideal home in as much or as little detail as you’d like!
  7. Favorite snack?
  8. What’s your favorite kind of weather?
  9. Favorite book you read as a child?
  10. What’s your favorite thing about yourself?
  11. Are you a pumpkin person?

Tagging:

  1. Kal
  2. Emily
  3. Callum
  4. Jenna
  5. Hannah
  6. Wendy
  7. Leelynn
  8. Rachel
  9. Naty
  10. Bec
  11. Kelly

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Rebecca [review]

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Published by Little, Brown, and Company on December 17, 2013 (originally 1938)
my rating: ★★★★
Goodreads avg:
4.22 (as of 2019-10-05)
Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound 

Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again…

The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady’s maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives–presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.

First published in 1938, this classic gothic novel is such a compelling read that it won the Anthony Award for Best Novel of the Century.


I’ve been intending to read Rebecca for quite some time now and after some insistence by, well, pretty much everyone around me, I finally did it! I found it to be quite intriguing and thought it would make for a really interesting study had I read it in school. And I almost wish I had, since there was so much I’m sure I didn’t pick up on. At its core, it’s the story of a woman who falls in love with a widower, only to find herself in the shadow of the late Rebecca.

No, I’m asking you to marry me, you little fool.

It’s clear from the start that our narrator can’t hold a candle to Rebecca herself — she speaks explicitly of it, but also implies it by leaving herself nameless. She obsesses over every difference between them, both real and perceived, down to the fact that the narrator must call Mr. de Winter “Maxim” while Rebecca called him “Max.” As she settles into her new life as Mrs. de Winter, she must adjust to others’ expectations of her as well. Instead of making her time her own, she adheres to the schedules and habits previously exhibited by Rebecca. Yet she still can tell that she is always being held to a standard she cannot meet. 

Rebecca, always Rebecca. I should never be rid of Rebecca.

The dichotomy between the two women is the main focus of the book. Where Rebecca was boisterous and well-loved, the young bride is cautious and shy. Where Rebecca was tall, dark, and beautiful, our narrator is small, plain, and compliant. It’s easy to hate the main character as much as she hates herself; as a reader, I wanted her to buck up and make an effort instead of tiptoeing around everything. It’s difficult not to agree with her that Rebecca was better in every way. 

I knew now the reason for my sense of foreboding. It was not the stranded ship that was sinister, nor the crying gulls, nor the thin black funnel pointing to the shore. It was the stillness of the black water, and the unknown things that lay beneath.

I can’t get much deeper into the plot without spoiling the mystery, but there is truly mystery abound here. There are slow bits, but once things creep up on you, you’ll find yourself flying through the pages to get to the end. And the end itself is quite shocking. Honestly, my only complaints really are those slower pieces (honestly, just cutting a bit out would have cured this) as well as the lack of spine in the main character. She’s quite boring at times, but it also serves a purpose for her to be the way she is.

It doesn’t make for sanity, does it, living with the devil.

Overall, I’m quite glad I ended up reading this. It was an interesting book and great for those who love gothic reads.


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Bookworm Blogging, Discussions

Recommendation Request: Happily Ever After Books

Hi everybody! I wanted to try something a little different today. My mom likes to read my blog when she can and gets excited about some of the books I read, asking whether she would like x or y. The problem is, I don’t read a ton of books that fall under the umbrella of what she would enjoy! Lately I’ve been reading SF/F, sad literary fiction, and horror. SO, I hoped I could employ some of you to give her recommendations. 🙂

In preparation, I asked for some examples of what she does like and got the following responses: David Baldacci, Luanne Rice, and Danielle Steele. Mostly, she likes happily ever after books!

So, here is my request for you all: please comment with some nice HEA books for my mom to check out. You can use the authors above as a reference point, or just give me some recs of good ones you’ve read! Hopefully we can compile a great list of reads for her to try. 🙂

Thanks in advance for any help you can provide! ❤

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