Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 End of the Year Survey!

This is created and hosted by Perpetual Page Turner! I'm just doing the section on books read in 2017 this year.

Number Of Books You Read: 221
Number of Re-Reads: 6 (Thirteen Reasons Why, Shutter Island, Return to the Dark House (before reading the sequel), The Italian Secretary, Dracula, and The Westing Game
Genre You Read The Most From: Mystery/Psychological Suspense and/or Thriller




1. Best Book You Read In 2017?


Fiction:
  

Non-Fiction:
  


2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?




 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

(This isn't a genre I usually read, but I loved it!)

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?


5. Best series you started in 2017? 


Best Sequel of 2017? 


Best Series Ender of 2017?


(This ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, but unfortunately the author doesn't seem to have an intention to return to the series)


6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017?

Riley Sager

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?


 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?



 9. Book You Read In 2017 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?


10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?



11. Most memorable character of 2017?

Quincy Carpenter, Final Girls

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2017?



13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2017?



 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2017 to finally read? 



 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2017?


“As far as I'm concerned, you can't beat a good whodunnit: the twists and turns, the clues and the red herrings and then, finally, the satisfaction of having everything explained to you in a way that makes you kick yourself because you hadn't seen it from the start.” -Magpie Murders

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2017?

Shortest: 

Longest:

17. Book That Shocked You The Most

 

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

 Maddie/Olly (Everything, Everything) 


19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year\

Sherlock Holmes & Dr. John Watson (The Whole Art of Detection)

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2017 From An Author You’ve Read Previously


21. Best Book You Read In 2017 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:



22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017?

Olly (Everything, Everything)


23. Best 2017 debut you read?



24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?


25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?



26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2017?


27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?


28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?



29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2017?




30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?


(Such a great premise, but I did not like the writing at all)


Here's to a wonderful 2018 full of lots of reading!











Saturday, December 30, 2017

Review Roundup : Bloodstains with Bronte, A Devious Death, and H.H. Holmes

I received ARCs of these books from the publishers in exchange for honest reviews. These did not affect my opinions of the books or my reviews themselves.



When the large home Emily has inherited is being renovated, she turns to Wuthering Heights to distract her from the noise and mess. Drawn into the story, Emily can't help but see a doomed love triangle playing out before her eyes involving her beloved housekeeper, Katie. When a murder mystery party brings matters to a head, Emily will do whatever it takes to protect Katie, including solving the mystery herself.

I liked this cozy mystery, but did not love it. The murder mystery party was a clever device, and I enjoyed the weaving in of a classic novel such as Wuthering Heights. But the plot device of every man who came into contact with Katie becoming obsessed with her wore thin very quickly, as did the choice to insert Katie's diary entries in first person into the chapters. The religious aspects of the story also seemed to come out of nowhere and were not integrated in well enough to justify their prominent position in the tale.

This was an okay read, but I don't think I will be rushing to pick up any more of the series.


In this cozy mystery, Lady Phoebe and her lady's maid, Eva, work to solve a murder that directly impacts Phoebe and her family. Inheritance disputes have brought Phoebe's warring relations to descend on the home Phoebe and her sister are visiting, and the arguments soon lead to murder.

Lady Phoebe and Eva are compelling and strong characters, and their relationship is a delight, as are the romances they find themselves in. The supporting cast are unique and interesting, and as a reader I found myself genuinely caring about the solution to the crime and who it would impact.

I'm not a huge fan of the book cover (I think it makes the book look more amateurish than it is), and the story did start out a little slow for my tastes, but this was a fun cozy in a series I could see myself revisiting.


This book was absolutely fascinating, and impeccably researched. I have read a lot of books on H.H. Holmes, and thought I knew all there was to know, but I was wrong--and I was glad to be proved wrong by Selzer's excellent tome.

What was particularly fascinating and impressive was how deftly Selzer disputed the myths and legends about Holmes that almost everyone (including myself) had taken for fact. Selzer has more than done his research, and this book provides a masterful overview of every aspect of the Holmes' tale. I highly recommend this book for true crime readers, and those who want to know the truth behind the tales.

Friday, December 29, 2017

2018 Popsugar Challenge, and Netgalley and Edelweiss Challenge!

2018 Popsugar Reading Challenge

1. A book made into a movie you've already seen: Vertigo by Pierre Boileau
2. True Crime: And the Sea Will Tell by Vincent Bugliosi
3. The next book in a series you started: The Sawyer Swindle by Victoria Abbot
4. A book involving a heist: Priceless by Robert K. Wittman
5. Nordic noir: The Bat by Jo Nesbo
6. A novel based on a real person: Crippen by John Boyne
7. A book set in a country that fascinates you: Adam and Eve and Pinch Me by Ruth Rendell
8. A book with a time of day in the title: The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore
9. A book about a villain or antihero: Agent Zigzag by Ben Macintyre
10. A book about death or grief: Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
11. A book with a female author who uses a male pseudonym: The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
12. A book with an LGBTQ+ protagonist: Outburst by R.D. Zimmerman
13. A book that is also a stage play or musical: Carrie by Stephen King
14. A book by an author of a different ethnicity than you: God Help the Child by Toni Morrison
15. A book about feminism: Difficult Women by Roxanne Gay
16. A book about mental health: Monkey Mind by Daniel Smith
17. A book you borrowed or that was given to you as a gift: The Invention of Murder by Judith Flanders
18. A book by two authors: A Death in the Lucky Holiday Hotel by Pin Ho and Wenguang Huang
19. A book about or involving a sport: The Secret Game by Scott Ellsworth
20. A book by a local author: The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai
21. A book with your favorite color in the title: Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Samkovitch
22. A book with alliteration in the title: Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
23. A book about time travel: Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler
24. A book with a weather element in the title: Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson
25. A book set at sea: Life of Pi by Yann Martel
26. A book with an animal in the title: The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Cannon
27. A book set on a different planet: Bindi by Nnedi Okorafor
28. A book with song lyrics in the title: Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley
29. A book about or set on Halloween: Gossamer Ghost by Laura Childs
30. A book with characters who are twins: The Lost Twin by Sophie Cleverly
31. A book mentioned in another book: The General's Daughter by Nelson DeMille
32. A book from a celebrity book club: Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty
33. A childhood classic you've never read: An Old Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott
34. A book that's published in 2018: The Other Mother by Carol Goodman
35. A past Goodreads Choice Awards winner: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
36. A book set in the decade you were born: American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
37. A book you meant to read in 2017 but didn't get to: Looking for Alaska by John Green
38. A book with an ugly cover: The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell
39. A book that involves a bookstore or library: A Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zebin
40. Your favorite prompt from the 2015, 2016, or 2017 POPSUGAR Reading Challenges: A mystery or thriller: Original Sin by P.D. James

2018 Popsugar Advanced Reading Challenge

1. A bestseller from the year you graduated high school: The Inner Circle by T.C. Boyle
2. A cyberpunk book: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick
3. A book that was being read by a stranger in a public place: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
4. A book tied to your ancestry: Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosnay
5. A book with a fruit or vegetable in the title: Seven Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney
6. An allegory: The Name of the Rose by Umbero Eco
7. A book by an author with the same first or last name as you: Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead
8. A microhistory: The Murder of Helen Jewett by Patricia Cline Cohen
9. A book about a problem facing society today: Courtroom 302 by Steve Bogira
10. A book recommended by someone else taking the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson 



2018 Netgalley and Edelweiss Challenge
I'm going for the Gold Level, 50 books!
1) Another One Bites the Crust by Ellie Alexander
2) Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant
3) Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner
4) A Whisper of Bones by Ellen Hart
5) Grit by Gillian French
6) Into the Thinnest of Air by Simon R. Green
7) Stowed Away by Barbara Ross
8) The Broken Girls by Simone St. James
9) The Marmalade Murders by Elizabeth J. Duncan
10) Down the Aisle with Murder by Auralee Wallace
11) Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chien
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Friday, December 22, 2017

Review: The Inkblots: Hermann Rorschach, His Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing



I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

This is an absolutely fascinating read. Searls has more than done his research, actually gaining access to materials no one else had been able to use before. This allowed him to create an incredibly comprehensive and well-rounded account of Rorschach himself, how his inkblots came to be, and what they have meant for society throughout the years.

Searls shows all sides of the famous test, from the positives to the negatives. He uses real world examples to bring home just how impactful those seemingly-simple (though actually complex) inkblots can be. Through discussions of how the use of and belief in Rorschach's test has changed, Searls allows his readers to see how nothing is infallible or perfect---but also how some marks on a paper have the potential to give humanity great insights into themselves and the world around them.

I did occasionally have trouble completely understanding a few of the sections where things got very scientific. But this did not take away from my enjoyment of a unique and fascinating story.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Cruisin' Thru the Cozies 2018!

For  2018, I will be going for Level Three: Super Sleuth, which means reading 30 cozy mysteries of my choice!

1) Another One Bites the Crust by Ellie Alexander
2) Let's Play Dead by Sheila Connolly
3) Muffin to Fear by Victoria Hamilton
4) Gossamer Ghost by Laura Childs
5) Dead Girls Don't Wear Diamonds by Nancy Martin
6) Stowed Away by Barbara Ross
7) Snowed in with Murder by Auralee Wallace
8) The Marmalade Murders by Elizabeth J. Duncan
9) Ring in the Year with Murder by Auralee Wallace
10) Down the Aisle with Murder by Auralee Wallace
11) Death by Dumpling by Vivien Chien
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Monday, December 18, 2017

Mount TBR 2018!

Alright, I've decided to go for it, and try for Mt. Olympus this year, which means 150 books off my physical TBR bookshelves! I didn't quite make 100 off my TBR shelves this past year, but in 2018 I really want to focus on reading books I already own. (Just a note that this will include books that may not come out until 2018, but that I have a physical  ARC copy of on my bookshelves prior to January 1, 2018.)

1) Monkey Mind by Daniel Smith
2) Just Between Us by Rebecca Drake (ARC on shelf in 2017)
3) God Help the Child by Toni Morrison
4) The Girl Next Door by Brad Parks
5) Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
6) Nancy Drew: The Secret Within Book One by Stefan Petrucha and Sarah Kinney
7) Lady Killers by Tori Telfer
8) Whiskey Sour by J.A. Konrath
9) Troublemaker by Leah Remini
10) The Devils You Know by M.C. Atwood
11) Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart
12) Spinsters in Jeopardy by Ngaio Marsh
13) The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne
14) Good as Gone by Amy Gentry
15) Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner
16) Let's Play Dead by Sheila Connolly
17) Wolf by Kelly Oliver
18) The Bad Seed by William March
19) Priceless by Robert K. Wittman
20) The Greek Coffin Mystery by Ellery Queen
21) Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
22) Nancy Drew Diaries #9: The Secret Within Part Two by Stefan Petruchka and Sarah Kinney
23) Dead Girls Don't Wear Diamonds by Nancy Martin
24) The Man From the Train by Bill James
25) Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan
26) The Blind by A.F. Brady
27) Lies She Told by Cate Holahan
28) Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison
29) Jack the Ripper by Francois DeBois and Jean-Charles Poupard
30) The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell
31) Ring in the Year with Murder by Auralee Wallace
32) The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
33) The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle
34) Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender
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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Review: Close to Me



Title: Closer to Me
Author: Amanda Reynolds
Publication Date: December 5, 2017
Genre: Psychological Suspense
Recommended If You Like: secrets from the past, domestic drama

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

The Book:

Jo Harding fell down the stairs a year ago, but to her, it was just minutes ago. She's lost memories of the whole last year of her life, and it actually seems her family might be happy about that fact. As Jo works to recover her memory, she comes to realize some hard truths about herself and the life she thought she had.

What I Liked:

I'm always interested in a book with secrets from the past coming to light, and this read definitely had plenty of those. When a whole year is gone, there is so much to uncover, and Reynolds does a good job of making those secrets come to light in a suspenseful way. Readers learn things right along with Jo, which makes her an even more crucial and realistic narrator.

Anything I Didn't Like?

This book felt really slow at parts. Despite its intriguing premise, I had trouble sticking with it at times. It wasn't bad by any means, but I think some editing to tighten it up and take away some of the repetitious nature would have been a positive.

So...?

This is a fine book, good even, but not a great one. There are a lot of other books in this genre I would recommend you pick up first.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Review: Antisocial


Title: Antisocial
Author: Jillian Blake
Publication Date: May 16, 2017
Genre: Young Adult/Psychological/Suspense
Recommended If You Like: secrets being revealed, a realistic protagonist with an anxiety disorder, exploration of the complexity of relationships and the role of social media

The Book:

When someone hacks into the phones of students at a prep school, suddenly everyone's text messages, internet searches, and deepest secrets could be exposed. As relationships break apart, and no one knows who to trust anymore, everyone fears that their secrets will be the next to be revealed.

What I Liked:

I really liked that this book had a realistic narrator with an anxiety disorder. I think this is something that needs to happen a lot more in literature. Blake really illustrated what it feels like to have an anxiety disorder, and made the readers feel like they were in the narrator's shoes.

The storyline was a really interesting one, highlighting the dangers of technology and social media, and exploring how much of our true selves we show to the world and those closest to us.

Anything I Didn't Like?

I was expecting more mystery to this story, more focus on a big reveal of who was behind the hack, more surprises on that end. I think this just wasn't what Blake felt the focus was, even if it's what I wanted personally.

So...?

This is a really quick read-it took me just a couple of hours-and an interesting one. It's worth picking up for the narrator alone, but the story will keep you hooked as well.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Review: The Special Ones



Title: The Special Ones
Author: Em Bailey
Publication Date: July 18, 2017
Genre: Psychological Suspense
Recommended If You Like: strange and unique reads, books about cults, strong female protagonists

The Book:

Esther has been one of the Special Ones for almost two years. This means she is viewed as a spiritual guide, an immortal being who lives a simple life in an isolated farmhouse and online chats with her eager followers. She is always watched by a mysterious he, the leader they have never met, who decides if they are living up to their true Special potential. If they aren't, they are renewed, and never return to the farmhouse again.

What I Liked:

Like another recent read, Hex, this book is fantastically strange and so unique. I love reading a book where I feel like I've never read anything like it before. This book is so mysterious, which meant I could not put it down. I had to know what was going to happen next.

Anything I Didn't Like?

Towards the middle of the book, I felt like things started to move maybe a little too fast. This is one of those books I think could have been a little longer to flesh out things even more.

So...?

This is a quick, gripping read that will keep you engaged and constantly guessing.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Beat the Backlist 2018!





I'm so excited for this reading challenge to start! It's hosted by NovelKnight, and the challenge starts January 1, 2018. The goal is to read as many books published in 2017 or earlier as possible. I'm setting my personal goal at 125 backlist books, since I can count any books I read from my TBR bookcases.

1) Monkey Mind by Daniel Smith
2) Carrie by Stephen King
3) The Fact of the Body by Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich
4) Disappearance at Devil's Rock by Paul Tremblay
5) God Help the Child by Toni Morrison
6) The Girl Next Door by Brad Parks
7) Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
8) Nancy Drew: The Secret Within Book One by Stefan Petrucha and Sarah Kinney
9) Lady Killers by Tori Telfer
10) Whiskey Sour by J.A. Konrath
11) Friend Request by Laura Marshall
12) Lie With Me by Sabine Durrant
13) Troublemaker by Leah Remini
14) The Devils You Know by M.C. Atwood
15) Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart
16) Spinsters in Jeopardy by Ngaio Marsh
17) Vertigo by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac
18) The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne
19) Good as Gone by Amy Gentry
20) Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner
21) Right Behind You by Lisa Gardner
22) Let's Play Dead by Sheila Connolly
23) Wolf by Kelly Oliver
24) The Bad Seed by William March
25) Muffin to Fear by Victoria Hamilton
26) Gossamer Ghost by Laura Childs
27) Priceless by Robert K. Wittman
28) Grit by Gillian French
29) Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
30) The Greek Coffin Mystery by Ellery Queen
31) The Postcard Killers by James Patterson
32) Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
33) Nancy Drew Diaries #9: The Secret Within Part Two by Stefan Petruchka and Sarah Kinney
34) Dead Girls Don't Wear Diamonds by Nancy Martin
35) The Man From the Train by Bill James and Rachel McCarthy James
36) Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan
37) Jack the Ripper by Francois DeBois and Jean-Charles Poupard
38) The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell
39) Stowed Away by Barbara Ross
40) The Blind by A.F. Brady
41) Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris
42) Lies She Told by Cate Holahan
43) Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison
44) Soulmates by Jessica Grose
45) The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown
46) The General's Daughter by Nelson DeMille
47) Binti by Nnedi Okorafor
48) Private Vegas by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
49) Doll Bones by Holly Black
50) Snowed in with Murder by Auralee Wallace
51) Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
52) Ring in the Year with Murder by Auralee Wallace
53) The Great Shelby Holmes Meets Her Match by Elizabeth Eulberg
54) The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart
55) The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle
56) Bad Girls Don't Die by Katie Alender
57) Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics
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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Review: The Screaming Staircase


Title: The Screaming Staircase
Author: Jonathan Stroud
Publication Date: August 26, 2014
Genre: Supernatural/Paranormal, Middle Grade
Recommended If You Like: scary books that aren't too scary, ghost stories, strong young characters

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

The Book:

In a world where the presence of ghosts has become the norm, the young are the ones with the Talents to see and vanquish the paranormal. Lucy, Lockwood, and George form one of many agencies who make a living fighting against the ghosts. As they learn to work together, they must tackle two of the biggest cases London has seen.

What I Liked:

I'm a big fan of books focused on the paranormal, and also a fan of middle grade and young adult reads, so this was a very enjoyable combo for me here. The book was frightening without being terrifying, and managed to be very eerie and suspenseful while still being middle-grade appropriate, not an easy feat.

Anything I Didn't Like?

The book got a little meandering and slow in parts, which caused my attention to drift away, which meant this book took me quite a bit longer to finish than its length would have suggested.

So...?

I enjoyed reading this book, but not enough where I will be in a rush to pick up the rest of the series.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Review: Bel, Book, and Scandal

  


Title: Bel, Book, and Scandal
Author: Maggie McConnon
Publication Date: December 5, 2017
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Recommended If You Like: strong female protagonists, family ties, long-running mysteries with surprise endings, secrets from the past

I received an ARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review itself.

The Book:

The long-running series' mystery of what truly happened to Belfast's best friend, Amy, so many years ago, takes a shocking turn in this latest cozy mystery. Belfast, a chef at her family's Shamrock Manor, spots a newspaper photograph that turns everything she thought she knew about that fateful night upside down. Drawn into a story she has never truly been able to leave behind, Belfast is determined to solve the mystery that has haunted her all these years.

What I Liked:

I love the character of Belfast. She feels so real, as does her family. She's not perfect, neither are they, but they love and drive each other crazy in equal measure. Belfast is funny, and clever, and determined, but still doesn't know where she's going in life. She is relatable, and it's impossible not to like her.

I was so excited to see so much development in the mystery of Amy. It's one I've been following since I read the first book in the series, and I've been wanting to know the solution so much.

Anything I Didn't Like?

I felt like what was revealed, while surprising and shocking and fantastically dramatic, didn't feel like it entirely fit with what had come in the books before. I absolutely adore a shocking twist that I never saw coming, but this one felt a little too out of left field.

So...?

Definitely read the books that came before this one so you can understand the importance of what is happening in this one. This is a cozy mystery series I really enjoy, and I hope that, even though it felt like an ending, this isn't the last we read of Belfast.