5 Standalone Novels | Lori Recommends

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For today’s post I wanted to recommend some books all related around a similar theme and since I just read Killing Adonis, I thought I’d recommend books somehow related to this book. As I rarely read standalone novels I thought this would be an excellent category of books to suggest because standalones are great reads for when you’re on vacation, trying to get out of a reading slump, or just in the mood for something a little different if you’re used to reading fantasy series like me!

I also think all of the books I recommend qualify as underhyped books that could benefit from a little more love. Additionally these books are united in combining some elements of mystery, magic, or the supernatural.

Killing Adonis by J.M. Donellan (Goodreads)

This novel is set in modern day Australia about a nurse who decides to take a year off after graduating to make some fast and easy money as a nurse to son of the rich and powerful Vincetti family who is in a coma. While she lives in their mansion she learns more about their criminal activity and how her life became intertwined with theirs. I felt like I was watching a film noir movie as I read parts of this book and it was a surprising amount of fun to read at night. I was so sad when it ended!

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie (Goodreads)

Of the three Agatha Christie novels I’ve read, I think that this one is my favorite. This is a short little cosy read that I’d recommend reading during the rain by a window or by the fireplace. As in a typical Christie novel you get to meet Hercule Poirot and the host of potential suspects through the narrator and try to follow along and see if you can guess the murderer. I love how all the human stories that unravel bit by bit making it hard to predict what will happen next.

At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen (Goodreads)

Set in the 1940s during WWII, the American protagonist Maddie is forced to live in to Scotland with her increasingly distant and temperamental husband Ellis and his fun-loving best friend Hank who hopes to show up his father by finding photographic proof of the Lock Ness monster. This is one of those beautiful historical fiction tales which is so atmospheric that you have trouble letting it go when the book is over.

2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino (Goodreads)

This novel is set in contemporary Philadelphia and is a day in the life of three characters on Christmas Eve. It’s one where there’s no magic in it, but it feels like there is (if that makes sense). It’s just a very pleasant read and exciting to read as you learn that all the characters lives begin in intersect and you just can’t wait to see whether they will get what they want in the end. It’s just a feel good novel where the stakes aren’t too high but you become invested in the characters.

The Goddess and the Thief by Essie Fox (Goodreads)

Set largely in Victorian England, this novel is about a girl called Alice who after her father dies is the permanent charge of her aunt a woman who is a scam artist who pretends she can communicate with departed spirits. Meanwhile Alice actually has powers and her life is upended when her aunt starts to date a strange man from her homeland of India. There’s romance, dark family secrets, and everything you love about gothic romance literature during the reign of Queen Victoria.

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Illuminae | Book Review

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★★★½

Illuminae is the first book in a YA science fiction trilogy by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff that is told through a “dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more.” The files will often have notes attached at the top by the person who accumulated the documents who represents The Illuminae Group, an intelligence gathering agency. We do not find out until the very end who has asked for the files or why, which makes this book a fascinating mystery.

The book is a whopping 599 pages, but it’s a very fast-paced and addictive read, especially once you are about 25% into the book and have gotten used to the format. You wouldn’t think that a book made of documents could have so much humor and action, but it is handled in a really clever way and one of my favorite characters became the person who summarized surveillance footage: Analyst ID 7213-0089-DN. We don’t know anything about him (or her), but their personality shines through as they describe what they see Kady or Ezra do in the camera footage hilariously to the point I can’t help but wonder how they got their job. I hope we get to meet them in Gemina!

Because I don’t want to spoil anything, I may cut my thoughts short here. I will say if you like sassy characters, high-stakes action, and human stories with a lot of heart, you will be satisfied with this book. There’s also a little bit of romance, but not a whole lot as the characters most definitely have other, more important things on their minds (like survival). The authors strike a really careful and satisfying balance between the light-hearted humor of characters just trying to survive and the dark moments of horror and loss. This is the kind of book that can may you laugh and cry (which is to say the best kind of book).

End Note

If you liked this kind of post, let me know in the comments. I tried to tailor my thoughts toward people who have not yet read the book, so if you want to fangirl in the comments about what happens I’m totally down that; just please keep it spoiler-free or put a spoiler warning at the top of your comment! I cannot wait to get my hands on Gemina. I may be treating myself to it this weekend.

Next up on the blog is my week two update on NaNoWriMo, which I’m officially failing at miserably; so it’ll probably be a fun read! If you want to see what else you can expect on the blog this week, check out my first Books & Pixels’ Week In Review which will be going up every Sunday from here on out!

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Slasher Girls and Monster Boys | Book Notes

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I was hoping to make my first book talk video about Slasher Girls and Monster Boys, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen any time soon. But I still wanted to share some notes on this anthology in case you’re like me and bought it on a whim but have been waiting for the perfect time or motivation to finally pick it up.

I decided to read it over the weekend before Halloween, because I hadn’t done much yet to get in the festive spirit. I don’t read a lot of horror on a regular basis, nor do I really enjoy horror films (because so few satisfy my questions at the end). So this turned out to be a excellent random read to pull me out of the slump I fell into after Crooked Kingdom.

Below you can see a list of the authors and their story titles along with my personal rating per story, purely based on my enjoyment. I obviously cannot talk about all these stories (maybe next Halloween if I reread), but I do want to offer a few spoiler-free teasers about my two absolute favorites which were “Emmeline” and “Stitches,” both of which I’d love to see turned into full books. Even these two don’t seem all that interesting to you, rest assured that all of these stories were vastly different from one another that I have no doubt there’s probably something interesting in it for you.

“Emmeline” by Cat Winters is set in WWII France with a girl who is discovered upstairs in her family home by an American soldier. After a little romance, she tries to convince him to stay with her. The setting is fantastic and this story is so atmospheric.

“Stitches” by A.G. Howard is kind of reminiscent for me of a Tim Burton movie. It is about a girl who must amputate her father’s limbs and other appendages and replace them with another’s to make him into a better man. Sounds like a nightmare right? But she does it with his consent and this just a piece of a larger story that we get at the end.

The best thing about reading this anthology was becoming exposed to authors I had not read before. After many of the these stories, not content to let go just yet, I found myself searching Goodreads for the authors and seeing what else they wrote. I hope to find some of these authors’ books in the library as soon as I have more time to read next year.

My Ratings

Nova Ren Suma’s “The Birds of Azalea Street” 3 stars
Carrie Ryan’s “In the Forest Dark and Deep” 4 stars
Cat Winters’ “Emmeline” 5 stars
Leigh Bardugo’s “Verse Chorus Verse” 3.5 stars
Megan Shepherd’s “Hide and Seek” 3 stars
Danielle Paige’s “The Dark, Scary Parts and All” 2.5 stars
April Genevieve Tucholke’s “The Flicker, the Fingers, the Beat, the Sigh” 3.5 stars
Jonathan Maberry’s “Fat Girl with a Knife” 3 stars
Jay Kristoff’s “Sleepless” 4 stars
Stefan Bachman’s “M” 4 stars
Marie Lu’s “The Girl Without a Face” 3 stars
McCormick Templeman’s “A Girl Who Dreamed of Snow” 3.5 stars
A.G. Howard’s “Stitches” 5 stars
Kendare Blake’s “On the I-5” 3 stars

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October ’16 Wrap Up

octwrapI did not read many books in October, because I was swamped by assigned class readings for German lit., film studies, and my quantitative research methods class. But I loved what books I did end up reading, so I decided to do a short reading wrap up! As always, my thoughts are spoiler-free, so I hope you enjoy and maybe decide to pick any of these books up for yourself in the future.

What I Read

It felt like I have been waiting for Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (★★★★★to come out all year, probably because I read Six of Crows early in 2016. Oh, man, it did not disappoint. It actually did take me a bit long to read it because of school business and life stress, but that did not damper my love of this book. This book was everything it needed to be for me to love it and more! I’m so sad it’s over!

The second book I finished this month was another I also technically started in September called Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom by bell hooks (★★★★½). This book was utterly inspiring as someone who truly values the power of education and wants to help bring down racial and class barriers that trouble our society. I found it very inspiring for how I want to teach one day.

It took me a while to finish reading Crooked Kingdom and Teaching to Transgress, so by the end I really felt like I needed a break from any extra reading that wasn’t required. The weekend I was asked to house-sit for my parents I decided to finally crack open Slasher Girls and Monster Boys edited by April Genevieve Tucholke (★★★★), which I bought last year. It was exactly what I needed to pull me out of my reading slump. I absolutely adored a handful of the stories and the others which I liked and disliked to varying degrees kept my attention so I really appreciated this book when I read it.

The final book I finished in October was Cat and Mouse by Günter Grass (★★★★½) which was required reading for my German lit. class. It did not take too long read, but it took longer than I thought it would. The writing style was unusual so I often found myself needing to reread sections. But ultimately I think I really like this book, even while I feel a lot has gone over my head. It’s definitely one to be reread, and one I want to reread! Having now gone to class and had our conversations about it (my professor knew the author personally!), I’m eager to read The Tin Drum, which may be Grass’ more famous work; it sounds equally intriguing.

CURRENTLY READING

There are four books I’m “technically” reading on Goodreads! They included two for my German lit. class: Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann and the play The Man Outside by Wolfgang Borchert. Then I’m eager to start my reread of The Queen of the Tearling because the final book in the trilogy debuts at the end of November and I want everything to be fresh in my head. Also I consider Johansen’s writing an inspiration for how I’d like to write. Finally, I’m spreading out my reading of Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in a Networked Culture by Henry Jenkins et al. This book I think will be influential to my research so I’m excited to read it, as I’m familiar with Jenkins’ work and may be applying to the school where he works (more on this development later)!

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Fall ’16 TBR

As promised, I am finally doing my comprehensive Fall ’16 TBR. I enjoy doing the monthly TBRs, but I will have to begin working on two 10-page research papers soon, and of course there is also NaNoWriMo to think about, so I know I won’t have very much free time to read as much as I’ve liked until the semester is over. I do still want to complete my Goodreads Challenge of 60 books by the end of the year so that does mean I need to read 16 more books by December 31st, but I think it’s possible.

Required Reading for German Lit. Class

I will be doing a presentation on Heinrich and Thomas Mann in November, so I really need to finish Man of Straw and Dr. Faustus as soon as possible so I know I will be talking about! I also will need to read Cat and Mouse by Guenther Grass and Man Outside by Wolfgang Borchert by the end of the semester. And as soon as I can find the free time, I also want to finish A Nervous Splendor: Vienna 1889–1889 by Frederic Morton because I see it informing my world-building in novel.

Series I Want to Complete

There are two book series I want to complete this year, including the rereads of the books leading up to the long-awaited finales. The first series is The Queen of the Tearling trilogy by Erika Johansen. I discovered this series in Spring 2015 and it was love at first read. I loved just about everything about the protagonist and her world. Since I’ve actually only read the arc of The Invasion of the Tearling (#2), I’m excited to see if there’s anything different to what I can remember. The final installment The Fate of the Tearling (#3) is going to be released on November 29, 2016 so it’ll most like be the first book I read over winter break.

The second series I want to complete is the Starbound trilogy by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. These are the first YA science fiction books I ever read that really appealed to me. The romantic aspect of these books is really satisfying and feels fresh, and I really love how the stories are linked by the common world (or should I say galaxy?) conflict. I also read These Broken Stars (#1) and This Shattered World (#2) in Spring 2015, so I’m really excited to finally get my hands on Their Fractured Light (#3) which comes out in paperback on December 6, 2016.

Some Books From the Library

Last month I checked out several books after browsing the Juvenile section at the library. I wouldn’t categorize any of these books as dire or essential reads, but I think they’ll prove short reads that I can finish easily. The first I want to get to is Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys, because I read Salt to the Sea recently and adored it. These books are just such perfect compliments to my German lit. studies. Then there are Boxers (#1) and Saints (#2) graphic novels which are part of a duology, which I’m excited to explore because I enjoy reading in this format and don’t do it often enough.

Some Other Random Reads

I have a small selection of books I own which I decided to bring with me from home, so I want to get to as many of these as possible so I can switch them out over winter break. The first I would really like to get to before Halloween is the Slasher Girls and Monster Boys anthology compiled by April Genevieve Tucholke. Then there’s a research book I bought this semester just for fun Spreadable Media: Creating Value and Meaning in Networked Culture by Henry Jenkins who is a scholar I really admire. Then there are some smaller tomes I think would not take too much time to read, most notably including The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote, and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin.

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September ’16 Notes

This post is coming a little later than I had originally planned! My apologies to anyone who may have seen an unfinished version this past weekend. Part of the reason I held off on finishing it was I was struggling to finish Six of Crows so that I could crack open Crooked Kingdom, and I wanted my reread to count towards last month. So silly. So even though I read most of it in the beginning of October, I’m still including it here!

September was a crazy month for me and I don’t quite have time to share everything that’s been going on in my life over the past couple of weeks in this post, but I might do a Sunday Snapshot this weekend just so you know what I’ve been having to deal with. It’s not been all fun and games in this blogger’s life.

Without any further ado, here are some mini-reviews of all books I read this month along with some of the books I’m currently reading. I also summarize what I got done in writing this month and provide an update on the October NaNo Prep series which I’m still planning to do, although possibly not this week.

What I Read

For the most part I stuck to my September ’16 TBR very well. The only three books which I completely bypassed which I do not fully regret to have skipped; I’m sure I’ll read them in the future. In total I read eight books and am in the progress of reading two.

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton ||  I was wary of this book going into it, because I feel like it was over-marketed by the publisher. Too many BookTubers talked about it all at once and it was very clearly the recipient of ad sponsorship. But I was glad I ultimately picked it up when I saw it at the library because I thought the world was really fun and I like to read fantasy books that kick off a series. If I see the sequel at the library, I’ll most definitely be picking it up. I feel no temptation to buy it though. || ★★★½

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas || I ordered this book via the Kindle app on my iPhone as this has just been the medium I’ve used to read this series from the beginning. The only book I’ve read in a physical copy is Heir of Fire and I’ve semi-regretted not buying it because it was my favorite book in the series. Until I read this book that is! Actually, they may be about equal. Heir of Fire feels a lot more original, Empire of Storms I feel like SJM learned a lot from Six of Crows on how to write Aelin better (she seemed a lot more like Kaz than she did before). Anyway, I loved this book and can’t wait to see what happens next. ||

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque || I was assigned this book in my German Lit. & Ideas class and I found it a very quick but moving read. I’d never read it before, although I do remember learning of it in AP World History (10th grade). I’ve read books that are critical of war, which have no doubt been influenced by this book. But I’m appreciative of having been able to read it in this context where I’m learning about German culture and society during this time. ||★½

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer || This book started of a bit rocky for me. I’ve read and loved the books of Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Mindy Kaling, but this book just didn’t all the way do it for me. I think because Schumer is so far off from me and I cringed with disgust at a lot of stories. I do like what she does, though, and this book ended on a very strong note for me. Not worth buying, but if you find it in the library (as I did), have seen Trainwreck (2015), liked it and want something out of the norm, I’d say why not. || ★★★½

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol || It took me a while to trudge through Amy Schumer’s book and so I picked this book up when I discovered the Juvenile Lit. section of the library. I feel like Amazon and/or Goodreads has tried to recommend this book to me in the past with no success (except I guess cover recognition), and as it was so small, I decided to give it a go. If only to get a quick read in. I think I might have liked it when I was little, but it’s very much…juvenile. It’s not that complex a story and the resolution did not feel too…realistic. || ★★½

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie || I had picked this book up in August when I was in a mood for mystery, then ended up saving it for the Mystery-A-Thon which I ultimately wasn’t able to participate in. So I decided to finally get to it this month. I’m sorry to say it was probably my least favorite of the Christie books I’ve read (there’ve been two others), but I can see how this book has set a standard in the mystery genre. It was a intriguing read I think I would have been able to better appreciate when I was younger. || ★★★½

Film: A Very Short Introduction by Michael Wood || I don’t really know what I can say about this one. It was required reading for my Intro to Film Studies class and is exactly was it claims to be. It was a very easy and quick read, illuminating as I have no background in the history of film or its theory. ||no-rating

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo || I started this book on the last day of September after I had already been able to receive Crooked Kingdom (it unexpectedly arrived the day it was released!) Because I knew what was going to happen, I did drag my feet a little on reading this book. But ultimately I was drawn in again because of this fantastic world and great characters. This book is literally…everything. There were a few things I had forgotten about the end, so I’m really happy I was able to read this again before I jumped into Crooked Kingdom. || 

CURRENTLY READING

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo // I hadn’t thought I would receive this book the day it debuted, but Amazon definitely surprised me! I started it this weekend immediately after finishing my reread of Six of Crows, and I expect to finish it as soon as my school week is over.

Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom by bell hooks // I’m really enjoying this book so far and am happy it was recommended to me. I love hooks’ perspective on how education can, and maybe should, be linked to self-actualization.

What I Wrote

In September I made a lot of headway on my novel. I plotted my MC’s entire journey through The Hollow Combs and did some extensive world-building by establishing the magic system, more of the world’s history, population diversity, and societal structures. I feel like the world really came to life this month. The latest thing I’ve been working on is the villain and how she has influenced the course of history and magic for my protagonist. She’s been a gateway through which I’ve discovered a lot more about this world.

In my latest writing post, I announced the NaNo Prep series I will be doing this month leading up to NaNoWriMo 2016 in November. To be quite honest, I wasn’t quite ready to upload that post but left it up anyway because the bare bones of the info was there. I’m still planning to do the posts I listed in that series, but I’m thinking of making it a week-long series so I’ll share more on that over the next few days.

End Note

As I write this note, I am actually procrastinating on two assignments which are currently driving me crazy, which is the only reason I have found the time. Other than reading Crooked Kingdom, I haven’t been able to do much for myself this week and I nearly fell into a blogging slump. I have a few more things I’m hoping to change around here and on my online presence as a whole, nothing crazy drastic, but there are some things I’ve been putting off for a while. Hopefully I’ll be able to explain more this weekend as I start to implement these changes.

I will tell you a domain name change is potentially on the horizon…

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September ’16 TBR

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It turns out that I have enough books on my September TBR to warrant a full post talking about them! Two of my most anticipated releases come out in September, but I also have books I’ll need to read for class and books which correspond with a read-a-thon I’ll be participating in this month. Below are some of the books I want/need to finish this month, in roughly the order I think I will be getting to them.

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Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton. I started reading this book at the end of August after Bout of Books 17.0, but it was very hard to find time to read it during the school week and I’ve just been dragging my feet over it now. I’m actually hoping to finish this quite soon so that I can move onto other things. (Update: I finished it the day before this post went up.)

Film: A Very Short Introduction by Michael Wood. This is a a very short book that I had to read most of already for my Introduction to Film Studies class last month. There are a few more readings I’ll need to read for future class meetings, but I figure I can just finish this book up easily and chalk it off as another book read!

Teaching to Transgress by bell hooks. This is the textbook I was asked to buy by my advisor for my TA studies. I think it will be different from much of the pedagogy I got while I was an English Education major during my undergraduate career.

Empire of Storms by Sarah J. Maas. This is the latest installment of Maas’ Throne of Glass series and the first time that I’m eagerly awaiting a new debut. I did not absolutely love Queen of the Shadows (#4), which is why I’m not dedicating time to a thorough rereading of it, but I am committed to sticking with this series through the end and can’t wait to see what will happen next!

Man of Straw by Heinrich Mann. This is the first full length book I need to read for my German Lit & Ideas class for next week. I also will have to do a presentation on this author and his brother (the more famous Thomas Mann), so I’ll need to do a fairly close reading of this book.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. I might not actually have time to get to this book until Mystery-A-Thon, which will work out fine! But I had been hoping to read it before the read-a-thon, just because I know it will be a fast read and I’m loving those right now. ^_^

The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith. I think this will be the first book I start for Mystery-A-Thon next week, as I’m at least familiar with the author and am fairly sure I won’t DNF it. I’m just hoping that even though it’s a long book that it won’t take too long to finish.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl. This might be the only book on this list that I’m not feeling like I’ll finish if it doesn’t immediately grip me. It’s another long one and, the more I think about it, I’m not sure I’ll mange to read one contemporary mystery after another, specifically given the size of these books. So this book I might just put a hold on.

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque. This is the second book I will need to read for my German Lit. & Ideas class this month. I’m actually a little embarrassed to have not read this book already. I think I had a chance my sophomore year of high school in AP World History, as just didn’t feel like it. To be fair, I wasn’t interested to read any books about war in high school.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Even though I’ve already read this book this year, I am so excited to read it again to prepare for Crooked Kingdom‘s debut! I would have reread this book earlier already if I had less restraint. I loved this book and cannot wait to jump into this world again. I especially can’t wait to get my hands on Crooked Kingdom, which I’m thinking will arrive early October. T.T

End Note

September sure will be a busy month, but I’m excited to get through all of these books. I am worried I won’t be reading much that will inspire my own writing, but as always this list is not set in stone. If one of the elective readings I’ve selected is just not working for me, I’ll not waste time trying to trudge through it. Let me know in the comments if you’ve read any of these books and what you thought!

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August ’16 Notes

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Welcome back to another in my monthly Notes series. As I have a lot of new followers this month, I thought I’d explain that you can essentially think of this as a monthly wrap up. I tend to hit on more than just the reading highlights, so I call it my Notes. I realize I forgot (or didn’t finish) my June or July ’16 Notes…whoops! If you want to read my last one, it was my May Notes. Anywho, August was an eventful month! I went back to Dallas for my second year of graduate school and I dyed the remainder of the blue out of my hair. Despite how busy I’ve become, I also managed to read a great deal this month.

What I Read

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My goal, as stated in my August ’16 TBR, was to read ten books, but I only managed to finish seven books in the end for a few reasons. I struggled at the beginning of the month because I was reading some books I just did not enjoy all that much. But I am pleased to say with the help of the Bout of Books 17.0 Read-A-Thon, and in general just not having access to WiFi at my Airbnb place this month, I’ve managed to do some good reading in the end!

The Golem’s Eye by Jonathan Stroud. This was the first book I decided to tick off my August TBR, and in hindsight I kind of regret starting here. It took forever for me to finish. I just could not get into enough to power through as I normally do with a book I’m thoroughly enjoying.

Ptolemy’s Gate by Jonathan Stroud. After struggling through The Golem’s Eye, I felt determined to finish this series once and for all. Once again, I found myself struggling with this book. It was slightly better than The Golem’s Eye, just because it tied up a lot of loose ends that had been dangling since the first book. I was unsatisfied with the character development and the quite put off by the ending. It just felt lazy to me with specific regards to Kitty’s character and the state of the world. I think I might have enjoyed these books much more if I had read them in middle school as I did The Amulet of Samarkand. If I had not had the emotional attachment to the first book, I would have put such effort into finishing this series.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie. By the time I had returned to Dallas, I knew I needed to kick my reading into high gear to make up for the first half of the month. I remembered fondly reading Murder on the Orient Express last year and how quickly I was able to do it. So I picked up this book and And Then There Were None knowing they’d help me catch up on my Goodreads Challenge again. Roger Ackroyd was indeed an entertaining read, making me once again marvel at the genius of Ms. Christie.

How to Do Media and Cultural Studies by Jane Stokes. I’ve been reading this small tome all summer and realized I could very easily just finish it if I made my mind up to do so, so that’s what I did immediately after completing The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. I have found this book valuable in numerous ways, but it isn’t all that applicable to the Capstone project I had in mind.

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer. I wasn’t willing to buy this anthology, but I was very happy find it stocked in my school library. I started it the Sunday before Bout of Books just because I couldn’t wait and who was to say I couldn’t?! It turned out to be nothing more or less than I expected. It was a nice revisiting of characters I loved from the Lunar Chronicles, but didn’t introduce any new insight to those books.

The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh. This book was one of my most anticipated Bout of Books reads in my TBR after reading the first book in this series in April. It was no where near as amazing as the first book was for me (especially in terms of plot and conflict), especially as it felt unnecessary and removed from the first book focusing much more on Shahrzad’s family (which I didn’t want).

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. Salt to the Sea feels like my most random read of August mostly because I’d not felt any great urgency to pick it up. The appeal was based on two things: Ely’s glowing review earlier this year and its shortness (a great trait for a read-a-thon pick). It might be my surprise favorite of the month, however, as it is still on my mind. It was also a great book to read as I’ve been learning about history of Germany in my German Lit. & Ideas class and this book gave me some context of the racial/ethnic tensions.

What I Watched

At the beginning of August I managed to binge-watch two Netflix original series: Stranger Things (2016) and Jessica Jones (2015). I loved them both and was sad to run out of episodes of each. I can’t help but feel like Stranger Things, while awesome, has been slightly overhyped at this point as I did have some criticism of certain story choices (like how unnecessary a character was my Mike’s little sister?). I am excited to see what will happen with Eleven and Hopper. Luckily Jessica Jones should be back sooner for me with a new season this fall, right? I know there are some loose ends with Simpson and how Jessica got her powers that will need to be explored!

What I Wrote

I’ve not managed to write any words for a few months, but I did make some great strides in my story at the end of August! I feel like I have a better idea of the overall plot structure of this novel and also the world conflict. Even the magic system I have a loose idea of where I want to go with it. So now I’m thinking I might start writing either in October or November for NaNoWriMo. I’m shooting more for October, though. I really want to be able to finish this draft by the end of the year and like the quality of my words.

End Note

August ended up becoming a pretty successful month with some great reading, watching, and writing. I’m sure September will also bring some great productivity and inspiration. I will be post my September ’16 TBR tomorrow night, as there are quite a few books I know I need/want to read this September. I also am tentatively planning two other posts for this week! We’ll see if they materialize. I currently have about two days left here in Conroe before I need to return to Dallas, then I’ll only be there for two nights before returning back to Conroe to house-sit. So time will be of the essence until next weekend!

Thank you for reading!
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Mystery-A-Thon Announcement + TBR

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I love me a good mystery right now and I’m so excited to announce this new read-a-thon hosted my good pal Ely @ Tea & Titles (see her announcement + TBR). It’ll be running from September 12–19th this month, and the aim is to read books of the mystery genre, specifically those my Agatha Christie if you’re able to get your hands on any. They are very quick, fun reads that are classics that everyone should experience at least once.

I’ve so far read three books by Agatha Christie, the first two being Murder on the Orient Express and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, in that order. So I can strongly recommend either of these to new Christie readers. They both star the famous detective genius of Hercule Poirot who is a lot of fun to follow as he gathers clues to solve these murder mysteries. There’s also what is probably Christie’s most famous work: And Then There Were None, which I personally might read right before this read-a-thon!

Since my library is limited on Agatha Christie novels and I don’t expect to be able to finish more than two books this read-a-thon, I’ve decided to pick up just two books, both contemporary mystery novels which have come out over the last few years. They’re both also humongous, so I’ll be really happy if I manage to finish only one!

TBR

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The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith. I’ve long been waiting for a good reason to give J.K. Rowling’s adult literature a chance, and this read-a-thon provides a great excuse. I think it will be interesting because this mystery is centered in a world of the wealthy and famous, so it will be unlike anything I’ve ever read.

Night Film by Marisha Pessl. This is a book has been under my radar for a little over a year now, and I’m finally able to pick it up. After reading the book blurb on the inside cover, I think this book will also have links to the entertainment industry through a mysterious director character. So once again, this book should open my mind’s eye to a different world existing in ours that I rarely think about.

End Note

In the comments, let me know if you’re participating in this read-a-thon. Also let me know if you have any really good contemporary mystery recommendations, as I’d like to explore more in the genre that is set in this day and age. I’m really excited about the books on my TBR, so if you want to read along with me, I’ll probably be doing daily blog updates again (just because I had so much fun with it during Bout of Books 17.0).

Thank you for reading!
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Bout of Books 17.0 Wrap Up!

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Bout of Books 17.0 ended last night with nary a bang. I did not end up doing a Day 5 or 6 update because I left Dallas Friday evening after my daylong TA orientation and just did not have time to read much while I’ve been back in Conroe. So I didn’t have any reading progress worth mentioning, and my school week was essentially over.

This weekend was just what I needed after such a long exhausting first week back at school. I was able to relax, eat well, and do some late back-to-school shopping. Saturday afternoon was defined by going to the Willowbrook Mall in Houston, where I bought a couple of light-weight sweaters for the weird Texas autumns we have here. And Sunday was defined by touching up my hair color with a home kit. I also went to Target and Kohl’s for a few more blouses for school. I also bought an awesome new floor lamp that matches my bookshelves beautifully, but is currently sitting beside my bed.

Reading Wrap Up

I had hoped to read four books this read-a-thon, and it is only by rounding up that I’m saying I only finished three! But I’m rather pleased with what I got to and happy that I’m that much closer to being on track with my Goodreads Reading Challenge. In fact, I think if I read two more books this week, I’ll officially be all caught up! So that’s most definitely the plan. Anyway, here’s the list of the books I read for Bout of Books 17.0:

  1. Stars Above by Marissa Meyer.
  2. The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh.
  3. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys.

Because I’ll be summarizing my thoughts on each of these books in my August wrap up later this week, I’ll not go into them here. If you’ve been reading my daily blogs or are friends with me on Goodreads, you probably already know what I thought anyway! I will say that, overall, these were all pretty pleasant reads and good read-a-thon selections.

For my own ease to look back on this read-a-thon (as well as yours, if it suits your fancy), I’ve provided a list of the blog posts from last week below:

Bout of Books 17.0 Day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

End Note

Bout of Books 17.0 could not have come at a better time. Last week was so frantic with things I needed to do concerning my TA position and getting into the swing of going to class. The read-a-thon gave my life a semblance of structure and probably helped me keep my head above water, which is weird because I’ve always felt like read-a-thons make my life busier; this time it helped me keep my sanity.

I have a lot of posts in the queue for the next couple of weeks, starting with a new writing post going up this Wednesday! I also will be doing an August wrap up and a read-a-thon announcement this coming weekend, so there’s lots of fun things ahead!

Thank you for reading!
Follow my blog via Bloglovin’. Also find me on GoodreadsTwitter, and Instagram.

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