: George Orwell
Publication Date: 1949
Genre: classic, fiction
Method: audiobook via TPL

In 2022, I set out to read at least 4 classics, planning to read this in December. Honestly I was kind of excited about it because I thought I had fond memories from reading it in high school like 10 years ago. Um, not sure what I was thinking because this was kind of awful, to be blunt. I was intrigued for like the first quarter but it just dragged from there. Why is this mandatory reading in high schools??? This is why kids graduate high school and literally never read again, because of dull books like this. I need to just recognize that I read to either be entertained or learn something, and this story did neither of those things for me. If anything, maybe I retained enough to get a rogue Jeopardy question right, but unlikely because this was a snooze fest
Buzzword Readathon: December selection

56 Days
Author: Catherine Ryan Howard
Publication Date: August 2021
Genre: thriller, mystery
Method: ebook borrowed from TPL

I didn’t really have an expectations going into this story but this was a good time! I wasn’t sure how I was going to like the COVID pandemic as a backdrop for a mystery thriller but I thought it was well done. I liked the pacing and the cliffhangers, and the intrigue was there for me through the entire story. I’m always a fan of alternating timelines and I liked the countdown component of the story i.e. 56 days ago, 35 days ago, today. I’d pick up more from this author in the future!
Buzzword Readathon: December selection

Let’s Get Physical
Author: Danielle Friedman
Publication Date: January 2022
Genre: nonfiction, history
Method: hardcover from personal collection

I have a confession. I haven’t actually finished this book, but I made it like halfway through. I’ll finish it one day, I swear!

Until next time, Meryn



The Family Remains
: Lisa Jewell
Publication Date: July 2022
Genre: mystery, thriller
Method: hardcover borrowed from TPL

To recap, in October I picked up my first Lisa Jewell, this books predecessor, The Family Upstairs, and absolutely loved it. I was glued to TFU, fascinated with the characters and the psychological, familial drama that unfolded. So to say I had extremely high hopes for this story, the stand alone follow up, would be an understatement. And maybe I’m to blame, maybe I went in with the wrong expectations. Because of course I did

I’m saddened to say, I didn’t love this, I actually kind of hated it. I can suspend disbelief when needed but this was just ludicrous and unbelievable at times. Jet setting country to country, city to city, on the drop of hat? You’re telling me in Chicago, a city of 2.5 million, you can track down a single person in like less than a week’s time? It just didn’t hold my attention as much as TFU, so it’s like a 2 star to reflect my disappointment. I do find the title quite clever, took me awhile to pick up on the double meaning hidden within

Station Eleven
Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Publication Date: September 2014
Genre: fiction, science fiction, dystopia
Method: audiobook via TPL

If I’m not mistaken, this is my first post apocalyptic and/or dystopian read since living in a pandemic, so that’s something. This was definitely unnerving and chilling at times, very eerie to think this was written in 2014 and yet it really captures the essence of pandemic life as we now know it in the 2020s. Likely something I would have hated reading pre-pandemic, but here we are

I’ve hesitated over the years to give this a go because, what on earth is a traveling symphony? All in all, it was quite bizarre, but I like how the story unfolded and how the stories of our 5 highlighted characters weave together. Like any other good hearted Great Lakes resident, I enjoyed the Michigan settings and the various Toledo and Ohio references, always fun to feel connected to a story in that way. Considered my interested piqued – I plan to read St. John Mandel’s 2022 release Sea of Tranquility in 2023!
Buzzword Readathon: December selection

One by One
Author: Ruth Ware
Publication Date: September 2020
Genre: nonfiction, biography
Method: audiobook via TPL

I had been holding off on reading this locked-room, mountain chalet mystery until the colder months and here we are. Another Ruth Ware hit, what can I say! I’ve read enough in the genre to know lock-room mysteries aren’t my favorite trope, so it’s not a new favorite, but I had a good time none-the-less. I enjoyed the large cast of characters, their connections through their business, and the alternating narrators, but I never had that jaw dropping moment that I expect and love so much from Ruth Ware. So, 3.75 stars rounded up to 4

I’ve read 6 of Ware’s 7 published novels and here’s my current ranking:
1. The Death of Mrs. Westaway
2. The It Girl
3. The Turn of the Key
4. One By One
5. The Woman in Cabin 10
6. In a Dark, Dark Wood

All I have left to read is The Lying Game, then I’ll be done with her backlist and ready for her newly announced 2023 release, Zero Days!
Buzzword Readathon: December selection

Of Mice and Men
Author: John Steinbeck
Publication Date: 1937
Genre: classics, fiction
Method: audiobook via TPL

Firstly, God bless Gary Sinise for narrating the audiobook. Secondly, I’m ready to give up on classics. I know for a fact we read this in junior high or high school because I so clearly remember watching the movie with Gary Sinise and John Malkovich. I read to be entertained and I haven’t found a classic that is entertaining, facts are facts. Definitely an interesting book to pick up having read The Four Winds earlier this month, but not something I’d revisit again anytime soon. Thankful the audiobook was only just about 3 hours

Once Upon a December
Author: Amy E. Reichert
Publication Date: October 2022
Genre: Christmas, romance
Method: audiobook via TPL

Here’s my obligatory holiday romance for the month of December, and this was good, honestly better than expected! Holiday romances can be a real hit or miss for me. I found this cute and endearing, would recommend, but likely wouldn’t reread. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 overall

What’s up next on my TBR

Until next time, Meryn


A look ahead to what I hope to be reading in 2023 for Kayla’s Buzzword reading challenge!

JANUARY – “life” and “death”

Top choices:
A Quiet Life by Ethan Joella
The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

Arthur Ashe: A Life by Raymond Arsenault
From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty
I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O’Farrell
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
Real Life by Brandon Taylor
Red and Me: My Coach, My Lifelong Friend by Bill Russell, Alan Steinberg, Alan J. Steinberg
The Hospital: Life, Death, and Dollars in a Small American Town by Brian Alexander
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

FEBRUARY – verbs

Top choice:
The Kindest Lie by Nancy Johnson

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
Love in Colour: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold by Bolu Babalola

MARCH – “secret”

Top choice:
Little Secrets by Jennifer Hillier

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski, Amelia Nagoski
Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties by Tom O’Neill, Dan Piepenbring (Contributor)
Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe
Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols & Other Typographical Marks by Keith Houston
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair

APRIL – emotions

Top choice:
Happy Place by Emily Henry

How to Fall Out of Love Madly by Jana Casale
How We Love: Notes on a Life by Clementine Ford
The Ex-Boyfriend Yard Sale: Finding a Formula for the Cost of Love by Haley McGee
Lease of Love by Falon Ballard
The Mad Women’s Ball by Victoria Mas, Frank Wynne (Translator)
This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

MAY – flavours

Top choice:
My Sweet Girl by Amanda Jayatissa

Honey & Spice by Bolu Babalola
Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia

Top choice:
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, Lucia Graves (Translator)

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty
The Warmth of Other Suns: the Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

AUGUST – body parts

Top choice:
My Body by Emily Ratajkowski

100 Poems to Break Your Heart by Edward Hirsch
A History of My Brief Body by Billy-Ray Belcourt
Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
His Hideous Heart edited by Dahlia Adler
My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones
Our Missing Hearts by Celeste Ng
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty
The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power by Desmond Cole
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

SEPTEMBER – game words

Top choice:
The Family Game by Catherine Steadman

Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay
Last Summer on State Street by Toya Wolfe
Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Last Flight by Julie Clark
The Last Housewife by Ashley Winstead
The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward
The Last to Vanish by Megan Miranda
The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
The Marriage Game by Sara Desai
The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less by Terry Ryan
Win Me Something by Kyle Lucia Wu

OCTOBER – magic words

Top choice:
A Darker Shade of Magic by V. E. Schwab

Find Your Artistic Voice: The Essential Guide to Working Your Creative Magic by Lisa Congdon
The Water Rituals by Eva García Sáenz
The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
Toil & Trouble: 15 Tales of Women & Witchcraft edited by Jessica Spotswood

NOVEMBER – “good”

Top choice:
The School for Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
A Good Marriage by Kimberly McCreight
A House With Good Bones by T. Kingfisher
For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing
From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty
Good Company by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
Good Neighbors by Sarah Langan
Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy
Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey
The Good House by Tananarive Due

DECEMBER – sound related words

Top choice:
Such a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda

The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré
The Whispering House by Elizabeth Brooks
Whisper Down the Lane by Clay McLeod Chapman


2021 INTRODUCTION linked here
2021 FIRST QUARTER UPDATE linked here
2021 SECOND QUARTER UPDATE linked here
2021 THIRD QUARTER UPDATE linked here

Goodreads group linked here

Until tomorrow, Meryn


My year of reading in 2022!

General stats

Fiction: 79
Nonfiction: 24

Audiobooks: 58
Physical books: 45

Borrowed books: 63
→ Library savings $1,283.43
Personal collection: 40

2022 TBR: 30
2022 Release: 27
Book of the Month: 17
Buzzword Readathon challenge: 38
Debut Work: 28

5 stars: 21
4 stars: 35
3 stars: 22
2 stars: 2
Not rated: 23

General Goals

☒ 70 books → 103 books
☒ 25,000 pages → 30,176 pages

☒ 5 books about race/antiracism
What White People Can Do Next by Emma Dabiri
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
This Book is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work by Tiffany Jewell, Aurelia Durand (Illustrations)
The Beauty in Breaking by Michele Harper
Have I Ever Told You Black Lives Matter by Shani King, Bobby C. Martin (Illustrations)
☒ 4 classics
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Passing by Nella Larson
1984 by George Orwell
Of Mice and Men by John Steinback
☒ 3 translated works
A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, Henning Koch (Translator)
The Girl Who Died by by Ragnar Jónasson, Victoria Cribb (Translator)
Lemon by Kwon Yeo-Sun, Janet Hong (Translator)
☒ 2 comedy/humor
Eating Salad Drunk: Haikus for the Burnout Age by Comedy Greats by Gabe Henry
The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of North America by Matt Kracht
The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of the Whole Stupid World by Matt Kracht
☒ 1 poetry collection
Counting Descent by Clint Smith
Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman
And We Rise by Erica Martin

Author Goals

☒ S.A. Cosby
☒ Joan Didion
☒ Alice Feeney
☐ Roxane Gay
☐ Elizabeth Gilbert
☒ Kristin Hannah
☐ Grady Hendrix
☒ Lisa Jewell
☐ Lars Kepler
☐ Audre Lorde
☐ Jennifer McMahon
☒ Liane Moriarty
☐ Toni Morrison
☐ Jo Nesbø
☐ Jodi Picoult
☐ Peter Swanson
☒ Colson Whitehead
☒ Ashley Winstead

Book Review Round Up // 2022 Q3 Updated linked here
Book Review Round Up // 2022 Q2 Update linked here
Book Review Round Up // 2022 Q1 Update linked here

Until next time, Meryn


The Push
: Ashley Audrain
Publication Date: January 2021
Genre: thriller, fiction
Method: audiobook via TPL

What a polarizing book! It seems like readers either love it for its intensity or hate it because they found it boring. I find that I’m falling somewhere in the middle, while I found it undoubtedly unsettling, based off other people’s reviews and reactions, I thought it’d be more intense if I’m being honest. And maybe I would have if I was a mother myself, but a mother I am not. Truth be told though, I don’t think I could have read this story if I were gearing up for motherhood or already a mother because the trauma explored over the course of the book is forceful. Very interested to see review of Audrain’s 2023 release, The Whispers, before it’s release in June next year! → Exploring envy, motherhood and the intuitions that we silence, this is a novel that asks what happens when good people make bad choices

I’m Glad My Mom Died
Author: Jennette McCurdy
Publication Date: August 2022
Genre: nonfiction, memoir
Method: audiobook via TPL

I got a glimpse of Jennette’s story when she was a guest on the money-centric podcast, The Financial Confessions, back in January of 2022, which was fascinating and eye opening in its own right. Shortly after came the announcement of her memoir detailing the traumatic, toxic, and abusive relationship held with her mother, hence the eye-catching if not jaw dropping title. As expected, this was an incredible story written by an incredible writer. My heart hurts for her and the pain she’s endured. The book made it’s round in 2022 on the best of lists, for good reason. I’m fairly certain I read that Jennette was working on a debut novel which I will definitely be picking up!

Have I Ever Told You Black Lives Matter
Author: Shani King, Bobby C. Martin (Illustrations)
Publication Date: January 2021
Genre: nonfiction, biography
Method: hardcover via TPL

Have I Ever Told You Black Lives Matter is a wonderful collection and resource celebrating Black individuals in art, music, entertainment, science, medicine, sports, literature, journalism, politics, law, and activism. Would be a great book to have on any home library shelf to celebrate and reinforce that black lives matter

The Four Winds
Author: Kristin Hannah
Publication Date: February 2021
Genre: historical fiction
Method: audiobook via TPL

I finally, finally, finally read my first Kristin Hannah and it definitely lived up to the hype, though I did not cry, surprisingly. I didn’t find the topic of the Dust Bowl and The Great Depression all that interesting, but the story was very compelling with well-crafted characters. In the interview with Kristin Hannah and Julia Whalen, Kristin speaks on the success of The Nightingale and how she wanted to reimagine that story of triumph and resilience, but make it American. I’d definitely read from this author again when the mood strikes for something sad and in the realm of historical fiction. I will not, however, attempt to re-read The Grapes of Wrath. I considered it for about 2 seconds then abandoned that once I saw the audiobook was like over 20 hours long
Buzzword Readathon: December selection

Transcendent Kingdom
Author: Yaa Gyasi
Publication Date: August 2020
Genre: contemporary fiction
Method: audiobook via TPL

I can’t even write a proper review yet because I know that I need to re-read this incredible story – which I’m planning to do in February 2023 including annotating, highlighting, and tabbing, because it’s just that good. If I had to guess, I bookmarked over 20 sections in the audiobook to return to upon re-read. Very, very different from Homegoing, in my opinion, but incredibly powerful and moving. I just can’t wait to revisit this again soon. It without a doubt jumped into my top 10 reads of 2022

What’s up next on my TBR

Until next time, Meryn


The Missing Years
: Lexie Elliott
Publication Date: April 2019
Genre: mystery, thriller
Method: audiobook via TPL

I saw the words inheritance and London and I got excited. I picked this up based off of Kayla’s recommendation and she didn’t let me down. Pros: intelligent main character, well crafted pacing, character backstory and intrigue, Scottish Highlands setting, creepy atmospheric house, and a missing father. My absolute favorite feature of this book is the journey Lexie Elliott takes us on at the end of each chapter as she imagines what might have happened to the missing father figure or what alternate life he’s living since abruptly leaving decades earlier. The only thing missing for me was a jaw drop moment, and if there was one, I’ve forgotten it at this point. I saw another reader compares this to The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware and that never crossed my mind while reading, but yes!
Buzzword Readathon: November selection

Let Me Tell You What I Mean
Author: Joan Didion
Publication Date: 2021
Genre: nonfiction, essays
Method: audiobook via TPL

Pleasantly surprised to report I enjoyed this collection from Joan Didion! Earlier this year I DNF’d The White Album because I just felt like I didn’t have enough context and understanding of the 1960s to really appreciate the work. My fear was I was going to have to scan Wikipedia page after Wikipedia page every chapter to have an understanding of the cultural significance

These lines from Telling Stories left my mind racing: “At Vogue one learned fast, or one did not stay, how to play games with words, how to put a couple of unwieldy dependent clauses through the typewriter and roll them out transformed into one simple sentence composed of precisely thirty-nine characters. We were connoisseurs of synonyms. We were collectors of verbs.” The idea that every minute Vogue column Didion wrote is just a fraction of the whole story, of what she really wished and wanted to say. Yes, she was given thirty-nine characters, but what could she was shared given double? Triple? What a fun and exciting concept! I guess that’s why she went on to write so many essays, so much more freedom for creativity and story telling

Favorites passages: Why I Write, Telling Stories, and Last Words

Damnation Spring
Author: Ash Davidson
Publication Date: August 2021
Genre: fiction
Method: audiobook via TPL

I unashamedly admit this book caught my eye because of the stunning cover but I’m so incredibly happy to report this is one of the best books I read this year and likely to be a life long favorite! The absolute grip this story had on me was insane. Every spare minute I had was spent listening to the audiobook – which was excellent with 3 perfect narrators for each POV

This story was nothing but masterfully crafted and perfectly woven. The book progresses in a very logical manner and even though I should have been anticipating what would happen next, I was left shocked chapter after chapter. There’s a scene where the town is debating the benefits and risks of cutting down the old growth Redwoods and I swear to God, every time another local shared their opinion and experience, I was flipping sides, back and forth, each argument. The writing, it’s incredible!

The intense, emotional rollercoaster Ash Davidson takes us on is both cruel and captivating. I’m really not one to cry while reading but when you combine hauling ass on the stair master at level 10 at the exact moment the final climax happens, you get an almost out of body experience of near sobbing – yes, I cried on the stairmaster, without shame. Definitely a top 5 favorite from the year, I feel so honored to have this book on my bookshelf
Buzzword Readathon: November selection

Author: Nella Larsen
Publication Date: 1929
Genre: classic, historical fiction
Method: audiobook via TPL

Did I barrel through this a little too quickly to absorb the powerful story about race and identity, yes I most certainly did. But, I was fascinated nonetheless. I had never heard of this classic until an edition with an introduction by Brit Bennett was released, then I knew I had to pick it up. I sped through the audiobook and maybe an alarming rate, if I ever picked it up again, I’d definitely choose the physical copy
Buzzword Readathon: November selection

The Westing Game
Author: Ellen Raskin
Publication Date: 1978
Genre: middle grade mystery
Method: paperback via TPL

I’m like 90% sure this was required reading in 7th grade and there are two things I remember, 1. how much I enjoyed the book and 2. a character screaming “BOMB.” So needless to say, when I finally remembered the title of the story 16 some years later, I knew I had to give it a re-read. And over all, I was pleased! This middle grade mystery has some of my most favorite elements in the genre as an adult who loves mystery, thriller, crime, and suspense writing: multiple characters, inheritance/will readings, and an atmospheric Midwestern setting. If you were curious, Denton Deere is my favorite character, what an idiot of a doctor, I just loved him. I do think it’s worth mentioning I remembered literally, almost nothing about this story, so I was pleasantly surprised by the ending and found it quite clever, also surprised I didn’t pick up on it sooner!
Buzzword Readathon: November selection

What’s up next on my TBR

Until next time, Meryn


The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse
: Charlie Mackesy
Publication Date: October 2019
Genre: fiction, graphic novel
Method: hardcover borrowed from TPL

The art style is beautiful and unique, but the story overall felt very disjointed, or is that just me? But that begs the question, am I the target audience? Am I for half the books I read?? There’s a time and a place for every book and every story, maybe I just picked this up at the wrong time. Also, my motivation for picking up the book was because it fit the animal related buzzword readathon prompt for October, so there’s that
Buzzword Readathon: October selection

The Secret History
Author: Donna Tartt
Publication Date: September 1992
Genre: fiction, mystery
Method: audiobook via TPL

I’m not really a dark academia girlie but this is supposed to be the OG for the subgenre so when fall rolled around, it felt like the time to pull this chonker out. This is an intimidating read. My paperback copy that I snagged secondhand looks cute and little but it’s a whopping 503 pages and the audiobook runs over 22 hours, this is a commitment if there ever was one. But wow, it paid off

It’s not a new personal favorite but I can see how authors have since used this as inspiration and a template for dark academia over the years. Familiar yet interesting plot, horrible but compelling characters, it works. I’m surprised sitting down to write this review nearly 6 weeks later (I don’t want to talk about it) that there are a handful of scenes that I still remember quite vividly, which is odd for me, to be honest

My two nonsensical concluding thoughts are, 1. Cloak Rayburn is my favorite character name of all time and 2. tell me why the New Hampshire weekend cottage scenes reminded me so much of the Italian summer vacation in Sally Rooney’s Normal People, just me?

The Family Upstairs
Author: Lisa Jewell
Publication Date: August 2019
Genre: mystery, thriller
Method: hardcover borrowed from TPL

My first Lisa Jewell and I absolutely loved it! Why did I wait so long? This book has basically all of my favorite things in thriller/mysteries: short chapters, dual timelines, atmospheric and decrepit house, London setting, large cast of characters, inheritance, cult/commune vibes, and, most importantly, correct use of the term physiotherapist (well, kind of, IYKYK). I was so fascinated by the story and the characters that I immediately requested the follow up (standalone) released this year, The Family Remains. This has me so excited to read more from Lisa Jewell!!

The Broken Girls
Author: Simone St. James
Publication Date: March 2018
Genre: mystery, thriller, historical fiction
Method: audiobook via TPL

A spooky, creepy mystery thriller with gothic, ghosty vibes told in alternating timelines, a classic SSJ set up. I’m usually not one for an academic based thriller but I really enjoyed the 1950s timeline learning about the four boarding school students and how their different storylines unfolded over the course of the book

In a ranking of SSJ’s four most popular books, this ranks in third place. Interesting plot, atmospheric setting, good mix of characters and character development, but it lacked suspense and thrill compared to The Sun Down Motel and The Book of Cold Cases, those both left me feeling unsettled at times. This is my third Simone St. James of the year, if she writes it, I’ll read it, apparently. Honestly, an auto-buy author at this point

The Beauty in Breaking
Author: Michele Harper
Publication Date: July 2020
Genre: memoir, nonfiction
Method: audiobook via TPL

As a white, middle class, female physical therapist, I was surprised how much I related to this memoir. While our experiences and expertise differ, the patient population Michele serves as an ER physician in Philadelphia is not unlike the patients I serve working at my severely underfunded, adult psych and behavioral health nursing home in Toledo. When most people think of a nursing home, they picture 75 to 90 year old grandparents with walkers and white hair. But the patient population at my facility is primarily 40 to 60 year olds with at least one psych diagnosis, if not multiple, who are fairly independent, physically. After having this on my shelves for over 2 years, glad to have finally read it!

Favorite quote: “Sure it’s always faster in the moment to silence the body’s ailments pharmacologically, to write a script in lieu of conversation. When your main goal is to get through each patient encounter as quickly as possible, these approaches will do. But if the goal is patient autonomy, to support patients in achieving long term self generated help, it’s better to plan careful and thoughtful attention to the roots that makes us healthy.”
Buzzword Readathon: November selection

What’s up next on my TBR

Until next time, Meryn


Fates and Furies
: Lauren Groff
Publication Date: September 2015
Genre: fiction, contemporary
Method: audiobook via TPL

This book was definitely not on my radar but I asked my best best friend for a book recommendation for my 2022 TBR and she handed me this, so of course I had to read it. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve finished and I’m finding the entire story very forgettable. I remember all of two things, 1. it was beautifully written, that is undeniable, and 2. I couldn’t care less about the commentary on plays and the main character’s career as a playwright. My initial rating after finishing was a 3.75 but I literally can’t justify that now, so I’m reducing it to like a 2.5. This is my life, I make the rules

Things We Do in the Dark
Author: Jennifer Hillier
Publication Date: July 2022
Genre: thriller, mystery
Method: audiobook via TPL

I’ve seen a ton of reviews that say this story was predictable and I’m like really?? Maybe I was too engrossed in the audiobook to speculate and theorize but I had a good time! I thought the story was compelling, captivating, and had me returning to the audiobook so quickly I finished it in less than 3 days. I usually hate hate hate crime fiction that involves gangs/mafia/mob but this felt very well written and researched and it made sense for the story as a whole, in my opinion. I’m excited to read more from Jennifer Hillier – as a matter of fact, I have Little Secrets sitting on my shelf right now, ready to be cracked open when the time is right
Buzzword Readathon: September selection

Once There Were Wolves
Author: Charlotte McConaghy
Publication Date: August 2021
Genre: fiction, mystery, contemporary
Method: audiobook via TPL

I threw this book my on 2022 TBR after 1. being drawn to the beautiful cover and 2. seeing some pretty convincing 5 star reviews. Let’s just say, I have a way of picking winners for my year long TBR challenge because, dare I say, this will be my favorite book I read this year

Rarely do I form emotional attachment to characters, let alone animals in stories, but damn, my devotion to these wolves is ridiculous. McConaghy has crafted an incredibly emotional and haunting story about the humanity and its impact on climate and ecosystems, along with themes of loyalty, revenge, cohabitation, and trauma. I can’t wait to pick up McConaghy’s 2020 release Migrations in 2023

Favorite quote: “There are languages without words and violence is one of them”
Buzzword Readathon: October selection

Animal Farm
Author: George Orwell
Publication Date: 1945
Genre: classic, fiction, dystopian
Method: paperback borrowed via TPL

For some unknown reason, I set out to read at least 4 classics this year, for culture, or academia, or something. So it’s October and figured it was about time I start working towards that goal, and what better place to start than George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Which, oddly enough, I didn’t read in high school like so many other AP Lit kids. But we did read 1984 which I remember enjoying and plan to re-read in December

First and foremost, how have I looked at this book cover for the better part of 15 years and I’m just now seeing it’s a pig on the cover? That’s embarrassing as a 29 year old. Secondly, this was just fine? As a girlie with little knowledge (or interest) in the Russian Revolution, Joseph Stalin, and communism, it was just okay. Without the internet, or the introduction in the edition I read, I would have had no idea the historical parallels. At best, I’m glad to have finally read it on the off chance the book, story, characters, or author comes up at bar trivia or on Jeopardy!
Buzzword Readathon: October selection

The Haunting of Maddy Clare
Author: Simone St. James
Publication Date: March 2021
Genre: historical fiction, mystery, paranormal
Method: audiobook via TPL

I had to repeatedly remind myself that this wasn’t a Ruth Ware novel. This is, however, Simone St. James’s first novel initially released in 2012, then rereleased with a new cover in 2022, which I gladly picked up considering all of SSJ stories have spooky ghosts vibes, perfect for an October read

At this point, I had read and loved SSJ’s The Sun Down Motel and The Book of Cold Cases, and this just felt different, not in a bad way, but just in a different genre type of way. THOMC is much more historical with an emphasis on romance, compared to her more recent works. It was definitely unnerving and disturbing at times, but didn’t outshine TSDM nor TBOCC. Thank the Lord above the word ‘physiotherapist’ didn’t make an appearance in this story, SSJ didn’t burn me on this one

What’s up next on my TBR

Until next time, Meryn


Velvet Was the Night
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Publication Date: August 2021
Genre: historical fiction, noir
Method: audiobook via TPL

Like many other readers who felt meh about this book, I jumped in after loving Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s 2020 release Mexican Gothic, and clearly that was a mistake. I’m shooting myself in the foot for picking this book up based on the author alone because if I would have just read the entire synopsis I would have seen all these red flags (for my personal taste): student radicals and dissidents, politically fraught land, hitmen, government agents, and Russian spies. This was an L on my part, I should have skimmed through reviews rather than slogging through the audiobook. If these red flags are green flags for you, I’m sure it’s great, but these aren’t the themes for me, and that’s okay! Definitely still love Silvia Moreno-Garcia and the stories she crafts!
Buzzword Readathon: August selection

The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of the Whole Stupid World
Author: Matt Kracht
Publication Date: December 2021
Genre: humor nonfiction
Method: paperback borrowed from TPL

As promised, I picked up the sequel to Matt Kracht’s The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of North America and it was equally as enjoyable and comedic. There’s something so satisfying about reading the most random books I find on Goodreads and the library that makes me feel like a well rounded academic. Am I going to pick up Kracht’s 2023 release, OMFG, BEES!: Bees Are So Amazing and You’re About to Find Out Why?? Obviously, yes. Actually, I’m gonna request it from the library right now

The Nickel Boys
Author: Colson Whitehead
Publication Date: July 2019
Genre: historical fiction
Method: audiobook via TPL

A powerful story covering racism, power, Jim Crow laws, and the state of the juvenile justice system, hard but necessary topics to explore. I will admit, I probably need to reread this to really get the full impact of the story (because I flew through the audiobook in just a few sittings), but either way, what an incredible and heart breaking story. Do you ever finish a book, look at the cover, and realize how stupid you truly are? Because that was my experience after understanding the gravity and meaning of the simple but timeless cover
Buzzword Readathon: August selection

The Switch
Author: Beth O’Leary
Publication Date: April 2020
Genre: romance, fiction
Method: audiobook via TPL

I saw a review that only said “not nearly as good as The Flatshare” and 1. harsh but direct and 2. I have to agree. But ohmygosh, still so charming. Despite the sweet and wholesome characters, the plot did drag a bit for me and I didn’t find myself dying to jump back into the audiobook. I definitely enjoyed Eileen’s portion more than Leena, which is both surprising to me, but like, not at all, I love old people. Definitely didn’t out shine The Flatshare but cute nonetheless, it’s like a 3.5 stars rounded up to 4, which feels generous

Daisy Darker
Author: Alice Feeney
Publication Date: August 2022
Genre: mystery, thriller
Method: BOTM hardcover

The chokehold Alice Feeney’s 2021 release, Rock Paper Scissors, has on me is unparalleled. I’m not exaggerating when I say I think about that twist in RPS on a weekly basis – I was nothing but bamboozled and gobsmacked. So to say my expectations were extremely high going into Daisy Darker would be an understatement. And it was good, it really was! It just wasn’t as great as RPS

Like other readers, the flashbacks did bore me a bit and I could have done with out them. Actually, remove Daisy completely and it would be perfect. Get rid of the main character? For who the book is named after?? Harsh, I know. Even so, still a good time, still a 4 star thriller. It’s got so many of my favorite themes: prophecy, inheritance scheme, messy family dynamic, secluded gothic house on a coast, plus creepy and sinister poems. Also, didn’t know I was into pissed off grandmas with horrible children, but apparently I am

I leave you with this equation: The Guest List + The Death of Mrs. Westaway = Daisy Darker. I don’t make the rules, it’s just facts
Buzzword Readathon: September selection

What’s up next on my TBR

Until next time, Meryn