BOOK REVIEW ROUND UP // VOLUME 2 ISSUE 12

A review and rating of the last 5 books I read and a look into my TBR list for books to come

White Pine: Poems and Prose Poems
Author: Mary Oliver
Publication Date: November 1994
Genre: poetry
Method: paperback borrowed from TPL

Sadly and surprisingly, this was a DNF for me. I found it so boring. Do I even know how to read poetry? I don’t think I jumped into this at the right time, tried to force it on myself. I’m not swearing off poetry, but this wasn’t it. Will circle back at some point, TBD.

One Last Stop
Author: Casey McQuiston
Publication Date: June 2021
Genre: romance, LGBT
Method: ebook read on Nook

I had relatively high hopes for this one. I really enjoyed McQuiston’s debut Red, White, and Royal Blue but I just found this to be such a different vibe. I get why people love this, that’s fine, wasn’t for me. I liked the mixed media, almost 2000s chat forum vibes with the inclusion of various news clippings, craigslist postings, etc. However, I can’t get over the crass, crude, and childish undertones and dialogue. Also, I now know WLW romance is not for me, I basically glazed over every sex scene. It’s a no for me.
Buzzword Readathon: July selection

The Midnight Library
Author: Matt Haig
Publication Date: September 2020
Genre: fiction, fantasy, contemporary
Method: ebook read on Nook

Another hugely, hugely hyped book that didn’t deliver for me. I enjoyed the short chapters and the musical references. But other than that, it was just fine. I thought it was going to be so much more, like I fully expected to sob and connect to the main character, and that just didn’t happen. I can definitely see why people love this, it just didn’t go far enough for me.
Buzzword Readathon: August selection

Endless Night
Author: Agatha Christie
Publication Date: 1967
Genre: mystery
Method: ebook read on Nook

This was my first Agatha Christie and it won’t be my last! Before diving in, I was concerned it would be dull and predictable given its age, which was my experience re-reading a Nancy Drew classic last year, but no! Suspenseful, smart, unexpected, and gothic. Slow to start but definitely intriguing and sinister that kept me engaged and constantly guessing up until the end. Really interesting cast of characters with one of my favorite tropes or themes → marrying into money or coming into money and how that changes a character’s life and lifestyle. Overall, very enjoyable. Definitely interested in reading more classics from Agatha Christie.
Buzzword Readathon: August selection

The Sun Down Motel
Author: Simone St. James
Publication Date: February 2020
Genre: mystery, thriller, horror
Method: ebook read on Nook

Let me just get it out of the way – automatic deduction of 1 star for incorrect use of the term “physiotherapist.” Nothing grinds my gears more than the assumption that physiotherapist is a universal term because it’s not, it has regional significance and connotation. This is a common mistake I’ve seen from Australian and Canadian authors, but I can not offer forgiveness. This story is set in the US, therefore the US term “physical therapist” should be used. This is a hill I will die on.
*Steps off soapbox* I thought this book was great. I found it suspenseful, gripping, and eerie. Also, relatable in a scary, I-could-be-raped-and-murdered-at-any-moment-on-this-cross-country-road-trip, kind of way. Definitely had my heart racing while I read in the middle of the night in a pitch-black tent. I’ve seen negative reviews for the two different timelines and how similar the two main characters are in their respective timelines, but that made the story really enjoyable for me. As the reader, I liked being one step ahead of the main character in the present day given what we were uncovering from the flashback chapters.
While the story centers around the mysterious disappearance of main character Carly’s aunt, there are other adjunct mysteries and supernatural elements that kept me engaged, guessing, and trying to connect all the pieces to the puzzle. I’m intrigued by this author. I’ll likely pick up The Broken Girls, a 2018 release, and The Book of Cold Cases, set to release in March of 2022.

What’s up next on my TBR

Until next time, Meryn


BOOK REVIEW ROUND UP // VOLUME 2 ISSUE 11

A review and rating of the last 5 books I read and a look into my TBR list for books to come

Survive the Night
Author: Riley Sager
Publication Date: June 2021
Genre: thriller, mystery
Method: hardback from BOTM subscription

Survive the Night was my most anticipated book of the year, and I’m so disappointed. I have a lot to say and not enough room. Full thoughts can be found here. But the quick of it is the two biggest plot twists were predictable if you’ve read Sager’s entire back list, which I did in 2020. Based off the synopsis alone I was able to guess the conclusion, and I was right. Regardless, I was still entertained and caught by some smaller plot twists. A very quick read I sped through in less than 16 hours. This is my lowest rated of Sager’s books at 4 stars, but definitely the most disappointing given how much I hyped it up in my head. I just can’t give it a 5 star rating having guessed the two biggest plot twists.
Buzzword Readathon: August selection

Circe
Author: Madeline Miller
Publication Date: April 2018
Genre: fantasy, fiction
Subgenre: Greek retelling, Greek mythology
Method: paperback

Absolutely, 100%, WORTH THE HYPE. I don’t often annotate books, largely due to the fact that I mostly read library books, but this paperback from my collection went through it. I’m talking dog eared corners, underlined passages, curled cover, and the occasional sweat droplet from reading on the stair master. The writing style and imagery was beautiful. The story was epic and expansive. I savored every chapter of this book, going as far as rereading the first few chapters to really soak in the Greek mythology. I can see myself revisiting the story of Circe, adding new annotations and thoughts. I may be in the minority, but I really lost interest chapter 18 and beyond as Circe progressed through motherhood. Even so, a four star read. I can’t wait to dive in Song of Achilles, I have high hopes it will make me sob.

Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor
Author: Layla F. Saad
Publication Date: February 2020
Genre: nonfiction, race
Method: audiobook borrowed from TPL

I did myself a disservice by listening to this audiobook instead of actually utilizing it as a workbook, as intended. Some discussion points I enjoyed included tone policing , white exceptionalism, color blindness, optimal allyship, and called out vs. called in. Even so, I found the journal prompts and the end to be repetitive. Glad I listened to it, but my learning continues.

Impactful passage: Following advances in sciences such as the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, scientists were able to examine human ancestry through genetics. Science has proven that the concept of race is not a biological fact but rather a social concept. According to Dr. Harold P Freeman, who has studied biology and race, “If you ask what percentage of your genesis reflected in your external appearance, the basic by which we talk about race, the answer seems to be in the range of .01 percent. This is very, very minimal reflection of your genetic makeup.

People We Meet on Vacation
Author: Emily Henry
Publication Date: May 2021
Genre: romance
Method: audiobook borrowed from TPL

No doubt, a 5 star read. And for a multitude of reasons. The first being the various levels of relatability because I don’t think I’ve ever related to a book more than this one. And no, I definitely don’t mean the romance. Main character Poppy’s parents are literally my parents. “I’m the product of a cheapskate father and a sentimental mother, which means I grew up in a house filled to the brim with junk.” And I’ve never felt so seen in a single line of text in my life. Later we get, “Or the fact that our garage was riddled with things like once used duct tape Dad was sure he could repurpose.” Anyone who has met my Dad would whole heartedly agree, these men are one in the same.
I also enjoyed how current this story felt with relevant references to influencers, Instagram, movies, the Bachelor franchise, all that pop culture stuff. The multiple and reverse timelines were a welcomed surprise, as Henry’s previous novel, Beach Read, was told linearly – other than some minor flashbacks. Prior to this book, I hadn’t really read a friends-to-lovers romance and I think I just found my trope. At least when it’s presented in this way, where we get years and years of build up, like a long history of friendship. I love a good origin story, usually in the context of parents, but this works too.
Sometimes when I finish a book, I feel like objectively its fine, but just came to me at the wrong time. But this was definitely right book, right time. A book jam packed with 12 years of vacations spent between friends when I myself leave for an 11 week vacation with my best friend/partner at the end of the month, felt like fate.

The Last Garden in England
Author: Julia Kelly
Publication Date: January 2021
Genre: historical fiction
Subgenre: WWII historical fiction
Method: hardcover borrowed from TPL

Three separate timelines, five female POVs, all intertwined through one beautiful, atmospheric setting, Highbury House and their immersive gardens. I have a thing for books about houses, it just a fact I’ve accepted. Add in an abundance of flowers? Sold.
Historical fiction usually isn’t my jam, especially set in World War II, but the stunning cover drew me in. If there ever was hope of loving a WWII centric story, it would be this one. Where most WWII novels focus on the men serving, and thus lose my attention, this story is a glimpse into what life was like for the women who remained at home and their efforts during the war.
During WWII, Highbury House is transformed into a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers. I was so hoping for one of the women to become a “reconstruction aide” (as they were known during WWI, e.g. modern day physical therapists) and assist in rehabilitating the injured men. There were subtle mentions about the health and wellbeing of the men, but overall this very much was a story about women. Even so, I thought the story was wonderful.
My only one regret is not looking into the audiobook before starting my physical copy from the library. After finishing the book, I noticed there are five narrators of the audiobook and it has received great reviews – now I’m kicking myself for not looking into the audiobook!
Buzzword Readathon: July selection

What’s up next on my TBR

Until next time, Meryn


BOOK REVIEW: SURVIVE THE NIGHT BY RILEY SAGER

I have a lot to say, so much that I had to write an entire blogpost about this book

WARNING: spoilers ahead

Survive the Night was my most anticipated book of the year, and I’m so disappointed. I consider myself a bandwagon Riley Sager super fan. To this day, I credit Home Before Dark for reigniting my love of reading in June of 2020. It’s easily in my top 5 favorite books. I recommend and I think about it on a weekly basis, the unease, anxiety, and fear it brought me. I’ve been dying to re-read it, but am forcing myself to wait until closer to Halloween.

While I had incredibly high expectations going into STN, I also knew, based off the synopsis, this wasn’t likely going to be a 5 star read for me personally, and I was right. What I have loved so much about Sager in the past is his atmospheric settings, e.g. the Baneberry Hall of HBD and the Bartholomew of Lock Every Door. But half of this story is told in a car traveling from New Jersey to Ohio, can’t say I find anything atmospheric about the interior of a slate-gray Pontiac Grand Am. Also, Sager is quoted saying this is a “love letter to the movies” which just isn’t my vibe as I’m not much of a movie watcher. Unfortunately, a lot of the 90s film references went right over my head. If I was born in the earlier 80s and growing up in the early 90s, I reckon I would feel very differently.

Now to actually discuss STN. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I feel like for any mega Riley Sager fans, the final twist will have been very predictable and underwhelming. Given HBD was marketed as a book within a book (not a spoiler), I went into this with the strong inkling there would be a movie script/screenplay tie in, and what would you know. As the story got more and more ridiculous, ahem, cinematic, it further reinforced my assumption. Also, with such a small cast of characters, the murder reveal was not shocking in the slightest. I didn’t exactly guess the motive of the murderer, but guessing their identity wasn’t difficult given the limited character list.

Regardless, I was still entertained and caught by some smaller plot twists. A very quick read I sped through in less than 16 hours. This is my lowest rated of Sager’s books at 4 stars, but definitely the most disappointing given how much I hyped it up in my head. I just can’t give it a 5 star rating having guessed the two biggest plot twists.

I will forever be a Riley Sager fan, catch me hyping up book #6.

Until tomorrow, Meryn


Other stand along book reviews:
BOOK REVIEW: EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU BY CELESTE NG linked here
BOOK REVIEW: NORMAL PEOPLE BY SALLY ROONEY linked here
BOOK REVIEW: THE SILENCE OF THE WHITE CITY BY EVA GARCÍA SÀENZ linked here

BOOK REVIEW ROUND UP // VOLUME 2 ISSUE 10

A review and rating of the last 5 books I read and a look into my TBR list for books to come

Deacon King Kong
Author: James McBride
Publication Date: March 2020
Genre: fiction, historical fiction
Method: audiobook borrowed from TPL

This just, wasn’t the book for me. I was struck by the cover last year and kept getting drawn into it. Opted for the audiobook which wasn’t a great option for me personally. It quickly became background noise. I went into it basically blind, I don’t think I had barely skimmed the synopsis once before hitting play. Their definitely were unique characters, shout out to Hot Sausage, and I was amused throughout, but I really couldn’t tell you anything about the actual plot other than Hettie hounding The Deacon about that damn Christmas money. In it for the time, an okay good time, but not for a long time.
Buzzword Readathon: June selection

Homegoing
Author: Yaa Gyasi
Publication Date: April 2017
Genre: historical fiction
Method: paperback

Heart breaking and heart warming. A beautifully woven story covering the lineages of two, interconnected families through eight generations. I had to take my time with this book. Each chapter felt special and important, it couldn’t be rushed through like a mystery or thriller. Reading the book cover to cover felt less like a singular, cohesive story and more like a collection of short stories, given the back and forth nature of Gyasi’s story telling. When I come back to this book in the future, I think I’ll read alternating chapters as to follow one half of the family tree more closely. I also think it would be really unique to read in reverse, to travel back in time through the generations.

The Guncle
Author: Steven Rowley
Publication Date: May 2021
Genre: fiction, LGBT
Method: hardback borrowed from TPL

If a warm and meaningful hug could be boxed up into a book, like you’re favorite classic 80s or 90s family sitcom. When I say I laughed out loud, know that I really mean it. If this isn’t adapted for tv, that’ll be a damn shame – Patrick’s one liners were iconic. I loved the references to day time TV, the Emmy’s, Golden Globes, but most importantly, Hollywood Squares, that definitely unlocked a memory for me from the late 90s. I do feel like the story overall was disjointed. It’s almost as if there were 5 sub plots loosely related to the main plot that never really circled back or concluded. The cuteness and wholesomeness gets a 4 star rating, the discombobulated plot keeps it from being a 5 star read.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway
Author: Ruth Ware
Publication Date: May 2018
Genre: mystery, thriller
Method: audiobook borrowed from TPL

This was my first Ruth Ware and wow was I impressed. I started the audiobook very much on a whim and was captivated from the first chapter. This book had a lot of elements I love in my thrillers: large cast of characters, various timelines, flashbacks via diary entries, atmospheric setting (Trespassen was the Gothic house of my dreams), familial drama and secrets, and a new favorite element, distribution of wealth and/or inheritance. I also loved the tarot cards and readings woven throughout the story. I thought the pacing was excellent and well executed. Chapter after chapter I had so many questions, some that didn’t get answered until the very end. And some that are left unanswered, which puzzle me. There was a point in the last 10% of the book that I feel genuinely unsettled and sick to my stomach. As the family drama was unfolding, I was getting more and more scared and anxious. I loved it so much. I’m obsessed. The Dutch House, but make it a mystery thriller. Perfect and articulate review by Abby of CBTB linked here.
Buzzword Readathon: June selection

The Woman in Cabin 10
Author: Ruth Ware
Publication Date: July 2016
Genre: mystery, thriller
Method: audiobook borrowed from TPL

In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have started a Ruth Ware audiobook directly after finishing a Ruth Ware audiobook. But, in my defense, I was so enamored and impressed with The Death of Mrs. Westaway, that I just had to dive back in, but it wasn’t a runaway favorite like TDoMW.
There definitely was a mix of pros and cons, which landed by rating just about in the middle with a 3 of 5 star rating. I enjoyed the large cast of characters, the luxury ship setting, and the various story telling formats including email messages, breaking news alerts, forum discussions, and BBC online articles.
However, what I didn’t like, what I never like in thrillers, is an unreliable main character. It’s just so overdone in the genre. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the unreliable, alcoholic main character in The Girl On The Train, but it was the first thriller I read with that specific trope, and every other story I read following just hasn’t been as impressive or Earth shattering.
I’ll likely read all of Ruth Ware’s backlist this year, much like tackling all of Riley Sager’s books in 2020. Up next, hopefully, is The Turn of the Key, which I have very high hopes for with a 5 star prediction.

What’s up next on my TBR

Until tomorrow, Meryn


SUMMER + ROAD TRIP TBR

We leave for our 3 month road trip in less than a month! I’ve spent the past few weeks curating a list of books I hope to get to throughout the summer, keeping in mind we will be on the road for the entirety of August and September.

I maybe be totally over estimating how much time I’ll have to read during our trip but I’d rather be over prepared than underprepared when it comes to reading material. I’m also in the middle of making a road trip essentials card game kit, which will have 2 sets of playing cards, dice, dominos, and 1 or 2 books/manuals for card and dice games we can play in the evenings while at campgrounds and hotels.

I’ve been working on downloading ebook copies of these titles to load onto my Nook. I wish I could bring the physical copies of these books, but we’ll be tight on space in my car considering all of our camping gear.

I bought the audiobook of Project Hail Mary on Audible, hoping to turn my boyfriend on to audiobooks with this new sci-fi release. I listened to Andy Weir’s The Martian earlier this year and loved it.

I’ve got a good mix of genres, new releases, older titles, and even a high school re-read I hope to get to during our trip!

July Hopefuls

Road Trip Ebooks

Road Trip Audiobooks

Until tomorrow, Meryn


BOOK REVIEW ROUND UP 2021 // SECOND QUARTER UPDATE

And in the blink of an eye, half of 2021 is gone. In this post I’ll be sharing all 49 books I’ve read this year, an update on the facts and figures from the past 6 months, and reflecting on my 2021 reading goals and intentions!

Facts and Figures

Nonfiction: 14
Autobiographical: 5
Feminism: 1
Race: 3
Self-help: 2

Fiction: 35
Fantasy: 2
Fiction: 10
Historical fiction: 5
Mystery, suspense, thrillers: 12
Romance: 2
Science fiction: 4

Physical books: 28
Audiobooks: 21

Library or borrowed books: 43
Personal collection: 6

Book of the Month purchase: 3
Buzzword Readathon challenge: 14
Buddy reads: 11

2021 TBR: 10

5 star reads: 15
4 star reads: 14
3 star reads: 20

Reading Goals + Intentions

1 | Backlist titles from 2020 favorite authors: Goal met
In this goal I specifically called out The Ghost Bride and Everything I Never Told You, both of which I read this first quarter of the year

2 | 2021 releases from 2020 favorite authors: Ongoing, 25% complete
Finally made progress with this goal! I happened upon an ARC copy of The Maidens, sadly I didn’t love it. As I type this, I have a copy of One Last Stop in my possession from the library and I have 2 copies of Survive the Night on the way to me
☒ Alex Michaelides’ The Maidens
☐ Casey McQuiston’s One Last Stop
☐ Riley Sager’s Survive the Night
☐ Paula Hawkin’s A Slow Fire Burning, to release August 31st

3 | New to me authors: Ongoing, 37.5% complete
Couple more knocked of this list, Leigh Bardugo and Ruth Ware. Fingers crossed I get to at least one of Turton’s books in the next 3 months to scratch his name off this list!
☒ Fredrik Backman
☒ Leigh Bardugo
☐ Alice Feeney
☐ Lisa Jewel
☐ Lars Kepler
☐ Jo Nesbø
☐ Stuart Turton
☒ Ruth Ware

4 | Author diversity and inclusion: Ongoing, 50% complete
Of the 49 books I’ve read, 21 are titles by BIPOC authors and 2 identify as queer. I selected S. A. Crosby’s new release for my July BOTM pick, so hopefully by Q3, I’ll be knocking his name off this list
☒ Oyinkan Braithwaite
☐ S.A. Cosby
☒ Eva García Sáenz
☐ David Heska Wanbli Weiden

5 | Genres and reading format: Ongoing
Still haven’t tackled any comedy, poetry, or memoir selections this year, but definitely have knocked out non-fiction, fantasy, and science fiction genres. Of the 49 books I’ve read so far this year, 21 have been audiobooks. I can’t believe I waited until 2021 to start listening to audiobooks

6 | Buddy reads: Ongoing
Currently failing my brother, I made him get a digital copy of Let My People Go Surfing and then got a copy for myself from the library but they had to return it because I couldn’t renew it any more times… Still hope to get to Atomic Habits this year, but I don’t really see that as a buddy ready with him anymore. I think sticking to science fiction, fantasy, or thrillers would be best

The buddy reads I’ve done this year with my BFF have been very informal. Basically one of use reads a book, loves it, then forces the other to read it, then we discuss. This has happened a couple times, for example: The Dutch House, The Lost Apothecary, Pachinko, Beach Read, and The Secret Lives of Church Ladies. And yes, I did finish Homegoing, we just haven’t gotten around to discussing it yet!

7 | General goals: Ongoing
☐ 49 books (goal 60 books)
☐ 15,410 pages (goal 20,000 pages)
☐ 4 book about race/racism (goal 5 books)

Until next time, Meryn


BOOK REVIEW ROUND UP 2021 // 42 BOOK UPDATE linked here
BOOK REVIEW ROUND UP 2021 // FIRST QUARTER UPDATE linked here

BUZZWORD READATHON READING CHALLENGE 2021 – SECOND QUARTER UPDATE linked here
2021 TBR // SECOND QUARTER UPDATE linked here

BUZZWORD READATHON READING CHALLENGE 2021 – SECOND QUARTER UPDATE

Half way through the year and half way through the Buzzword Readathon! Of the 7 books I read in the past 3 months for this challenge, 3 I gave 5 stars and 2 I gave 4 stars with no real duds in the bunch. I know it’s barely the middle of the year but I’m already excited to find out the 2022 prompts!

April – space/galaxy terms

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
The Martian by Andy Weir

May – “house/home”

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

June – name/title

Deacon King Kong by James McBride
The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware


What I’m planning to read in the next 3 months:

July – “last”

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman
The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly

August – time of day

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Survive the Night by Riley Sager
Endless Night by Agatha Christie

September – “dark”

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton
In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware


BooksandLala blogpost linked here
Goodreads group linked here
INTRODUCTION linked here
FIRST QUARTER UPDATE linked here

Until tomorrow, Meryn


2021 TBR // SECOND QUARTER UPDATE

And in the blink of an eye, we are half way through 2021! As I write this, I’m just under 50 books read this year which puts me way ahead of schedule for my 60 book goal. I’ll be spending a majority of Q3 on a cross country road trip with my boyfriend and my hope is to knock out another 10 or so titles on this list!

I read 5 more books this past quarter which brings up my completion percentage to 33.33%. I think that’s pretty good considering there is still 6 months left in 2021. I was easily distracted by new releases from the library the first half of the year which pulled my attention away from this list. However, the entirety of August and September I’ll be living out of my car while we travel cross country with no library access (to physical books), so I expect to get through a good chunk of these on my year long TBR.

My predictions for what I’ll have finished by end of Q3 include:

1 | Circe by Madeline Miller

2 | Survive the Night by Riley Sager

3 | One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston

4 | The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

5 | The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

6 | The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

7 | Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

8 | The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

9 | Memorial by Bryan Washington

I ran through my 2021 TBR with a friend the other day and their excitement over some of the titles gave me just the push and spark of inspiration I needed to knock more books off this list!

What book would you recommend I read next?

Until tomorrow, Meryn


Original blogpost READING GOALS + TBR LIST // 2021 linked here
FIRST QUARTER UPDATE linked here
Goodreads 2021 Bookshelf linked here

MID YEAR FREAK OUT BOOK TAG // 2021

I’ve been seeing this tag pop up over on Booktube and wanted to throw my two cents into the mix! The original tag asks for only 1 book per prompt, but I took it upon myself to give 3-5 answers, because why not

1. Best book(s) you’ve read so far in 2021

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2021 → none – I haven’t read any sequels yet this year!

3. New release(s) you haven’t read yet, but want to

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston
How Lucky by Will Leitch
The Hunting Wives by May Cobb
The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalilia Harris

4. Most anticipated release(s) for the second half of the year

Such a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda
Survive the Night by Riley Sager
A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

5. Biggest disappointment(s)

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
The Maidens by Alex Michaelides
The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano

6. Biggest surprise(s)

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

7. Favorite new author(s), debut or new to you

Fredrik Backman, Mikki Kendall, Ann Patchett

8. Newest fictional crush(es)

Augustus Everett of Beach Read by Emily Henry
Jason Dessen of Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

9. Newest favorite character(s)

Zara of Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
Rosie and Penn of This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel
Iris of Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
James Lee of Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Baby of Catherine House by Elisabeth Thomas

10. Book that made you cry → none, nothing is jumping out at me having made me cry, I mean maybe a tear or a light mist but nothing has made me truly cry

11. Book(s) that made you happy

Grace Hopper: Computer Scientist by Jill C. Wheeler
The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw

12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Circe by Madeline Miller
Survive the Night by Riley Sager
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Vicious by V. E. Schwab
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Until tomorrow, Meryn


BOOK REVIEW ROUND UP // VOLUME 2 ISSUE 9

A review and rating of the last 5 books I read and a look into my TBR list for books to come

Beach Read
Author: Emily Henry
Publication Date: May 2020
Genre: romance
Method: audiobook borrowed from TPL

I feel like there’s a lot of hype surrounding this book and 100%, can confirm. For me, an easy 5 star audiobook. I’m a sucker when it comes to feeling connected to characters, especially geographically. Obviously love a main character from Ohio who studies at University of Michigan (go blue) then spends her summer in a small, picturesque, lakeside town along the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Gus’s dry humor and one liners had me laughing out loud. Loved the witty banter and chemistry between the two main characters, January and Gus. I could have done without the side story about January’s BFF and her romantic interests, but that’s here nor there. Hoping to get to Emily Henry’s newest release People We Meet on Vacation before the end of summer!

Red at the Bone
Author: Jacqueline Woodson
Publication Date: September 2019
Genre: fiction
Method: hardback borrowed from TPL

I picked this book up on a whim from the library and what an unexpected joy it brought me. I had no idea the emotional connections I would make between the covers of this book. I didn’t know I’d be transported to Oberlin, Ohio, a place held very near and dear to my heart and a place of calm and peace for the past 7 years. I didn’t know I’d be rooting for a mother to (more or less) abandon her child to carve her own path and follow her own dreams. It’s been weeks I’ve sat with this story and I still haven’t made up my mind on how I feel about Iris and her decision to leave New York for Ohio, and that feels okay to me.
A poignant, beautiful story about race, class, identity, motherhood, parenting, and self worth. This is why I make a point to read from various genres and prioritize learning and reading from a wide variety of authors. This book may not have been about joy, but it brought me so much comfort.
Books I’d recommend with similar themes include An American Marriage, Everything I Never Told You, and The Secret Lives of Church Ladies.

Notes on Grief
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Publication Date: May 2021
Genre: nonfiction, autobiographical, memoir
Method: hardback borrowed from TPL

This is fine. I expected to connect more to it given the grief I endured during the 2020 pandemic and the heart breaking patient losses I experienced. While there is discussion regarding COVID19 and the pandemic, the primary focus is on author’s navigation of grief following the unexpected loss of her father due to kidney failure, during a pandemic. I could see this being very impactful for those who have experienced the loss of a parent. Thankfully, I cannot relate in that way, at this time. Fine book, wrong time for me.

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies
Author: Deesha Philyaw
Publication Date: September 2020
Genre: short story collection, fiction
Method: audiobook borrowed from TPL

My first short story collection but won’t be my last – the audiobook was a true delight. In summary, stunning, beautiful, smart, crafty, cunning. We love the queer, black, sex positive work, none of which I am but loved all the same. Incredibly smart how the stories are linked to one another, but not in such an obvious, easy way. My stand out favorite story was How to Make Love to a Physicist. I never could have guessed this collection, and this story specifically, would have me reminiscing on reading Hawking’s A Brief History of Time from earlier this year, but here we are. My other top 2 favorite stories were Peach Cobbler and Instructions for Married Christian Husbands.
My only critique is that while there were moments of joy, the over arching themes felt negative to me and further perpetuate the common stereotypes in the black community and culture i.e. drug abuse, “broken” families, children born out of wedlock, siblings with different mothers/fathers, reliance on food stamps, government aid, etc. There’s a push in the book community to read stories about black joy, so I’d like to pick up these titles, which are also short story collections that are slotted to focus on black joy: Love in Color and Who’s Loving You.

While Justice Sleeps
Author: Stacey Abrams
Publication Date: May 2021
Genre: political suspense, thriller
Method: hardback borrowed from TPL

What an incredible, strong start on this one. Very complex, intricate, and sophisticated from the prologue which I found very concerning and captivating. Loved the format following along day by day and hopping between story lines and character points of view. The integration of the chess game was smart, albeit over my head of course. I had such high hopes the first 100 pages but then it just took a legal turn I couldn’t follow, too much dense legal jargon for my pea sized brain. I think if I had a law degree I could have followed the plot better, but I don’t so, yeah. This was my first true, legal thriller or legal suspense novel and I’m glad I gave it a go, but I don’t have plans to jump back into this genre anytime soon.

What’s up next on my TBR

Until tomorrow, Meryn