2021 Monthly Status Update: March

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My traditional “busy” season at work is finally drawing to a close (maybe) and I’m hoping some of my time will start to free up for more reading! Time has flown by so far this year and we’re already to April, I’m just looking forward for July to get here! Anyways, here is my progress for reading in March:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 7
# pages read this month: 2,456
# books read year-to-date: 23
# pages read year-to-date: 7,966

Other Posts this month:

Girl scout cookie, wine and book pairings!

Favorite books from this month:

Nothing amazing this month, had some solid reads but nothing I’d say was a favorite!

Next Month TBR List:

  • The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon
  • Twin Games in Music City by Jules Bennett
  • Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian
  • How to Train Your Earl by Amelia Grey

I have a good mix of books for this month, which I’m looking forward to. I want to try and fit in a couple backlog books still since I’ve been doing pretty well with that lately. I have some vacation time coming up at the end of April and no where to go so I’m hoping to get a bunch of reading done!

Happy reading everyone!

Girl Scout cookie, wine and book pairings!

It’s that time of year again! I always think of March when I think of girl scout cookies since that is when they usually come in and get delivered to us. This year is a little different since you could get them delivered to your house as early as last month I think, but I still think of the start of spring as Girl Scout cookie season. In that line of thinking I thought it would be fun to do a Girl Scout cookie pairing! And obviously we need to have a book pairing, but I wanted to throw in a wine pairing too just because I’m not able to drink wine right now and I can’t wait to be able to have some again (in a few months).

Cookie: Samoas
Flavor profile: coconut, chocolate, caramel, weird combo but works for some people (does NOT work for me personally, but this tends to be a popular cookie so I’m including it)
Wine pairing: Sauternes, hands down
Book pairing: Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa – this was somewhat of an opposites attract while also having a lot of tension, drama, and sweetness.

Cookie: Do-si-do’s
Flavor profile: classic peanut butter flavor, crunchy, nutty, next best peanut butter cookie (after Tagalongs)
Wine pairing: Lambrusco – it’s a sweet and bubbly red and I think it would be interesting with the do-si-do flavor
Book pairing: Either the Undead series by MaryJanice Davidson or the Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole – I like the idea of the cookie and wine pairing with either of these series, it’s a little different but its some great material you can really sink your teeth into (ha)

Cookie: Trefoils
Flavor profile: classic, shortbread, not too sweet, easy to eat, not overly addictive so they last longer on your shelf
Wine pairing: I’d go with Riesling on this one – I’d be interested to try it with both a sweet and a dry Riesling too!
Book pairing: Now You See Her by Linda Howard – staying in the realm of “classics”, this is one of my all-time favorite books and one that I can leave on the shelf and pick up when I need it.

Cookie: Smores cookies
Flavor profile: chocolate, graham cracker, marshmallow, reminiscent of a campfire, sweet, delicious
Wine pairing: I would try these with a port, I’d also be interested to see how it pairs with maybe a buttery Chardonnay
Book pairing: One Night at the Lake by Bethany Chase – mostly because they have campfires outside and it seems like a great book to pair with a smores cookie!

Cookie: Thin Mints
Flavor profile: Minty, refreshing, crispy, thin, chocolatey, not-overpowering, could eat a whole sleeve
Wine pairing: I would try these with either a Moscato or a Zinfandel
Book pairing: Winternight trilogy by Katherine Arden – set in Russia, this book really transports you to a magical (and often snowy) world. It was so refreshing and I really enjoyed the whole series.

Cookie: Tagalongs
Flavor profile: Nutty, smooth, creamy, delicious! (these are my favorite!)
Wine pairing: I think this could actually pair with a variety but I’d try it with either a Pinot Noir or a Tawny Port
Book pairing: Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey – She’s a little nutty, he’s a stable cookie that helps support the whole thing, and together they find the perfect balance and are a perfect match! Plus this one was one of my FAVORITE reads from recent times, so it fits that it would pair with my favorite cookie.

I’d love to hear from you readers, what cookie/wine pairings or cookie/book pairings are you tempted to try? Or any other suggestions for good pairings you have?

Happy reading and hope you all get to enjoy some Girl Scout cookies soon!

2021 Book #15 – The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

Title: The Last House Guest
Author: Megan Miranda
Date finished: 3/23/21
Genre: Thriller, suspense
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: June 18, 2019
Pages in book: 353
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley & Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley & Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

The summer after a wealthy young summer guest dies under suspicious circumstances, her best friend lives under a cloud of grief and suspicion in this “clever, stylish mystery that will seize readers like a riptide” (Publishers Weekly, starred review) featuring “dizzying plot twists and multiple surprise endings” (The New York Times Book Review).

Littleport, Maine, has always felt like two separate towns: an ideal vacation enclave for the wealthy, whose summer homes line the coastline; and a simple harbor community for the year-round residents whose livelihoods rely on service to the visitors.

Typically, fierce friendships never develop between a local and a summer girl—but that’s just what happens with visitor Sadie Loman and Littleport resident Avery Greer. Each summer for almost a decade, the girls are inseparable—until Sadie is found dead. While the police rule the death a suicide, Avery can’t help but feel there are those in the community, including a local detective and Sadie’s brother, Parker, who blame her. Someone knows more than they’re saying, and Avery is intent on clearing her name, before the facts get twisted against her.

Another thrilling novel from the bestselling author of All the Missing Girls and The Perfect Stranger, Megan Miranda’s The Last House Guest is a smart, twisty read with a strong female protagonist determined to make her own way in the world.

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have liked other books by this author in the past and while there were parts of this one that I did like, overall it wasn’t my favorite of hers. It was pretty slow and I had trouble staying interested in the story. The ending was definitely the best part of the book – I didn’t see it coming who the killer ended up being, and usually I’m pretty good at predicting it. So the surprise killers are always really exciting for me. But the rest of the book wasn’t especially exciting for me. I am not sure if it was just timing on a personal level – since I have been very busy with work so this spread out over almost a month – but it just wasn’t my favorite. I think it’s still worth a read, especially if you’re looking for an out of the blue killer.

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2021 Monthly Status Update: February

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The months fly by during my traditional “busy season” and here we are already into March. It’s been almost a year now since the world basically turned upside down – and things finally seem to be getting back to normal. People are starting to get the vaccine, things are opening up more again. I expect I’ll still be working from home most of the rest of the year but I kind of like working from home. I’m looking forward to some warmer spring weather in March and getting some home projects done after April 15th! Anyways, here is my progress for reading in February:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 6
# pages read this month: 1,784
# books read year-to-date: 16
# pages read year-to-date: 5,510

Other Posts this month:

February Spotlight: Valentine’s Day

Favorite books from this month:

Nothing amazing this month, had some solid reads but nothing I’d say was a favorite!

Next Month TBR List:

I don’t have any scheduled reads for March. I did this kind of on purpose as March is one of my busiest months for work and I am not sure how much reading I’ll actually be able to get done. I am still planning to read a backlog book and one from my library to keep up with my goals for this year but other than that we’ll see where the month leads me! Happy reading everyone!

2021 Monthly Status Update: January

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And so we begin the new year! 2020 definitely had it’s ups and downs but I’m excited to see the start of 2021 and we have lots of plans for this year! So far we’ve been busy meeting goals and working on projects, but I’ve had time here and there for reading. Here is my progress for reading in January:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 10
# pages read this month: 3,726

Other Posts this month:

From Books to the Big Screen!

Favorite books from this month:

The Hating Game – 5.0 stars

Next Month TBR List:

  • Hit Me with Your Best Scot by Suzanne Enoch
  • Love at First by Kate Clayborn

Things will be very busy over the next few months as I try to keep up with busy season. I’m hoping to still find time to read at least a few books a month but we’ll see how the next few months go! In addition to my scheduled reads each month I’m also trying to read at least one book from my backlog and from my personal library. I’m looking forward to Valentine’s Day in a couple weeks and hopefully getting some Valentine’s Day chocolates. It’s chilly where I live and it’s snowing today so we’re hunkering down and trying to keep warm. Happy reading everyone!

From Books to the Big Screen!

There’s been a lot of activity lately with books being made into TV series or movies, or in some cases there’s been talk about some books being made or hopefully being made. So I wanted to feature some of my favorites! I was especially inspired for this with the very exciting recent release (which I’ll mention below!).

So to start, here are some of my favorites that are already out – this is a mix of recent and not so recent but some of these are absolute favorites that I’ll watch over and over again

  1. Ella Enchanted – I read this book a LOOONG time ago, back in middle school I think. And the movie version they made with Annie Hathaway was so great, it was funny and cute and had great music. Love this one!
  2. Crazy Rich Asians – I almost skipped this one because to be honest I haven’t read the book yet but the movie was just so good. The production of that movie was fantastic and the scenery and outfits were stunning.
  3. Gone Girl – I know some people don’t like this story line but the movie was so true to the book and I really love the plot twist.
  4. Pride and Prejudice (the one with Kiera Knightley) – I love this movie! The music and imagery is so soothing to me, I find it so calming. And obviously its a great romance!
  5. Austenland – For anyone who hasn’t seen this movie, go watch it now! It is adorable and I love pretty much everything about it – the music and the dresses and the story overall. Really cute movie.
  6. Last but not least! The recently released Bridgerton show! It’s definitely different from the novel so prepare yourself for that but it was still really good. I can’t wait for season 2! (Though it seems like I’m going to have to since I don’t think season 2 is coming out until 2022)

There are also a few movies that I’ve either heard are in production currently or were optioned but no word on a release yet – and I can not wait to see how these translate to the screen.

  1. The Hating Game – I just read this book this month and LOVED it. I know they’re currently wrapping up production on this one, though I don’t know if there’s a release date yet. I can’t wait to see this one and I hope they stay pretty true to the book.
  2. The Selection series – I’ll have to read this series before it comes out but I can’t wait to see what they do with this one. I think they’re making it into a Netflix movie.
  3. The Kiss Quotient – I think this one would be interesting to see how it translates to the screen, especially with one of the characters being autistic. Not sure if this will end up happening but I’m excited by the idea.
  4. Wicked – I CAN’T WAIT for this one. I did read the book and didn’t necessarily love it but I did LOVE the musical so I’m hoping the basically produce the musical. I’d watch it every day.

As I was compiling the other lists I realized there were so many books that I’d really want to become movies too. These ones I haven’t heard anything about them potentially become movies/TV shows but a girl can dream!

  1. The Winternight Trilogy – I think that if this one is done correctly it could be fascinating. There is so much that could be done with this one with the right special effects.
  2. The Evil Queen – I think it might be a little difficult with such a variety of mythical creatures – but again with the right special effects I think this could be a great film. I love fairy-tale retellings and others seem to love them as well.
  3. My Lady’s Choosing with the choose your adventure option – I heard about something like this being done on a Netflix show where they made it so it was like a choose your own adventure novel – you select the option you want next and Netflix plays that scene. I thought this would be a great grown-up version of that!
  4. One to Watch – I think this would be a great one to translate to the screen, especially since the dating shows are all so popular on TV. I loved this story and would love to see it made into a movie!

What about you all out there? What are some of your favorite book to movie/TV adaptations? Any amazing ones I missed?

2021 Book #4 – In the Garden of Spite by Camille Bruce

Title: In the Garden of Spite
Author: Camille Bruce
Date finished: 1/4/21
Genre: Historical fiction, thriller
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: January 19, 2021
Pages in book: 473
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

An audacious novel of feminine rage about one of the most prolific female serial killers in American history–and the men who drove her to it.

They whisper about her in Chicago. Men come to her with their hopes, their dreams–their fortunes. But no one sees them leave. No one sees them at all after they come to call on the Widow of La Porte.

The good people of Indiana may have their suspicions, but if those fools knew what she’d given up, what was taken from her, how she’d suffered, surely they’d understand. Belle Gunness learned a long time ago that a woman has to make her own way in this world. That’s all it is. A bloody means to an end. A glorious enterprise meant to raise her from the bleak, colorless drudgery of her childhood to the life she deserves. After all, vermin always survive.

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

This book is a little outside of my normal wheel house but it sounded too interesting to pass up! Belle was a fascinating character and I loved this author’s interpretation of her as a person. Her back story was heart-breaking and captivating – what happened to her when she was young defined her in ways that she didn’t even understand. Even as terrible as she was, I weirdly found myself empathizing with her after the ordeal she went through. This book was a little darker than ones I usually read though, and she killed a ton of people. Once we got towards the end of the book I was pretty ready for things to wrap up but overall the book was one I really enjoyed. It was great to read about a famous female serial killer from the Midwest and learn more about that piece of history, even if some pieces of the book were fictionalized. It was an interesting read and I’d recommend it!

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2020 Recap and 2021 Goals!

2020

Well. 2020 was definitely a different year. There were many challenges but there was also many benefits. Transitioning to working from home was easier than I expected – I spent more time at home than I ever have and it’s been great to have so much time with my husband. There was admittedly less time with other family members since we’re trying to be careful with the pandemic but it’s been great having so much time at home and we’ve been working on some house projects and have more to come!

So anyways! On to the meat of this post – to recap on the goals list that I had set for 2020:

  1. Participate in certain reading challenges:
    1. ARC August – Done! You can see my posts related to this challenge here
    2. Bout of Books Challenge – BOB 28 (May 2020) – Done! You can see my posts related to this challenge here
    3. Bookish Bingo challenges! I’d like to participate in bingo challenges for certain months for fun: February and October. I don’t think that the Bookish site is doing Book Bingo sheets anymore but I’m hoping I can find another site that has one for these two months. – So I couldn’t find a bingo to do for February and October that were new/appealing ones. I did participate in the Ripped Bodice Summer Romance Bingo challenge, which was fun!
  2. Keep reading my backlog list! At least one book per month – I didn’t quite make a book a month but I did read a number of books from my backlog list, which is great! I also read 100% of my 2020 reading list so I didn’t add any to my backlog. I’ll be continuing to work on reducing my backlog even further in 2021.
  3. Keep reading from my personal library! At least one book per month – I also didn’t quite make a book a month but I was close! I read a lot more from my personal library in 2020 and it was great to read random reads (not scheduled) for a little
  4. Write at least one non-review and non-blog tour post a month – can be one of the structured posts like Top Ten Tuesday or it can be informative or whatever I feel like! – Did not do this at all. I’d like to do it in 2021 but I just didn’t have time over the last year to do it.

This year was definitely different – due to the pandemic so many events were cancelled or done just virtually. I participated in a couple Zoom events for podcasts that I enjoy but other than that there weren’t as many events to participate in. The additional time at home gave me more time to spend with my husband and plenty of time for reading. I read a record-setting 12 books during my week in Maine.

In looking back on my year of reading this year, I was able to read a comparable amount related to previous years. Below is a chart of the books I read by month this year vs previous years:

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I also really like the functionality of the Goodreads Year in Books summary for giving an overview of what happened during my year for reading. I don’t record 100% of the books I read on here so it doesn’t always match up with my own figures but I love having all the covers in one place, it makes for a neat graphic.

And just for fun! Here are a few of my favorites from 2020:

Favorite Reads from 2020

After Sundown by Linda Jones and Linda Howard – 4.5 stars
One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London – 4.75 stars
Thick as Thieves by Sandra Brown – 4.75 stars
The Roommate by Rosie Danan –  4.25 stars
Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey –  5.0 stars
The Evil Queen by Gena Showalter – 4.75 stars
One by One by Ruth Ware –  5.0 stars

Favorite New Series

I really enjoyed Gena Showalter’s series The Forest of Good and Evil this year. The Evil Queen was my favorite of the two that I read this year but I also really liked The Glass Queen. I can’t wait for the next book in the series to come out! The series is such a fun mix of supernatural, fairy tale, and romance and also reminds me a lot of the favorite series I discovered last year, Immortals After Dark.

Best New Author I Read in 2020

Has to be Tessa Bailey – I actually read a couple books by her in 2020 but her book Tools of Engagement really just hit me so hard and struck such a personal note for me. I had heard a lot of buzz about her books prior to reading, and with good reason since she’s a fabulous writer. I can’t wait to read more by her in the future!

Most Emotional Read from 2020

I had heard a lot about Long Shot by Kennedy Ryan and finally had a chance to read it this year. Man that book is a RIDE. I was so sucked into the story and I cried a lot reading that book. I’m looking forward to reading the other books in the series too but trying to make sure I have the emotional space to read them.

Here we close out the 2020 year and we look ahead to the New Year!!

2021

Looking ahead to 2021, I have so many things to look forward to but some of those things will take me away from blogging. More of my 2021 goals are going to be personal goals for outside the blog, but there are some reading goals that I’m still hoping to achieve. I may have to take a hiatus later in 2021 or I may have to figure out a way to reduce my time commitment overall to the blog but I’m planning on crossing that bridge once I get to it. I have so many blessings and exciting things happening this coming year and I just can’t wait to see what the future holds!

Looking ahead to 2021, here are some of the goals I plan to work on:

  1. Participate in certain reading challenges:
    1. Bout of Books Challenge – BOB 31 (May 2021)
    2. Book Bingo challenges! I’d like to participate in at least one bingo challenge again this year. Maybe the Ripped Bodice summer bingo but I’ll be busy in July and August so I’m not sure if that’ll work. We’ll see how things pan out but I do so much enjoy those so I’d like to participate in at least one.
  2. Keep reading my backlog list! At least one book per month
  3. Keep reading from my personal library! At least one book per month
  4. Write at least one non-review and non-blog tour post a month – can be one of the structured posts like Top Ten Tuesday or it can be informative or whatever I feel like!

I wish everyone love and joy in 2021, Happy Reading!

2020 Monthly Status Update: December

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December was a great month! Lot of work to do plus the holidays so there were some definite distractions but I read some great books and had a nice relaxing holiday! I’ll also be posting a post reviewing my reading for the year but for now, here are some reading highlights from December:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 8
# pages read this month: 2,744
# books read year-to-date: 98
# pages read year-to-date: 32,738

Other Posts this month:

Top 5 Favorite Holiday Romances! 

Favorite books from this month:

The Princess and the Rogue by Kate Bateman – 4.75 stars

Next Month TBR List:

  • In the Garden of Spite by Camille Bruce
  • Shipped by Angie Hockman
  • Highland Treasure by Lynsay Sands
  • The Survivors by Jane Harper

I’m going right into the next busy season at work so I’m not sure how much time I’ll have for reading but we’ll see. Christmas and New Years was great – hope everyone had a great holiday season! Hope everyone is doing well and staying safe. Happy reading everyone!

2020 Monthly Status Update: November

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November was again very busy work wise but I think the lack of a commute is really helping me have extra time for reading each day. Plus with a couple days off for the holiday weekend I was able to get a lot of books read in November! So here are some reading highlights from November for me:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 12
# pages read this month: 4,264
# books read year-to-date: 90
# pages read year-to-date: 29,994

Other Posts this month:

No other posts this month!

Favorite books from this month:

One by One by Ruth Ware – 5.0 stars
One Night at the Lake by Bethany Chase – 4.75 stars

Next Month TBR List:

  • Truth, Lies and Second Dates by MaryJanice Davidson
  • The Princess and the Rogue by Kate Bateman

I have a short list for December so I’m going to be spending some of my other reading time (1) catching up more on backlogs from prior year’s lists and (2) reading some things just for fun! I think one of my favorite things I’ve been able to do this year is read more from my personal library, it feels like it’s been years since I’ve picked what I wanted to read on a whim. December will be a busy work month but if everything goes according to plan I’ll have some time off at the end of the month and can hopefully read a lot then. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, and hope everyone is able to do something fun to get into the festive Christmas spirit. Our Christmas this year, I’m sure like many others, will look very different this year. No large celebrations and I will be missing my family in a big way this year. But whether we’re together or apart, the love and joy that our family feels is still there. Hope everyone is doing well and staying safe. Happy reading everyone!