Posted in Books and Reading

February WrapUp & URS Update

February was a mixed month for me. Some books were really good and some not so much. I went 4/4 on my TBR again, but I did DNF one of them!

List of Books Read with Star Ratings

  1. Mr. Flood’s Last Resort by Jessica Kidd*3.5*
  2. The Wicked King by Holly Black *5*
  3. The Lost Sisters by Holly Black *2.5*
  4. The Push by Ashley Audrain *4*
  5. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles *5*
  6. A Space Between Worlds Micaiah Johnson *2*
  7. The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black *4*
  8. A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J Maas *4*
  9. Her Dark Lies by JT Ellison *4*
  10. Finlay Donovan is Killing It Elle Cosimano *4*
  11. The Maidens by Alex Michaelides *3.5*

DNF: Bright Lights, Big City by Jay MacInerney

Unread Shelf Stats:
– Starting Count: 181
– Books Read: 9
– Books Acquired:9
– Books Unhauled:1
– New Count:
180

Monthly Favorites:
1. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
2. The Wicked King by Holly Black
3. Her Dark Lies by JT Ellison (coming out March 9)

Pages Read (Audio is converted to pages)

Books Purchased (goal=stay under 52):

  1. A Vow So Bold & Deadly by Brigid Kemmemer. Sooo I have a mixed relationship with this series. Book 1 was fantastic. Book 2 was fine. I am worried how Book 3 will end this trilogy for me. I kind of regret using one of my 52 purchases on this book, but Target was running a sale.
  2. The Outsider by Stephen King. My husband and I are making our way through the King novels. Since we own the Mr. Mercedes trilogy, I heard this was kind of a follow up. So it was an obv purchase.
  3. A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J Maas. I am sure if you are on Bookstagram, you have seen this and probably sick of seeing it. I read everything Maas writes, so there was no doubt in my mind that this would be purchased.

How was your reading month?

Posted in Books and Reading

March TBR

Haircut is on the March to do!

Ahhh March. The month where I have one whole week off in the middle of the month. The week, where if I play my cards right, I do not have to see people and can just read books, workout, and watch March madness. One of my favorite months of the year. This year, I have 1000 things to do the first week of March, but then I am in for some down time.

March TBR

  1. A Vow So Bold and Deadly: The final book in a trilogy that has honestly been a hit or miss for me. I purchased book 3 when Target had their B2G1 free sale an honestly, I am kind of using of my 52 purchase slots for this one. I feel I should have just went to the library. But whatever. So I plan on knocking this one out and being done with the storyline. Maybe the low expectations will help.
  2. Doctor Sleep: The probably unnecessary follow up to The Shining. As I type that, I realize I do not sound too thrilled about my first two on my tbr. But I promise I am.
  3. Swing Time: I have never read any fiction by Zadie Smith. So why not start?
  4. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek: This has been on my tbr forever and my shelf since last year. My book club picked it for our late March/early April meeting pick and I am thrilled!

Misc Reads in March

  1. The Two Towers by Tolkien. I started the LOTR trilogy last year and the audio was superb. But trying to find audio of the last two books that is not a play/performance has been impossible.
  2. I checked out some library books and maybe I will get to them?

Watcha reading in March?

Posted in book review, Books and Reading

Finlay Donovan is Killing It

Author: Elle Cosimano

Publisher/Date: Minotaur/February 2, 2021

What I Enjoyed:

  • The characters– Fin & Vero were a lot of fun and reminded me of the odd couple. They both had their quirks, but the friendship chemistry was on point.
  • The plot was absolutely preposterous, but who cares?? It was fun. There is not shame in enjoying a really funny book no matter how ludicrous the plot.
  • The pace. Though I do not mind enjoying a fun plot, I want it to move fast or it gets to be a bit much. This was the perfect length and I honestly could not push the kindle page turner fast enough (yes, I still have a Kindle with the OG buttons).

What I Did Not:

  • There really was nothing in this book that I didn’t enjoy.

Rating: This is a solid 4 star read for me!

For those who:

  • don’t mind putting aside absurdity for a heck of a fun read

Synopsis:

Finlay Donovan is killing it . . . except, she’s really not. She’s a stressed-out single-mom of two and struggling novelist, Finlay’s life is in chaos: the new book she promised her literary agent isn’t written, her ex-husband fired the nanny without telling her, and this morning she had to send her four-year-old to school with hair duct-taped to her head after an incident with scissors.

When Finlay is overheard discussing the plot of her new suspense novel with her agent over lunch, she’s mistaken for a contract killer, and inadvertently accepts an offer to dispose of a problem husband in order to make ends meet . . . Soon, Finlay discovers that crime in real life is a lot more difficult than its fictional counterpart, as she becomes tangled in a real-life murder investigation.

Fast-paced, deliciously witty, and wholeheartedly authentic in depicting the frustrations and triumphs of motherhood in all its messiness, hilarity, and heartfelt moment, Finlay Donovan Is Killing It is the first in a brilliant new series from YA Edgar Award nominee Elle Cosimano.

Posted in book review, Books and Reading

The Folk of Air Series

In 2019, I felt the need to buy The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. I had never read anything by her, but I was starting to dip my toes into fantasy. I had recently finished ACOTAR series (those that were out) and the Caraval trilogy.

So in one of my big spending sprees, I bought book 1 in this trilogy. Then when BOTM tried a YA box, I grabbed book 3; The Queen of Nothing in January 2020. Well at this point, might as well buy book 2. I snatched that while Target had their B2G1 and I had a gift card– also January. The whole year rolled by and I did not read a single one of these.

Flash forward to February 16, 2021 when I finished book 3. I read book 1 in January and then knocked out books 2 and 3 this month. Here are my overall thoughts:

Book 1: The Cruel Prince

Solid introduction to a new world and set of characters. Everything is laid out and honestly, the very beginning of the book had me hooked. I loved Cardan, even though you were not supposed to. Jude was a fantastic protagonist. She was smart, witty (not overly), and had flaws. The ending. Yup. The end of book 1 had me like yessssss!!

Book 2: The Wicked King

My favorite of the trilogy. So much happened in this book, and in a good way. We delve deeper into the relationship between Jude & Cardan, and ALL of the scheming this kingdom has to offer. The plot was well developed and the ending here as well was like yessssss!

Book 3: The Queen of Nothing

This is honestly my least favorite book in the series. It was a solid 4 star read for me, and I did not dislike the ending. I honestly enjoyed the book and the ending was satisfying. Tje plot was fine, but it was not the most solid of the three.

Overall:
This trilogy is overall well done. I enjoyed it and bummed I waited so long to read it. I will definitely be lending to other fantasy lovers in my life.

If I had to rate this as a whole series, I would give it 4 stars.

Posted in book review, Books and Reading

A Gentleman in Moscow

Author: Amor Towles

Date: 2018

What I Enjoyed:

Utter magic. That is the shortest way to describe this book.

After having this book on my unread shelf for a few years, my husband picked it up during quarantine. He said it was the best fiction book he has read in a long time– now he reads mostly NF, but this is still a high compliment coming from him.

So obviously, I ignored him and put the book back on the shelf. Well to this point in 2021, I have been pretty serious about reading what I own. I have done well, if I do say so myself. I finally decided to pick this one up, and I am extremely happy I did.

Towles hooked me from page 1. I found myself totally enamored with the Count and his tale that was told over decades. How one person could be in one place for so long is unreal, and you would think the story with the same scenery would get dry. But you are wrong my friend. Each facet of the hotel is explored, as is many different characters coming in and out of our lives as they do the Counts.

The writing was beautiful and the story was emotional. We experiences so much in this book without ever leaving the hotel.

What I Did Not: There were times it felt very slow, but overall the book just worked.

Rating: 1000 stars

For those who: If you are looking for a plot based book, please look elsewhere. If you are looking for a book that deep dives into characters, connections of those characters, and historical references than this is the book for you!

Synopsis:

A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

Brimming with humour, a glittering cast of characters, and one beautifully rendered scene after another, this singular novel casts a spell as it relates the count’s endeavour to gain a deeper understanding of what it means to be a man of purpose.

Posted in Books and Reading, Life

Mid-Month Check in

February check in time!

Holy half way through February! Unlike January that feels like 1000 months put together, February tends to fly by. Obviously because it is the shortest month out of the year. But also because January literally felt like eternity.

What I have been reading:

I finished A Gentleman in Moscow on the 10th and freaking loved it. I will be posting a full review on Wednesday. The book was absolutely magical and I did not pick up a book again until Saturday night because the hangover was real.

I have started my fourth and final book on my February TBR (solely based on my UnreadShelf). The Space Between Worlds is the book and I am torn on how I feel about it now. I am 1/3 of the way through it and it’s up in the air.

What I am Watching

Hockey. Yup that’s it. If it’s not hockey or ESPN, I ain’t watching. I really need to finish Season 5 of Peaky Blinders and start Seasons 2 of The Boys, but tv watching has not appealed to me.

What I am Doing

I’ve been really playing with the milk frother I got for my bday– Instant Pot Brand only at Walmart and following The Macro Barista on instagram. My husband bought me a coffee grinder for Valentine’s Day, so I made cold brew in the french press immediately for this morning. Hopefully that works out.

Also, I have been Simming it on Sims 4. A group I am in on Facebook is trying the #onefamilychallenge2021 where you play one family for an hour each time you load the sims up. I am going to try and stay with this family only for the whole year, doing different challenges each generation!

That’s pretty much what is happening in my neck of the woods! What about you?

Posted in book review, Books and Reading

The Minders

Author: John Marrs

Publisher/Date: Berkley/February 16, 2021

What I Enjoyed:

  • Marrs has become an auto buy/read author at this point. His plots are totally mind bending, but not so out of it that you cannot see it happening in the future of technology.
  • This one, like the others, keeps you guessing. You wait for the twists, and they do happen. Some guessable, some not so much.
  • I was vested in the 4 out of the 5 Minders’ stories.
  • The ending was not too neat and clean, but done well.

What I Did Not:

  • Pacing… this one dragged a bit in the middle and could have lost about 30-40 pages.

Rating: 4.5/5

For those who: Have enjoyed any of Marr’s others books, but not What Lies Between Us. I mean if you liked that, you may still like this, but if that is the only book you have read by him this is much different. If you like Blake Crouch.

Synopsis:

In the 21st century, information is king. But computers can be hacked and files can be broken into – so a unique government initiative has been born. Five ordinary people have been selected to become Minders – the latest weapon in thwarting cyberterrorism. Transformed by a revolutionary medical procedure, the country’s most classified information has been taken offline and turned into genetic code implanted inside their heads.

Together, the five know every secret – the truth behind every government lie, conspiracy theory and cover up. In return, they’re given the chance to leave their problems behind and a blank slate to start their lives anew.

But not everyone should be trusted, especially when they each have secrets of their own they’ll do anything to protect…

Posted in Books and Reading

February TBR

Not going to lie. Pretty happy with those shoulder muscles. 😂😂

January has come and gone my friends! And here we are already in the second month of the year! This is the time of year when most people read romances. Me… not so much. I am not against romance books. Few just get more than 3 stars or seem worthy of recommending.

So my February TBR will not be full of love. Like last month, my TBR will be four books, plus one for my #theunreadfshelfproject2021 that I have not chosen yet.

FEBRUARY TBR

  • Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney. I got this book years ago in the clearance section of Half Price Books. It’s under 200 pages, so I feel like this could be a quick one to scratch off my Unread Shelf.
  • The Wicked King by Holly Black. This is the second book in The Cruel Prince trilogy. I really enjoyed book one and have heard even better things about this one.
  • The Space Between Worlds by Micaih Johnson. This was a BOTM pick for 2020. I don’t own many BOTMs that I have not read yet, so I am hoping to keep up with my 2021 picks, as well as, finish my 2020 picks. P.S. I am 1/1 for 2021 with The Survivors (reviewed here) being picked and read in January!
  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. I heard about this one years ago on What Should I Read Next podcast and found it in Ollie’s Bargain store! My husband read an enjoyed it, so I am hoping it’s a book we could both enjoy!

OTHER MISC FEBRUARY READS

  • The prompt for #theunreadshelfproject2021 is a book you got for free! I have some ARCs I need to read– like the new Veronica Speedwell!! So I have not officially picked a book for this prompt, but I feel it will be easy.
  • My real life book club is reading Mr. Flood’s Last Resort! Our meeting is either going to be February 12 or 19th, so this has to be read for sure. I am waiting for the library hold to come in!

So there you have it! My February reading plans! Any books on your must read list for this month?

Posted in Books and Reading

January: Wrap Up & UnreadShelf Update!

Physical books from January!

January felt productive when it came to my own unread shelf. I kind of evened out on what I read and acquired. HOWEVER, my acquired books were all ARCs or given to me for my birthday! Which means any book I didn’t read from my own shelf was a library book!

List of Books Read with Star Ratings

  1. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt 5*
  2. The Carnivorous Carnival by Lemony Snicket 4*
  3. The Shining by Stephen King 4*
  4. From Blood and Ash by Jennifer Armentrout 4*
  5. The Breathing Method by Stephen King 4*
  6. The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman 5*
  7. Every Vow You Break by Peter Swanson 3*
  8. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black 4*
  9. The Survivors by Jane Harper 5*
  10. Kingdom of Flesh & Fire by Jennifer Armentrout 3*
  11. The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins 3.5*
  12. We Will be Watching by Ruth Ware 4*
  13. Truly Devoius by Maureen Jones 3.5*
  14. The Dead Season by Tessa Wegert 5*

Unread Shelf Stats:
– Starting Count:
180
– Books Read: 8
– Books Acquired:
9 (1 birthday gift, 8 digital ARCS)
– Books Unhauled:
0
– New Count:
181

Monthly Favorites:
1. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
2. The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman
3. The Dead Season by Tessa Wegert

Pages Read (Audio is converted to pages)

5788

BOOKS PURCHASED (2021 goal=stay under 52)

ZERO! Pretty proud. All books acquired were from publishers or given to me as a gift!

What was your favorite read in January?

Posted in Uncategorized

Cooking Update

January was a month of eating in and cooking! I knocked out some really good recipes from The Wholesome Yum cookbook.

Pan seared steak with mushroom cream sauce

The steak with mushroom cream sauce was a super simple recipe to throw together. I love steak and trying new ways to cook it outside just grilling it! The mushroom cream sauce came together quickly and made a perfect weeknight dinner. This will be going onto the dinner rotation.

FIve ingredient broccoli cheddar soup

Another super easy recipe to throw together on a weeknight. Literally was just five ingredients and done in order 30 minutes. To make this a full meal, I grilled some chicken cutlets! Again, this came together easily and I really enjoyed it. Adding this to the rotation as well!

Maple bacon pancake muffins

This sweet breakfast treat was easy to make, but had more steps than the previous two meals. I precooked the bacon in the oven and then when I had more time, made the muffins. Maple extract was the hardest item to find for this recipe, but I wound up ordering it online. Multiple recipes in this book have it as an ingredient, so I felt it was a useful investment! My husband and I loved these, as did my friend who got some from me at the gym. These won’t go on the normal rotation, but will make these when in the mood for a sweet breakfast treat.

Grilled tuscan chicken casserole

Maya Krump rocks at easy recipes, but this one came together quickly as well. You do have to have cooked chicken, so either grab a rotisserie chicken or even cook the chicken the night before you make the whole casserole. I assembled the casserole and we cooked half. The other half went in a foil pan into the freezer for a future night when we are busy at work. I did not use the sundried tomatoes in the recipe, but subbed with red bell peppers. This was another hit in the house!

Almond flour pancakes

My husband did not eat these, but he made them for me. I premade the batter and he had them ready after the gym. These came together well and I was worried that the texture would be off. However, these tastes pretty darn close to regular pancakes. I enjoyed these a lot and plan to make this recipe many times!

Orange chicken… not pretty, but delicious

In one meal, I knocked out two recipes! I made the oven roasted brussel sprouts. These were good but nothing revolutionary or new. But we also ate crispy orange chicken that night– keto style. This was easy to make and we both enjoyed this dish a lot! The only thing I would do differently next time would be to air fry the chicken. I did it in the skillet as the recipe said, but I never feel like when I cook chicken like that it crisps enough! But we got a new air fryer with racks and it would probably would have made a huge difference! But the sauce was good and we will be adding this to the rotation!

Baked pepper nachos

I love nachos. Like love, love them. Minus the chips most nachos ingredients a keto friendly! So when I saw this recipe in the cookbook, I knew I had to make it! I should have knocked out her taco seasoning recipe too. But I had leftover from Against All Grain! And making taco meat happens 2-3 times a month soooo… But this will be another easy recipe to add to the rotation!

90 second bread

I made the 90 second bread for a snack. It was easy to make and it was fine. Not sure if I’d make it for a normal sandwich, but for a quick snack or bfast this is perfect. 5 mins total between mixing the ingredients, microwaving it and toasting!

Lemon-blueberry scones

The book’s recipe was technically cranberry-orange scones. We are not huge cranberry fans— well at least I’m not! So I followed the recipe and just changed the flavors! These were super easy to make and they were so good! I can see this being made often!