Book Review: The Ballad Of Never After by Stephanie Garber

Hello Readers!

This is a blog post that I have been dying to write for quite awhile! Some of you may remember last year that I was included in a Blog Tour supporting Stephanie Garber’s new book / series, Once Upon A Broken Heart. It was a great opportunity for me, I got an advanced copy of the book and even got to interview Stephanie for my blog (she’s great)! Well Flatiron Books decided to do another blog tour to support the continuous of this story and asked me to join back in on the fun! I obviously jumped at this opportunity. Garber’s Caraval series is one of my absolute favorites – I loved the magical game of Caraval, the cast of characters plus the unique twists and turns. Once Upon A Broken Heart takes place in the same world as Caraval, so I recommend that you read (enjoy) that series before diving into this one. Once Upon A Broken Heart follows Evangeline Fox – an orphaned, hopeless romantic who will do almost anything to save her fiancé and get her happily ever after. I devoured this book last year and it ended with quite the cliffhanger. So… what did I think of The Ballad Of Never After?

I. LOVED. IT. To keep this review spoiler free, I won’t be discussing book 1 or any of the major plot points, so you can read this review without fear! Ballad picks up almost immediately after the events of Broken Heart. Many of our favorite characters return for an encore performance including Jacks, Lala and Chaos. Right from the start, there’s an interesting new plot that’s the main driver of the story. Evangeline soon finds herself not only on a new quest but with a dangerous new curse to contend with. The action starts from the beginning and does not let up until the final page. I found the chapters to be rather short which kept me turning the pages and saying “Ohhhh, just one more chapter!” a little too frequently. Garber has always had descriptive and flowery writing but I found there to be a lot more similes in this book than most of her others (as the book progressed they seemed to even out though). I’m not a big romance fan but I felt like the relationships in this one were well done and very fairytale-esque. I especially loved the ending of the book – there were some very unique and creative ideas used to really wrap everything up. I was worried how this was going to end since Garber has been very coy about whether this is a duopoly or a trilogy (and if you came here looking for that answer, I’m sorry, you’ll have to read the book to find out! If you’re a fantasy fan, who likes a dash of romance and a whole lot of action, I can confidently say this book will be RIGHT up your alley!

Once Upon A Broken Heart is out now and sold by all major book stores like Amazon. The Ballad Of Never After is out Tuesday, September 13, 2022! Preorder your copy today at all major book store or Amazon. A huge thank you to Flatiron Books for including me in their Blog Tour and for the ARC of The Ballad Of Never After.

As always, don’t forget to subscribe and make sure to stop back with your feedback after you’ve finished this one. I can’t wait to hear everyone’s thoughts on the ending!

Until We Meet Again,
Mr Geek

Spotlight Review: Blue Haven by Lisa King

Hello Readers!

Anyone who knows me, or has been around this blog for awhile, knows that I am a HUGE fan of thrillers. So much so that when I was out to dinner with a couple friends, we talked about me leasing space for book storage and one of my friends joked that it would just be a wall of thrillers… but she’s not wrong! I love how compulsively readable this genre is and whenever I’m feeling slumpy, I know a good thriller will get me back on track! When Erik, from Breakeven Books on YouTube, reached out to me able participating in the Blue Haven Blog Tour, I told him I wanted to do a little research before committing. That research took approximately 10 minutes. I hopped over to GoodReads to read the synopsis. From the first few sentences, I knew this book was right up my alley and happily confirmed! So without further ado, let’s dive into a quick summary and my thoughts!

Aloe Malone hasn’t had the best life. She’s orphaned with only a Grandma and Aunt that she tries to keep in touch with. She’s working late night shifts at a diner, trying to make ends meet, while living in a crummy apartment in the Lower West Side of Chicago. Aloe’s luck all changes when she hits the lottery and is able to finally escape her less than ideal situation for something a little more… upscale. Welcome to Blue Haven: A luxurious, secluded, living compound containing everything you need and more! The ocean is heated to always be the perfect temperature, the beach is covered with UV reflecting material giving you all the sun with none of the burn and there’s an endless supply of shops and restaurants for you to explore. The condos are cushy and extravagant so you can spend your days lounge in comfort. Aloe thinks she’s died and gone to heaven… until she starts to discover some cracks in the perfect Blue Haven veneer.

This book was a wild ride and I was hooked from the very start! The premise of Blue Haven was interesting and from the beginning you could tell it was too good to be true… but WHAT was too good to be true!? The story flowed well and the pacing was perfect. When I wasn’t reading, I found my mind still wandering back to the plot trying to work out what exactly was going on. The friends Aloe makes, while at Blue Heaven, were personable and distinct. Each character had a unique personality that really added to the dynamic (my personal favorite was Bibs, the over-the-top Opera since who is larger-than-life in every way possible). I also loved the shorter length chapters, too. I felt like that only added to the suspense and excitement of the novel. While the writing style didn’t blow me away, it was still a fun and addicting read! I don’t want to give away too many details here, but if you’re a fan of the suspense/thriller genre, definitely give this one a try!

Pick up a copy of Blue Haven by Lisa King on Amazon!

Today is the last day of the Blog Tour (I’m going to tell myself we saved the best for last), but you can also check out content from all of the other participants:

July 24th – Erik (Breakeven Books)

July 24th – https://www.instagram.com/crazyforbooksandcoffee/

July 25th – B.A Bellec

July 26th – https://infinitysbookshelf.wordpress.com/

July 27th – https://www.youtube.com/c/TheLiteraryApothecary

July 27th – @zmeetsworld – Instagram

July 28th – http://jeannekwong.com/jkstar88-reader/ | https://www.youtube.com/user/JKStar88 

July 29th – https://beforewegoblog.com/

July 30th – https://treatyoshelf.blog/

A big thank you to Erik over at Breakeven Books for organizing this tour and Lisa King for a complimentary copy of Blue Haven in exchange for an honest review!

Until We Meet Again,
Mr Geek

Spotlight: Escaping First Contact by T. S. Beier

Hello Readers!

It’s your favorite geek coming at you with a very special post today! Back in March, I randomly saw a tweet from Erik over at Breakeven Books on Twitter. Erik was recruiting people to join a Book Tour for Escaping First Contact by T. S. Beer. This is for the first book in a Science Fiction series called The Burnt Ship trilogy. I read the synopsis and it sounded right up my alley so I signed up for the tour!

Escaping First Contact is definitely a more unique take on Science Fiction. Beier does a wonderful job modernizing certain elements of this classic genre and really making them pop. She does an amazing job building a deep, intricate world that can sweep you away in a few short pages. The amount of thought that went into developing some of these back stories is truly jaw dropping!

From the first few pages, something is immediately made clear – this is a character driven novel. If you’re a fan of rich, well-thought out characters your going go love this book. In addition, there is a ton of representation in this book (which is always great to see). Beier created her own sets of “pronouns” for some of these different species with complex, compelling back stories.

If you’re a fan of the Science Fiction genre and are tired of the same-old story lines, consider picking up Escaping First Contact. I can almost guarantee that this will be the breath of fresh air that you’re looking for!

Thanks to T. S. Beier and Erik from Breakeven Books for including me on the Book Tour!

GoodReads Bio:
T.S. Beier is a science fiction aficionado. Her first published novel, What Branches Grow, is her love letter to the post-apocalyptic genre. It was also the focus of her Graduate Certificate in Creative Writing. On top of her grad certificate, T.S. has a B.A. in English, a Certificate in Publishing, and a Certificate in Interior Decorating. 

For more posts and information about Escaping First Contact check out the other contributors at their various sites below:

https://jorielovesastory.com/
https://geekygalaxy.co.uk/
https://www.instagram.com/museumgrack/
http://icanhasbooks.blogspot.com/
The Literary Apothecary YouTube Channel
https://starlitbook.com/
https://infinitysbookshelf.wordpress.com/
http://jeannekwong.com/
JKStar88 Reader YouTube Channel
Literature & Lofi YouTube Channel
https://beforewegoblog.com/

Until We Meet Again,
Mr Geek

September ’21 Wrap Up

Hello Readers!

It’s so hard to believe that September is over and we’re into the Fall season! I’m not going to lie, this is definitely one of my favorite times of the year. Unpopular Opinion: I am not a huge fan of Summer – it’s so hot, humid and uncomfortable. I’d take pretty much any other season but especially love the Fall – Pumpkin and Apple flavored things, cooler temperatures and comfortable clothes. Seriously, what is not to love?! I feel like I have FINALLY gotten myself out of the huge reading slump that I’ve spent most of this year in. September was a great reading month for me, so without further ado – let’s get onto the books I read!

First up was Once Upon A Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber. I was lucky enough to be included in a Blog Tour helping to promote Stephanie’s new book. I got an ARC and tore into it as soon as it arrived in the mail. I won’t spend a ton of time recapping here but definitely check out my full review here and the Author Q&A we did with Stephanie! This book was absolutely fantastic from start to finish. It was fast paced, interesting, had some very “fairy tale-esque” elements and overall was a really fun read. If you’ve read the Caraval series, this is a must read for you!

Next up was Tales From The Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare. For anyone who has been around this blog for a bit, you know I have a goal of reading my way through the Shadowhunter Chronicles. I finished Queen of Air & Darkness earlier this year and absolutely loved it. The Dark Artifices trilogy was by far my favorite so far. I want to move onto The Eldest Curses and The Last Hours trilogies but first I had to knock out this short story collection. Overall, I enjoyed this novellas. Revisiting some familiar faces (like Jem & Tessa) and meeting some new characters was great and I feel prepared for The Last Hours trilogy. Most of these stories were pretty interesting but there was the occasional dud thrown in there.

My final completed book of the month was For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing. HOLY. SHIT. This book was fantastic. It was a fast-paced, thrill ride from start to finish. I loved the dark academia setting! There were so many twists and turns throughout this book that I thought I was going to have whip lash. I’m hesitant to even give a summary of this book because I don’t want to spoil anything. Basically, Teach of the Year, Teddy Crutcher, does whatever he sees fit to help his students (for better or for worse). If you’re a fan of the thriller genre, give this one a try (and go into it blind). It’s such an enjoy book and it’ll definitely keep you guessing until the tail end. There are some pretty farfetched things that happen but, it’s a book, just roll with it!

I have a few books that I’ve started and haven’t finished (probably will wrap them up in October or November, planning a “Spooky” TBR for October, similar to what I did last year). The first was Under The Whispering Door by TJ Klune. I’m about 50% through this and while I’m enjoying it, reading has been a bit of a struggle. The subject matter of the book has been a little difficult to read so I’ve been picking away at this one whenever I can. The other book is When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel H. Pink. This one has been pretty interesting. The book focuses on timing and when the best times are to make decisions, ask for favors or attempt a daunting task. More to come on these books soon in a future recap!

How was your September? Read anything good? Any important life events? Let me know in the comments!

Until We Meet Again,
Mr Geek

Book Review: Once Upon A Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber

Anyone who has been around my blog for awhile knows that I absolutely loved the Caraval trilogy by Stephanie Garber. The world building was fantastic, the characters memorable and the “game” always intriguing! When I heard Stephanie was writing a new book, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it! When Flatiron Books reached out, asking me to participate in their Blogger Tour for Once Upon A Broken Heart, I was more than happy to join in the fun! The Publisher sent me an advanced copy but the question is, did it live up the hype? Read on to find out (and don’t worry, I’ve kept this entire review spoiler-free)!

Once Upon A Broken Heart is Stephanie Garber’s upcoming release that also takes place in the Caraval universe. Reading the Caraval trilogy isn’t required but I HIGHLY recommend that you do because it’s a great series and you’ll appreciate the little “Easter eggs” Garber sprinkles throughout the book.

In Once Upon A Broken Heart we meet Evangeline Fox – a hopeless romantic, with rose gold hair, that dreams of her happily ever after. Evangeline spends her days working in her late Father’s curiosity shop and her nights with her Stepmother and Stepsister. When Evangeline learns that her Stepsister is to wed her the man she’s been seeing in secret, she’s willing to go to great lengths to stop this from happening. Evangeline turns to the fated Prince of Hearts, Jacks, and makes a deal to help stop this wedding. As we all know, making a deal with a Fate rarely ends well. Jacks is will to help Evangeline and it will only cost her 3 kisses. She greedily accepts this deal and that’s where the story really takes off.

After being presented with the opportunity of a lifetime, Evangeline is whisked away to the Great North, on a whirlwind adventure, with her Stepsister, Marisol! Before long, Jacks shows up looking to cash in on the bargain they made and soon Evangeline realizes that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is!

What I appreciated most about Once Upon A Broken Heart was the engrossing plot. I tore through this book in a few short days. When I wasn’t reading, I was wondering what on earth was going to happen or trying to figure out how this could possibly end. Garber’s writing is descriptive, imaginative and unique – you feel like you’re these locations with some of the characters. As I previously mentioned, there are some nice nods to the Caraval trilogy. This was also something I loved. It was great seeing some familiar characters who didn’t get as much face time in the prior series! Overall, this was a thoroughly enjoyable story and I can’t wait for the next book to be released (too bad it’s going to be at least another year before that happens).

Once Upon A Broken Heart will appeal to pretty much any reader because it has a little of everything – adventure, fairytale magic, love, unique locations and engaging characters! If you were a fan of the Caraval series, I can all but guarantee you’re going to love Once Upon A Broken Heart! If you’re new to Stephanie’s writing, this is a great place to start. Take it from me, if you’re looking escape reality for awhile, grab a copy of Once Upon A Broken Heart and spend a little time in the Great North or Maximillion’s Curiosity Shop!

Once Upon A Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber will be out September 28th, 2021. Pre-Order your copy now anywhere books are sold!

Until We Meet Again,
Mr Geek

Reverse Read-A-Thon: How To Get Out Of A Reading Slump

1) Don’t be afraid to abandon a book you aren’t enjoying! This is definitely a “Do as I say, not as I do” tactic. Personally, I have the HARDEST time DNF’ing a book or just putting it down to read something else. I think this was a big contributing factor to my slump earlier this year. You can always go back to your current read some other time when you might be in the mood for that particular story.

2) Switch up your format! If you’re struggling to get through a book, consider getting the audiobook version from the Library, Scribd, Audible or your favorite audiobook service. I’ve found that if I’m struggle to get through a book, listen can really help push me along. I love to read on my Kindle and listen to the audiobook – I usually opt for audiobooks when I’m going for a walk (since my mind can’t really wander to other things).

3) Consider re-reading a favorite! I had a mild reading slump a few years ago and decided I was going to pick up the first few Harry Potter books. Returning to that world and revisiting some of my favorite characters rekindled my love for reading and definitely got me back on track.

4) Seek out a new book by one of your favorite authors! I have a few authors that I will auto-buy any book they put out because I just love their writing style and stories (I’m looking at you V.E. Schwab and Christopher Moore). Their novels are always well written, enjoyable and a nice escape from reality.

Well there you have it, a few of my personal reading tips to help you break free from your reading slump. I hope everyone has a great day full of lots of books and pages! I’ll be reading my ARC of T.J. Klune’s upcoming book, Under The Whispering Door. I’m about 30% in so far and it has been solid. Very different from House In The Cerulean Sea but enjoyable nevertheless! If you’re interested in more thoughts, be sure to stop back for my full review later this month and follow allow on Twitter @ItsMrGeekToYou.

Until We Meet Again,
Mr Geek

March ’21 Wrap Up

It’s hard to believe that March is here and gone already! April is already here, I’m writing this post just a litttttle late, and Spring is right around the corner (even though it snowed today in Pittsburgh whomp whomp whompppp). I am extremely ready for the warmer temperatures and hopefully a return to somewhat normalcy! I had an interesting reading month with some wins and some loses. Let’s dig into the books!

I kicked off the month with Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson. I have been a big Swanson fan for years! I absolutely loved The Kind Worth Killing and Her Every Fear. Eight Perfect Murders really left a lot to be desired. The overall plot felt extremely rushed and underdeveloped. It didn’t have the creative, unique suspense that I relate with Swanson. This was a shorter book and it just didn’t do anything for me. The plot could’ve been more detailed and built up a bit more. Everything felt very superficial. For me, I’d say pass on this one.

Once I wrapped that up, I moved on to Weird: The Power Of Being An Outsider In An Insider World by Olga Khazan. I picked this book up as an Audible deal of the Day. I got the email, read the synopsis and made the purchase. I really wish I would’ve done a little more research on this one before committing. I just wasn’t impressed with this book… at all. It was both the writing style and the content. The writing style bothered me because we followed several individuals but we didn’t hear their whole story consecutively. Instead we’d hear part 1 (of 5 or 6 total parts) about this person then part 1 about this other person. Then we might hear an unrelated story. Eventually we get into part 2 for all of these people we previously met. For me, I kept confusing some of the people and had a hard time keeping their stories straight. This lead to a slightly disorienting reading experience. The other part of this book that I wasn’t a fan of was some of the content. The issue here is that most of these people aren’t really “weird.” Instead they are weird because of how people judge them. Overall, very lackluster and I’d definitely say pass on this one too!

Finally, I rounded a corner and started to get into some bette reads! Next up I tackled Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay. With the return / reboot of the Showtime series, I wanted to get back into the books before the show launches this Fall. Book 2 follows everyone’s favorite serial killer and his Dark Passenger as Dexter becomes a little more domesticated while still murdering and solving crimes. I think what I love most about this series is how both the TV show and the books are fantastic but have very different storylines (they basically share characters and plots, loosely). Relationships and character storylines are different but that really helps with engagement. I did find Dearly Devoted Dexter to be MUC gorier than the previous installment. The graphic nature of the main killer in this book was a little much for even me to handle! Overall though, still a very enjoyable and engaging read!

Lastly, I co-hosted Round 14 of Tome Topple and decided I wanted to finish The Dark Artifices series so I toppled Queen of Air And Darkness by Cassandra Clare. Holy crap was this book great! The Dark Artifices is hands down my favorite Shadowhunter series to date (I’ve heard great things about The Last Hours, but haven’t read that one yet). This finale had everything I wanted / needed. Like I’ve said for all the books in this series, they are extremely long but don’t feel extremely long! Queen of Air And Darkness came in at a little over 900 pages. The plot had so much action that you never felt bored or like the story was dragging. This book picks up immediately after the end of Lord of Shadows. The first 100 pages or so were a little on the slower / sadder side since everyone was still reeling from the events at the end of book 2. Once we get over that hump, the plot picks up and flies along at break neck speeds! I’m planning to read Tales of the Shadow Market soon so I can jump right into The Last Hours (this will be my first Clare series that I’ll be reading in “real time”).

Also, before I wrap up this post, I wanted to take a minute to promote Tome Topple. For those of you unfamiliar, Tome Topple is a read-a-thon that takes place multiple times per year and the concept is simple: Read books that are over 500 pages! Long books usually intimidate me, so I can use all the extra motivation possible to read them! I’ve been co-hosting the last few rounds (and will hopefully be co-hosting many more rounds in the future). If you’re looking for more information, check out my Round 14 announcement post here. Be sure to follow @Tome_Topple and @ItsMrGeekToYou on Twitter for more details about the next round!

How was your March? Did you read any books you just can’t help but recommend? Let me know in the comments! I’m always looking to grow my INSANELY long TBR!

Until We Meet Again,
Mr Geek

Ready Player Two, A Rant

This was not a blog post that I was expecting to be writing! Ready Player Two was one of my most anticipated 2020 releases and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it… which I thought was going to be awhile since I wasn’t willing to pay $15 for the Kindle edition. After the book was released, it received less than stellar reviews from Bloggers, BookTubers and Reviewers. I was baffled by this backlash but the negativity didn’t impact my desire to read this book! Fast-forward to December. A couple of friends got me a copy of Ready Player Two for Christmas (as part of an AMAZING “retro” themed gift that perfectly aligned with the novel’s Pop Culture laden plot). I couldn’t wait to get started and decided it was going to be one of the first books I read in January! Now that the background has been established, let the rant begin…

I want to start off by saying: Get the F**K OFF ERNEST CLINE’S BACK. For the love of God. For probably a solid month I saw all these tweets, blog posts and BookTube videos that were completely TRASHING this book. I didn’t fully watch most of these for fear of spoilers, since I hadn’t read the book. The biggest complaints were about how “Wade changed and was no longer recognizable.” Ummmm, hello. Repeat after me, “That’s what happens when people suddenly come into an ass load of money.” This scenario is shown time and time again. People win a lot of money and become jerks. They fall out with their friends, they end up fighting with their families and they use their money as a crutch. Wade’s behavior early on in this book doesn’t surprise me the least! Mild spoilers: He does redeem himself.

The other feedback I’ve seen is how “unnecessary” (imagine me saying that in my most pretentious, condescending voice possible) this book is. Was this book necessary? Nope. Was it an insanely fun, pop-culture roller coaster that was completely entertaining? You bet your ass it was! I am an avid videogamer, so obviously I really connected with Ready Player One. Ready Player Two was chock full of pop culture references that were also enjoyable in a different way. The premise of this book revolved around collecting seven shard of the Siern’s Soul. I can already hear the naysayers… “But Mr Geekkkkkkk…. The FIRST book had a quest.” WELL NEWS FLASH – so can this one, it did and I loved it!

Now, don’t get me wrong, this book wasn’t perfect. The early chapters definitely dragged a bit to really establish the story while also giving the read a refresher on Ready Player One (which I appreciated, since I didn’t re-read it prior). Once the quest begins, things really start to flow. Overall, I was satisfied with the ending but it did have a quirky wrap up.

I feel so much better getting all of these feelings out. So. My advice to you, my dear reader, is that if you were / are interested in reading Ready Player Two, read Ready Player Two. To hell with what everyone else thinks. Give it a go, see what you think and judge the book for yourself. I’d also like to thank Mollie and Christi for gifting me a copy of Ready Player Two as part of an amazing Retro Christmas gift!

Until Next Time,
Mr Geek

Top 5 Favorite Books of 2020

Earlier this week, I talked about my Top 5 Biggest Book Disappointments of 2020. I specifically decided to call out BOOK disappointments, because otherwise the entire year would’ve been featured on that list!

Just me trying to make it through 2020 in one piece…

I really shouldn’t complain. While this was a total dumpster fire of a year, I did get a chance to read a ton of great books! When the pandemic first began, I really struggled to settle into a new routine and adjust to this “new normal.” My reading definitely took a nose-dive because I just couldn’t focus on my books with everything happening in the world. Thankfully, by the Summer months I got myself back on track! Deciding which books to feature here really was a challenge! I’m going to keep the summaries short but I’ve included a blurb about what my this book so great (in my opinion). After that long intro, it’s time to talk great books!! (My list will be in my reading chronological order through the year, starting January to December).

Kicking off this list is Oona Out Of Order by Margarita Montimore! What an absolute joy and refreshing deviation from my standard genres! This was a story about a woman who, starting on her 19th birthday, begins living her life out of order. Each birthday she time hops to a different age, 19 – 54 – 37 – 78. What really made this a memorable reading experience were the life lessons and fantastic quotes sprinkled throughout this novel. Each year Oona lives teaches her something which I found to be interesting and applicable to my life. Montimore also had some truly noteworthy quotes, my favorite being: All good things end, always. The trick is to enjoy them while they last. As I look into 2021, this is something that’s going to stick with me. Savor these enjoyable moments because you never know how long that are going to last.

Next up we have House In The Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune. A good friend of mine recommended this book to me and I am so glad she did! Cerulean Sea is the story of a social work name Linus, who handles orphanages for “special children.” One day Linus gets a high-priority assignment and is asked to travel to a very… unique… orphanage. There he meets an eclectic group of people that turn his entire life upside down. Each of the children has a very distinct personality that adds so much charm and dimension to the story. To put it simply, this book is perfection. While this was a work of fiction, Klune does an incredible job weaving in relevant parallels to what’s happening in today’s world (like prejudice and discrimination). If you’re looking for a feel-good story, look no further than The House In The Cerulean Sea!

Starting last year, I decided I wanted to read all of the Shadowhunter Chronicles by Cassandra Clare. I started off strong, reading The Mortal Instruments trilogy (Part 1, Books 1 – 3), The Infernal Devices trilogy and started The Mortal Instruments Part 2 (Book #4, City of Fallen Angels). This year, I finished off the last 2 books in part 2 of The Mortal Instruments, the supplemental short story bind ups and moved onto The Dark Artifices. Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare was my favorite entry in this world to date. The writing was engaging and the plot centered around a mystery. It was a wild ride from the first page to the very last! What really cemented this book’s spot on my Top 5 list was the fact that it was nearly 700 and it didn’t feel nearly that long. The story was meaningful and there wasn’t fluff or filler. I’m currently reading Lord of Shadows and I’m anxious to see where the story goes from here!

My next book, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab, was a bit of a toss up. I was conflicted including this because it has already received SO much praise this year already. If you haven’t heard of this book (first of all, where have you been?), it’s the story of Adeline LaRue who makes a deal with a Dark God to change her fate and have the life she always dreamed of. The catch? As soon as Addie leaves your vision, you forget her… until she finally meets someone who remembers. Similar to Oona Out Of Order, Addie LaRue is not my typical genre of book but I thoroughly enjoyed it. This was an epic story, that needed to be told, and Schwab crafted it would masterful precision. I was nervous about how this was all going to wrap up but the ending was utter perfection. It was a great culmination to a fantastic tale

Finally, rounding out this list is, Anxious People by Fredrik Bachman. This was one of the last books I read this year and I ENJOYED IT. I’ve read several of Bachman’s other works (A Man Called Ove and My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry). Both of these novels were wonderful and definitely tugged a bit at the heartstrings. I went into Anxious People expecting a lighthearted and funny story about a bank robbery gone wrong. This wasn’t quite what I got. The novel had a much more serious and somber tone since suicide plays a large role in the plot. There was a large cast of characters but Bachman did a great job giving each one a distinct voice so you never mixed them up. While suicide is at the center of the book, the story manages to be uplifting and center on healing. Give this one a whirl if you need a little optimism in your life.

I would like to cheat and add one final “Honorable Mention” which is Atomic Habits by Jame Clear. It’s really hard to put this book up against some of the incredible fiction I’ve previously mentioned but I had to still mention this book. I absolutely loved it and thought the advice was so applicable. Clear does a great job making the advice relatable and useful (as opposed to most of the other self-help / development books I’ve read). He’s easy to connect to and doesn’t come across as condescending. A MUST read if you’re looking to build new, or break existing, habits!

And there you have it! My Top 5 Favorite Books of 2020. While this year wasn’t quite exactly what I was hoping it would be, I learned a little and ended up reading a lot. I’m hopeful that 2021 will be the year we’ve all earned and deserve!

Have you read any of my favorites? What did you think? Any recommendations on “Must Read” books for 2021? Leave your favorites in the comments – let’s face it, my TBR is never going to shrink!

Until We Meet Again,
Mr Geek

Tome Topple: Round 13 / November Recap

As I said in a previous tweet, October was FAST and November turned out to be even FASTER! How is that even possible!? I had an… interesting reading month filled with amazing books and very mediocre books. In total, I read 7 books this month and I’m still on track to hit my goal of 52 for the year! Not only did I get a lot of reading in, I also had the pleasure of co-hosting one of my favorite read-a-thons, Tome Topple (more on that later)!

As I previous mentioned, I read The Witches by Roald Dahl and The List by JA Konrath. Neither of these books were that amazing. The Witches was a rather morbid story but The List was quirky and entertaining. I really enjoy Konrath’s unique writing style. The plots are always inventive and I can’t help by get sucked into his stories!

After The List, I moved onto the masterpiece that is The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab. This book was FANTASTIC and it was just what the doctor ordered! While this wasn’t my typical read, I relished in the world and story that Schwab created. The premise was awesome – to escape her destiny, Addie makes a deal with a “Dark God” to free herself. This deal comes at a cost, no one can remember Addie after they’ve left her presence. Addie lives for over 300 years, roaming the earth, stealing what she needs until one day she meets Henry… and Henry can remember her. For me personally, this book really took shape about halfway through when Addie meets Henry and the “adventure” really begins. The story flowed in such an amazing and poetic way. If you haven’t picked this one up yet, move it to the top of your TBR ASAP.

Rounding out the month, I read a couple self-help books. The Person You Mean To Be By Dolly Chugh and Atomic Habits by James Clear. Dolly Chugh was a featured speaker at a recent work event. I was able to hear her talk and was blown away by how personable and relatable she is. I decided to pick up her book, The Person You Mean To Be, on audiobook because she narrated it. I don’t want to “review” this book because the subject matter isn’t meant to be entertaining – it’s meant to be informative and challenge / stretch your views. Did I agree with all of the ideas presented in this book? Absolutely not. Did these views challenge my to think in different ways and looks at certain topics from a different angle? You bet. This is one of the only books on GoodReads I didn’t give a star rating to because I’d encourage everyone to pick this up and give it a try. After I finished Dolly’s book I moved onto Atomic Habits. Atomic Habits was HANDS DOWN one of the best self-help / development books I have ever read. Clear gives you real, actionable advices for helping you to start new habits or break bad ones. I think what I appreciated the most about his take on habits was very rarely did he make the book about him (i.e. I did this or I struggled to do this) and instead talked to principles and actuality. He was also extremely easy to relate to! I found myself taking notes on ways to implement these strategies in my everyday life (and New Year Resolutions are coming)! If you’re looking for ways to build better habits, give this book a try. I can confidently say you’ll find it extremely useful!

The last couple books I read this month were Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo and The Toll by Neal Schusterman. Clap When You Land was an interesting book and, again, not something that I typically pick up. The story is about two sisters, who don’t know they are sisters, until their father dies in a tragic plane crash. The story is told from each of the girls’ perspectives. Acevedo did an incredible job giving each of these characters a unique voice. There was small nuances and cultural influences that really shown through into each of the characters. My last book I finished was The Toll and that was ONE HECK OF A FINALE. I started the Arc of a Scythe trilogy on New Year’s Day of and made my way through all 3 books over the course of the year. Scythe and Thunderhead (books 1 and 2, respectively) were absolutely incredible. I heard iffy things about The Toll, so I subliminally pushed it off. While it was a little on the long side (there was definitely some fluff that couldn’t been cut out) I found the story to be interesting and engaging. There were some interesting twists sprinkled throughout and I found the ending to be pretty spot on. It wasn’t too perfect or cookie cutter and had just enough grit and uniqueness!

Tome Topple Wrap Up

I was incredibly lucky to help co-host Tome Topple Round 13. I had a blast leading reading sprints and talking books with all of the other readers participating in the read-a-thon. I have to hand it to Sam (from @ThoughtsOnTomes) and the rest of the co-hosts, they do an incredible job running things. I’ve participated in this read-a-thon several times before and never realized how much work goes into creating it! I work in eCommerce for a retailer, so the week of Thanksgiving was a little crazy for me. I ended up finishing my only tome (The Toll) on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Another round is scheduled for February-ish, so I am hoping to topple a few books during that round since life should be a lot calmer then!

We’re well into December, so I’ll be posting a TBR soon and then my year in review wrap up! Hope everyone is staying safe and I’ll back with another post this week!

Until we meet again,
Mr Geek