Mid-Year Freak Out Booktag

I recently saw the Mid-Year Freak Out booktag on YouTube and thought I’d do a little research to see if this was something that I could translate to my blog. The Mid-Year Freak Out is basically just your year in books, so far, highlighting your favorite and not-so-favorite books. I thought this would be a fun way to recap my reading year and revisit some of my favorite books! 2020 seems to be moving incredibly fast and incredibly slow simultaneously! So, without further ado, onto my list!


Best book you’ve read so far in 2020.

The House on the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

So I am cheating a little with this one and I haven’t finished this book at the time of authoring this post (but hopefully by the time it goes live next week). My good friend Mollie recommend that I read “The House on the Cerulean Sea.” This is such a wonderful, surprising and wholesome book – it really caught me off guard! We follow the main character, Linus, who is a casework for the Department In Charge Of Magical Youth (DICOMY). The book opens with Linus visiting an orphanage and reporting on how they are treating the children left in their care. Soon Linus receives a highly classified assignment where he must visit an orphanage on the island of Marsyas. This particular orphanage has an assortment of very “unique” and magical children. The story continues to roll from there! It’s best to go into this one with limited knowledge of the plot and to just be swept away! Cannot recommend this one enough (I officially finished this on Sunday and read the last ~200 pages)!



Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020.

Thunderhead by Neal Schusterman

Scythe was the very first book I read this year and it was excellent! I had no idea how Thunderhead could top that but it did! To keep this summary spoiler-free, Thunderhead begins shortly after the events of Scythe and the action just doesn’t stop. The plot moves a breakneck speeds and the ending really caught me by surprise. I’m excited to read The Toll but I’m also not ready to finish this series!


New release you haven’t read yet, but want to.

The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin

One of my favorite BookTubers, Reagan from PeruseProject, is a HUGE fan of N. K. Jemisin. Reagan has featured several of Jemisin’s books on her channel. I’ve never read anything by this author but I recently picked up an omnibus of her Inheritance trilogy and a copy of The City We Became. The City We Became has a fascinating premise, each city has a soul and is birthed. New York City is finally entering the world when an evil villain shows up to stop it. All of the summaries I’ve read about this are rather vague but I’m really looking forward to diving into this one soon!


Most anticipated release for the second half of the year.

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by Victoria Schwab

Victoria Schwab has quickly become one of my favorite authors. I read her “Shades of Magic” trilogy back in 2018 and have been an avid fan since then. This new stand alone adult novel has the potential to be one of my favorite books by Schwab yet! We follow the main character, Addie, who made a deal with the Devil for immortality. What did it cost her? She’s destined to be forgotten by everyone that she meets. Until one day, she meets a man in a hidden bookstore who remembers her name. October can’t come soon enough for this one!


Biggest disappointment.

You by Caroline Kepnes

When I found out that one of my favorite shows from Netflix, YOU, was actually based on a book, I was thrilled! I quickly binged both Season 1 and 2 shortly after their releases. Since I so thoroughly enjoyed the show, I thought I was all but guaranteed to love the book… wrong. We follow the main character, Joe, who works in a book store in New York City. One day, Guinevere Beck comes into the shop and Joe’s life is changed forever. Joe becomes obsessed with Beck and begin stalking her. Soon their lives begin to intersect and you can tell their relationship is a ticking time bomb that won’t end well. For me, something was lost in translation between the TV show and the novel. Even though Joe is a stalker, TV Joe had this likability that Book Joe was completely missing. I also found the aggressive and raunchy language to really put me off as a reader. I usually struggle with this type of content because imagining it in a book is so much worse than seeing it on a screen. Not a fan and I would definitely say pass on this one if you were interested!


Biggest surprise.

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

Anyone who knows me, knows that I absolutely adore cheesy horror movies. The lower the budget, the better! After reading the plot of “The Escape Room,” I knew this would be right up my alley. A group of coworkers end up trapped in the elevator of a new building that’s under construction. They’re lured to this particular location under the muse of an escape room team bonding challenge. This book has multiple timelines (I love this writing style) and flips between present day and the past. I found the plot extremely engaging and easy to follow. I compulsively read this one because I just had to know how this was going to end! A very good thriller and a very quick read! If you’re into the thriller / suspense genre, this book can’t be missed!


Favorite new author, debut or new to you.

Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore

I originally saw “Oona Out of Order” on the Jordy’s Book Club Instagram account. The cover really caught my attention and once I read the summary, I knew I had to read this book as soon as possible! The premise was fascinating – starting on Oona’s 18th birthday, she begins to live her life out of order. Each birthday she “leaps” to a past or future year (i.e. she’s 56 then she’s 67 then she’s 22). I don’t really want to discuss the plot because the journey is really what makes it so enjoyable. What I enjoyed the most was the “lesson” each year taught her. I love when I book can teach you a lesson or give you something to think about. Montimore gave us these philosophical nuggets wrapped up in an intriguing story that pulled you in and never let you go.


Book that made you happy.

City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare

I’ve been seeing reviews, hype and praise for Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter books for YEARS. Beginning last year, I decided I was going to commit to reading these books, in order, over the next year or two. I began with the first Mortal Instruments trilogy, read the Infernal Devices trilogy and then the second Mortal Instruments trilogy. I made it through the first 7 books last year. I read the penultimate, City of Lost Souls, and the finale, City of Heavenly Fire, this year. City of Heavenly Fire was honestly a perfect final entry in the Mortal Instruments series. There was plenty of action, heartbreak and loose ends were nicely tied up. This was quite the chunky book, coming in at nearly 750 pages, but it never felt long. I was sad to end the Mortal Instruments, because it was like saying goodbye to a group of friends (who I spent over 3,000 pages with). I am eagerly anticipating wrapping up the short story binds ups so I can move onto the Dark Artifices trilogy! I’ve heard this is one of Clare’s best series and is quite addicting!


Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Gryffindor House Edition by J. K. Rowling

Instead of writing about this one, I’m just going to share a picture! I ordered this book from Waterstones (United Kingdom) with a couple other books that I had been eyeing the UK editions.


What 6 books do you want to read by the end of the year?

  • The Toll by Neal Schusterman
  • Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare
  • Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett
  • The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin
  • Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson
  • Nevernight by Jay Kristoff

If you made it this far, thanks for taking the time to read this post! So far, 2020 has been a tumultuous year. I’ve been struggling to find my reading groove with everything happening in the world but, thankfully, I’ve been fortunate to read a lot of really great books! I hope over these next 6 months things continue to settle down and my TBR continues to shrink (who am I kidding, it’s only going to grow)! What’s your favorite book you’ve read this year? What was your biggest dud? What’s a title you’re counting down until the release? Leave me your recommendations in the comments!

Until Next Time,
Mr. Geek

Favorite Quotes #1

As I previously mentioned, before launching this blog (again), I brainstormed a list of potential writing topics. One of the ideas I had to was discuss some of my favorite quotes. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved a good quote, so I think this is easily going to be one of my favorite topics to write about! This should be a win-win: 1) I’ll have a series of posts documenting all of my favorite quotes and 2) Maybe one of these quotes will connect with you, resulting in your next favorite read! So, without further ado, onto the quotes!

“You will be fine,” the fortune-teller says. “There may be decisions to make, and surprises in store. Life takes us to unexpected places sometimes. The future is never set in stone, remember that.”
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Book Summary: The Night Circus is an absolutely amazing tale about two magicians (Celia & Marco) who, unbeknownst to them, were entered into a competition at a very young age. Each time their circus arrives in a town, these magicians are included in an act and a “winner” is chosen based on their performances. To further complicate the situation, Celia and Marco begin to fall in love… which becomes even more problematic since there can only be one winner of their competition and the other will perish. Morgenstern’s proses are rich, detailed and completely engrossing – she weaves a gripping tale that will captivate you until the very last page. The characters are memorable and the story is pure magic – if you haven’t read The Night Circus, do yourself a favor and add this to your TBR!

Why I love this quote: Ever since I picked up this book a few years ago (thanks for the recommendation Mollie!) this particular line has stuck with me. I love the optimism! Life may take us in a direction that we never expected, but nothing is set in stone and everything can be changed. Life taking us to “unexpected places” also really resonates with me. Back when I was in college (about 10 years ago), I had my future all planned out. Fast forward to the present day, very few of my plans worked out the way I expected (but, thankfully, in some cases, they worked out better). What’s really amazing, though, is that life took me to some truly unexpected, and great, places. While my life isn’t perfect, I wouldn’t change a thing!

“And that’s how you go on. You lay laughter over the dark parts. The more dark parts, the more you have to laugh. With defiance, with abandon, with hysteria, any way you can.”
Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Book Summary: A Librarian. A lost city. Children of Gods.**
**It’s really best to go into this book knowing very little about the plot. Taylor’s writing is effortless and the plot unpacks at a perfect rate. Just brace yourself for an emotional rollercoaster and enjoy the ride!

Why I love this quote: I am a huge advocate for having a sense of humor! I try not to take myself too seriously, am unapologetically myself and definitely laugh off my mistakes. For me, it’s important to see the humor during difficult situations but also helping others see the humor as well. When you can own these trying times, which I think we can all relate to right now), with humor, positivity and optimism, it makes everything a little easier to handle.

“All good things end, always. The trick is to enjoy them while they last.”
Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore

Book Summary: Starting on Oona’s 19th birthday, which happens to be New Year’s Day, when the clock strikes midnight, Oona “leaps” to a different year and begins living her life out-of-order. These leaps are random and soon she is hopscotching through decades, pop culture trends and major life events. This is definitely more of a “life lesson” book but the story is fantastic and it will definitely stick with you long after you finish the last page. This is another one that better to go in with limited knowledge about the plot and just enjoy the ride.

Why I love this quote: I think the reason this is one of my favorite quotes and has stuck with me is because we usually don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone. This particular line is encouraging you to really soak in all of those good times while you have them because, unfortunately, they won’t last. Everyone is so consumed with multitasking, social media or worrying about “what’s next” that we lose sight of the great things right in front of us. In this uncertain world we’re living in, I’ve been trying to slow down and acknowledge the good things in life. It doesn’t matter if it’s a FaceTiming with friends, reading on the patio, a round of golf or a nice glass of win – these moment should be enjoyed!


I hope you enjoyed these quotes as much as I do! I thoroughly enjoyed writing this post and this will absolute be a frequent topic here at Treat Yo Shelf. Feel free to sound off in the comments about which of these quotes you liked best or post you own favorite quotes (please include the book too)!

Until Next Time,
Mr. Geek

Book Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

It’s hard to believe that it has be 10 years since Suzanne Collins concluded the Hunger Games trilogy. What’s even harder to believe, is that this series wasn’t even my radar until the release of “Mockingjay.” I distinctly remember seeing a “Coming Soon” poster at Barnes & Noble and thinking “What’s the deal with this blue book with the bird on the cover?” I never investigated the book further until it happened to come up one day at work (I was working at a small Publishing company, at the time). One of our interns was an English major and was talking about how she just binge read “Mockingjay” the day it came out for class. This sparked my interest and we started discussing the series. After that conversation, I was officially intrigued and ran out during my lunch break to pick up a copy of “The Hunger Games!” This series quickly became one of my favorites and the rest, my friends, is history!

I heard, earlier this year, that a new Hunger Games prequel was announced and I was thrilled. Details were few and far between but the events of this book happen roughly 50 years or so before we meet Katniss. Even with no information on the plot, I was still looking forward to re-visitng Panem. As additional details were announced, it was revealed that this book was going to be focusing on President Snow. The book community seemed to responded with mixed feelings but I was still extremely interested in reading this new release as soon as possible!

I purposely avoided reviews, feedback and comments about “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (TBOSAS)” while I was reading so I didn’t accidentally spoil anything for myself (or pick up some sort of bias). Having finished the book last night, I spent most of this morning seeking out all of that content I was avoiding. I was quite surprised by some of the reactions I saw. There were digs at Collins for “extending” a concluded series, Snow as a main character and how these details could’ve been included in the original trilogy / didn’t deserve their own book. I wanted to share of my thoughts and why I think some of this feedback missed its mark. Disclaimer: All of this content is relatively spoiler-free, I discuss some revealed information but without any context and I don’t think it will reduce your enjoyment of the book.

To start off, this book is without a doubt NOT an “extension” of “The Hunger Games” series. We are not continuing the story with Katniss and Peeta. The purpose of this novel was to give readers the background on how the Hunger Games became the Hunger Games. When Katniss and Peeta competed, we saw past winners serving as mentors, elaborate costumes, in-depth tribute interviews, a ranking / betting system, technologically-advanced arenas and gifts being flown in to fan-favorites, but how did that all come to be? “TBOSAS” gives you all of this background information and more! I guess I sort of assumed that the Hunger Games were expertly structured from the very beginning. That was definitely not the case! It took years and years of iterations to turn these Games into the finely tuned event we see in “The Hunger Games” and “Catching Fire.”

While President Snow wasn’t my first choice as a main character, it was interesting learning more about his upbringing and background. In his youth, Snow was not the twisted, manipulative, villainous dictator we’ve all come to despise from the main trilogy. Instead, he was a poor orphan boy, living with his cousin and Grandma’am, trying to maintain a false appearance of grandeur. Snow was extremely driven and dreamed of achieving a better life for not only himself, but his family too. I found his character building to be fascinating. Later in the book, we come to understand why Snow hated District 12 and his complicated relationship with the mockingjay. For me, I think these were some of my favorite revelations in the book. Katniss was often referred to as the Mockingjay but that now takes on a whole new meaning!

Snow’s behavior towards the end of the book does become a little erratic but I think this all ties into the fact that he is extremely driven and will do almost anything to get what he wants. There was a period where he seemed very resigned to his fate but as soon as there was a glimmer of hope, he continued fighting – nothing was going to stop him from the future he so desperately desired!

While this wasn’t a perfect read, probably 4 or 4.5 / 5 stars, it was very enjoyable. If you’re on the fence about picking this up, here are a few things to ponder to help decide: Are you interested in learning the origins and growth of the Hunger Games? Why President Snow hates mockingjays and District 12? How mentors, betting, interviews and gifting were introduced? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’ll at least get some pleasure from reading this book. If you’re expecting an action-packed adventure in the arena, you probably should pass on this one!

Have you read “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes?” Do you agree or disagree? Sound off in the comments – I love a good good discussion!

Until next time,
Mr. Geek