Happy New Year: 2021 Reading Goals, Blog Posts and My January TBR!

It’s currently New Year’s Eve and I just sat down to draft this post. I have a Moscow Mule in hand and I’m thinking back over what a roller coaster this year has been. This time last year, I was full of hope, optimism and excitement about what the new year was going to hold. I had an extremely rocky 2019 and was hoping 2020 was going to be that fresh start and reset that I so desperately needed. Despite this year being a complete dumpster fire from basically start to finish, about halfway through the year I decided I still wanted to end the year strong. I started this blog, picked up several new hobbies and began planning to make 2021 my year. Now that 2021 is here, I thought it only appropriate to discuss some of my reading goals, hopes for this blog and my January TBR! But first, a commemorative photo for us all to remember 2020.

To kick things off, I wanted to talk about my reading goals. One positive thing that came out of 2020 was that I learned I like to make a monthly TBR. This really shouldn’t come as a surprise because I have always been a “list” guy. I love making a list and crossing it off. I think I’ve always avoided this in the past because I tend to be more of a “mood reader.” I enjoy picking out book more in the moment than deciding before hand. By creating monthly TBRs, it helped organize me and keep me on track. As I’m looking into 2021, I’m going to continue this trend. I’m also going to prioritize several books / series that I have been meaning to read or finish and just never get there:

  • The Lunar Chronicles (Only need to finish Winter)
  • The Mistborn Series (At least books 1-3)
  • The Dark Artifices Trilogy (Need to finish books 2 & 3)
  • The Daevabad Trilogy
  • The Locked Tomb Trilogy
  • The Last Hours Trilogy
  • A Court of Thorns & Roses Series
  • The Glass Throne Series
  • The Nevernight Chronicles
  • The Great Library Series
  • The Witchlands Series
  • The Monsters of Verity Duology
  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
  • His Dark Materials Trilogy
  • The Farseer Trilogy

I know most, if not all, of the books included in this list will be incredible so I’m really looking forward to diving in! I’ll be setting my GoodReads reading goal in the next week or so and I’m thinking that I might stick with my 35 book goal again. I am planning to read some long books this year and want to make sure reading remains a fun activity and doesn’t become a chore!

As I read away the days, I’m planning to post here A LOT more often. This might come in the form of quick updates or more formalized, planned posts (like “Thoughts I had while reading Twilight,” really looking forward to this one). I love reading and want to create fun, enjoyable content that is unapologetically mine. I hope you’ll consider subscribing or following me on Twitter (@ItsMrGeekToYou) to enjoy all of the updates I’ll be sharing in 2021!

Last, but most definitely not least, my January TBR! I’ve already got a tiny head start on because I started reading Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare. This is the second installment in the Dark Artifices trilogy. I was a HUGE fan of Lady Midnight and I’m already enjoying Lord of Shadows. Once this is complete, I’m planning to move onto Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline. Then I’ll be jumping back into the Shadowhunter World with Queen of Air & Darkness by Cassandra Clare. These are some pretty chunky books, so I’m not expecting to get much else read this month but if I have time for one more book, it’ll probably be Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. I’ve never read Twilight (but I think I saw some of the movie once). I’ve never been a fan and have always wanted to do a “Thoughts I Had While Reading…” post, this seemed like the perfect opportunity! If I can’t fit in for January, I’ll probably postpone until March (I’m planning an Authors of Color TBR for February and Black History Month – more on that later)!

Here’s to an incredible 2021 filled with excitement, health and adventures. What are your plans for 2021? Reading goals? New Year’s Resolutions? Have any read anything that I want to read? What are your thoughts? Comment below, I love to talk books!

Happy New Year and Until We Meet Again,
Mr Geek

October ’20 TBR

It’s finally October and that means “Spooky SZN” is upon us! The weather is FINALLY starting to cool off in the northeast and all of the Autumn flavors are in full swing (I’m looking at you Pumpkin Spice and Apple). I typically don’t set a book “theme” for the month but I decided to give that a try for October. Since Halloween will be coming up, I thought this would be the perfect time to break out all of my horror / spooky books to binge all month long! I’m still on track to hit my stretch goal of 52 books by the end of the year. If I want to hit this goal, I need to read at least 6 books each month in October, November and December. I’ve set an aggressive TBR for October so, without further ado, let’s jump into the books!

I’m going to kick the month off with a classic horror story, Pet Semetary by Stephen King. I haven’t read many books by King but this seems to be a favorite! I actually don’t know a ton about this story other than there is some sort of cursed land that has the power to bring whatever is buried there back to life… but not quite the same. I actually have a paperback of this and will be listen to some of the audiobook. The audiobook is narrated by Michael C. Hall and it has received rave reviews. After Pet Semetary, I’m going to move on to Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Mexican Gothic has been described as a horror-thriller that seems to be right up my alley. When Noemi received a mysterious letter from her cousin, beginning someone to come save her from impending doom, she sets off to the High Place to investigate. Noemi is better suited for dresses and dinner parties than as a rescue but that won’t stop her. As Noemi dig deeper and deeper, she soon discovers a history of violence and madness that might be impossible to escape.

I’ve always been a big fan of Victoria Schwab and now seems like the perfect time to read City of Ghosts. Meet Cassidy Blake, an In-Between who can communicate with ghosts. When Cass meets Lara, a fellow In-Between, she explains that it’s Cass’ responsibility to send ghosts permanently across The Veil. When the Red Raven begins terrorizing her city, she quickly realizes it isn’t meant for this world. She’s soon pulled into an epic fight that stretches across the worlds of the living and the dead. I am purposely saving Home Before Dark by Riley Sager for closer to Halloween. This “haunted house” book seems like the perfect read as Halloween approaches! When Maggie Holt, a restorer of old homes, inherits her family home, she returns to restore it so it can be properly sold. Maggie is too young to remember the horror’s mentioned in her father’s book. Soon she begins experience strange occurrences, that seem to be right out of her father’s book. It’s up to Maggie to find out what secrets are within these walls before it’s too late!

In addition to these physical books, I’m also going to try to knock out 2 audiobooks. My first audiobook will be The Shadows by Alex North. The Shadows is the follow-up to North’s debut, The Whisper Man (which I read last year). The premise of this one sounds great and has a lot of promise. Paul Adams remembers the dark, imaginative and gruesome murder committed by Charlie Crabtree when he was a teenager. After the murder was committed, Crabtree disappeared and was never found. Fast-Forward 25 years later and a copycat killer has struck. As tensions rise around town, Paul can feel the past slowly starting to seep into the present. I haven’t decided on which audiobook I’ll read next. I have a couple Stephen King books queued up (Misery and If It Bleeds) and a couple by one of my favorite more niche authors, J.A. Konrath (Origin and The List). This last pick will definitely be based on my mood and whatever I’m feeling in the moment.

Hopefully I’m able to conquer this TBR and then some! What do you have planned for this month? Are you going to read anything creepy to celebrate Halloween? Leave me a comment, tweet me or add me on GoodReads (@ItsMrGeekToYou on both sites).

Until Next Time,
Mr Geek

September ’20 Wrap Up

The last thing I remember is writing my September 20′ TBR post, I blinked and now the month is over! Generally speaking, September was extremely enjoyable. My pumpkin addiction is off to a strong start, I spent most of my time reading with a Starbucks’ Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew in one hand and a book in the other (not a sponsored post, but… Hey Starbucks, if you’re looking for a book influencer partnership, hit me up). The temperate has dropped these last couple of weeks and for the first time in ages, we’re having some Fall temperatures in Pittsburgh. As my golf season began to wind down, my reading season ramped up. I read a lot of great books this month and stuck, mostly, to the TBR I set for myself! Let’s jump into my reads!

I kicked off the month with my ARC of Wendy Walker’s new book, DON’T LOOK FOR ME. This was a fantastic thriller that I absolutely tore through. The premise was very interesting and engaging. As I started to get closer and closer to the end, I had to know what was going to happen (and ended up reading 200+ pages on a Sunday afternoon so I could finish it). Take a look at my full review here. While I was reading DON’T LOOK FOR ME, I also was listening to the audiobook of Bossypants by Tina Fey. I am a HUGE Tina Fey fan but was quite disappointed in her book when I first read it nearly a decade ago (it hurts saying that). A friend from work recently recommended the audiobook so I thought I’d give it another go and I’m really glad that I did! Fey narrated the audiobook and it really added to the overall story. Her tales felt more personal and it was so much easier to connect with her.

After that first set of books, I moved onto The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson. I read Truly Devious last year and thought it was an ok book. My biggest gripe was that it felt like a really, really long book that was broken into 3 parts. By the end of book 1, I had more questions than answers and felt extremely satisfied. I really enjoyed The Vanishing Stair much more than Truly Devious. The plot felt like it started to come together better and I started seeing the end in sight. I’m planning on picking up The Hand On The Wall sometime soon so I can polish off this series by the end of the year. After The Vanishing Stair, I detoured from my TBR to read The Girl Who Drank The Moon. Regan, from PeruseProject on YouTube, read this book earlier in the year and completely raved about it. I was able to get this book for a steal on Amazon and decided to pick it up and read it immediately (very unlike me). This was a middle grade book but I thought the story was well done and very engaging. The characters were likable and I was a little surprised by the twist towards the end!

As the end of the month was approaching, I decided to dive into the audiobook of Camino Winds by John Grisham and the eBook of The Last Flight by Julie Clark. Last year, I read Camino Island. It was my first Grisham novel and it was… fine. I wasn’t overly impressed. The story was interesting and kept me engaged but the end definitely had my scratching my head saying “That’s it?!” Going into Camino Winds, I expected to a get a little resolution that I was lacking from Camino Island. I was extremely disappointed. This book revisits some of the characters from the previous entry but overall it was its own story. It really could be considered a stand alone novel. There was hardly any overlap in story and the few nods to book 1 weren’t critical information. It was an entertaining and engaging read but overall, I wasn’t really impressed. I’m not quite finished with The Last Flight at the time of writing this post (~60% done) but I am thoroughly enjoying it! I was itching for an addictive thriller and this is definitely hitting the spot. This book is also told using dual timelines, which I LOVE. The perspective shifts each chapter between present day and roughly 6 months ago. I’m hoping to finish this up by Friday so I can dive into my “Spooky” TBR over the weekend.

What did you read in September? Anything good? Anything terrible? Sound off in the comments with TBR recommendations or books I should steer clear of! As always, be sure to follow me on Twitter and add me on GoodReads (@ItsMrGeekToYou on both sites)!

Until Next Time,
Mr Geek

Book Review: Don’t Look For Me by Wendy Walker

I have always been a fan of the thriller / suspense genre. I love starting a new mystery novel and immediately becoming immersed in the plot! Last year, while browsing around Amazon, I came across a recently released book (The Night Before) by an author I had never heard of (Wendy Walker). As soon as I read the synopsis I knew I had to add it to my TBR! Here’s my quick take for those who haven’t read or heard of this book: Lauren Lochner has never had much success in the romance department. After her latest failed relationship, she decides to give up her Wall Street job, and New York City lifestyle, to move in with her sister, Rosie, back in Connecticut where they grew up. Lauren struggles to find her new normal and decides to give dating another try. This seems like the perfect reset for Lauren…. until she doesn’t return home from her date the next morning. As panic begins to build, and Rosie desperately tries to locate her sister, she realizes she’s not worried that something happen to Lauren, but what Lauren might have done to her date. This book was fantastic, inventive and I could not put it down! If you’re interested in picking up a copy or learning more, view The Night Before on Amazon.

Shortly after I read The Night Before, St Martin’s Press reached out to me offering an Advanced Reader’s Copy of Walker’s newest book, Don’t Look For Me. As soon as I read the synopsis, I knew this book would be right up my alley and jumped on the offer! Don’t Look For Me was a brilliant, nerve-wracking, thrill-ride from the first page to the last.

Here’s my quick, spoiler-free summary: Have you ever wanted to just pick-up, leave your life behind and start over somewhere new? Well that’s exactly what Molly Clarke wanted. After the death of one of her children, Molly’s life is shattered and her family is broken. She’s desperate to disappear and never be found, it’s the only way she can deal with her grief and hopefully help her family heal. So it doesn’t come as a surprise when Molly goes missing one night during a terrible storm. Days later a note is found at a local casino, along with some of her clothing, saying that she is moving over and “don’t look for me.” Is this Molly’s chance to start over or is there more to this story than meets the eye?

Review: I freaking loved this book. To start, I love when a book is written with multiple POVs or alternating timelines. “Don’t Look For Me” alternates between present day and the night Molly disappears. Walker did such a great job here. Each timeline was interesting, compelling and I was never bored with the story. I looked forward to each “switch” because I knew I was getting more details to help my unravel what happened the night Molly went missing. I found the characters to be fascinating and I liked the subtle theme of redemption that was threaded throughout the novel. The further you get into this book, the deeper and more intriguing the mystery becomes. As I hit the last ~100 pages, I felt like I was on a runaway train and sat glued to the couch until I read the final page. Overall, I found this to be an enjoyable and well-written thriller. If you haven’t read a Wendy Walker book, do yourself a favor and pick up either: The Night Before or Don’t Look For Me (Release Date: September 15, 2020). If you do purchase a copy, please consider using the affiliate links in this blog post – I’ll receive a small commission and there’s no charge to you!

A HUGE thank you to St Martin’s Press for providing this advanced reader copy in exchange for my honest review.

Are you a fan of thrillers? What are some of your favorites? Have you also read one of Wendy’s books? What did you think? Leave me a comment or tweet me (@ItsMrGeekToYou)!

Until Next Time,
Mr Geek

PS – Are we friends on GoodReads? Add me: ItsMrGeekToYou

September 2020 TBR

September is finally upon us and you know what that means! Fall is right around the corner along with chilly evenings, pumpkin-or-apple-flavored-everything and more time to spend indoors reading! This has been such a weird year for me, as I’m sure it has been for everyone, and I’m really hoping to get myself back on track. I’ve struggled to read as much as I normally do (lack of focus during this pandemic) and I just haven’t been able to accomplish as much as I hoped. As we enter the last few months of 2020, I’ve set a few short term goals for myself and one of those is to hit my original stretch reading goal of 52 books. That will require me to read ~6 books per month which I actually think is doable. I’m aiming to read 1 book/week and 2 audiobooks/month. To help my achieve this goal, I’m going to be setting TBRs for myself at the beginning of each month.

I already have a few books in progress that I am hoping to finish over the long weekend / next week. I received an ARC of Wendy Walker’s new book, Don’t Look For Me. I started this last weekend and am LOVING it. I took a small break from the thriller genre but this is really hitting the spot. After Molly Clarke’s life is turned upside down by tragedy and a broken family, she decides to abandon her life and start over… or does she? I’ll be absolutely reviewing this book once I finish. I read The Night Before last year and really, really enjoyed it. If you’re a fan of the thriller genre, I’d recommend picking that up as well! It’s about a first date gone wrong – I’m sure we can all relate to that but mayyyyyyyyyyyyyybe not to this extent! I am also struggling through The Shadowhunter’s Codex by Cassandra Clare. For how much I love the Shadowhunter books and that universe, this has been a challenge to get through. It reads very much like a textbook. While the information is interesting and helps build a more complete world, it’s definitely on the dry/boring side. The last book I have in progress is an audiobook, Bossypants by Tina Fey. I read Bossypants back when it first came out in 2011. I am a HUGE Tina Fey fan but thought her book was mediocre at best. Recently, I was chatting with a coworker and Bossypants came up. When she found out I wasn’t really a fan, she recommended the audiobook. I was able to scoop it up, on sale, from the Apple Books store. Tina narrates the book and it makes it so much more enjoyable!

Now that we’ve covered what I have in-flight, moving on to what’s next! Since I’ve been enjoying Don’t Look For Me so much, I thought I’d pick up another thriller: The Night Swim by Megan Goldin. I read Goldin’s debut The Escape Room earlier this year and absolutely loved it. If you’re looking for a sophisticated literary experience, move along. If you want a twisty, bizarre and thoroughly entertaining thriller, definitely pick this up. I am a HUGE fan of cheesy horror / thriller movies and this was definitely right up my alley. I am also thinking about picking up The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson. I read Truly, Devious earlier this year. I liked it but didn’t love it. Personally, I felt like I was reading 1/3 of a book. There wasn’t much resolution and it seemed like I had more questions than answers by the end of the book. I’ve heard that the as you progress through the series, everything gets woven together nicely. The last couple books on my list are The Last Flight by Julie Clark and Camino Winds by John Grisham. To be honest, I don’t really know much about either of these books. I’ve seen The Last Flight on several “Books That I Couldn’t Put Down” lists – so it seems like something I’ll enjoy. I read Camino Island a couple years ago and enjoyed it. I think, in the moment, I would’ve enjoyed it more knowing that the story was going to continue. It was left very open ended and I just didn’t love that (again, knowing a sequel was coming would’ve changed that opinion a bit).

So that’s my proposed TBR for September. I might sub in a couple depending on my mood. I’ve already started working on what I want to read in October and have some great spooky / horror reads queued up! Have you read any of the books I mentioned? What did you think? What are you planning to read in September? Let me know in the comments or Tweet me @ItsMrGeekToYou!

Until Next Time,
Mr Geek