Life Update + My May TBR… I guess?

To say the last month has been wild, crazy and unexpected would be the understatement of the year thus far! Since I have been neglecting my blog, I thought I’d draft up a quick post about what has been happening and the books I’m reading (or failing to read)! Let’s chat!

A little over a month ago, I was able to get my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. After this last chaotic year, I was thrilled to get the vaccine and start getting some semblance of normalcy back! Once I was fully vaccinated, I decided to take a trip to Harrisburg, PA (I have a couple friends who live nearby). I wanted to make this trip last year but had to cancel due to the start of the pandemic. It was wonderful being able to take a short trip, have a fun weekend and see some friends! My hotel was in downtown Harrisburg, which put me in walking distance to a lot of places. I able to visit the Midtown Bookstore (unfortunately it was only open for an outdoor sidewalk sale), Hershey Park / Store, Troegs Brewery and a ton more! I had dinner with a friend who I met at my old company – it was great seeing and catching up with her (and our meal was absolutely delicious). On Saturday, I drove down to Lancaster, PA to spend the day with another friend and his wife. We spent the entire day driving around and hitting up a bunch of local spots. It was low key and a great way to spend the day! On Sunday, I went for a walk before I grabbed breakfast at this incredible local spot before heading home! Dropping in a few pictures below!

Now onto my reading life! I have been SO slumpy lately. I started The Electric Kingdom by David Arnold and while I’m enjoying it, it doesn’t really grab me (probably because it’s about a pandemic which is hitting a litttttttttttttttle too close to home right now). When I sit down and read, I really enjoy the story – it’s just finding that motivation! I was hoping to finish The Electric Kingdom before my trip because I wanted to start reading Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson while I was away. That ended up not happening and I STILL started Mistborn. I was so busy when I was traveling that I barely read. Whenever I got back, I co-hosted Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-A-Thon and had plans to read Survive The Night by Riley Sager. I stuck with that plan and started ANOTHER new book! I am absolutely loving Survive The Night, it’s fast paced and twisty – exactly what I needed to really get me back into my reading. Honestly, the books really haven’t been the problem, it’s just finding the motivation! My plan for May is to try to clean up all my in progress books (and potentially start a new book if I get through everything else). Which is the perfect transition to my last update!

When the pandemic started, I decided I wanted to do something for self improvement or self development. I couldn’t really decide on something though. Back in March, I decided I wanted to enroll in an online certificate program. I ended up deciding to enroll in Cornell University’s Product Management certificate program. The skills that I get to focus on are extremely in demand right now plus they are applicable in my current role plus give me additional career paths in the future. I started the program about 3 weeks ago and so far I am loving it! Each class is 2 weeks long (6 in total) and the program lasts 12 weeks. It’s learn at your own pace too. You aren’t required to take all 6 courses back to back, you can space them out however you want and have 2 years to complete all the courses. I’m planning to take most of the courses back to back and am only taking off 2 weeks for my vacation in July. That’ll put my end date as August 3, 2021! In addition to this online program, work has also been a little crazy. We had a small restructure which impacted my role/responsibilities. This happened a few weeks ago and we’re still trying to work out how we adjust to the changes. I’m hoping that everything settles down here in the next week or two.

I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe. What books are you currently reading? What’s been happening with you? Leave me some updates in the comments!

Until We Meet Again,
Mr Geek

Let’s Go! Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-A-Thon Has Begun!

As I mentioned earlier this week – Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-A-Thon will be happening today! By the time this post goes live, the read-a-thon will have already begun! Wanted to put together a quick announcement post about how I’ll be helping out and what book I’ve decided to try to tackle today!

To start, I’ll be hosting a variety of events this morning! At 10 am & 11 am, I’ll be posting over on the Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-A-Thon Blog to provide some fun and motivation to get your day started! At 10 am, I’ll also be hosting a Mini-Challenge. The Mini-Challenge is to create a list of all the characters you read about during the 10 am hour. Once you’re done, you have to rename yourself and select one of the names that you read about! At 11 am, I’ll be hosting a Twitter party for all of the current readers. Be sure to hope on Twitter, give me a follow and participate – it’ll definitely be a good time! I’ll also be tweeting through the day and posting some quick updates here on the blog! All of the times I previously mentioned are EST.

Lastly, I’ve decided to try to start and finish Survive The Night by Riley Sager! I was lucky enough to be given an ARC of this upcoming release (Thank you, again, Dutton Publishing!). For those of you who haven’t heard about this book, here’s a quick summary:

Survive The Night by Riley Sager

Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father. Or so he says. Like the Hitchcock heroine she’s named after, Charlie has her doubts. There’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t seem to want Charlie to see inside the car’s trunk. As they travel an empty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly worried Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s suspicion merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?

I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately so I am hoping this book knocks me out of it! The synopsis sounds promising and I’m a big fan of Sager’s other books so I am hopeful this is just what the doctor ordered!

I’ll be checking in later today – hope you all have a successful read-a-thon and remember to enjoy yourself!

Until We Meet Again,
Mr Geek

Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-A-Thon Warm Up: To Persevere or To DNF?

Hello readers! After an extremely busy past couple of weeks, I’m finally getting my reading life back on track (and the timing couldn’t be better)! This coming weekend (April 24), is next round of Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-A-Thon! I am thrilled to be returning as a co-host plus I’ll be leading a Twitter party and a mini challenge! I’ve also already picked out my book for the read-a-thon but more on that later!

As we’re all warming up for the read-a-thon, I thought what better time to discuss the somewhat controversial topic of DNF’ing books. For those of you who don’t love acronyms, DNF stands for Did Not Finish. I thought this was a perfect topic to cover in my warm up post because as we’re all settling in for 24 hours of reading, you NEED to enjoy the book you’re reading!

Personally, if I start a book I always finish it. It doesn’t matter if I love it or hate it – I always persevere through until the end. My one little caveat is that I will sometimes “take a break” from a book to read something else, picking up my previously abandoned book here and there to chip away at it as time goes on. I love to write book reviews and feel like I can only do that if I complete the book. I’ve persevered through some really bad books like The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor (funny GoodReads review can be found here). So I’m curious, what’s your take on DNF’ing books? Do you read 25%? 50%? 75%? Before deciding it’s not for you and calling it quits? If you DNF a book, do you still write a review? Do you still give it a rating? Do you still count it towards your GoodReads challenge (for those of you who participate)? I’m really hoping all these questions stimulate some good conversation (also, this is a no judgement zone, if you frequently DNF I applaud you and want to learn your ways)!

Before signing off, I want to briefly talk about the book I selected for the read-a-thon! I was granted an ARC of Riley Sager’s upcoming release, Survive The Night and plan on reading this (hopefully) from start to finish during the read-a-thon. I am an avid thriller reader and am very excited to diving into this book. For those of you who haven’t heard of this book, here’s the synopsis:

Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father. Or so he says. Like the Hitchcock heroine she’s named after, Charlie has her doubts. There’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t seem to want Charlie to see inside the car’s trunk. As they travel an empty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly worried Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s suspicion merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?

I’ve read several of Sager’s books so far (The Final Girls and Lock Every Door). I find his writing to be engrossing and oh so addicting! This new novel seems eerie, creepy, thrilling and right up my alley! I’ll be posting spoiler-free updates about this book during the read-a-thon and a full length review after I finish! If you’re a fan of thrillers, definitely keep an eye out! Survive The Night will be officially released on June 29, 2021!

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

That’s A Wrap: Tome Topple, Round 14!

It literally feels like yesterday that Sam from Thoughts On Tome sent out the Voxer message announcing that Tome Topple Round 14 was going to take place in March. Like a bookish version of the Avengers, the co-hosts assembled and we all began planning for the read-a-thon!

Tome Topple is, hands down, one of my favorite read-a-thons. I don’t know about you, but I could always use a little extra incentive / motivation to read my really long books. As I was planning my TBR for March, I purposely added Queen Of Air And Darkness by Cassandra Clare to the list. I’ve been wanting to finish The Dark Artifices series for awhile now but was putting it off because 1) I wasn’t ready for the series to end and 2) this book was a beast, coming in at over 900 pages! Usually I attempt several of the reading prompts from the bingo card, but this time I decided to keep it simple – finish Queen Of Air And Darkness and I’d consider this round a win!

Tome Topple Round 14 “Bingo” Card

Overall, this was a very successful round for me! Week 1 of Tome Topple was relatively calm – I hosted quite a few reading sprints and made some nice progress in my tome. Week 2 was another story. Between work and my personal life, I had an extremely hectic week. When Friday rolled around I had about 400 or so pages left to read and the outlook was grim. Over the weekend, I hosted a few reading sprints (and participated as a spectator in a few as well). Yesterday was an absolutely miserable day here in Pittsburgh. It rained pretty steadily the entire day and it was the perfect excuse to stay home and read. I ended up knocking out the rest of my tome in the afternoon and enjoyed every minute of it! Cassandra Clare finales are just so well done that once you hit the tipping point, there’s no turning back! I read a lot of books to get to this point but it was worth the journey. I’m planning on starting The Scrolls of Magic and The Lost Hours series very soon (right after I read Tales From The Shadow Market).

Wrapping up this post, I want to thank all my fellow co-hosts: Sam (Thoughts On Tomes), Adri (Perpetual Pages), Sam 2 (Will Read For Booze), Gaia (Lalettricesegreta on IG), Tori (Tori Morrow) and Jocelyn (Yogi With A Book). I appreciate you welcoming me into this group and have thoroughly enjoyed co-hosting with each one of you. I’d also love to thank all the participants – my favorite part about co-hosting is socializing with all of you! Each reading sprint, you all were there to chat about books, current events and life. I hope to see you all back for Round 15 later this year! Please don’t be a stranger – I talk books here on the blog and also @ItsMrGeekToYou on Twitter!

Until We Meet Again,
Mr Geek

March ’21 TBR

2021 is moving at an uncomfortably fast pace. Truth be told, I am still processing LAST March when the pandemic really start to begin. My company had us begin working from home on March 16th, so that’s also coming up on its 1 year anniversary already (which is hard for me to believe). About this time last year, I really started to struggle to find my reading groove. There were so many unknowns and I just couldn’t focus on what I was reading (or really anything, if I’m being honest). I’m happy to say that I am in a much better spot, mentally, this year and have been absolutely crushing my reading so far! I have a fun and reasonable TBR planned for March, so let’s dive into the books!

I’m going to be tackling some short-ish books to start off the month because I want to be able to promptly start off Tome Topple Round 14 whenever it kicks off (more on that later). My first book I’m reading Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson. I’ve been a Swanson fan since The Kind Worth Killing. The plot of this book sounds like it’s going to be a fast-paced thrill ride. A local book store owner creates a list of the top 8 most unsolvable murders of the mystery genre. Soon after, the FBI show up and start asking questions. Apparently there’s a copycat murderer on the loose who’s killing individuals that follow the list! Next up, will be Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay. Since Dexter is getting a reboot later this year, I wanted to pick back up the series and revisit this world. Dearly Devoted Dexter is the second book in the series and continues to extend the story from book one (Darkly Dreaming Dexter). Depending on how much time I have left, I might also try to squeeze in Destroy Me by Tahereh Mafi. Destroy Me is the first novella in the Shatter Me series and takes place between books one and two. I’d like to try to read at least the first half of this series this year (maybe I’ll get adventurous and read the entire thing). It’s funny, I was just talking tonight about how I need to get better about committing to reading series in a timely fashion. In the past, I’ve never enjoyed binge reading series but I think I am going to take another shot at that this year.

All of these shorter books are to position me well to start Tome Topple on time. I am happy to announce that I’ll be back as a co-host for Round 14!! I have a formal announcement post coming later this week with all the details for this round, including my TBR and all of the reading prompts! Be sure to check back!!

March is sure to be a fun month and I’m looking forward to all the books I have planned! Have you read any of the books I mentioned? What did you think? Are you a Dexter fan? Excited about the reboot coming this Fall? As always, I love chatting with you so please sure to leave a comment or tweet me @ItsMrGeekToYou on Twitter!

Until Next Time,
Mr Geek

February ’21 Wrap Up: BHM Edition

I can’t believe February is already here and gone! This was an extremely busy month for me but I still managed to get in A LOT of great books! Similar to what I did back in October (created a Spooky TBR, if you’re interested the post can be found here), I challenged myself to assemble an entire TBR that was written by POC authors and had POC main characters. This was one of the best and most impactful reading experiences I have ever had. I deviated a little from the list of books I originally decided on, but that was a strategic shift about halfway through the month. Let’s dive into the books and discuss them a little further!

I got off on a somewhat delayed start because I wasn’t finished with my then current read (The Midnight Library) on February 1st. I’ve owned The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas for a couple of years now and thought now was the perfect time to finally read it. The Hate U Give was emotional, moving, insightful and heartbreaking all at the same time. The story focuses Starr, our main character, witnessing a police officer wrongly shooting (and killing) her unarmed black friend during a traffic stop. The plot then grows from there, discussing racial issues, the court hearing and family dynamics. I don’t typically read contemporary books or a lot of non-fiction. While The Hate U Give is a fictional story, unfortunately, it could easily be based on true events. While this was a difficult book to read, I am grateful for the experience and the additional perspective it provided.

Next up, I read The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin. This was an amazing, engrossing, WEIRD book and I loved every minute of it. The premise was simple: When cities grow large enough, they are “born” and individuals take on the roles of “avatars” for each of the relevant boroughs. Everything about this story was unique and creative – I’ve never read anything like this before. The novel takes place in New York City at the cusp of its birth. Each of its five boroughs (Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island) are awoken in a person from each area. Jemisin does an amazing job with the characterization for each person. They all have a distinct voice and I never found myself accidentally mixing up two characters. While this is an urban fantasy book, there were several racial issues incorporated into the story. I don’t want to go too much more into the plot because part of the fun are the surprises as you get further into the book! If this sound at all interesting, I’d encourage you to give it a try!

At this point, I decided to pivot a bit. My next two books I had queued up were either Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi or A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne Brown. I wanted to pick up another contemporary book that dealt with more current day issues. For that reason, I opted for Dear Martin by Nic Stone. Dear Martin falls into a similar vein to The Hate U Give. It follows the main character, Justyce McAllister. Justyce goes to a primarily white school and within the first few pages is wrongly arrested by police. From that moment on, he begins writing letter to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Justyce discusses various race issues and other struggles he experiences throughout the novel (and there are quite a few – things really escalate later in the book). I found the letters to be such a noteworthy addition, that really added depth to this novel. Similar to The Hate U Give, Dear Martin is a fictional story that could easily be non-fiction. Unfortunately, the events in this book are a little too common in today’s world. My only problem with this story was that it felt slightly rushed. There were so many relationships and concepts that I would’ve loved to have seen fleshed out a little more. This also wasn’t a very long book, coming in at around 225 pages, so there was definitely room for this story to grow.

This was not an easy reading month for me but these books are gave me an incredible amount of perspective. The stories were emotional, engaging, poignant and raw. While I’m sure some of the elements included in each of these book was sensationalized, they still addressed many important issues facing the African American communities head-on. I’m thankful that I decided to take on this reading challenge and learned so much from this experience. If you’re reading this post, I’d like to challenge you to pick up one of the books I mentioned in this post (especially The Hate U Give or Dear Martin). If you have a questions about any of these novels, feel free to leave a comment. I’ll do my best to answer and love chatting with you all about books.

Until Next Time,
Mr Geek

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

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

Top 5 Biggest Book Disappointments of 2020

As we’re winding down 2020, which has been THE most disappointing year of my life, I thought what best post to kick off with than the reads I was really looking forward to but did not deliver! All of the books featured in this post were ones that I thought I was going to absolutely love but ended up feeling less than satisfied. On that note, let’s jump into some disappointment!

My biggest disappointment of the year has to go to YOU by Caroline Kepnes. When YOU was released on Netflix, I quickly binged Season 1. When I realized the show was based on a book, I knew I had to read it! In the show, the main character (Joe) was a creepy but likable anti-hero. Even though he had some sick, twisted ideas you still wanted to root for him. In the book, we got more of Joe’s internal dialogue which was vulgar and over-the-top. I won’t be reading Hidden Bodies or the other 2 books that have been announced. I will, however, be continuing to watch the Netflix series!

Next up on my list is another thriller-is book, Everyone Knows How Much I Love You by Kyle McCarthy. I received an ARC of this book and was excited when I got my approval email. This sounded like it was going to be a quick, fun and toxic book that was going to whip through in a single sitting. The main character was demented and the story was outrageous. Initially, I didn’t understand why this book was getting such bad reviews on GoodReads and Netgalley. Then I hit the middle. The whole tone of the book changes and the main character engaged in an affair with her best friend / roommates boyfriend. The fling was disturbingly graphic and really did nothing to advance the story. Eventually, this part of the novel ends and the story gets back on track. The ending, however, was so random and strange that I didn’t understand how we even got there. McCarthy definitely tried to be edgy, shocking and unique but these efforts completely fell flat.

I’ve always loved the idea of self-help books but they tend to never deliver the content I’m expecting. A prime example of this is How To Lead When You Aren’t In Charge by Clay Scroggins. There was an overabundance of religious references, “God’s Plan” and it generally lacked any actual leadership advice. I opted to listen to the audiobook and Scroggins voice sounded like a used car salesman. At one point he even spoke some rap lyrics and I cringed so hard it physically hurt. This was a HUGE pass for me!

We’re over halfway through and winding down. The next book, for me, was a personal disappointment: Eldest by Christopher Paolini. I read Eragon years ago and loved it. I loved the sense of adventure, dragons and epic story. I was looking forward to continuing the journey and decided to pick this up for a round of Tome Topple. To start, this book was unnecessarily long (200 pages could’ve easily been cut). Multiple POVs is usually something that I enjoy but the storylines were BORING. Initially, I was really invested in one of the stories. Eventually that interest fizzled out and I had to slough through the rest of the book to finish it.

The final book rounding out this list is Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I remember when this book was released earlier this year. It was sold out on Amazon and I saw a ton of Bloggers, Bookstagrams and YouTubers RAVING about this horror novel. Eventually I snagged a copy for my Kindle and decided to read it during October when I read only horror books. This wasn’t an overly long book but after the first 50 pages things really slowed down and nothing really happened. The story continued to crawl for the next 150 pages. Once I was about 100 pages from the ending, the plot found it’s groove and moved like wildfire until I turned the last page. After all the praise, I was expecting something a little more addicting and had to put down.

So there you have it, my top 5 biggest book disappointments of the year! Have you read any of the books I mentioned? Were you also disappointed or did you love them? What are some of your biggest book disappointments of the year? Leave me a note in the comments if you agree/disagree and any books I should avoid!

Until Next Time,
Mr Geek