July ’22 Wrap Up!

Hello Readers!

I can’t believe the month is already over and we’re slowly sliding towards the end of summer. Where has the time gone?! I can’t be the only one thinking this, right!? I deviated slightly from my “Judge A Book By It’s Cover” TBR for this month but I’m planning to carry one of the books into August and the other into September! Overall, it was a pretty good reading month and I enjoyed everything I read.

First up was Lock Every Door by Riley Sager. I read this one while I was at the beach and this was a WILD ride. It definitely kept me on my toes and I didn’t see the twist coming at all. The premise is simple. You’re given the opportunity to move into this ritzy and glamorous apartment building as an apartment sitter. There are rules in place that you MUST follow otherwise you face eviction. I seriously tore through the page while relaxing by the pool – I had no idea where this was going and was definitely surprised by the end. Not my favorite Sager book but definitely a solid entry in his lineup!

Next up what The Night Swim by Megan Goldin. I LOVED Goldin’s debut, The Escape Room, and I’m not sure how but I think I loved The Night Swim even more. I ALMOST wish I started off with this one but I know I would’ve been so enthralled with this book that I wouldn’t want to stop reading for anything. I would’ve been sitting in our condo feverishly clicking the buttons on my Kindle. It was a great book to binge on the plane rides home though! This story was told from multiple perspectives (which I love) and there were the occasional “Podcast Episode” chapters which was excellent! The plot revolves around a reporter, Rachel, who goes to a small town to cover a rape trial for her PodCast, Guilty Or Not Guilty. Rachel begins getting letters from a resident of the town, Hannah, begging her to investigate the death of sister from decades earlier. The plot bounces back and forth from present day (Rachel) or decades earlier (Hannah). While the sexual assault storyline is difficult to read about, Goldin does it in a very tasteful way and the book is incredibly well done. If you’re going to take any of my recommendations, make it this one!

The last book I knocked out this month was Blue Haven by Lisa King. I joined Erik over at Breakeven Books on his Blog Tour supporting this book. Blue Haven was a suspenseful and surprising read. From the first few pages, I was HOOKED. The writing style was a little simplistic, nothing to write home about. From the beginning, I was flipping pages to see where this was going. It’s really best to go into this blind but to give you a taste of the plot: Aloe Malone is barely getting by until she hits the lottery and decides to move into the luxury compound, Blue Haven. Soon Aloe realizes that everything is not quite as it seems and she starts to see the cracks in Blue Haven’s perfect veneer. Sounds interesting? Definitely don’t sleep on this one!

How has your summer been so far? Read anything good? Keep your eyes peeled for my August TBR. I am partnering with Flatiron Books on Stephanie Garber’s new release, Ballad of Neverafter (one of my most anticipated releases of the year)!

Until We Meet Again,
Mr Geek

July ’22 “Judge A Book By Its Cover” TBR

Hello Reader!

I can’t believe this year is officially half over – seriously, where has the time gone!? I’ve had a pretty awesome 2022 – lots of twists and unexpected turns but I’m enjoying the ride! I just got back from vacation (spent a week at the beach with my family) – it was the perfect mental reset that I’ve been so desperately needing! I also was able to get some prime reading time in which was awesome because I’m a little behind on my GoodReads goal. Thankfully, the books I picked out for this month have been solid and they’re getting me back into a nice groove and out of my slump. So without further ado, let’s talk about my July TBR and how it was selected!

I had this great idea earlier in the year to have someone else pick my monthly TBR. I thought it would be fun to have a couple of my bookish friends (Hi Mollie & Christi) pick out what books I would read for the month. They know me well and we have similar tastes, so I had no doubt they would knock it out of the park. This got me thinking. What if I had my Mum, who isn’t a huge reader, pick out my books based strictly on the cover images?! This seemed like too great of an idea not to pursue, so here we are! I took roughly 25 books that I’ve been thinking about reading, snagged all of their cover images and lined them up side-by-side. I showed this combined image to my Mum and told her to pick out 4 books for me to read this month based strictly on the cover images. She happily obliged and, spoiler, she picked out some good ones so far!

Her first selection was Lock Every Door by Riley Sager. I’ve read a few of Sager’s books and have always really enjoyed them. I love a good thriller and his writing style is very engaging. This was my first book I read while I was on vacation. It’s the story of Jules Larson, a down on her luck girl who happens to stumble into one amazing apartment sitting opportunity. She gets to live for free in a luxury apartment and get paid extremely well as long as she follows the eccentric rules and… hopefully doesn’t disappear like the other apartment sitters. This was a wild ride and while I thought the ending was a little out there, I enjoyed it overall!

My next book is The Night Swim. I loved Goldin’s debut novel, The Escape Room – it was fast paced, intrigued and compulsively readable! The Night Swim, so far, is following in its footsteps! This is the story about a Podcaster, Rachel, who shows up in a small town to cover a rape trial that’s about to begin. While she’s there, a local woman reaches out to her about investigating her sister death (which she thinks was murder). This book is told from multiple perspectives plus there are “Podcast” chapters sprinkled throughout. At the time of writing this post, I’m about 30% in and absolutely loving it. It’s addicting and I just want to keep reading to find out what’s going to happen!

The last of my “short” books is The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf. I actually just got this book for my birthday recently and am really looking forward to diving into this one! An author is snowed into a farmhouse, that she’s using as a retreat location, to finish her new novel. Secrets start to unravel, a small child shows up in the snow and she starts to realize that she’s not as alone as she once thought! This sounds like the perfect high tension thriller to round out this trifecta!

My final book on my TBR is Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare. The Shadowhunter Chronicles have quickly become one of my favorite series (The Dark Artifices trilogy is chef’s kiss). Chain of Gold is a follow up series to Clare’s Infernal Devices series. I don’t want to go into too much detail here because a lot of the characters from the original series make cameos in this series as well (in addition to their children). I’ve heard great things about this new series and am excited to dive in. I already own the first two books in this trilogy with the final book coming out early next year!

So there you have it! A solid TBR lineup for the month of July that I am really looking forward to making my way through. I’ll be doing a mid-year check in to talk through some of my favorite books, least favorite books and goal progress, so keep your eyes peeled for that! How has your reading year been so far? Let me know in the comments and, as always, don’t forget to subscribe!

Until We Meet Again,
Mr Geek

Top 5 Favorite Books of 2021

Hello Readers and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Since today is the “holiday” that celebrates love, I though this would be the perfect time to talk about all the books I LOVED in 2021! Plus… I am WAY behind on my 2021 recaps and thought this would be the perfect excuse to still write this post even though it’s about 7 weeks late (Oops). So grab your Conversation Hearts, Dove chocolate, you favorite person and let’s talk books!

The first book I’d like to mention, and definitely a favorite of the year was Everything Is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo. How I stumbled upon this awesome book was completely accidental. I typically do most of reading on my Kindle Oasis and have been trying not to buy as many physical books (key word there is tying) because I’m running out of space. I decided to run into Barnes & Noble to pick up a book and ended up chatting with one of the employees. One thing lead to another and she ended up recommending Everything is Figureoutable to me. I had never heard of this book but the synopsis hooked me from the start. You can figure out everything if you put your mind to it. I’ve read both the physical book and the audiobook (which is narrated by the author, high energy and extremely motivating to listen to) and completely loved it. I’m not a huge fan of nonfiction but this was such an inspirational book, how could you not love it?

Next up we have Once Upon A Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber. I loved Garber’s Caraval series and it was great returning to this world! While Once Upon A Broken Heart isn’t directly connected to the Caraval series, there are some overlaps and Easter eggs that you’ll pick up on having read those books first. I was already excited about this book but to make it even better, I was asked by Flatiron Books to join their Blog Tour supporting this release! The plot of this novel was simple, how far will you go for your happily ever after? For Evangeline Fox, it’s pretty damn far – so far, that she makes a deal with a Fate to help her win back the love of her life. From this somewhat simple deal, a dazzling story unfolds filled with adventure, magic, murder and mystery. This book also swooped in to save me from a pretty terrible reading slump, so I can’t recommend it enough! If you’re looking for more content on Once Upon A Broken Heart, check out the Author Q&A we did here or my full length review of the novel here.

Continuing on with favorite fantasy, I read and loved Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare. GOOD LORD was this a great book. This was the epic conclusion of the Dark Artifices trilogy (which is also my favorite trilogy that Clare has written to date). This book came in at over 900 pages and it did not feel that long! It read so fast that I found myself absolutely devouring it during Tome Topple Round 14 back in March. Since this is the last book in a series, I don’t want to go into much plot here to avoid spoilers (and I’m not going to talk much about the series because the Shadowhunter books are all so interconnected). If you’re a fan of fantasy, magic and memorable characters, the Shadowhunter Chronicles are for you. There’s a lot of “required reading” to be able to read this series but it’s all worth it. I was completely engrossed by all 3 books in this series and cannot praise them enough!

As I start to wind down my list, I feel like it’s only appropriate to include one of my favorite thrillers – Survive The Night by Riley Sager. I am quickly becoming a Riley Sager fan – I’ve read a few of his books and have a few more waiting on my Kindle. I’ve enjoyed each one and I think Survive The Night might be my favorite so far. This book takes place in the 90s, before cell phones and readily available technology. After Charlie Jordan’s roommate is murdered, she’ll do anything to get away from her college campus, including taking a ride home from a stranger who may or may not be a murderer. The story unfolds over the course of the night as her and her mysterious companion travel in his car. There’s an unreliable narrator and twists at every corner. There were quite a few things that caught me by surprise (and other things I saw coming a mile away) but overall, I loved this one. It was fast paced and kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I’ve seen some reviews dragging this book but if you can suspend belief for awhile (and go back to a pre-technology time) I think you’re really going to like this one!

Last on my list is Undaunted: Overcoming Doubts and Doubters by Kara Goldin. This was also a nonfiction read (look at me, 2 nonfiction titles in my Top 5 list) and it was utterly fantastic. Goldin is the CEO is one of my favorite beverage companies, Hint Water. Hint is an unsweetened water beverage that is PACKED with fruit flavors. I stumbled upon this company years and years ago at a local grocery store. I picked up a few bottles and have loved it ever since (ironically, I had a problem with a few of the bottles that I purchased – when I reached out, I ended up emailing back and forth with Kara’s husband, Theo). The only way I can explain this book is equal parts life advice, inspiration and entrepreneurialism. Goldin is so down to earth and relatable. When Goldin created Hint, she started the company as a way to drink more water and kick her Diet Coke habit. As you read her story, you come to find out that every product expansion or growth opportunity was born from something personal that Goldin cares deeply about. If you’re looking for some inspiration or just a feel-good story, be sure to pick this one up!

Well, that’s it. Those are my Top 5 books of 2021 that I just loved. I hope this post provided you with a few potential new titles to try or maybe I mentioned one of your favorite books! What did you read that was absolutely amazing last year? Leave me a comment or you can always tweet me @ItsMrGeekToYou.

Until We Meet Again,
Shawn

Life Update + My May ’21 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