(Slumpy) August ‘21 Wrap Up

Hello Readers!

It has been a little while since I wrote. I never got around to creating my August TBR because I have been in a terrible, terrible, terrrrrrrrrrrrrrible reading slump. I haven’t been motivated to read for months (and I’m actually behind on my GoodReads goal which is the first time this has happened in 5 or 6 years). The books I’ve been picking up just haven’t been grabbing me and, instead of putting them down, I try to persevere which hasn’t been working out great for me.

For this month, I only finished 1 book (but have started several others, which I’m going to touch on). My only completed book this month was The Maidens by Alex Michaelides. This was one of my most anticipated books of the year and I did really enjoy it. I loved Michaelides debut novel, The Silent Patient, which came out a few years ago. It was intriguing, fast-paced and un-put-down-able. The Maidens is about a violent murder that happens at Cambridge University. When group therapist, Mariana, finds out it was her niece’s roommate, ends up becoming entrenched in the investigation. The Maidens was definitely more of a slow burn when compared to The Silent Patient. There was some setup needed before it really started to find its groove (but once it did, watch out). Overall, I enjoyed this (it was a nice beach read while I was on vacation).

The other books I’m currently reading (but haven’t finished) are: Tales From The Shadow Market by Cassandra Clare, Under The Whispering Door by TJ Klune (ARC – Out September 21, 2021) and Once Upon A Broken Heart (ARC – Out September 28, 2021). I typically take my time when reading Shadowhunter short story bind ups (I read them here to there as I have time). These have been pretty enjoyable and are gearing me up to read The Lost Hours trilogy later this year. I’ve been working my way through Under The Whispering Door for a few weeks (and it has contributed to my slump a bit). This book deals with life / death and is quite sad overall. I knew going into this novel, it was going to be nothing like House In The Cerulean Sea (which was one of my favorite reads of 2020). I’m about halfway through this one, so I’m going to save all my thoughts until I’m finished. The last book I have going, and just recently started, is Once Upon A Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber. My ARC arrived a few days ago and I immediately had to started it. I loved the Caraval trilogy and figured this book was going to be right up my alley (I was right). Once Upon A Broken Heart has really got me back into a reading groove and I’m hoping that this momentum continues! If you’re interested in this upcoming release, keep an eye on my blog for a full-length review post and author interview with Stephanie Garber!

If anyone has any recommendations for fast-paced books that helped you out of a reading slump, PLEASE leave them in the comments (especially since I have some catching up to do this year to meet my GoodReads goal).

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

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

January ’21 Recap

Well, it’s hard to believe that January is already over! I can’t believe how fast this month flew by. Unfortunately, 2021 still is looking a lot like 2020, but hopefully we’ll be on the upswing in the next few months! I had a relatively good reading month and managed to finish 4 books this month (and completely blew up my planned TBR).

I kicked off the month reading Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare. This is the second entry in the Dark Artifices series. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I absolutely loved Lady Midnight! It was hands down one of my favorite reads last year and probably my favorite Shadowhunter book to date. Lord of Shadows was also a great book! I got to rejoin all of the characters from Lady Midnight. This was also an incredibly fast paced book that flew by at breakneck speeds.

Next up I read Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline. I had seen a lot of questionable and negative reviews leading up to reading this. I won’t spend a lot of time rehashing those thoughts since I dedicated a whole blog post to those feelings already! Long story, short – I really enjoyed this a lot! It had a much strong pop culture trend this time around (vs the more video game centric first novel). If you are at ALL on the fence about giving this book a try – DO IT. I don’t think any of the negativity directed at this book is warranted at all.

I was planning on tackling Queen of Air & Darkness by Cassandra Clare next but decided to deviate and listen to Everything Is Figureoutable by Marie Forleo while also reading The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. I managed to get an Amazon Kindle deal on The Midnight Library and have been DYING to read this since last year, so I had to read this ASAP! Everything is Figureoutable was a really great book to kick off January! Marie was the narrator and that really added another element of relatable. The content in this book wasn’t necessarily new or groundbreaking information but it was presented in a fun and engaging way. Marie’s stories and anecdotes really struck a chord with me. I also found most of the advice extremely applicable – like when you are stressing or worrying over a project or problem, the best way to get over that is action. Thinking back after hearing this, she is 100% right. I have always felt better when I took action on a problem I was facing. Hearing this feedback really just brought the whole concept together.

I am still in the process of finishing up The Midnight Library (but I’ll hopefully be finished by the time this post goes up). This is also another stellar read! Very life lesson-y and philosophical. One thing I’m not crazy about is how the novel romanticizes suicide a bit. I do really like the story, how it’s written and the overall life lesson, though. Probably leaning towards a 5 star read!

Wrapping up, I HIGHLY recommend all of the books included in this recap. I loved them all. I’ll be having a nice February TBR coming tomorrow that will be featuring my Black History Month reads, so be on the look out for that! If you enjoyed this post, take a look at my archive (I’ve written others like this) or follow me here / on Twitter (@ItsMrGeekToYou) for more reading updates!

Until Next Time,
Mr Geek

Tome Topple: Round 13 / November Recap

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

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

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

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

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

Tome Topple Wrap Up

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

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

Until we meet again,
Mr Geek