Sunday, November 14, 2021

October 2021 Wrap Up

I really had the best of intentions. This post was nearly finished before I went out of town for our wedding. I also hoped to finish it while I was out of town (which was so silly in retrospect). Then I even took my laptop on our honeymoon thinking I could do it then. And I didn't even look at my computer the whole time we were gone. And getting back into town threw me right back into a crazy work week. So I'm sorry this is so very late.
My main life updates were all wedding related. I think I will put together a short blog post to share a few things about that if I can.

But here are the books I read in October. Spooky reads are the best reads. Also, I read almost NONE of the spooky reads I posted in my last blog post. Oh well. I just wasn't feeling them I guess. But despite my busy month with wedding things, I read many more books than I have the rest of the year. I caught up with my reading goal and then some.

Title: The Mystery of Mrs. Christie
Author: Marie Benedict
Narrator: Nicola Barber
Synopsis: In early December, 1926, Agatha argued with her husband and disappeared the next day. Her car was found abandoned and there was a large manhunt in order to find her. But she did not appear until nearly two weeks later at a spa with, apparently, no recollection of what had happened. This story takes a spin on the true story. What if she did know what she was doing in order to expose her husband and maintain her reputation?
Thoughts: I found this book a bit ago and just thought it sounded interesting. And maybe a good way to get into spooky season: with a little mystery. I have not read anything by Agatha Christie, but I am hoping to do so. I also know next to nothing about her or about her life. But this was a great story and definitely makes you wonder about what really happened!

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars
Title: Night Shift Witch
Author: Cate Lawley
Narrator: April Doty

Synopsis: Star was just hired onto the night shift of a funeral home. But right when she starts, a body comes in and the man had been murdered. And he was not actually human. Star has to use her witch-y powers and friends to help solve the mystery.

Thoughts: This popped up in a audiobook sale notification I get, and it sounded good so I went for it. It was much shorter than I was expecting which made it feel a bit rushed and almost anti-climatic. And some parts were repetitive. However, I generally enjoyed the story.

Rating: 2 1/2 to 3 stars out of 5 stars

Title: The World of Lore, Dreadful Places
Author: Aaron Mahnke
Narrator: Aaron Mahnke
Synopsis: Aaron Mahnke is the host of the podcast "Lore." In this book he explores a bunch of different haunted places. What happened to make them haunted and what have people experienced?
Thoughts: I have heard of the Lore podcast but it always sounded too scary for me. When I saw this book, I thought that maybe this would be OK. It was certainly interesting and enjoyable, but there were some parts that scared me. And some parts that horrified me and made me gasp and/or cover my mouth. Despite my not going for scary things, this one was alright.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 

Title: Pumpkin Heads
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Synopsis: Deja and Josiah are best friends and now high school seniors. Which means this is their last year working at the pumpkin patch together. It is their last night and they set out on an adventure. Deja wants to try all of the foods she never has been able to eat and she is determined that Josiah finally talk to his long-time crush.
Thoughts: This was a cute, fun story. And an easy read. I love Deja's focus on food! And I thought it was funny every time Deja changed Fudge girl's name.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars

Title: Not Your Average Hot Guy
Author: Gwenda Bond
Narrators: Graham Halstead and Karissa Vacker

Synopsis: Callie has been left in charge of her family's escape room for the weekend along with her brother and best friend. She is expecting a quiet weekend when cultists show up to use an escape room prop to summon a demon. Meanwhile, Luke is the heir to Hell and doesn't quite measure up. In an effort to raise his standing, he allows himself to be summoned in the place of a demon. 

Thoughts: This was the October selection for the Happy Endings Book Club from Nowhere Bookshop. Since I adored the last book, I decided to read this one, too. It was alright. I did not love it as much as the last book, but there were enjoyable parts. And I really liked how the escape rooms factored in because I love a good escape room!

Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars

Title: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
Author: Josephine Leslie
Synopsis: Recently widowed, Mrs. Muir sets out to find an affordable house for herself and her family. And she finds the perfect house. Except it is haunted by the former owner, Captain Gregg. She makes a deal with him in order to live in the house, but they eventually become friends and companions through life's hardships.
Thoughts: I absolutely love this book. This is not the first time I have read it. And I'm sure I have reviewed it on my blog before. I love the movie, too, but the book is different and I love it at least as much.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Title: The Ex Hex
Author: Erin Sterling
Narrator: Caitlin Davies
Synopsis: After  young Rhys breaks 19-year-old Vivienne Jones' heart, Vivi and her cousin cast a drunken curse on him. But they are pretty sure it didn't actually work. Fast forward about a decade. Rhys has to return to Graves Glen to represent his family since his ancestor founded the town. But when everything seems to start going wrong, Vivi and Rhys have to figure out how to fix it.

Thoughts: This book was very hyped and I've sort of been in the mood for more romantic or romantic comedy stories. So I picked it up. I have to say, I did not love it. Some things felt too contrived for me mostly. It was fine as witchy romantic books go though, if that is what you are in for.

Rating: 2 1/2 stars out of 5 stars

Title: Anna Dressed in Blood
Author: Kendare Blake
Narrator: August Ross
Synopsis: Cas inherited a special knife and a special profession from his father. He hunts and kills ghosts. Namely those ghosts who have legends about them and who have taken many lives themselves. His hunt leads him to a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood. But for the first time, Cas finds a ghost who is unlike many he has encountered. For one, she knows she is dead and he sees that she is not completely in control of her actions. She kills any person who enters her house. Except for Cas. So he sets out to figure out why.

Thoughts: I haven't quite finished Kendare Blake's Three Dark Crowns series, but I have enjoyed them so far, so I figured I would give this a try. It was interesting and occasionally very gruesome. I also had many suspicions, some of which were correct but many of which were not, so that made it intriguing. And I won't lie, there were a couple of parts that really got me. I was creeped out by a couple of things for sure. I think if you read it, you could probably guess the big ones. It was a good spooky read for the season though!

Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars

Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Narrator: Jim Dale
Synopsis: The Night Circus is a completely unique, magical experience, like no circus you've ever seen. For one, it is only open at night. Second, it moves all over the world and you never know where it will be next. Behind the scenes of this amazing place is an intense competition going on between two magicians: Marco and Celia.
Thoughts: I have read this book a few times now and I'm sure I have other reviews lurking around on this blog. But I just adore this book and I would love nothing more than to visit the night circus! While Celia and (especially) Marco's stories are of less interest to me, I love just about everything else about this book. And I always cry at the death of one (rather minor) character. I love the magic and the story and the fun of this book.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Favorite book read this month: Does the Ghost and Mrs. Muir count? Or The Night Circus?
Least favorite book read this month: Probably have to say Night Shift Witch or the Ex Hex

I have read 44 books this year towards my goal of 50. After being behind nearly all year, I managed to get about two books ahead of schedule in October despite wedding preparations.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

September 2021 Wrap Up

 September was a pretty exciting month.

I got to have my bachelorette party with all my bridesmaids who definitely spoiled me. On the Friday evening we all got in, we just hung out, had some snacks and drinks, and talked. On Saturday morning we had breakfast and most of the girls tried on their dresses. They all picked infinity dresses and were toying with different ways to tie and wear them. Then we grabbed lunch and did an escape room at Colorado Escape. We did the wizard themed room. It was very fun. We finished with seven minutes left on the clock and only had to get a few clues. After that we went to a wine tasting at Water 2 Wine and that was fun and we had some great wines! That evening we played MASH in the hotel room and then got ramen for dinner nearby.


Sunday was my bridal shower. My mom and bridesmaids arranged all of this. We had tea at the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse, which was lovely. Had some good tea and food. And almost everyone invited was able to come! I was so happy to see my friends and family and I felt very spoiled.


So that was a pretty great weekend. I was sorry for it to come to an end. Then Kevin and I got to go back to attend a friend's wedding, which was also great. It was nice to see a few of my old Idexx friends and it was just a nice time overall.

Kevin and I are starting to get down to the wire on wedding planning ourselves. Our venue needs our final headcount and we need to arrange the catering when we have that, too. Our music planner is due very soon so we have been working to get that done and submitted. After that, the photography planner and bar information are due. And I think that will be about it. I still have plenty to do though and am starting to feel a bit nervous. But I am excited for the wedding and the short honeymoon. I am excited to marry Kevin, who is the best guy I have ever met in my life.

Here are the books I managed to read in September.

Title: Yes No Maybe So
Authors: Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed
Narrators: Tiya Sircar and Michael Crouch
Synopsis: Jamie is very interested and involved in politics. He would like to be a politician one day. If only public speaking and speaking to strangers didn't make him so awkward and nervous. Maya is having a rough time. It is Ramadan, but her best friend is slipping away from her and her parents are separating. Through a series of events, Maya and Jamie end up canvassing neighborhoods together to support a local politician. But they grow closer and the political climate starts to become more personal and important than ever before.
Thoughts: This had been on my TBR for a little while. And since I apparently only want to read contemporary rom-com books, I decided to listen to it. It was very cute and I enjoyed the political aspects of the story.

Rating: 3 1/2 stars out of 5 stars
Title: The Charm Offensive
Author: Alison Cochrun
Narrators: Vikas Adam, Grahm Halstead, and Cassandra Campbell

 Synopsis: Charlie is a socially awkward, anxiety-riddled wealthy and eligible bachelor who agrees to be on a dating reality show to help improve his public image. Dev is a huge romantic and it has been his dream to work with the reality dating show Ever After. Despite his lack-luster romantic life, he really believes in true love. And then he is promoted to being Charlie's handler for the show. And Dev has his work cut out for him getting Charlie to be the prince he is expected to be. After spending some (awkward) time together, Charlie realizes that his chemistry with Dev feels like so much more than his chemistry with the 20 women on the show. Dev agrees, but his career and heart are on the line. Can they find happily ever after?

Thoughts: This was the book of the month for the Happy Endings Book Club that Jenny Lawson and her bookstore, Nowhere Bookshop, picked out. I was vaguely thinking about joining the book club but wasn't sure that romance books are really my jam so I just wanted to sort of participate. I saw this was the first pick and got the audio book to try it out. But I loved this book. It was cute, sweet, and so fluffy. I finished it and just wanted to turn around and read it all over again. But spooky season is coming so maybe it will be my first read after Halloween is over! But I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved this book. Even though the smut is still not really my thing, it was such a good book that I didn't even mind!

Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 5 stars
Title: From the Desk of Zoe Washington
Author: Janae Marks
Narrator: Bahni Turpin

Synopsis: Zoe just turned 12, practically and adult, right? Her dream is to be a baker and she would love to go on a kids' baking show and show the world what she has to offer. But on her birthday, she receives a letter from her father in prison. She has never met him and her mom does not like to talk about it. But she is 12, and she decides she is old enough to know her father and she writes back. When he tells her that he is innocent, Zoe puts everything on the line to figure out the truth.
Thoughts: I know this was targeted toward a much younger audience, which may have made me enjoy it a bit less than I may have otherwise. But it was still a good book. I like the way it addressed systemic racism without it being the entire point of the story. It made it this problem obvious, relatable, and understandable because of the way this book was written, but the characters were very much their own, real people with real lives. And it was a very good and nice story. It makes me believe that good really can win.
Rating: 3 stars out of 5 stars
Title: The Graveyard Book
Author: Neil Gaiman
Narrator: Neil Gaiman

Synopsis and thoughts: I am going to skip this for this book because I have read it every year for... well, many years. I adore this book, I re-read it every fall. This is what helps start my Halloween season. I can't get enough of this book and I cry like a baby at the end every single time. There is also a brief synopsis and review on my Goodreads if you are interested.

Rating: 5 stars out of 5 stars

Favorite book read this month: The Charm Offensive or the Graveyard Book (obviously)
Least favorite book read this month: I suppose my least favorite was From the Desk of Zoe Washington, but it was a good book still. I read good books this month! I love it when that happens.

I have read 35 books towards my goal of 50 for this year. I will try to pick up more next month since it is Halloween month. Usually I can catch up to goals in October, but I'm not sure if I can with the wedding. And it is very possible that my October wrap up post will be quite late. You know, wedding and all. I apologize in advance. I will post a wrap up early if I can.

Happy spooky season everyone!

Thursday, September 23, 2021

2021 Spooky Reads

 Alright! It is that time of the year! The best time of the year and the time for spooky reads!

Here are my goals for this spooky season. Or maybe not "goals," these are all audio books that I already own that are at least a bit spooky. I will just pick them as I feel like. I only really have time for audio books these days so those are the only ones I have included this year.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, of course, will be read. I actually am nearly finished with it already. I love it so much.

There will also be a spooky book coming in the September Owlcrate. I don't know what it is, but I want to read it! Last year's was pretty good so I have pretty high hopes. This is the only physical book I plan to read, but I do have a couple of others if I have time and the mood strikes me.

We have some Halloween decorations out. We might take it a bit easy this year since we are trying to finish up wedding planning.

Anyone else have spooky reads for this year? Any books to recommend to me? As long as it isn't very scary, I'm game!