Book Review: Walking on Water by Richard Paul Evans

Hello Everyone,

Today’s review is on Walking on Water by Richard Paul Evans.

About the Book

In this fifth New York Times bestseller in the Walk series, Richard Paul Evans’s hero Alan Christoffersen must say some painful goodbyes and learn some important lessons as he comes to the end of his cross-country walk to Key West.

After the death of his beloved wife, after the loss of his advertising business to his once-trusted partner, after bankruptcy forced him from his home, Alan Christoffersen’s daring cross-country journey—a walk across America, from Seattle to Key West, with only the pack on his back—has taught him lessons about love, forgiveness and, most of all, hope.

Now Alan must again return west to face yet another crisis, one that threatens to upend his world just as he had begun to heal from so much loss, leaving him unsure of whether he can reach the end his journey. It will take the love of a new friend, and the wisdom of an old friend, to help him to finally leave the past behind and find the strength and hope to live again. 

My Thoughts

Welp! I ended up binging this whole series, but I am not even upset about that. I had a great time rereading it, and I felt like I was in a place in my life where this was a series that in some ways I needed to read.

This is the last book in the series, and it was a good conclusion. However, again, it was kind of formulaic, except this time it’s Alan’s father that something happened to. Don’t get me wrong, that section still packed an emotional punch, it just also seemed formulaic. Am I allowed to say that? I did love that we got to know more about his life, and his family tree. I loved that along with Alan we get to read the family history that his dad compiled. Another section that I was a little annoyed by was when Falene tells Alan that she isn’t the kind of woman he should be with. But, then again, I do kind of understand.

I also feel like in this installment Alan doesn’t meet as many interesting characters during the last section of his walk. If anything the ones he does meet were just creepy.

Overall, I enjoyed Walking on Water and The Walk series. I did feel like this was a little bit of an anticlimactic conclusion to the series, but it was still good. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: A Step of Faith by Richard Paul Evans

Hello Everyone,

Today’s review is on A Step of Faith by Richard Paul Evans.

Summary:

Following the New York Times bestseller The Road to Grace, Richard Paul Evans’s hero Alan Christoffersen faces a life-changing crisis on his journey to grace.

After the death of his beloved wife, after the loss of his advertising business to his once-trusted partner, after bankruptcy forced him from his home, Alan Christoffersen is a broken man. Leaving everything he knows, he sets out on an extraordinary cross-country journey; with only the pack on his back, he is walking from Seattle to Key West—the end of the map.

Along the way, Alan begins to heal, meeting people who teach him lessons about love, sacrifice, and forgiveness. But in St. Louis, Alan faces another life-changing crisis, and now the journey is in jeopardy.

My Thoughts:

A Step of Faith is probably my least favorite installment in the series, but it is still good. However, the books are kind of formulaic in that something is always happening to Alan that takes him away from his walk and then he goes back to it. This time he has a brain tumor that has to be removed and he is forced to move in with his dad during this time. I also didn’t like that he finds himself in a love triangle of sort between Falene and Nicole. I also found found Falene’s actions to be somewhat childish, although I guess it makes sense since she has experienced so much trauma in her life.

I did like that Alan starts to think more about what life has in store for him when he completes his walk, or rather how he wants to live.

I found the chapters about that cult – AhnEl – to be disturbing and uncomfortable, which I guess was the point of having it in the novel, and in some ways adds unexpected layer of grit to the story.

Overall, A Step of Faith was okay. I see it’s purpose in the overarching plot, and I loved reading about the different small towns Alan goes through. But it also seemed to drag on at times, and I personally see it as the weakest installment in the series. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: The Road to Grace by Richard Paul Evans

Hello Everyone,

Today’s review is on The Road to Grace by Richard Paul Evans.

Summary:

From one of America’s most beloved storytellers comes the inspiring third installment of the bestselling series, The Walk, the ongoing story of one man’s unrelenting search for hope.

Join one of America’s beloved storytellers on a walk like no other: one man’s unrelenting search for hope.

Reeling from the sudden loss of his wife, his home, and his business, Alan Christoffersen, a once-successful advertising executive, has left everything he knew behind and set off on an extraordinary cross-country journey. Carrying only a backpack, he is walking from Seattle to Key West, the farthest destination on his map.

Now almost halfway through his trek, Alan sets out to walk the nearly 1,000 miles between South Dakota and St. Louis, but it’s the people he meets along the way who give the journey its true meaning: a mysterious woman who follows Alan’s walk for close to a hundred miles, the ghost hunter searching graveyards for his wife, and the elderly Polish man who gives Alan a ride and shares a story that Alan will never forget.

Full of hard-won wisdom and truth, The Road to Grace is a compelling and inspiring novel about hope, healing, grace, and the meaning of life

My Thoughts:

This installment in The Walk series definitely packs more of an emotional punch, especially since in this installment Alan deals with several aspects of grace, both towards himself and others. I also liked that he is confronted with his hatred towards his former business partner, and he learns the importance of forgiveness. I loved that he learns of this through Lescek, a Holocaust survivor, who survived the death camp Sobibor, which I hadn’t really heard of before. Lescek’s story of his time there is horrifying and sobering, but how he learned to forgive is even more amazing.

I think one of the things I love most about these books is what Alan learns along the way, especially through the different individuals he meets. I also liked getting to know the various places he walks through, especially since some of the seem to become characters as well.

Overall, I think this might be my favorite installment in the series, mainly because of the themes of grace and forgiveness that are woven throughout it in various ways. 5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Miles to Go by Richard Paul Evans

Hello Everyone,

Today’s review is on Miles to Go by Richard Paul Evans.

Summary:

Alan Christoffersen, a once-successful advertising executive, wakes one morning to find himself injured, alone, and confined to a hospital bed in Spokane, Washington. Sixteen days earlier, reeling from the sudden loss of his wife, his home, and his business, Alan left everything he knew behind and set off on an extraordinary cross-country journey. Carrying only a backpack, he planned to walk to Key West, the farthest destination on his map. But a vicious roadside stabbing has interrupted Alan’s trek and robbed him of his one source of solace: the ability to walk. Homeless and facing months of difficult recovery, Alan has nowhere to turn—until a mysterious woman enters his life and invites him into her home. Generous and kind, Angel seems almost too good to be true, but all is not as it appears. Alan soon realizes that before he can return to his own journey, he must first help Angel with hers. From one of America’s most beloved and bestselling storytellers comes an astonishing tale of life and death, love and second chances, and why sometimes the best way to heal your own suffering is by helping to heal someone else’s. Inspiring, moving, and full of wisdom, Miles to Go picks up where the bestseller The Walk left off, continuing the unforgettable series about one man’s unrelenting search for hope. 

My Thoughts:

I forgot how this book deals with deep issues, including suicide. While it is dealt with quickly and tied up with a bow in some ways, I still appreciate how the author touches on the topic. I liked how Alan, because of what he has gone through and is able to help Angel/Nicole discover that life is worth living after tragedy.

I loved getting to know Angel/Novel, her life was filled with so much hardship and tragedy and I could understand the despair she feels, however I loved seeing her character development. My only complaint is that her change from despair to more hopeful seemed to happen very quickly, but maybe that does occur for some people.

I also like getting to know Kailami and just how positive she is about life despite the hardship and trauma she has experienced. I liked how she was a foil to both Alan and Nicole.

My only complaint about this book is that we spent more than half of it in Spokane, rather than on Alan’s walk. However, I did still enjoy this section, especially with how Alan and Nicole help each other in various ways.

Overall, I really enjoyed my reread of Miles to Go. Although this was not my favorite instalment in the series, I still loved it. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: The Walk by Richard Paul Evans

Hello Everyone,

Today’s review is on The Walk by Richard Paul Evans.

Summary:

“My name is Alan Christoffersen. You don’t know me. ‘Just another book in the library,’ my father would say. ‘Unopened and unread.’ You have no idea how far I’ve come or what I’ve lost. More important, you have no idea what I’ve found.” —Prologue

What would you do if you lost everything—your job, your home, and the love of your life—all at the same time? When it happens to Seattle ad executive Alan Christoffersen, he’s tempted by his darkest thoughts. A bottle of pills in his hand and nothing left to live for, he plans to end his misery. Instead, he decides to take a walk. But not any ordinary walk. Taking with him only the barest of essentials, Al leaves behind all that he’s known and heads for the farthest point on his map: Key West, Florida. The people he encounters along the way, and the lessons they share with him, will save his life—and inspire yours.

Richard Paul Evans’s extraordinary New York Times bestsellers have made him one of the world’s most beloved storytellers. A life-changing journey, both physical and spiritual, The Walk is the first of an unforgettable series of books about one man’s search for hope. 

My Thoughts:

(Note: I reread The Walk in January 2022, so the first paragraph is from then).

I had no intention of rereading The Walk, at least not yet. In fact, I forgot that we owned a copy of it. However, throw in a slight reading slump and a bout of the ‘Rona, and I decided I wanted to read something that I knew I would enjoy. And I was not disappointed.

I really enjoyed my reread of The Walk and in some ways it was the perfect book to read after being sick and having picked up a book in a week. It is a melancholy book, but in some ways I enjoyed joining Alan as he recounts the tragedy that led to him to start his walk. One thing I remembered a little to late is the emotional punch the first 100 pages or so packs.

I enjoyed this exploration of grief and one man’s journey learning to live when everything he had to live for has been stripped away.

Even though this is only the first part of his journey, it is still good. I also love the various people he meets along the way.

Overall, this was a great reread. I am still unsure if I will keep rereading the rest of the series, but I know I will have no regrets if I do. To me, this is a timeless story that I often find myself think about. 5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: What We Make It by Elisabet Velasquez

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on What We Make It by Elisabet Velasquez.

About the Book

An unforgettable, torrential, and hopeful debut young adult novel-in-verse that redefines what it means to “make it,” for readers of Nicholasa Mohr and Elizabeth Acevedo.

Sarai is a first-generation Puerto Rican eighth grader who can see with clarity the truth, pain, and beauty of the world both inside and outside her Bushwick apartment. Together with her older sister Estrella, she navigates the strain of family traumas and the systemic pressures of toxic masculinity and housing insecurity in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn. Sarai questions the society around her, her Boricua identity, and the life she lives with determination and an open heart, learning to celebrate herself in a way that she has been denied.

When We Make It is a love letter to anyone who was taught to believe that they would not make it. To those who feel their emotions before they can name them. To those who still may not have all the language but they have their story. Velasquez’ debut novel is sure to leave an indelible mark on all who read it.

My Thoughts

I really liked this novel-in-verse and getting to know Sarai who feels like she is disconnected from her Puerto Rican roots, and doesn’t quite fit in the country of her birth. This was hard to read at times because the author does not shy away from showing what poverty looks like. She doesn’t shy away from the nitty gritty of Sarai’s life, even when she is turned away from the very people she needs help from. Overall, I really liked it and I hope to read more from Elisabet Velasquez in the future. 3.5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

23 Books I Need to Read in 2023

Hello everyone,

Today I’m going to be sharing the 23 Books I Need to Read in 2023. I did this last year and managed to read most of the books on my 2022 list. I will only be sharing the titles in this post, because I want to write at least a short review (or longer) for each of these books.

1.Babel by R. F. Kuang

2. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

3. A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas

4. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

5.The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

6. Empire of Storms + Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas (yes, I know that that’s two books).

7. Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid

8. Heart of the Sun Warrior by Sue Lynn Tan

9. The Bodyguard by Katherine Center

10. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

11. Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

12. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

13. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Marukami

14. The Arsonists’ City by Hala Alyan

15. Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

16. The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon

17. Walt Disney by Neal Gabler

18. Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

19. The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery

20. The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John M. Gottman and Nan Silver

21. The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

22. From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

23. Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Top 22 Books of 2022

Hello everyone,

Today I am going to share my top 22 books of 2022. I am so excited to share this list. These are the best of the best. They are mostly in order, however, the book in my number 1 spot blew every other book out of the water (at least for me). I will share the links to the reviews of the ones I already have reviews up for, some of them are still forthcoming. This list will start from the bottom of the list and go all the way to my number 1 favorite book.

22. Funny Feelings by Tarah Dewitt

I discovered this book while browsing the Barnes and Noble website, and I will admit that this was entirely a cover buy. However, I really enjoyed it. I loved following Farley and Meyer, amidst the backdrop of Farley being an up-and-coming stand-up comedian. It was funny and steamy, and I will have a review sharing all my thoughts up in a few weeks.

21. Kamisama Kiss by Julietta Suzuki (Manga series).

I knew very little going into this series, and I’m kind of glad I didn’t because I ended up loving this series. I loved learning more Japanese spirituality, as well as the legends of the yokai. It had some great pining. There were times it seemed a little to angsty, but the ending was satisfying.

20. Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey

This was a surprise addition to this list considering it was 1) my last read of 2022, and 2) Tessa Bailey has been hit or miss for me. I loved Love Her or Lose Her, it was a great second chance romance featuring an already married couple, and I loved watching Rosie and Dominic work through their strained relationship. I will have a longer review up for it next month.

19. The Hacienda by Isabel Canas

I loved this Rebecca-inspired gothic tale set in Mexico. It was creepy and I loved how religion played into the storyline. I highly recommend this if you loved Rebecca or if you are wanting to dip your toes into some mild horror.

18. The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith

I was surprised by this book because it is Jennifer E. Smith’s debut. I was a little nervous going into it, but I loved how it follows our main character who not only must learn to find her passion for music again, but also work on reconnecting with her estranged father. I will have a longer (and much overdue) review up sometime next month.

17. Spoiler Alert and All the Feels by Olivia Dade.

Okay, so technically this is two books, but I couldn’t decide which one to include on the list. I loved both of these books. I loved reading about a fat main character finding love in both of these. I just love both of them so much and I can’t wait to read more from her soon. I will have a review up for both of these books in the next month or so.

16. Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

This was my second Agatha Christie mystery and I loved it. I couldn’t put it down! I loved following Hercule Poirot put all the clues together. Unfortunately, the movie that came out last year was not good.

15. Before I Do by Sophie Cousens

Yet another book I read in December that ended up making it’s way onto this list. I’ll admit the synopsis had me a little skeptical. But this was a cute read that had some somber moments. It has some great discussions about figuring out your place in this world and what love looks like, and whether soul mates do exist. Also, have you ever wondered what the worst case scenario could occur on your wedding day? Then pick up Before I Do. I will have a longer review up next month!

14. A Lover’s Discourse by Xiaolu Guo

This was a beautiful novel following a young Chinese immigrant woman who moves to London to start over. While there, she meets an architect and starts a relationship with him. Together they explore what love is, is it worth it. The novel also explores language and language barriers, as well as Brexit. It was beautiful, and I want to read more of Xiaolu Guo in the future.

13. Book Lovers by Emily Henry

I loved Book Lovers, it is probably my favorite out of Emily Henry’s adult fiction offerings so far. I loved the setting of the small town, and I enjoyed getting to know both Nora and Charlie and watching their relationship go from enemies to lovers. If you would like to read more of my thoughts on Book Lovers, please check out my review for it.

12. Roxy by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

Roxy is a somewhat controversial novel because it deals with addiction, but it also deals with adderall. I really appreciate how the novel is told in verse, and is told from the perspective of various drugs who are presented as immortal beings. More specifically we follow Oxytocin and Adderall, and a bet they make with each other to see who can cause a human to overdose first. We then follow two siblings, who both deal with addiction in some capacity. I loved how this was told almost like a Greek tragedy/ play. I highly recommend.

11. The Swimmers by Julie Otsuka

The Swimmers is a short, poignant novel that starts at a community pool that eventually shuts down, it then moves onto one of the swimmers and her battle with dementia and the effect it has on her daughter. It is beautiful and heart-wrenching and definitely worth a read.

10. Ghost Forest by Pik-Shuen Fung

A beautiful novel following a young woman who immigrated to Canada with her mother and her father stays behind in Hong Kong and the effect that has on their relationship which continues to strain. I loved this look at father-daughter relationships, especially one fraught with cultural differences. If you would like to know more of my thoughts, check out my review.

9. Normal People by Sally Rooney

Normal People surprised me. I fully expected to end up DNFing it because I’d read a lot of different reviews about it. However, it was an interesting character study of growing up, friendship, love, and how destructive behaviors can affect one’s life. The characters aren’t likable, but it is still worth a read. I definitely plan on rereading this sometime and annotating it. Click here if you’d like to read more of my thoughts.

8. The Woman They Could Not Silence by Kate Moore

This was a gripping non-fiction about a woman wrongly placed in an asylum because she dared to assert herself. It also looks at misogyny and what happened to women in the Gilded Age who didn’t not fit in the box that their society expected them to fit into. It also takes a look at the whole concept of insane asylums and how they were awful institutions. If you would like to know of more my thoughts, check out my review.

7. All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

This is the first and only Colleen Hoover book I have ever read. And I loved it. It takes a look at a couple who’s relationship becomes strained and what led to that. Even though it is kind of spoiler, trigger warning for infertility, which is a major theme of All Your Perfects.

6. The Heartstopper series by Alice Oseman

I am a little late to the party, but my friend Allison told me I had to read this series, and I am so glad I did. It is so cute and heartwarming, and it is like a warm hug. I wish the world was filled with acceptance like is depicted in this series. I am not ready for the final volume of the series that is supposed to come out this year.

5. Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe

This is a gorgeous graphic novel retelling of Hades and Persephone, as well as the other deities of Greek mythology. The artwork is beautiful and I love the angst and pining. I can’t wait for volume 4 to come out in April.

4. Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spencer

Dear Fahrenheit 451 is a quirky collection of letters written to various books from a public librarian. It was a quick, laugh-out-loud read and I need to re-read it soon!

3. The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

I loved this book! It had some great, funny quotes and I loved getting to know Olive and Adam. I loved the backdrop of STEM research, and it was just a fun read. Click here to read more of my thoughts.

2. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Technically this was a re-read for me, but I loved it the second time around. It is a beautiful story of an glamourous movie star and the many marriages that helped shape her into the woman she becomes. If you would like to know more of my thoughts, check out my review.

*DRUMROLL*

And the number 1 book I read this year is…

SHIP WRECKED BY OLIVIA DADE

Ship Wrecked was my most anticipated read for the latter half of 2022. I was excited to read it because both characters are plus-sized. And it didn’t disappoint. I became obsessed with Peter and Maria’s love story to the point that I re-read Ship Wrecked as soon as I finished it the first time. I loved it so much, and it is my favorite book of all time. I plan on re-reading it this month, and I will have a longer review up on February 1st, with my semi-coherent thoughts. I will never stop loving this book!

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

My 2022 Reading Year Statistics

Hello everyone,

Today I am going to share some statistics based on my reading from last year. I will also include some graphs that were generated on the spreadsheet I used to track my reading.

Before I get started, I want to thank BookTuber, Brock Roberts who created the spreadsheet that I have been using for the past few years. It’s a great spreadsheet. However, in 2023 I am going to try my hand at making my own spreadsheet, because I want to learn more about Excel, and by doing this I have a project where I can practically learn some of what I want to know.

Alright, let’s jump into the statistics.

Total Books Read: 246 (7 DNFs)

Total Pages Read: 71,199 pages

Here is a chart that breaks down how many books I read each month:

In this chart you can see that I read 20 + books over 8 months of the year. The exceptions being April, October, November and December. I read the most books in June and August. In June I read 33 books and in August I read 34. I think the reason for this is that in Summer I tend to read a lot of graphic novels and manga, and especially in June and August I found myself reading a lot.

December was my “worst” month. Although, I don’t want to view it that way because I still read 7 books and that is still a big accomplishment. One thing I want to focus on in 2023 is not focusing on the numbers so much because that takes the fun out of both reading and blogging for me.

Next let’s look at the age categories that I read in this year:

Last year I definitely branched out and read a lot more Adult books. Most of the YA books I read were from the manga series that I read last year. However, I’m still surprised that more than half the books I read in 2022 were in the adult age category.

In 2022, half of the books I read were standalones and the other half were part of a series. Most of the books that I read that were part of a series were graphic novels/manga. In the second chart you can see that I have a good amount of ongoing series that I need to complete.

Next, this chart shows the status of books. I DNF’d 7 books, I re-read 36 books, and I read 203 new-to-me books last year. I know that in 2022 I really got into re-reading books, especially with re-reading books that I had already read that year and I loved it and I definitely plan on doing that more as we go into 2023.

The next two charts show where I got the books that I read, whether they were from the library, my shelf, or if I purchased them, etc.

Based on these two charts, I read a lot of library books – both physical and digital (161 books) . Second, was books from my shelf that owned at the beginning of the year (37 books), followed by books I purchased throughout the year (26 books). The rest were all from other categories.

I plan on continuing to use the library a lot this year. However, I also want to read off my TBR some more. As I mentioned in my 2023 reading goals post, I would like to read at least 30 books from physical TBR (as it is at the start of the year).

Next up is format. This doesn’t really matter, but it’s fun to look and see at what formats I predominantly read in. Hardback is number 1, not surprising since a lot of library books are hardcovers. This is followed by trade paperback, which again, isn’t surprising since a lot of the books I own are in trade paperback, as well as a number of books from the library. I think the one that surprised me the most was the percentage of ebooks I read last year. I felt like I didn’t read that much. But I also remember that for at least the first three months of 2022, any library books I checked out were ebooks, and then as soon as I started working in April, that shifted to more physical books.

Page length is not surprising. Most of the books I read were 300-399 pages, followed by 200-299. The books in the 200-299 range were mostly graphic novels and manga, since most mange tend to be roughly 190-200 pages long.

Years that the books were published is probably the more surprising to me because in 2022 I read over 76 books published in 2022. Followed by 52 books published in 2021. Usually I don’t read that many new releases for the current year, but there were a lot of fantastic new releases that caught my eye and that I was able to find at the library.

Lastly, here is a break down by genre of the books I read in 2022.

Of course, the biggest chunk of this chart is graphic novels and manga. However, I also read a lot of general/contemporary fiction (although if I’m being honest there are probably a handful of books in this segment that are there because I wasn’t quite sure how to categorize it). The third biggest segment is Romance, which isn’t surprising since the last month and a half of 2022 I read mainly romance novels. This is still a big shift for me, because before last year I had maybe read the occasional romance, and now I’ve read at least 41 romance novels. I’m also thrilled to see that Horror actually has a sliver on this chart, since that is not a genre I tend to read a lot of. And I also read a good number of fantasy and non-fiction books this year.

And that concludes my reading statistics and charts for 2022. In an upcoming post I will share my 22 favorite books from last year.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

My Year in Books

Hello eveyone,

Today I am going to share all 239 books I read in 2022. I am just going to share the covers of the books, because if I talked about all of them, this post would be extremely long, and it is already pretty long. I divided the books up by the months that I read them in. I read a lot of good books last year, and I read some not-so-good books last year. What is also interesting is seeing my tastes change throughout the year.

Here are all the books I read in 2022.

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Stay tuned for my next few posts where I will share my reading statistics, my top 22 books of 2022, as well as the worst books and the ones that I DNF’d.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Happy New Year and 2023 Reading Goals

Hello everyone,

Happy New Year! I don’t know about you, but 2022 ended up being a little bit of a rollercoaster outside of my reading life. However, things are finally starting to settle down.

Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

It has been a year of change and growth, and probably one of the biggest changes is that I started working full-time at a local public library. I’m loving it, but I am still getting adjusted to my new schedule and figuring out my routine. Another big change is that my husband and I moved into a house, and December was filled for the most part with getting settled into our new place. Hopefully, this is the last time we move for a very long time.

Even though I’ve still had posts going up, I haven’t had as much time to dedicate to my blog since I started working full time. This is why I haven’t posted a wrap-up or TBR in a while. I plan on keeping up with the blog as much as possible, especially since I have a lot of reviews in the pipeline. However, I also want to experiment with some different content, such as movie reviews, critical analysis (maybe), and share some travel blogs of places I visit this year.

Right now I plan on sticking to posting 3 times a week, but there might be some weeks where I only post once or twice a week. I don’t know if I will continue doing monthly TBRs and Wrap-ups, however, if the fancy strikes me to do one I will.

All that to say, The Meanderings of a Bookworm will be changing a little bit, but I’m not planning on going anywhere any time soon.

Before I end off, I would like to share my reading goals for the upcoming year.

  1. Read 100 books

I think I can do this, considering that I read over 200 books last year. But I also haven’t had as much time to read since I started working full time so I definitely don’t see myself reading more than 100 this year.

2. Write a review for every book I read

This is something I started doing in September 2022, and I have been mostly successful. It doesn’t have to be a long review, but I need to write at least a sentence or two. The only exception is anything that I DNF.

3. Be more intentional with what I read

In September 2022 I started trying to slow down my reading and to enjoy and savor what I’m reading. Along with writing reviews for each book in my reading journal, I also started annotating and tabbing books I read – I mostly just tab since a lot of the books I read are from the library. I have also been writing down favorite quotes from almost all the books I read, which is why I tab them.

4. Do a reading retreat.

I first came across this idea on the Modern Mrs. Darcy website, and I have been meaning to do something like this for a while. Basically, I’ll take a day or two and just spend most of it reading, so kind of like a read-a-thon, but more chill.

5. Finish 4 series (or get caught up on series).

I am guilty of starting series and taking my time to continue with them. However, I do want to try and finish series that I’ve started. I plan on finishing the Poppy War series, the Throne of Glass series, and getting caught up on the A Court of Thorns and Roses series (I just have to read A Court of Silver Flames).

6. Post every book I read on Instagram

This is something I’ve done off and on for several years, however I am determined that I will post a picture of each book I read on Instagram.

7. DNF books.

I’ve gotten better at DNF’ing books, however there were definitely a couple of books last year that I wish I had DNF’d instead of trying to push through to the end.

8. Complete my challenges.

I have about three challenges I am planning on taking part in which I will post more about later this month.

9. Get my physical TBR down to 75 books.

Right now, I have about 105 books on my TBR and I would like to knockoff 30 by the end of the year.

10. Have fun reading.

Those are my reading goals for the year. Stay tuned for my 2022 reading wrap-ups, as well as some other fun content.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Why I DNF’d Dragonball Volume 1 by Akira Toriyama

Hello everyone,

Today’s post is about why I chose to DNF Dragonball Volume 1 by Akira Toriyama after about 91 pages.

I really wanted to like this, especially since I remember watching bits and pieces of the anime as a kid. However, early on there is some nudity, which is something that caught me off guard – but was not the ultimate reason for me putting this down.

There was also the objectification of Bulma (a female character) that made me extremely uncomfortable. There is a scene where Goku low key sexual assaults her while she’s sleeping. I get that it is made out to be “innocent” because he has never seen a woman before, but I was just very uncomfortable to see. And then there’s the perverted Turtle Hermit who convinces her to flash him a couple times.

It just wasn’t for me. I kept trying to go on, hoping that it would get better, but I just couldn’t. I finally gave up after chapter 5 and Oolong the demon pig objectifies her in a very crude way. I’m all for steaminess, but this wasn’t that, it was just uncomfortable.

I definitely see the appeal for teen boys and men in 1985, when this first came out and it very much is a product of it’s time when stuff like this was more acceptable.

If you have been thinking of picking this up, don’t waste your time. Unless you are okay with the things I mentioned above, then by all means go ahead.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Dear Santa by Debbie Macomber

Hello Everyone,

Today’s review is on Dear Santa by Debbie Macomber.

Summary:

A special holiday wish list brings about hope, love, and second chances in this nostalgic novel from the queen of Christmas stories, #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber.

Lindy Carmichael isn’t feeling particularly joyful when she returns home to Wenatchee, Washington, for Christmas. The man she thought was “the one” has cheated on her with her best friend, and she feels completely devoid of creativity in her graphic-design job. Not even carolers or Christmas cookies can cheer her up–but Lindy’s mother, Ellen, remembers an old tradition that might lift her daughter’s spirits.

Reading through a box of childhood letters to Santa and reminiscing about what she’d wished for as a young girl may be just the inspiration Lindy needs. With Ellen’s encouragement, she decides to write a new letter to Santa, one that will encourage her to have faith and believe just as she’d done all those years ago. Little does Lindy know that this exercise in gratitude will cause her wishes to unfold before her in miraculous ways. And, thanks to some fateful twists of Christmas magic–especially an unexpected connection with a handsome former classmate–Lindy ultimately realizes that there is truly no place like home for the holidays.

In Dear Santa, Debbie Macomber celebrates the joys of Christmas blessings, old and new. 
– Taken from GoodReads.

My Thoughts:

For whatever reason, Debbie Macomber’s books had fallen of my radar, especially her Christmas books. However, I stumbled across her latest and it did not disappoint. Was it cheesy? Yes. Was it a fun, festive read? Yes. While the ending was somewhat predictable, it was a heart-warming novel capturing the magic of the holiday season. I loved how it was also a coming-of-age story for Lindy. I also liked the whole concept of writing letter to Santa as an adult. Overall, I really enjoyed Dear Santa and I am looking to see what Debbie Macomber puts out next. 4/5 Stars.

Book Review: Queen’s Shadow by E. K. Johnston

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Queen’s Shadow by E. K. Johnston.

About the Book

Written by the #1 New York Times best-selling author of Ahsoka! When Padmé Naberrie, “Queen Amidala” of Naboo, steps down from her position, she is asked by the newly-elected queen to become Naboo’s representative in the Galactic Senate. Padmé is unsure about taking on the new role, but cannot turn down the request to serve her people. Together with her most loyal handmaidens, Padmé must figure out how to navigate the treacherous waters of politics and forge a new identity beyond the queen’s shadow. 

My Thoughts

I am beginning to think that the Star Wars books are just not for me. So far all the ones I have read have been just okay. And maybe it’s just that I haven’t found one that gels with me. I was really looking forward to Queen’s Shadow, and it was just alright.

While I did like reading more about the politics of the Republic, as well as Padme’s adjustments to her role as senator, it just failed to keep me interested at times. And while it was interesting to read from Sabe’s perspective, it also felt jarring at times. I did like that we got to know Senator Bail Organa a bit more and his connection to Padme, which leads to his eventual adoption of her daughter after her death.

As of yet, I don’t know if I will continue with the rest of the Padme trilogy, but I do plan on reading Ahsoka soon and hopefully I’ll fare better with that. 3/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Reivew: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Hello Everyone,

Today’s review is on Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.

About the Book

Global conspiracy, complex code-breaking, high-tech data visualization, young love, the secret to eternal life. Mostly in a hole-in-the-wall San Francisco bookstore.

Clay Jannon tells how serendipity, sheer curiosity, and the ability to climb a ladder like a monkey has sent him from Web Drone to night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. After just a few days on the job, Clay realizes just how curious this store is.

A few customers come in repeatedly without buying anything. Instead they “check out” obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. All runs according to some elaborate, long-standing arrangement with the gnomic Mr. Penumbra. The store must be a front for something larger, Clay concludes.

He embarks on a complex analysis of the customers’ behavior and ropes in friends to help. Once they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, it turns out the secrets extend far outside the walls of the bookstore. A quest to New York City dips in a world conspiracy for eternal life. The current of romance pulls Clay onward. 

My Thoughts

Maybe I had too high expectations for this book, especially since I have had Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore on my radar for over 5 years. And that’s more on me than on the actual content of this book.

I think one of my complaints is that the author seems to tackle several themes including books and technology. I don’t know, to me it seemed like an overload at times. It also seemed like it condoned the pirating of eBooks, which seemed odd. As well as condoning how technology is taking over a lot of things.

However, I did like the whole idea of a secret society trying to fined the secret to immortality. I also liked how Mr. Penumbra is open to trying new techniques to solving the code, whereas there are others within the society that believe the only way to solve the mystery is through the way its always been done.

The characters are mostly flawed, and although they definitely make questionable choices, I still found myself rooting for them. I especially liked Mr. Penumbra and his quirkiness and I liked seeing him in contrast to Corvina.

Overall, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore was okay, but also disappoint for how my expectations were, but that’s on me. however, I do highly recommend the author’s follow-up, Sourdough. 3/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Imani Messina

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Imani Messina.

About the Book

The international bestselling novel sold in 21 countries, about grief, mourning, and the joy of survival, inspired by a real phone booth in Japan with its disconnected “wind” phone, a place of pilgrimage and solace since the 2011 tsunami.

When Yui loses both her mother and her daughter in the tsunami, she begins to mark the passage of time from that date onward: Everything is relative to March 11, 2011, the day the tsunami tore Japan apart, and when grief took hold of her life. Yui struggles to continue on, alone with her pain.
Then, one day she hears about a man who has an old disused telephone booth in his garden. There, those who have lost loved ones find the strength to speak to them and begin to come to terms with their grief. As news of the phone booth spreads, people travel to it from miles around.
Soon Yui makes her own pilgrimage to the phone booth, too. But once there she cannot bring herself to speak into the receiver. Instead she finds Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose own daughter has stopped talking in the wake of her mother’s death.
Simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming, The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World is the signpost pointing to the healing that can come after.

My Thoughts

I liked this book. I appreciate how the author chooses to focus on those who lost loved ones, especially during the 2011 tsunami. I have vivid memories of watching the breaking news about what had happened.

I also appreciate how the novel deals with grief and finding hope and joy even when it feels impossible. Hope and joy are definitely the main themes of the book.

I loved following Yui as she learns more about the Wind Phone and gets to know Takeshi. I also loved how we got to know some of the other visitors, and even how their story continues. I also found it interesting that some of the chapters were short lists, or even simply the name of a book that was mentioned in the previous chapter.

Some of the writing was gorgeous, even though it was translated from Italian. I found myself writing down a number of quotes. Here are a couple that stood out to me:

“She just had a feeling that certain complex things like happiness had to be taught by example rather than words. We need to possess joy in abundance before we can bestow it upon somebody else.” (p. 44).

“She was also convinced that words, the ones you heard or read (not necessarily in the the Bible, but anywhere) came to you by chance but not without reason.” (p. 328).

“Yui didn’t like to talk about her own frailty. But in the end she had accepted it, and that was the start of her path toward taking care of herself again. Acknowledging it helped her connect to the truest part of the people, it was what made it possible to feel close to them, part of their lives.” (p.369).

While there was a lot I liked about this book, there was also something about it that failed to draw me in fully. It could’ve been that it was translated or anything else. Whatever the case, I am still glad I read it!

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: The Beach Trap by Ali Brady

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on The Beach Trap by Ali Brady.

About the Book

Two best friends torn apart by a life-altering secret. They have one summer to set the record straight.

When twelve-year-olds Kat Steiner and Blake O’Neill meet at Camp Chickawah, they have an instant connection. But everything falls apart when they learn they’re not just best friends—they’re also half-sisters. Confused and betrayed, their friendship instantly crumbles.

Fifteen years later when their father dies suddenly, Kat and Blake discover he’s left them a joint inheritance: the family beach house in Destin, Florida. The two sisters are instantly at odds. Blake, who has recently been demoted from regular nanny to dog nanny, wants to sell the house, while social media influencer Kat is desperate to keep the place where she had so many happy childhood memories.

Kat and Blake reluctantly join forces to renovate the dilapidated house with the understanding that Kat will try to buy Blake out at the end of the summer. The women clash as Blake’s renovation plans conflict with Kat’s creative vision, and each sister finds herself drawn into a summer romance. As the weeks pass, the two women realize the most difficult project they face this summer will be coming to grips with their shared past, and learning how to become sisters.

My Thoughts

I need to start by saying that I did not realize that Ali Brady was actually the pen name of a writing duo until about 2/3 of the way through when I happened to glance at the About the Author blurb. They do a fantastic job and unless I’d discovered that I would have just assumed it was one writer. They do a great job of giving Blake and Kat their own voices, however the writing style is seamless.

I really liked this take on The Parent Trap, and how instead of twins, our main characters are half-sisters. I liked how we saw how different their lives were because of the decisions their father chose to make.

I found Kat to be unfairly angry at Blake, but it also makes sense that she would be, especially when her family is big on keeping up appearances. It was also interesting to see how both women processed their grief and anger towards their father, and learn that the other wasn’t to blame for his poor life choices. I loved seeing both of these characters grow, and also find love in the midst of a difficult time.

I also really liked how the novel briefly touches on how lonely and empty influencer culture can be and how it affects our standard of beauty. Here is a quote regarding beauty that I really liked:

“Happiness matters more than what someone else – influencer or not – decides is beautiful. Besides, there’s more to life than looking good on the outside. Especially if you’re just using make up and clothes to cover up how broken you are on the inside.” (p.219).

I also liked the banter between Blake and Noah when they first met, they both had some great lines that I ended up writing down.

I really enjoyed The Beach Trap and I plan on picking up more Ali Brady’s work in the future. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry.

About the Book

Two best friends. Ten summer trips. One last chance to fall in love.

Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.

Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.

Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.

Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

From the New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read, a sparkling new novel that will leave you with the warm, hazy afterglow usually reserved for the best vacations.

My Thoughts

So, I feel like my rating is slightly not fair because I started to get into a reading slump while reading it and it is not the book’s fault!

I really enjoyed People We Meet on the Vacation and the different ways Emily Henry pays homage to When Harry Met Sally…. She did a great job of capturing the essence of the movie, but yet making it a unique story.

I loved getting to know both Poppy and Alex and seeing their relationship dynamic over time. There were times I wished, especially in the present day sections, that they had communicated a bit more. I also found Alex to be frustrating sometimes and his lack of taking action.

I loved that while this was a romance, we also see both characters grow, especially Poppy as she tries to figure out what she wants from her life. I also really liked how both Poppy and Alex get to make their own speeches similar to Harry’s speech near the end of the movie. I definitely shed a tear when I read Alex’s speech.

My only complaint is that, while the book starts out with some great banter between the two characters, it kind of fizzles out and I missed it. I also felt like the book dragged on a little, but that could be due to me starting to get into a slump.

I still think this was a great read from Emily Henry and I am sure I will reread it in the future. And she has definitely solidified her place as an auto-read author in the future. 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair.

About the Book

Persephone is the Goddess of Spring by title only. The truth is, since she was a little girl, flowers have shriveled at her touch. After moving to New Athens, she hopes to lead an unassuming life disguised as a mortal journalist.

Hades, God of the Dead, has built a gambling empire in the mortal world and his favorite bets are rumored to be impossible.

After a chance encounter with Hades, Persephone finds herself in a contract with the God of the Dead and the terms are impossible: Persephone must create life in the Underworld or lose her freedom forever.

The bet does more than expose Persephone’s failure as a goddess, however. As she struggles to sow the seeds of her freedom, love for the God of the Dead grows—and it’s forbidden.

My Thoughts

I was little hesitant going into this because it has mixed reviews from several people I follow. However, I loved this reimagining of Greek mythology, more specifically Hades and Persephone. I loved getting to know both of them, as well as the other characters.

I think if you are a fan of Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe, you will love A Touch of Darkness, it was the perfect read while I waited for Volume 3 to come out. I also really liked the steamy scenes, I though they were well done, and I loved the tension between Hades and Persephone as they get to know each other.

I am looking forward to seeing what happens to them in the next book. 3.75/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala.

About the Book

The first book in a new culinary cozy series full of sharp humor and delectable dishes—one that might just be killer….

When Lila Macapagal moves back home to recover from a horrible breakup, her life seems to be following all the typical rom-com tropes. She’s tasked with saving her Tita Rosie’s failing restaurant, and she has to deal with a group of matchmaking aunties who shower her with love and judgment. But when a notoriously nasty food critic (who happens to be her ex-boyfriend) drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila, her life quickly swerves from a Nora Ephron romp to an Agatha Christie case.

With the cops treating her like she’s the one and only suspect, and the shady landlord looking to finally kick the Macapagal family out and resell the storefront, Lila’s left with no choice but to conduct her own investigation. Armed with the nosy auntie network, her barista best bud, and her trusted Dachshund, Longanisa, Lila takes on this tasty, twisted case and soon finds her own neck on the chopping block…

My Thoughts

I liked Arsenic and Adobo and learning more about Filipino culture and food against the backdrop of a cozy mystery. I enjoyed getting to know all the characters, especially the aunties. I also appreciate that the author didn’t shy away from the prejudice that minorities face every day, especially when it comes to the justice system.

I found the plot to be slow at times, and I’ll be honest, I did not like how everyone dogpiles on Lila because she moved away and came back. I also found Adeena (Lila’s best friend) to be kind of childish towards the end when she gives Lila the silent treatment.

I did like the several possible love interest, and I am looking forward to seeing how that unfolds over the rest of the series. 3.5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Call Me Athena by Colby Cedar Smith

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Call Me Athena by Colby Cedar Smith.

About the Book

This enchanting novel in verse captures one young woman’s struggle for independence, equality, and identity as the daughter of Greek and French immigrants in tumultuous 1930s Detroit.

Call Me Athena: Girl from Detroit is a beautifully written novel in verse loosely based on author Colby Cedar Smith’s paternal grandmother. The story follows Mary as the American-born daughter of Greek and French immigrants living in Detroit in the 1930s, creating a historically accurate portrayal of life as an immigrant during the Great Depression, hunger strikes, and violent riots.

Mary lives in a tiny apartment with her immigrant parents, her brothers, and her twin sister, and she questions why her parents ever came to America. She yearns for true love, to own her own business, and to be an independent, modern American woman—much to the chagrin of her parents, who want her to be a “good Greek girl.”

Mary’s story is peppered with flashbacks to her parents’ childhoods in Greece and northern France; their stories connect with Mary as they address issues of arranged marriage, learning about independence, and yearning to grow beyond one’s own culture. Though Call Me Athena is written from the perspective of three profoundly different narrators, it has a wide-reaching message: It takes courage to fight for tradition and heritage, as well as freedom, love, and equality.

My Thoughts

I didn’t know about this book until I was going through the poetry finalist for the Goodreads Choice Awards 2021. I came across Call Me Athena and was intrigued to pick it up.

This was a great novel-in-verse in which we follow 16-year-old Mary growing up in 1930s Detroit and her fight against her parents expectations of being a “good Greek girl>” The novel then flashes back to World War I following a young Greek man, Grigos, and a young French woman, Jeanne and how their lives intersect.

I loved this novel and the characters, as well as learning various historical facts. It was also interesting to learn that the novel was based on the life of the author’s grandmother.

Overall, I really enjoyed Call Me Athena. I don’t know what else to say because it is a novel that I really want others to experience. I really hope to read whatever Colby Cedar Smith puts out next. 4.5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan.

About the Book

A captivating debut fantasy inspired by the legend of Chang’e, the Chinese moon goddess, in which a young woman’s quest to free her mother pits her against the most powerful immortal in the realm.

Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the feared Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when Xingyin’s magic flares and her existence is discovered, she is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind.

Alone, powerless, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to learn alongside the emperor’s son, mastering archery and magic, even as passion flames between her and the prince.

To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies across the earth and skies. But when treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream—striking a dangerous bargain in which she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess begins an enchanting, romantic duology which weaves ancient Chinese mythology into a sweeping adventure of immortals and magic—where love vies with honor, dreams are fraught with betrayal, and hope emerges triumphant.

My Thoughts

Book Haul #4

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another book haul! Here are the books I got in the first half of October (oops!).

The Blue Castle by L. M. Montgomery

I came across this at Half-Priced Books for about $4 and decided to get it because it’s considered L. M. Montgomery’s more popular adult novels.

Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This was another one I came across at Half-Priced Books, and I almost never see any of her backlist books so I knew I had to snatch it up. It follows a couple who have a whirlwind romance, but the husband is killed in an accident and the wife, along with the mother-in-law who didn’t know she existed, learn to work through their grief.

As Long As the Lemon Trees Grow by Zoulfa Katouh

I chose this from the picks for October’s Book of the Month. It sounds really good, I’m personally trying to go in without knowing to much, except it is set during the Syrian fight for freedom (Arab Spring?), and it is probably going to break me.

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

I decided to do an add-on for my October Book of the Month box, and I went with The Love Hypothesis because I loved it so much when I read it in September. It also matches my copy of Love on the Brain!

The next three books are ones that I picked up at my previous job when we did an event where several YA authors came and did panels and workshops. There were copies of the books for sale, and we were able to get them signed by the authors at the end of the day. Here are three I bought and got personalized.

Wings of Ebony by J. Elle

A Forgery of Roses by Jessica S. Olson

Full Flight by Ashley Shumacher

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood.

About the Book

As a third-year Ph.D. candidate, Olive Smith doesn’t believe in lasting romantic relationships–but her best friend does, and that’s what got her into this situation. Convincing Anh that Olive is dating and well on her way to a happily ever after was always going to take more than hand-wavy Jedi mind tricks: Scientists require proof. So, like any self-respecting biologist, Olive panics and kisses the first man she sees.

That man is none other than Adam Carlsen, a young hotshot professor–and well-known ass. Which is why Olive is positively floored when Stanford’s reigning lab tyrant agrees to keep her charade a secret and be her fake boyfriend. But when a big science conference goes haywire, putting Olive’s career on the Bunsen burner, Adam surprises her again with his unyielding support and even more unyielding… six-pack abs.

Suddenly their little experiment feels dangerously close to combustion. And Olive discovers that the only thing more complicated than a hypothesis on love is putting her own heart under the microscope.

My Thoughts

I picked this up right after finishing The Astonishing Color of After because I needed a boost of serotonin. And I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I read a huge chunk of it in one sitting. I believe I read it at the right time and I loved it.

It had a lot of great laugh-out-loud moments, and when I say that I mean I literally laughed out loud! I loved the banter between Olive and Adam, as well as Olive’s inner monologue. I found myself writing down a number of quotes that I loved and some that I just found hilarious, here is one in particular that had me rolling:

“He lifted an eyebrow. “I doubt a language exists in which the thing you just ordered could be referred to as ‘coffee.'”” (p. 71).

And there were so many others! If I hadn’t borrowed it from the library, I probably would have tabbed and underlined a lot more than what I jotted down. Maybe I need to get a copy so I can mark it up if I re-read it. But back to the review.

I loved the characters, and even though I guess this is kind of Reylo fanfiction, it isn’t not really. Yes, our love interest is named Adam and his mother is a diplomat, and both our main characters are described as looking similar to Adam Driver and Daisy Ridley. I honestly was able to separate them from this fact in my head. I loved getting to know both of them.

I found Olive in the third act a bit annoying, especially when she hides something from Adam. I also loved Adam, but there were times I felt he could have been more assertive, but considering their situation it makes sense.

Also, and this is a spoiler of sorts, can we talk about how much I hate Tom Benton. What a sorry excuse for a human being! He got what he deserved.

So I guess I really like fake-dating as a trope? Also, I love how the characters were self-aware that what they were doing was a popular romance trope!

This was a great romantic comedy and it was a new favorite. I look forward to reading what Ali Hazelwood puts out next. 5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

November Hopefuls (A TBR of Sorts)

Hello everyone!

Welcome to my November TBR/ Hopefuls. I really don’t know how many books I’ll be able to get to this month, because I just started working full-time and as a result do not have as much time to read. But I thought I would share a few of the books I am hoping to get to this month, however, whether that will actually happen remains to be seen.

Ship Wrecked by Olivia Dade

I read Spoiler Alert and All the Feels earlier this year and loved them both, and ever since I read the synopsis for Ship Wrecked I have been eagerly waiting for it’s release. Also, I did pre-order it, so as soon as I get it I plan on reading this. Not only does it have plus-sized female character, but also a plus-sized male character and I am here for it!

The Heart of the Sun Warrior by Sue Lynn Tan

I fell in love with Daughter of the Moon Goddess in September, and shortly after starting it, I also placed a pre-order for the sequel. I don’t know too much about it, and I want to keep it that way! But I am ready to immerse myself in the Celestial Kingdom again.

Tash Hearts Tolstoy by Kathryn Ormsbee

I picked this up on my recent trip to visit my close friend Allison in Colorado. I remember it got a lot of buzz back when it came out and I am very curious to pick it up. It follows an aspiring filmmaker who makes a web show based on Anna Karenina (does anyone else remember when those were a thing on YouTube? I miss them!), that takes off.

Station Eleven by Emily John St. Mandel

This is one of the few books that I still need to read for my 22 Books to read in 2022. I’ve heard really great things about it. I know it follows a troupe of actors before and after a pandemic and how their lives and the world has changed.

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

I have been meaning to read One to Watch for a few years, but for whatever reason kept putting it off. I love the concept and I think I will love it. It is about Bea who enjoys a Bachelorette-like show but is disgusted by the lack of diversity, especially when it comes to size. She then ends up becoming the first plus-sized “bachelorette” on the show and out of her comfort zone.

These are all the November hopefuls. We shall see if I get to them!

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 3 by Hiromu Arakawa

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is going to be on Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 3 by Hiromu Arakawa.

868

This third volume starts with Ed and Al making it back to their hometown and getting fixed up by Winry and Granny, engineers who originally Ed his auto-mail prosthetics. During this short stay, Major Armstrong – who accompanied the brothers -finds out a little bit more about the Elric brothers’ past, and why they no longer have a home. However, we also learn they they have a found family with Winry and Granny. The first chapter ends with them leaving for Central and Winry finding a bolt of sorts that might be important to one of the brothers.

The next chapter shows the Elric brothers arriving in Central and discovering that the library branch that houses the document they are looking for has been burned down. However, they are put in contact with a bookworm, Ms. Sheska, who has a photographic memory and remembers every detail of the document and writes it down for them. They then have to solve the cipher that it is written in, however, Ed is distraught to discover that a human life is required in order to use the Philosopher’s Stone. We also revisit Gluttony and Lust, who are in the Eastern city and are looking for Scar so that they can deal with him. There is a confrontation between him and Gluttony, but it fades to black and readers have to wait to find out what happens.

The Elric brothers not only discover what is needed in order to use the Philosopher’s Stone, they also discover that there is a secret lab in Central and they go to investigate it. While there both of them face off against different opponents that seem to be the results of the experiments conducted in the lab. In fact, one of them is similar to Al because he to is a soul trapped in armor. We also see that Scar escaped from Gluttony’s attack and both he and Lust decide they need to report back to a character called “Father”, who has yet to be revealed.

The last chapter continues where the previous one ended, with both brothers fighting an opponent. Al’s opponent gets in his head and starts making him question if he is who he thinks he is and how does he know what he knows. Meanwhile, Ed defeats his opponent, but just before he can get more information from him, he is destroyed by Envy, who has arrived at the lab with Lust and it ends with them seeing that Ed is there. It will be interesting to see what transpires in the next volume.

Overall, I did enjoy this installment of Fullmetal Alchemist and I’m looking forward to seeing more of the story unfold.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Home Is Not A Country by Safia Elhillo

Hello Everyone,
Today’s review is on Home Is Not A Country by Safia Elhillo.

About the Book

A novel in verse about family, identity, and finding yourself in the most unexpected places.

Nima doesn’t feel understood. By her mother, who grew up far away in a different land. By her suburban town, which makes her feel too much like an outsider to fit in and not enough like an outsider to feel like that she belongs somewhere else. At least she has her childhood friend Haitham, with whom she can let her guard down and be herself. Until she doesn’t.

As the ground is pulled out from under her, Nima must grapple with the phantom of a life not chosen, the name her parents didn’t give her at birth: Yasmeen. But that other name, that other girl, might just be more real than Nima knows. And more hungry. And the life Nima has, the one she keeps wishing were someone else’s. . .she might have to fight for it with a fierceness she never knew she had. 

My Thoughts

I had first attempted to read this when I was sick with COVID at the beginning of the year, that was not a great idea, so I decided to put it aside until I was recovered. And I am glad I did!

Home Is Not a Country is a novel-in-verse that captures the story of Nima, a young woman who feels like she doesn’t fit in. She is torn between two cultures, that of living in America, and the country of her birth (which is never named). She feels like she is a disappointment to her mother and that she is nothing like the daughter she had hoped for.

I liked the novel, however it took a kind of unexpected turn that was a little weird. I liked the lesson that Nima learns but it caught me off guard.

Overall, I though Home Is Not A Country was an interesting novel. It isn’t a new favorite, but I am looking forward to reading more from Safia Elhillo in the future. 3/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Love & Saffron by Kim Fay

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Love & Saffron by Kim Fay.

About the Book

The #1 Indie Next Pick, in the vein of the classic 84, Charing Cross Road and Meet Me at the Museum, this witty and tender novel follows two women in 1960s America as they discover that food really does connect us all, and that friendship and laughter are the best medicine.

When twenty-seven-year-old Joan Bergstrom sends a fan letter–as well as a gift of saffron–to fifty-nine-year-old Imogen Fortier, a life-changing friendship begins. Joan lives in Los Angeles and is just starting out as a writer for the newspaper food pages. Imogen lives on Camano Island outside Seattle, writing a monthly column for a Pacific Northwest magazine, and while she can hunt elk and dig for clams, she’s never tasted fresh garlic–exotic fare in the Northwest of the sixties. As the two women commune through their letters, they build a closeness that sustains them through the Cuban Missile Crisis, the assassination of President Kennedy, and the unexpected in their own lives.

Food and a good life–they can’t be separated. It is a discovery the women share, not only with each other, but with the men in their lives. Because of her correspondence with Joan, Imogen’s decades-long marriage blossoms into something new and exciting, and in turn, Joan learns that true love does not always come in the form we expect it to. Into this beautiful, intimate world comes the ultimate test of Joan and Imogen’s friendship–a test that summons their unconditional trust in each other.

A brief respite from our chaotic world, Love & Saffron is a gem of a novel, a reminder that food and friendship are the antidote to most any heartache, and that human connection will always be worth creating.

My Thoughts

I’ll be honest by saying that I was initially interested in picking up Love & Saffron because of it’s gorgeous cover. I then also discovered that it was an epistalory novel, which immediately sold me on reading it (I’m a huge sucker for epistalory novels). And I was not disappointed.

I loved learning about both Joan and Imogen and the different places they are in their lives, but yet strike up a friendship based on food and the exploration of different flavors. I also liked that it was set in the ’60s, although I will admit that I had to keep reminding myself that it was set then, especially when certain things came up that seemed like non-issues because they are today. It was also interesting to learn more about Los Angeles in the 1960s.

My only complaint is something that happens near the end of the novel, and I am not okay, but in the best way! I can’t say what it is because it is a spoiler, but if you know, you know what I’m talking about.

I also loved how this friendship changed both women’s lives for the better, as well as their relationships.

Overall, I really liked Love & Saffron, however, I do wish it was a little bit longer. I do plan on reading more from Kim Fay in the future! 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr.

About the Book

Hiroshima-born Sadako is lively and athletic–the star of her school’s running team. And then the dizzy spells start. Soon gravely ill with leukemia, the “atom bomb disease,” Sadako faces her future with spirit and bravery. Recalling a Japanese legend, Sadako sets to work folding paper cranes. For the legend holds that if a sick person folds one thousand cranes, the gods will grant her wish and make her healthy again. Based on a true story, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes celebrates the extraordinary courage that made one young woman a heroine in Japan.

My Thoughts

I came across Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes at work and remembered hearing about it several months ago. After reading the synopsis I knew I wanted to read it as soon as I got home, even though I knew it would be very sad.

For a really short book, it packs a punch in the best possible way. Just as we as readers get to know Sadako and her hopes for the future, we see her dreams of being a runner fall by the wayside when she is diagnosed with leukemia, as an after affect of the the bombing of Hiroshima at the end of World War 2. I loved Sadako’s hope and tenacity to get better, even though she would never recover. It was hard to read towards the end, even though what happens is no surprise to readers, it is still heart-breaking. It was a beautiful reminder of the casualties of war, as well as long lingering affects that may not be known for years to come.

Overall, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes is a book I wish I had read as a kid, and I hope to share this beautiful story with my kids some day. 5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Haul #3

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another book haul! Last month was my birthday, so several of these books are gifts from others, as well as gifts to myself. Right now I am on a book buying ban until I go visit my friend Allison in Colorado in a couple of weeks, which I am looking forward to hanging out with, as well as doing some book shopping while I’m there. Here are the books I’ve acquired recently:

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

This was a birthday present from my brother (shout out to Micaiah if you happen to be reading this!). I’m really excited to read it because I like Trevor Noah, and I remember watching some of his stand-up comedy specials before he took over The Daily Show. Also, some of you may know, I grew up in South Africa, however it was post-Apartheid, I’m looking forward to reading from the perspective of someone who grew up mixed-race near the end Apartheid and how those experiences shaped him into the person he is today. I also expect that this going to be really funny, while also touching on some hard subject matters.

Deathnote, Volume 1 by Tsugumi Ohba

This was another birthday present from my brother, and I’m excited to get to it. I’ve heard some really great things about Deathnote, however I am saving it for closer to Halloween because it looks like it might also be a little creepy.

Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

This was my Book of the Month pick for September, and I am so glad it is because I read The Love Hypothesis (my review will be up soon) and I absolutely loved it!

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

I’ll admit that this partially a cover buy because this cover is absolutely gorgeous! But I’d also heard some really good things about, and I was intrigued by the synopsis. I had a gift card to Barnes & Noble so I decided to order it online. I read it almost as soon as I got it, and I really enjoyed it! My review for it will be up sometime next month.

My Killer Vacation by Tessa Bailey

I got this in the same order as Daughter of the Moon Goddess because I had to reach a certain amount to get free shipping, so I decided to add this to my cart because it sounded amazing. A murder mystery with some steam, sign me up! I’m hoping to get to this one sometime this month.

Funny Feelings by Tarah DeWitt

This was the last book I got in that order with the previous two books. I just happened upon it while scrolling through Barnes and Nobles website and I was immediately drawn by the cover, it looks so pretty and autumnal! I also looked up ratings on Goodreads, and it has pretty high ratings and it is an indie published book, which is something I am wanting to get into a bit more. It follows a comedian and her manager and the sparks that fly between them. I am definitely getting to this soon!

A Whole New World by Liz Braswell

This was a surprise gift from my husband Nathan (shout out to Nathan if you’re reading this! I love you!), and I’m excited to add another installment of this series to my collection. This is another one I am hoping to get to soon, and I am looking forward to seeing how Liz Braswell turns Aladdin on its head.

And those are all the books I have recently hauled!

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

September Wrap-Up

Hello everyone!

Welcome to my September Wrap-up! This month I tried to focus on slowing down my reading and being a little bit more intentional. That might sound weird, but what I mean is taking the time to write down quotes I like (or highlighting and tabbing them if the book belongs to me), and writing down a short review in my reading journal. I also tried my hand at annotating a book this month, and that was fun, although I feel like I went overboard with the sticky tabs, but I’m looking forward to doing it again soon. That being said, I still managed to read 23 books this month, which is still a lot!

What I Read

Books: 23 | Pages: 7,312| New Releases: 10| DNFs: 1| Graphic Novels and Manga: 7| No. of Library Books: 20| No. of Owned Books: 3

Favorite Read

Least Favorite Reads

September Wrap-Up

  1. The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
  2. Queen’s Shadow by E. K. Johnston
  3. What We Make It by Elisabet Velasquez
  4. Kamisama Kiss, Vol. 22 by Julietta Suzuki
  5. The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan
  6. The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
  7. The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World by Laura Imani Messina
  8. Kamisama Kiss, Vol. 23 by Julietta Suzuki
  9. Kamisama Kiss, Vol. 24 by Julietta Suzuki
  10. Kamisama Kiss, Vol. 25 by Julietta Suzuki
  11. Aresenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala
  12. The Beach Trap by Ali Brady
  13. Dragonball, Vol. 1 by Akira Toriyama – DNF’d
  14. People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
  15. Fruits Basket Collector’s Edition, Vol. 1 by Natsuki Takaya
  16. A Touch of Darkness by Scarlett St. Clair
  17. Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan
  18. Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  19. Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1 by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona
  20. I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
  21. Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood
  22. Below Zero by Ali Hazelwood
  23. The Body Keeps Score by Bessel von der Kolk

Blog Posts

What I Watched

This month was kind of weird month when it came to watching movies and TV series, I found myself not really wanting to do a whole lot of it. One show I am slowly working my way through is King of the Hill, it’s pretty funny, especially having lived in Texas for almost a year I can get a lot of the references.

My husband and I also finished season 2 of Legend of Korra and started season 3. While I don’t love it as much as Avatar the Last Airbender, I’m still really enjoying it, and it has definitely gone in a direction I didn’t expect.

As far as movies go, I can’t really remember what I watched. I know I watched He’s Just Not That Into You, and honestly it was just okay, I can’t remember why I used to like it. It especially didn’t sit well with me the whole having an affair is okay if it’s with your soulmate thing, even though that did backfire on Bradley Cooper’s character who is married. But honestly both parties in that affair were to blame.

I also re-watched How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, this is definitely a movie I keep coming back to and really enjoy. Does it have some cheesy moments? Yes. Is it still fun to watch? Also, yes. Another guilty pleasure movie I watched was Clueless. I love this movie, and it is definitely another one that I don’t mind re-watching every few months when I just want something funny.

And that’s a wrap on my wrap-up! I hope you all have a wonderful October!

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Fullmetal Alchemist Volume 1 by Hiromu Arakawa

Hello everyone,

Today’s review is on Fullmetal Alchemist Voluem 1 by Hiromu Arakawa.

870

After an alchemy experiment went wrong, leaving Edward Elric without an arm and a leg, and his brother, Alphonse just a soul in a suit of armor, they set out on a quest for the philosopher’s stone, in the hopes that it will undo the effects of the experiment. After sometime, Edward is appointed as the state alchemist which means he is bound to obey the orders of those who command him, even if it means killing someone. As they journey through their world they will discover treacherous villains and tyrants, as well as those also versed in the ways of alchemy, but use their skills for evil.

The Elric brothers are briefly introduced and the manga opens with a nippet of a scene following their experiment with transmutation. However, it is then revealed in further dialogue some of what happened to them and why they are the way they are: Edward has a metal arm and leg, Alphonse is merely a soul in a suit of armor.

One of the main themese in this first volume is exposing fruad and hypocrisy. In the first two chapters they are in a town that is devoted to following a charlatan who claims to be an emissary of the god, Leto. He gained a following by performing “miracles,” however the Elric brothers discover that he is really an alchemist and he is able to perform his miracles by breaking some of the cardinal rules of alchemy because he possesses part of the philosopher’s stone. The second chapter explores his hypocrisy being exposed, as well as some of his devoted followers, like Rose, who are crushed after realizing that everything they beleived about the emissary was a lie. Rose now has to figure out what she believes and is left feeling hopeless. The end of this chapter introduces the incaranations of two of the seven deadly sins – Lust and Gluttony – who are revealed to have been the masterminds behind Father Cornello’s plot, and they even had him duped too.

Chapter 3 is an episodic tale in which Ed uses cunning and breaks the laws of alchemy against a corrupt and incompetent lieutenant who has been terrorzing a mining town that he owns the rights to. It can be said in this case that Ed has to be a little corrupt in orer to take down the corruption that has been caused by Lieutenant Yoki.

Chapter 4 is more of just an action epsidoe where the Elric brothers have to go up against a group of goons that have hijacked the train that the general and his family were on. We’re also introduced to another alchemsit at the end – the fire alchemist.

This first volume of Fullmetal Alchemist was a good introduction to the series, however it felt like chapters 3 and 4 were merely episodic and did not seem to connect much with the first two chapters. But maybe in futre volumes they will connect more than can be seen in this first volume. It is also intriguing that the seven deadly sins have a role in this series and it will be interesting to see how they factor into the overarching storyline.

The art style was good. The actions sequences were done in such a way that was just right – they had enough details to show the action, but it was not bogged down with little details that can overwhelm readers who are trying to keep up with what is going on. I am looking forward to reading the next volume soon! 4/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Revisiting Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Hello everyone,

Today’s post is a review on Cinder by Marissa Meyer. However, the one thing that makes this review different from some of the others is that I have already reviewed Cinder. In fact, if you have been following my blog from the beginning, it was one my first reviews that I posted (Click here if you would like to read what 2015 me had to say about the book). I thought it would be interesting to revisit Cinder 5 years later and write a review of it, to make sure it isn’t an exact replica of my first review, I have not looked at it before writing this review. When I am done writing it, I think I will write a postscript describing the few differences that I might have since I read it back in 2015.

Cinder is sci-fi/futuristic retelling of the classic Cinderella story. However, in this instance the story is set in what is called New Beijing in the Commonwealth Empire several hundred years in the future. In this world, the moon was colonized centuries ago and is a separate planet from Earth, in fact the Lunars are considered to be pariah in this society because they are typically a cruel and manipulative society. Enter Cinder, a cyborg mechanic who has no memories of the time before she was a cyborg. She lives with her step-mother and two step-sisters, and she is forced to make a living as a mechanic not seeing a penny of what she has earned. One day she gets a surprise visitor at her booth, Prince Kai, the heir to the Commonwealth Empire. After this chance encounter a series of events occur, including the outbreak of a deadly disease in the marketplace, and Cinder eventually being taken in for testing to help discover a cure for the disease. However, over the course of the tests, both Cinder and Dr. Erlander discover that there is more to Cinder than she knows, not only is she a cyborg, she is a Lunar. And the upcoming visit of the Lunar queen, Levana, could be potentially be dangerous for her if she doesn’t disappear. Espcially since there is even more to Cinder than what even Dr. Erland eventually knows.

I really enjoyed my reread of Cinder. Marissa Meyer does a great job of creating a futuristic world that easy to imagine, as well as creating characters the readers both love and hate. And even though I have already read the entire Lunar Chronicles series, I must admit that there were some details that I had completely forgotten about. The main detail being the deadly Letumosis that plagues Earth. It was interesting reading about a fictional pandemic, especially in the midst of a real pandemic. Which as I was reading this I realized that a lot of my favorite YA books have a pandemic sub-plot in them.

One of the elements that is noticeable are the elements from the original Cinderella story that are included, for example Cinder slaves way as a mechanic and often has grime on her in order to earn money for her step-mother to spend on herself and her daughters on frivolous things. Her step-mother is cruel to her, in fact she blames Cinder for the death of her husband, and later on the death of one of her daughters. There is also a ball, where almost everyone is invited to attend, and the original purpose of the ball is for Prince Kai to try and find a bride. However, instead of a fairy godmother, there is a faulty android named Iko that helps get Cinder ready for the ball.

Of course, there are some other fairy tale elements that are evident in Cinder, for example some of the overarching plot of series is a Snow White retelling. Especially when the ultimate bomb is dropped the Cinder is Princess Selene, the lunar princes who has been thought to be dead after a deadly fire broke out in her room, and if Queen Levana discovers that she is alive, she will have to run for her life.

Another topic that is covered in Cinder is that of discrimination. In this world, the people of Earth are extremely prejudiced against Lunars, mainly do tot he fact that they are known to be cruel and master manipulators. However, Cinder is constantly discrimnated against because she is a cyborg and considered to be less than human because she has some mechanical parts. Which also asks the question, which doesn’t fully get answered in this novel, what does it mean to be human? What classifies someone has human? One of the arguments used against Cinder is that part of her heart is a machine that helps keep her alive, but she still has feelings, even if she can’t fully express them due to her cyborg features, for example, if she is embarassed her system immediately alerts her that she is overheating and does what it can to cool her down.

Cinder is an intersting novel, not just because it takes a classic fairy tale like Cinderella and turns it on its head a little bit, but while doing so also covering serious topics like belonging, discrimination, what it means to be human etc. However, it is also a fun read while doing so!

I highly recommend Cinder for those who are interested in YA, fairy tale retellings, as well as just a fun read.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

22 Books I Want To Read in 2022 Wrap-up

Hello everyone,

Today I am going to share my wrap-up for my 22 Books I Want to Read in 2022 list and how successful I was in completing it. I did end up making some substitutions for the list about halfway through the year because I realized there were some books on it that I no longer wanted to read. Here is the original list, if you’d like to see what changes I made.

1. The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

I read this. I liked it. It was a little slow, but it was still a really poignant story.

2. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

I did not read this, but it I am still wanting to get to this one.

3. The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

I read it. I liked this novel following the daughters of Victorian Gothic characters like Victor Frankenstein, Dr. Moreau, etc. However, it didn’t wow me, and I’m still not sure if I want to keep going on with the series.

4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

I read it. I’ll be honest I just wanted to get this series over and done with. I think I started this too late in life to fully enjoy it.

5. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

I did not read it, but I do plan on getting to it someday.

6. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

I read it. While I didn’t love it as much as everyone else seems to, I do get the hype. Check out my review for Where the Crawdads Sing if you would like to read more of my thoughts.

7. The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa

I did read The Memory Police, and I’m sorry to say that I didn’t like it. It was just okay, but that could also be because I was reading snatches of it before bed on my Kindle over a long period of time.

8. The Poppy War by R. F. Kaung

I have read this, and I really liked it. I should have review up for it in the coming months (I am really behind on my reviews right now!).

9. At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon

I read this one, and it was another one that was just okay. If you’d like to know more of my thoughts on At Home in Mitford, check out my review.

10. The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

I did not read this one, but I am still interested in reading.

11. Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

I have read it. I did like it and the commentary it makes on religion and hypocrisy. I did read the rest of the series, and it was okay.

12. The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

I did read The City of Brass, and I read the rest of the trilogy. I really loved it, it is very atmospheric and I want to read more of S. A. Chakraborty’s works when they are published.

13. Earthlings by Sayaka Murata

I did read this one, and I hated it. It was a lot more disturbing than I thought it would be and I honestly should have DNF’d it.

14. Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

I did read Aresenic and Adobo and I did really like it. I plan on picking up the other books in this series that are out so far at some point. Check out my review if you would like to read more of my thoughts.

15. The Woman They Could Not Silence by Kate Moore

I loved this book. It evoked a lot of emotions, specifically anger while I read it. I highly recommend it. Here is my review if you are interested in reading more of my thoughts on The Woman They Could Not Silence.

16. The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker

I did not read this one, and I’m honestly not sure if I am still interested in reading it.

17. Normal People by Sally Rooney

I did read this one and I really liked it. I wasn’t sure if I would, but I did. I can get why other people don’t. Here is my review for Normal People if you’d like to read more of my thoughts on it.

18. Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I did read Malibu Rising and I liked it. It’s not my favorite Taylor Jenkins Reid book, but I still liked it. Here is my review for it.

19. Roxy by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman

I did read Roxy and I really enjoyed it. It is a look at the spiral of addiction from the point-of-view of two types of drugs that are personified as gods.

20. The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan

I did read this one and I really liked it. Here is my review.

21. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

I did not read this one, but I definitely plan on getting to it this year.

22. Red Rising by Pierce Brown

I did read Red Rising and I liked it. I don’t know if I am going to continue with the rest of the series.

I didn’t too badly, I only missed 5 of the books on my list, and that’s okay. I still managed to read most of this list, which is still impressive.

Stay tuned for the 23 books I want to read in 2023.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.