First Line Fridays #102 – File M for Murder by Miranda James

Hello everyone,

Welcome to another installment of First Line Fridays hosted by Reading is My Superpower.

File M for Murder by Miranda James

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Connor Lawton made an abysmal first impression on his initial visit to the Athena Public Library.”

Happy Reading,
Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (20 Books of Summer 2022 #7)

Hello Everyone,

Today’s review is on Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens.

About the Book

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet fishing village. Kya Clark is barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when the popular Chase Andrews is found dead, locals immediately suspect her.

But Kya is not what they say. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life’s lessons from the land, learning the real ways of the world from the dishonest signals of fireflies. But while she has the skills to live in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world—until the unthinkable happens.

In Where the Crawdads Sing, Owens juxtaposes an exquisite ode to the natural world against a profound coming of age story and haunting mystery. Thought-provoking, wise, and deeply moving, Owens’s debut novel reminds us that we are forever shaped by the child within us, while also subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

The story asks how isolation influences the behavior of a young woman, who like all of us, has the genetic propensity to belong to a group. The clues to the mystery are brushed into the lush habitat and natural histories of its wild creatures.

My Thoughts

I did it. I finally read Where the Crawdads Sing, and I really enjoyed it. I know that I am a little bit late to the game, but I don’t regret just getting around to reading it. I’ll be honest, I was kind of expecting not to love it, however, I found myself hooked from the first page and I could barely put it down.

There are so many things I loved about this book. First, I really liked the historical setting of 1969, as well as the various flashbacks. I also loved how we would have one chapter in the “present,” and then the next chapter would take us back to another point in Kya’s life and how it all leads up to what is taking place in the present day.

I also enjoyed the anecdotes we get about various plants and animals in the marsh and how in some ways we are learning alongside Kya. It was interesting to see how the author drew upon her experience and knowledge as a biologist. Yet she did it in such a way that it didn’t bog down the narrative. I appreciated how the author also tackled prejudice and racism that would have been prevalent in North Carolina t the time, it made the story seem more authentic.

Something else that I enjoyed about Where the Crawdads Sing was that it covers several genres. It is a literary fiction, part romance, part coming of age, part mystery, part court drama, and a historical fiction. And it blends all of these genres flawlessly.

The novel does a great job of exploring how isolation can affect a person, especially when everyone they love abandons them. It was interesting to see how Kya makes a life for herself, but yet struggles with the trauma of abandonment, wile also craving companionship.

I loved getting to know Kya, Tate and even Chase. I also loved Jumpin’ and Mabel and how they try to lookout for Kya as best as they can. I also like how the marsh itself was a character of sorts, it added another layer of depth to the novel.

I will admit, the ending left me guessing a little, but I think that is kind of the point. I don’t think readers are supposed to truly know who did kill Chase Andrews, but the novel ends in such a way that readers can make their own conclusions. I’ll be honest I still don’t know what to believe.

Overall, I really enjoyed Where the Crawdads Sing! It is worth the hype and deserves to be loved by many. This is definitely a book I can see myself revisiting in the future and discovering something new that I might have missed the first time around. I am looking forward to watching the movie when I get the chance, and I eagerly await Delia Owens’ next novel. 4.5/5 Stars.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Mini Reading Evening – Book 1

Hello Everyone,

I just finished my first read of my mini reading evening read-a-thon. I read Yona of the Dawn, Volume 7 by Mizuho Kusanagi.

I really enjoyed this volume, it picked up with the story line from volume 6. Yona and her companions are helping some pirates defeat the leader of the small town of Awa who has been trafficking young women to a neighboring empire. It was interesting, and I liked the conclusion of this story line. There was also a brief incident with a love potion and all of the companions are affected in some way or another.

I am just about to start by next read, which is Scribe by Alyson Hagy, which I know very little about. But I will check when I finish it (or if I decide to turn in for the night, which could happen because it is a slightly longer book than some of the others).

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

A Mini Reading Evening TBR

Hello everyone,

I had an idea since I don’t really have any plans tonight to do a little mini reading evening/read-a-thon. I have a bunch of manga and shorter books that I would like to read, and I figure why not make it interesting and see how many I can read in a few hours. I’m not sure how long I will do this for, probably just 3/4 hours, or whenever I feel like I can’t read another word. But before I get started in a few minutes, I thought I would share the books I could potentially read.

Haikyu!! Volume 1

Kamisama Kiss, Volume 15

Witch Hat Atelier, Volume 7

Yone of the Dawn, Volume 7

The Promised Neverland, Volume 9

One Piece, Volume 35

Nettle & Bone

Upright Women Wanted

A Mirror Mended

Scribe

A Prayer for the Crown-Shy

I’m still trying to decide which one to pick first. But I will post again when I finish my first book. My plan is to post a short update after each book. Let’s see how much I can get read in the next few hours.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

July Wrap-up

Hello everyone,

Welcome to my July Wrap-up. This month was an interesting reading month, I felt like I didn’t read that much, however I still managed 23 books despite being in a reading slump for a couple of weeks. I also listened to a couple of audiobook, which is not normal for me, but I enjoyed it and it helped me plow through a couple of big books that have been on my TBR for a while. I enjoyed it so much that I am on hold for my library’s copies of The Lord of the Rings audiobooks read by Andy Serkis!

I was also a little bit absent from the blog for the last couple of weeks. Along with my reading slump I felt like I also went through a writing slump of sorts, however I am starting to come out of it and hopefully I will have be posting more consistently throughout August! I also have some ideas that I am looking forward to sharing here on the blog soon.

Let’s jump into the wrap-up!

What I Read

Books: 23 | New releases: 5 books | Re-reads: 2 | Graphic Novels and Manga: 9 | DNFs: 0 | Pages: 7,220 pages

Favorite Reads:

Least Favorite:

Re-reads:

July Reads

  1. Blood & Honey by Shelby Mahurin
  2. Yona of the Dawn, Volume 3 by Mizuho Kusanagi
  3. Normal People by Sally Rooney
  4. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  5. Yona of the Dawn, Volume 4 by Mizuho Kusanagi
  6. Yona of the Dawn, Volume 5 by Mizuho Kusanagi
  7. Yona of the Dawn, Volume 6 by Mizuho Kusanagi
  8. Kamisama Kiss, Volume 9 by Julietta Suzuki
  9. Kamisama Kiss, Volume 10 by Julietta Suzuki
  10. The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
  11. Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  12. Ghost Forest by Pik-Shuen Fung
  13. Gods & Monsters by Shelby Mahurin
  14. What Once Was Mine by Liz Braswell
  15. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
  16. Roxy by Neal and Jerrod Shusterman
  17. Kamisama Kiss, Volume 11 by Julietta Suzuki
  18. Kamisama Kiss, Volume 12 by Julietta Suzuki
  19. The Second Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares
  20. Kamisama Kiss, Volume 13 by Julietta Suzuki
  21. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling
  22. Leaving the Fold by Marlene Winell
  23. Rust & Stardust by T. Greenwood

Blog Posts

What I Watched

This month I watched a number of movies. I think the biggest one was Thor: Love and Thunder, which is the only one I watched in theaters. It was okay. Maybe I need to see it again, but it also felt like it relied to much on teenager humor, when it really didn’t need to. However, I did really like the villain and his back story and motivations, it was really interesting and hit a little close to home in some ways. But I felt like the slapstick humor kind of stole away from the story line.

I’ve also been rewatching a bunch of chick flicks I grew up watching. I watched The Devil Wears Prada, Bride Wards and Because I Said So. My husband and I also watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off for the first time, and I can’t believe it took me this long to finally watch it! I also watched a newer movie that just came out on Hulu on Friday called Not Okay starring Zoey Deutch. I really enjoyed it. However, there are some content things such as language that others might like. I can see people not liking this movie if they go into it not realizing it is a satire of sorts. However, if you watch it from that perspective, it is really funny and good. It definitely has a lot to say about social media, and the whole influencer culture that we have today!

I’ve also been rewatching Parenthood. I am about half-way through season 5, so I’m close to the end. I am enjoying it, but sometimes I have to take a break from it because of some of the drama that takes place.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Magical Readathon: Orilium Academy Autumn Equinox (August TBR)

Hello everyone,

Welcome to my August TBR! This month’s will be a little bit different because I am planning on taking part in the Magical Read-a-thon hosted by G @ BookRoast on Youtube. Here are the links to the the introduction video, and the announcement video for this installment of the readathon.

Orilium Academy – The Novice Path and Orilium Academy – Autumn Equinox.

Before I get into my TBR for the Autumn Equinox, let me share my character’s information, and the classes that I passed in the Spring Equinox semester.

Character Profile:

Guild: Mindwalker

Calling: Storyweaver (and possibly Dreamwalker)

Background: Wilding

Province: Iritheria

Heritage: Earthling – Water

Conduit: Dagger

Classes I Passed in the Spring Equinox:

  • Inscription
  • Art of Illusion
  • Psionics and Divination
  • Lore
  • Spells and Incantations
  • Elemental Studies
  • Animal Studies
  • Alchemy
  • Astronomy
  • Artificery
  • Restoration

For August, my main goal is to get the grades that I need for the Storyweaver calling, however, I would also like to see if I can get the grades for the courses for the Dreamwalker calling as well. There are also a couple of other subjects I’d love to take, like Astronomy.

Here is a break down of the grades I need to get as a Storyweaver and a Dreamwalker.

Storyweaver:

  • O in Inscription
  • Q in Psionics and Divination
  • D in Lore

Dreamwalker:

  • O in Alchemy
  • Q in Art of Illusion
  • O in Spells and Incantations
  • D in Psionics and Diviation
  • O in Lore.

I think I can easily achieve this, especially since there is some overlap with some of the courses.

Here is a break down of my TBR for August broken down by subject and class.

  • Inscription
    • O – Glyph: Recollection – Childhood favorite – Otherwise Known as Shiela the Great by Judy Blume
    • Q – Inking Techniques – Graphic Novel or Manga – Witch Hat Atelier, Volume 7 by Kamome Shirama
    • D – Stilling the Mind – Cozy Read – A Mirror Mended by Alix E. Harrow
  • Psionics and Divination
    • O – Time Theory I – a story featuring time travel – In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
    • Q – Time Theory II – Book with a same word in title as last read. – Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
    • D – Introductory Psalmistry – Secondhand book – The Push by Ashley Audrain
  • Lore
    • O – Aeldia’s Regional Anthropology – a book that has colors similar to your country’s flag – The Bodyguard by Katherine Center
    • Q – Myth of Syldoris – Story featuring a betrayal – Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty/ Yona of the Dawn Volume 7 by Mizuho Kusanagi
    • D – Ancient Caves of Daerune – Desert setting – Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey
  • Alchemy
    • O – Basics of Poisons – Book on someone’s worst list that you might like – The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
    • Q – Poison: Acidic Amber – an orange book – Girls in Pants by Ann Brashares
    • D – Poison: Willow weed – One word title – Horrid by Katrina Leno
  • Art of Illusion
    • O – Blur Face – A book that I don’t know much about – A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary For Lovers by Xiaolu Guo
    • Q – Minor Illusions – A book under 300 pages – Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher OR Scribe by Alyson Hagy
    • D- Cast: De Ja Vu – A prompt from last semester – Shadow Demons – A book with the word “shadow” in the title – Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas
  • Spells and Incantations
    • O – Spell: Recolor – Random color generator – Deep Purple – The Unplanned Life of Josie Hale by Stephanie Eding
    • Q – Incantation: Echo – Pick a book from someone else’s TBR – Red Rising by Pierce Brown
    • D – Hex: Tonguetie – Annotate this book – The Arsonists’ City by Hala Alyan

These are all the books that I am planning on getting to for the read-a-thon. Although, I’m probably not going to complete all of these courses as distinguished, but I do plan on at least getting the grades I need as a Storyweaver. Anything else I complete will be a bonus! I am probably not going to get to all 18 books this month, but I hope to get to at least 7 of them. We’ll see, I’ve been doing a lot of mood reading lately, so it really depends on that!

Are any of you planning on taking part in the Magical Read-a-thon? Let me know about your reading plans for August!

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.

Book Review: Normal People by Sally Rooney

Hello Everyone,

Today’s review is on Normal People by Sally Rooney. Before I jump in, I just wanted to let you know that this review will be a little bit different because it is more stream of consciousness, and it is a collection of the thoughts I had while reading the novel. I hope you like it!

About the Book:

At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s popular and well-adjusted, star of the school soccer team while she is lonely, proud, and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her housekeeping job at Marianne’s house, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers – one they are determined to conceal.

A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years in college, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. Then, as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.

Sally Rooney brings her brilliant psychological acuity and perfectly spare prose to a story that explores the subtleties of class, the electricity of first love, and the complex entanglements of family and friendship.

My Thoughts:

Maybe it’s just that I have been out of high school for so long, but I don’t fully understand why Connell doesn’t want anyone to know that he likes Marianne. I get that he’s popular, but I think that is being a jerk to her. Is it because he is still confused about his feelings for her?

Even though I had seen several reviews that mentioned this, it still took me a while to get used to the no quotation marks when the characters are talking to each other. It is kind of unusual and not something that I have seen done before.

I like college Connell, he seems to have grown up a bit from who he was during the last few months. He does suck at communication thought, especially with what he would like from his relationship with Marianne. He lets her think that he wants to see other people, when he really says that for her benefit. They clearly care about each other, but neither of them wants to say what they really want from the other person.

My heart broke for Marianne when she tells Connell that maybe she deserves to be in relationships where she is physically hurt. She doesn’t, but it’s sad that – apart from Connell – that is kind of all she really knows from her various male relationships. She deserves someone that will lover her with tenderness and compassion. She also deserves a better friend than Peggy.

Ugh! Marianne! You are worthy of so much more than men who beat you up physically and mentally because of their kinks. I know she mentioned before that she is into it, but it is obvious that she isn’t but she believes it is the only love she deserves. I think it proves that wealth doesn’t automatically equate to happiness.

I love how Connell genuinely cares for her, even if it is just as friends.

Normal people is definitely not for everyone, but it will also be a novel that those who read it and enjoy it will love. I will be honest, when i first started it I was debating whether to keep going with it. However, I am so glad that I kept at it and ended up really enjoying it.

The on thing to keep in mind is that this is a novel following two uniquely flawed characters as they try to navigate early adulthood, and their relationship. While there are some things that the characters did that I could not relate to, I found myself relating to their perspectives of themselves. In a lot of ways I found myself relating to Marianne and how she believes she is not worthy of being treated with true love and compassion, and she questions her existence and purpose at times. I would be curious to see where Marianne and Connell would be in the present day.

Without saying too much, then ending kind of wrecked me, but it was a good choice on the author’s part. However, I can also see it being something that a lot of readers won’t like.


Overall, I really enjoyed Normal People. While it took me a while to get into, it was a good character study of two individuals and a character study of their relationship to one another over the course of several years. Also, I recommend reading this if you liked On the Road by Jack Kerouac, and vice versa.

Happy Reading,

Janelle L. C.