Saturday, January 1, 2022

December 2021 Wrap Up

I didn't think I would make it to here many times throughout this month! I have been at home with a quarantined kid since December 8th working from home, then he tested positive and got pretty sick for a few days there. The debate about hosting Christmas or not, ending up hosting, trying to keep it as low key and stress free as possible but demanding family not allowing for it. All that and I still managed to work every day and post my advent reads posts every day! That was exhausting and miserable and something I don't care to repeat, though I did love sharing all the fun holiday books I came across this last year.

We will start with my main challenge this year . . .

TBR Books Read:
I definitely did not do a great job on this challenge this month focusing more on new books than these older TBR books. 

I am going to spend today sorting through my shelves and taking a really hard look at the books on my TBR list and which ones aren't as appealing to me anymore. Lets see if I can get that TBR just a bit more before setting my reading goals for 2022.

2021 Books added to TBR & Read:
Again, I didn't get quite as many new books read as I wanted to but looking back at the month, I feel like I did a good job of still getting 4 of them read.


Other Recent Additions:
I definitely added far more books this month than I intended but when you add together the annual local author event, Christmas gifts/gift cards and the Barnes & Noble 50% off sale, I don't think I did too bad.  Looking back, I am pretty sure I kept under the number of books that I wanted to add this year and I managed to keep all the unread ones on one shelf, meeting all my goals!

In other reading I am tracking this year, I read . . .

Re-Reads: - COMPETE-
Goal: Re-read 15 books
I have continued really enjoying re-reading old favorites and diving back into worlds I loved years ago. I will definitely be continuing to re-read more often!
None this month

Borrowed Books: - COMPLETE-
Goal: Borrow 30 books

Books Over 500 Pages: - COMPLETE-
Goal: 10 books
None this month but sitting at 15 total for the year so I am really happy but hoping to squeeze in one or two more before the end of the year.

Requested Reviews: 
 Reading Stats:
I read a total of 12books this last month satisfying all things considered.

Resolutions Check in:
1. Read that TBR: I didn't managed to read the amount of books that I hoped for this month but by the end of today I will have removed enough from my TBR so I am calling it a win. - CHECK
2. Re-Read More: I didn't manage to re-read any books this month despite my best plans but I am definitely thrilled with how this year has gone and I can't wait to add more re-reading in the next year. - :/
3. Purchase Less & Read More: Not quite reaching my goals for this one but I guess it will have to do for now, and as expected for the crazy December month. - CHECK
4. Keep Trying New Genres/Authors: I definitely tried a lot more unique books this month, different genres than usual. - CHECK


Friday, December 31, 2021

Review of Monkey Mystery by Brenda Scott Royce & Illustrated by Joseph Wilkins


Read for: Netgalley/Requested Review

Synopsis: "This weekend at Mountain Bluff Zoo, Katy and Micah are Junior Researchers. The friends are watching the capuchin monkey group. The keeper is worried about one of the monkeys, a male named Milo who has been steadily gaining weight. Perhaps the kids can figure it out by closely observing his behavior. At first, Katy and Micah are stumped. But as they spend more time with the monkeys, will they solve the mystery? And, can they come up with some creative ideas to help Milo?"

My Review:  I am all about the animals and often so are young readers, so this seemed like a really fun book to try out (and it is the first in a zoo series). This reads like a beginning reader book almost but the story itself needs a bit more of a young middle grade audience to grasp. It would be a nice bridge book to chapter books but for those looking for an easier story to read but a bit of a higher thought level. I love the way that the kids had to figure out the mystery but just observing the monkeys, it took time and patience to figure out the problem and come up with a solution. It also included some nice trial and error as well to show not every answer is an easy one. It was fun and thought invoking. This is a series that young animal enthusiasts will really be wanting to pick up and read.

My Rating: This is definitely a book I would have wanted to read as a kid, the mystery, the animals, the success of solving the problem, all things a young reader will enjoy.  I give it a rating of Four Paws!

I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley, the above is my honest review and opinion.

You can find out more about Brenda Scott Royce's book on their Goodreads Page or Website.

Monkey Mystery is scheduled for release tomorrow but you can pre-order your copy now from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or request it at your local library or bookstore.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Review of Frankie and Amelia by Cammie McGovern


Read for: Netgalley/Requested Review/Audio Book/ CATS!

Synopsis: "A heartfelt companion novel to the critically acclaimed Chester and Gus about inclusivity, autism, friendship, and family, perfect for fans of Sara Pennypacker and Kate DiCamillo.

After being separated from his family, Franklin becomes an independent cat, until he meets a goofy dog named Chester. Chester is a service dog to his person, a boy named Gus, and Chester knows just the girl to be Franklin’s person—Gus’s classmate Amelia.

Amelia loves cats, but has a harder time with people. Franklin understands her, though, and sees how much they have in common. When Amelia gets into some trouble at school, Franklin wants to help the girl who’s done so much to help him. He’s not sure how, yet, but he’s determined to try.

This sweet and moving novel demonstrates how powerful the bond between pets and people can be, while thoughtfully depicting a neurodivergent tween’s experience."

My Review: I was instantly drawn to the cover of this book with the big Maine Coon on the cover, and once I read the synopsis I was really intrigued. This book definitely did not disappoint! I loved the tone of the book, sweet, a bit emotional and difficult at times but also triumphant. I think it handled the subject of the way autism spectrum presents differently in different people pretty well, though I am no where near someone to really recommend it, I felt like it opened my eyes a bit more. My favorite part is that we get to read from the perspective of the cat, Frankie. He may not know or understand everything that happens with the humans around him but he does know what he can do and gives with his whole heart. It was an interesting way of approaching a difficult subject and I think it is one that will have young readers turning the pages when they may have put the book down when it got a bit heavy.

My Rating: This was really a great book, it was short for me but full of heart and I think there are many young readers that may identify with Amelia and Gus.  I give it a rating of Four Paws.

I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley, the above is my honest review and opinion. 

You can find out more about Cammie McGovern on her Goodreads Page or Website.

Frankie and Amelia was released earlier this year so you can pick up your own copy in print or digital format from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or request it at your local library or bookstore.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Review of What the Cat Dragged In by Kate McMurray


Read for: Requested Review/ Netgalley/ Audio book/ Title & Cover/ CATS!

Synopsis: "Set in Brooklyn (with a small-town feel in the big city), this cat café romantic comedy has tropes readers will adore:

• Best friend’s brother romance
• Forbidden romance (can’t let his sister/my best friend find out!)
• Millennial angst (my love life is a hot mess)
• Adorable rescue cats in a cozy Brooklyn café

When Paige Danvers isn’t managing events for the Whitman Street Cat Café, she is busy navigating dating disasters as a single woman in Brooklyn. Urged by her boss and best friend Lauren to find a distraction from ineffectual dating apps, Paige volunteers with a cat rescue organization, where she actually meets a guy with some real relationship potential.

Recent law school grad Josh Harlow is putting in long hours at a Manhattan law firm as he gets over a messy breakup. When his boss requires him to do some volunteer work, Josh’s sister sets him up to help capture feral cats. Partnered with Paige, Josh is insistently drawn to the dynamic event planner and sparks between them fly.

One problem: after a steamy night together, Paige discovers Josh is Lauren’s brother and dating him would be a spectacularly awful idea. Particularly considering Paige’s track record. They’re both in too deep to walk away—but if they let the cat out of the bag, it’s going to wreak havoc with friends, family, and jobs alike."

My Review:  First off, how has no one been bringing this book up to me? It has cats and romance! Secondly, it is the second book in the series! How have none of you told me about a romance series set in a cat cafe? I am so disappointed in all my book friends right now! Anyway, on with the review, besides the adorable cover and title, the story inside was just as adorable. I really enjoyed the characters and how even though they are in two totally different industries of work, they both struggle to find a work/life balance, something many people can relate to in their own lives. The attraction and steam in this one is nearly instant, but the romance and relationship itself simmers nicely, building off conversations, rescue cats and city adventures. You don't need to have read the first book in the series to enjoy this one but the relationships introduced in the first book are continued in this one so it would be nice to be familiar with all of them. I, for one, will be going back and picking up the first book and will be following this series avidly as it continues!

My Rating: I really enjoyed this one, I like the neighborhood like setting, the close knit friend and family dynamics and, of course, the cats! I give this one a rating of Four Paws!

I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley, the above is my honest review and opinion.

You can find out more about Kate McMurray and her books on her Goodreads Page or Website.

What the Cat Dragged In was just released on December 7th so you can pick up your own copy in print or digital formats from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or request it at your local library or bookstore.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Review of Even and Odd by Sarah Beth Durst


Read for: Requested Review/ Netgalley/ Favorite Authors

Synopsis: "A half-magic girl learns about heroism and taking action when she and her sister confront a wizard who endangers others for her own gain. 

Even and Odd are sisters who share magic. Lately, though, it seems like that’s the only thing they have in common. Odd doesn’t like magic, and Even practices it every chance she gets, dreaming of the day she’ll be ready to be a hero.
When the hidden border between the mundane world the sisters live in and the magical land they were born in shuts abruptly, the girls are trapped, unable to return home. With the help of a unicorn named Jeremy, they discover a wizard is diverting magic from the border to bolster her own power. Families are cut off from each other on both sides of the border, and an ecological disaster is brewing. But the wizard cares nothing for the calamitous effects her appropriation of magic is having. Someone has to do something to stop her, and Even realizes she can no longer wait until she’s ready: she needs to be a hero now."

My Review: I was immediately drawn to this book, not only was it written by one of my favorite fantasy authors but it has a unicorn on the cover. To be honest, I did struggle quite a bit to get into this book, and it was on me, I think Middle Grade Fantasy just isn't for me at this point in my reading life. It was a unique set up with a magical world side by side with the read world and sisters who have to share their magic. It was rather silly with a lot of funny quirks that will have young readers laughing. Durst definitely hit her target audience for this one just right with a lot of characters starting to come into their own personalities, strengths and weaknesses; and learning to work with what they have and maybe not envying other for what they have. I like the way the characters had to work together to problem solve. This was quite the adventure and I do hope there might be more books after this one as I can see it being a world that would be fun for young readers to explore.

My Rating: I really floundered with getting into this one, it took several attempts to get beyond the first couple of chapters (sadly, this has become a struggle with me and middle grade fantasy, time to admit defeat and take a break) but it was more me than the book. I think the target audience will really love the adventures of Even and Odd.  I give it a rating of Three Paws.

 I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley, the above is my honest review and opinion.

You can find out more about Sarah Beth Durst and her books on her Goodreads Page or Website.

Even and Odd was released earlier this year so you can pick up your own copy in print or digital format from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or request it at your local bookstore or library.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Review of The Excalibur Curse by Kiersten White


Read for: Requested Review, love the series & author, Anticipated Release

Synopsis: "The gripping conclusion to the acclaimed Arthurian fantasy trilogy from New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White finds Guinevere questioning everything—friends and enemies, good and evil, and, most of all, herself.

While journeying north toward the Dark Queen, Guinevere falls into the hands of her enemies. Behind her are Lancelot, trapped on the other side of the magical barrier they created to protect Camelot, and Arthur, who has been led away from his kingdom, chasing after false promises. But the greatest danger isn’t what lies ahead of Guinevere—it’s what’s been buried inside her.

Vowing to unravel the truth of her past with or without Merlin’s help, Guinevere joins forces with the sorceress Morgana and her son, Mordred—and faces the confusing, forbidden feelings she still harbors for him. When Guinevere makes an agonizing discovery about who she is and how she came to be, she finds herself with an impossible choice: fix a terrible crime, or help prevent war.

Guinevere is determined to set things right, whatever the cost. To defeat a rising evil. To remake a kingdom. To undo the mistakes of the past...even if it means destroying herself.

Guinevere has been a changeling, a witch, a queen—but what does it mean to be just a girl?"

My Review: I have really been excited for this conclusion to the series, so far I have really enjoyed the twists White has added to the Arthurian legend. This book definitely continued the trend, I was a little worried about the whole betrayal bit and how it would be portrayed but I loved what she did with it. The Lancelot character she created will forever be the one that I picture in my mind when hearing the name. The same goes for Mordred, I like how he is so morally grey, he wants to do the right thing but his right just doesn't line up with Arthur's and his connection and feelings are simply used against him. I found Guinevere to be on really unsteady legs throughout this book, and while she does grow into her new self a bit, I still found her to be very unsure and so easily manipulated. I feel like we are just seeing the beginning of who she would become and I would have really loved to see her settle into the role she found for herself a bit more before we saying goodbye to this series. All in all it was a really good conclusion to a very unique take on the traditional legends.

My Rating: I absolutely love the way White is able to twist classic and long standing stories on their heads and give us a completely new take and perspective. This has been one of the most unique retellings of the Arthurian legends I have read. I give this conclusion to the series a rating of Four Paws!

I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley, the above is my honest review and opinion. 

You can find out more about Kiersten White and her books on her Goodreads page or Website.

The Excalibur Curse was just released on December 7th so you can pick it up and the rest of the series in print or digital format from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or request it at your local library or bookstore.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Review of Heartbreak for Hire by Sonia Hartl


Read for: Requested Review/ Netgalley

Synopsis: "Brinkley Saunders has a secret.

To everyone in the academic world she left behind, she lost it all when she dropped out of grad school. Once a rising star following in her mother’s footsteps, she’s now an administrative assistant at an insurance agency—or so they think.

In reality, Brinkley works at Heartbreak for Hire, a secret service that specializes in revenge for jilted lovers, frenemies, and long-suffering coworkers with a little cash to spare and a man who needs to be taken down a notch. It might not be as prestigious as academia, but it helps Brinkley save for her dream of opening an art gallery and lets her exorcise a few demons, all while helping to empower women.

But when her boss announces she’s hiring male heartbreakers for the first time, Brinkley’s no longer so sure she’s doing the right thing—especially when her new coworker turns out to be a target she was paid to take down. Though Mark spends his days struggling up the academic ladder, he seems to be the opposite of a backstabbing adjunct: a nerd at heart in criminally sexy sweater vests who’s attentive both in and out of the bedroom. But as Brinkley finds it increasingly more difficult to focus on anything but Mark, she soon realizes that like herself, people aren’t always who they appear to be."

My Review:  I was intrigued by the synopsis, I can't recall ever reading a book with a similar idea. To be honest I did struggle a bit with the morality within the story but I think that in the end it was handled well. With that said, I fell head over heels for Mark, I don't know how you couldn't. Brinkley on the other hand was a bit of a struggle for me, again more about the morality than anything. I did love the back and forth banter between the characters and the steam was definitely high heat. I do wish we could have seen more of a supportive friend group, they were there but not fully there, just kind of background furniture to move the story along. But all in all an enjoyable story, it was light and fluffy with a bit of an edge.

My Rating: I definitely struggled getting into this one but eventually the characters drew me into the story. I kind of wish they had been in a different situation so I could have really enjoyed them.  I give this one a rating of Two Paws and a Stump Wag.

I received a complimentary copy of this book via Netgalley, the above is my honest review and opinion.

You can find out more about Sonia Hartl and her books on her Goodreads Page.

Heartbreak for Hire was released earlier this year so you can get your own copy in print or digital format from Amazon or Barnes & Noble or request it at your local bookstore or library, they will be happy to track down a copy for you.