2018 in Review

My Year In Books

So we’ve all come to an understanding that 2018 was not a stellar year for me blogging-wise. I was uninspired to write, and ideas had completely dried out. But I’ve also learn to accept the fact that inspiration is a fickle thing. It’s a fact that you have to nurture it. Or, like a muscle, you need to work on it constantly until it becomes a natural thing that’s a part of your life.

My year in reading, however, is a different story. I read more, borrowed more, and acquired less. I’ve also rid of a bunch books. It turns out, there was a lot of people at my gym who were only too happy to take them off my hands. I still have a long way to go, but I’m getting there.

My predilection to acquire books – via publishers and bookstores have slowed down considerably. Which is great because Lord knows, I have enough.

Non Fiction Year

In 2018, I’ve worked hard in reading more nonfiction books. Mostly memoirs, books about feminism and politics. My favourites being, Salman Rushdie’s memoir, Joseph Anton, Will Schwalbe’s The End of Your Life Book Club, and Cecile Richards’ Make Trouble. I’ve also finally read Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential.

Tally

All in all, my year ended with 191 books – a very good year, if I may so myself. Thanks to audiobooks, I’ve managed to read some books that had long fermented in my shelves. I’ve also discovered the romance package from Audible – which was great for about 2 weeks, then I stopped because one can only listen to so much sex. Lol.

The Libby app from my library was a huge money saver as I was able to cut down on my audible purchases this year. From there, I was able to borrow and re-read the entire Charley Davidson series, the Twilight series, and have found some really great reads that I wouldn’t have otherwise picked up on my own accord.

In 2019

I’m really looking forward to this year. I’m going to not feel guilty for not blogging as regularly as I can, nor am I going to create situations for myself where pressure builds up to ridiculous heights. I am going to limit my spending and requesting books, but will be taking advantage of borrowing as much as I can without it getting out of hand. I want to thank you again for still being around. I know that blogging has slowed down for some that I follow, but let’s all keep in mind that above all else, blogging is still a hobby. One that can take a backseat when life gets crazy.

[755]: Darius the Great is not Okay by Adib Khorram

First time author, Adib Khorram takes his readers to the sights, sounds, and people of Iran. A country, in my own opinion that has had a reputation as a dangerous territory. 

After reading this book however, I was left awestruck by its wild beauty, rich culture, historic and picturesque architecture. 

In this book, we meet Darius, a product of a mixed-race marriage who can’t seem to find his purchase in the world in which he grew up. His dad might be as White as they come, but his features are pure Persian. He’s an awkward, quiet teenager who finds himself a target among his peers. So when his parents announced that his family was headed to Iran for three weeks, he welcomed the opportunity to find refuge from his life in America. 

In Iran, he’d hoped to garner some closeness to his grandparents, especially his grandfather whose illness had taken for the worse. He also wanted to learn about his mom’s Motherland, her people, their relatives, and soak up traditions and culture. In the hopes that he’d learn to understand why he’s never felt comfortable in his own person and why he’ll always feel like the outsider no matter where he is. 

He finds more than he bargained for in Iran. He, too, was taken in by the beauty of the country; the warmth and acceptance of his people, and most of all, a step towards understanding the only thing he seemed to have in common with his father: depression. Both take medications in precise synchronicity. Darius, for the most part, gets along with his dad. They have the same affinity for Star Trek. And yet, they seemed miles apart when it matters. 

Darius has never been able to get along with his peers. So finding friendship in the least likely places confounded him the most. 

The thing is, I never had a friend like Sohrab before. One who understood me without even trying. Who knew what it was like to be stuck on the outside because of one little thing that set you apart.


This book is about belonging. It’s about finding your place in the world no matter where you are. It’s being comfortable in your true self, and understanding that you’ll only be happy once you accept that you can never be what people tell you who you should be. 

Hoarders Books Edition: Episode 216

The Moor’s Last Sight by Salman Rushdie | Shalimar the Clown by Salman Rushdie | Make Trouble by Cecile Richards | The Curse of Tenth Grave by Darynda Jones | Eleventh Grave in Moonlight by Darynda Jones | The Trouble with Twelfth Grave by Darynda Jones | If We Were Villains by M. L. Rio

Hey, All. 

So November has come and gone, Christmas is upon us, and the end of 2018 is almost nigh. 

I wish I can say it had been a productive year – blog wise, but I would be lying. I have accepted the fact that blogging will be a sporadic thing for me now. I will blog when I can but remain a reading dynamo for the rest of my natural born life. 

Black Friday is always a great day to go hunting for book sales so that’s pretty much what this post is about. 

Book Outlet Canada had their 30% off sale and I took advantage. Though, if I may recall, I did not practice any self control in 2017. At the end of the day, I ended up with several boxes of books. This year, however, I managed to control the urge and limited myself to a box of 8 books. I do have another batch in my shopping cart but I’m going to have to postpone checking it out on account of: Christmas. 

I finally gave in and bought whatever books I’m missing for my Salman Rushdie library. As well, I’m only one book away from having all the Charley Davidson books in my possession. The 13th book comes out in 2019 which is not too far away now. If We Were Villains has been on my wish list forever so when I saw it at a discounted price, I snapped it up right away. 

I feel like Make Trouble by Cecile Richards deserves a post all on her own because it was ah-mazing. Once I get my thoughts in order, that is. 

I think this will be it for now. I have a million blog posts to get through. 

Happy reading!

xoxo

[3] Romance Reads Round Up: The VIP Series by Kristen Callihan

 


Idol
by Kristen Callihan
Published: June 7th, 2016
Rating 4 out of 5 Stars

Kristen Callihan’s VIP series is about the Kill John band. Rockstars and sex gods, who has recently suffered the heartbreak of a failed suicide by one of its members.

Second only to the the suicidal member, Killian James is probably more affected by this setback. After all, Jax Blackwood is the other half of what makes Kill John the band. As well, he considers him as his brother. So when he didn’t see the abyss that Jax was slowly falling into, he blames himself. Guilt-ridden and uninspired to face the world, he plunged into a pool of alcoholism and found himself in a wreck on Liberty Bell’s front yard.

Although their meeting got off to a rocky start, Libby and Killian found a kindred spirit in each other. Libby was also on the run from the world having just lost her parents. She hasn’t spoken to anyone in months prior to Killian crashing into her isolation. In the end, they’d both realize that they are exactly with whom they needed. Libby, to inspire the music back into Killian’s life, and Killian to bring Libby back into the world of the living.


Managed
by Kristen Callihan
Published: November 14th, 2016
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Gabriel Scott is perhaps my favourite character in this series. As the title insinuates, he is the manager for the band.

His friendship/brotherhood with Kill John started out when they were kids at a boarding school in England. They took him under their wings and as years go by, their friendship only strenghtened to a brotherhood. He, too was especially affected by Jax’s failed suicide. It was an eye-opener to the fast life that being around Kill John slowly devolved into. Since then, he’s become even more staid, stuffy, and short of being a hermit.

The romance between Gabriel and Sophie is also my favourite so far. I don’t know how many more books are coming but it’s safe to say these two win my vote. Bonus: Sophie’s mom is half Filipino so a girl after my own heart. Anyway, Gabriel is a very regimented, disciplined, and serious man. So meeting a whirlwind like Sophie Darling threw him for a loop. I love the way Sophie took him out of his comfort zone at all times. They were a mixture of mercurial and coquettish fun that really worked as far as character chemistry goes.

Sophie has a dark history relating to the band, however. So working for them might just be a bit more complicated that she anticipated.


Fall
by Kristen Callihan
Published: October 23rd, 2018
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


Ahhh, Jax Blackwood. Laid-back on the outside, a mess of angst on the inside. Is it weird to associate him with Jasper Cullen? I don’t know, but that’s who I saw in my head as I was reading his story.

Anyway, our Jax Blackwood is still recovering from his failed suicide. And while his facade screams “well-adjusted rockstar”, he has scars from his inability to cope with living the celebrity life. In fact, he’s still vulnerable that even Killian James and the rest of the band walk on eggshells around him.

But then he meets Stella. A sunshine in his otherwise gloomy existence. Everybody loves her, everyone’s drawn to her goodness and light. But Stella is hiding a vulnerability that she rarely shows the world. If he’s lucky, he might get a glimpse. Or he might even help her. But darkness has a way of dimming whatever sliver of light the weak have found. Unfortunately, Jax and Stella are not exempt from the shadows that lurk in their own psyches.

I love these two as well. Heck, I love all the couples so far from this series. It just so happens that I love Scottie and Sophie more. Kristen Callihan knows how to pair them well, with stories that will leave you sighing from beginning to the end. I can’t wait to read more about the rest of the crew, and that includes finally seeing Brenna and Rye in the bedroom so they can take their aggression out on each other. If you know what I mean. *wink, wink*

[754]: Dirty Exes by Rachel Van Dyken

Dirty Exes, Liars Inc. Book 1
by Rachel Van Dyken


The first book to Ms. Van Dyken’s new series features the story of revenge and finding love when you least expect it. This is about Blaire, a woman spurned by love one too many times. Her first love was Jesse, a man who, at the time, was on the verge of greatness in professional football.  He made the choice to walk away from Blaire all those years ago. It took her a while, but she got over the hurt. Though, seeing him again brought the sting of her first love heartbreak.

Her second stint at love hurt her pride more than anything when she found her ex-husband in flagrante delicto with her best friend, no less. And on that same fateful night, she met her now business partner. Isla knows all too well about getting spurned. After all, she found out that her boyfriend was sleeping with her sister on the same day.  The kinship instantly turned to a partnership otherwise known as Liars, Inc.

The job is hardly glamorous by any stretch of imagination. Setting traps for lying, cheating boyfriends and husbands is not a walk in the park. They do whatever they can to help the female population rid themselves of men with wandering eyes and sleazy hands. Including, but not limited to, putting up with demanding clients with spouses who may or may not be dirt bags after all.

Such is the case for Blaire’s former love, Jesse.

Hired by his soon-to-be ex-wife, Blaire has the unfortunate task of trying to find evidence of his alleged cheating. But she didn’t account for meeting Jesse’s best friend, player extraordinaire, Colin. He offers more than help in finding all the dirty deets in Jesse’s life. He’s a complication she didn’t account for. He’s good looking, cunning, as he is playful in life and in business. Basically, trouble with a capital T. More than anything, Blaire hopes to deal with her feelings with Jesse once and for all.  But she gets more than what she bargains for. Now, she’s caught between two men demanding more than she’s willing to give.

A love triangle that didn’t drive me crazy: this is how it’s done, y’all. You’ll never read about Blaire waffling back and forth between two men. Ms. Van Dyken let the story play out, without annoying us with Blaire’s incessant listing of the pros and cons with being either man. The effect is an enjoyable, romantic story that had me grinning and not at all thinking about whose bed should Blaire end up.

Waiting on Wednesday [18]: November Releases


It’s a bit late, I know but last week was just too  crazy that I didn’t get to write any advance postings. In any case, it’s that time of the month when I make a list of the books that I want to have in my possession just so they can collect dust on my shelves [insert eye roll here]. Kidding. The amount of books I have unread is directly proportionate to the time (or lack thereof) I have to read them. That doesn’t stop me from salivating and wishing and if I’m lucky, acquiring. To be honest, I go back to these lists when I’m stuck in the proverbial reading slump hell. Sometimes, I find just the right book to read from these lists.

I don’t know, maybe I’m getting soft around the edges but this month’s list consists of predominantly romance. I’m oddly okay with this. I even see a cowboy romance in there. Lol. Let me know if you’ve read any of these.

Happy reading, everyone!

xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The book I’m most likely to get is that latest collaboration between Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward. I’ve enjoyed their combined efforts so far, so I’m looking forward to reading Hate Notes!

[753]: Only Human by Sylvain Neuvel

Only Human
by Sylvain Neuvel


The third and final installment in The Themis Files didn’t lack for suspense. The world has changed since Vincent, Rose, and Eva ended up on another planet at the end of the second book. Left with no choice but to hijack an Esat Ekt ship and keeping one of them hostage, Vincent found himself on the end his daughter, Eva’s ire. Because not only did she not want to leave the planet she grew to love, he also caused the death of one her friends during their captivity.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, things have drastically changed since they inhabited it last. The world is now divided into two factions ruled by two superpowers: the US and Russia. While the US was already was in possession of the giant robot that Rose & Vincent helped assemble before they left Earth, Russia was delighted to have Themis landed in their territory.  Humankind is ruled by fear and hate. Racism persists, escalating in separation of those who are different. Most are killed or forced into labor, while a war of armageddon proportion looms on the horizon.

Russian agent Katherine Lebedev will use whatever means of coercion to have Vincent and Rose pilot Themis, including, but not limited to mental blackmail and torture.  The US and Russia are on the brink of war and it’s up to Rose and Vincent to end it before it even starts.

The torturous wait for this book is finally over. Considering how the second book ended, I was relieved and satisfied by its grand exit.  We learned so much about the way the inhabitants of Esat Ekt lived and how they treated Rose, Vincent and Eva while they lived in their planet.  They’ve managed to undertake a semblance of life and have established connections with the humanoids of Esat Ekt.  Here, we find some sort of complacency that enables them to live in a peaceful, yet fearful utopian environment. Not everything is what it seems. There’s a conflict that’s bubbling on the surface and the Earthlings found themselves smack dab in the thick of things. Hence, the hasty getaway back to Earth.

As per its two predecessors, Only Human was told in interviews, diary entries and mission logs. The effect is a fragmented, but oddly seamless method of story telling. It is action-packed, suspenseful with burst of humor to cut through some of the tension.  This is a fitting finale to Sci-Fi readers and non-readers alike that makes me hopeful that Sci-Fi doesn’t always necessarily mean technical jargons, clinical environment, and androidic characters.

Hoarders, Books Edition: Episode 215


The Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie | Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie | The Trust by Ronald H. Balson | Karolina’s Twins by Ronald H. Balson

A couple of weeks ago, I shared a post about my newly discovered authors and their works. I’ve been on the hunt for those books and so happy to say to finally have these in my arsenal. I am, however, still on the lookout for the first Liam Taggart & Catherine Lockhart series, Saving Sophie. I’m sure I can easily order it online but money’s tight so I’ve resorted to finding books from the thrift shops.

I’ve started The Satanic Verses but since Rushdie’s writing is a bit cerebral than what I’m used to, it’s taking a bit of time. I would really like to start on the Balson series but I need to find Saving Sophie first.

Reading Updates:

Unfortunately, I didn’t make any headway with the books I’d planned last week. Heck, I haven’t even crack open any of the books. I’m determined to get them done this week, however.

Books Read Last Week:

I adore Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal. It was such a lovely, delightful book about food, family, and love. Fall by Kristen Callihan was awesome as well. Jax Blackwood was so angst-y and sexy – just the kind of guy I love reading about. 🙂 All the Missing Girls’ format just didn’t work for me. It was confusing as heck. Lastly, The Lost Symbol completes my Dan Brown library, and will be looking forward to reading more from him.

That’s it for my week, everyone. I hope yours was great as well.

Happy Reading!

xoxo

[752]: The Golden House by Salman Rushdie

The Golden House
by Salman Rushdie


The day after the November 2016 election, the entire world was left grappling with the unlikely victory of the Orange One. To this day, it’s an event too painful to reminisce to some (including me).

Whenever we feel a certain disappointment or heartbreak, we are known to have an automatic response, a knee jerk reaction. We’re either overcome – so much so that we can’t function, or we get up. Fight like we’ve never fought before.

For Salman Rushdie, this book was his response.  Some of his critics expressed their disappointment as his 13thnovel came off as a string of ramblings and rants about the state of America as we speak. To him, however, this was a novel set in a world gone insane. So everything was grandiose, over exaggerated, but wholly apropos.

The synopsis defies the entirety of the novel. In fact, I can’t begin to start giving you a little rundown if only to hook you in so you may traverse the novel the way I reluctantly did at first.  For me, Rushdie is a road not travelled.  I have no idea what was in store for me, so I approached this book with great trepidation. It didn’t take long until I’m in its grip, however.  All I could think about while the story was unfolding was how Shakespearean or Greek-ly tragic it was.  When you have all the riches in the world, but the world spits you out lifeless and bloodied in response.

The Golden House was a novelty to me. The writing, the structure, the characters, and the way the present America was juxtaposed to the story of this fabulously wealthy family is something I’ve never experienced before. The barebones is really all about the Golden’s. On the run from his past, Nero Golden decided to reinvent his family’s identity.  Nobody is allowed to know from which country they came, or the past that acts as a darkness that was always looming in the periphery of the story.

Flushed with millions, the sons were free to do as they pleased to some extent. Regardless of the freedom that was available to them, the patriarch still has the last word.  For years, life was as it seemed – that is, until a much younger Russian beauty captured Nero’s attention and changed the dynamics of the family.

My foray into Rushdie’s writing was generally refreshing, though rocky at times. Still, I found myself completely immersed in his writing, his flawed characters, and the events unfolding before me. I think it’s time to start building my personal Rushdie library.

On the Night Table [52]


Hello!

On this week’s episode of On the Night Table, I thought I try to relieve some stress off my bedroom floor by picking books from my bedroom shelf.

I’ve pretty much neglected this shelf for a long time now, so I thought it was high time I pulled some books down to read from these stacks. As you can tell, these shelves are somewhat colour coordinated. So I just sort of picked one book from each colour. Lol.

Choices are a little random but that’s what usually happens when there’s no rhyme or reason to my shelving organization.

Have you read any of these?