Spookathon 2019 -- With a Twist

I love the idea of readathons. I have friends who do them and hit it out of the park. I follow bloggers/vloggers who can, too.

Readathons are great for me, in theory. I always like the planning part. It’s similar to making a monthly TBR (which I’m trying not to do right now because it never works out). I love looking at my shelves and seeing all this potential. And it’s the beginning of the month, so I’m full of hope and just know that future me will, of course, get so much more reading done than past me did.

BooksandLala is one of my favorite booktube channels. Every year, she hosts the Spookathon in honor of the best month of the year, October. This year, the readathon will be October 14 to 20. I totally want to participate. I looked at the prompts, looked at my book cart, and thought about it. I decided I will participate, but I’m putting my little twist on it.

I’m using these prompts to pick out my books for the month of October.

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Here is the list of books I’d like to read soon that meet the guidelines of the challenge, plus a few Kindle book options. Let’s look at the prompts + my choices.

  1. Read a Thriller - The easiest of the challenges! The Whisper Man, The Turn of the Key, The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle will definitely meet this. Also, I’m currently reading The Perfect Wife on my Kindle, so it will count toward it, too. (Since I’m changing the rules, I’m counting current reads, as well!) My NetGalley choice for October will be The Family Upstairs, another thriller!

  2. Read a Book with Red on the Cover - The Turn of the Key and The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle meet this criterion.

  3. Read a Book with a Spooky Word in the Title - The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle (death is pretty spooky!) is the one that meets this the best. I’m also considering reading The Dead Girls Club, so another option!

  4. Read a Book with a Spooky Setting - This one…I’m not sure if any really fit this. Jail seems pretty spooky…right? …so The Turn of the Key. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle has a spooky premise and its Groundhog Day parts lend to a spooky setting.

  5. Read Something You Wouldn’t Normally Read - And this is why Maybe in Another Life is next to those spooky-ass books. I have read and loved The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones and the Six. I thought I’d try one of her other books and picked this one. I’m not a romance fan usually but curious to see how her writing style has changed over the years.

So…that’s the plan! I will save The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle for the official week since it meets almost all the guidelines, but I will try to read as many of the others throughout the month. I also really want to read It but it’s such a long book! Super torn.

What spooky books will you be reading this month?

Instagram Helps Me Choose My Next Book

Out of all social media apps, Instagram is my favorite and has been for years. I don’t utilize as much as I used to; pre-algorithm/feed change, though, I was on it probably too much. But I still enjoy it and the fact that it has such an active bookstagram community is really inspiring.

I have a bookstagram-themed IG account (@literarilythrilling) and I have been working on making it better. My personal IG was used as I saw fit, going weeks at a time without posting. With this one, though, I understand being active is numero uno on things to do. So, I am trying. I am wanting to get better at my pictures. Get better at my posts. Trying to decide how I want to do reviews — short, to the point reviews there, linking to more detailed reviews here?

One of the biggest things with IG, and you very well know this if you, too, use IG to promote yourself in any form or fashion, is the engagement. I am trying to think of ways to increase engagement in a thoughtful way. I did this recently, and I wanted to tell you about it!

Using IG stories and the ability to have people vote for options, I gave my followers four book choices. The books were broken up into pairs, with the winner of each pair then being put up against each other. Why did I do this? Because Instagram was going to choose my next read.

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I’ve seen bloggers and vloggers do similar “Instagram chooses my…” before. But I had never participated in it from this part of the activity; I had always been the one voting on options. I found this to be fun and it was interesting to see which books my followers would choose!

In this first round, I had The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware against Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson. Even before I looked at the results, I had a feeling I knew which would win this round.

The second pair, I had A Nearly Normal Family by M. T. Evardsson against The Whisper Man by Alex North. While I was 100% certain with the first pair, this pairing I literally had no idea which would come out on top! I had seen both books equally overall on my feed (though, of course, The Whisper Man was more recently showcased everywhere) and I felt it could definitely be an either/or.

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So, for round two, I was even more excited. Of course The Turn of the Key was in this round (I feel like I was being mean to Before She Knew Him, in retrospect) but I did not know at all which it would be up against. And with The Whisper Man having such a strong win in its round, I was left having no clue who would win!

Imagine my surprise when I saw the results.

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I had to laugh. Of course this is what would happen! It never entered my mind that a 50/50 split would occur, so I had no contingency plan. So, I sat on it for a day and tried to decide what would be my next step. Then, suddenly, it came to me: Read the first chapters of each.

Now, this didn’t work how I expected it to, because The Turn of the Key isn’t’ written in a chapter format. So, instead, I read roughly the same amount of pages of each to keep it equal. I was still just expecting to go with The Turn of the Key, so imagine my surprise when I was sitting there, both books to either side of me, reflecting on the passages I just read.

I wanted to continue The Whisper Man more. In those roughly 10 or so pages, I was creeped out, enthralled, curious. I was equally curious about The Turn of the Key — this book has been on my radar for months and I greatly enjoy Ruth Ware’s writing. But my brain kept going back to The Whisper Man.

I haven’t officially started it yet; I got incredibly busy with work, my mental health was off this week, and all those other excuses we make. I even am wondering — as interested as I am — if I’m in a good headspace for a thriller. I started a different book yesterday (relatable or what?) not in the thriller genre, just to see if that would be a better fit. I’m thinking I’ll start The Whisper Man today, though, and I look forward to reporting back my opinions — especially after I read The Turn of the Key, as well.

Tell me, fellow bookstagram friends, how is that you increase engagement in a thoughtful way on your pages?

Also — which book(s) did/would you vote for?

Review: Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton

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Book: Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton [ goodreads | amazon ]
Genre: Fiction, Psychological Thriller
Format: eBook, ARC from Penguin’s First to Read program
Rating: 5 stars
Cover Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis
They go through both bottles of champagne right there on the High Line, with nothing but the stars over them… They drink and Lavinia tells Louise about all the places they will go together, when they finish their stories, when they are both great writers-to Paris and to Rome and to Trieste…

Lavinia will never go. She is going to die soon. 

Louise has nothing. Lavinia has everything. After a chance encounter, the two spiral into an intimate, intense, and possibly toxic friendship.

Cover
The cover is perfection. It was what made me click on this book. I had yet to hear anything, the author was new to me. The cover was everything. Then that synopsis. Oh that synopsis! This book immediately buried itself into my mind before I was ever given the chance to look at the first page. The cover is perfect. Note: The UK cover is also fabulous; I’ll include it down below!

Review
I have been putting off writing this review. Not because this book was bad, no — because this book is that good.

This is a debut piece from Burton and it has cemented her name into my list of Must Buys when new releases come out. Incredibly well written, thought-provoking, spooky, creepy, captivating. I have spent the past couple of weeks trying to think of the right descriptions for this book. I need to do this book justice.

Our main characters, Louise and Lavinia, are both millennials but from opposite ends: Lavinia is in her early 20s, a rich socialite who parties like there is no tomorrow, keeps up with the “right” crowd, and is off from school to write her book; Louise is pushing 30, working three part-time jobs just to kind of make it; she has no real friends, no real life — until her chance meeting with Lavinia, who takes Louise into her life.

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This is a story that will give the reader anxiety in parts (and I mean that as a huge compliment to the writing). This is a story that will stay with you. If you are anything like me, you’ll start to believe Lavinia is living in your closet and be worried to open the door.

This book won’t be for everyone, though I think everyone should give it a chance. The writing is beautiful. The characters are fascinating. The plot is twisty, turny goodness. You’ll be so caught up you won’t know what day it is in your world; you’re too busy in their world to remember what is actually going on in reality.

I’m wanting to tell more and wanting to not share. I want to keep this to myself, while also making sure everyone picks up a copy and dives right in. I have only bought the physical copy of one book so far that I received for free as an ARC; I will be buying this one when it comes out June 5, 2018.

Burton shows an amazing commentary on the lives we live in this modern world – the ones we choose to share and the parts we keep to ourselves. This book hands over the ability to have amazing discussions on the toxicity found in certain relationships, social media. A cool, modern take on the psychological thriller genre that I cannot wait to read again.

 

Huge thanks to Penguin via the First to Read program and the fabulous author for an advanced copy of this beautiful, creepy novel.

This review was originally posted on The Book Cover Judge on June 03, 2018.

Review: The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs

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Book: The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs [goodreads | amazon]
Genre: Fiction, mystery
Format: Physical book, from Book of the Month club
Rating: 3 stars
Cover Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis
From the Goodreads page:

The Family Fang meets The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry in this literary mystery about a struggling bookseller whose recently deceased grandfather, a famed mathematician, left behind a dangerous equation for her to track down—and protect—before others can get their hands on it.

Just days after mathematician and family patriarch Isaac Severy dies of an apparent suicide, his adopted granddaughter Hazel, owner of a struggling Seattle bookstore, receives a letter from him by mail. In it, Isaac alludes to a secretive organization that is after his final bombshell equation, and he charges Hazel with safely delivering it to a trusted colleague. But first, she must find where the equation is hidden.

While in Los Angeles for Isaac’s funeral, Hazel realizes she’s not the only one searching for his life’s work, and that the equation’s implications have potentially disastrous consequences for the extended Severy family, a group of dysfunctional geniuses unmoored by the sudden death of their patriarch.

As agents of an enigmatic company shadow Isaac’s favorite son—a theoretical physicist—and a long-lost cousin mysteriously reappears in Los Angeles, the equation slips further from Hazel’s grasp. She must unravel a series of maddening clues hidden by Isaac inside one of her favorite novels, drawing her ever closer to his mathematical treasure. But when her efforts fall short, she is forced to enlist the help of those with questionable motives.

Review
I wanted to like this book more. I was so excited when I saw this as a BOTM option. I was a huge fan of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry and loved the concept of this book being written in clue form. I mean – it says it right there on the cover: A Novel In Clues.

I felt like that promise was empty. Yes, while we followed Hazel in her journey to find the truth of what happened to her grandfather, I was under the impression (or maybe I just hoped) that we would be given the clues to try to figure out on the way. The clues that were used weren’t what I was expecting. And honestly, I didn’t find that there were a lot of clues to begin with.

Most books I read are written with multiple perspectives. I enjoy a book that handles multiple perspectives well. I do not feel like this book needed the different viewpoints. I would have preferred the story to be solely from Hazel’s point of view. And for the promise of clues to be more…clue-y. This book really reads more as a general fiction/family drama piece, less as a mystery.

I found this book to be well written and the plot idea to be interesting. However, I never found myself exactly wanting to read it. That is not to say I forced myself to read this book; I would rather have stopped reading it altogether than to force myself through it. But…it just wasn’t what I was expecting. It’s honestly a 2.5 for me but I rounded up to 3 stars because I did enjoy the writing. I will even check out another book from Nova Jacobs in the future.

The cover is fun, though! I like the color combo and really enjoyed getting to the part of the book that made me realize why the cover was designed the way it was. I would probably knock off the novel in clues thing, but hey, that’s just me. As a true crime/mystery/thriller fan, I think I was expecting just more from that little line than was intended.

This review was originally posted on The Book Cover Judge June 26, 2018.

Two for Tuesday :: August 27, 2019

Boy, oh boy, I cannot get back on track! I’ve been bringing some old reviews over but hoping I can get back into bringing you regular new content soon! Today, though, is my favorite day of the week: TUESDAY!

I’ve loved Tuesdays for years now. It’s my easiest day to take off work so my husband and I have done lots of special things on Tuesdays — like last week where we went to the Frist Art Museum in Nashville and were mesmerized by the art of Frida Kahlo and some great surrealism pieces.

Blogwise, I also love Tuesdays. This is the day when I do a weekly post called Two for Tuesday, where I use Random Number Generator to pick two numbers that coincide with two books off of my Want to Read list on Goodreads and decide if I want to keep them or not.

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First up this week, I have People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry, a true crime book I’ve heard lots of good things about. I grabbed this book on a great Kindle deal sometime last year, so I think I’ll keep it around for now.

Next up, another nonfiction book, My Story by Elizabeth Smart. I had to think long and hard about this one. Smart’s is a story I’ve read up on a lot but never read it from her perspective. However, reviews of this make me not want to pick it up. I feel weird saying that — like I’m saying her words/story don’t matter, but I obviously respect her and her story greatly. I am just not sure this book is for me.

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The random number generator picked some interesting choices this week! I wonder what it will give me next week….