20 Books of Summer 2020

20 books

Yes, it’s time to announce that I’m doing yet another book challenge this year. This time it’s one I missed out on last year the 20 Books of Summer hosted by Cathy746Books. <<– Click here to see the announcement page for the challenge & to learn more about it. If 20 books are too intimidating, there are also 5, 10, & 15 books of summer levels. Just chose the level that is right for you. The challenge runs from June 1st until September 1st this year.

As always, I plan to use this challenge to tackle both my physical Mt. TBR & all the other reading challenges I’m working on this year. So picking out books for this challenges is simple. I just grabbed books that I’ve been planning to read this summer. Also, I’m only counting books that I started and finished during the run time of this challenge.

So, without further ado, here’s my list*:

  1. You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
  2. A Women is No Man by Etaf Rum
  3. Things in Jars by Jess Kidd
  4. The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
  5. The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager
  6. The Library of Legends by Janie Chang
  7. The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
  8. That Kind of Mother by Rumaan Alam
  9. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
  10. The Killing Moon by N.K. James
  11. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
  12. We Love You, Charlie Parker by Kaitlyn Green
  13. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
  14. Whiskey by Bruce Holbert
  15. The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan
  16. The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
  17. On Beauty by Zadie Smith
  18. Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
  19. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt
  20. The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold

*This list will probably change as the summer progresses. I figure as long as I read 20 books on my TBR it’s all good & I accomplish my goal of whittling it down.

I will post about starting or finishing the books on Instagram & Litsy. You can follow me on Instagram buy clicking here. And on Litsy search for Loreen. And of course I’ll be using #20BooksofSummer20 in all my social media posts for this challenge. And at the beginning of September I’ll have a wrap-up post here detailing my reading adventures in this pile & challenge.

Are you planning on joining in on this reading challenge? Let me know in the comments below so I can visit your blog and see what your planning on reading.

Happy Summer Reading, y’all!

O.W.L. Magical Readathon 2020 TBR

A4217102-B285-4FDE-90EB-8DBD1B6603A0It’s time for another readathon. Yes, I just finished one readathon and am getting ready to start another. And it is The O.W.L. Magical Readathon hosted by Book Roast over on You Tube. It runs from April 1st to April 30th. And as with all of my reading challenges and readathons I am focusing on reading books on my TBR pile. It is a Harry Potter themed readathon that is in two parts. The O.W.Ls are in April and the N.E.W.Ts are in August. Basically, like Hogwart’s students, you sit  “exams”/prompts that correspond to the career you have chosen in the Wizarding World. Rather than trying to explain it all myself, do click on this link and watch Book Roast’s You Tube video which explains the readathon in detail.

It may seem daunting at first, but when you read through the Wizarding Careers Guidebook it all begins to make sense. The career I’ve chosen is Seer. For my O.W.L exams I must complete three “exams” (prompts). And I have also chosen to add on a certification for Mermaid Linguistics which requires me to sit for one more exam. So all together I have four books to read in the month of April.

So here is my list of exams and the book I’ve chosen for that prompt.

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  • Ancient Runes: Heart on the cover or in the title. The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter. (Heart on the cover.)
  • Astronomy: Night Classes: read majority of  this book when it’s dark outside. TBA. I’ve a bunch of books on my Kindle TBR that I can read late into the night before I go to sleep.
  • Divination: Third Eye: assign numbers to your TBR and use a random number generator to pick your read. The book is number 209 on my Mt. TBR list on GoodReads. It’s The Daughters by Adrienne Celt.
  • Herbology: Mimbulus mimbletonia: Title starts with an MMapping the World of Harry Potter edited by Mercedes Lackey. An appropriate book for a Harry Potter themed readathon, no?

45D80688-1F69-4A05-9343-B9A0B9398E02After seeing all the work Book Roast does for this event and how creative it all is, it just makes me more excited about participating. She put together such a fun event. I will include links to the videos and google documents below so that you download and print what you need.

Here are a list of links to most everything you need for this readathon:

Click here for the You Tube Video.

Click here for the Magical Readathon website.

Click here for Owl prompts and Owl Letter

Click here for Wizarding Careers Guidebook PDF

Be sure to look at the video notes for links to Instagram and Twitter for Book Roast and the Magical Readathon. What do you think? Do you like readathons and have you participated in this readathon? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy Reading!

 

My Favorite Books of the Decade: 2009-2019

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Okay, yes. It’s not a full decade, I know. But I’m a sheep and am following the book blog, vlog, and bookish social media herd and posting my favorite books of the last ten years. Narrowing it down to ten books was hard, but I managed to do it with only three extra. These are the parameters that I set for this list.

 

 

  1. All are books that I read for the first time between January 2009 and December 2019.
  2. It did not matter what year the books were originally published, it just mattered that I read them for the first time in the above time frame.
  3. I didn’t limit the list to one book per year. Frankly, there were a couple of years there that I didn’t read a fabulous book. And there are years in which I read three or four wonderful books. So I gave up the my favorite of each year plan for this list.
  4. I may or my not have given the book a 5 Star rating on GoodReads. This is a list about the books that have stayed with me and I remember during the last ten years. And these are books I recommend to anyone who asks me what book should they read. Click here to see my ratings system

***A quick note: All the book title links are linked to GoodReads.

With that in mind, in no particular order, here is my list of favorite books of the last ten years.

  • Longborne by Jo Baker. This book. I love this book. It shocks me how much I love it still. It’s a retelling of Austen’s Pride & Prejudice from the servants point of view. And it interrogates class issues and how the upper class and gentry support their lifestyles. It’s delicious. If I were teaching a Jane Austen lit class this book would be on the syllabus. Click here for more posts featuring this book.
  • Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. I fell in love with this book. It’s about women in WWII, female friendships, and writing your own narrative. If you haven’t read it, do it now! Don’t wait!
  • The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht. I picked this one up after seeing on book store shelves for a couple of years. I was drawn to it, but put off buying it or checking it out of the library for reasons I can’t quite remember. I think I kept confusing it with that tiger mom book that came out around this time?  When I finally did buy it and then read it, I was blown away. It was not at all what I was expecting. It’s an exploration of life in the Balkans after war  and a glorious retelling of the folk story of the tiger’s wife. I love a good retelling of fables, fairy tales, and mythology. And this is a really good one.  Click here, here, here  and here for other posts featuring this book.
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. I love this book. It really is my favorite of the books of his that I’ve read. I hope Gaiman writes more stories about these women.
  • Bone Gap by Laura Ruby. I listened to this as an audio book. And again, a book that is in no way what I was expecting when I started listening to it. It’s beautifully written. And has an engrossing plot. It’s one of those books that is considered YA, but transcends that genre, I think. It’s also a part of the magical realism genre, and is an excellent introduction to it for any newbie reader of the genre. Click here and here to read posts featuring this book.
  • The Bird Box by Josh Malerman. Do not judge this book by that awful mess of a Netflix movie. And if you haven’t seen the Netflix movie, don’t. Read this book instead. It is a terrifying read. Click here, here, here, and here to read posts featuring this book.
  • Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. I loved this post-apocalyptic story. It really is hopeful about humanity and how it behaves in the aftermath. And I say that because I see across all the bookish social media platforms, people are afraid to read this due to the coronavirus outbreak. They seem to think it’s all too prescient a story? And I suppose it is. But I would suggest reading it anyway because it is so good. And ultimately hopeful. Click here, here, here and here  for other posts featuring this book.
  • Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. This one made my List of Best and Worst Reads of 2019 (Click on this link to see the list.)  I love a good “retelling of a myths and fairy tales. And this one hit all the boxes for me. It’s another drop everything and read it now!” recommendation.
  • The Invisible Library  by Genevieve Cogman. This is a great book. And I’d argue that books about libraries and librarians are bookworm catnip. And this book is that and a bit more. It’s just a fun read. It is the first in a series and I think in general the ones Ive read so far have lived up to this first book. Click here, here, and here for my other posts featuring this book.
  • One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean. This is a Historical Romance which is my favorite romance genre. It is spicy and lovely and emotionally satisfying read. Because, y’all, that is one of the most important things to remember when reading romance, it must be emotionally satisfying when you close the book. And this one is just that. The nerdy girl with glasses gets the “mad, bad, and dangerous to know” hero. Really, all of Sarah MacLean’s romance novels are great and if you aren’t a historical romance reader, any of her books would be a good place to start. Click here for another post which features this book.

I noticed reading over this list that I’ve not included any nonfiction in this list. So here are three of my favorite nonfiction reads:

  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. This is a fascinating and eye opening tale. It made me think about how the medical research community has operated over the last century. And it’s appalling. I think everyone should read it.
  • The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett. Another book about books. And this one is a true story about a criminal. To my surprise this one sucked me in while I was sitting on a beach basking in the sun.
  • The Library Book by Susan Orlean. A nonfiction book about libraries. It’s amazing. And next time I visit LA, I’m going to this library. I posted about this book here and here and here.

That’s my list. Have you read any books on this list? And, if so, what did you think of the book? Would you place in a similar list? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy Reading!

The Five Lowest Rated Books According to GoodReads on my TBR Stack, The 2020 Edition!

If I plan on reading the top Five on my GoodReads owned TBR stack, it stands to reason that I should read the five lowest rated books, right? So that’s what I’m going to do. But unlike the top five, the low five list has changed a bit from the 2019 version. One reason is that I read one of the books on the lowest rated list. And the other is that one of the books on the list has only 34 ratings on GoodReads. So that means the addition of two books to the original list. Click here to see my original post.

Here are the guidelines I’m using for this challenge:

  • I’m using GoodReads ratings to pick the books.
  • Books must have at least 100 ratings on GoodReads.
  • Books that I own, either physical copies or Kindle copies, as of December 31, 2019. Books purchased after this date will not be included this year.
  • All the ratings are as of January 14, 2020 on GoodReads.
  • I will read and write a review for each book before the end of the year.

So, here is the list:

The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold. Average Rating 2.69 Stars. 33,955 Ratings. 5,508 Reviews. I own a paperback copy.

 

 

 

Whiskey by Bruce Holbert. Average Rating 2.83 Stars. 161 Ratings. 42 Reviews. I own a hard back.

 

 

That Kind of Mother by Rumaan Alam. Average Rating 3.04 Stars. 5,035 Ratings. 756 Reviews. I own hard back copy.

 

 

28FE0B24-BFF8-45EA-BEC8-A1DC5FD88C9A Now You See Her by Jacquelyn Mitchard. Average Rating 3.11 Stars. 491 Ratings. 80 Reviews. I own paperback copy.

 

 

F734741C-E4E6-4958-B79F-F83D9CCD5016 Mrs. Robinson’s Disgrace by Kate Summerscale. Average Rating 3.12 Stars. 3,380 ratings. 653 Reviews. I own a Kindle copy.

 

 

 

 

What do you think? Have you read any of the books on my list? What did you think if so? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy Reading, y’all!

Here is a link to a book blog and a you tube video that inspired me to attempt this personal challenge last year:

BookBum’s post

The Top Five Highest Rated Books According to GoodReads on my TBR Stack, The 2020 Edition!

Last year one of my many reading plans was to read the top five highest rated books according to GoodReads on my owned books TBR stack. Click on this link to see the original post & plans. But, not surprisingly,  I never got around to reading any of them. It was one of those years, y’all.  A couple of days ago I looked over the list from last year and compared it to the highest rated books I own as of January 14, 2020. And the list had changed quite a bit. Only two books from last year actually is on this years top five. So, due to the change of line up, it sort of encouraged me to try this plan again this year. And many of the books will fit the prompts of the various Reading Challenges I’m attempting, too. So it’s another solid reason why to attempt this personal challenge again.

Here are the guidelines I’m using for this challenge:

  • I’m using GoodReads ratings to pick the books.
  • Books must have at least 100 ratings on GoodReads.
  • Books that I own as of December 31, 2019. Books purchased after this date will not be included this year.
  • All the ratings are as of January 14, 2020 on GoodReads.
  • I will read and write a review for each book before the end of the year.

So, here is the list:

FFC92875-57D4-40A6-A8E4-3CC3B6442882Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat. This book is the highest rated book on my TBR. Average Rating:  4.53 Stars. 12,193 ratings. 1,084 reviews. I own a hard back copy of the book.

 

06B8C19A-7944-4662-9753-42BAC32134F1 Harry Potter & Philosophy: If Aristotle Ran Hogwarts Edited by David Baggett and Shawn E. Klein. Average Rating: 4.48 stars. 11,454 ratings. 92 reviews. I own the paperback.

 

 

16E232A3-CB6E-4C1D-8317-EEDA4A5AD4DE Hogwarts Library by J.K. Rowling. Average Ratings: 4.47. 6,330 ratings. 185 Reviews. The three titles included in this collection are Fantastic Beasts, Quidditch Through the Ages, & The Tales of Beedle the Bard. This is a hardback collection.

 

 

6D19B45C-22E5-4AB6-8EC6-153AB1807641 Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande. Average Ratings 4.45 stars. 113,295 ratings. 13,568 reviews. I own a hardback. This is one of the books on my original list. Another hardback copy.

 

broken angelBroken Angels by Gemma Livero. Average Ratings: 4.44 stars. 9,587 ratings. 729 reviews. I won a Kindle copy a year or two ago? I really need to read and review this one. And it is the other book that was  on my original list.

 

What do you think? What does your top five look like, if you use GoodReads, of course. Have you read any of the books on my list? If so what do you think of it? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy Reading!

 

Here is a link to the original you tube video that inspired my original list in 2019:

 

The 5 Highest Rated Books on my TBR Stack

Since I’m reading and rating The 5 Lowest Rated Books on my TBR Stack according to GoodReads, it seems only logical to list the five highest rated books on my TBR. Like the five lowest rated books, I plan on reading them over the course of the year and will update my progress in the later in the year. And I’ll let you what I think about the books and whether or not I  agree with think the rating.

***I think I forgot to mention in my lowest rated post that the books on both lists are all books I own as of January 1, 2019. Anything I purchased after this date is not a part of the list and will not be added to it this year. This list (and the lowest rated list) was compiled by me on January 22, 2019.

Here’s the list:

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande  4.44 Stars

Why is it on my TBR: It came to me by book box a couple of years ago.

Why I think it has high ratings: Not sure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Echo in the Bone by Diana Gabaldon  4.44 Stars

Why it’s on my TBR: I picked this up at a library book sale.

Why I think it has high ratings: This is a part of a beloved series that the fans love. And those fans are a wee bit fanatical.

 

 

 

 

Broken Angels by Gemma Liviero  4.43 Stars

Why it’s on my TBR: I won this one in GoodReads Giveaway a couple of years ago.

Why I think it has high ratings: I’m guessing it’s the subject matter.

 

 

 

 

 

The Story of a Lost Child by Elena Ferrante 4.39 Stars

Why it’s on my TBR: I bought all of the Neapolitan Quartet a year or two ago. And it’s on my TBR because I’m not quite ready to finish the series.

Why I think it has a high rating: Because the novels are so good.

 

 

 

 

The Book Thief  by Markus Zusak 4.37 Stars

Why it’s on my TBR: I bought this years ago and have put off reading because I’m afraid it won’t live up to my expectations.

Why I think it has a high rating: It’s a beloved book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a link to Zuky the Bookbum’s Top 5 Highest Rated TBR books on GoodReads. 

And here is the link to my 5 Lowest Rated Books.

And here is a link to a  Misstery blog post about low rated books she liked.

Have you read any of the books and do you agree with GoodReads ratings? Let me know in the comments below. And if you’ve put together a top rated list, leave a link to it so I can compare our lists.

Happy Reading.

The 5 Lowest Rated Books on my TBR Stack

Back in the late summer and early fall, book blogs, Bookstagram, and Booktube was full of posts about the five lowest rated books on their respective TBRs. Some listed the books and others read the books and discussed why they agreed or disagreed with the low ratings on GoodReads.

So this new year as I look over my own teetering TBR I wondered what were the five lowest rated books of mine. And so I decided to list & then read my five lowest rated books on GoodReads. I will update and review the books and explain why I think the ratings are or are not justified.

***Edited to add: The books are the lowest rated as of  January 22, 2019.

The Handbag’s Tale by Louis Bertrand Shalako 2.13 Stars

Why it’s on my TBR: This is on my TBR because it is free for Kindle books. And its one of many free books I downloaded to my Kindle right after I received the Kindle back in 2011.

Why I think it has a low rating: Well. It is a self-published book. I’m guessing there are a lot of reasons?

***edited to add: I read this one over the weekend. The review is on GoodReads if you are interested.

 

The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold 2.68 Stars

Why it’s on my TBR: I bought this at Target soon after reading Lovely Bones. Itsa one of my favorite books so I thought to give this one a spin.

Why I think it has a low rating: I started it at one point and realized what this book is about and it’s controversial. And I wasn’t in the mood to read it, so I set it aside.

 

 

 

 

Spring and Fall by Nicholas Delblanco 2.71 Stars

Why it’s on my TBR: I picked this up at a conference and it has languished on my TBR ever since.

Why I think it has a low rating: No clue.

 

 

 

 

Whiskey by Bruce Holbert

2.91 Stars

Why it’s on my TBR: This came to me via a Book box.

Why I think it has a low rating: It is a fairly new book and has very few ratings. So.

 

 

That Kind of Mother by Rumaan Alam  3.08 Stars

Why it’s on my TBR: Another book box book. This book seemed to be everywhere when it was first published.

Why I think it has a low rating: I’m guessing that like The Almost Moon it is a controversial story.

 

What are the five lowest rated GoodReads books on your TBR? Have you read any of the books on my list and do you agree with the ratings?  Let me know in the comments below.

 

Here are links to a couple of posts that inspired me and my ratings rubric:

Click here to see my star ratings rubric.

Click here to read here to read Book Bums lowest rated books post.

And here is a link to Books and Lala’s five lowest rated books:

My Top 10 Historical Romances

In honor of Valentine’s Day I decided to create a list of my Top 10 Historical Romance Novels of the last year or so. If you are looking for a romance to read I highly recommend any of these novels. Warning: I don’t read chaste or sweet romances. I like ’em spicy, so keep that in mind. With no further ado here, in no particular order, is my list.

Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran. This is a sort of throwback sweeping saga sort of romance. It sweeps across Colonial India and Victorian England. I love it.

 

 

 

Not Quite A Husband by Sherry Thomas. Another sweeping historical with an independent heroine and gone rogue husband. It’s such a well written story, and as with all good romances, is emotionally satisfying.

 

 

 

 Like No Other Lover by Julie Anne Long. This author is really hit and miss for me. But this novel is one of my favorite tropes: Cynthia is hiding a scandal and needs to marry before it becomes common knowledge. The story hits all of the emotional points: forgiveness and acceptance. It’s a satisfying read.

 

 

One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean. I hate the trend in romance novels to have cutesy titles that are plays on common sayings that have nothing to do with the story at all. It’s annoying. And this book isn’t really historical. It’s more like a “AustenLand” type of book. In spite of all of this, it’s one of my favorite romances of all time. It’s so emotionally satisfying. And I love a heroine that wears glosses. I can’t help it.

 

Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt. Ignore this cheesy cover. This book. It’s a love letter to all those Gothic romances of the ’70’s and ’80’s with a dash of Wuthering Heights thrown in for fun. Secret societies, illegitimate children, and abbey ruins all make an appearance. I love this book and the anti-hero love interest so damn much. Read it! Read it now!

 

By Love Undone by Suzanne Enoch. I love this title. I read this because, again, a scandal plagued heroine hiding from life until he sees her. And he helps her gain redemption and loves her in spite of secrets. So it’s emotionally satisfying for me.

 

 

 

Lord Langley is Back in Town by Elizabeth Boyle. This another author that is hit and miss for me. This is a part of a longer series, but you don’t have to read the other books to enjoy this one. This book features older hero and heroine. and that’s always a treat in romance novels.

 

 

Wilde in Love by Eloisa James. This is a fun book. It deals with celebrity, but takes place in Georgian England, so, yes. It’s a bit like AustenLand. But it is a fun read. And Eloisa James is a fun romance writer.  There is only one of her novels that I really didn’t like.

 

 

 

The Conquest of Lady Cassandra by Madeline Hunter. This book. Just emotionally devastating in all the best ways. I love it so much. Again, a heroine with a scandal and a hero who helps her redeem herself. It’s a theme that I love. Also, the hero and heroine have been crushing on each other for years. So when the ending is emotionally satisfying. It is a part of a series that I’m mostly uninterested in, but to get resolution of the overarching story, then you should read all the books in the series. But, I think it stands on it’s own too. Read it now!

The Duchess War by Courtney Milan. I really shouldn’t like this novel. It’s only a historical romance due to the setting. The characters don’t really behave as Victorians should? I guess? It’s very AustenLand. But. It’s such a well written story. And I’ve read a number of her other novels and she is just so good. If you are looking for a good romance novelist, read Courtney Milan.

 

So, what do you think? Have you read any of these novels? Do you agree with my list? What are your favorite romance novels? Do you have any romances you would recommend to me? Let me know in the comments below. Happy Reading!