Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2021

Last year I did this book tag and was very pleased with the result. You can check out my Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag for 2020 HERE. This year I am nervous about it and a lot closer to actually freaking out! Last year was a good year in reading. I read some great books and considering the world wide pandemic situation I had a lot of awesome reading challenges and time to participate in them. This year I made a reading goal to read 100 books – respectable book goal considering I have read 120 books last year.

Being halfway through the year it is time to look at my reading experience in the first part of the year 2021. By the end of June I was thirteen (13!) books behind on my reading to reach the goal I have set for myself.

Total number of books I have read in the first half of the year is 37.

I had some rough patches in the first months of this year and the unemployed status is starting to weigh down on me emotionally. It is at times panic inducing anxiety riding journey trough life that prevents me from focusing and drains me from energy I need in order to actually work on making my life better. Now with those depressing thoughts out here for everyone to see let us begin with this year’s Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag!

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2021

I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf by Grant Snider

I got this book as a present from a my Buddy reading friend last year and it took me almost a full year to actually pick it up and read trough! What I found most amazing about this book was the inspiration for reading challenges and projects it offers and positive energy I got from reading trough it. It is more than just a comic/ graphic novel book with short and sweet bookish illustrations. I was pleasantly surprised by how many caricatures were grounded in real life situations of book lovers worldwide that may seem silly to anyone who might not be a part of that group. This book is an excellent gift for writers as well as readers. Endearing and intelligent at the same time this is the type of a feel good book any book lover would appreciate and I am very glad to have gotten it as a present!

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2021

Rafael (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book 28) by Laurell K. Hamilton

Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book series by Laurell K. Hamilton is a longest standing book series I own and read. My relationship with this book series is complex and I am always apprehensive about the newest book. Rafael is one of the few books in the series that center around other characters development and story. Last one like it was Jason and that one was a little underwhelming for me. I was pleasantly surprised by Rafael as a wholesome book that made my interest in reading the whole series trough a second time peak! The storyline progressed, most of my favorite characters have gotten some page time, Rafael and the rodere have been shown in new light and all shifters in general have gotten a new dimension. It was one of the best possible sequels to a series I love to read!

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to

Smoke Bitten (Mercy Thompson book 12) by Patricia Briggs

&

A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell

There are a few books from last year that I wanted to read but did not get to just yet. Both are something I am looking forward to reading and both have gorgeous covers. I expect I would love reading both of them and my excuse that they just did not fit into my reading challenges prompts is weak at best….I have no excuse for not reading them yet! I got both of these books this year and if you want you can check out my Book haul post on them both from February HERE.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

Empire of the Vampire (Empire of the Vampire #1) by Jay Kristoff

I have not read any books by Jay Kristoff! That being said I do have some of his books on my wish list and TBR. But when I first saw Empire of the Vampire being announced I was hooked! I think everyone is ready for a new vampire themed hit that will be made into movies and TV shows and have a huge following! I want that for this book! There is already GR record for a whole trilogy of this book series! This book has been announced a whole year in advance and there are so many wonderful special editions to choose from that I am stumped and can’t decide which one to choose! There is the obvious difference between the US and the UK edition cover art and there is a whole range of each with color variations and sprayed edges in different colors and even illustrations on them as well. Only thing I am sure of is that I want the hardcover edition for sure, the rest is still undecided. Any help is appreciated and I really hope I don’t end up with more copies of the same book because I really don’t want to be that person…Oh and the book is announced to come out in September!

5. Biggest disappointment

Dark Prince: Author’s Cut (The “Dark” Carpathian book 1) by Christine Feehan

I have been looking at this book series for a very long time. Even before I started this blog I was often browsing the Amazon bookstore online and making lists of books I wanted to read one day. This book was often on my lists but then I had no means of buying all the books I was interested in. This might have been for the best since this book was a total disappointment for me. In fact I thought the book so bad I could not even finish it. I still have problems with letting go of the books that I don’t like and will most of the time make myself finish them. On this one I made an exception and made myself stop reading at exactly half of it. The dialogue was dumb, the main characters had no appeal for me and the whole setting of the story seemed stretched too thin and did not even offer any interesting back up characters to grab onto. This book first came out over twenty years ago – 1999 and it did not age well. I am not bothered by many things and consider myself a very forgiving reader but this book presented me with some many things that annoyed me and did not offer anything worthwhile to hold onto and like…

6. Biggest surprise

Radiance (Wraith Kings book 1) by Grace Draven

As opposed to the last book I mentioned Radiance by Grace Draven was another Kindle edition I got this year that I quickly fell in love with! I tend to download samples of books that I find interesting and when I read the offered sample of this one I got hooked right from the start! I loved the fantastic setting and the quirky way the author presented the differences between humans and elves. I was intrigued by the world the author build and the only complain I had was that the title of the series made sense only when I started the second book Eidolon. The characters were interesting and the story was passionate. I loved it so much that I had to buy the next book in the series right away. There is one more book after these two The Ippos King and I am keeping my eye on it for some promotional price but I might give in and buy it before the price drop.

7. Favorite new author. (Debut or new to you)

Martha Wells and Grace Draven

Space themed books and general science fiction are not my first pick and when I find a book that belongs in that genre and love it I make a note to look up more from the same author. Martha Wells is a new for me author I have heard about winning genre awards for her Murderbot series few years in a row. I decided to pick it up in a box set edition of first four books in hard cover. I was happy with the price point for them like this and the flimsy box or even a small damage on one of the box did not made me regret buying them. I ended up enjoying the short novella format of this series and plan to follow up for more books from Martha Wells. I had to add Grace Draven as a new favorite author because of how much I loved her worldbuilding style and her characters. Both of these authors I plan to read more books from!

8. Newest fictional crush

The artwork is not mine and all rights belong to their respective owners!

Asher from Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series

Asher is not a new fictional crush of mine. He’s one of the oldest fictional crushes I am still into. This year I am slowly continuing a second read trough Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book series and I was reminded of how much I like him. I think he is an amazing character. I love his flaws and I get angry at how much he was used in Anita’s moody interpretation of morality trough the books. I keep coming back to some of his scenes and I wonder what happened to make him seem as an arrogant a-hole with a impulse control of a five year old spoiled child. It does not add up with how he first started out and was introduced in the series. I’m loving reading this “older” version of him.

9. Newest favorite character

The artwork is not mine and all rights belong to their respective owners!

Brishen and Ildiko from the Wraith Kings book series by Grace Draven

I am fangirling on both of these characters! I love their banter and their chemistry. The Prince of no value and the noblewoman of no importance are both awesome and intriguing! The reason I did not go for Brishen or Ildiko alone is that without Ildiko Brishen is far less interesting to me and without Brishen Ildiko is just bland and easy to ignore. I see them as a pair that should be kept and adored as a set!

10. Book that made you cry

Rule of Wolves (King of Scars book 2) by Leigh Bardugo

I loved this book. I has also made me angry and sad to the point of frustration. I cried a bit at some parts too. There was so much tragedy and hopeless moments that I just found it hard to deal with. I devoured all other books from the Grishaverse but this one took me a lot longer to read trough. I am still mad about how some characters were dealt with. This book reminds me of pain and tragedy and even though some characters were supposed to have their happy ending I did not feel it. All that stayed with me after all the previous books was the feeling of melancholy and I expected a lot more and a lot better! My tears are from sadness but out of frustration as well…

11. Book that made you happy

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling

There were a few books that made me feel happy this year. Most notably it was reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter #1) by J.K. Rowling for my book club assignment in May. I love my Hufflepuff edition books and I finally have a complete set by getting the last two books for birthday this year. The last two book were given to me by my book club friends and that is a reason more to smile while I read them. I love the yellow and black design of books and I love the little stars that are above each chapter title! Just thinking about those books makes me happy!

12. Favorite book to film adaptation that you’ve seen this year

The Shadow and Bone

The first answer that came to my mind was Witcher! I have only recently read the first book and was sure that the first season was only last year only to be shocked to find out that the first season came out on Netflix in December 2019! This led me to the only option of The Shadow and Bone since I read the last book in the Grishaverse this year and watched the TV series as soon as it came out back in April! There were a few move and TV series adaptations I have seen this year and liked but all those I’ve watched I haven’t read the books or in some cases graphic novels for. Those would be: Enola Holmes and The Old Guard whose move sequels I can’t wait for.

13. Favorite review you’ve written (booktube or written)

2020 Reading Challenges Report

I kept meaning to write a book review but to my shame in the whole first six months of 2021. I did not write a single book review post! Throughout this book tag I have remembered more than one book that I had a lot of things to say about and more than a passing reading experiences to share. For this reason my favorite post this year is the summary on all the reading challenges I did in 2020. That post gives me an overview and a list of all the reading activities I made myself try out. I am still trying to continue with this so I can make a similar post next year that I can be proud of! You can check my 2020 Reading Challenges Report HERE.

14. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

The Rule of Wolves (King of Scars book 2) by Leigh Bardugo

&

A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell

Both of these books I have already mentioned in this book tag already for different reasons. Grishaverse books are one of the most beautiful book mass produced on my bookshelves. But I can’t help but being drawn to the beautiful cover of my paperback edition of A Phoenix First Must Burn collection of stories. I have high expectations from it as well!

15. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas was my answer on this question last year. While I made some progress with it I can’t seem to get myself to finish it. I truly believe I would need to take a whole month away just to read that one book. My Word cloud edition has 1055 pages and I am currently on page 358. This is the book that I keep having in a background like an accusing hush but I just keep reaching for other books instead. I decided not to add more plans aside from reading challenges trough the year in order to get to this book. Clearly reading it slowly is not getting me anywhere and taking a whole month just to make myself read only one book seems a bit drastic. Maybe it is time to for drastic measures…

June Book Warp Up 2021

Monthly reading review – June 2021

This June I have read:

Lucky (Lucky Santangelo #2) by Jackie Collins ★★★★★

Mogla je biti prosta priča by Ajla Terzić ★★★★

The Last Wish (The Witcher #0.5) by Andrzej Sapkowski ★★★★

I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf by Grant Snider ★★★★★

Školski knjižničar by Dinka Kovačević, Jasmina Lovrinčević ★★★★★

The Lives of Saints (Grishaverse) by Leigh Bardugo ★★★★

Dark Prince: Author’s Cut (The “Dark” Carpathian book 1) by Christine Feehan ★ DNF

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1) by Martha Wells ★★★★

Micah (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter #13) by Laurell K. Hamilton ★★★★★

The Dynasty of the Dark Elves ( Elves Vol. 5) by Marc Hadrien, Ma Yi, Olivier Héban ★★★★★

1. How many books have you read last month? Are you happy with the amount you read?

I had plans to read ten books and I read ten books. The amount I am happy with, but these are not all books I planned to read…On the bright side: I made a major break trough with finally finishing one of the books from my long postponed TBR Jar Draw reading project!

2. What was the best of all the books you’ve read in June? Any scenes or characters that made a lasting impression?

I was intimidated by Lucky (Lucky Santangelo #2) by Jackie Collins for around a year or so. It turned out a much better book than I expected and I found myself enjoying it! I expected to love I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf by Grant Snider and my expectations were met. I found much enjoyment and inspiration in the book. Micah (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter #13) by Laurell K. Hamilton was a lot better than I remembered, but then I may be a bit biased when it comes to Anita Blake Vampire Hunter books series in general. I ended a month on a high not with The Dynasty of the Dark Elves ( Elves Vol. 5) by Marc Hadrien, Ma Yi, Olivier Héban. I loved coming back to this awesome graphic novel series and loved it so much that I Have already made plans for reading the next one in July.

3. Were there any not so good books for you last month? What made it hard or not enjoyable to read?

The sole and biggest let down for me this month was Dark Prince: Author’s Cut (The “Dark” Carpathian book 1) by Christine Feehan. This book was on my TBR for almost a decade and when the opportunity to get the “Authors Cut” Kindle edition arose I jumped at the chance. The characters were so underdeveloped and the dialogue was so annoying I had to stop torturing myself and DNFed this book at exactly half of it! I tried giving it all the chances but I just realized I was wasting time on the book that is not getting any better for me and wasting time I could be reading a book I actually enjoy. I cant remember the last time I decided to not finish a book like this but in the end I felt relieved since I really tried and I don’t feel guilty about it!

4. How did the books you were reading last month fit in your reading plans if you had any?

In June I made plans to read 5 books for Bookopoly and 10 books for Whatever-You-Want-A-Thon reading challenge. I did NOT have to go with 10 books! Going for 10 books was not a very smart decision! I read some of the books I planned to read and then some things I did not plan on happened and I lost a whole week preparing for a test and reading books for that. I read most of what I have planned on reading: I read 7 books that I planned on reading, 1 book I DNFed and I read another 2 books that I did not plan on reading. 1 book I planned on reading has been left out because I wanted more time to enjoy it and not just read trough it quickly. And 1 book I am currently still reading from that list.

5. Any updates on the series you are reading or are you starting any new series?

I have finally started on The Witcher series and The Murderbot Diaries – both are on my buddy reading project. The Lives of Saints is the last Leigh Bardugo book I had to read connected to the Grishaverse. Dark Prince: Author’s Cut (The “Dark” Carpathian book 1) by Christine Feehan is one book series I will not be reading anymore and since it has a bunch of books I am glad to cross it off my TBR and the lists of books to buy. My second reading of Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series is progressing nicely and I managed to read Micah (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter #13) by Laurell K. Hamilton and enjoy it more than I thought I would.

6. Would you like to recommend any books or authors you’ve been reading this last month?

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1) by Martha Wells was a nice surprise and the short format make it a fast and enjoyable read. Most of the books in the series have won genre awards and I recommend them for those who love science fiction and those who are like me and are picky about science fiction books they choose to read. Grant Snyder and his book I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf is super fun and intelligent book for book lovers and all who are interested in the book business.

Final thoughts on June 2021 reading

I am not totally happy with my reading in June. I managed to squeeze in all ten books as planned but I was forced to shuffle some and change others so I get the number ten. I had to put in some literature for the exam I was preparing instead of one book and I DNFed a book. One book I was planning to read I am still reading and will finish later in July and instead of that I put in a graphic novel to meet the quota. On week of reading was marred by trying to read a book I ended up not finishing and letting go and one other week I spent reading the stuff I did not plan on. I will elaborate a bit more on the detail in the next Bookopoly and Whatever-You-Want-A-Thon reading challenge review posts.

The Hedge Knight: The Tales of Dunk and Egg by George R.R. Martin I am still reading and A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell I was soo looking forward to but it was left untouched and will be postponed for some other more opportune time when I will be able to enjoy it more!

June experience aside I have made plans and new lists of books to read in July. There are even some reading challenges involved so stay tuned and wish me luck!

Whatever-You-Want-A-Thon 2021 – Reading Challenge

At the beginning of the month I found a new reading challenge for June I wanted to participate in. Since the month already began I had to think carefully am I going to make it or not. The idea of this reading challenge is very appealing to me and it seamed as too good to pass on. Whatever-You-Want-A-Thon is created by Maddie from book browsing blog channel on YouTube and you can check her channel HERE and give her some love and support. The reading challenge lasts for the whole month of June and is a team challenge with five teams competing in reading goals they mostly set for themselves. Each team has two captains, their color, and their chosen main genre. These are mostly guidelines and are designed to offer readers direction and something to identify with in the team challenge.

The hosts are mostly the people whose content I have been admiring and watching for a while now. I was excited to see them all together collaborating on a project like this one. Since the books I read tend to come from many different genres and I consider my reading taste to be a bit eclectic I decided to go with the Comrades of Chaos team! The fact that the team captain for this team were the least known to me was even better and in accordance with the Chaos factor. Watching some content from my new team captains was hilarious and revealed that we might not be the most competitive team in the mix which is fine by me since my own goal is to challenge myself by joining these types of reading challenges.

How the challenge works is that you can choose to read a certain amount of books for the challenge and set your own goal. Every book you read wins you certain amount of points and every book you read above your set goal gives you double the amount of points. There is the Pride month bonus for LGBTQ content which is optional. All hosts have provided the readers with their favorites and you can choose to read those for more extra points as well – again this is optional and if the said favorites are a part of a series any book in the series counts as well! With ten hosts and many different genres there is plenty of options for those extra points to choose from. Team genre is also optional for earning points but as the title say – You can read whatever you want! Each book you read earns you points and counts but if you make the book fit into any of the categories you earn extra points.

There are fifteen available prompts to get extra points on the books. You can fit one book in one or more prompts. You get extra points for up to three prompts per book. The amount of options and choices for fitting my books in June has stumped me and I just made a pile of books to read without much consulting of the prompts – which is a first for me! It felt very liberating at the start but kinda intimidating since I decided to make my own challenge a lot more challenging that I had to.

How did I manage to do this?

I started big by adding all my books I already choose for June Bookopoly. That was five books and I felt I needed to make it more interesting by adding more books that were not part of the Bookopoly for June. I made a wonderfull decision to double my reading goal from five books for the Bookopoly with extra five books which got me to my reading goal for Whatever-You-Want-A-Thon – TEN BOOKS!

Here are my ten books I set my goal on for the Whatever-You-Want-A-Thon reading challenge:

The Hedge Knight: The Tales of Dunk and Egg by George R.R. Martin

Lucky (Lucky Santangelo #2) by Jackie Collins

Mogla je biti prosta priča by Ajla Terzić

The Last Wish (The Witcher #0.5) by Andrzej Sapkowski

I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf by Grant Snider

A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell

The Lives of Saints (Grishaverse) by Leigh Bardugo

Dark Prince: Author’s Cut (The “Dark” Carpathian book 1) by Christine Feehan

All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries #1) by Martha Wells

Micah (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter #13) by Laurell K. Hamilton

There were some last minute tweaks to this list and I only checked a few for actually matching some of the prompts. I’m going with chaos as my guide here! I have one third of the month already slipping past me and I have barely scratched the pile of books I made for myself. All the while my team captains are very active across all the social media platforms and there are some very cool videos to read along books to and talk about books in the challenge. Here is the list of all the team captains (in no particular order) and their YouTube channels so you can check them out if you are interested:

Maddie from book browsing blog

Spoopyhol from Spoopyhol

India from What India Read

Steph from Steph Loves

Jadey from Jadeyreareades

Becca from Becca and the Books

Ashleigh from A Frolic Trough Fiction

Gavin from How To Train Your Gavin

Ro from wandering trough worlds

Codie from Codies Book Corner

Wish me luck!

First book haul of 2021

Earlier in December and January I preordered and ordered some new books. The preorders were mostly the continuation of the book series I follow and the rest were on my wish list for a while now as well. I even indulged and got some new Kindle books I found recommendation on some of the Goodreads lists for Valentines Day! Due to Book Depository deliveries being exceptionally slow due to Brexit and Covid, and lets not forget the usual end of the year Christmas madness with packages, this led to a slow and anxiety filled waiting on the postman and my books each morning. All things considering these were the sweet pains to endure after all. Last of the books I bought was from a Facebook seller and since it was my first time buying used books in English this way I was a little apprehensive about that too. Lots of sweet pains later and I have a not so small a pile of books that spark joy!

Rafael (Anita Blake Vampire Hunter book 28) by Laurell K. Hamilton

This is one of the books I preordered before Christmas and the publishing date was 9. February this year! Usually I’m forced to wait for months before I get my copy of the new book when it comes out since I buy the US mass market paperback edition. In case of the book prior to this one – Sucker Punch, I’m still waiting for it to come out! So this book was a real treat. I was not that thrilled with the last book I read from the series and while I love the characters and I’m really interested in the world the author has build I did not have high expectations from this book. I already read it! I even made pauses for the book to lasts longer. I have many comments on it. so much so I might need to write the whole review for it soon just to get it all out of my system!

This book series is starting to outgrow my shelving solution and I will need to figure a better way to store all the books. Maybe even separate the two boo series by LKH I own and keep together currently…

Smoke Bitten (Mercy Thompson book 12) by Patricia Briggs

Second preordered book that was published and arrived on the same day as the previous one is another next book in the favorite urban fantasy series. I did not get to read this one right away – but it has only been about a week since I got it! There are more reasons why I love this book series and can’t wait for every next book.

The cover art of these books I have already gushed about few years ago. This is another author that I have two book series from but unlike the LKH, Patricia Briggs is more consistent with both book series and I get at least one book from either of the series each year. When one book series gets a new hardcover edition book the other one has a mass market paperback edition I collect out as well. This makes the wait for the next book more exciting and somehow sweeter and easier to pass.

A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell

I have a soft spot for short story collections and lately I have been doing great with reading trough most of short story collections on my bookshelves. In the sea of many new editions and books the title of this one caught my eye! There are few other books that I was interested in but this one really got me with a beautiful cover and an all female authors team.

This will fit nicely with other similar books on my shelves until I start reading it! I might even give it a go next month as a March contribution to female authors 🙂

Radiance (Wraith Kings book 1) by Grace Draven

My Paperwhite Kindle does not give this cover justice! I found out about this book by randomly clicking on a Goodreads Valentine theme banner for romance book recommendation. I went trough the link and on the one of the lists I was browsing I stumbled on this book. I was cautious enough to try the sample first and it got me really interested in the story and characters. I devoured the book in a day and a half and had to get the next one as well!

While I’m going a bit slower with the next book of the series I still love it and now that I’m invested in the fantastical setting and the future of the fantastical world the author created. I will be looking up for other books by this author as well as finding out how this trilogy(?) of books ends.

Wicked Abyss (Immortals After Dark book 17) by Kresley Cole

This book has been on my too buy wish list the longest. It first came out almost four years ago now and it was a part of the book series I was collecting. In the meantime I read all the books in the series before it and since a few new books were were supposed to come out after it but they never did I just never got to getting this one before.

This urban fantasy romance book series is the one with the most “beefcake” and shirtless guys covers I own. As some previously mentioned urban fantasy book series I won I have been posting about this one before. The stories are a bit cheesy but I find them wonderful for the underlying message that there is someone for everyone and no matter how sad, bitter or angry we are because of what happened to us, there will always be a chance for a happy ending,

Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons book 1) by Leigh Bardugo

This is the single book from this pile that I bought as a second hand book from one of the sellers in Croatia. I found it in one of the Facebook groups and this was the first time I was buying a book that way. I had the opportunity to buy this book before in paperback but I really wanted the hardcover edition and it has been on my wish list for a while now. The book turned out to be in excellent condition and I am glad I got it.

I have been a big fan of Wonder Woman long before Gal Gadot took on the role and they revamped her whole character. My SO brought me Batman: Nightwalker ( DC Icons book 2) by Marie Lu in hardcover a few years ago from one of his trips. Since then I have been meaning to get the other as well. Getting them in hardcover proved to be a bit pricey and I just keep postponing it. I love the concept of popular YA writers writing the background for these well known characters. The fact that Leigh Bardugo wrote this made me want it even more!

The Lives of Saints (Grishaverse) by Leigh Bardugo

In the last year Leigh Bardugo has become my favorite author. This book is a fictional book from the Shadow and Bone trilogy come to life with some extra content. It has been made to look like the prop they are going to use in the TV series and I think that is cool as well.

I read everything else Leigh Bardugo has written and published so far and getting this book was a natural thing for me to do. I love her characters and her fictional world. The illustrations by Daniel J. Zollinger look great and I am looking forward to binging on this one while I wait for the TV series on Netflix in April!

Just as I got the last book in the mail my SO decreed it was time to preorder another book as a gift for Valentines day! The book I choose as my present was another one of Leigh Bardugo Grishaverse books:

Rule of Wolves (King of Scars book 2) by Leigh Bardugo

I am now properly hyped for the TV series and books and completely enchanted with Grishaverse world and characters!

Also while I was writing this post and looking for the images of books I remembered reading in one of the Facebook groups about one other book I was interested in some decade ago and is now on a special discount!

Dark Prince: Author’s Cut (The “Dark” Carpathian book 1)

by Christine Feehan

This is an older urban fantasy romance book with vampires and a first book in a long and popular book series I wanted to try out for a very long time! The price and the Author’s Cut edition were enough for me to get it right away. I need to stop looking at new books for some time or at least until I make another bigger dent in the books already on my TBR and already on my bookshelves – virtual AND physical! Although I might give in to Wraith Kings book 3 after I finish the second book…

New Books – October 2020 Book Haul

This year for our anniversary my boyfriend got me a pile of books I had on my wishlist on Book Depository! I got seven books I really wanted and they have been arriving in little packages for the whole month of October!

Besieged (The Iron Druid Chronicles) by Kevin Hearne

This is a short story collection from the world of Iron Druid Chronicles. This is one of the urban fantasy book series I used to read with my boyfriend. This is actually a second time I got this book! First time I ordered it I forgot to pay attention to the publisher and size and I ordered the wrong edition… I got two book from the series in wrong edition… It bugged me so much I stopped reading the series altogether and even the sight of the books on the shelves annoyed me. I hope I corrected this now and will be back to this entertaining urban fantasy book series I used to love so much!

Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1) by Shelby Mahurin

This is the first book of a new book series! I got intrigued by reviews and it seemed like a story I would enjoy reading. Lately I have been buying more books in hardcover and I decided to get this on in hardcover right away as well. I was surprised by the format though. It is smaller than the usual hardcover format. The cover is quite eye catching and this is another book on my bookshelf that features a snake on the cover!

Kitchen Princess Omnibus Vol. 4 ( Kitchen Princess #8-10 ) by Natsumi Andō, Miyuki Kobayashi

This is a manga series I got into a years ago. Since it is an older manga series it has become almost impossible to find single volume editions! I decided to get omnibus editions since I loved it so much and wanted to have them. For a manga series this one is actually quite short and has only ten volumes. This fourth and last omnibus collects last three volumes and is the final one. I look forward to reading this manga and especially the recipes after each volume!

The Tower of Nero (The Trials of Apollo Book 5) by Rick Riordan

The Tower of Nero is the last book of the Percy Jackson universe and last in The Trials of Apollo series. I am slightly behind on my reading of the series but hope to catch up by the end of the year. I love the shiny and expressive covers and just seeing them on my shelves bring me joy. This last book only came out in October and was the last one to arrive!

Six of Crows Collector’s Edition by Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom Collector’s Edition by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone Collector’s Edition by Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo books are some of the most beautiful books I ever owned! Even the paperback editions I have are amazing and special. I love when the publishers decide to go that little extra way and include maps, different font, illustrations and bonus content! These editions have been on my wish list for a while now and I am so glad I finally got them. I thought I would be more upset for the lack of dust jacked and just naked hardcover editions but considering how pretty these are I don’t mind at all! The last one Shadow and Bone has come out in October and was supposed to be a promotion for the upcoming Netflix show. I can hardly wait for the show and will continue to get the rest of the trilogy books once they come out.

October Book Wrap Up 2020

Monthly reading review – October 2020

This October I have read:

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell ★★★★

Stone and Fire (Magical Kingdoms #1) by Marie Robinson ★★★

The Chosen Half-Elf (Elfes #4) by Éric Corbeyran, Jean-Paul Bordier ★★★★

U krevetu s vješticom – Najljepše ljubavne horor priče by Milana Vuković Runjić ★★★★

Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos ★★★

Olive Kitteridge (Olive Kitteridge, #1) by Elizabeth Strout ★★★

Tempting the Bluestocking (A Gentleman Courtesans Novella) by Victoria Vale ★★★★

Portrait of a Lady (The Gentleman Courtesans #1) by Victoria Vale ★★★★★

Masquerade (Scandalous Ballroom Encounters #1) by Victoria Vale ★★★★

Ninth House (Alex Stern #1) by Leigh Bardugo ★★★★★

Misadventures of a Backup Bride (Misadventures #2) by Shayla Black ★★

1. How many books have you read last month? Are you happy with the amount you read?

This October I have read 11 (eleven!) books. I am quite pleased with that number.

2. What was the best of all the books you’ve read in October? Any scenes or characters that made a lasting impression?

My best book in October was Ninth House (Alex Stern #1) by Leigh Bardugo. I even made a book review on it and you can check out my thoughts and reading experience HERE.

I’ve enjoyed most of the books I’ve read in October and another that stayed with me as a really good was a Kindle freebie Portrait of a Lady (The Gentleman Courtesans #1) by Victoria Vale. The idea of Gentleman Courtesans was an intriguing one and I might decide to buy and read the rest of the books some day.

3. Were there any not so good books for you last month? What made it hard or not enjoyable to read?

My least favorite book in October was Misadventures of a Backup Bride (Misadventures, #2) by Shayla Black. This was a buddy read book with a friend and we picked it up for fun not really knowing much about it except that it is an adult light read. I got my copy from the library and I had some real issues with Croatian translation. I don’t believe the spirit of banter and jokes got translated into the book all that well and that also had impact on my reading experience. The plot and the characters were underwhelming and kind off basic for me to take interest in them.

Another book that made my reading experience in October less than great was Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos. The main reason for my displeasure was that it took me over ten days to finish it and made me lose one third of the month on just one book. The reading was slow and I was enjoying the thirty something pages of foreword and the notes on the author more than the actual book…

4. How did the books you were reading last month fit in your reading plans if you had any?

I have managed to read all the books I choose for my October readathons: Sbooktober Readathon and Bookopoly TBR game. I did great with using the same books for prompts in both of the reading challenges to my advantage and that let me read a few more books outside of my plans as well! You can see my post for Sbooktober Readathon HERE and for the Bookopoly TBR game HERE for more info.

5. Any updates on the series you are reading or are you starting any new series?

I read a few first books of some new series and from those I have high expectations for Alex Stern by Leigh Bardugo even though the next book is yet to be announced. The Gentleman Courtesans series got my attention and I hope to continue reading them but I’m not in any hurry for them. I am specially glad to have continued with the graphic novel series Elves and will try to read a few more of them by the end of the year!

6. Would you like to recommend any books or authors you’ve been reading this last month?

The author Victoria vale caught my attention and I have read several of her works this October. It was a Kindle freebie I liked a lot and I am glad for taking chances with new authors like that! Again Leigh Bardugo has completely won me over by her book and I will keep buying and reading anything that woman publishes! It took me years to give her a chance since I only started reading her books one year ago and they have been popular quite longer than that! Give new and unknown authors a chance whenever you can!

Final thoughts on October 2020 reading

Even though I have read eleven books I managed to avoid any books that were on my personal reading challenge for this year! Only three books were from my actual physical bookshelves and the rest of them were either in digital form or borrowed! While it was an interesting month for reading I did not make much progress with Draconomicon: The Book of Dragons by Andy Collins, Skip Williams, James Wyatt or The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas which I am reading since the middle of summer. For next month I plan to do better in that regard!

Ninth House – Book Review

Ninth House 

(Alex Stern #1)

by Leigh Bardugo

★★★★★

Expectation

I got this book earlier this year after being so delighted with Grishaverse books that I wanted to read anything Leigh Bardugo had to offer. The theme of the Ninth House was not particularly appealing but I was intrigued by what I heard about the book and the pretty cover factor was an added bonus! I was looking for a chance to add this book to a reading challenge since it covers some of the prompts like dark academia I don’t read that often. In a way I was saving it for that perfect prompt and for months I thought it was going to be for some Halloween themed reading challenge this October. In the end the I read it for Sbooktober reading challenge under the category Festivities! – Hang Out With The Pets and the prompt that I used it for was – animal on the cover! You can check out my Sbooktober post HERE. The weirdest thing I noticed that this year my animal on the cover books were mostly those with snakes! I should try and use that for a thematic post soon!

Summary

The first few chapters were a mess and produced a feeling of vertigo while I was trying to get into the book. The chapters were written in a reverse timeline and getting the sense of it all proved to be a bit challenging. There was so much unique supernatural content to grasp and the flow of the story did not give room for idling away. The action starts right from the start! The first shocking scene got me hooked and dragged into the book in an almost violent manner. The main character got herself in some pretty desperate situations but even when everything looked grim there was a certain type of energy that survivors have.

There was one other thing that made it a challenge for me to get into this book. The setting was New Heaven, Yale college and the most prominent association I have with that was the Gilmore Girls TV show. While the Gilmore Girls had a similar quirky dialogue comedy to them that is where all similarities stop. This book had a dark thriller quality that was sobering and in direct opposite of the New Heaven natural outlook. There was an excellent map of the place in the book but I did not use it a lot since the action in the book was drawing me to read on and not fall back and check who did what and where.

The one thing that made me push my rating of this book to five stars were the female characters. Every female character had at least one trait that made her somehow more tangible, more real and more relatable. While the character of Darlington is held on a pedestal usually reserved for female characters in fiction, the women and girls get to take center stage and show their strengths. It all came down to a quote from Joss Whedon:

“…men who are going to be comfortable with powerful women are going to be more powerful men”

This picture of Darlington being the perfect gentleman and a man of extraordinary talents has made me love him more. He was sort of hanging over the scenes he was not a part of. All the while the badass heroines, survivors, villains, backup characters – all of them girls and women were beautifully written!

Conclusion

I loved the female character representation in this book! I loved their strength and spirit. I loved how strong they are and how boldly they swing at the world around them. The array of different types of characters from young to old, good to bad, passive to driven was impressive. The more I think about all of them to more I appreciate them!
I would love to read next book in the series and I’m not in any hurry because I know that whatever Leigh Bardugo writes it is going to be an absolute pleasure to read! 

Sbooktober Readathon – October 2020

There was a bunch of reading challenges this October and I tried making a list and adopting several different reading challenges. I made lists and tried fitting in books but was having trouble filling in the prompts and books until I found Sbooktober Readathon announcement! YouTuber Paper Faerie is leading this reading challenge along with many other hosts. You can check it out and give her channel some love HERE. What I love about this reading challenge is how easy it makes it for anyone to participate and offers plenty of options to join in!

I picked out one book for each of the four categories and it left me room to maneuver with the Bookopoly rolls I did with my friend for October!

Costume Party! – Besties Costume

Misadventures of a Backup Bride (Misadventures #2) by Shayla Black

For the first time ever I had someone to do a buddy read with! It was a welcome opportunity for me. After some debating we decided to try out something light and went with Misadventures of a Backup Bride (Misadventures, #2) by Shayla Black. It is the second book in a series that can be read out of order and is surprisingly translated into Croatian language. We both got our copies from the library!

Dance Floor Playlist! – Time Warp

 Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Choderlos de Laclos

I decided to use this opportunity to use a book I have crossover from Bookopoly TBR because I’m apprehensive about reading this book. It has a certain feel to it that reminds me that I’m behind on reading The Count of Monte Christo by Alexandre Dumas. The are both from French authors and I’m expecting a similar writing style.

Refreshments! – Candy Bowl

The Chosen Half-Elf (Elfes #4) by Éric Corbeyran, Jean-Paul Bordier

Another crossover and I decided to get on track with this graphic novel series more! It is a feast for the eyes as well as a good story! It fills my need for a fantasy reading these days as well!

Festivities! – Hang Out With The Pets

Ninth House (Alex Stern #1) by Leigh Bardugo

I’ve been waiting for a chance to get this book on some reading challenge! I had plans for another prompt in a reading challenge I decided to pass on for October. When I saw that I could easily fit it with an animal on the cover prompt I was very happy to bump it up on my reading pile finally! Also I’m getting a lot of books with snakes on the cover lately…

I feel very motivated by this reading challenge and I hope to do more reading done this October!

Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag

Lately I’ve been really stuck in trying to get through two reading challenges I have going on this month. You can check out my list for first time trying them out if you want.

I talk about my Make Your Myth-Taker reading challenge HERE

and you can see my choices for the The Olympic Games HERE

While I was checking out some Booktube channels for inspiration and new ideas, a friend of mine suggested we go through the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag to each other. We actually made videos to each other answering the tags and talking about books and life in general and now our significant others are thinking we are very weird because of it. We don’t plan posting the videos anywhere public and they are for personal use and enjoyment only; but it gave me something to think about in my reading time as well. This is why I decided to make a post to go through the tags and summarize what I have learned about myself and my reading in the first half of 2020.

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2020

Incubus Caged (The Incubus, #1) by A. H. Lee

This book was a revelation for me. I did not find many good fantasy books or stories that incorporate hardcore sex well. I get really agitated by mainstream fantasy books that skirt around the actual sexual act. I made a point not to read some of the authors who do this no matter how popular their stories are. I was kinda blown away at how good this book was in that regard. The magical and fantasy aspects of the book were really well done by my opinion and the sexual theme seemed was nicely incorporated into it. The beginning of the story was a bit touch and go until the fantastical world the author build unfolded. The fact that this is a accidental Kindle find and I bought the whole trilogy says a lot since I’m a bit traditionally stingy when it comes to buying books on Kindle – I prefer physical copies.

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020

The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, #2) by Holly Black

I bought first two books of The Folk of the Air book series at the Interliber book fair in Zagreb last year. I’ve only started reading them in January this year. I was reluctant to get the third book since the format was different than the first two and that really annoys me. I read both books in quick succession and was left with a dilemma: wait for half a year for the same format of the third book to come out OR get the third book in a bigger hardcover format… This book had such an influence on me that I went and ordered the hardcover third book – again, this is something I have never done before! I ended up loving the whole trilogy so much I plan on rereading the last book this month!

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

Lately I have been very glad of my book club friends. Through book club I met some wonderful people and my life is richer for the experiences we shared. When I learn that this is a book about a book club with an urban fantasy twist I was interested right away! This book reminded me of Sookie Stackhouse book series by Charlaine Harris which I started reading back when it was still called The Southern Vampire Mysteries and I got really nostalgic and reminded that I never read the last book of that series… Anyway I’m getting off topic here, but book club, vampire slaying and a quirky band of women – I’m totally getting this book soon!

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

Shadow and Bone (The Shadow and Bone Trilogy #1) by Leigh Bardugo

The reason I put this book as the most anticipated release for the second half of 2020. is because at the start of the 2020 one of the Croatian publishers announced it will be translating it. I’m guessing it might come somewhere in autumn or whenever the TV show starts releasing on Netflix. I really can’t wait for the translated edition to come out so I can talk about it with some of my book club friends who don’t read books in English. And I really want to talk more about these books with some people in my life!

5. Biggest disappointment

The Witch With No Name (The Hollows, #13) by Kim Harrison

The amount of disappointment I felt because of this book does not really show in the review I did for it. I postponed reading this book since it was a last book of the series I have been reading for a long time. I went trough a lot in my life while reading these books and they kinda kept me afloat of the bad things. I had very strong emotions and fond memories connected with these books and characters. This last book fell flat for me. I could not get into it and I was annoyed while reading. I was seriously considering to get rid of all the books and this is still an option for me. From a book series that game me good vibes I was left with a lots of negative emotions that frustrate me when I think about these books. You can check my review HERE.

6. Biggest surprise

The Incubus book series by A. H. Lee

As I’ve already mentioned the best book as I count my reading experiences in 2020 was the first book of the Incubus trilogy. This whole series was the biggest positive surprise for me in 2020. I will be on the lookout for this author for some other fantasy works with adult content. This is the kind of story I’m glad I often take chances with Kindle freebies and samples.

7. Favorite new author. (Debut or new to you)

Holly Black with her The Folk of the Air

Another already mentioned and new for me author this year is Holly Black and her The Folk of the Air book series. I have heard of her works before but since they were mostly aimed at younger audiences I mostly skipped them. The Folk of the Air was a thrill to read and I love those characters. I have acquired desktop and mobile background fan art of Jude and Cardan. The scenes and characters are very expressive and dramatic and I love the writing style. At the same time I am glad that the trilogy The Folk of the Air is complete and finished but would love to read more of the stories with these characters. I actually don’t mind rereading these books which is something I don’t do often!

8. Newest fictional crush

Tom Severin from Chasing Cassandra (The Ravenels, #6) by  Lisa Kleypas

Tom Severin from Chasing Cassandra (The Ravenels, #6) by  Lisa Kleypas is a workaholic that never had motivation to live life for anything else but his work. He starts as cold, distant and money motivated. When a chance of a good deal in his personal life comes along he would not be the driven businessman he is not to take it. I love the jaded and the childlike logic of Tom Severin: he has amassed enough wealth that he is capable of making someone happy with it. He is hardworking and cares for those in his charge when he has the chance to prove it. It is a heartbreaking character with integrity and a it just makes me love him more for it!

9. Newest favorite character

Cardan Greenbriar from The Folk of the Air

This character is amazingly written! The amount of backstory that was given and even more that it was only hinted about was a pleasure to read. I love how flawed he comes off in the books and how his character growth flows in a constant stream whether he is in the center of the narrative or not. In the whole trilogy his character is constantly moving and growing. Every scene with him shows progress in some way and I love how the author managed that.

10. Book that made you cry

Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2) by Leigh Bardugo

I read a number of Grishaverse books in quick succession but the amount of tears from the Crooked Kingdom took me by surprise. I wept and kept reading believing that something will happen to disprove the reason for my weeping! The sadness was even greater since the character that was most hit by grief in the book was very open and lovable and the grief translated so raw to the reader.

11. Book that made you happy

King of Scars (Nikolai Duology, #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Just holding this book in my hands makes me excited. It is gorgeous and the story inside it has taken some very sharp twists and turns that make me wonder how the author is going to handle the next book of the series. Reading this book has made me equally happy and frightful but also very excited with the prospects it brings to the plot. I believe I will be riding this hype train long into the Netflix TV show and I hope it will be good enough to last more than a few seasons!

12. Favorite book to film adaptation that you’ve seen this year

October Faction / Altered Carbon-Takeshi Kovacs

While I was going trough the many book to film adaptations I loved watching so far this year I had so many options but most of them were adaptations of books I have not read. I chose two options for that reason. One is a graphic novel to a one season Netflix TV series adaptation which started kinda shaky but I ended up liking enough to want to read the graphic novels which I understand differ from the TV adaptation greatly. My second choice was the second season of Altered Carbon TV series and Takeshi Kovacs book series by Richard Morgan. I have not read those either but have a friend that was very upset by the book/adaptation differences as well. I liked the adaptations and enjoyed watching both TV series!

13. Favorite review you’ve written (booktube or written)

Book of Wayward Girls and Wicked Women edited by Angela Carter 

In March I have read a collection of short stories about women from a colorful selection of authors and enjoyed them greatly. I was inspired to take pictures of quotes and post them on Instagram as well. I enjoyed reading and writing about this book and the thematic mood for March was a great fir as well. Up to this book I did not use many props while taking pictures because I don’t feel very talented in arranging them in general. This book made me feel empowered in a way and it was nice to write about my reading experience with it. You can check out my review HERE.

14. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

Ninth House (Alex Stern, #1) by Leigh Bardugo

This year was extraordinary in many ways for me and the books I’ve read and acquired. I have taken to buying more hardcover editions and how pretty a book is definitely factors into the equation more for me as of late. In a batch of books I recived early this year Ninth House is one of the prettiest. I’ve taken to love the shiny illustrations under the jacket of the hardcover editions.

15. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

I have made a few lists of books I plan to read by the end of the year and among the books I have left to read there are a few I know I will need some extra motivation and concentration. I will not post these lists here now, you can check some of them on this post HERE. I would like to single out a few that I am both excited and apprehensive about starting to read. One that will be a challenge is The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. It is a big book and I have a great desire to read it “one day”. I will have to push myself with it and hope for the best. Also I plan on tackling the whole The Trials of Apollo book series by Rick Riordan by the end of the year. I have found it difficult to immerse myself into the main story of these books.

It is very evident that my 2020 reading was heavily influenced by few selected authors and book series. I have made good on my goals to read more of the books I already own and I am very pleased with results so far. I hope to be this pleased with my reading by the end of this year as well!

Wishlist books!

While I have been reading a bit more in the last few months my bookish wishlist has been strangely overlooked. While some of the reason for this reflects on the general state of the world we live in right now I kinda feel sad for reigning in my impulse for wanting new books. I used to enjoy exploring new books and authors on various book related Internet sources. It brought a smile to my face to find a new book I might like or a beautiful edition of the book I already love. Depending on the financial situation I find myself in I buy books when I can but adding books to the list of possible books I might consider reading and buying was something I used to do very often. Sadly I must admit that the last time I added books to my wishlist on Book Depository was when they had a promotional giveaway that required people to make add books to their wishlist to enter…

To brighten my day and think about some really cool books I want to own and read I decided to share some of those books with you. Some of these books I’ve already read, some I already own and some I just want because they look pretty! Feel free to judge me!

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

I want this book in hardcover. My boyfriend bought me Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu in hardcover on one of his travels and when I saw that there were other books about DC Universe characters written buy YA authors I went exploring and found this one. At first I was interested because of the Wonder Woman but then this year I became a fan of Leigh Bardugo and now I own most of her books! I must mention that I was browsing a bookstore last year and found this book in paperback but did not want to buy it since it would annoy me to put it on the shelf beside the hardcover Batman I already own.

Six of Crows: Collector’s Edition & Crooked Kingdom Collector’s Edition

While on the subject of Leigh Bardugo books I had to include Collector’s editions of both Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. I already own both of these in paperback and I already read them. I already made a post about some beautiful hardcover editions of books written by Leigh Bardugo I own and love – you can check out that post HERE. These two books look wonderful and I plan on reading them more than once! I kinda hope that with the Netflix TV show in the works I might upgrade the Shadow and Bone trilogy to hardcover as well!

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – Hufflepuff Edition

I was always planning on owning the whole Harry Potter book series. When the 20th anniversary Hogwarts House editions started coming out it was a perfect solution. I got the first three in hardcover and only recently started reading them. The fourth book came out last year and since they come out once a year I expect the fifth one to come out in summer this year. I love how they are designed and reading the first book felt magical.

Half a War (Shattered Sea #3) by Joe Abercrombie

I have been looking for the hardcover edition of this book in this edition for a while now. I have the first two books and refuse to start reading them until I have the whole trilogy. The more time it passes the less are the chances I will find this edition…

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

Here is one book I am not hell bent on getting in hardcover edition. At first glance it seemed very silly and funny. I like books about vampires and this one had my attention as soon as I read that it is about a bunch of women who have a book club.