Uncategorized

My First Monthly Reading Wrap Up Went Like… | January 2023

We are starting the new year off with a bang! I swear this has been such a great reading month! I read six books this month with two being over 800 pages. I’d say it was a good range of amazing reads that will for sure be some of my favorites of the entire year; while others were – MID. But regardless if a book met my expectations or left me disappointed, I rarely regret reading it because at least I’m “in the know”. And I’m slowly but surely knocking off more & more from my physical TBR. That way, I feel less guilty when I finally break my book buying ban. Which feels a lot sooner than later. *jumps for joy*. My hope for this year is to read a wide range of genres & get out of my comfort zone & read more longer series [ possibly – Wheel of Time?]. And I think this month, we are definitely headed in the right direction.

Bunny by Mona Awad

Talk about the weirdest book I’ve ever read. Bunny is definitely not for the faint of heart. And I personally, went in rather blind. So, when I realized this was considered in the horror genre – I was quite surprised. Especially when the book cover is rather vibrant. I would describe the plot as Mean Girls, if they created a darker version with murderous cults & animal cruelty. And I seriously thought I was going to absolutely despise this book. But as I kept reading & ignored the gruesome scenes, I started to question different parts & it became more of a psychological unraveling – which I personally love. If you’ve seen the movie, Shutter Island, I think you could appreciate the concepts of this story. What really sold me was the final sentence. It literally caused me to go down the Reddit rabbit hole [ pun intended] & look up all the theories. And for that reason alone, I give this book a solid 3.5 stars [ almost 4].

Crescent City: House of Earth & Blood by Sarah J. Maas

Starting this series is one of my highly anticipated reads of the year & I knew I wanted to start it right away after receiving them for Christmas. But if you’ve seen the thickness of the books, you know what a commitment it is. This is a urban fantasy written by the queen, SJM. So, basically it’s your typical fantasy story with Fae & other mythical creatures – but they have cellphones, watch sports, play beer pong & go to clubs. I read someone describe it as a fantasy frat house & honestly – that’s rather spot on. But of course like any fantasy, the plot slowly thickens. I would say, this first book was a rather slow burn & getting through the initial world building took some time. But again, SJM can do no wrong in my eyes & the character development, slow burn forced proximity romance, countless subplots & redemption story really made it a wild ride. Especially the final 200 characters that immediately made me want to go to the next one. And for my readers who love a good murder mystery & want to dip their toes into the fantasy genre, I highly recommend this series. A solid 5 stars for me.

Finding Cinderella by Colleen Hoover

This is where things went slightly down hill. And I kind of regret taking a slight break from such an amazing fantasy series to this mediocre novella, but you win some & you lose some. I mainly read this one because it was free on the Apple Books app & although I was going to swear off CoHo books this year, my curiosity got me once again. Now, I’m not saying Colleen Hoover is a horrible author. I will always have a place in my heart for Verity & will always recommend it. But lately I find her to be someone who is letting the fame get to your head & a lot of her books are almost too “realistic” & borderline “the glorification of trauma”. Basically, I don’t get the wanted escapism from her books & like this one – some feel rather mid tier fan fiction for my adult taste. This particular novella is a part of the Hopeless series [ which received 2 stars after I read it last year ]. Check out my mini review on Hopeless in my October reading wrap up. This tells the story of Sky’s bestfriend named Six [ what kind of name is that? btw] & her teenage sexual escapades. She has never been in love before until she meets this mystery man in a dark high school’s janitor closet. His identity is kept mysterious. A year later, Six meets a boy named Daniel & attraction instantly forms. You can kind of see where is this going… I personally give this book 2 stars for it’s immature plot & predictability. I feel like if I was a teenager, I would have enjoyed this book a lot more. But as an adult, I just cringe.

Before The Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

This book is the perfect example of reading something out of your comfort zone & not fully grasping the writing style & even concept of what the author was trying to persuade. Or it was simply the overall mood of the book just didn’t gel with me. Who knows. But I found this writing style rather difficult to read because I felt like it was a translated version so the English was rather broken. Not only this, but it felt like I was reading a play or musical of sorts which really made me uninterested. The concept of the book which are an array of short stories all taking place in a coffee shop that allows people to return to the past to replay but [ plot twist ] CAN’T change the future. I feel like it’s a story of acceptance & that even if we can’t change the past, we have to sometimes simply live with it & move forward. But the stories were rather sad & depressing & I just couldn’t appreciate it like some others seem to do. Rating: 2.5 stars

The Housemaid by Freida McFadden

When I say I devoured this book – I literally couldn’t put it down. If you are looking for a fast paced thriller with short chapters, this book is for you. It gave me Verity vibes from the first chapter. This tells the story of a woman who gets hired to be a housemaid for a wealthy family. I will say, I really enjoyed the beginning of this book a lot more & the twist although surprised me at first – was a rather predicable one that is seen in many thrillers. I also was a little bothered by some of the character’s actions. I understand it’s a thriller so psychopaths is a common trope, but some of the scenes left me thinking WTF?! And once I discovered the main twist, the ending kind of fell flat for me. And I was just rushing to get it done. I still enjoyed it because the beginning really made me hate the wife alongside the housemaid & all the miscommunication etc. Overall, I give this a solid 3.5 stars & could have gotten 4 stars if the ending had not been so predicable.

Crescent City: House of Sky & Breath by Sarah J. Maas

We are finally redeeming ourselves with this final read of the month. I finally decided to continue the Crescent City series. Again, this book was quite the read to get through & once again the beginning really seemed to drag on & to grasp the new characters & plot that is introduced. I’ll be completely honest, I feel like there are parts of this book that really drag on & there were times where I just wanted to get to the meat & potatoes. I also felt like it was rather hard to picture some of these scenes. I’ve read my fair share of fantasy & so this was the first time where I was reading scenes & asking myself “what is happening right now?” But although the plot seemed to thicken continuously with countless subplots, I was hear for it. And once I got to the middle of Part 2, things really started to flow. For me, I can appreciate a complex fantasy series because it really reels me in & provides that proper escapism. There got to a point where I was finally just breezing through the characters & wanting to see what happens next. So much emotion & beautiful moments. And of course, I’m not going to give away any spoilers, but that ending was MINDBLOWING!!! IYKYK. I completely understand why so many people are anxiously waiting for Crescent City 3 to release. I’m eagerly waiting & will be down the SJM theories rabbit hole for the time being. Rating: 5 stars [ a million stars if i could ].

Wow, I’m so happy I decided to read the Crescent City series this month. But now that I’ve read all of SJM’s series – I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself. Do I re-read ACOTAR this year? Please let me know book series I should add to my TBR. I do hope to possibly start the famous Wheel of Time Series soon [ but that is a 14 book series…so yea ].

In the comments, let me know your favorite book you read this month

-B

organization

10 Things You Can Declutter in Your Kitchen Today

In this next detox series post, I wanted to take our decluttering session to the kitchen. This kitchen is an area of the home that obtains a lot of foot traffic. With eating multiple times a day & some of us working from home indefinitely now – it’s a place that gets dirty & unorganized pretty easily. Since that’s the case, it’s important to keep this area clutter free & downsized as much as possible. Here are 10 Things You Can Declutter in Your Kitchen Today:

Excess Gadgets & Appliances

The easiest way to have a simple & easy to clean kitchen space is to have clear or semi-cleared countertops. The biggest culprit to clutter is huge appliances taking up precious food prep space. Minimize this issue by only keeping out the appliances you use regularly & store the rest.

Worn Out Dish Towels

We keep a few dish towels in a drawer & one over the stove for decor purposes. Be sure that any towels, especially ones on display aren’t damaged, worn out or stained. You can purchase a pack of these from Target for only $3, so they are relatively easy to replace when necessary. Another tip is to purchase dish towels or rags of darker shades so stains aren’t as easy to see.

Expired Foods

This might seem like an obvious one but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked in the back of the fridge or pantry & found some very questionable items. So, make sure you are cleaning through these areas regularly. This is another reason why I don’t like to over purchase or purchase items in bulk. Chances are they will sit in the pantry collecting dust.

Take Out Menus You Never Use

Now a days, you can find everything online, but I still like keeping around a few take out menus like our favorite local Chinese place. If there are any menus you never reach for, take this time to recycle those.

Cook Books

For some reason I love the ideas of cookbooks but realistically never really use since most things can be found online. Plus, they are rather bulky items. If you have no way to decoratively display them or never look through, maybe it’s time to finally donate them to someone else.

Mugs

For not being a coffee person, I sure do own quite a few mugs. I managed to let go of a few that had cheesy inspirational quotes on them or sayings. I’m leaning towards more solid colored mugs because I’m such a plain Jane now & I’m less likely to get sick of those styles.

Take Out Sauces Packets

In some ways, I can see how someone would find hoarding these packets useful [ especially Chick fil A sauce] but honestly – I’ve found they mostly just sit untouched & we eventually accumulate even more. Use them up or throw them away.

Coasters

We own 20 coasters. How this happened, I have no idea. I guess they are the quintessential house warming gift or something. But I managed to choose a small set that were are favorites & let go of the rest.

Excess Pots & Pans & Other Cooking Essentials

In general, you want to look through your collection of cooking tools & choose the favorites out of the bunch. You don’t need 10 different pots & skillets. We actually only own a full set – 5 items & it works for us. Granted it’s only a house hold of two at the moment, but still. Cutting back on these items will surely diminish excess clutter.

Manuals

All those wonderful gadgets you purchase all come with their own instructional manual. News flash, you actually don’t need to own these at all. Most manuals are found online anyway. So save some space by letting go of this paper clutter.

I hope this list gives you some inspiration when decluttering your own kitchens. What are some other things we all could declutter from our kitchens. Leave your suggestions in the comments.

-B

Uncategorized

Monthly Reading Wrap Up: What I Read In April

I’ve decided to start a new book series on my blog where I share what I’ve read each month. And I hope to do a full yearly wrap up in December. Currently, I’ve read 12 books this year – April being the longest reading list of six books. If you are interested in keeping up with my book updates in real time, be sure you are following my bookstagram.

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

I actually started reading this one at the end of March & finished it the first week of April. What made me pick this book up was the author commendatory saying it was similar to Stephen Kings the Shining which I think was a bit of a stretch. I did love the atmosphere of this read & the trope of being snowed in a creepy sanatorium turned hotel. If you enjoy detective stories & “who done it’s”, I recommend this read, It’s the first of three, so I’m curious to know how the story continues in Pearse’s second book, The Retreat.

Let Me Go by Kate Bold

This is your PSA to check out some of the free novels provided on the book app. Although this story was rather predicable at the end, it kept my attention the entire time. It tells the story about a woman who’s past is coming to haunt her when she takes her husband to meet her family & childhood town.

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do by Amy Morin

I love a good self help book. And although the majority of the book was rather repetitive & filled with psychological statistics, what really made me love this book was the introduction. The author shares her personal stories of lost & how she went through grief.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

I’ve had this Ruth Ware novel on my shelves for over a year & I finally decided to read it. In the past, I tried reading it but wasn’t in the mood. I strongly believe it’s ok to read based on your mood. Don’t force yourself to finish a book. You can always come back to it later. This one was about a young girl who was trying to find her place in the world after losing her mother. She is surprisingly sent a mysterious letter informing her of a family inheritance. When she goes to find answers, she discovers so much more.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

One of the most hyped novels everywhere & I finally decided to read it. This is hands down my favorite read of 2022 so far. If you haven’t read this one yet & are questioning whether it’s worth the hype, well it is! It tells the story of Evelyn Hugo, a 50’s starlet actress who decides to tell her story to a new magazine writer & proposes she writes an entire novel about her life, her seven husbands & other secrets.

No Exit by Taylor Adams

I was going to wait until winter to read this one as it is set during a blizzard & 5 strangers are stranded together at a truck stop. I also wanted to compare the Hulu movie to the novel, which both are very gruesome & dark. I’m more of a fan of psychological thrillers & this was definitely out of my comfort zone.

Have you read any of these?

-B