Wrap-Ups

2020 Reading Wrap-Up

A book is a dream that you hold in your hands”.

Overview!

This year has been quite the reading year for me! I have ended 2020 with 108 books added to my “read” list! Technically it’s 97 different books with 11 being rereads (some are multiple). Never did I imagine that I would read 20 books this year…let alone over 100! Quarantine has been good for something!

I also started a book inventory the other day so I can keep track of all the books I own. I finished the two shelves in my craft room/ library room and am just over 300 books…I still have about 100 more scattered throughout the house to log (plus ones I have pre-ordered/yet to come in the mail). Before quarantine, I didn’t own enough books to fill a full row on my bookshelf….needless to say, I’ve spent A LOT of money on books and I don’t regret any of it!

Subscription Boxes

A lot of my money has also gone to book themed subscription boxes. I do the YA version of each and am obsessed. However…I think I may need to cancel some of the subscriptions (I already cancelled two). Below are the ones I’ve tried/still do.

  • Owlcrate: I love OC so much. They usually have great books/dust jackets and the authors write notes and sign the books. I haven’t loved all the merch that OC chooses, but most of the time they’re okay. I would like to see more small business support in their bookish goodies.
  • Bookish Box: This was the first one I subscribed to. It’s very similar to Owlcrate. I enjoy it a lot, but when compared with some of the other boxes, I don’t know if it’s worth the money.
  • Once Upon a Book Club Box: I only got two of these books. They’re formatted so that the goodies you get are hidden and tell you to open them when you get to certain pages. I am not patient enough for that…I also didn’t enjoy a majority of the items in these boxes and ended up cancelling.
  • Fae Crate: I only got one Fae Crate before cancelling. It wasn’t really my style. I’m glad I tried it out though.
  • Illumicrate: I’ve gotten two so far (I just got off the waitlist!). I LOVE Illumicrate! They have great items and great books. I’m a sucker for sprayed edges and they do them often! Highly recommend.
  • Fairyloot: I haven’t gotten one yet because I just got off the waitlist. My first box will be coming in January and I am SO excited. I have heard AMAZING things about FL and can’t wait to see what the first box I get is like. Their books are GORGEOUS and I know they do a lot of sprayed edges as well!

Overall, I think Fairyloot and Illumicrate may kick Owlcrate, Bookishbox, or both out of the running. I really shouldn’t be spending all that money for four subscription boxes a month anyway…oops…don’t tell my husband!

Favorite Books of the Year!

I have had quite a lot of five star reads. I’m going to list all of them and then figure it out from there!

  • Getting Down by Helena Hunting
  • Handle with Care by Helena Hunting
  • Shacking Up by Helena Hunting
  • Lingus by Mariana Zapata
  • House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas
  • Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas
  • Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J Maas
  • A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
  • Smut by Karina Halle
  • A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas
  • Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco
  • A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J Maas
  • With This Heart by R.S. Grey
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Regretting You by Colleen Hoover
  • The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
  • Beach Read by Emily Henry
  • Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
  • A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire by Jennifer L. Armentrout
  • Gifting Me to His Best Friend by Katee Robert
  • The Mindfuck Series by S.T. Abby
  • Book 2-10 of the Experiment in Terror Series by Karina Halle

I obviously love each of these books for many different reasons! My top three are actually entire series and I hold each of them dear to my heart.

In third place for the year (and maybe ever) I have the From Blood and Ash Series. AKOFAF threw me into a rough reading slump after I finished it. I was so drawn into this world that JLA created and was in love with the characters, that when I finished I couldn’t pick up another book without wanting to read about Poppy and Cas. I am so excited for the new book coming in 2021!

In second place is the Experiment in Terror Series. I have never read nine books so fast in my life. I read a book a day and couldn’t stop until I devoured all of Karina Halle’s words. I became obsessed with this series in November and was SO stoked to hear that a new book was coming out December 11…well it came out a day early and you bet your booty that I bought it and read it that day! I was struggling in November with picking up books and this series sucked me out of that slump and threw me head first into an amazing paranormal realm with beautiful and enticing characters. I am so happy I came across this series!

In first place we have the ACOTAR series. My dear friend Sophie recommended me these books in January and I ended up finding them on clearance in Target. I tried the first chapter of ACOTAR and wasn’t feeling it. Fast forward a few month and add a bored, quarantined Allison, and I picked up the book again. This time I was intrigued. I got passed chapter one and was really vibing with the feeling of the book. I then became enamoured by Tamlin (ugh, ew) and couldn’t put the book down. Once I finished the first one I just had to dive into book two (which is my favorite of the series…I read it 5 times so far). I finished the series and all I wanted to do was read more SJM books….no, all I wanted to do was read. This series made me fall in love with reading again and I am so thankful that Sophie recommended them to me almost a year ago! I have my SJM shrine on my bookshelf and currently own 54 SJM books (a lot of duplicates and special editions….don’t judge).

2021 Reading Goals

For 2021 I plan to go with the flow and read whatever my heart desires. I don’t want to stress over my ever growing TBR list. I do have a handful of books that I will read when they’re released, but other than that, I want to freely roam my shelves and enjoy each page I read. I also want to become more comfortable with DNFing books. I struggle with this because I feel like if I paid for a book, I should read it. But…why read something I’m not enjoying? I plan to keep up with blogging and booktube more but we’ll see about that. Overall, I want reading to be fun and not a job (which some people I follow make it seem like one…). I read for me and no one else and that’s that!

So, thanks Sophie and SJM for helping me find something I’m passionate about this year! I’ve really gotten to visit some amazing realms and worlds through books and can’t wait to see where 2021 takes me!

Book Reviews

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder Book Review

“Pit bull,” Pip said. “It’s pit bulls that don’t let things go.”

Holly Jackson – a Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
Picture by me!
Rating: 5/5 tacks! (stars).

Synopsis

Pippa is a high school student that has chosen to work on a closed kidnapping/murder case, in her hometown, her senior capstone project. Everyone knows what happened five years ago, but Pip isn’t so sure. As she digs deeper and deeper into the case, she slowly uncovers different clues that just aren’t adding up to what the town believes happened. Pip makes it her goal to discover what actually happened in her town all those years ago, no matter what it takes!

My Thoughts (Spoiler Free)

Characters:

  • I love, love, love Pippa! She is such a strong , dedicated character and she is just perfect! She’s hard-working and when she sets her mind on something, she works hard to reach it! She’s funny and sarcastic, but kind and loving to her friends and family. Her dedication to solving this mystery is one of the aspects that had me not wanting to put this book down! Normally, a character with these traits would bore me, but it worked very well for Pippa and the plot of this book.
  • Ravi is a close second to favorite character! He’s hilarious and, despite, his family’s circumstances, makes light of situations. He and Pippa have great chemistry together and work well as friends.
  • Pippa’s Family: Love them! Her mom, step-dad, and brother have such a great dynamic. It’s not often book’s portray families in the way that Holly Jackson did. The family is diverse, loving, and doesn’t have significant drama going on. A lot of books I read, the parents are separated and only one is in the picture, a parent is dead, a parent is abusive, and so on. Not in this family! It was a breath of fresh air to read about the Fitz-Amobi family!
  • The Bell Family: This is the family of Andie, the girl that was murdered five years ago. This family rubs me the wrong way. They went through something tragic, but the way Jackson describes them, especially the dad, just poses them as creepy and not quite right.
  • The Ward Family: This is like a second family to Pippa. She’s known Mr. Ward and his two daughters FOREVER; so long that she is treated as one of their own. I, personally, loved this dynamic as well. I loved the relationship that the Ward sisters had with Pippa and how they just seemed like extended family that lived in a different home.
  • There are some other characters that I’m not going to get into! These are the ones that left the biggest impact on me (enough to want to write about anyway!).

Plot/Writing

  • I don’t really like contemporary novels as much, but I like a good mystery! I had zero clue what to expect when I read the title of this book. However, it did not disappoint! I really appreciated the mixed media format of this book. It made me feel like I was Pippa writing my own capstone project! It was fun to see how she wrote her log entries and interviews, because they were in first person. Then, when it was present timing, the story was written in third person.
  • The topic was unique. I had a billion different theories (all wrong…sigh) building up from the first few pages of the book. Jackson did a nice job investing me, the reader, in the story from the very beginning. Using Pippa’s capstone project as a way to bring back this case was creative and intriguing, especially because it was a high schooler working on it!
  • Jackson did a great job leading the reader on one path but then taking the story in a different path. I thought I had the mystery solved and then Pippa would discover something else and I’d have to start from scratch. It was fun to try and keep track of everything.

Overall:

  • I can’t recommend this book enough! It’s easy to read and follow, and will have you wanting to solve the mystery ASAP! Even if this isn’t usually a book genre you gravitate toward, give it a try!

If you don’t want to read any spoilers, stop here! If you’ve read this book, I’d love to talk about your thoughts and theories with you! It’s always fun to see what others think!

STOP: Spoilers from here on out!

Content/Trigger Warnings for this book: Murder, Suicide, Self-Harm, Adult/Minor Relationships, Sexual Assault, Rape of a Minor, drugs/alcohol, Racism, Verbal/Mental Abuse

My Theories of What Happened in 2014…

I made notes as I read this book, writing out different theories I had as I went. They were all wrong, but at least I tried! Like I said above, Holly Jackson did a great job leading me in one direction and then introducing 5 more ways that the story could go!

Theory 1: Andie faked her death and had her older lover kill Sal so that she could be with the older person. Andie then was alive and living somewhere that no one knew about her.

Theory 2: Andie’s dad killed her. I didn’t have a reason. He was described as a sketchy character and Pippa had me believing it could have been him.

Theory 3: Mr. Ward killed killed Andie. Then, I changed my thoughts to he was in love with her and he thought he saved her, but it was actually the girl that she bullied, that looked a lot like Andie. Then, Andie was impersonating that girl back in their hometown (this one is crazy).

Theory 4: For a hot minute I was worried Ravi may have played some part, but luckily it didn’t take that turn.

Theory 5: The cop killed Andie. She had slept with him and bullied his sister. He had reason to do so, especially since he would know how to hide it better than someone that wasn’t a cop.

Again…all of my theories were VERY wrong, but it was fun trying to piece it all together. I would make a horrible detective and shouldn’t quit my day job…there goes my dreams (kidding). I would love to hear your thoughts on this book if you’ve read it! Let’s talk about theories!