Tag Archives: goodreads

Cozy and Popular How?!: My 1 Star Reads from 2019 (Part 4)

LAST ONE I PROMISE. 

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig

An expanded universe where the Scarlet Pimpernel retires and the Purple Gentian and Pink Carnation take over as British spies in post-revolutionary France? Um, yes. But alas, no. The story switches between a pointless side story about a modern day woman working on her PhD trying to undercover the identity of the Pink Carnation and actual story of the Pink Carnation. The former bored me. The latter is a trashy, bodice ripping romance novel whose very existence besmirches the name of one of the greatest works in the English language. Poor, maligned Percy. 

The Perfect Kiss by Anne Gracie

I moderately enjoyed the first book in this series and decided to give it one more try with The Perfect Kiss. It sucked. The heroine was fine, I guess, but the lover boy was a pushy jerk who couldn’t take no as an answer. Decent writing could not make up for a trash story. 

The Spy Who Loves Me by Julie Kenner

Walter Mitty meets the female James Bond. They fall in love because reasons. The end. Oh wait, no, there is a Bond level villain who wants to start WWIII because reasons? He has a sexy, evil female sidekick who will try and seduce the main lead because…reasons? The end. No? There is a super predictable mole within the agency that the reader will figure out in chapter 1 because..reasons? None of this made sense.

Tightrope by Amanda Quick

Don’t judge this lovely book by its cover. It is terrible. It cannot make up its mind what year it is set in, the dialogue feels super forced, and the romance is insta-lust. Oh, and it is also book 3 in the series but nothing on the book will inform you of this. Sigh. So pretty. So terrible.

The Duke’s Marriage Mission by Deborah Hale

Take the worst parts of The Secret Garden, add it to the worst parts of Jane Eyre, then multiply by ten. I give you this book. Nothing spectacularly wrong with it but also nothing spectacularly right. The couple’s immediate attraction, stupid misunderstandings, and lame fights left me irritated. And the “moral” of the story (marriage doesn’t mean giving up freedom!) came as subtle as a fence post to the head.

Temple of the Dawn by Anne Hampson

I wanted to find some books set in Bangkok, Thailand and I found it surprisingly challenging to do so. This book did not actually disappoint me much there. It was fun reading about places I’ve visited. But the romance! The romance was beyond terrible. I almost did not finish with 6 pages to go. The climax/conclusion of the book was so out of nowhere that to even hint at it would be a big spoiler. But if you want the spoiler, check out my full review on Goodreads and avoid this one.

 


2019 Reading Challenge

I read a lot of books last year! 319, to be exact. Over the next two weeks, this blog is going to be all books all the time as I review the best–and worst–reads of 2019. I have posted my favorite and least favorite reads for six years now, but this year broke a lot of records. So, to help make it more manageable, tomorrow I will post a schedule with what to expect over the next few days. 

Until then, here is a recap of my year!

My 2019 Reading Stats

319 books spanning 91,483 pages. Of the 319, 58 were re-reads

Average rating: 3.3 stars.

Average Book Length: 286 pages.

To Read List: Jumped from 901 to 979. Whoops.

My Favorite Book This Year: Probably Sanditon by Jane Austen and Anne Telscombe but I will have an entire post listing my favorites. 

Most disappointing book: The Big Kahuna by Janet Evanovich 

Best Re-Read: Either Bargain Bride by Evelyn Sibley Lampman or The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis 

Most Read Author: Georgette Heyer (27 different books!)

Best New-To-Me Author: Mary Stewart   

Best Middle School Read: The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty

Longest Read: Understanding Immigration Law and Practice by Ayodele Gansallo at 736 pages (and yes, it is a textbook, but I read it!)

Shortest Read: On Fairy-Stories by J.R.R. Tolkien at a whopping 27 pages

Most Popular Read: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (a re-read) 

Least Popular Read: Mae Om Ki: The Life of the Forest and Ideals of the Justice System by Laofang Bundidterdsakul (I will never again complain when people misspell my last name.)


The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson

If you asked me a week ago why I added The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson  to my to-read list, I would say it recently took my Goodreads friends by a storm and someone or other recommended it to me. 

Image result for the accidental beauty queen

But I just checked and, in fact, only one of my friends has read The Accidental Beauty Queen. The rest simply marked it to read. So who knows why I picked it up. 

Image result for fate destiny a horse

The plot centers on Charlotte, a librarian whose identical twin sister competes in beauty pageants. The beauty pageant twin gets a chance to compete in Miss America  Miss American Treasure and invites Charlotte to come along. Of course you know what happens next. The beauty pageant twin has an allergic reaction and it is up to her Harry Potter-quoting, “nerdy” sister to carry the day and win the crown. 

Final rating: 3/5 stars.

Admittedly I kind of want to hate this book, but it was so fluffy I can’t.

The story represents sheer wish fulfillment. It is the idea that YOU (meek little bookworm) are one spray tan and hair extension away from being Miss America. And who doesn’t want to feel that way?

Further, you don’t even need the spray tan to gain the love of a Super Hawt Billionaire (who adores books and dogs and children) because he will take one look at you and fall for your makeup-less face and Quirky Nerd Girl T-Shirt.

Because Harry Potter is, like, so niche. It takes an English degree to get it.

But actually, Harry Potter references I can forgive. I mean, I cannot name all the dogs in the series at the drop of a hat which the male lead just randomly does. So, good for your super hot billionaire Mr. Gray. (Ugh, but his name is Gray. I don’t think I can forgive that. If your book makes fun of someone for calling 50 Shades of Gray her favorite novel, DON’T NAME YOUR HERO GRAY AND MAKE HIM A BILLIONAIRE.)

I also don’t think I can forgive Charlotte’s description of herself. You see, woe is her, she is the Lizzie to her identical twin sister’s Jane. The Jo to her sister’s Meg.

Such a failure.

But come on. We all know Lizzie is the one to be and Meg is an utter bore. So, you’re telling me this well read, articulate librarian ACTUALLY feels bummed that she is a Lizzie and not Jane? I think not. But then she wouldn’t be this totally down-to-earth, quirky, nerd girl if she ALSO had self-esteem, would she?

(Side note: can we talk about this girl’s genes because she eats however she wants and still can fit into her model sister’s swimsuit and evening gowns for this pageant. If I was the beauty pageant twin and never ate carbs, I’d be super salty.)

But all that aside, this IS wish fulfillment and not even the morally superior tone of our nerd girl, the in-your-face message about how beauty queens are great people too, and the rushed nature of the plot can ruin it. It is sheer fluff and fun. A fast, easy, light-hearted read…basically an adult Disney Channel original movie but as a novel. And for once, actually it is kind of nice to have a 29-year-old heroine take the stage and not another angsty teen or incompetent Sophie Kinsella heroine. 


Old Reviews

It throws me for a loop every time someone likes an old review of mine on Goodreads. Even if it was a review I wrote earlier in the year, I feel surprise. Obviously I know they are out there. I re-read them myself semi-regularly. But I still go, how did you find my review? Why this one? Is this what fame feels like?

Take today. I got likes for My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business by Dick Van Dyke, American Panda by Gloria Chao, The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek, Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean, and Sapphire Blue by Kirsten Gier. So random! And not one like for the book review I just posted. (You can see my real disgruntlement.) 

My review of Sapphire Blue is my big claim to fame, actually. I wrote it in 2012 and it now has 70 likes! Don’t ask me why. I certainly put more thought and articulation into other reviews before and after. But that’s the one that consistently pops up!


My Brush With Fame

If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you know my favorite form of social media is Goodreads, AKA Facebook for books. 

A few weeks ago the most exciting thing ever happened on Goodreads: I got a friend request from Jennifer Kloester. 

AKA the woman who literally wrote the biography about my favorite author, Georgette Heyer. 

AKA arguably the foremost Heyer fan, or at least Heyer expert.*

Then a few days ago, I got a friend request from Rachel Hyland. 

AKA the editor of Heyer Society: Essays on the Literary Genius of Georgette Heyer and author of Reading Heyer: The Black Moth. 

AKA arguably the second most famous Heyer expert.*

I am in the company of geniuses

This is really one of the most exciting things that has ever happened to me. Like, even more exciting than when I got the friend request from Suzanne Allain. And that is still pretty high on the list. 

Here is my dilemma, though. I feel like I need to put more care into the books I read or review. Never mind that I will probably never interact with them. They still sent me (ME!) a friend request! Surely this comes with a special responsibility to not read lousy books..

 

*To be fair I have no backing for this claim except that to my knowledge these are the main people to be published about Heyer. The third is Jane Aiken Hodge but unfortunately she passed away. 


10 Years on Goodreads!

10 years ago, my sister got a Goodreads and recommended I make an account too. My reading has never been the same. 

For those of you who don’t know, goodreads.com is basically social media for books. You can add books you’ve read, mark books want to read, write reviews, read others’ reviews, find books like the books you love, stalk authors…etc. I love how it allows me to categorize books and neatly keep track of things. It also helps me discover new books or shy away from a book based on a negative review from someone I trust.

If you have an account, be sure to friend or follow me

In honor of 10 years, I thought it might be fun to run through a few stats. Over the last decade I have:

  • Added 3,057 books to my read, to read, currently reading, or not going to finish shelves 
  • Marked 2,097 books as read (most of them read over the last 10 years but not all since I did add some books from my grade and middle school years) 
  • Wrote 1,619 reviews of those books
  • Rated 1,849 books (average rating 3.33/5 stars)
  • Made 858 friends 
  • Created over 124 ‘shelves’ to categorize my books
  • Designated 81 “favorite” authors 
  • Spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours happily content in my little book themed world

Yay 10 years!


2019 Reading Goal: Complete

Sooooooooooooooooooooooo, it is March 27th and I completed my yearly reading goal.

Whoops.

Not that I expected to only read 119 books this year. I just did not expect to read 119 books in 3 months.

After all, it took all of 2017 for me to read 119 books. Here I am two years later already there. 

Or in other words, the nearly 31,000 pages I’ve covered means I’m halfway through the total number of pages I read last year (61,000) and last year’s page numbers included textbooks. This year so far does not. 

What does it all mean?  

Well, it goes back to something I posted about last year. The more my life feels out of control, the more I default to books. I can control books. I can control what I read, how fast I read, and how quickly I achieve my reading goals. Achieving a goal I set for myself can feel like a little pocket of serenity amidst the unstable whirlwind of life. 

I often feel like I lack control here in Thailand. And I’m learning to embrace it. Sort of. Slowly. In the meantime, I read. 

Now the real question, do I set another goal? (I mean, obviously I’m aiming for 365 now. But do I make it official? I feel like no.) 


Can’t Wait Wednesday

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they’re books that have yet to be released.

Somewhere Only We Know

Title: Somewhere Only We Know by Maurene Goo

Publishing Date: May 7, 2019 

Goodreads Synopsis: 10 00 p.m.: Lucky is the biggest K-pop star on the scene, and she’s just performed her hit song “Heartbeat” in Hong Kong to thousands of adoring fans. She’s about to debut on The Tonight Show in America, hopefully a breakout performance for her career. But right now? She’s in her fancy hotel, trying to fall asleep but dying for a hamburger.

11 00 p.m.: Jack is sneaking into a fancy hotel, on assignment for his tabloid job that he keeps secret from his parents. On his way out of the hotel, he runs into a girl wearing slippers, a girl who is single-mindedly determined to find a hamburger. She looks kind of familiar. She’s very cute. He’s maybe curious.

12:00 a.m.: Nothing will ever be the same.

 

My Reaction: K-POP STARLET.  Enough said.
(But also, Maurene Goo. I love everything she writes.) 

 

(Is Can’t-Wait Wednesday still a thing? I am just going to hope it is because my sleep deprived brain can’t think of a better blog post right now. Consider yourself spared angst about my paper. Also I just finished typing up some blog posts for the next few days – I apologize in advance for any spelling and grammar errors. I’m seriously sleepy.)

 


I am incapable of making small talk about books

“So do you like to read?” asks the young man at the party.

“Oh yes!” I enthuse. “I’ve read 234…35? books this year so far!” 

“Wow.”

Long, awkward silence.

We’ve already established that he considers himself a reader. But compared to my reading…well…it looks kind of weak. Also he primarily reads comics. 

“What genre do you read the most?” he asks. 

Law,” I want to say. But no, I’m not going to be snarky. I’m trying to make a friend. What do I read a lot of? 

“Mysteries,” I say. No way am I admitting to the amount of fluffy regency novels I consume. 

“Okay! Best mystery?” he asks. 

If you’re looking closely, you can see the steam releasing from gears in my head as I try and answer. Best mystery? There are soooooo many. How do you quantify that? Best cozy mystery? Best noir? Best series? Best detectives? Best plots? And best mystery from when? Over my entire reading history? Over the last year? Over the last month? I’ve read 7 mystery novels this month alone. 

“Anything by Agatha Christie is great,” I finally say, after what I realize comes across as an awkwardly long pause. 

He does not know Agatha Christie. 

Murder on the Orient Express is classic,” I say. “But I don’t recommend the most recent movie.” 

Movies are safe, I think. I’ve only seen so many of those. My brain won’t go into overdrive trying to sort out the right answer. 

Alas, my new friend is determined to be courteous and stick to my favorite subject. “What is the best book you’ve read this year?” 

Shoot. 

I read 236 books this year so far. You think I remember off the top of my head which one was the best? 

“I need to look,” I admit, pulling up my phone. “Do you have the Goodreads app?” 

He does not. He has never heard of it. I try and explain,

“Well, as you can see, I have 1,949 read books on here…” I start. His eyes glaze over. I’ve lost him.

Honestly, I’m lost too. My reading this year has officially pushed me outside of the realm of small talk.


Goodreads Choice Awards

Woo-hoo! 10th Annual Goodreads Choice Awards! Time to pick the best books published in 2018. 

I’m cool. I’ve read over 200 books this year. I like to think I keep on the cutting edge of what is being published. Except…apparently not. 

I recognize the titles, of course. My friends have been raving about Circe by Madeline Miller and My Year Of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh. And hey! I totally borrowed Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis from my sister so it is like I read it. 

And how come My Plane Jane by Cynthia Hand didn’t make it in Best Young Adult Fiction? That book was great. 

I have not heard of any of these memoirs. 

Ah! Best of the Best. The winners from the past 10 years…all 170 of them. Now here is where my reading will really shine. I’ve read…12. 12 out of 170 of the most popular books from the last 10 years. Well, in my defense one of those books is Twilight: The Graphic Novel

Y’all, I need to read more.