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    • By BrandieNoel in Brandie Babbles 1
      Hi Everyone!! 📚
      Whoa! I read A LOT in May!  It was just one of those months where it worked out that way. Some of you may have seen my blog post about the May The Force Read with You Read-a-Thon. I was able to check everything off my list of prompts for that, and had a blast chatting with others in the discord about what we were reading.
      So here is what I read in May and some brief spoiler free thoughts on each book. Have you all read any of these books? I would love to hear your thoughts as well!

      I have been having a great time reading through this series. Even though I am AWFUL at Discord and all things that have to do with social media, I am trying to participate in the discussion with The BookStara Readalongs.  I started Discovery of Witches (book 1) about a year ago and DNF'd it. I am really not even sure why. I am so glad I gave this series another chance. It is pretty good. I am loving the love story, of course, but the creatures, powers, and without spoiling it too much I am always down for some time travel! I am looking forward to hearing the group's thoughts! There is going to be a spoiler filled discussion on June 10th here:

      This was the 24 Hour Read-a-Thon pick for May. It was SO GOOD. Ok, at first I was having trouble with it, the problem was with me. It has been a while since I have read a fantasy book with multiple perspectives, so I found myself getting frustrated rather than just embracing the style. Once I got over it and switched gears it was so much easier to enjoy this book. I did finish it in less than 24 hours. It kept me guessing the whole time...and I was ALWAYS wrong. I couldn't predict what was happening. This is the mark of a great book for me. I had originally gave it 4 stars, but 2 weeks later I am still thinking about it. It deserves 5 stars. Do any of you ever do that? Rate a book and then go back and change it later? I don't know why I think sometimes that my rating should be "set in stone" I am allowed to change my mind right?! Just feels weird for some reason. Here is our midnight kickoff stream to start off the read-a-thon. It is always a fun time!
      This is the second book in the series. I liked it. There is a lot of political intrigue and cultural issues that I enjoy. The story moves a little slow for me and it just feels SO long. There are so many books that I read that are long, and don't feel like they are that long. This one is long and it feels that way. I guess it was dragging for me. There is a relationship between the main character and her "love interest?", that absolutely frustrates me, but in a good way. I like that the relationship is unpredictable and not a "cookie cutter" type of romance. I like when a book makes me feel a certain way, even if the feeling is anger and frustration. I am weird like that.

      Under Locke was my Monthly Mariana Re-read for the month of April. I started the last day in April and finished in May. Still Loved it. I guess I would classify this one as an "enemies to lovers" story.  A grumpy, brooding, jerk of a hero and a lovable, funny heroine with a tragic back story.  I have been thinking a lot lately about the formulaic nature of the romance novel. I don't mind that romance usually follows a formula. But particularly, lately I have been looking for the "3rd act break-up".  I hope it doesn't spoil anything, but I think maybe Mariana books don't really follow a formula as much as others. Maybe that is why I love her writing so much? No 3rd act break up in this one. Maybe it's because it is such a slow burn. I am not sure. Formula or no, I am still loving these books.

      Still one of my favorite Mariana books! This was the Monthly Mariana for May. I just love this book. Another grumpy, brooding, jerk of a hero with a funny and lovable heroine. I love the progression of this story from enemies to friends to lovers. Some of the side characters in this book are just awesome and hilarious. I LOVE Sal's dad. I laughed out loud so many times reading this book. There are also some extremely heartwarming parts and I am not going to lie, there were tears. Stay tuned for my blog post for the next Monthly Marianna, Rhythm, Chord, and Malykin.

      This book has one of my favorite romance tropes, marriage of convenience/fake relationship. That is not a spoiler because you find that out on page one of this book. This was a book that has been on my TBR for a long time. It was a cute story  and an enjoyable read. I always read my romance at night before bed. Romance is my go to for a comfort read so I find it relaxing to read before bed. This was a great book to do that with. I did listen to the audio book for a couple of chapters. It was good, but I find that I don't really enjoy a romance audio book as much as I like to just read a physical book or my kindle. I love to listen to other genres on audio book though. What are your thoughts on this topic? I am interested to know what audio books you all are listening to.

      This was the pick for @Lezlie's Wine and Crime book club this month. I am really loving stepping out of my comfort zone and reading some crime/suspense books. It is such a fun time and I really liked this book. I have been having some issues with sleep lately so it freaked me out a little to read this one, which I loved. I could really relate haha!. It also had a theme that I love in a book or a movie/tv show. I won't say what that is  though because it would be a major spoiler. I read the physical book but mostly listened to to audio book for this one...I have to say the narrator was fantastic and super creepy at times.  Here is the discussion from Lezlie's channel, it is spoiler filled after a certain point, but there is a section at the beginning that is spoiler free.

      I am about to embark on the Tawny Man Trilogy by Robin Hobb, starting with Fools Errand. It was suggested to me by @Derri That I read this short novella before getting started. I just love the story telling of Robin Hobb. I told my husband "this book is a pretty cover with messed up stories inside" haha. The things a character in a Hobb story goes through, geesh! There was some good insight in this book about the origin of a piece of the magic system that can be found in the Farseer lineage.  I have never given a single Robin Hobb book less than five stars at this point. I can always count on the fact that I am really going to enjoy anything that I read in the Realm of the Elderlings so far.

      I have been trying to read at least one classic each month. I enjoyed this one. I watched the movie when I was younger but totally forgot what it was about, so enough time passed that it seemed like a new story. There were parts of this book that I felt dragged on a little and it didn't hold my attention as much as Jane Austen. But I did really like it and I am glad I experienced the book. Maybe I will revisit the movie now.

      I am still enjoying reading through this series. I found this second book to be better than the first. It took some turns and went some places that I was not expecting. It is a quick and to the point read. I am really liking the morally grey nature of the characters and just the story in general. Ready to move on to book three!

      I read this book looking for some new techniques to use in my journey to healing. There are a lot of things in this book that I already do, but it was a nice reminder of things I could be doing to improve the mind/body connection on my path to wellness. I will keep this book around and refer back to it. It will be a good resource to have in my arsenal.

      This was the last book in our journey through the Dark Tower series. Although it was written after the series was complete, it falls between Wizard and Glass and Wolves of the Calla. I am glad though that we saved it for last. I wanted to experience the books in the chronological order that they were written. It was a short and fun little side story, I loved it! Now that I am done with the series I just plan to try and read Stephen King chronologically. Starting with Carrie next month... Hopefully.  Our Ka-tet will be discussing this book too, so keep an eye on the calendar here for that.
      What did you all read in May?!
      Hope you all had a great month!
      Hugs 🤗
    • By BrandieNoel in Brandie Babbles 1
      Hi All!! This month I will be doing a re-read of Kulti. ⚽
      I remember this as being one of my favorites! I'm excited to see if it still is! It was the first sports romance that I have ever read. I wasn't sure if I would like a sports romance because, even though I watch a lot of football and basketball, I am not huge into sports. But Mariana Zapata writes a great sports romance. This one is also an enemies to lovers romance, which I love! As always it is a super slow burn, as are all of her books! I found the main character to be so hard working and very likeable. She is also pretty funny. As usual there is some great banter in this one. I also love the side characters, the father of the heroine just absolutely cracked me up.
      Looking forward to re-reading this one! Let me know what you all think if you read it. As always don't forget to use the spoiler function if you are talking spoilers below.
      Feel free to jump in anytime! These posts will remain, so whether you read these books now or later I will always be here to discuss with you!
      Hugs! 🤗
    • By Steve in Steve's Talks Books 0
      Before we get into the review, we should talk first about Sarah Chorn.  Sarah is an author, editor, blogger, reviewer and editor at Grimdark Magazine.  I don't know how she finds time in the day.
      I wasn't quite sure to what to expect with Seraphina's Lament.  The over looks like a dark fantasy and grimdark mix with a touch of horror.  That's pretty much what it is, but it managed to have me invested in the characters and world in ways that doesn't happen too often.  The story revolves around a group of characters who live in a world of oppression and struggle from a government that controls their lives and livelihoods.  I don't want to say too much about this part of the story because it's something that unravels as you read, but you can feel the oppressive nature of this government and it's control over some of our characters.  The odds are stacked against them and it's just hard to enough to stay alive.  There is little hope at times.  In the darkest of times you'll find glimpses of humanity, people doing their small part knowing in the big picture it's futile but still refusing to bend.
      Sarah's writing style is very lyrical and poetic.  I found myself writing down lines from the book because they were so well constructed and beautiful, sometimes even laughing during a really troubling scene because the word choices were just so clever.
      When I was about halfway through this book, author and friend P.L. Stuart mentioned this book was as dark as Michael R. Fletcher's Beyond Redemption.  At the time I didn't think it was that dark, but after finishing I can agree it's on par with that world in having you feel the hopelessness the characters feel.  There is one death in particular that really got to me.  While reading it my heart was pounding because we could see this death coming for a while now but you almost become accustomed to something happening to prevent this horrible thing from happening to a character you are invested in.  But I also knew Sarah wasn't going to pull any punches and the world that has already been established set the table that this isn't that kind of world.  The final moments of this character was something I didn't want to read but I couldn't put it down.  When it was over, I had to set the book down and walk around for a few minutes. 
      There are different character arcs that we follow, but we spend enough time with each one that switching back and fourth didn't bother me.  When we switch POV's too fast and too often I have difficulty being invested, but that wasn't the case here.  The arcs all come together at some point and everything becomes clear when they do.  The conclusion was very satisfying and left me feeling like I just read a story bigger than what I thought I was reading, left me with questions I didn't expect.  This is one of my favorite books of the year, it will easily make my top 10 or even 5. 
      If you're a fan of dark fantasy, grimdark, fantasy or horror you should give Saraphina's Lament a try.  It's available on Kindle Unlimited and fairly short for a fantasy book, about 344 pages.
  • Blog Comments

    • I am so behind on your blog! It is amazing that you keep this going even when I know you aren't feeling 100% or even 90%. *hugs*

      Anyway, I had a mediocre reading month in May. I just couldn't shake a reading slump that may have been brought on by a bit of burnout. I decided to take it easy in June so we will see how it goes. Anyway, I didn't read most of the books that I was supposed to read with you, but you rated them all 5 stars so I will be making them a priority this month. 

      I have never read Carrie and I also want to read more SK. Maybe I will try to get the audiobook and listen to it in June as well. I was watching Stranger Things 4 last night and I was getting Carrie vibes with what was happening to Eleven in California. 

      Speaking of Stranger Things. Do you watch that show? I haven't finished season 4 yet, but so far I think this is the scariest of the shows history. Which is saying a lot. I have been watching a lot more "TV" in the recent weeks as I slowed down on my reading. Mostly reruns of favorite shows, because I don't feel like investing in anything new. :P

      I am going to wrap up my comment by sharing the only 2 books that I really enjoyed reading in May. The first one I gave 5 stars was Book Lovers by Emily Henry. It was so good. As an avid reader (and fan of Gilmore Girls), I could really relate with one of the characters (I will let you guess which one). But it is also an enemies to friends to lovers romance and it was done soooo well. I highly recommend.

      The second book I gave 5 stars was Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher. This is a fairytale type fantasy that felt like a Grim Brothers story. It is a stand alone (I think), but I wouldn't mind more books about these characters. This book is really about the strength women have. Not physical, but emotional and mentally. Women endure more than we succumb and I think that this story puts that on display. It is also funny and heartwarming while exploring dark themes and atmosphere. I loved the writing style and will definitely be reading more of T. Kingfisher's fantasy. I also recommend the author's horror novel titled The Hollow. I read it last year and really enjoyed it as well. **Note: also humorous, but very dark

      Anyway...thank you Brandie for continuing your blog admit your personal struggles. I really enjoy reading them every month. Cheers to you!

    • "poop, poop, poop!" 😆

    • 2 hours ago, Stacyejaye said:

      So, my son started reading The Hobbit a few days ago. He is doing immersion reading with the Serkis audiobook. I have never seen him this excited about a book. He loves to read and he has many favorites, but this one I think is special because he has been a big fan of LOTR, but had struggled to read it in the past. He was only 6 or 7 at the time. We tried the audiobooks before, but he didn't like the narrator. Now with Andy Serkis, it is fun and he brings the story to life. Even the songs are fun to listen to!

      I read a lot of the books you have on here lol, but I want to share my thoughts on The Dark Tower. This book also wrecked me. I sobbed, SOBBED, while reading it. Maybe it was hormones, but I like to give credit to the author who made characters that felt so real that I genuinely mourned the end of this series. I am very seriously considering re-reading this whole series, but this time reading the connected books along the way. I have been wanted to re-read The Stand, but the original version. So maybe I will start there.

      I love how the Council of High Ladies has evolved. Our readathons have always been fun and I look forward to them every month. What do you think about us going back and doing check in shows and sprints? Maybe just on discord?

      I can't say enough how amazing Andy Serkis is. My daughter is listening too. My son has a strong aversion to audio books. He is almost done with fellowship.

      I am thinking that I will definitely go through Amanda's list and at the very least read all of the connected books that I missed. I too was so invested in all of the characters. He really made us love them all even the ones we are supposed to hate.

      I am up for anything as far as the read a thons go. I sometimes have trouble doing youtube check ins if Steve has other stuff going on and I can't use his set up. But I personally try to make myself available all weekend to discuss and read and hopefully finish the entire book. I do look forward to it every month. It is my one thing that everybody in my house knows I'm checked out for the weekend. It's my mom break every month! HA HA

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