The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik

The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik
Series: The Scholomance #2
Publisher: Del Rey Books, Hardcover, 388 pages

Galadriel is used to the Scholomance having it out for her, but in her senior year it’s worse than ever. She can’t seem to get through a single day without something trying to kill her. It’s really making her plans to buckle down and figure out how to survive through graduation pretty difficult to achieve. Maybe the answer lies in going a completely unexpected route…

I still love this series, so so much. This book was very enjoyable to read and I just love to see what is coming next. I knew that something crazy was going to happen, but I did not quite expect this to take the turn it ended up taking and I am so curious to see if there is going to be some fallout from that in the next one, or what… where are we going from here?

One of my favorite parts of book one was seeing the friendship between El, Aadhya, and Liu develop throughout the story, and we get a lot more of that in book two along with the addition of Chloe into their friend group. Seeing these girls learn from each other and work together as they try to figure out the best way to survive was wonderful, and quite humorous at times. Additionally, we also get some information about tensions among different wizard enclaves throughout the world that give us a better idea of why things happened the way they did in this book, but I think it will also be important in the next one. Plus the school… it’s basically a character in its own right. How the students interact with the school and vice versa becomes really intriguing in this book.

Admittedly, I don’t think this was quite as amazing as book one across the board, but there is more of that sarcastic, dark academia feel as the first book had. The writing also kept me wanting to pick this book up and read which did keep me entertained and interested in the world, story, and characters. I really appreciate the way that everything seems to be coming together in the world as a whole. I cannot wait for book three to come out (and I can’t wait to reread these first two ahead of that release!). 5/5 stars.

The Scholomance Series:
1. A Deadly Education
2. The Last Graduate
3. The Golden Enclaves (Expected publication 9/27/22)

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Wishes

It’s time for another Top Ten Tuesday and this weeks topic is bookish wishes, so ten books that I want to own. Part of the prompt mentions including a link to our wishlist in case someone wants to make a wish come true, however I’d rather anyone who wants to do that donate a book to your local school system or library in need. …And because it’s important to practice what you preach, I made my donation to one of the city library systems in my state. 🙂

Without further adieu, here are ten (plus) books that I want to acquire.

1. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones: I keep hearing about this book lately and ended up checking out the synopsis out of curiosity, now it’s constantly in my brain and I have to have it.
2. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: I don’t know a ton about this book because I want to go in it knowing as little as possible, but I always hear great things about it and I need a copy of it for myself to read.
3. Harry Potter Hardcover trunk box set: As if I need another set of the Harry Potter series, but seriously, the trunk of hardcover HP books is beautiful and I’d love to have it in my collection!
4. The Weight of a Thousand Oceans by Jillian Webster: I’d be lying if I said the cover of this book isn’t what originally brought it to my attention, however the synopsis is quite intriguing as well and I do want to acquire a copy of this for my collection.

5. To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by Christopher Paolini: Speaking of books with beautiful covers and an intriguing synopsis…

6. The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter: This sounds like the ultimate underdog going for the big move fantasy series and I can’t wait to pick up a copy.
7. The Perfect Predator by Steffanie Strathdee: This is a non-fiction that I’ve been wanting to pick up for some time. The authors husband picked up a horrible multi-drug antibiotic-resistant bacteria while they where on vacation and her determination to save him, which she managed to make happen via phage therapy – which for the record is amazing in its own right.
8. A Pleasure and A Calling by Phil Hogan: This is a mystery/thriller where the realtor who was super helpful when buying your house helped himself too… to a third key to the home he sold you… that he keeps. Totally creepy and I am here for it.
9. Penguin Clothbound Classics: I have some of the Clothbound classics, but I am far from having a full collection, but they are gorgeous and I’d love to have a full set someday… you know when I’m not paying student loans and the like anymore.
10. Penguin Drop Caps: I think everyone knows about the drop caps at this point, and they are beautiful books, but I won’t let myself buy any because once I start I will be determined to acquire the full collection.

What are some of the books that you really want to have? Are there any on this list that I should buy before the others?

Until next time, Happy Reading!

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I Want To Read, but Haven’t

Happy Tuesday y’all! This weeks Top Ten Tuesday is books I wish had an epilogue, but in general I am finicky about epilogues and could only come up with one title. So, in light of my failure at that topic I’m picking a previous weeks topic: Authors I haven’t read, but want to.

1. Brandon Sanderson: I keep buying Brandon Sanderson books, but haven’t actually read any of them yet much to my own dismay.
2. Stephen King: This is probably one of my biggest shames, but I have never read a Stephen King novel. I think a big part of it is that I have such high expectations that I’m worried about being disappointed if I do pick one up and don’t end up enjoying it.
3. N.K. Jemisin: I purchased the Inheritance Trilogy after hearing many great things about it and Jemisin’s other books.
4. Tana French: I’ve had my eye on the Dublin Murder Squad books for a while.
5. Jo Nesbø: A friend of mine swears by the Harry Hole books and one of these days I will read them.
6. Kim Harrison: Fantasy, paranormal, romance… by all reports her books have it all. What more could I want?
7. Andrzej Sapkowski: 100% this is because I watched The Witcher without reading the books, and I really like the show. If these books follow the normal trend of being better than the show, I imagine I’ll be infatuated.
8. Madeline Miller: I haven’t heard a bad word about any of Miller’s books and really want to pick them up.
9. Michael Chabon: I’m so intrigued by the blurbs of Chabon’s books, particularly The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.
10. Isaac Asimov: Asimov is probably one of the most classic and well known sci-fi authors out there. I’ve been collecting books for some time, but have yet to read any of them.

Are there any authors you want to read, but haven’t yet?

Until next time, Happy Reading!

Top Ten Tuesday: Titles of Time

Happy Tuesday! This weeks Top Ten Tuesday is books with a measure of time in the title. For this week I am going to share five books on my To Be Read list with units of time in the title.

1. In Five Years by Rebecca Serle: This is the story of a woman who goes to sleep, wakes up five years in the future to see a very different life, but wakes again an hour later back in her normal life and follows the aftermath of that hour glimpse into her future.
2. Day for Night by Frederick Reiken: This one was a surprise to me because it’s on my TBR on Goodreads, but honestly I don’t remember putting it there! That said, having read the synopsis again, it sounds intriguing. This is the story of a woman who as a child fled Europe with her mother during World War II, who years later believes she may have found her father who was believed to have been killed during the war.
3. Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon: This is another book that I don’t actually remember putting on my TBR on Goodreads, but sounds intriguing. When Sophie finds out that she is a match to donate a kidney to her best friend she doesn’t think twice, but life after Peter’s transplant doesn’t turn out quite how the two thought it would.
4. For Two Thousand Years by Mihail Sebastian: For Two Thousand Years is the story of a Romanian Jew as he faces growing anti-semitic messages and finds that his place in the world may not be so sure.
5. The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg: I have this thing where I buy Elizabeth Berg novels because they sound SO good, but I haven’t ready any of them… much to my shame. This one is the story of a woman recently widowed who relocates and tries to reclaim the small joys of life.
6. The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood: This is the follow up to Oryx and Crake which I have not read yet, but takes place in some type of dystopian/post apocalyptic world if I’m not mistaken. I’ve purposely stayed away from too many details on this one as I’d like to go in blind.
7. Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink: Five Days at Memorial is the story of the five days following Hurricane Katrina and the challenges faced at Memorial Medical Center prior to being evacuated.
8. One Moment Please by Amy Daws: This is part of a series of rom-com style romances that are slightly awkward, but quite endearing!
The last two I’m bending the rules for for two very different reasons!
9. The Weekend by Bernhard Schlink: I wanted to mention this one because I’ve only read one book by Bernhard Schlink (The Reader) which was AMAZING and I really want to read more of his books. Also a weekend does technically amount to a set amount of time!
10. The Map of Time by Félix J. Palma: Admittedly, I don’t know much about these books, they are fantasy, but that is all that I know other than the books themselves are gorgeous. I’ve had this book on my shelves for a criminal amount of time without having read it, but I look at it all the time, because it really is a gorgeous book. And, time is in the title!

Have you read any of these, or do you have any favorite books with units of time in the title?

Until next time, Happy Reading!

May 2022: Month in Review

Despite being sick, May was a pretty good month for me as far as getting re-established here and getting some decent reading in.

This month I read:

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan 4/5 stars
The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan 4/5 stars
A Deadly Educaton by Naomi Novik 5/5 stars
The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik 5/5 stars
The Radium Girls by Kate Moore 5/5 stars
King of Midnight by Lara Adrian. Rating 3.5-4/5 stars (undecided on the final rating so far)
Started, but did not finish The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan – read 141/690 pages

I also re-read two ebook favorites and read a new (to me) romance ebook: Dadbod by Kayt Miller which was entertaining enough, but there were some aspects that I found to be unnecessary and don’t think served a purpose while other things were very well done. 3.5/5 stars

All in all, a very decent reading month for me.
Total books read: 7 (not including re-reads)
Total pages read: 3502 pages (3933 pages including re-reads)

This month I hauled:

…Many new books. I definitely did some book shopping this month, but who am I kidding…. I’m always happy to buy books!

First I bought the rest of The Wheel of Time books, this is book 4-14, plus the prequel. I read the first two books in May and started book three, so of course, why wait to buy more or buy only the next box set of three when I can buy ALL of them? I’m no rookie! Also, I have no bookish self-control and I’m okay with it.

1. Leviathan Wakes, Caliban’s War, Abaddon’s Gate by James S. A. Corey: I purchased the first three books of The Expanse series after reading Cyberkitten’s review and hearing a review on booktube (and because I found the box set for a very decent cost on Thriftbooks shortly after, we love it). I had seen a preview for the show a while back and was intrigued, but did not realize they were books until recently.

2. A Deadly Education and The Last Graduate by Naomi Novik: I also purchased (and read) the first two books in The Scholomance series by Naomi Novik which I loved, loved, loved. I did pre-order the third book, but I have to wait until the end of September!

3. The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson: I have an ebook of this, but I really wanted a hardcopy to read this one so I purchased (another, oops!) copy of The Way of Kings (and no we won’t discuss the fact that my damning existing copy can be seen in the bottom left of this photo).

4. Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin: Please Look After Mom is a book that takes place in South Korea about a mother that goes missing and her family’s attempts to find her. It sounds so interesting from the little bit that we get in the blurb.

5. For the Wolf by Hannah Whitten: I don’t actually know a ton about For the Wolf, but from what I can gather its a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, but in a fantasy land? I think. I’ll find out when I read it!

I did order some other books from The Book Depository, but they haven’t arrived yet, so I’ll wait until next month to talk about those (and the audiobooks that go along with them!).

Non-bookishness:

Listening to: I’ve been working on my backlog of the Ologies podcast which I am woefully behind on during my evening walks. Of particular note, the Testudinology (Tortoises!) and Cheloniology (Sea Turtles – Surtles!) episodes were AMAZING. I had no idea.

Watching: I don’t watch much TV these days it seems, in fact I have probably 25 shows that I’ve started at some point here or there, but never finished, go me. That said, I did watch the first two episodes of The Wheel of Time, to fit with this months non-stop Robert Jordan theme and I am reserving judgment at this point, but clearly we are going to be missing A LOT from the books based on the first two episodes. I watched a bit of How the Universe Works as well. There is nothing better than seeing science nerds get nerdy about their science for us nerdy laymen. Also, it rains on Saturn’s atmosphere?! What?!

Do you have any notable reads, bookish purchases, or other non-bookish things from May?

Until next time, Happy Reading!

Top Ten Tuesday: Comfort Reads

This weeks Top Ten Tuesday is all about comfort reads. This can be qualities that we look for in books, or specific books we re-read when we need to take some time. I am going to go half and half for this topic, five qualities I look for in comfort reads and 5 books/series that I always go back to. As a definite mood reader who regularly uses reading as a method of relaxation, I certainly have some opinions of what works for me.

Five books/series I revisit for comfort reading:

1. Moonshine Task Force Series by Laramie Briscoe: These books (and the spin off series) are romances that take place among a group of police officers in Alabama. They all have very different personalities and I really love the characters. They’re also very easy to read. These are always a favorite if I need to shut the brain down for a bit.
2. Pride & Predjudice by Jane Austen: This is one of my favorite books of all time and I reread this every few years because I just love reading about Lizzie who has so much wit, spine, and spunk.
3. Cafe Series by Jana Aston: These are also romances and they are really fun to read and Aston is not afraid to go there for lack of a better term. They were very refreshing for me as far as contemporary romance is concerned, and I love the characters, particularly the leading ladies of these so I revisit them regularly.
4. Night’s Child by Cate Tiernan: This is the last book of one of my favorite series that I read when I was about 13-14 and takes place several years after the events of the other books in the series. That series stuck with me through my teenage years and into adulthood and to this day I read this book at least once a year.
5. Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling: Everyone’s favorite boy wizard and one of the first things I read as a kid that turned me into a lifetime reader. These days I usually listen to the audio books when I’m cleaning, working, etc. or when I need something to perk me up.

Five things I look for in comfort reads:

1. Characters: I want relatable characters, generally with a good dose of humor for a comfort read.
2. Easy to read: If I want a comfort read, I’m not interested in something that is dense and difficult to read or something trying to impress with fancy language. I want a book that I can dig into and just read and fly through.
3. World building: If I’m seeking out something that is fantasy or paranormal-esque for my comfort read, or even a story occurring in the real world I want there to be a realistic sense of where things are based on the book. If I’m reading and the setting and world are too unrealistic or far-fetched it’s going to kill my enjoyment, and therefore the sense of comfort I was looking for.
4. Plot: Similar to world building I want things to be happening without everything feeling too far-fetched.
5. Fun: This probably goes without saying, but if I’m reading for comfort, I want to have fun with the story. Reading it, thinking about it, etc. I’m generally not reaching for a tear-jerker or a non-fiction when I’m looking for a comfort read.

Do you have any books that you revisit for comfort, or qualities that you prefer in a comfort read?

Until next time, Happy Reading!

Weekend Reading Teaser: May 29th

It’s a holiday weekend which means that I have a whopping two days off so I’m planning to dig into The Dragon Reborn and see how much I can read over these next two days. Here’s to more Wheel of Time.

“I know why people think Aes Sedai are puppetmasters. I can almost feel the strings on my arms and legs. Whatever they do, it will be what they decide is good for the White Tower, not what is good or fair for us.
But you still want to be Aes Sedai. Don’t you?”

from page 149 of The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan

Happy Reading!

The Radium Girls by Kate Moore

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Paperback, 477 pages

The year is 1917 and The Great War rages on. Meanwhile, in Orange, NJ, USA young women are thrilled to gain employment painting watch and clock faces as well as aeronautical equipment with luminescent paint. There was money to be made, good money and for women in 1917 with their whole lives ahead of them, what could better? What the women in Orange, NJ and later Waterbury, CT and Ottawa, IL, and New York City didn’t know was that the paint, which was made with radium, was probably going to kill them.

This is one of the most important books I have ever read. I knew a little bit about the story having heard about this book when I listened to the Radiation episode of This Podcast Will Kill You, but that barely scratched the surface of what these women endured. It also didn’t prepare me. I knew going into this book that it was going to be tough, but there were parts of this book that are fucking difficult to read. And really, that’s how it should be, because many of these women were victimized and then re-victimized and blamed over and over and over for something that they couldn’t have stopped because they didn’t know. In fact, they were outright lied to.

It’s difficult to put a lot of my thoughts about this book into review form, especially since a fair number of my review notes are along the lines of “wtf, wtf, wtf” and “fuck these old rich white guys who think they can do whatever they want.” That said, the author does an amazing job of bringing to light how strong these women are and how important their sacrifices are. Because these women fought the system, new industrial safety standards were created, research on the effects of radioactivity on the bodies of these women told us more about the potential dangers of exposure than we could have ever known otherwise. This is all in the face of men and corporations that fought to discredit their every word, even given the fact that many of the women were literally disintegrating in front of them.

For a book that handles such a difficult topic it was very easy to read. The way that Moore wrote this, it’s compelling. I knew I was going to end up getting teary eyed, but I still wanted to pick it up to find out what happened next. This isn’t just some dry rehashing of the legal cases the women fought, this book is about their lives. About the impact that their work painting with radium paints and using the lip-pointing techniques they were taught had on their lives, on their ability to be wives and mothers, and productive members of their society. It’s also candid. These women struggled and Moore does not sugarcoat that struggle. The words that detail their pain, fear, even hopelessness hit your insides with all the force they ought to. I felt every word I read in this book.

The Radium Girls tells a very important story, but it does more than that. This book is the definition of why science communication and literacy is SO important, even today. If you have the knowledge to make better, safer decisions a multitude of pain and suffering can be prevented. We can learn lots of lessons here. We NEED to learn lots of these lessons as a whole. This is truly inspiring, and honestly, I don’t think I will ever do anything as important in my life as these women did in theirs.

All in all, this is an important story that needed to be told and was told in a respectful, but compelling way. 100% worth a read. 5/5 stars.

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Quotes From Books

This weeks Top Ten Tuesday theme is bookish quotes. Today I’ll be sharing a handful of my favorite tidbits from Books. While I’m sure there are more quotes out there that I could put here, I realized as I was trying to compile this post that I do not have a good system for keeping track of quotes. In fact, this topic really makes me regret not having utilized the quotes feature on Goodreads before. Something that I suspect will be changing in the very near future.

For now, here are five of my favorite bookish lines.

1. “And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.” From The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. Of course this HAS to be number one – after all I have this quote tattooed on me as it stuck with me always once I read Perks as a teen.

2. “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” From Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. The irony of this quote from P&P is not just how true it is for bookworms all over, but that the statement is made by none other than Miss Bingley in her attempts to garner the attentions of one Mr. Darcy who’s not even remotely interested and ends up with a true bookworm of his own. Classy.

3. “On the night before she had left Moscow, when Sofia had expressed her distress at what her father wanted her to do, he had attempted to console her with a notion. He had said that our lives are steered by uncertainties, many of which are disruptive or even daunting; but that if we persevere and remain generous of heart, we may be granted a moment of supreme lucidity – a moment in which all that has happened to us suddenly comes into focus as a necessary course of events, even as we find ourselves on the threshold of a bold new life that we had been meant to lead all along.” From A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. This book is full of quotes just as thought-provoking as this one and it is truly one of the best books I have ever read. It’s been about 2.5 years since I first read it and I still think about it regularly.

4. “I’d found my person. She was the foundation. She was the thing that all other things are built on. Everything was secondary to being with her. It didn’t matter where I worked or if I liked my job, where I lived or how many kids I had. My happiness, my sanity, my well-being – it all started with her. And now that I knew that, I didn’t want to just be her boyfriend – I wanted everything.” From The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez. This book is easily one of the top five romances I have ever read while taking on difficult topics regarding health issues and loss with a sense of competency (for lack of a better word) unlike anything else I’ve read. Plus, it’s just sweet.

5. “The truth was no one, no one, knew fear like muses. Fear was an operation of the imagination, the ability to see an empty space and imagine. Imagine what might be there, the possibilities filling in what reality left blank. To be afraid was an exercise of self-inspired suffering, and Brevity wore inspiration in her skin.” From The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith. Even though I’ve been taking my sweet sweet time to read this book and still haven’t picked it up to finish, this one is full of great quotes and one-liners.

Have you read any of these? What are some of your favorite bookish tidbits?

Until next time, Happy Reading!

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik

A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik
Series: The Scholomance #1
Publisher: Del Ray, Paperaback, 313 pages

Galadriel is just trying to survive until graduation, she’s not interested in worshipping at the heels of Orion Lake, savior of all at the Scholomance, whether they want it or not. If she wanted she could level the school and everyone in it, she does not need his protection. This year though, things don’t seem to be going quite to plan. And that means dealing with Orion Lake saving her life, more than once.

This book is everything. Everything I never knew I was looking for, but am so so glad to have found. I don’t quite know how to describe this, but the best I can come up with in relative terms is if all of Harry Potter took place in the maze from the Triwizard Tournatment, but 1000 times deadlier and more interesting magic. It’s amazing. The school is this living thing almost, there aren’t teachers guiding you, the school itself is guiding you, but if you don’t pay attention the school is going to screw you over. There are also tons of magical creatures, but most of them are going to try to kill you. In fact, chances are good that you’re NOT going to make it to graduation without the help of your classmates looking out for you and even then it gets questionable. I also love how the magic works in this book. Everything has a cost, and if you cheat – well, that has a cost too.

Galadriel, or El for short, our main character is so refreshing. She’s not perfect, and she isn’t going to try to be for anyone. She’s certainly not going to go out of her way to be nice to you if she doesn’t feel like it. She’s just so human, for a wizard that could pretty easily kill anything and anyone in her path. I loved watching the bond between El, Aadhya, and Liu grow throughout the whole story and look forward to seeing their bond grow more in the next book (hopefully!).

The writing, the pacing, everything that was happening was great. The book doesn’t take itself too seriously, except for when it needs to. There is this great sarcasm, which I’m ALWAYS here for. The author also brings this world to life through her descriptions of how magic, or the school, or creatures can exist.

Wizards don’t have faith in magic. We believe in magic, the way mundanes believe in cars.

page 191

It’s these tidbits that bring everything to life and kept me reading. There was no point during my read, which took all of two evenings after work because I was so enjoying this, that I wanted to put the book down. Even if there was something I didn’t like, I don’t know if I could dock points off this book. I truly enjoyed this book with all of my being and cannot wait to read book two. I cannot recommend this book enough. 5/5 stars.

The Scholomance Series:
1. A Deadly Education
2. The Last Graduate
3. The Golden Enclaves (Expected publication September 27, 2022)