Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Top 5 Tuesday: Series I Need to Finish


Today I've chosen to participate in Top 5 Tuesday, originally hosted by BionicBookworm, now hosted by MeeghanReads

This week's theme is: Series I Need to Finish

So I started putting this list together and realized that I have finished almost none of the series I put on this list year. Big fail for me, haha. Fortunately for all of us, I am apparently not even close to being a completist and read a lot of series and have plenty of other unfinished series to feature on this list for this year, so let's check them out! I would also like to appreciate how cohesive each series is with their covers, they really did a great job with all of them. If you want to see what series I've also failed to finish from last year, you can check out last year's post here

Chronicles of the Bitch Queen by K.S. Villoso
I read the first two around their respective publication dates, but when the third book arrived at my door apparently something in my brain said, "wow, that's huge, better procrastinate on that," and I've yet to pick it up. I really want to finish this trilogy, though, so I would love to get to it this year. 

Prince of Nothing series by R. Scott Bakker
I'm including this one on this year's list even though I also had it on last year's because I actually really want to finish this series. I would say this is probably one of my highest priorities to finish, so let's see if I can actually do it. 

The Divide by J.S. Dewes
I enjoyed The Last Watch so much that I'm almost legitimately mad at myself for not reading the sequel yet. I literally just finished an ARC of Dewes' upcoming March release, Rubicon, and I still haven't finished the previous duology that I supposedly really love. I will get to it this year. 

Kingdom of Grit by Tyler Whitesides
I finally got around to re-reading the first book in this trilogy last year via audiobook and it was so much fun! I forgot how fun this series was and now I'm really keen to finally get around to finishing it. 

Teixcalaan series by Arkady Martine
I think I've been hesitant to pick up the sequel to A Memory Called Empire because I already feel a little fuzzy on the detail of this space opera duology, and I feel like I'd miss out on a lot if I'm not aware of all the complexities present in the world... so hopefully I can gather the courage to read it this year. Maybe. 

Have you read any of these series (or started them?) What series are you hoping to finish? Let me know!

Monday, January 30, 2023

Review: The Spite House by Johnny Compton


The Spite House
 by Johnny Compton
Tor Nightfire
Publication Date: February 7th, 2023
Hardcover. 272 pages.

About The Spite House:

"Eric Ross is on the run from a mysterious past with his two daughters in tow. Having left his wife, his house, his whole life behind in Maryland, he’s desperate for money–it’s not easy to find safe work when you can’t provide references, you can’t stay in one place for long, and you’re paranoid that your past is creeping back up on you. 

When he comes across the strange ad for the Masson House in Degener, Texas, Eric thinks they may have finally caught a lucky break. The Masson property, notorious for being one of the most haunted places in Texas, needs a caretaker of sorts. The owner is looking for proof of paranormal activity. All they need to do is stay in the house and keep a detailed record of everything that happens there. Provided the house’s horrors don’t drive them all mad, like the caretakers before them. 

The job calls to Eric, not just because there’s a huge payout if they can make it through, but because he wants to explore the secrets of the spite house. If it is indeed haunted, maybe it’ll help him understand the uncanny power that clings to his family, driving them from town to town, making them afraid to stop running. A terrifying Gothic thriller about grief and death and the depths of a father’s love, Johnny Compton’s The Spite House is a stunning debut by a horror master in the making."

The Spite House is a perfectly spooky Gothic haunted house story that hit all the right notes. There's a bit of mystery, some untrustworthy characters, and of course plenty of haunting. I liked this take on the classic trope of people staying in a haunted house to see if it's really haunted, and Compton created a delightfully dark and creepy atmosphere that was present from page one.

The Spite House follows Eric Ross and his two daughters, Dess and Stacy, as they live a life on the run after running away from their previous life in Maryland. Eric has left his wife, the mother of his children, behind and is constantly searching for a new place to work and live where the three can stay under the radar, which often leads to them constantly moving around to new areas. One day, Eric comes across an ad for the Masson House which curiously requests someone to live in the house for one year and document any and all paranormal activity. Eric jumps at the chance–not only is it a place to live, but the pay is more than he could make anywhere else. Little do they know that living at the Masson House will prove to be much more than any of them could have bargained for.

A spite house, in case you don't know, is a building built solely to aggravate and annoy neighbors or surrounding building owners. They are often built in weird designs or as excessively narrow buildings in order to fit into random spaces meant to, well, spite those they desire to irritate. I think this would also include houses that may have been painted in really annoying or flashy colors that would irritate neighbors as well. I was vaguely aware of spite houses before this book, but I had a lot of fun looking up more about them and checking out some pictures.

The Spite House jumps around different POVs throughout the book with a variety of characters in addition to our main viewpoints of Stacy, Dess, and Eric, and I enjoyed getting some small tidbits into what was going on in other people's heads regarding the events of the story. That being said, I felt like some of those alternate POVs may have served the story better if they had been done slightly less often and more rarely in order to offer up some additional information at specifics moments. I did, however, really appreciate getting to hear from Eric, Dess, and Stacy, and I thought their insights were incredibly vital and compelling. I particularly liked hearing Eric's thoughts and his reasonings behind many of his decisions regarding being on the run and keeping his children safe. Although I sometimes question his choice to move his children into a known haunted house, I really appreciated seeing his love and dedication to them shine through.

The pacing of The Spite House was definitely on the slower side for the majority of the story, but it kept plodding along at a fairly consistent rate that I felt worked well for the slow build up of tension it required. The only exception I'd say to the slower pacing is that the house sort of... awoke (?) much sooner than I expected and also in ways I didn't expect, so that was a nice surprise. I personally found the first half of the book a little more engaging than the latter portions, but that's not to say that the latter half wasn't strong (it just depends on what your preferences are!). There's also a lot of backstory and information that is presented that sometimes feels a little hard to keep up with, but that does eventually all pay off. For all the build-up that occurs, I did feel that the later climactic events and big reveals happened pretty suddenly and didn't leave much room for exploration. Things get considerably weirder as this book goes on as well, and just when you think you might have an idea of what's going on... well, you probably don't. I loved that this book really kept me on my toes and actually did some different things.

Overall, I've given The Spite House four stars! This is a great addition to the haunted house subgenre of horror and is a great slow burn that doesn't leave anything behind. 

*I received a copy of The Spite House courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Buy the book: Amazon | Bookshop.org

Friday, January 27, 2023

Anticipated February 2023 Releases

February is absolutely packed with awesome releases this year and even though I attempted to start reading 2023 ARCs early this year, I'm already behind and will forever be behind, but that's okay. I will never complain about having too many awesome books on the horizon, so let's just go ahead and check them out! What books are you most excited to read in February?

Don't Fear the Reaper by Stephen Graham Jones || February 7th -- Amazon Bookshop.org

The Tyranny of Faith (Empire of the Wolf #2) by Richard Swan || February 14th -- Amazon Bookshop.org

A Day of Fallen Night by Samantha Shannon || February 28th -- Amazon Bookshop.org

The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty || February 28th -- Amazon Bookshop.org

Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes || February 7th -- Amazon Bookshop.org

The Last Tale of the Flower Bride by Roshani Chokshi || February 14th -- Amazon Bookshop.org

Endless Song by Joshua Phillip Johnson || February 14th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

Wildblood by Lauren Blackwood || February 7th -- Amazon Bookshop.org

The Magician's Daughter by H.G. Parry || February 28th -- Amazon Bookshop.org

How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix || February 17th -- Amazon Bookshop.org

The Crane Husband by Kelly Barnhill || February 28th -- Amazon Bookshop.org

Our Share of Night by Mariana Enriquez || February 7th -- Amazon | Bookshop.org

Boy in a White Room by Karl Olsberg || February 7th -- Amazon Bookshop.org

The Island by Natasha Preston || February 28th -- Amazon Bookshop.org

She Is a Haunting by Trang Thanh Tran || February 28th -- Amazon Bookshop.org

Wolfish: Wolf, Self, and the Stories We Tell About Fear by Erica Berry || February 21st -- Amazon Bookshop.org

The Curse of the Marquis de Sade by Joel Warner || February 21st -- Amazon Bookshop.org

The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz || February 21st -- Amazon Bookshop.org

Where Darkness Blooms by Andrea Hannah || February 21st -- Amazon Bookshop.org

Revelle by Lyssa Mia Smith || February 14th -- Amazon Bookshop.org

Nightbirds by Kate J. Armstrong || February 28th -- Amazon Bookshop.org

My Last Innocent Year by Daisy Alpert Florin || February 14th -- Amazon Bookshop.org

Nocturne by Alyssa Wees || February 21st -- Amazon Bookshop.org

Delicious Monsters by Liselle Sambury || February 28th -- Amazon Bookshop.org

Such Pretty Flowers by K.L. Cerra || February 7th -- Amazon Bookshop.org

My Flawless Life by Yvonne Woon || February 14th -- Amazon Bookshop.org

Brutes by Dizz Tate || February 7th -- Amazon Bookshop.org

What are your anticipated February releases?

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Curse of the Marquis de Sade by Joel Warner, Boy in a White Room by Karl Olsberg, & The Island by Natasha Preston


 Can't-Wait is a weekly meme hosted by Wishful Endings that spotlights exciting upcoming releases that we can't wait to be released! This meme is based off of Jill @ Breaking the Spine's Waiting on Wednesday meme.

This week's upcoming book spotlights are: 

The Curse of the Marquis de Sade: A Notorious Scoundrel, a Mythical Manuscript, and the Biggest Scandal in Literary History by Joel Warner
Publication: February 21st, 2023
Crown Publishing Group
Hardcover. 304 pages.
Pre-order: Amazon | Bookshop.org

From Goodreads:
"Described as both “one of the most important novels ever written” and “the gospel of evil,” 120 Days of Sodom was written by the Marquis de Sade, a notorious eighteenth-century aristocrat who waged a campaign of mayhem and debauchery across France, evaded execution, and inspired the word “sadism,” which came to mean receiving pleasure from pain. Despite all his crimes, Sade considered this work to be his greatest transgression.

The original manuscript of 120 Days of Sodom, a tiny scroll penned in the bowels of the Bastille in Paris, would embark on a centuries-spanning odyssey across Europe, passing from nineteenth-century banned book collectors to pioneering sex researchers to avant-garde artists before being hidden away from Nazi book burnings. In 2014, the world heralded its return to France when the scroll was purchased for millions by Gérard Lhéritier, the self-made son of a plumber who had used his savvy business skills to upend France’s renowned rare-book market. But the sale opened the door to vendettas by the government, feuds among antiquarian booksellers, manuscript sales derailed by sabotage, a record-breaking lottery jackpot, and allegations of a decade-long billion-euro con, the specifics of which, if true, would make the scroll part of France’s largest-ever Ponzi scheme.

Told with gripping reporting and flush with deceit and scandal, The Curse of the Marquis de Sade weaves together the sweeping odyssey of 120 Days of Sodom and the spectacular rise and fall of Lhéritier, once the “king of manuscripts” and now known to many as the Bernie Madoff of France. At its center is an urgent question for all those who cherish the written word: As the age of handwriting comes to an end, what do we owe the original texts left behind?

I love some history and I especially love when it's something to do with books or manuscripts or anything literary. This sounds like a fascinating read.

Boy in a White Room by Karl Olsberg
Publication: February 7th, 2023
Chicken House
Hardcover. 256 pages.
Pre-order: Amazon | Bookshop.org

From Goodreads:
A fifteen-year-old boy wakes to find himself locked in a white, cube-shaped room. No windows. No doors. Total silence. He has no memories. No clue how he got there. No idea who he is.

A computer-generated voice named Alice responds to his questions. Through her, he is able to access the internet. As the boy uncovers snippets of his story--an attempted abduction, a critial injury, a murder -- it becomes clearer. But when some of the pieces don't fit, how can he tell what's real and what's not? Who can he trust? And who is he really?

This was originally published in Germany a few years back and it's now being published in English here in the US. I'm really curious about this interesting premise, especially since we don't get all that much information about it.  

The Island by Natasha Preston
Publication: February 28th, 2023
Paperback. 336 pages.
Pre-order: Amazon | Bookshop.org

From Goodreads:
"They said goodbye to their friends and family for the weekend. They weren’t counting on forever.

Jagged Island: a private amusement park for the very rich—or the very influential. Liam, James, Will, Ava, Harper, and Paisley—social media influencers with millions of followers—have been invited for an exclusive weekend before the park opens. They’ll make posts and videos for their channels and report every second of their VIP treatment.

When the teens arrive, they're stunned: the resort is even better than they’d imagined. Their hotel rooms are unreal, the park’s themed rides are incredible, and the island is hauntingly beautiful. They’re given a jam-packed itinerary for the weekend.

But soon they'll discover that something's missing from their schedule: getting off the island alive.

I'm a huge sucker for any type of "locked room" premise like this so I'm very excited about this one. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

2022 End of Year Book Status & Overview


It's always a bit late in January by the time I get this post up, but it's finally here. I always love putting this post together because I think it's really fun to step back and observe what my reading year looked like overall and what types of books I found myself leaning towards that year. 2022 was both a very weird year and also a very normal year in different ways, so this year's stats were particularly interesting to check out. I could keep yammering on about things, but let's just get into the post. I'll start off with some highlights from Goodreads' Year in Review and then dive into the stats I logged over the year with info about genres, page counts, book formats, etc. 

Honestly, I'm shocked I managed to read 154 books this year! This past year has been one of my weirdest reading years yet. I struggled a lot with reading slumps, feeling burnt out on a lot of books and plots and tropes, and general mental health issues that made it hard to read. This year I also really embraced audiobooks and that has been an amazing way for me to get to keep reading even when I'm feeling scattered or struggling to get into things. 

Average book length feels about right for the genres I typically read in. And I can't say I'm surprised that the Wheel of Time book was the longest–it felt long, and I can't say I enjoyed it being that long.

My average rating is typically inflated on Goodreads since I tend to round up with my actual rating is a .5 or .75, but this is technically down from last year's 4.3. 

I had no idea The Woman in Cabin 10 was that popular! I actually didn't enjoy it all that much, but I do know Ruth Ware is quite popular and I've enjoyed some of her other books. And I think Dirt King deserves to be shelved far more–I'm just going to assume a lot of its readers aren't on Goodreads because that trilogy was fantastic!

And now we can dive into my favorite section: the stats! I keep a spreadsheet where I log every book I read each year and keep track of some general things such as genres, format of the book, where I got the book, etc., and then I make up some charts to observe my reading patterns. I don't know how many people are really interested in this sort of thing, but I love it. I love seeing stats from other people's reading years as well (as well as just general yearly reading wrap-ups), so if you have one on your blog please do link it below! Without further ado, let's jump in. 

My reading remains predominantly fantasy (41.3%) and that's not surprise. Last year I believe it was around 48%, so it has gone down a bit. I think that's largely because my horror (17.4%) reading has gone up so much. I've really grown to love horror and hope to continue adding more to my reading and exploring new types of horror. I also delved into dark romance (2.6%) for the first time this year, and honestly? It's been a much-needed escape for those times when I just can't get out of some bad headspaces and need something a little crazier and easier to sink into. I read decent nonfiction (7.7%), but I had hoped to read a bit more last year–maybe this year I will. Sci-fi (11%) is always surprisingly low to me, but I wonder if that's not just because of how I categorize books sometimes, haha. All in all, not too many surprises here, although I do need to get back into more historical fiction (6.5%) again because I miss it!

Target Audience
This one is also not very surprising. I stick mostly to adult books (89%), with the occasional YA (6.5%) and middle grade (4.5%). I actually wish I read more middle grade this year because I really do enjoy it (usually more than YA!). 

The biggest growth and surprise on this one is the audiobooks category! Two-three years ago I still never really touched audiobooks because I could never seem to figure out how to focus on them... but apparently that's changed because it's now 25% (!?) of my reading (it was only 9% last year). I have really started to love audiobooks and appreciate having them to listen to while I paint or do chores around the house.  My ebook reading was down quite a bit last year because I've been struggling to read on there lately for some reason, but I'm hoping to rectify that this year. All in all, seems like a pretty average book format year–with a bit of audiobook growth!

Book Source
This one seems relatively similar to last year's, I think? A good portion is always split between books sent to me (which I will never stop being thankful for!) and books I own. My library usage is still down a bit because it has been harder for me to get to my local library, but I'm hoping to up that soon. Looks like about half of my reading is from ARCs/books from publishers, and that works well for me as a nice balance between new books and backlist. Overall, this chart looks about right to me.

Page Count
Page count is usually pretty consistent based on the genres I read, which consists of a lot of fantasy. I did have more shorter books this, which is reflected in the average page count per book higher up on this page, but otherwise I think this stays pretty much the same. Lots of 300-500 page books, with a few higher up and a few more novellas/short novels this year. 

Tell me about your year in books! Do you keep track of information for stats like this? (If you do and you made a post that I haven't seen (or any type end of year post), leave me a link because I love checking them out! )