Thank You, Next Book Tag

I saw this “Thank You, Next” book tag from A Geek Girl’s Guide and I knew I needed to do this tag. I thought this was such a creative book tag and I’m on track to have a great reading year in 2019. Here are my answers to this tag:

  1. Name a book you said “thank u, next” to (a book you did not finish)

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Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer by Seth Grahame Smith. This book is a biography of Abraham Lincoln’s life, but with added elements of his personal vendetta against vampires. I thought I would enjoy this, but I found the book to be slow paced and boring.  I will say my favorite moment in that book was when Abraham Lincoln met Edgar Allen Poe. Other than that, thank you next.

2. Name a book that taught you love (a book you loved)

The Lying Woods

The Lying Woods by Ashley Elston. I was introduced to Ashley Elston from Super Space Chick’s Youtube book channel. I enjoyed every single book Ashley has published as her books are more contemporary intertwined with a mystery. The Lying Woods takes place in Louisiana where Owen is pulled from his prestigious private school after it’s found out that his father embezzled his employee’s retirement accounts and has fled from their town. There’s a terrible injustice occurring, but everything is not what it seems.  The Lying Woods was great, but I still prefer her other book This is Our Story. 

3. Name a book that taught you patience

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This is technically a comic, but I’m going to use Honor and Curse #1 written by Mark London and illustrated by NicolÁs Salamanca. The reason why I picked this comic was because it sat on my shelf unread for the longest time. I wasn’t sure if I would like this story, however I was patient with myself and finally got to reading the first issue.

Honor and Curse takes place in Feudal Japan where Genshi Sakagura is adopted by the Iga clan after his parents are murdered by thieves. After an altercation with his Master, he’s haunted by an evil spirit named Tengu who can consume him to the point where Genshi doesn’t remember his actions. This series details Genshi’s fate and how Tengu manipulates his reality.

I was blown away! The story was engaging, the characters were interesting and the scenery was gorgeous. I wish I would have read it earlier.

4. Name a book that taught you pain

Prodigy Book Cover

Prodigy by Marie Lu. The way the book ended left a cliff hanger on the outcome of one of the characters. There’s the potential that one of my favorite characters will never heal from their injuries which left the series on a somber note. There’s still one book left in the trilogy, but I’m almost dreading to read it.

5. Name a book that you loved at the time of reading, but in hindsight, you don’t like as much, though you still learned something from it.

Dietland

Dietland by Sarai Walker. I rated it two stars when I originally read it because the plot felt out of place. It seemed there were multiple story lines occurring at once, but they didn’t seem to come together. However, I believe the book is still important to read because it shows how fatphobic our society is and the hurtful stereotypes placed on fat bodies every day. It highlights how we can’t judge someone’s health status based on weight which is something we need to keep repeating. It’s an important book with the themes it expresses, but the story falls short.

6. Name a book you are currently talking to

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Finder’s Keepers by Stephen King. This is book #2 in the Mr. Mercedes trilogy with retired Detective Bill Hodges. It’s funny because I thought Mr. Mercedes was okay, but Finder’s Keepers was SO GOOD. This latest series by Stephen King revolves around Bill Hodges and his most famous case being unsolved during his employment. It was the case surrounding the Mr. Mercedes killer who plowed into a crowd of job seekers during the 2009 recession. The first book solves the case, but in book #2, there’s another killer who is deadly and just a shitty person in general. Bill reunites with Jerome and Holly to save a young boy and his sister from this awful person.

After I finished this book at work, I talked to myself in my car ride home about how much I liked this book. I gave this book five stars on Goodreads while I gave Mr. Mercedes three stars. It has given me renewed interest in the series and I’m heading to the library either today or tomorrow to see if they have the third book available to check out.

7. Name a book that’s going to last (the book that helped you love yourself a little bit more)

Order of the Phoenix

Re-reading the Harry Potter books will always provide self love. I owe so much to the Harry Potter series as far as my love of reading, but also with being a geek. I’m on the Half Blood Prince now and I know I will feel a sense of loss when I’m done reading the series.

Feel free to do this tag if you feel so inclined. Make sure you credit Michelle @ A Geek Girl’s Guide at the link above.

 

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Reviewing My Mad Cave Comics

In February, I was honored to be contacted by Mad Cave Studios to read and review their major comic series. I chose to write those reviews on Twin Cities Geek instead of Bizarre Brunette due to the bigger fan base. Mad Cave Studios is incredibly busy as they’re prepping for a new comic series to launch titled Show’s End which takes place in a 1920’s circus. This series has a strong Halloween / creepy horror vibe and I’m here for it. Here are my general opinions on the series I received from this Miami based comic studio.

1. Midnight Task Force

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Midnight Task Force Vol. #1 cover. Image from Mad Cave Studios. 

Midnight Task Force is a fantastic, cyber-punk comic series taking place in a corrupt futuristic Detroit. Midnight Task Force features Aiden McCormick, an intelligent detective investigating a series of grisly murders. Aiden secretly battles schizophrenia dating back to his PTSD from his days serving in the military. Can Aiden keep his sanity throughout the cat and mouse chase of hunting a serial killer?

The artwork in this comic is dark, but alluring. It gives Detroit this crime ridden feel while also adding bright neon colors to make Detroit seem more attractive than what it actually is.

Ultimately, this comic went in a different direction than I had originally anticipated. Without giving spoilers, it seems that there’s more to the serial killer Aiden was investigating. There’s also a nice cliffhanger towards the end of this volume, which leaves me intrigued as to how Aiden’s character will develop over the course of the series run.

2. Knights of the Golden Sun

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Knights of the Golden Sun Vol. #1 cover. Image from Mad Cave Studios. 

I’m shocked to tell you this, but I deeply enjoyed reading Knights of the Golden Sun. The reason why I’m saying this is it’s a comic that’s inspired by events in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. I’m not a religious person and I don’t plan on ever converting to Christianity. Reading Knights of the Golden Sun didn’t feel “preachy” and the way this comic is paced allows for every character to have their moment of glory.

Uriel

Uriel in all her glory. Image from Mad Cave Studios. 

Knights of the Golden Sun takes place between the Old and New Testaments and describes the battle between God’s angels and “The Fallen” which were a group of angels exiled by God himself. There’s a lot of beautifully illustrated battle sequences within each issue. My favorite is Uriel and how she summons this cast of blue lightning which she utilizes to battle with a group of giants.

When I received Knights of the Golden Sun, there were only four issues out at the time. The full first volume of Knights of the Golden Sun will be released in July. I do plan on purchasing this as I prefer having completed volumes of comics versus single issues.

3. Battlecats

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Battlecats Vol #1 Cover. Image from Mad Cave Studios 

Battlecats is the final series I received from Mad Cave Studios. Battlecats is a medieval, fantasy epic with elements of DnD mixed with the 80’s TV show Thundercats. In the beautiful realm of Valderia lies the Battlecats, a team of cat warriors sworn to protect Valderia at all costs. The Battlecats are sent to destroy a Dire Beast who threatens to encroach on Valderia’s territory with intent to endanger Valderia’s citizens. As the Battlecats investigate the Dire Beast, they recognize how this beast isn’t like the other creatures they have killed before. What does this mean for Valderia’s future?

Honestly, I was slightly disappointed by Battlecats. I’m all about great character development and I felt there were too many characters introduced without backstories. This made it difficult for me to become invested in the story since the characters seem largely forgettable.

Another minor annoyance comes from the added information about Valderia with its seasons and moons. This information was intriguing to read about, but it would have been better if it was included in the beginning of the book where it could be easily accessed again throughout the story. Instead, I have to flip back to the middle of the book to reference the information which felt awkward as I was reading Battlecats. 

Despite my disappointment with Battlecats, I do intend on continuing with the story. The first graphic novel has potential and I’m hopeful that in the next volume we will learn more about the characters.

Mad Cave Studios is a comic studio to watch for. With the addition of Show’s End, another series was announced Thursday titled Wolvenheart. Wolvenheart is described as a, “time-travel, steam-punk, Victorian comic. I’m excited to get my hands on both Show’s End and Wolvenheart as Mad Cave Studios has proved to be a talented and driven comics studio.

Mad Cave Studios can be found on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. 

 

Prodigy Review

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After reading the last page in Prodigy, I felt my heart being ripped open and stomped on. Any reader can empathize with this feeling of reading a book with a heart-wrenching cliff hanger. Thanks to Marie Lu for putting me in a state of despair after reading Prodigy. As much as I loved Prodigy, I did feel the book moved a bit slower than I had anticipated. There was a lot of build up to the plot, but it was somewhat boring to read about. Once I was about half way through the book, I became entranced with seeing the events unfold. I’m hoping to finish this series in 2019.

Prodigy picks up immediately after Legend with June and Day wandering through Las Vegas after escaping the Republic. Day’s still injured as June is trying her best to drag him along to seek shelter. They’re picked up by the Patriots, a rebel group with aims to protest against the Republic. The Patriots give June and Day a deal: help the Patriots successfully assassinate the new elector and the Patriots will personally see to Eden (Day’s brother) being released from the Republic. Day’s leg is patched up and June is sent into the Republic to initiate the assassination attempt.

The beauty in Marie Lu’s writing is the way she writes her action sequences. As I’m reading the action packed paragraphs, it reminds me of the Bourne movies. Day’s ability to climb balconies and leap across buildings reminds me of something Jason Bourne could do. June’s skill in hand-to-hand combat is also exciting to read about considering without June, Day probably wouldn’t have made it far in his quest to free his brother.

One disappointment I had with this book is how a certain character’s death is treated. I won’t say who they are because I don’t want to provide spoilers, but I felt it wasn’t seen as being a big deal. I wish they would have shown a proper funeral. Another possible scene I would have liked to see in the book, is how this character death would have impacted June and Day. This character’s death scene felt quick and undeserving.

Honestly, I did prefer Legend to Prodigy. Part of this is due to the cliff hanger appearing in the last couple pages of Prodigy. The series went in a direction I wasn’t expecting. I feel for Day because of everything he went through, I wanted him to have a happy ending. I’m not sure if this will be the case, but I can’t quit the series now. All of the Legend trilogy can be purchased wherever books are sold.

 

Star Wars Canon Timeline

The Star Wars universe encompasses so many various media including the movies, TV series, books, comics and board games. There’s so much to devour that if you stick with the movies, you miss out on other stories. Kristin at Super Space Chick made a pact to try and read more “Star Wars Canon” in between the release of episodes VIII & episode IV. I made a decision that I wanted to read more “Star Wars Canon”. I also want to take another stab at watching Clone Wars because even though I have tried to watch it twice without continuing on, I have heard too many good things about the show to completely abandon it. I plan on posting my Star Wars Canon Project which I did adapt from Kristin’s list, so credit goes to her for putting it all together.

The Star Wars Expanded Universe has had various changes as to whether or not the books were “canon” or not. When something is “canon” it means it’s existing in the same universe. When Disney acquired LucasFilm, they set out to make a standard as to which Star Wars books would be considered “canon”. On April 25th 2014, the Expanded Universe was retconned, meaning all the books published before this date weren’t technically considered canon. These books still were written, but technically are considered almost fan-fiction versus actually occurring in the Star Wars universe. This may have angered fans who fell in love with the books only for them to not be considered in the main Star Wars saga.

One summer, I had walked to a library near by my house. I spotted sitting on a shelf Maul Lockdown by Joe Schreiber. Darth Maul is easily one of the most underused characters in the Star Wars saga. I enjoyed Maul Lockdown as it adds to his story that we don’t get to see in the Phantom Menace. However, this book was released before April 25th, so therefore it’s not strictly canon.

The question becomes. . . what is considered canon in the Star Wars Universe? The movies are always going to be number one. Followed by both Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels. The books help provide fans with much needed character development taking place between the movies. Comics also help to fill that void.

Star Wars Canon Project.jpg

In the above picture, I crossed off in blue what I have read or watched already. The list is about five pages on it’s own including every TV episode, movie, comic, book that’s been created. I’m also going to include a link to Kristin’s video where she gives even more resources for fans to utilize when reading the extended universe.

Ultimately, my goal is to read as much as I can before the end of the year. That may only be one book or it can be finally finishing Clone Wars. I like this organized guide because it feels like a check list and I’m a list making person. In Kristin’s above video, she links to her original google doc which I then used to make it my own. Episode IX comes out this year and reading more Star Wars will get me excited for December.

 

Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire Re-Read

Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire is the pivotal book in the series where everything becomes much darker. This may still be a “children’s” book, but these adult themes become much more present. Voldemort arises out of the mist ready to take over the Wizarding World with his bigotry towards Mudbloods. As an adult, I find re-reading the Harry Potter book series to be completely different than when I read it as a child. It’s the same material, but I pick up on different themes that have relevance to today’s society. As always, I’m going to post details I completely forgot about from The Goblet of Fire:

  • The difference between Wormtail in the book versus the movie is vastly different. In the book, Voldemort makes numerous comments about Wormtail’s devotion due to his endless fear. In the movie, Wormtail is seen as a normal follower willing to do Voldemort’s bidding.
  • I wish we would have seen Dudley’s tongue turn purple and grow a foot in length. Instead the movie starts right at the Quidditch World Cup.
  • Apparation requires passing a highly challenging test. This is also the first reference to “splinching” which becomes important later in the series.
  • Portkeys need to be objects a “muggle” wouldn’t touch. An example would be litter.
  • Ways in which Amos Diggory is such a jerk: He talks about how Cedric beat Harry in the Quidditch match last year EVEN THOUGH Harry fell off his broom due to the Dementor’s presence. Amos Diggory also accused Harry of conjuring the Dark Mark during the World Cup.
  • The Quidditch World Cup seats 100,000 people.
  • Veelas were women who put men into a trance. They performed at the Quidditch World Cup which almost prompted Harry to dive out of his seat. Fleur is part veela which is why she’s seen as irresistible.
  • A break-in is reported at Mad Eye Moody’s house which Arthur Weasley investigates. More excellent foreshadowing by J.K. Rowling.
  • Professor Snape forces Neville to disembowel toads as punishment. That’s extremely messed up.
  • During the Defense Against the Dark Arts lesson with Professor Moody, he puts everyone under the Imperius Curse and Harry is the only one to fight it off. This becomes extremely important later on as Harry is able to resist Voldemort’s Imperius Curse during their battle after the third task.
  • Triwizard Champions are exempt from end of year tests.
  • Sirius Black has such an important role in the book. He’s the one who informs Harry about Karkaroff’s past as a Death Eater and about Barty Crouch Sr.’s ruthless ways in punishing the Death Eaters during the First Wizarding War.
  • In the book, Harry stays near the arena while fighting the dragon. The whole Hogwarts castle show down with the dragon is purely made to make the sequence more thrilling.
  • DOBBY MADE HARRY QUIDDITCH SOCKS! How cute 🙂
  • Moody mentions to Harry about how he would make a good Auror.
  • “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors not his equals.” This quote from Sirius is spot on.
  • Sirius was sentenced to Azkaban without a proper trial, all thanks to Barty Crouch Sr.
  • During Moody’s time as an Auror, he never tried to kill Death Eaters if he didn’t have to. Barty Crouch Sr. gave him special permission to use the three unforgivable curses, but he still avoided using them.
  • In Hagrid’s class they studied Niffler’s! They even had a contest with the Niffler’s to see which Niffler would find the most coins. Ron ended up winning. Harry even describes the Niffler’s as being cute.
  • During a divination lesson, Harry has a dream where Voldemort tortures Wormtail after he makes a mistake. This further describes Voldemort and Wormtail’s volatile relationship that wasn’t demonstrated in the movies.
  • Ludo Bagman was on trial for giving information to Rookwood [Rookwood was convicted of being a Death Eater].
  • The torture of the Longbottom’s shocked the Wizarding World. Frank was a popular Auror and the timing happened right after Voldemort fell from power. This means that Harry’s parents were killed in July and the Longbottom’s were tortured shortly after that.
  • Imagine being in Neville’s position: leading the legacy of his parents who have no idea who he is. This is compounded by the fact that his real true strength is in Herbology and not necessarily in other forms of magic like his parents. That’s a lot of pressure for Neville.
  • A phoenix song plays when Harry and Voldemort’s wands connect. They are also raised in the air and float over the Death Eaters.
  • Bertha Jorkins is released from Voldemort’s wand encouraging Harry to keep their wands connected.
  • Fawkes heals Harry after the battle with Voldemort. This is after Barty Crouch Jr. is apprehended.
  • Fudge doesn’t believe Voldemort’s rise to power due to Harry’s apparent “mental instability” which was written about by Rita Skeeter. In this article, it’s revealed Harry can talk to snakes which was unknown to Fudge. It’s one reason why Fudge launches a smear campaign against Harry and Dumbledore.
  • During the argument between Fudge and Dumbledore, Professor Snape reveals his “dark mark” to everyone saying how his mark is darker on his arm. Snape is a lot of things, but he at least believes Harry’s account of Voldemort’s return.
  • Towards the end of Goblet of Fire, it’s revealed that Sirius is the black dog that’s been following Harry around. Dumbledore insists Sirius and Snape need to work together. This is the beginning of the formation of the Order of the Phoenix.
  • Dumbledore makes a comment to Snape, “You know what I must ask you to do. If you are ready . . . if you are prepared . . . then good luck.” I wonder if this was the moment that Snape contacted Voldemort to become his double agent.
  • Ron in the end got an autograph from Krum
  • The last sentence in Goblet of Fire is fitting to what happens in the series. It is, “What would come, would come. . . and he would have to meet it when it did.” This is written from Harry’s view and how Harry has accepted Voldemort’s return.

These aren’t even all the comments I wrote about Goblet of Fire. I’m keeping a word document of every little detail I find interesting as I re-read the books. I’m already at 13 pages of little tidbits from the series I had forgotten about. Re-reading Goblet of Fire brought out more emotion than I had prepared for. It means I’m one book closer to reading the Deathly Hallows and all the character deaths that occur from the Battle of Hogwarts. I’m still looking forward to reading the other three books and I hope to start Order of the Phoenix sometime this week.

Also as an added side note, I did schedule my Harry Potter themed tattoo for this September. I’m thrilled to finally set a date as this tattoo means a lot to me. I will write a blog post sometime in the future detailing more of this.

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Yes, I did buy one. It’s sitting on my Harry Potter shelf with my other Harry Potter Collectible toys. 

Rainbow Rowell’s Runaways Vol. #1

 

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When I read Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, I was a junior in college Reading Fangirl allowed me to reflect on my own college experience. My freshman year was an intimidating experience where I had to make new friends from scratch. I related to Cath in her devotion to Simon & Bazz. I have the same devotion to Harry Potter especially since re-reading the books this year. When I found out Rainbow Rowell was transitioning into writing comics, I was invested in whatever property she became attached to. Runaways: Find Your Way Home is an adventure story centered on the relationships between friends.

Before reading Runaways, I never knew the premise behind the team. The Runaways is a comic series published by Marvel that debuted in 2003. The series stars a group of teenagers who interact with each other every time their parents have a dinner party. The teenagers discover the dinner parties are a front for their parent’s criminal undertakings. The parents are apart of a group titled “The Pride” with the ultimate goal of wiping out the planet and starting fresh. The teenagers are forced to team up and go against authority and stop “The Pride” from unleashing hell on Earth. As I did my research of The Runaways, I learned that they were created by Brian K. Vaughn. This name may sound familiar because he is a main creator on Paper Girls which is one of my favorite comic series. Vaughn worked on Runaways until the series was cancelled in 2009.

Rainbow Rowell’s Runaways: Find Your Way Home takes place after the teenagers learn about their parents background. What I like about Runaways: Find Your Way Home is how it hints at the original story, but I don’t need prior knowledge of the Runaways to comprehend the story. The protagonists of the story are: Nico Minoru, Chase Stein, Gertrude Yorkes, Karolina Dean, Molly Hayes and Alex Wilder. Each teenager has special abilities which contributes to how the Runaways team up in battle. One of the positive attributes of Runaways: Find Your Way Home is the diversity between the characters. This doesn’t include race, but also diversity in body type. Gertrude is one of my favorite teenagers because of her sassy personality, but she’s also drawn as being plus size. In comics, women are often super thin, curvy and muscular all at the same time. As someone who’s body type doesn’t fit that mold, I’m happy to see characters in comics with a variety of different bodies.

Runaways .jpeg

As I mentioned, Gertrude is one of my favorite characters because I think her character arc is dynamic. Without giving spoilers, she has to contemplate how the Runaways have grown apart since she felt they would always be together. Also Gertrude has a pet dinosaur named Old Lace who’s her partner in crime. I’m also intrigued by Nico’s magical abilities since it seems she can’t create the same spell twice. I would hate to have this ability because I wouldn’t be creative enough to come up with different spell names every time.

I can’t talk about Runaways: Find Your Way Home without referencing Kris Anka. Kris Anka has worked on many of Marvel’s properties including X-Men, Captain Marvel and the redesign of Spider-Woman. Kris Anka’s art makes this story shine. I feel he is perfect for Rainbow Rowell since her writing usually is lighthearted and clever.

As I typed this review, I didn’t realize I would have so much to say. I do highly recommend this series because of the story, but also the diversity between the characters. You really don’t have to know anything about the original Runaways to start this series. However, now that I have read this, I would love to find the original run of  Runaways back in 2003. Go to your local comic book store and pick up Runaways: Find Your Way Home, you won’t be disappointed.

Manga, Good Omens and Comics in My Latest Book Haul

As a consumer, I try to support local businesses when I can. There’s a book store about 10 minutes away from my apartment that serves local beer on tap along with black coffee. I’m planning on purchasing more of my books there versus Barnes & Noble, however, I had two Barnes & Noble gift cards to use up from the past holiday season. I made my purchases and I wanted to share what’s next on my reading list.

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Prodigy by Marie Lu

This is the second book in the Legend trilogy. I wrote a book review of Legend a couple of blog posts ago where I raved about how much I liked the book. The main reason I had avoided reading this series for so long was because of the whole dystopian, young adult novel craze that hit bookstores. I needed a break from the constant book to movie adaptations we had been seeing. I’m only about fifty pages into Prodigy, but so far it’s been pretty fast paced.

My Hero Academia by Kohei Horikoshi

I have been trying to get into reading more manga and watching anime, but I haven’t found a series that clicks with me. My Hero Academia is a top rated manga and anime series about a young boy who’s obsessed with super powers even though he isn’t powered himself. Eventually he gets into contact with a superhero which may help him become the hero he’s always wanted to be. I’m looking forward to diving into this.

Comics Will Break Your Heart by Faith Erin Hicks

This book is a contemporary novel combining romance and comics together. Miriam’s grandfather created a successful comic series in the 1960’s, but sold it to his co-creator. Now, the series is worth millions and Miriam’s family is left with nothing of that legacy. The guy she falls in love with just so happens to be related to the co-creator who robbed Miriam’s grandfather of a successful comics career. Comics plus romance automatically makes this a must-read for me.

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

I must confess I have never read any book by either of these two authors. I know that’s a travesty, but this will be my first dip into both of these science fiction / fantasy authors. I’m also looking forward to the TV series with David Tennant & Michael Sheen. I want to have prior knowledge of the show which led me to purchasing the book.

Wildcard by Marie Lu

After I finish reading Prodigy, I will read this one next. Warcross was one of my favorite books I read last year and as a gamer, I connected with Emika Chen more than I ever have with any other character in books. I wish I was as skilled with technology as she is. I have read some book reviews saying Wildcard isn’t as good as Warcross which makes me slightly anxious. I will certainly write my own review once I finish Wildcard. 

My latest book haul has made me excited for what I’m reading. Everything in this pile is something I’m excited to read which means I have been reading books at a faster rate than I have in the past. My goodreads goal is 40 books this year which seems attainable based on the books I’m reading. Let me know what books you recently purchased in the comments below.