Winter 2020 Books

I've decided that I'm going to separate out my mini reviews from my seasonal wrap-up. It was starting to get too long and was a pain to deal with. So here you go!

In the months of December, January, and February, I read a total of 14 books, 9 of which were read in 2020.

Goodreads Goal Progress: 9/52
This puts me well on my way towards my goal, so that's exciting!

Anyway, here are the reviews, which are really just jumbled thoughts and whatever, but their my thoughts, so I guess they're reviews, can anyone tell I'm tired? but whatever

1. Paws, Claws, and Magical Tales a Fellowship of Fantasy Anthology. Rating varies.

This was a fun anthology that Jules got me for my birthday. I really loved reading it. As with all anthologies, there were some stories I liked more than others.

2. The Story Peddler by Lindsay Franklin. 6/10

I have mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, I really enjoyed the whole story weaver part. That was cool. And I really loved Tanwen. She was a pretty cool character. But on the other hand, there were several things I just didn't like at all.

Namely the Hunger Game-esq love triangle (or square. Or whatever shape it is. It's a mess, really) that actually isn't love at all, but more like one guy was a possessive, abusive, narcissistic person and the other was just thrown in for conflict. And, as with every other love triangle, it is UNTHINKABLE that the girl would either a. decide that she'd just rather be single or b. say, "ya know what? There are other guys out there. I think I'm going to keep looking." I was very close to DNFing it on that alone.

But also, I was horribly confused about several of the characters. Like, Braith. She felt kind of flat. I mean, I know she's supposed to be this noble, kind spirit, but she often felt wishy-washy. The moments where she stood her ground, I was rooting for her. Then she'd start curling up into a ball and lost me. And Mor. How was I supposed to feel about him? Like, I don't even know.

I'm going to read The Story Raider before I decide if I'm going to continue with the series or not. If it would focus more on the art/magic aspect, then I would be very happy and would gladly continue. But if it's all angst and blah, I'm not going to.

Spoilers *And I also wanted Brac to keel over and die. Nearly got my wish. And then--get this--he didn't and my hope was lost.*

3. Songkeeper by Gillian Bronte Adams. 8/10

I've really loved this series so far. Not all of it, of course, but on the general whole, I've really found myself sucked into it.

Unpopular opinion, I think, but I don't really like Amos all that much. Or the griffin. They were both kind of annoying and like conflicting mother-hens. I feel like the story would be better without them. Though I do love Amos's colorful insults. Might have to start incorporating them into my daily use.

But I love Ky. I love Birdie. They're amazing characters who aren't selfish and they have struggles and I just adore them.

I love how protective Ky is of the Underground kids. How sacrificial he is towards them. I hate Cade for treating him like garbage. Like, stop being such a jerk.

And the storyworld was amazing. I really loved how vast it was. It was so cool to have LION riders. Like, woah! Pretty cool. And yeah, I really liked this book.

4. Murder in Black Tie by Sara Rosett. 8/10

The High Society Detective Lady series (the audiobooks) have (has?) become a guilty pleasure of mine. I really enjoy the narrator. She does an excellent job and I don't feel like her performance is annoying to follow (I'm very picky about narrators).

Anywho, they're nothing super mind-blowing or anything, but they're really good for cozy mysteries. They kind of rest on that cusp between cozy mysteries and a normal mystery. Like, they actually have good plots and characters and stuff, but it's not all risque and gory. That's mostly why I like them.

This is book 4, so I don't really want to give too many thoughts about it, but I really liked it. I don't know if it's my favorite, but it was still really good. Also, my ship sailed, so there's that.

If you're looking for something that takes about 0 brainpower, but still is an enjoyable read, these would be a great option.

5. The 5-Second Rule by Mel Robbins. 9/10

My final book of 2019. It's one I would recommend to anyone who's struggling to find "motivation" to get stuff done. Mel will give you the kick in the pants that you need. Or the tools, rather.

There is some mild language, for those of my followers who'd prefer not to read that, but it's not super strong and it does add to the reading enjoyment. Not gonna lie.

This is where my 2020 books start.

6. Song of Leira by Gillian Bronte Adams. 7/10

I finally made my way to the conclusion of this trilogy of pain. Like, how dare she put Ky and Birdie through all of that? Rude.

Anyway, while I really enjoyed this book, there were a few things that I was slightly disappointed about because I was hoping it would go other ways and I wasn't quite satisfied with the ending. It felt like there was a lot more to tell, but alas the book was lengthy as it was and she probably was #done with that thing.

Spoilers *I was hoping that Ky and Co. would meet up with Slack and Co. in happier circumstances. Like, I felt personally attacked with how it went down. I also really wanted more storyline from Slack because I felt like there was more to her story than we got. I wanted to see her overcome her abusive past and rise up, but I guess that's not what we got. Also, it wasn't clear if Syd lived or not and I NEED ANSWERS!

Also, I was ticked that Amos didn't die, but whatever. 

And Cade's a jerk, but everyone already knew that.*

7. The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket. 8/10

A reread that I managed to do in a day, which was a nice boost to my reading year. Anyhow, I forgot how much I really loved Snicket's writing style until I read it.

It's also interesting how things we gloss over as kids stand out like sore thumbs when we're older. Like, Olaf was a perfect example of an abusive parent. Just good enough to fool bystanders into thinking he's the best. And that's why it's so hard for abused people to get out of their situations. Because the abuser will come and say "Look at all the GOOD I've done for you! What even are you talking about?" and then no one will believe the abused party because how could this person be bad?

But I also forgot how wonderful Justice Strauss was. Be a Justice Strauss in a Count Olaf world, folks.

I'm planning on doing a detailed review of this series at the end of the year, so I don't really want to do much of that here. Hence the short reviews.

8. Storm Siren by Mary Weber. 6/10

More mixed feelings.

On one hand, what an amazing world. I really liked the magic system and the political angst. Also, I ached for Nym. Her life is just one unfortunate situation after another.

On the other, ew, poor "romance". Like, nopity nope.

And certain people died and I was furious. And then other people didn't die and I was furious. And there were some characters I wanted to know more about and I didn't get the opportunity in this book. So I guess, like The Story Peddler, I'll give the second book in the series a chance and then decide.

(Is anyone going to point out that my thoughts for TSP and SS are almost exactly the same? No? Just me? 'kay.)

9. Coral by Sara Ella. 8/10

Soooo... I really loved this story, even though I had some issues with it.

Granted, it wasn't the easiest for me to read. Reading about their mental health journeys was difficult and mildly triggering for me (Sara Ella wrote a pretty detailed trigger warning at the beginning, so if you struggle with mental health, do make sure you read it beforehand and decide for yourself if you're in the right place to read it or not). But it was also healing and hopeful at the same time.

I connected with Brooke so much! I felt one with her. Though, the description of Mary when we first meet her pretty much describes me. Also, I adore Grim. He is how every guy should be. Caring. Protective, but not overbearing. Steadfast. Cool. An all around amazing guy. Maybe kinda reminded me of Fred from Big Hero 6? Just a little?

The formatting was a little confusing to me to start. I wasn't sure how everything was going to come together, but by the end, everything tied up nicely. So if you find yourself a bit confused at first, just keep going. It'll make sense.

Overall, this book did not disappoint. There were so many amazing characters that were so full of heart and love and I adore them so much! As I said, it is not the easiest read, but it is very worthwhile.

The problem I have with the story is a bit of a spoiler, so highlight to read. *I don't care for how Merrick's parents were portrayed, especially at the end. His mom runs away when Maya was taken to the hospital and then never came back. Never visited her in therapy. Didn't even bother showing up for her birthday. What kind of piece of trash mother would do that? And her only excuse is "she couldn't handle it." BS. And I'm not saying that as someone who has no experience in this situation. I 100% do. Most of my family struggles with mental illness. My mom has Parkinson's. I'm the main caregiver in my family. Most days I feel like I can't handle it. Most days I feel like giving up. But ya know what? I have to keep going anyway. Because it's not about me. It's about someone else. If you feel like you can't handle it, sign yourself up for therapy. Or, at least, don't pretend that you're a decent human being if you decide to abandon your kids.

Her daughter was dying. And she did absolutely nothing. She barely showed up for the funeral. And then, all of her actions were glossed over like it was no big deal. And that's the wrong idea of forgiveness. Forgiveness does not excuse actions. It says that I will live on despite your actions. 

What she did to her kids was wrong. 

I don't know, maybe I'm being a little harsh, but I'm still mad about it.

Okay, now on to his dad. He was set up at the beginning to look like an abusive dad, but then later we have this big reveal that SURPRISE! he's suddenly not abusive. Guess what. That doesn't sit right with me. You can say all you want, but his actions speak otherwise. Like, sure, I see where they're coming from. But I still don't feel comfortable saying he wasn't abusive until I have more evidence.

10. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. 10/10


I loved this book. The characters. THe plot. Everything (except, of course, what happened to the characters. Didn't love that). I cried at the end. Like, actual tears. So, obviously, it got 5 stars.

Go read this thing, peoples.

11. Good Morning, Good Life by Amy Landino. 7/10

From the queen of morning routines herself, comes the book all about, YOU GUESSED IT, morning routines.

I've been following her YouTube channel for a while now and she has a wealth of information about being productive and making the most of your time/energy. I used a lot of her tips last year when I was working on improving my mornings, so of course I had to pick up her book.

A lot of it is stuff that I'm already doing, but it was so nice to read her list of ideas and get a few more things that I could try.

If you're looking to improve your mornings, definitely check it out!

12. The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket. 8/10

Another reread. Also excellent. I love Uncle Monty. He's just amazing. Again, I'm going to do detailed reviews at the end of the year, Lord willing.

13. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. 5/10

I reread this since it's been 10-ish years since I last read it and I don't think I had the brain capacity to understand it last time. I still didn't care much for it, but it wasn't quite a whirlwind read as it was before.

14. Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. 7/10

This was a really sweet read. While I felt like a lot of it was repetitive (like, a LOT) and I don't agree with all of her theology, it was still nice to be reminded that we shouldn't be so busy that we aren't fully immersed in our lives. There are so many moments, special moments, that fly by because we're running around and don't actually sit in the moment and appreciate it for what it brings. That's not how I want to live.

So if you're needing an invitation to leave behind the busyness and chaos, this is a book that will give you that.

There you have it! The books I've read over the past few months. I'm in the middle of a reading slump, so hopefully I'll be able to push through and start reading again. Otherwise, the next reading wrap up might be a bit thin.

Onto y'all! What's a book that you need to scream about? Are you doing well on your reading goals? Are you in the middle of a slump like me? Let me know down below!


  1. It's been fun getting to talk about all these books with you...and rant about that love-triangle thing in TSP...AHHHHHHH

    1. YES!! I love that I can always count on you to scream about books with me!

  2. Me on my most recent read: "I wanted her to die and she didn't and I feel so betrayed."

    My brother's reading a Lewis Carroll collection at the moment - they're utterly ridiculous, of course, but that's the point. And I will always maintain that the Jabberwocky is a Classic Poem and should be accorded official respect, like mention is English class or something. xD

    1. LOL, Mood.

      Yeah, I kinda think that his writing just isn't for me. Like, I can see why others would enjoy it (and I'm really surprised I don't because I usually like weird books) but it's just not something I enjoy much.

  3. Loved reading your thoughts one these!


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