T5W – Angsty Romances

Hey all! So this week’s Top 5 Wednesday is coming to you a little late. I admit, this is totally NOT my genre of books, so I had some trouble picking out good ones. There was a LOT of “uh…well?…I wonder if THIS counts?” ūüėČ So my picks will probably not be the norm for ‘angsty romance’ suggestions, but here goes…

Carry On (Rainbow Rowell)

23734628This book honestly feels like a Harry/Draco AU slash fanfic, which I’m pretty sure is exactly¬†what the author intended. This is a side piece to her novel Fangirl and is supposed to be the final fanfic in a full series that her character in that book (Cath) wrote alongside the publication of HER favorite series, Simon Snow. Being a lover of fanfic & Harry Potter, I REALLY enjoyed this book (and Fangirl). Simon & Baz are an interesting duo and seeing how they come together, past their own inner demons, was quite compelling.

The Grave Artist (Paula Lynn Johnson)

The angst in this is less because of the romance and more because13576640 of supernatural influences, but there IS romance, so I’m going with it. ūüėČ In this one, the main character Clare starts compulsively drawing winged skulls and then progresses to full blown visions. This leads to a murder mystery 200 years old. This was a quick, suspenseful read, that also contains two love stories. Very good little book!

The Princess Diarist (Carrie Fisher)

26025989More diary than romance novel, this one still has a ton of angst. The lovely, iconic Ms Fisher stumbled across some of the notebooks she wrote while filming the first Star Wars movie and decided to share them with the world. In them, preserved for posterity, were all her inner-most, teenagery-angst ridden thoughts of what it was like to start out in show biz and ultimately fall in love/lust with your hunky, much older co-star.¬†I didn’t really know much about Ms. Fisher before listening to this book, so I was pleasantly surprised by her humor and honesty. I would definitely recommend this to her fans.

Wink Poppy Midnight (April Genevieve Tucholke)

This was quite an angsty little book and there was even a love triangle!23203106 See? I can find romances. ūüėČ This one is hard to describe, so here’s what Goodreads has to say: “Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them.” There’s intrigue and possible murder…and a lot of “why did you do that?” in this one. Good read, but be prepared to get mad at EVERYONE.

The Little Paris Bookshop (Nina George)

23278537Most of this book is more broody over lost love than angsty-anger with current love. The main character in this book ends up going on a long journey to bring closure to a past love…and ends up rediscovering himself (and finding some new friends) in the process.¬†The pace is slow and introspective, but not boring. I found myself getting quite attached to Monsieur Perdu and his motley crew. This is a sweet book that will leave you with a sense of cozy-happiness.

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Well, I guess that wasn’t too bad. ūüėČ I hope I found some books that you will enjoy, even if they aren’t QUITE in the ‘angsty romance’ category!

Book Tag – Hufflepuff Appreciation Post

HuffPuffs Represent! ūüėÄ

A lady in one of my book clubs, Erica Robyn, created a new Book Tag for Hufflepuff House Pride Day (March 20th), so I’ve decided to join in the fun!

Rules: The only rule is that the book must NOT come from the Harry Potter ‘verse.

Hard Work
Name a difficult read that you were proud to have finished.

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell¬†(Suzanna Clarke) – This book took FOREVER. For a book about magic, it was amazingly dry. The overall plot was interesting and I liked the characters well enough, but the book itself just dragged. It honestly read like a history book rather than a novel (there were FOOTNOTES). Don’t get me wrong, I like history, but I’m not fond of novels that read like textbooks.

Patience
Name a book with a slow start that you almost gave up on, but ended up loving.

American Gods¬†(Neil Gaiman) – This book was on my DNF shelf for a LONG time; I just couldn’t seem to get into it. But the mythology nut in me wouldn’t let it go, so I eventually tried again. Man, I’m glad I did! This book is completely awesome!¬†The amount of myths/legends the author¬†is able to work into the story is amazing and, considering the character cast, the fact that the story remains completely believable is astounding and totally down to his¬†superb writing skills.

Loyalty
Name one of your favorite loyal sidekicks.

Questionable Content¬†(Jeph Jacques) – Ok, so Pintsize is a really odd pick for this one, but he IS actually one of my favorite sidekicks of all time. He throws out weird one-liners, is kind of vulgar, and definitely keeps everyone on their toes. But if any of his crew are in a jam, he’s right in there trying to help…even if his idea of help isn’t always the best. ūüėČ

Fair Play
Name a book or series that frustrated you because things just didn’t seem fair.

Series of Unfortunate Events¬†(Lemony Snicket) – I will admit, I didn’t make it past the third book of this series. It just felt TOO contrived, like the author was just hurling every ‘unfortunate’ thing he could think of into the books without caring about realism. I guess that was kind of the point of the books and it IS a good way to keep kids interested, but it just felt like too much to me, so I DNF’d it.

Newt Scamander (Magizoologist)
Name a book or series with creatures that you would like to see come to life.

His Dark Materials¬†(Philip Pullman) – I think it would be awesome if people really had daemons. I would enjoy having a ready-made buddy to hang around with, even if it is technically just a manifestation of my inner-self. ūüėČ

Cedric Diggory (Prefect, Quidditch Captain/Seeker, Triwizard Champion)
Name a character that is a great leader.

Going Postal¬†(Terry Pratchett) –¬†You wouldn’t think it of a character described as an ‘arch-swindler’, but Moist von Lipwig (yes, that is his name) actually ends up as a really good leader of this (kind of insane) post office/town. This is part of the Discworld series, but can be read totally separate.

Pomona Sprout (Professor of Herbology & Head of House)
Name a book with a character in the teaching profession.

My Teacher is an Alien¬†(Bruce Coville) – These books are great! I loved them when I was in middle school and they still hold up pretty well now that I’m an adult. This was one of the books (series) that made me fall in love with science-fiction as a child. The idea that your teacher was not only and alien, but (spoilers) wants you to join them on a trip through outer space? Totally awesome!!!

Nymphadora Tonks (Auror & Member of Order of the Phoenix)
Name a strong female character.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe¬†(Fannie Flagg) – This is cheating a bit, since it’s multiple characters, but I want to call it out because every single woman in this book is a strong woman. Every single one of them does what needs to be done to protect themselves, their friends/family, and their town. I would be proud to know¬†any of the women in this book.

Fat Friar (House Ghost)
Name a book that you would like to get more attention.

Fairytales for Wilde Girls (Allyse Near) –¬†I fell completely in love with this book. The author interweaves fairy tales (of her own making) so well into the story that it’s hard to tell what is real and what isn’t; but then, that’s kind of the point of the book. I won’t go into to much detail, but if you like fairy tale types books, I recommend this one.

Helga Hufflepuff (Founder of House)
Name your favorite bookish organization (real or fictional).

Goodreads¬†– I can’t think of a good bookish organization in an actual book, so I’m just going to go with Goodreads in real life. This is a great website, where you can keep track of books that you read, give reviews, see what your friends are reading, join groups to discuss books, and find new books that you’ve never heard of before. I love this site. ūüôā

Hengist of Woodcroft (Founder of Hogsmeade)
Name a world/town/setting/etc. of a book that you would love to visit.

Kingston Raine and the Grim Reaper¬†(Jackson Lear) – ¬†This may also be cheating a bit…but wouldn’t it be awesome to have a magical scythe that allowed you to travel into any book you wanted? That allowed you to make friends (and foes) with all your favorite characters? And then allowed you to pop right back out once things started getting hairy? Yeah it would!

Yellow & Black (House Colors)
Name a book with a cover that is mainly yellow and black.

The Knowland Retribution (Richard Greener) – Well, the title is in pink, but the rest of the cover is mostly yellow and black, at least in my edition. ūüėČ This¬†is the first book of The Locator series, which inspired The Finder tv series. I LOVED that show and was ecstatic to find out that is was based on a real series. The books are actually quite different, but still really good!

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Whew! Well, that list took a while. Good Book Tag, Erica! Let’s keep this one going, you guys. Feel free to snag the list from me, but please remember to credit Erica Robyn. And link your posts in my comments! I’d love to see what you pick! ūüôā

T5W – Book Betrayals

Hi-ho! This week’s Top 5 Wednesday¬†topic is “Books You Felt Betrayed By”, perfect¬†for the Ides of March! I’ll be honest, I had a very hard time with this topic, since I haven’t actually read that many books that made me angry enough to constitute ‘betrayal’, so the vast majority of this list is actually going to be more like ‘books I was severely disappointed with’. ūüėČ

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (J.K. Rowling)

2Let’s start off with a book that gave me an actual ‘had to re-read that bit several times to believe it was happening and then almost threw the book across the room’ moment. You know the spot. JK! What did you do?!? He was my favorite side character, dog-gone-it! And poor Harry!!! This is probably the only book in this post¬†that I could actually consider for a betrayal list. I was completely not expecting that moment and neither were most of the fans of the series. It was utterly¬†horrifying and I felt almost numb for the entire rest of the book. ūüė¶

Dorothy Must Die (Danielle Paige)

18053060Ok, so this one made the list pretty much just for the ending…BECAUSE THERE WASN’T ONE. Absolutely nowhere on the cover of my copy of the book or in the summary on the inside flaps did it say that this was the start of a series. Usually it makes me happy to find out that a book I’m reading is the start of a series. New series are awesome. But not this one. I’ll be honest, I just really wasn’t into this book. I only even GOT¬†to the ending because I was slightly curious as to what would happen, but I didn’t like any of the characters (that were left at this point) and I was actually really glad that it was almost over. Until it wasn’t. ::shakes fist::

Frankenstein (Mary Shelley)

18490This book is supposed to be the birth¬†of science fiction, one of my all time favorite genres. I remember in high school being disappointed because the AP kids got to read Frankenstein and I was stuck with The Crucible. I shouldn’t have wasted the emotion. Even given my issues with Victorian literature, this book was AWFUL. Dr. Frankenstein is one of the most selfish, self-absorbed, and idiotic characters I’ve ever had to read about. I found myself rooting for the Monster, just because I couldn’t stand listening to Franky whine anymore. Extremely disappointing and one of the books that makes me question who exactly comes up with the ‘Classics’ category, because this really shouldn’t be on there.

Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier)

239113I guess this one also falls into the ‘Classics’ category and I didn’t really like this one either. Again, mostly because of the ending, which didn’t really exist.¬†It took me a month to read the first 200 pages of this book; it just dragged. The main character, who they never actually name, was completely insipid and I couldn’t bring myself to care about anything that was happening to her.¬†But things started to turn around in the last 100 pages.¬†The action really picked up, I was finally starting to like the main character, and was really curious how things would play out. And then it just stopped. Right in the middle of the everything. UGH!!! SO FRUSTRATING!!!

Hitchhiker’s Guide #4 & 5 (Douglas Adams)

You know those tv shows that have¬†one too many seasons? The one’s where you can tell the writers’ are either out of ideas or they have given up on the plot because they know the show is ending? And how that let down kind of taints the entire series for you? The final two books of The Hitchhiker’s Trilogy feel a little like that. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the original trilogy (and I get a kick out of the fact that there are 5 books and everyone still calls it a trilogy, lol), but the last two books are almost completely nonsense. They are unnecessarily complicated, don’t have a linear plot (or even a logical one), and honestly just feel pointless. Such a huge let down after such an amazing series.

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Do you have any books that distressed you so much you couldn’t finish them? That made you mad enough to throw the book across the room? Or that you were just so disappointed in that they tainted how you viewed anything else by that author? Let me know in the comments!

Mini Reviews – Cozy Mysteries

Today I’m going to focus on my current guilty pleasure: Cozy Mysteries. Now, my definition of cozy mysteries is slightly different than the norm, in¬†that¬†I include any small-ish mystery book where the sleuth is fairly likable, the mystery isn’t too difficult, and the plot isn’t too gory or vulgar (think more ‘Monk’ than ‘Criminal Minds’). Basically, a¬†nice little mystery that you can curl up with on a rainy afternoon and know that it¬†will¬†leave you with a sense of enjoyment, rather than nausea or paranoia. ūüėČ

The Excalibur Murders (J.M.C. Blair)

Description from Goodreads:¬†Merlin is no magician, merely a scholar and advisor to King Arthur. But after the supposedly magical Stone of Bran is stolen along with the legendary sword Excalibur and one of Arthur’s squires is brutally murdered during the theft, Merlin must use the power of reason to conjure up a miracle and catch a murderer.

3312838Review: Ok, this one was fun. I admit to having a BIT of difficulty trying to take the book seriously, because I kept picturing Colin Morgan as Merlin (BBC, I blame you! ::shakes fist::), but it was a still a nice, quirky little mystery.

The characters were all believable, which can be tricky when dealing with medieval, legendary characters. The author kept the thees and thous to a minimum, which made the characters a lot more relatable for the modern reader, but also kept the mindset of the age which helped properly date the piece. The mystery was really interesting too, especially once you were told exactly who the victim was. The murderer really could have been anyone and I honestly had no clue who did it until the very end of the book.

As an aside, I liked that Merlin & Nimue had to travel to all the suspects’ castles. It dragged the mystery out a bit, but then it WOULD really have taken that long to get anywhere back then, so I can’t complain too much. The nice part, though, was that it gave you a small view of England in the middle ages, which I always find interesting.

Night of the Living Deed (E.J. Copperman)

Description from Goodreads:¬†Newly divorced Alison Kerby wants a second chance for herself and her nine-year-old daughter. She’s returned to her hometown on the Jersey Shore to transform a Victorian fixer-upper into a charming-and profitable-guest house. One small problem: the house is haunted, and the two ghosts insist Alison must find out who killed them.

7507902Review: This one is a true ‘cozy mystery’, right down to the punny title. ūüėČ I actually really enjoyed this book. The main character, Alison, was spunky, humorous, and realistic…as in, she kept asking herself¬†“why am I doing this?!?” when she did dangerous things. She also, oddly, actually turned evidence into the police! Shocker! I get so irritated when these amateur sleuths actually hide evidence from the cops.

Also, though she does have a¬†‘love interest’, she doesn’t immediately fall head over heels or spend the whole book quarreling with him, which was a refreshing change. For some reason, it’s almost impossible for authors to allow their female main characters to be autonomous, especially in cozy mysteries. They almost always end up spending more time worried about their love lives than actually staying alive.

The mystery here was pretty good. It took me a bit to figure out the bad guy and then it took me even longer to figure out how they did it. It was one where you actually seem to solve things at generally the same pace as the sleuth instead of spending half the book going “READ THE STUPID LETTER!!!” or anything like that. Which is great because, as I stated earlier, these books are supposed to be fun, not aggravating! ūüėČ

I ended up making this my “first book in a new-to-you series” for my reading challenge, because I liked it so much that I decided to buy the next one. That doesn’t actually happen all that often with cozy mysteries for me, so you know it’s got to be good!

Still Life (Louise Penny) 

Description from Goodreads:¬†Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the S√Ľret√© du Qu√©bec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montr√©al and yet a world away. Jane Neal, a long-time resident of Three Pines, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more but Gamache smells something foul this holiday season‚Ķand is soon certain that Jane died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter.

338691Review: This was a really enjoyable¬†mystery. I ended up really liking the main character; he seemed like a nice guy who honestly wanted to help and protect the people of the village. He actually listened to people when they spoke, including his subordinates, and wasn’t above taking advice.

And I’ll admit, it was nice that he was happily married, so I didn’t have to spend half the book reading things like “her eyes were beautiful seas” or anything like that (can you tell I’m really not fond of romances? ūüėČ ), though that DOES happen far less with male main characters than with women, so it wasn’t TOO¬†surprising.

The mystery here was really interesting as well. It took me a long time to figure out who the murderer was, which is always nice. I liked this one well enough to invest in the second book, so we’ll see how the series goes.

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Well, that’s it for now. How about you? What is your reading ‘guilty pleasure’?¬†Do you like cozy mysteries? If you have any suggestions for goods ones, please share in the comments! ūüėÄ

T5W – Fave Sci-Fi/Fantasy!

Time for another Top 5 Wednesday! This week, in collaboration with the BooktubeSFF Awards, we’re exploring favorite Sci-Fi and Fantasy books! This is a genre near and dear to my heart because, though I’m more of a mystery gal nowadays, I grew up as a sci-fi/fantasy fanatic. I’m going to forgo the most popular books in this list, since most everyone already knows about Harry Potter, Doctor Who, etc, and you don’t really want to read the same lists over and over. So here are a handful of books that you may not of heard of, but should really give a try! ūüėÄ

Long Way to a Small, Angry Plant (Becky Chambers)

27213244.jpgI just finished this book a couple of weeks ago and it was amazing! The amount of world (universe) building that went into this novel is insane. The book starts out focused on a woman named Rosemary who is joining a spaceship that creates wormholes for the public to travel through space. Once on board, you get to learn about each of the members of the crew: their personality, their family/friends, their homeworld, and you learn about the universe as a whole. The author has created a universe as detailed and diverse as Star Trek or Doctor Who in a single book. I highly recommend this one.

Circle of Magic (Tamora Pierce)

I LOVED this series as a child and I still love it today. It’s four of only a handful of books that I still reread from time to time. The books are about four young children who discover that they have unique magical skills. This was one of my first ever “misfit realizes they are special” books, so it really affected me at the time. It also was one of the first series¬†where I liked every single character, which was VERY helpful in encouraging me as a young reader.

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Redshirts (John Scalzi)

Have you ever seen that movie, Galaxy Quest? This is kind of like that,13055592 only reversed. Here the crew of a starship find out that the reason all this wacky stuff keeps happening to them is that they are actually characters in a TV show. Star Trek fans will LOVE this one; I know I certainly did. It gets a bit mind-bendy towards the middle, but if you can stick with it, you will end up really enjoying the book.

Leven Thumps (Obert Skye)

214856This is a wonderful series! Fourteen year old¬†Leven Thumps finds a gateway to the magical land of Foo and has to help save both worlds from the evil Sabine. This¬†one is kind of reminiscent of the ‘His Dark Materials’ series by Philip Pullman, but with a completely unique cast of characters. What’s extra nice about this series is that the¬†teenagers are actually believable AS TEENAGERS. For some reason, it seems very difficult for the average author to write a believable teenager.¬†I haven’t finished the entire series, but this seems like a great one for the young adult fantasy nut!

NPCs (Drew Hayes)

I LOVED this book! For those of you who don’t game (that includes22088245 myself, though I am a bit of a gaming voyeur, I suppose), a NPC is a Non-Player Character in a role playing game, like Dungeons & Dragons. Basically anyone who isn’t played by a real person, like the pub owner or the guy selling cabbages, is a NPC. In this book, the NPCs in a¬†game end up having to take over a¬†quest for the actual players in order to save their hometown from being destroyed by the king. The humor is great, the characters believable, and the world building awesome. There are a lot of inside jokes for gamers, but anyone who likes fantasy will enjoy this as well.

Honorable Mention:

Welcome to Night Vale (Joseph Fink & Jeffery Cranor)

We’re only supposed to do five and this isn’t technically a book¬†(though they DO have a novel now so I’m counting it), but I can’t resist adding in my favorite podcast, ‘Welcome to Night Vale’. My favorite description of this podcast is that “it’s like Steven King and Neil Gaiman made a Sim City together and left it running for a few years”. Yeah…it’s THAT GOOD!

WtNV is a community radio program for a city (called Night Vale, obvs) where pretty much every conspiracy theory you’ve every heard of is true. The characters and story lines are all really off the wall, but somehow still completely believable. The fan base is amazing as well, welcoming to everyone regardless of age, gender, anything (and you should see their fanart, wow!), probably because the podcast itself is so welcoming (as long as your name isn’t Steve, lol). You should all definitely check it out!

WelcometoNightVale

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Well, there you have it, my less well-known list of recommendations for sci-fi and fantasy lovers. I tried to get a mixture in there for you, so I hope you found something that sounds interesting!

Book Review – Kingston Raine and the Grim Reaper

Book:¬†Kingston Raine and the Grim Reaper¬†‚ÄstAuthor:¬†Jackson Lear

Genre: Fiction, Adventure, Supernatural-ish

Description from Goodreads:

The Grim Reaper finds himself confronted with his most challenging death ever: that of Kingston Raine, an industrial thief and all-round smartass. Soon he comes to realize that Kingston may be the only one capable of thwarting a coup that threatens the entire afterlife. Unfortunately, Kingston just did the impossible and found a way to escape back to his own universe.

My Review:

::opens mouth to speak::
::closes mouth::
::opens mouth again::
“….uh…well?…”
::closes mouth::

Ok, first things first: I liked this book, I really did. But how to describe it without spoilers? Hm….

General description time: Limbo is run by a corporation called Death Inc, whose CEO is, of course, Death himself. During the latest coup, Death accidentally manages to kill a fictional character named Kingston Raine. Kingston¬†turns out to be clever and crazy enough to steal Death’s scythe and zap himself back into the fictional universe…just not HIS fictional universe. Mayhem ensues.

Bibliophiles will get a kick out of this one, as Kingston¬†manages to stumble into some of the greatest literary characters of all time during his journey to get back home. I had fun trying to guess¬†along with¬†Kingston which book he was in, so I won’t divulge WHICH characters, but there’s some good ones in there. And I want to applaud the author for sticking to the original version of the tales (you’ll know which one I’m talking about when you get to it).

This book was hilarious. Who knew Death and Satan could be so humorous? ūüėČ Their banter and the quips coming from Kingston & crew kept everything fairly upbeat. You can tell that the author has a good sense of humor.

He also writes people very well. All of the characters, both “real” and “fictional”, came across very realistically. These were people¬†you could see yourself hanging out with; my favorite type of characters. And, come on, the author¬†actually got a cheer out of me when Satan turned up towards the end, that’s just good writing. ūüėČ

All in all I highly recommend this book for people looking for a fun read. One of the other reviews I read called it “madcap” and I heartily agree. If you can suspend your disbelief enough to just go¬†with it, this book will take you on quite the ride.

Special note: The Kindle version of this book is currently free on Amazon (3/8/2017). Also, subscribe to the author’s mailing list, you can download this book and the sequel for free (http://www.jacksonlear.com/).

Similar Book(s):

I honestly really just want to write “Dogma” here, because the movie¬†has a similar feel (although a LOT more vulgarity and drama). That’s probably not super helpful, though, so I’m going to go with:

Good Omens – Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

 

 

Book (aka Life) Burnout

Alas, the wall has been hit. I have finally caved into my¬†first big book burnout of the year. I’ve started 6 books in the last week and can’t bring myself to really care about any of them. ūüė¶

In this case, though, it may actually be a case of Life Burnout, since I can’t bring myself to crochet or enjoy my favorite shows either. Playing on Facebook is boring. Going to work is an even bigger chore than normal. All I want seem to want to do is cuddle with my dog and sulk. Sigh. I hate it when I get like this.

Suggestions? What do you do to motivate yourself when you have hit the dreaded ennui?

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While you ponder your reply, here is a short list of the books I am trying to entice myself into reading. Let me know if you have read any yourself and think they are worth pushing through the fog for. ūüôā

  1. Mistborn (Brandon Sanderson)
  2. An Uninvited Guest (EJ Copperman)
  3. Kington Raine and the Grim Reaper (Jackson Lear)
  4. Devil in the White City (Erik Larson)
  5. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Alan Bradley)
  6. Les Miserables (Victor Hugo) – This one is my year-long goal. ūüėČ

I’ve actually gotten decently far into both Mistborn and Kingston Raine, so I’m hopeful about finishing them. Kingston is much more playful than Mistborn, though, so I’ll probably try to stick with that one for now, especially since my copy of Mistborn in over 600 pages long!

Any book suggestions to help my with my burnout? I’m trying to find something fun that will grab my attention quickly. My burnout brain tends to drop books if they haven’t grabbed me within 30 pages or so. :/ Any genre will do, though I’m really not fond of romances. Please help!

(Cover photo: Hyperbole and a Half)