The Books of 2019

Goodreads Challenge: 20
Books Finished: 20
Books DNF: 5

I lowered my challenge from 50 books to 20 in 2019, and I think this was a good idea.  I’m keeping that same energy in 2020, plus it goes with the number.  I still have book reviews from 2018 to write, so the lower number theoretically helps bring that down, too (not…really).

Because I only read 20 books, I’m going to list them all here in no particular order at first then the Top 10 after.


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Classic)

You really have to keep your present sensibilities in check in order to garner what Fitzgerald was after.  It’s not a bad message about how we treat the very young vs. the very old, but it comes with a whole bunch of yikes.

Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare (Classic)

The question of Cleopatra’s betrayal is still up in the air, and the ruminations on the concept are far more fascinating than the answer.

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (Classic)

Oh my fucking god, this was almost laughably bad in so many ways.  I’m glad I read it, but it was dry and plodding for so many chapters.  The most interesting parts involved the Persian who doesn’t even get a name.  Raoul’s character as well as Eric’s were greatly improved by Andrew Lloyd Weber’s musical, which greatly improved upon many aspects of Leroux’s work.

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Black Butler, Vol. 1 by Yana Toboso (Kuroshitsuji #1)

Title: Black Butler, Vol. 1
Series Title: Kuroshitsuji
Author: Yana Toboso
Translator: Tomo Kimura
Date Added: January 8, 2018
Date Started: July 26, 2018
Date Finished: August 2, 2018
Reading Duration: 7 days
Genre: Manga/Graphic Novel, Young Adult (YA), Fantasy, Paranormal, Horror

Black Butler, Vol. 1 coverPages: 192
Publisher: Yen Press
Publication Date: February 27, 2007
Media: Paperback (Library)


In the Victorian ages of London The Earl of the Phantomhive house, Ciel Phantomhive, needs to get his revenge on those who had humiliated him and destroyed what he loved. Not being able to do it alone he sells his soul to a demon he names Sebastian Michaelis. Now working as his butler, Sebastian must help the Earl Phantomhive in this suspenseful, exciting, thriller manga.


This is one of those books where the blurb tells you more than the initial chapters.  I didn’t realize Sebastian was a demon Ciel sold his soul to until I neared the end, though I did peak at the chapter titles and the last one is called “The Butler Most Evil.”  I spent the entire book wondering about the Earl of Phantomhive’s eye patch and wondering if that had anything to do with his dark deal.  Sadly, I doubt I’ll even find out unless I watch the anime or look up the wiki.

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Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson (Lumberjanes #1) (DNF)

Title: Beware the Kitten Holy
Series Title: Lumberjanes
Author: Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, & Faith Hicks
Artists: Brooke A. Allen, Shannon Waters, Kay Leyh, Carolyn Nowak, & Carey Pietsch
Date Added: January 13, 2017
Date Started: July 19, 2018
Date DNF: July 25, 2018
Reading Duration: 6 days
Genre: Graphic Novel, Young Adult (YA), Fantasy

Lumberjanes, Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten HolyPages: 128
Publisher: BOOM! Box
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Media: Paperback (Library)


At Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s camp for hard-core lady-types, things are not what they seem. Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams. Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together… And they’re not gonna let a magical quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! The mystery keeps getting bigger, and it all begins here.


I feel like this was definitely geared towards a different demographic than yours truly’s, which is why I ended up DNFing it.  So much wacky stuff was going on that I never got much of a sense of the characters, but to be fair I didn’t get much past Chapter 1.  There was a pattern of the girls finding and/or running from three-eyed creatures .  They start off facing three-eyed foxes, run into a three-eyed river monster, and then Ripley tries to get her candy bar back from a three-eyed eagle (believe it or not).  From what I read, the characters seemed pretty interchangeable, except for the one girl who could recite the Lumberjanes pledge by memory.  I’m hoping they became more distinct as the story went on.  There was decent representation, at least in terms of racial diversity, and I can see the appeal; it just wasn’t appealing to me.  Kinda like Mamma Mia lol.

Wytches, Volume 1 by Scott Snyder (Wytches #1-6)

Title: Wytches, Volume 1
Series Title: Wytches
Author: Scott Snyder
Artists: Jock, Matt Hollingsworth, & Clem Robins
Date Added: October 9, 2017
Date Started: July 8, 2018
Date Finished: July 15, 2018
Reading Duration: 7 days
Genre: Graphic Novel, Horror, Fantasy

Wytches, Volume 1 CoverPages: 192
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: October 8, 2014
Media: Paperback (Library)


Everything you thought you knew about witches is wrong. They are much darker, and they are much more horrifying. Wytches takes the mythology of witches to a far creepier, bone-chilling place than readers have dared venture before. When the Rooks family moves to the remote town of Litchfield, NH to escape a haunting trauma, they’re hopeful about starting over. But something evil is waiting for them in the woods just beyond town. Watching from the trees. Ancient…and hungry.


This was…okay.  I liked how the novel was cleverly bookended with everything occurring tying in with an incident in the beginning.  There was also an in-story comic that cleverly connected with the book’s plot, and the artwork is decent.

I liked the relationship Sailor had with Charlie, her father, but her character is not well developed.  She had a cool, quirky look, which may have been Snyder’s way of hinting why she’d been bullied, but no personality to fill that role.

Sailor from Wytches. She has reddish and is wearing a yellow hat and yellow tinted, rectangular glasses. Her expression is troubled. Her speech bubble says, "I don't know. What if they all know about me?" where the "know" is in bold.

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Peddling Doomsday by Petra Jacob

Title: Peddling Doomsday
Author: Petra Jacob
Date Added: June 6, 2018
Date Started: June 18, 2018
Date Finished: July 3, 2018
Reading Duration: 32 Days
Genre: Fiction, Drama, Psychological Thriller

Peddling DoomsdayPages: 345
Publisher: Self
Publication Date: May 31, 2018
Media: eBook/Kindle


No matter where she is, Deirdre feels out of place. So when a cult known as the Center contacts her, wanting her join up, she’s intrigued. They say a terrible war is coming, humanity is in danger and without explaining why, say she’s needed for the fight. Suddenly the chance to be spectacular is within her grasp. With the charismatic Myra as the cult leader, and talk of prophecies and psychic abilities, Deirdre is soon seduced and ditches her humdrum life to join up. 

Once inside, her understanding of the world shifts. She learns the truth about the elite, a secret organisation that has meddled with humanity since the beginning of time. The elite use entertainment and the media as a constant distraction to stop people from reaching their true potential. To free themselves of this conditioning, the followers must give up ‘excessive’ food and sleep. They also carry out increasingly bizarre rituals under the critical eye of the Captain, a minor leader of the new followers. He seems to take pleasure from turning them against one another. 

Tensions increase. The followers gain odd new abilities, but bullying and hysteria also grow. Meanwhile Myra’s prophecies become increasingly extreme. As paranoia intensifies, Deirdre questions where the belief ends, and delusion begins.


‘I suppose life is just whatever stories we choose to tell ourselves at the time,’

If you ever want to dive into the machinations of how a cult can draw in and take over “normal” people, this second book from one of my favorite indie authors is the one you want to read.  From the outside, it’s painfully obvious what’s going on, but if you really want to be believe something or believe in something because you have nothing else to cling to, you will.  That’s how cults and certain religious sects prey on the most vulnerable.

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The Last Stitch Goes Through the Nose by Moses Norton – Review & Analysis

Title: The Last Stitch Goes Through the Nose
Author: Moses Norton
Date Added: May 28, 2019
Date Started: June 13, 2019
Date Finished: July 5, 2019
Reading Duration: 22 Days
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult (YA), Novella

The Last Stitch Goes Through the Nose by Moses NortonPages: 104
Publisher: Self
Publication Date: May 27, 2019
Media: eBook/Kindle & Physical Copy


Who is the Scissor-man? Nobody cares, nobody sees, except for one little boy. This debut literary fantasy novella takes a hard look at society and its outcasts through the eyes of innocent youth. In a world where death is ignored, Orasi becomes fascinated with the Scissor-man, the homeless mortician. After he finds a black thread in the snow, Orasi begins to unravel the legends surrounding this horrifying figure, and his journey of discovery brings him closer than ever to the father he barely knew. But the world is a place that has already decided its rules. His is just one beating heart among millions who are already dead, and Orasi may not like what he finds in the end…The Last Stitch Goes Through The Nose tests its characters to see if they are still breathing, and it might reach out to see if you are, too. The Last Stitch is perfect for the Young Adult reader who isn’t too grown up yet, or the adult reader who suspects they can still see through the eyes of a child.


Note: I’ll be breaking this up into Review and Analysis where the Review section will contain no spoilers, but the Analysis will.


Review


Only this kind of a memory remained: a makeshift history such as pleased those who had yet to suffer their own encounter with the end. The dead man was glorified, made new in memory.

This is not a happy story.  It’s a story that makes an important point that should lead to better outcomes, but it won’t.  It gives us a child protagonist we hope will bolster change in the tradition that children defy adults as well as adult expectations and prejudices.

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Fool Moon by Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files #2)

Title: Fool Moon
Series Title: The Dresden Files
Author: Jim Butcher
Date Added: January 17, 2013
Date Started: May 26, 2018
Date Finished: June 27, 2018
Reading Duration: 32 Days
Genre: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Paranormal/Supernatural, Mystery

Fool Moon by Jim Butcher (Dresden Files #2) coverPages: 401
Publication Date: January 1, 2001
Publisher: Roc
Media: Paperback


Harry Dresden–Wizard
Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment.

Business has been slow. Okay, business has been dead. And not even of the undead variety. You would think Chicago would have a little more action for the only professional wizard in the phone book. But lately, Harry Dresden hasn’t been able to dredge up any kind of work–magical or mundane.

But just when it looks like he can’t afford his next meal, a murder comes along that requires his particular brand of supernatural expertise.

A brutally mutilated corpse. Strange-looking paw prints. A full moon. Take three guesses–and the first two don’t count…


Where do I even begin?  Not only is this book astoundingly predictable, but the main character’s overbearing White Knight complex is arguably the catalyst for a friend’s death and the start of everything.   Harry’s refusal to give her any information leads to her making a fatal error, and you can see it coming from a mile away.  It’s bad enough he does this to one of his student’s, but when Dresden does the same thing to Karen Murphy, the fucking police chief, it’s impossible not to call him out for his sexism.  Murphy is a police lieutenant with experience, and it’s goddamn patronizing, which is exactly what she tells him.  She’s not his daughter.  She’s not his student.  She’s a an experienced cop who has every right to take the risk.  If she has the information and knows something is dangerous, it’s her choice whether or not to follow through.  While I get Murphy might know all the ins and outs of magic, it’s still not Harry’s call, and the truth is his unwillingness to supply information is why his other friend wound up dead.

I said what I said gif - A Black woman with blonde hair gesticulating/pointing with her left hand

Then later, Murphy tells him not to keep secrets from her, and what does Harry do?  He doesn’t tell her about the car potentially tailing him, nor about the spell he could use to find the killer.  Then he has the fucking audacity to blame her for no longer considering him a friend, when he’s the one jeopardizing the friendship with his actions.  I can’t feel sorry for him for this or when Murphy arrests his ass.  All he had to do was let her know what was going on, and the only reason he didn’t was because of his ridiculous White Knight thing.

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