The Rook

The Rook

By: Daniel O’Malley
Published: 2012
Pages: 504
Series: The Checquy Files
Challenges: Alphabet Soup

Goodreads description:

Myfanwy Thomas awakens in a London park surrounded by dead bodies. With her memory gone, she must trust the instructions left by her former in order to survive. She quickly learns that she is a Rook, a high-level operative in a secret agency that protects the world from supernatural threats. But there is a mole inside the organization, and this person wants her dead.

Battling to save herself, Myfanwy will encounter a person with four bodies, a woman who can enter her dreams, children transformed into deadly fighters, and a terrifyingly vast conspiracy.

Suspenseful and hilarious, The Rook is an outrageously imaginative thriller for readers who like their espionage with a dollop of purple slime.

Review:

A friend loaned me this book a few months ago and recently gave me the next book in the series so I figured I’d better get a move on and read the first one! I’m glad I did because this fantasy mystery was funny, fascinating, and fast paced. I’m not into spy novels or criminal thrillers, but the fantasy aspects made all the difference and made me really interested in the main character and her job in a government-like agency.

Myfanwy (pronounced Miffany, rhymes with Tiffany) only knows her name because it’s in a note she finds in her coat pocket one evening when she wakes up in a park surrounded by dead bodies. The note also gives her a choice – face the dangers that will inevitably follow her or flee the country to live in luxury somewhere else. That doesn’t seem like much of a choice, but Myfanwy takes the road less traveled. She merges right into the real Myfanwy’s life, but spices things up a little.

In the supernatural agency she finds herself working for, nothing really needs spicing up, but Myfanwy manages to do just that in the midst of superhero-like characters and situations like sentient fungus houses and evil flesh cubes.

Basically, this is the kind of book I normally wouldn’t enjoy except for the fact that it’s filled with fantasy elements. Government agencies, spies, espionage, politics aren’t normally something I want in a book, but The Rook has lots of fun extras plus it’s well-written and super funny in parts. I laughed out loud once, which is very rare for me!

Overall, it was a fun read and I’m looking forward to reading the second in the series, Stiletto. It looks like a third in the series will be published this year, according to Goodreads. I recommend this to adults who enjoy fantasy, especially when it’s mixed with the modern world.

2020 End of Year Survey

(I usually put a fireworks/sparkler year graphic, but this is fitting for 2020!)

First I have my own wrap up and then I have The Perpetual Page-Turner’s annual survey.

Challenges in which I participated:

What’s in a Name? (finished 6/6)
A to Z (finished 17/26)
Book Bingo (finished all but 2)
R.I.P. XV (finished 4)
Goodreads Challenge (finished 59/65)

# of books read:

59

Previous years:
53 in 2019
81 in 2018
61 in 2017
35 in 2016
52 in 2015
58 in 2014
60 in 2013
75 in 2012
39 in 2011
30 in 2010
28 in 2009
48 in 2008
81 in 2007

Favorites (in order read):

I had a great turnout of great books this year! Something good in 2020 ❤

The One by: John Marrs
The Last Wish by: Andrzej Sapowski
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by: Holly Jackson
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by: Alix E. Harrow
American Dirt by: Jeanine Cummins
A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by: C.A. Fletcher
Mexican Gothic by: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Home Before Dark by: Riley Sager
The Shadows by: Alex North
Reasons to Stay Alive by: Matt Haig

Least favorite:

Vox by: Christina Dalcher

# of non-fiction:

5

Repeated authors:

Andrzej Sapowski (8) (The Witcher series)
Rick Riordan (9) (Percy Jackson and the Olympians) (The Heroes of Olympus) (The Kane Chronicles)
Alex North (2)
Lisa Jewell (2)

**The Perpetual Page-Turner**
**2020 READING STATS**

Number Of Books You Read:
Number of Re-Reads: 0
Genre You Read The Most From:

best-YA-books-2014

1. Best Book You Read In 2020?
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by: Alix E. Harrow

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
The Priory of the Orange Tree by: Samantha Shannon

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  
A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by: C.A. Fletcher – Surprised in a good way with the plot twists!

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?
Well I gave my brother The Shadows and The Whisper Man for Christmas so does that count?

 5. Best series you started in 2020? Best Sequel? Best Series Ender of 2020?
Started and ended: The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2020?
Alex North & Riley Sager – I look forward to reading more from both authors.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride by: Daniel James Brown – Non-fiction history

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
This is a hard one… Probably Home Before Dark by: Riley Sager

 9. Book You Read In 2020 That You Would Be MOST Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by: Holly Jackson – I may re-read before continuing the series to refresh my memory because it’s an easy read!

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2020?
Another difficult question! Probably The Ten Thousand Doors of January, but I also loved the cover of The Vine Witch.

11. Most memorable character of 2020?
Lydia from American Dirt
Grace Marks from Alias Grace

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2020?
The Ten Thousand Doors of January by: Alix E. Harrow!

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2020?

American Dirt by: Jeanine Cummins – This was thought provoking and life changing for a few different reasons, but mostly because my first foster placements were from Central America and this book had several “aha!” moments when my placements’ stories matched up and started making more sense. 😦 

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2020 to finally read? 
The Shadow of the Wind by: Carlos Ruiz Zafon

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2020?

Cats, I have found, seem to exist in more or less the same form in every world; it is my belief that they have been slipping in and out of doors for several thousand years. Anyone familiar with house cats will know this is a particular hobby of theirs.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2020?
Shortest: The Beatinist Boy by: Jesse Stuart (80 pages)
Longest: The Priory of the Orange Tree by: Samantha Shannon (848 pages)

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most
(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)
The One by: John Marrs – that ending!

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)
Lou & Reid in Serpent & Dove

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Geralt and Ciri in The Witcher series

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2020 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by: Suzanne Collins

21. Best Book You Read In 2020 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure/Bookstagram, Etc.:
Red Sparrow by: Jason Matthews

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2020?
Geralt of Rivia from The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapowski

23. Best 2020 debut you read?
The Ten Thousand Doors of January

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Rick Riordan does an amazing job building his fantasy story world in our modern world. It may seem so vivid because it’s actually real and I’ve been to many of the places his characters visit, but even his descriptions of pure fantasy settings are so well written that it feels real. So the short answer is: The Heroes of Olympus series.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Half Magic by: Edward Eager – it’s a children’s book and I read it out loud to my 9 year old son.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2020?
Three Little Words by: Ashley Rhodes-Courter

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
American Dirt

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2020?
The Deep by: Rivers Solomon

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
Blanca & Roja by: Anna-Marie McElmore – I wanted to smack those girls upside the head for their awful lack of communication!!

book-blogging

1. New favorite book blog/Bookstagram/Youtube channel you discovered in 2020?
I haven’t been very active with book blogs this year and I don’t frequent Instagram or YouTube.

2. Favorite post you wrote in 2020?
I didn’t write many, so I guess it would be my end of 2019 review!

3. Favorite bookish related photo you took in 2020?
Does this count? A couple of years ago I found our dictionary under my son’s bed and he had added his own title to the front. I wasn’t even mad that he defaced a book, it was so cute! A few months ago I was going through some books and found this and snapped a picture of it so that even if it’s ever misplaced I’ll always remember “The Book of Spells.”

4. Best bookish event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events,  etc.)?
Just my regular reading challenges! Especially R.I.P.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2020?
Finishing up some of the challenges I started!

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?
Well I found it almost impossible to blog! I did read a lot more than I expected with a baby in the house.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
The WIAN’s sign up that you can find HERE!

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
The Book Beau product, which I haven’t bought, but I enjoy looking at them and thinking about how I could make one….if I could ever finish a sewing project!

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I completed the What’s in a Name Challenge, the R.I.P. Challenge, and most of the Book Bingo Challenge.

looking-ahead-books-2015

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2020 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2021?
Dune by: Frank Herbert

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2021 (non-debut)?
I thought I saw somewhere that The Thorn of Emberlain by Scott Lynch, the 4th book in the Gentleman Bastard series, is coming out in 2021. I’ve been waiting for years!

3. 2021 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
I don’t keep up with debuts ahead of time.

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2021?
The Thorn of Emberlain
Is Patrick Rothfuss ever going to come out with the next Kingkiller Chronicle book?

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2021?
Blog more!

6. A 2021 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable):

What’s in a Name 2021 Sign Up

Welcome to the 14th annual What’s in a Name challenge! In years past, this challenge was hosted by Charlie at The Worm Hole. I took over in 2019 and I’m excited to host again this year!

The challenge runs from January 1, 2021 to December 31, 2021. You can sign up any time, but only count books that you read between those dates.

Read a book in any format (hard copy, ebook, audio) with a title that fits into each category.

Don’t use the same book for more than one category.

Creativity for matching the categories is not only allowed, it’s encouraged!

You can choose your books as you go or make a list ahead of time.

Sign up using the Mr Linky below with a link to your WIAN challenge page/post, not your main blog URL. Feel free to save and use the graphic at the top of the page! Also, link back to this sign up page in your challenge post so others can join too.

The categories below are links to each category sign up link.  Add your book review for each category so we can see what you’ve read and discover ideas as needed.

In 2021, choose 6 books that have titles that contain a:
(Click on the links for more examples and info)

Click the Mister Linky graphic above to enter your name and/or blog name (many people use this format: Andrea @ Carolina Book Nook) and the URL to your challenge post.  If you have any issues, email me through the Contact menu at the top of my blog and I’ll manually sign you up.

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions!  Thanks and happy reading!

Future of What’s in a Name

I am still able to host the What’s in a Name Challenge, but if you would like to take over instead, please let me know in the next couple of days and I will happily pass the reins.

I love this challenge and will gladly host it, but I also feel guilty for not responding to comments, keeping up with everyone, and not even completing the challenge myself! I can put in the time at the beginning of the year to organize it and make a space for it, but as far as making it fun for everyone throughout the year, it’s just not going to happen. So if you would like to take it and make it more involved, please do so! I can tell you what I do if you’d like to use the same resources.

I hope everyone is doing well and staying healthy as we try to finish up this crazy year!

Blanca & Roja

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Blanca & Roja

By: Anna-Marie McLemore
Published: 2018
# of pages: 375
Challenges: What’s in a Name? (ampersand), Book Bingo (reliving fairytale)
Quote: “There were ways to carve away from your heart everything that did not truly belong, and still come back to life.”

Goodreads description:

The biggest lie of all is the story you think you already know.

The del Cisne girls have never just been sisters; they’re also rivals, Blanca as obedient and graceful as Roja is vicious and manipulative. They know that, because of a generations-old spell, their family is bound to a bevy of swans deep in the woods. They know that, one day, the swans will pull them into a dangerous game that will leave one of them a girl, and trap the other in the body of a swan.

But when two local boys become drawn into the game, the swans’ spell intertwines with the strange and unpredictable magic lacing the woods, and all four of their fates depend on facing truths that could either save or destroy them. Blanca & Roja is the captivating story of sisters, friendship, love, hatred, and the price we pay to protect our hearts.

Review:

I’m not going to lie, the cover and the title of this book are what made me put it on my TBR list. Then because it had an ampersand and had been on my list a good while, I decided to give it a go.

All in all, it was an interesting retelling of the fairytale Snow White. I loved the family myth aspect and the traditions and environment the sisters Blanca and Roja grow up amidst.

The problem (for me) was that this is a magical realism novel and it’s rare that I enjoy that genre. I have no clue why because I love fantasy and I think magical realism is such a cool concept, but for some reason I almost always don’t get into the plot or connect with the characters and this book was no exception, unfortunately.

Parts were also repetitive and others didn’t quite make sense. It was frustrating that so much hinged on miscommunication. And while this is true in real life and is a common theme in many novels, it came across as dense and stilted in this book.

What I did like are the many themes of relationships, the mythical aspects, and the original concept.

I’d recommend this to fans of magical realism, fairytale retellings, and anyone looking for a LGBT+ theme.

R.I.P. XV

It’s finally time for R.I.P. XV! Not much is motivating me to get on my blog these days, but this is the highlight of my year! I can’t believe we’re a week into September now.

This has been a very busy year so far, in spite of staying home more and having so many things canceled. But a foster parent’s life never really slows down, especially one with a baby. But my sister’s wedding was yesterday and I find myself with a little more time so I’m ready to set up my R.I.P. list.

I was a little disconcerted to find that R.I.P. XV doesn’t have a blog home this year. There’s also no levels, it’s just read scary books and post them to Instagram or Twitter! I don’t really use either of those platforms, but I do have an Instagram account so I’ll get on there some to see what’s up.

My list this year:

Mexican Gothic by: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Turn of the Screw by: Henry James

Home Before Dark by: Riley Sager

The Shadows by: Alex North

Ghost Story by: Peter Straub

An Unwanted Guest by: Shari Lapena

The Complete Works of H.P. Lovecraft

What’s in a Name 2020

The challenge extends from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020.  You can sign up any time, but only count books that you read between those dates.

Read a book in any format (hard copy, ebook, audio) with a title that fits in each category.

Don’t use the same book for more than one category.

Creativity for matching the categories is not only allowed, it’s encouraged!

You can choose your books as you go or make a list ahead of time.


Here are my ideas for this year:

  • An ampersand – &: Blanca & Roja  by: Anna-Marie McLemore
  • An antonym: Wicked Saints
  • 4 letters or less: Vox
  • A given/first name: Malorie  by: Josh Malerman
  • Reference to children: Children of Blood and Bone
  • One of the 4 natural elements – water, air, fire, earth: Little Fires Everywhere  by: Celeste Ng

2019 End of Year Survey

2019-gettyimages-879240048

This is my annual wrap up!  The past few years I’ve also completed the survey created by The Perpetual Page-Turner, but this year has been crazy since I’m currently fostering a newborn and I don’t have the energy or time for more!

Challenges in which I participated:

What’s in a Name?
A to Z
Book Bingo
Monthly Motif
R.I.P. XIV

# of books read:

53

Previous years:

81 in 2018
61 in 2017
35 in 2016
52 in 2015
58 in 2014
60 in 2013
75 in 2012
39 in 2011
30 in 2010
28 in 2009
48 in 2008
81 in 2007

Favorites (in order read):

Where the Crawdads Sing  by: Delia Owens
The Witch Elm  by: Tana French
Red Dragon  by: Thomas Harris
The Dovekeepers  by: Alice Hoffman
Good Omens  by: Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman
The Silence of the Lambs  by: Thomas Harris
Tree of Life  by: Sarah Joy Green-Hart
The Cabin at the End of the World  by: Paul Tremblay
No Exit  by: Taylor Adams
The Little Stranger  by: Sarah Waters
The Missing Years  by: Lexie Elliott

Least favorite:

The Amulet Thief  by: Luanne Bennett

# of non-fiction:

3

Repeated authors:

Thomas Harris (2) (Hannibal Lecter)
Katherine Arden (3) (Winternight Trilogy)
Sarah Crossan (2) (Breathe)
Ben Aaronovitch (3) (Rivers of London)
Rick Riordan (2) (Percy Jackson and the Olympians)

 

6. A 2020 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable):

 

 

If you could, I’d love you to leave some feedback for any questions you’d LIKE to see on this survey in the future that perhaps I don’t have on here!

 

What’s in a Name 2020 Challenge Sign Up

Welcome to the 13th annual What’s in a Name challenge! In years past, this challenge was hosted by Charlie at The Worm Hole. I took over for 2019 and I’m excited to host again this year!

The challenge runs from January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020. You can sign up any time, but only count books that you read between those dates.

Read a book in any format (hard copy, ebook, audio) with a title that fits into each category.

Don’t use the same book for more than one category.

Creativity for matching the categories is not only allowed, it’s encouraged!

You can choose your books as you go or make a list ahead of time.

Sign up using the Mr Linky below with a link to your WIAN challenge page/post, not your main blog URL. Feel free to save and use the graphic at the top of the page! Also, link back to this sign up page in your challenge post so others can join too.

The categories below are links to each category sign up link.  Add your book review for each category so we can see what you’ve read and discover ideas as needed.

Here are the categories for 2020:

Click the Mister Linky graphic above to enter your name and/or blog name (many people use this format: Andrea @ Carolina Book Nook) and the URL to your challenge post.  If you have any issues, email me through the Contact menu at the top of my blog and I’ll manually sign you up.

Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions!  Thanks and happy reading!