First Line Friday

Tea Corner (Blog)

Happy Friday! (It’s finally Friday *sob*)

This long week is nearly over!
I’ve been a bit sparse with posting on social media and on my blog lately (work and life) but I figured I could at least drop in to throw up a quick post to celebrate the upcoming weekend!

For First Line Fridays, all you have to do to participate is to grab a book, find the first line/sentence, and share it with others! Remember to put up the titles and authors so others can find the books too!

For this week’s First Line Friday, we are taking a peek at Red Hail by Jamie Killen! Take a look at the book’s GR page >HERE<

Anza stood at the window and watched her father’s truck bump down the driveway.

Goodreads Summary:

Professor Colin Ayres has spent years researching the strange story of Galina, Arizona, a sleepy border town ripped apart by violence and paranoia after the outbreak of a mysterious illness in 1960. Colin is certain the Galina Incident was simply a case of mass hysteria. But when his partner, Alonzo, starts exhibiting strange symptoms, Colin is shocked to realize they are the same as those that emerged in Galina decades ago.

As Alonzo’s condition worsens, Colin scrambles to piece together what really happened during that terrible summer in the past. He uncovers a story of murder, corruption, and fanaticism. The deeper he digs, the more he becomes convinced that what happened in Galina wasn’t mass hysteria after all.

When others start to develop the same eerie symptoms, Colin must confront the possibility that someone—or something—is driving the plague. Guided by rumors of a person who found a way to stop the plague in the sixties, Colin races to find answers before the disease destroys Alonzo and everyone else it touches.

That’s all for this Friday! I hope you have a lovely weekend with lots of books to keep you company (>*v*)>📘

Stay At Home Book Tag

Tea Corner (Blog)

I spent 9 years (almost 10) in Buffalo before moving back to the city I grew up in. Now I’m closer than ever to (half) of my family and I can’t even visit many of them. 2020 has been a long and hard year, but I don’t think anyone needs me to say that 😣. As an office worker, I was able to work from home for a couple months, having since returned to the office back in June. It was during the lockdown that I was able to start Cozy with Books and read more than I ever had in a year!

Thank you so much to Nikki for tagging me! Go check out her awesome blog and post too!

The Rules

  • Thank the person who tagged you!
  • Answer all the questions (listed below).
  • Pingback to the creator (Ellyn @Allonsythornraxx).
  • Nominate 5+ bloggers you’d like to know more about, to do this tag (listed at the end of this post).

What are you currently reading?

I wanted to put The Eye of the World here because I’ve been trying to get past the first few chapters since I started the book maybe 1-2 months ago (ahhaha), but at this point, I think it’s fair to say that I’ve given up and it’ll get read when it…gets read…

My current reads now for now is a mix between new books, older books (rereads), and an MS (a request). The current read I’m most excited to get through would be Storm Front, the next book up in the Virgil Flowers series and honestly, with the libraries opening back up, I was just excited to have an excuse to go to the library again. Virgil Flowers is my excuse to everything.

The New Books:
Mordecai’s Ashes by Arlana Crane
The Light in the Hallway by Amanda Prowse
Storm Front by John Sandford

The Rereads:
Luck in the Shadows by Lynn Flewelling
Prisoner by Megan Derr

What is your favorite “can’t leave the house” activity?

Besides the very obvious reading 😉? I enjoy playing video games on my switch (shoutouts to Dragon’s Dogma and Coffee Talk, I love you both!). I also enjoy making a cup of tea, forgetting that I made the cup of tea (for hours), and then sipping the now cold tea……while doing nothing but scrolling through my phone. Hey! Twittering is an activity, right??

What is a book you’ve been meaning to read forever?

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I have been meaning to start Gardens of the Moon by Steve Erikson since forever and ever ago. I have the Kindle copy and it just sits there. I picked this book up back when I was simply looking for a fantasy book, not knowing how big, complicated, and popular it was. To me, it was just scrolling through GR and landing on a cool looking fantasy. I have heard it’s complicated and complex to read and I’m just…intimidated by it. I’m sure I’m just overthinking it and all I really need to do is “just do it,” but I’ve been stalling…uh for uh…years.

What is an intimidating book on your TBR?

Well…oop! Gardens of the Moon would’ve fit this question perfectly, huh? Good thing I’m scared of multiple books on my TBR 😂

My next most intimidating book would probably be The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. It would be my first introduction to Sanderson and I’ll be ready to read it…someday. Honestly, it’s a tome and the only thing stopping me isn’t the fear of a large book…but the lack of a comfortable reading position for I have no proper desk, couch, or even a sofa where I currently live.

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What are the three top-priority books on your TBR?

Of course, things like review request books or Netgalley reads are obviously the books I ought to be tackling first… however, outside of that, these are the top three books I want to get started on right away!

The Thousand Names by Wexler, Django
The Red Knight by Miles Cameron
The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft (this was the top recommended book when I had asked for a read similar to Bloodborne, the game.)

Recommend a short book!

I couldn’t find a book shorter than 300 pages on my list of books (that I liked enough to recommend) so I’m going to have to throw out a graphic novel instead. Having watched the anime first and then jumping into the manga, I recommend reading Blood Blockage Battlefront by the creator of Trigun, Yasuhiro Nightow. It’s been a long time since I last read a manga and I throughly enjoyed the book and anime. If you want a quick summary, a portal has opened up between the netherworlds and earth. Taking place in New York City, humans now have to learn to coexist with the demons, monsters, and the otherworldly creatures that have crossed over.

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Recommend a long book!

Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child is my first introduction to Child and his Jack Reacher series. Nabbed off the “Free! Take me!” cart at my college’s library, it was just a random cool looking book. Plus. Free. Duh.

This book was fast paced and exciting and I really need to dig it out and reread it. I loved it from the first page to the last and was the book to kick start my years worth of reading slumps. Between this and Flesh and Blood by Patricia Cornwell, it is also one of the books responsible for me falling in love with my favorite genre: mystery thrillers.

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What do you plan on reading next?

As I’ve never really finished a series before (not even a trilogy!) I look forward to completing my first: The Shattered Sigil Trilogy. I’ve read the first two books with me flying through the first book. The second book was a little harder to get through, but it was still a pretty good read! Now I look forward to reading the last book: The Labyrinth of Flame by Courtney Schafer.

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I tag:

(Apologies if you’ve been tagged before or have already done this tag!)

The Existence of Amy [Book Review]

2020, Book Reviews, By Year

Book Name: The Existence of Amy
Series: Standalone Book: N/A
Author: Lana Grace Riva
Book Type: Physical > Paperback
Obtained: Review Request
Pages: 281
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Mental Illness
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Disclaimer: A copy of this book was provided to me, by the author, in exchange for a fair and honest review. The fact that the book was given to me did not alter my ratings/judgement of the book in any way. All opinions in this review are of my own.


TW/CW: Mental Illness > This book covers and portrays these topics: depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder.

Goodreads Link: The Existence of Amy by Lana Grace Riva
Amazon Link: Available on Kindle and Paperback

Goodreads Blurb

Amy has a normal life. That is, if you were to go by a definition of ‘no immediate obvious indicators of peculiarity’, and you didn’t know her very well. She has good friends, a good job, a nice enough home. This normality, however, is precariously plastered on top of a different life. A life that is Amy’s real life. The only one her brain will let her lead.

Review

This book is exhausting…

This book is exhausting to get through, to read, and to “experience.”

“The Existence of Amy” revolves around our main character, Amy, as she battles her hidden struggle with OCD, anxiety and depression. On the outside, with the exception of being known as a canceler, she’s perfectly fine and functional. She greets her coworkers at work, she makes small chatter, she gets through the workday, meets with clients, has work meetings, and has laughs with friends. Yet, behind each of those activities, she struggles terribly and everything gives her anxiety. Most of her day’s energy is being spent on making the right enough decision to “look normal to others.” The thoughts that run through her head are enough to make you need to sit down and breath.

Anxiety in every corner…

Amy’s OCD comes with a gang of their own lovely friends: anxiety and depression. She avoids her colleagues/friends by making up whatever excuses humanly possible to get out of a social gathering, even when every bone in her body craves to be there. Consequently, one of her friends is getting more and more upset with her for her lack of attendance in many of the events that Amy is invited but fails to show up to.

But she can’t help it. There is danger in every corner of the world and in every spec of existence. Everything gives her anxiety. The need to converse with others in a “normal way” is draining. Her mind races with thoughts when she’s boarding the bus. Flying in a plane was a terrible experience as she has to chose between being cold or using her jumper as a makeshift pillow because she didn’t want her head to touch the chair as she slept. She couldn’t even accept a gift from someone because the voices in her head told her that the object would contaminate the things in her purse and she follows up by discarding the gift and then washing her hands several times afterwards.

The first chapter was hard to get through (pacing), but when I finally settled down to read it, I found myself eating through the book and devouring it in days. I have countless sticky notes tabbing different sections and pages of the book; quotes are marked, scenes are picked out, conversations are noted. I absolutely loved this book.

I think, the worst part about this entire book was how exhausting it was to be in Amy’s head. It’s real and it’s relatable. For me, I teared up every now and then because, Hey! Sounds a bit like me… I, too, never show up to social gatherings. I crave to be hanging out with friends, but the thought of being there invites stones in my stomach. Though Amy’s reasons for avoiding gatherings and hanging out with her friends are different than mine, I found myself relating to her in a good few scenes.

Normal on the Outside…

The sad part is reading her day at work. On the outside, Amy is someone I’ve always admired and maybe been envious of. She participates in meetings, something that would nauseate me. She still makes it to some gatherings, at least. She converses and chats with her coworkers. She goes on business trips to another country! All of these I find nearly impossible to do, but she does it. On the outside, she’s that professional office worker I’ve strived to be since always! On the inside, poor Ames is on fire trying to decide which sentence to use to look normal by her standards.

“This makes me incredibly sad because people don’t understand. Why would anyone reject a kind act? It makes no sense to them. So, they can only assume I must be rude. I must be ungracious and unappreciative. I am none of those. I am. simply. scared. So. Very. Scared. All. The. Time.”

Characters…

Characters wise, I liked two of the three friends. I can tell that they all show love and worry for Amy’s odd behaviors. The last friend, I can’t tell if the author specifically wrote for them to act like so, but she felt like a very real representation of someone who is not particularly considerate of what others might be going through. Everybody in this world fights secret battles and people seem to understand that. I, for one, have never been angry for anyone’s constant cancelling on me. Well, this character was beginning to get on my nerves because they just simply never thought about “Maybe something’s up with Amy.” I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me, but I just didn’t like them. Personal opinion.

Hyperaware of every action…

This isn’t the OCD that has taken over on the internet in a meme form. This isn’t the OCD that people joke about when a tile is misaligned or you wash your hand once too many times on a single occasion. This is the OCD that begins by disturbing your life slightly, slowly creeping up and turning into destructive waves until Amy needs to call in sick to work because she can’t leave her bed.

You are taken into Amy’s mind and you experience her view on life with her. Through her eyes, you become almost hyperaware of the little actions that the average person doesn’t think about. For example, when you ride the bus, you have a very autopilot way of thinking… ticket out, scanned ticket, ticket into pocket, quick grab the pole, lemme play on my phone, my stop!, pull the bell, get off. For her, every second is filled with anxiety from having to worry about being 1 second too late to board, to bothering a fellow passenger, the looks others give to her, the choice of seats, the germs, the feeling that others are more productive than she is, silently begging someone else pulls the bell instead of her, and so on.

Beautiful, realistic, and heartbreaking, this book really draws you into Amy’s head, essentially trapping you in with her. You begin to see the warped way she views the world. Throughout the book, I had moments where I had to rationalize with her like, “Aw come on Ames! They probably aren’t thinking that about you!”

A lovely book. It was tiring to get through, not in a bad way, but in an eye opening and experiencing way.

Teaser Tuesday

Tea Corner (Blog)

It’s Teaser Tuesday! A weekly bookish meme hosted by The Purple Booker where all you have to do is to grab your current read, pick a random page, and select a non-spoiler sentence or two (from somewhere on that page) to share! If you enjoy the teaser, you might even want to add it to your own TBR!

Remember to share the title and author so others can find the book too!

THIS WEEK’S BOOK IS: THE LIGHT IN THE HALLWAY BY AMANDA PROWSE

Nick thought about last year: the house bursting at the seams with relatives, the loud laughter only one decibel away from hysteria, and that same laughter turning to tears at the slightest provocation, all present more than aware of the fact that this was to be the last Christmas they shared with their daughter/sister/niece/cousin/aunt. The whole charade had left both Nick and Kerry quite exhausted, and he had been glad when the last of the revellers had left, paper hats askew, as they trotted down the front path.

Walks with Sam – Book Review

2020, Book Reviews, By Year

Book Name: Walks with Sam: A Man, a Dog, and a Season of Awakening
Series: [Standalone] Book : N/A
Author: David W. Berner
Book Type: Ebook > Kindle (Netgalley)
Obtained: Netgalley > Read Now
Pages: 169 (Kindle)
Genre: Animals > Dogs, Non-fiction > Autobiography > Memoir
Rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Disclaimer: An e-copy of this book was provided to me via Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are of my own.

Goodreads Summary:

A man, his dog, and a long walk can lead to unexpected discoveries. In the tradition of many literary walkers, David W. Berner sets out on foot hoping to reexamine his life, look back and forward, and most importantly, through the help of his young dog, Sam, try to find harmony in new beginnings and the uncertainties of the present.

In a series of chapters, each dedicated to one walk during a summer of hiking, the author finds that it is his beloved pet that allows him to awaken to a new spirit of mindfulness, finding beauty, wonder, and comfort in the ordinary, and to see a life, a neighborhood, and even a country with brand new eyes.

Review:

Slow paced and an easy read, I found myself feeling “bored” but not really. Maybe the word I’m looking for is tranquil or meditative. A page turner in its own way, I quite enjoyed reading this book because of how different it is to my usual reads. I think with so much rushing around in life, we tend to forget about the smaller things. This is a nonfiction book about a man, his dog and their walks. A beautiful concoction that mixes the daily mundane task of walking the dog and rediscovering yourself, Walks with Sam sparked a warmth in me that left me craving adopting a dog of my own an attempt to slow down and just muse about the wonders of life. I don’t have a dog of my own, but I do commute to and from work via walking and both journeys I tend to power walk to the destination, on auto mode, with nothing in mind except for my day ahead and the day gone past.

For some of us, walking the dog (or commuting from point A to B), even with an abundance of time, may be a bullet point, a check box, a line off your daily to-do list. When your brain goes into auto mode, it’s no harder or different of a task than getting your coffee, climbing into your car, and heading to work. Walking the dog is part of [a dog owner’s] life. It’s not something we think about. The task just gets done.

Walks with Sam is written from the viewpoint of the author, David. Having turned 60 and taking a break from teaching, David begins to document his walks with Sam looking for new meanings in life along with the little older ones hidden by the fog of the hustle and bustle of youth and work. We rush to the coffee shop to find the long line there so you end up rushing to the train that [now] you’ve just missed, and then rushing 5 minutes late into work with half the coffee already consumed. Of course you’re not going to take a moment to smell the flowers. But when you’re 60, and taking a sabbatical from work, you had a lot of time to think about a lot of things.

The chapters in this book are broken down into walks around the block such as Walk 4 revolving around David’s interaction with a neighbor that he, at first, deemed as a little off or Walk 22 revolving around training Sam via the goodness of bacon (😩 🥓) or Walk 26 as David contemplates about the concept of Aloneness.

Filled with the muses of one man, inspired by his dog and the world around him (and books!), each chapter is full of thoughts or little philosophical moments. He started documenting these walks with the purpose of rediscovering himself, what he loved and held close to him, who he was before and who he is now. The entire tone and mood of the book is calm, quiet, and soothing and it’s definitely a book to reread every now and then when you’re looking for things to think about.

I absolutely adorned the book, author and his dog. Sam has the playful energy of any puppy turning into an adolescent. Exploration and discovery comes in all forms from the grass to that rustle up there in the tree. Trains are scary. People are exciting. Bacon is delicious. Catch me if you can. The conversations between David and Sam are endearing and adorable. He’s having whole conversations with Sam, with the assumption that hopefully Sam actually understands a good portion of it. There’s even a chapter/walk in there where David, himself, muses about how there are some owners, like his wife Leslie, that speak to their dogs with words that most dog owners say: phrases, discipline, and announcements and then there are those that speak of whole stories with their dogs.

There was a lovely moment in the book where David is pretty much talking and musing out loud to Sam who is just being a dog, taking in the environment and not really paying attention. I loved that scene the most because it reminds me of the times I have lived with dogs myself and sometimes it’s better to just have someone listening to you, even if they aren’t particularly paying attention or even understanding what you are saying. It’s nice to have someone just lay there (or walking) and listening to you ramble on and on and not judge you.

A lovely read with plenty of things to learn off of, this is a book that I could honestly reread again or at least flag certain walks to glimpse through on during bad days.