Reader Problems Book Tag

I saw this tag on Alli the Book Giraffe and wanted to try it out for myself! The tag was originally created by BookTuber About to Read, but as Alli notes, their channel is no longer around.

You have 20,000 books on your TBR. How do you decide what to read next?

Pick something that’s not on my TBR list of course!

All jokes aside, I usually just pick books that interest me for whatever reason, regardless of whether it’s on my TBR list or not. Maybe the cover’s speaking to me, maybe I feel like choosing a book from a particular genre, or maybe I’ll pick something that I think fits a reading challenge I’m working on.

You’re halfway through a book and just aren’t feeling it. Do you quit or are you committed to finishing?

It depends.

If it’s a book that I’ve purchased, I’ll try my best to finish reading it so that I can get my money’s worth. I also try to finish ARCs so that I can leave the author and publisher as good of a review as I can.

If it’s a book that I borrowed from the library or found for free online, I’ll quit if I’m just not feeling it. I don’t feel as guilty about quitting in this situation as I spent nothing to read these books. And if I return a library book earlier, it means that someone else can have the opportunity to read the book sooner!

The end of the year is coming and you’re so close, but also so far away from your Goodreads reading challenge. Do you try to catch up and if so how?

I’d lower my reading challenge so that it is something I can feasibly meet (and hope no one notices)! I’d also try to set aside some more time for reading in the hopes that I’ll get a bit closer to my original goal. If I really wanted to catch my original goal, I might purposely pick books that I know are likely to be quick and easy reads, but I don’t think it’d ever get that far.

The covers of a series you love do not match. How do you deal with that?

If they’re easy enough to find, I’d try to make sure that future books in the series have the same title. Covers not matching isn’t the biggest deal for me though. I’m more interested in finding the book than in making sure that everything in the series is matching.

I used to scour used books stores for books from the Little House in the Prairie series, books from the Babysitter’s Club series, and books from the Nancy Drew/The Hardy Boys crossovers from the 1980s and 1990s. It was hard enough finding books in reasonable condition that I wanted to add to my collection. Adding the task of trying to find matching covers would have been too much!

Everyone you can think of loves a book that you don’t. Who do you talk to about your feelings?

Goodreads and this blog, of course! Everyone’s taste is different and there’s bound to be someone on Goodreads or someone in the book blogging community that I can talk to about my feelings.

You’re reading a book and you’re about to start crying in public. What do you do?

Get out a tissue, try to hide my crying, and put the book down.

In all honesty, I rarely cry when reading books – Bridge to Terabithia by Katharine Paterson being a notable exception – so this isn’t a problem I run into very often. While I don’t mind reading books with heavier themes, I generally don’t enjoy books that are very sad.

A sequel of a book you loved just came out, but you’ve forgotten a lot from the prior novel. Will you re-read the previous book?

I rarely re-read books, so no. I’d just try to find a summary from Wikipedia or from someone’s review if I wanted to update myself about what happened in the prior novel.

You aren’t a fan of letting people borrow your books. How do you politely tell them you don’t want them to borrow your books?

I rarely get requests from people to borrow my books in real life, so this isn’t a question I’ve had to deal with a lot. I’d either tell them that it’s an eBook so I can’t lend it out (which is true for most books I’m reading lately), or that I’m still working on finishing it so I’m not ready to lend it out yet.

You’ve picked up and put down 5 books in the last month. How do you get over your reading slump?

I might take a look at the books that I’m reading and try to find what they all have in common. If they’re all heavier reads for example, maybe this is a sign that I should be looking for lighter and more humourous reads.

Otherwise, there’s no shame in taking a break from reading! I read for fun, and if reading isn’t fun for me anymore, I won’t force myself to continue.

There are so many new books coming out that you’re dying to read! How many do you actually buy?

Very few of them. As a student, I don’t have a ton of disposable income. On top of that, I’m a quick reader and I don’t often re-read books. If there’s a book I’m dying to read, I’ll see if the library has it. If not, I’ll think hard about whether it’s something I want to buy instead of borrow.

I’ll only purchase a book if I really want to add it to my collection. It also has to be a book I could see myself re-reading or a book that I can’t see myself finishing before my library loan expires.

After you’ve bought the new books you can’t wait to read them, but how long do they sit on your shelf before you get to them?

It could be minutes, it could be months – it just depends on what I feel like reading and whether I have the time to read. I’m a full time student, so that puts a pretty big damper on how much time I have to read unfortunately.

Now’s your turn! If you’re interested, I invite you to answer this tag. I’d love to see your responses!

Fowl Prey by Mary Daheim

Fowl Prey (Bed-and-Breakfast Mysteries #2)
By Mary Daheim
November 1999
★★ 2 stars

Judith McMoingle’s vacation to Canada with her cousin Renie was supposed to be a relaxing one, far away from the busyness of her bed-and-breakfast. But when a local popcorn vendor is found murdered and suspicion falls onto Judith and Renie, they must work to clear their name.

I was really looking forward to this one. It’s set in my home country of Canada, a location I haven’t seen too often in cozies before, and it’s supposed to be set in Vancouver, a city I’m familiar with. But despite mentioning Vancouver in the description, the book itself doesn’t even mention the word Vancouver!

Instead, it’s set in the fictional town of Port Royal, which appears to be somewhat modelled off of the Canadian city of Victoria. I say somewhat because the Hotel Clovia, the hotel where Judith and Renie stay, seems similar to The Empress, but I can’t find equivalents for all of the businesses and street names mentioned in the book.

Photo of The Empress in Victoria – by Jasper Garratt on Unsplash

I should have taken this as a bad sign, because unfortunately, this was only the beginning of the confusion.

I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that for much of this book, I thought it was actually a historical cozy mystery set in some indeterminate period in the past. It is not. Because of a reference to Princess Di, I believe it was set around the same time the book was published (1991), or perhaps a little earlier.

In my defense, there were heavy references to British culture in this Canadian town that (eg. the celebration of Guy Fawkes Day, the local police consulting Scotland Yard – both of which are things that do not happen in British Columbia in real life) and the dialogue often seemed unnatural and a bit dated. I admit that I may have missed some context having not read the first book in the series, but still, I wouldn’t expect the time period to be a major source of confusion.

On top of all of this, I found the mystery to be difficult to follow. The book features many characters and suspects, and keeping track of all of them can be tough. Key clues pointing to the murderer were difficult to pick up on, which made the ending seem as if it popped out from nowhere.

That being said though, the plot has a lot of potential! A travel cozy combined with glitzy and eccentric celebrity suspects in the Sacred Eight, a who’s who of theatre people who are also staying at the Hotel Clovia, could have made for a very fun read. Unfortunately, the confusing nature of the book dampened my enjoyment of this book.

Readers should know that an animal is murdered in this book. In general however, the book has little violence.

I give this book ★★ 2 stars, but I realize that I may be extra harsh on this book because of how much I know about its setting.

Blog Update: New Icon Art!

Yup, there’s something different about my blog – I’ve got a new icon!

This Christmas, I’m planning to commission some art for some friends on mine off Etsy. When I was browsing Etsy, I came across some beautiful art from PliPluStudio and I knew I had to commission something from them. I couldn’t resist!

This was my first time commissioning art and I was super pleased with the process. Vanessa, the artist, was very responsive to my requests. And I’m very happy with the final result!

This post wasn’t sponsored and Vanessa doesn’t know I’m writing this by the way. I just want to spread the word about her art in case any of you may be interested in commissioning custom chibi art or custom chibi icons.

Have you ever commissioned art off of Etsy before? If you were happy with it, I’d love to hear who you commissioned from – I’m seriously considering ordering up some more pieces for my other friends!

The Bone Code by Kathy Reichs

The Bone Code (Temperance Brennan #20)
By Kathy Reichs
July 2021
★★★★ 4 stars

In The Bone Code, Temperance Brennan is working a murder case in North Carolina that’s eerily similar to an unsolved case she worked 15 years earlier in Montréal – cases that are connected to a disease outbreak in South Carolina. These are not easy cases to solve by any means, but Dr. Brennan has the intellect and intuition to solve them.

I have watched many an episode of Bones, a TV procedural that was inspired by this series. When I discovered that my library had this eBook in stock, I jumped at the chance to see what the TV show was inspired by. Even though I’ve never read a book in the series before, I still greatly enjoyed reading it!

For others who are only familiar with Bones, there are quite a few differences between the TV series and the books. For example, Agent Seeley Booth does not appear in the books, though Temperance does have a boyfriend named Detective Andrew Ryan. Temperance is not referred to as “Bones” by anyone and she does not work at the Jeffersonian, but rather, splits her time between Charlotte, North Carolina and Montréal, Québec. Differences are to be expected in any book-to-TV adaptation, but it was still a little jarring for me

Though Temperance must handle many cases, some more significant than others, Reichs did a good job of making sure that it isn’t too difficult to follow and track all the cases. I liked that there were multiple mysteries to consider; it makes sense given Temperance’s profession. Reich’s writing was succint yet suspenseful, making this book a real page-turner!

Given the subject of the book (forensic anthropology), there are a lot of scientific concepts mentioned in this book. I don’t know whether all of it is accurate so I can’t comment on this aspect, but I felt that it was pretty well explained. Reichs herself is a forensic anthropologist, so I assume she uses her own real-life scientific knowledge to inform the science of the book. Even if I didn’t completely understand the concepts, I understood enough to follow along with the plot.

That being said, I was not a huge fan of the storyline involving vaccine development. I found it to be somewhat tone-deaf when the world is dealing with the ramifications of high levels of vaccination misinformation. Frankly, it’s potentially dangerous.

With that aside however, I do think it’s generally a good read. I give the book ★★★★ 4 stars.

Please note that this book includes some violence and mild gore. It also mentions crimes committed against children and is set in a post-COVID world.

My Experience with NetGalley as a Newbie

Just over a month ago, I joined NetGalley. I’ve been very pleased with my experience on NetGalley so far, but I do think there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to getting used to the site and all it has to offer.

Today, I’m going to do a quick round-up of my thoughts, both positive and negative, on NetGalley.

What is NetGalley?

NetGalley is a website where authors and publishers can read and review books before they’re published. Readers get access to free books in exchange for leaving a honest review. Authors and publishers get feedback and publicity about their books.

However, there is no guarantee that readers can get access to the books they want to read. Readers often have to request books from publishers. The publisher can decide which requests to approve and which to deny.

If you’re looking for tips on how to get your requests approved, I highly recommend these guides:

What I love about NetGalley

Since creating my account in August, I’ve been approved for 13 books. I’ve also been auto-approved by 1 publisher, which means that any book I request from them will be automatically approved.

It feels really special to be able to read books before they’re published, like I’m in on a wonderful secret. Getting able to read books for free is also great for my wallet as a student, plus I can use my reviews as content for my blog and for my Instagram. It’s been wonderful to discover new authors and series through NetGalley!

To me, one of the coolest (and most intimidating) things about NetGalley is the ability to directly provide feedback to authors and publishers about books. I always hope that my reviews will be helpful to them.

One of my reviews for NetGalley (my five-star review for Five-Alarm Fire by D.B. Borton) was actually featured in the print edition of the published book! I also saw it being used on Amazon and in D.B. Borton’s newsletter. This is by far the coolest thing that’s ever happened to me as a book blogger.

What I don’t love about NetGalley

I wish that there were more options for international reviewers and that NetGalley had a more diverse range of genres on offer.

I live in Canada, so location restrictions haven’t been too significant for me. However, I know that international reviewers often have a tougher time getting access to titles. I’m also fortunate that my reading preferences line up with what’s available on NetGalley, which isn’t the same for everyone. For example, there are far more cozy mysteries available than non-fiction true crime novels.

On top of all of this, navigating NetGalley can be difficult at times. It can be disappointing to see your ARC request be denied. It can be stressful to have a pile of ARCs you need to get through, all with looming publishing dates. And it can be nerve-racking knowing that authors and publishers will be reading what you write.

The good news about this last group of negatives is that they’re easier to combat than location or genre difficulties. Reading publishers’ approval expectations, tempering your expectations, being careful about how many books you request, and following the advice of guides like this one on how to write a critical book review can all help to mitigate these negatives.


If any of the positives I mentioned about NetGalley interest you, I’d definitely recommend that you check it out. However, it’s not a site that I recommend you dive head-first into. Do some research about NetGalley before you go in so that you can get as much as you can out of your experience.

Are you on NetGalley? What’s your experience been like? Do you have any tips for people new to the site?

A Calculated Whisk by Victoria Hamilton

A Calculated Whisk ebook by Victoria Hamilton

A Calculated Whisk (Vintage Kitchen Mysteries #10)
By Victoria Hamilton
September 21, 2021
★★★★ 4 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and Beyond the Page Publishing for providing me with an ARC. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

When a woman suspected of killing her husband approaches vintage kitchen utensil collector Jaymie Leighton for help, Jaymie is surprised. What does the woman need Jaymie’s help for? Unfortunately, Jaymie will never know what the woman needed, because the woman was found dead just days after meeting Jaymie. With not one, but two murders to consider and one or more killers on the loose, Jaymie must untangle a web of complicated clues and get to the bottom of the case before the killer(s) get to her and her family.

Hamilton has a beautifully expressive writing style that helps bring her characters to life. I particularly enjoyed her descriptions of the setting and of Jaymie’s train of thought as she investigates the mystery. And I’m always a sucker for a punny title!

I also enjoyed the strong character building this novel featured. Many of the characters are interesting, yet flawed, making for a suspenseful mystery. This contributed to making a complex mystery complete with red herrings, false assumptions, and a lot of investigative work on Jaymie’s part.

The highlight of the book for me was the thoughtful way in which Hamilton addressed the impact of crime on the family and friends of victims. Though it made for a heavy read at some points, this is an important topic that isn’t often mentioned in cozy mysteries. The integration of this topic into the mystery was very well done.

At times though, I did feel that the book was almost too expressive. This is a slower paced mystery, which makes sense given the attention Hamilton gives to both her characters and the execution of the mystery. However, the slowness meant that the plot dragged at some points. I think some scenes could have been edited or even eliminated to help make the book tighter.

Altogether, I give this book ★★★★ 4 stars. I can see other readers rating it higher or lower depending on the pacing they prefer to see in a cozy mystery.

Readers should know that there is minimal violence in the book and no foul language. For those who are sensitive to the topic, there are discussions of infidelity.

A Fatal Feast by Kathleen Bridge

A Fatal Feast (A Hamptons Home & Garden Mystery #6)
By Kathleen Bridge
September 21, 2021
★★★ 3 stars

Thank you to NetGalley and Beyond the Page Publishing for providing me with an ARC. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Interior designer Meg Barrett has just finished decorating Privé, an exclusive gourmet dining club in the Hamptons. However, trouble is brewing within Privé’s staff; they seem to always be at each other’s throats.

Things get worse when the sous-chef is discovered dead in the kitchen. The suspect list for her death is long, including all of Privé’s staff and the obnoxious winery owner who used to own the building Privé now occupies. If Meg wants to solve the case, she’ll have to navigate all the money and power swirling around the case while also trying to stay off the killer’s radar.

A Fatal Feast is a fun, yet dramatic mystery. If you enjoy culinary cozies, interior design, and/or vintage furniture, this might be the cozy for you!

The plot was my favourite part of this book. The dynamics and relationships of the restaurant world are well integrated into the mystery – or the gourmet dinner club world, as some characters in this book might prefer to call it.

I’m someone who highly values the mystery component of a cozy mystery and this one didn’t disappoint. I thought it was a clearly-written and gripping mystery. Lots of scandal and intrigue!

I also enjoyed reading more about Meg’s interior design business and her affinity for vintage furniture. The setting of this book was especially vivid. It was as if Bridge transported me to the Hamptons.

Many of the characters have fun and juicy backstories that contribute to the novel’s many twists and turns. However, I found the dialogue to be somewhat unnatural. This was especially true when the characters were introducing facts about their backgrounds or other characters.

Sometimes, I felt that the characters were only discussing certain topics or speaking about certain things because Bridge wanted to introduce something into the story. This ​sometimes took me out of the immersion of the book. Unfortunately, it also negatively impacted character development; at times, I found some characters to fall somewhat flat.

This is a fun cozy mystery that food and vintage furniture lovers will enjoy. However, readers who are more interested in a character-driven mystery may not be as satisfied.

Because of the lack of character development, I gave this book ★★★ 3 stars. However, I did really enjoy the mystery component of the book!

Let’s Play Cozy Mystery Book Bingo!

My r/CozyMystery bingo card

If you’re looking to spice up your reading and to find new books and authors, I highly recommend trying a reading challenge! This one that I’m showing you today is exclusively for cozy mysteries. However, there are lots of different reading challenges out there – there’s truly something for everyone.

This is the 2021 Book Bingo challenge from /r/CozyMystery, a Reddit community dedicated to discussing cozy mystery novels. They also have a Discord channel! It’s a great place to chat about cozies with lots of lovely people. I highly recommend it.

The goal of this bingo challenge is to try and fill out as many squares on the card as you can. You can choose to follow either the normal prompt or the hard prompt. Every time you read a book that fits a prompt, you can fill out a square! You can get rewards on r/CozyMystery for filling out single lines and for filling out the entire board.

I like this challenge because the prompts encourage you to try new things, but they’re also flexible. There are numerous options that work for each square. I borrow most of my books from my local library or purchase them from sales online, so the flexibility is very much appreciated.

Have you done any reading challenges before? If so, which ones have you done? I’d love to hear more about them!

Treachery in Bordeaux by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen

Treachery in Bordeaux (The Winemaker Detective Series #1)
By Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen
Translated by Anne Trager
May 2014 (originally published in French in January 2004)
★★★ 3 stars

The Moniales Haut-Brion vineyard is known for its prestigious wines. When several barrels of wine from the vineyard are contaminated, wine critic Benjamin Cooker is called to investigate. Was it a rare honest mistake for the vineyard? Or, as Benjamin’s assistant Virgile Lanssien suspects, was the vineyard sabotaged?

I loved the premise of this book. I wouldn’t have thought of writing a mystery featuring a wine critic and his assistant in Bordeaux, France, but the authors make it work very well! The authors offer beautiful descriptions of the scenery in Bordeaux and its local history. It was as if I was transported to Bordeaux alongside the protagonists! It’s clear that both authors know the region well.

What’s more, the book contains lots of information about wine production and wine tasting. Alaux is the grandson of a winemaker and is a wine and food lover himself. As a reader, I can see his passions come alive on the page.

As someone who doesn’t drink a lot, some of the wine talk flew right over my head. I liked that I learnt something new about winemaking, but because of how integral wine is to the plot, I felt that my lack of wine knowledge did dampen my enjoyment of the book a bit.

Where this book falters is in the mystery. I appreciated that there was no violence in this book, as that can be quite difficult to pull off in a mystery novel. However, the mystery itself was quite slow – a bit too slow for my personal tastes. At one point, I genuinely thought the mystery was not going to be resolved until the next book!

I also think that the clues leading to the big solve were not as clear as they could have been, as the final reveal was somewhat puzzling to me. The book would have benefitted from having the protagonists spend more time in the investigative process.

Wine-lovers and people looking to escape to Bordeaux, France are likely to enjoy this book. However, readers who are interested in the mystery may want to give this book a pass.

Do note that this book is translated from its original in French. Components like writing style or word choice can be lost in translation. There is some foul language in this book.

If you can read French, it may be worth checking out the original, which is titled Mission à Haut-Brion. The series was also adapted into a TV series called La sang de la vigne, which is pretty cool!

I give the English translation ★★★ 3 stars, but maybe the French edition is better? If any of you have read the French edition or seen the TV show, I’d love to know your thoughts!

To Have and To Hoax by Martha Waters

To Have and To Hoax (The Regency Vows)
By Martha Waters
April 2020
★★★★★ 5 stars

Lady Violet Grey and Lord James Audley were happily married – until an explosive fight four years ago. They have barely spoken to each other since. That is, until now. Each pulls various stunts, making up accidents and illnesses to try and get the other’s attentions. Will this be enough to save their relationship?

I don’t normally read romance novels, so I wasn’t expecting to love this one as much as I did. If my reaction to this book is any indication, maybe I should start reading more romance!

If you’re looking for a fluffy, funny, and quick read and you enjoy books set in the Regency era, I’d definitely recommend To Have and to Hoax.

Yes, James and Violet, can be utterly frustrating at times. And yes, the plot could have wrapped up a lot earlier if they just talked to one another about their feelings. But at the same time, the author handled their antics in a way that drew me in and left me wanting to find out more. I see my frustration with the actions of James and Violet as a good thing – it means that Waters made me care enough about the characters to be frustrated in the first place!

There’s a certain over-the-top nature about James and Violet and their scheming that can be difficult to believe. But, it also left me very curious about what they would do next, as great page-turners do. They are funny, yet clearly flawed protagonists. I was especially attached to the supporting cast of characters and am excited to read about their adventures in future. (So down for a West & Sophie book!)

As much as I enjoyed this book, it isn’t perfect. The plot isn’t entirely realistic and the characters can absolutely be childish at times. I was thoroughly entertained! However, if being frustrated at the characters makes you want to throw your book or e-reader across the room, you might want to give this book a pass.

★★★★★ 5 stars!

Do note that a miscommunication trope plays a major role in this book, so if that isn’t a trope you enjoy, this book will definitely not be for you. Because this book contains some steamy scenes; it’s not suitable for young adult readers.