The Books I Read in August 2020

August was another great reading month. In total I read 12 books. I mean August was also the last month of my stay at home because of Coronavirus and of summer break. I still hope to continue reading a lot, but I have to find my new routines. Maybe I’ll start to read more again during my commute.

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I started this series about the sixth borough of NYC, a magical one, in July and continued it. By now the focus is clearly on the Hex Files and Dani’s murder cases are all related. I like this much more and can’t wait for the next book to be published.

Gina LaManna: Wicked Moon Rising (The Hex Files: Mysteries from the Sixth Borough, #4) – When Detective Dani DeMarco is attacked in the middle of the night, she’s more than a little disgruntled. However, she soon discovers that things aren’t as simple as they seem, and that everyone she loves is in great danger. The battle for The Hex Files has officially begun, and Wicked is under attack. Two werewolves are dead. A rogue vampire is on the loose. The love of Dani’s life is teetering on the edge of death. As the hunt for the files turns into a race against time, Dani and her friends will come face to face with fate… the good, the bad, and the deadly. 

Gina LaManna: Wicked All the Way (The Hex Files: Mysteries from the Sixth Borough, #5) – When Wicked hunkers down for the holidays, a snowstorm isn’t the only thing threatening the paranormal Sixth Borough of New York. A student has been killed on the Campus of Magic, and Detective DeMarco is called to the case. But once she begins to unravel the clues surrounding the murder, she realizes the incident is far more complex-and dangerous-than she ever imagined.Aside from murder, Dani is also confronted with the return of her oldest brother to town for some mysterious reason he doesn’t feel like sharing. Meanwhile, Grey has been gone for weeks and Matthew is caught up in his new role for the NYPD. When Dani is assigned a rookie partner to help her with her latest case, it’s the last straw… until the killer sets his sights on Dani DeMarco. Suddenly, her only Christmas wish is to make it through the holidays alive.

Lily Harper Hart: Curse a Brew Streak (A Supernatural Speakeasy Cozy Mystery #3)Ofelia Archer is living the dream … or as close as seemingly possible. She owns her own business, her father seems to be on an even keel, and her new relationship with Detective Zacharias Sully is cruising right along. Everything changes in an instant, though, when screams from the street lead to zombies running amok through the French Quarter. Ofelia is a tough witch who takes no guff but even she is at a loss. Who is creating the zombies? Where are they coming from? They’re not rising from the dead as much as being bumped off and used as an invading army. Sully wants to take control of the investigation but the higher-ups in the New Orleans Police Department assign the case to a new detective, much to his chagrin. That detective is keen to find answers. Unfortunately, he’s looking hard at Ofelia to find them.

An interesting take on zombies. I like Hart’s cozy mysteries and this series becomes better and better. At this point Ofelias and Sully’s relationship is pretty public and they try to solve the zombie case together. I particularly like how in this series magical elements are interwoven with our actual world. It also really makes me want to visit New Orleans – if only for all the amazing food the protagonists seem to be eating constantly.

Gina LaManna: Sprinkled (Lacey Luzzi Mafia Mysteries, #1) – Lacey Luzzi’s rollercoaster of a life has been filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. She just never expected the lows to be so… sparkly. After falling on her face during an attempt to follow in her recently-deceased mother’s stripper-boots, Lacey realizes she’s not cut out for life on stage. She sets out on a year-long investigation to find her true family, never expecting she’ll find it with a capital “F.”  With a rumbling stomach, a need for money (check engine lights don’t fix themselves!), and a conscience that operates at 78% on a good day, Lacey is sucked into a whirlwind of Family secrets, hard-as-cement cookies, and mysterious, sexy men who unfortunately shoot guns, sometimes aimed at her face. The long-lost-granddaughter of Carlos Luzzi, the Godfather of the Italian Mafia, Lacey accepts her first assignment for the mob: finding fifteen million dollars of ‘the good stuff.’ Even after she enlists the help of her mouthy best-friend and her cousin, a technical genius and social disaster, she finds that going toe-to-toe with the rival Russian mob is more dangerous than expected.

While this mystery sounded fun, I found the main character extremely annoying. Maybe even just dumb. She can’t seem to get anything right in her work and love life. I didn’t find the story or the protagonist funny. To be honest I was glad when I finished the book and I won’t read any more of this series.

Michael Crichton: Jurassic ParkAn astonishing technique for recovering and cloning dinosaur DNA has been discovered. Now humankind’s most thrilling fantasies have come true. Creatures extinct for eons roam Jurassic Park with their awesome presence and profound mystery, and all the world can visit them–for a price. Until something goes wrong.

Even though I am a giant dinosaur fan, I had never read this book – or watched the movie for that matter. I absolutely love this novel because it is a great mix of science, human destiny, coincidences, emotions, and accidents. I particularly enjoyed how the mathematician tried to explain throughout the book that a scientific experiment like Jurassic Park is always doomed to failure. Also, all characters are round which makes the whole story more feasible. And a tiny part of me is still sad that it doesn’t actually seem possible to create dinosaurs from some ancient DNA traces.

Kam Knight: Concentration: Maintain Laser Sharp Focus and Attention for Stretches of 5 Hours or More – Journey into the depths of your mind to develop laser sharp focus and attention. This book is like no other you have read. It goes deeper into the human mind and condition than any work out there. You will learn so much about yourself, including who you are, why you do what you do, and why you can’t get yourself to do what it is you desire to do. More importantly, you will learn practical solutions to push past mental, emotional, and physical blocks, no matter how severe, to become the most attentive you possible. With this book, you can finally listen in class, ace that exam, finish that project, earn a degree, write that novel, get a promotion, gain respect, develop relationships, connect with friends and family, engage with loved ones, be present, and enjoy your life. Don’t procrastinate on such powerful, life changing advice. Begin your journey of stronger focus, attention, and concentration today.

The books starts with great strategies of how to improve your concentration span. While these strategies are a great reminder, they aren’t groundbreaking.
Over the course of the book I felt my own concentration waning more and more. I didn’t find the author’s personal stories or comments grasping. At the same time I also couldn’t gain any more insight into how I would actually improve my concentration.
I wondered if I am generally the wrong audience for this book. As a teacher I might know more than the average person how to engage my students and help them to focus on a topic for a longer amount of time. If you really can’t concentrate for more than half an hour straight, this book might actually give you advice on how to start improving.
I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

Amy White, James W. Williams: Mindfulness: How to Declutter Your Mind: Secrets to Stop Overthinking, Relieve Anxiety, and Achieve Calmness and Inner Peace Are you constantly busy with a job that demands too much of your time and an equally demanding social life? Do you then find yourself lying awake at night unable to sleep because of your overactive thoughts? If so, this book is exactly what you need. Clutter is everywhere in our lives. It is present in our homes, our schedules, our jobs, our relationships, our use of technology, and, most importantly, our minds. While plenty has been said about the benefits of decluttering your home through minimalist interior design, not nearly as much has been said about decluttering other aspects of your life. Despite this, the damaging effects of clutter on our psyches are clear. When we lead chaotic, unorganized lives, we are prone to worry, anxiety, self-doubt, and overthinking. If we want to quell our restless thoughts, we need to start by fixing the root of the problem. More specifically, we need to look at the ways that clutter invades our lives and take steps to reduce its presence. Through this process, we can achieve a calmer mind and a more peaceful life free from the damaging effects of clutter.

The book explains how clutter affects us in a negative way. That is both physical and emotional clutter. Smaller chapters then take up one specific aspect and give tips of what to improve how. Pieces of advice always come with explanations. I liked that all strategies are easy to follow, i.e. you will see results fast. I enjoyed the little – almost – games that I can use to practice my mindfulness and that at the same time help me to let go of thoughts or emotions.
Overall I find this book useful and recommend it to anyone who also needs a little encouragement to get rid of clutter on their mind.
I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.

I discovered “The Worst Witch” on Netflix and really liked the series. It also reminds me a lot of “Harry Potter” – only that “The Worst Witch” books are much older. And that most witches there have a black cat as a companion. Anyway, I then bought all the books at once and have read two so far. “The Worst Witch” is written for a much younger audience. I would assume for about 5 to 7 year olds. There aren’t many descriptions, but every book tells few events that happen to Mildred, the worst witch. Once you are aware who these novels are mostly written for, they are fun and enjoyable.

Jilly Murphy: The Worst WitchMildred Hubble is starting her first year at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches—and making a mess of it! She can’t ride her broomstick without crashing, she’s always getting her spells mixed up, and worst of all, the teacher’s pet, Ethel, has just become her sworn enemy.

Jilly Murphy: The Worst Witch Strikes AgainMildred is back in trouble thanks to the new girl, Enid Nightshade, who isn’t as well behaved as she appears. The more Mildred tries to stay out of trouble, the more she finds herself in horrible situations. What can the disaster-prone worst witch do?

I don’t even know how many times I have read the “Harry Potter” novels. But I enjoy them so much that I regularly re-read them. While I don’t agree much with Rowling’s recent opinions, I still think that these books are a masterpiece. Maybe I started them in August again because I hoped for my letter to Hogwarts?! Yeah, it hasn’t arrived this year either …

J. K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s StoneHarry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry. Though Harry’s first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it’s his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.

J. K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Chamber of SecretsEver since Harry Potter had come home for the summer, the Dursleys had been so mean and hideous that all Harry wanted was to get back to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. But just as he’s packing his bags, Harry receives a warning from a strange impish creature who says that if Harry returns to Hogwarts, disaster will strike. And strike it does. For in Harry’s second year at Hogwarts, fresh torments and horrors arise, including an outrageously stuck-up new professor and a spirit who haunts the girls’ bathroom. But then the real trouble begins – someone is turning Hogwarts students to stone. Could it be Draco Malfoy, a more poisonous rival than ever? Could it possible be Hagrid, whose mysterious past is finally told? Or could it be the one everyone at Hogwarts most suspects… Harry Potter himself!

J. K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanHarry Potter’s third year at Hogwarts is full of new dangers. A convicted murderer, Sirius Black, has broken out of Azkaban prison, and it seems he’s after Harry. Now Hogwarts is being patrolled by the dementors, the Azkaban guards who are hunting Sirius. But Harry can’t imagine that Sirius or, for that matter, the evil Lord Voldemort could be more frightening than the dementors themselves, who have the terrible power to fill anyone they come across with aching loneliness and despair. Meanwhile, life continues as usual at Hogwarts. A top-of-the-line broom takes Harry’s success at Quidditch, the sport of the Wizarding world, to new heights. A cute fourth-year student catches his eye. And he becomes close with the new Defense of the Dark Arts teacher, who was a childhood friend of his father. Yet despite the relative safety of life at Hogwarts and the best efforts of the dementors, the threat of Sirius Black grows ever closer. But if Harry has learned anything from his education in wizardry, it is that things are often not what they seem. Tragic revelations, heartwarming surprises, and high-stakes magical adventures await the boy wizard in this funny and poignant third installment of the beloved series.

© janavar

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