Tags: The Book Blogger Test Tag + The Mystery Blogger Award!

I recently posted a few other tags, but here are two more! Honestly, I love doing tags. Tag me in everything and I’ll be so happy!

I was tagged by The Broken Bookshelf to do the Book Blogger Test Tag! Thanks for tagging me!

The rules:
You must answer all of these questions truthfully and once you’ve completed this tag, tag 5 other book bloggers to answer the questions next.

What are your top three book pet hates?

  • I hate it when somebody tries to talk to me when I’m reading. Just leave me in peace!
  • I actually hate dust jackets. I always take them off. I mean, I put them back on because they look nice, but they always get in the way when I’m reading.
  • And I hate it when someone borrows one of my books and doesn’t give it back OR gives it back damaged. I’m still bitter at least 15 years after the fact that this kid Zach totally ruined my copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Describe your perfect reading spot
I like to read in bed with my cat, but I’m not sure that’s the perfect spot. More perfect would be a big comfy chair with a fluffy blanket and nobody bothering me.

Tell us three book confessions

  • I still have a box of books in my garage from when I moved more than a year ago. Every weekend I plan to unpack it and every weekend I don’t.
  • I’ve never read a lot of sci-fi/fantasy classics. I’ve never read Dune, which is apparently a big deal? I was once told I couldn’t have a blog about books until I read Dune, so that was a great time. I’ve also never read anything by Tolkien and I’ve seen Game of Thrones but I’ve never read anything by George R.R. Martin.
  • I’m really bad at finishing series! If I’m going to finish it, I’ll usually do it right away. Otherwise I just tell myself that I’m going to finish it and it doesn’t happen. RIP all the series I never finished.

When was the last time you cried at a book?
I teared up a little bit at one point during The Kiss Quotient, but if we’re talking full-blown tears streaming down my face, probably All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.

How many books are on your bedside table?
As of right now, eight. I keep my immediate TBR on my nightstand.

What is your favorite snack whilst you’re reading?
I don’t eat while I read because #1 I would mindlessly eat so much food and #2 I’m too worried about ruining either the book or my Kindle.

Name three books you’d recommend to everyone
Well, this is a pretty difficult question because everyone has different tastes. I mean, I’m not going to recommend the same book to my mom that I’d recommend to my best friend or my boss. Although I guess if you’re reading this, we probably have at least semi-similar taste in books, so I’d go with:

  • The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
  • Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Show us a picture of your favorite shelf on your bookcase
All of my shelves are kind of a disaster right now since I’m in the middle of reorganizing them… so I guess I’ll go with my nightstand, which is at least reasonably okay. I wish I could hire someone from bookstagram to make my shelves pretty!

Write how much books mean to you in 3 words
There aren’t a lot of three-word sentences that would work. I guess I’ll go with “I’m always reading.”

What’s your biggest reading secret?
I don’t know if I really have any reading secrets! I think that I’ve talked before about how I never read the books that were assigned in my many lit classes in college (except the ones I had to talk about), but it was definitely a secret back then.

I’m tagging:

I was tagged by Anya @ Fuelled by Books, Lotte @ The Reading Hobbit, and Daniel @ Page to Page to do the Mystery Blogger Award. I previously did this one a couple weeks ago, but I can always do it again!


  • Display award logo
  • List the rules
  • Thank the person that nominated you!
  • Mention and link the award creator: Okoto Enigma
  • Tell your readers three things about yourself
  • Answer the questions from the person who nominated you
  • Nominate 10 – 20 people
  • Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog
  • Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice

Three Things About Myself

  • I visit family all the time in NYC, but I never really go anywhere. But this summer I’m going to be everywhere. I’m going back to Wisconsin at least twice, heading to Virginia probably at least once, maybe going to Tennessee. I’m excited but also stressed because I hate flying.
  • I really love sewing when I’m in the right mood for it. I especially like making things for all the babies in my life. I actually have to get going on that because I have a new niece coming next week!
  • I somehow made it through four years of college without drinking any coffee, but I’ve become such a coffee fiend since I started my job. I have to be there at 7:30am with a smiling face, ready to be nice to people who are yelling at me about their bills! I need at least three coffees for that. I am not a morning person.

Lotte’s Questions:

Do you prefer hardbacks or paperbacks? Why?
I prefer paperbacks because they’re lighter and easier to store. But most of my newer books are hardback since that’s just the way it worked out.

If you could only read books by one author (but they’d release like a massive amount of books all the time) for the rest of your life, which one would you pick?
Good question! I’m really into Jenn Bennett right now, so I suppose I’d go with her!

Favorite ice cream flavor?
My favorite ice cream I’ve ever had is The Munchies at Ample Hills Creamery in Brooklyn. For just a regular I’m going to the grocery store and what am I going to buy kind of ice cream, I’d go with chocolate chip cookie dough.

What’s a cool anecdote you tell at parties?
I have no shortage of weird and funny anecdotes from work to tell at parties. But more than likely, you won’t find me entertaining a crowd by telling a story. I’ll probably be off in the corner playing with my friend’s son or somebody’s dog.

Do you have any pets? If not, would you like some and what kind?

Yes, thank you for asking. I love talking about my pets. I have a cat, Aubrey, who is elderly and adorable and I honestly think that she thinks she’s a person. She follows me around and talks to me (well, in her old age, the noises she makes are more like grunts) and sleeps with me and hugs me. I got her from the Humane Society in 2004 and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.

We also have a saltwater aquarium with a few fish, some hermit crabs, and a ton of snails and corals.

I’d like to get a dog at some point in the future, but my current landlord doesn’t allow them.

Anya’s Questions:

If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, which one would you pick?
This is such a hard question because I so rarely re-read anything! I guess I’d say Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda because that’s one of the few books that I’ve re-read and actually enjoyed more the second time around.

You have been made King/Queen of a small country, what would your country be called and what would your first law be?
Can I call it Bibliophagia and make the first law that all workplaces have to allow reading in your downtime? It’s crazy that I can pull out my phone and scroll through Facebook and Twitter when I’m all caught up on my work but I can’t pull out a book and start reading.

You are given the option of knowing the exact date and time of your death or staying blissfully unaware, which would you pick?
I don’t want to know! I’d just worry about it for the rest of my life, like Oh, great, now I only have 27 years, six months, three days, twelve hours, two minutes, and forty-one seconds left to live. Better make it count.

If you were told you could be an expert in any one thing instantly, what would you pick?
I’d like to be fluent in another language. I studied Spanish and Portuguese in college and I can fumble my way through a conversation, but I’m nowhere near where I want to be.

What one stereotype about your country do you want the whole world to know is wrong?
That’s a hard one. Maybe that we’re all really into guns? I mean, I’m originally from northern Wisconsin and I can tell you that yes, a lot of people there are obsessed with their guns. (Not my family, though, none of us are big gun people.) But I went to college in Madison and it’s definitely not pro-gun there. I don’t think I know anybody in New Jersey who owns a gun.

Daniel’s questions:

Who is one person you would freak out if you met in real life?
One person I almost met in real life until I totally freaked out and ran the other way was Jack Antonoff at Shadow of the City in 2015. I’m such a huge fan of fun., Bleachers, and Steel Train and he was like three feet away from me taking selfies with everybody who asked and I proceeded to panic and run away.

Front of the plane or back of the plane?
Front of the plane. The only time I’ve ever flown in the back of an airplane was on the one transatlantic flight I’ve ever taken and it. was. awful.

What’s the first song that comes up when you hit shuffle on your favorite playlist?
My favorite playlist is all these pop punk songs I used to listen to back in the day. It always puts me in such a good mood! The first song that came up was “Memory” by Sugarcult, and that sure brings back some memories.

What book would you recommend for “non readers”? Why?
I actually had a non-reader friend ask me for a recommendation not that long ago. I told her to read In the Blood by Lisa Unger because it’s weird and twisty enough to keep someone interested even if they might not necessarily love to read.

If you had to write the ultimate fan fiction, which five characters would you choose to include in it?
Would you believe that I’ve never written any fanfiction? I don’t even know where I’d start! I really love The Good Place, though, so I think I’ll go with five of the core characters: Eleanor, Chidi, Tahani, Jason, and Michael. I don’t know where Janet is in this mess but I guess they’ll have to make do without her.


My Questions for You:

  • What are you most looking forward to in the next couple months?
  • What’s one goal you’re currently working toward?
  • Which author would you like to hang out with for the day?
  • What’s your favorite Disney movie?
  • What’s the first sentence from the book you’re currently reading?

No pressure if you’ve already done either of these tags or if you’d rather not participate!

Book review: Distrust by T.L. Smith

Distrust by T.L. Smith
Series: Smirnov Bratva #1
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • Goodreads
Publication Date: September 21, 2016
Source: I made the poor decision to one-click this one all by myself.

She was a ghost, in heels.

She was there, then she wasn’t.

She would play with my emotions like a well-played guitar.

Then she would disappear. Making me want to strangle her.

Maybe she wasn’t a ghost, maybe she was the giver of sin. Because we sinned every time we touched, every time she was near.

Her lips were shaped like a heart, deceiving you at every word.

Her body was created straight from my fantasies, one I craved to bend to my will.

Her heart, well, who the hell knew. She kept that shit locked tight.

And I couldn’t find the key.

There might be some mild spoilers in my review, but I’ve tried to keep them to a minimum.

Sometimes the books I choose for my #killingthetbr challenge are really good. The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman, Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen, and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath are all books that sat on my shelves forever before I finally got up the motivation to read them.

Sometimes, though, they’re really bad. My first really bad #killingthetbr book of the year was Axl. Dear lord, it was terrible. When I was on page 7 of Distrust, I made a note that it felt like Axl, Part 2. I also made a note that I was seven pages in and ready to DNF. Unfortunately, when I read a book for this challenge, I force myself to slog through and finish. That is, after all, the whole point of the challenge. You know, to actually read the books.

I guess the first thing that I should mention is that my rating here is partially my fault. I never like dark romances, so I’m not even sure why I one-clicked this one. I must have seen a really glowing review or something because I typically avoid this genre like the plague. It’s also possible that I wasn’t paying attention when I clicked that button. Regardless, I’m not surprised that I hated this book because I always hate dark romance.

I should probably also make a content warning. Now, I read all sorts of books. One of my favorite series has a main character who inserts the word “fuck” in nearly every sentence. I read a semi-decent amount of erotica. I’m not really squeamish about many things, but a whole lot of stuff happened in this book that was so unnecessary.

In Distrust’s mere 183 pages, there are 128 uses of fuck, 25 uses of shit, and more than 50 uses of various other words that you probably wouldn’t say in front of your grandmother, unless your grandmother is really cool. There are also numerous scenes of gratuitous violence (it is dark romance, after all) and mentions of rape.

The writing

I read a lot of ARCs, many of them uncorrected. Many of them have disclaimers at the beginning that any and all editing errors will be corrected before the final print. I don’t let grammatical errors or misspellings or problems with punctuation lower my rating of an ARC. In this case, though, Distrust has been published. It’s out in the world for everyone to see, and it’s a mess. I know that I just keyboard smash my feelings out a lot of the time, but I promise I actually have a degree in Linguistics and am aware of how to properly construct a sentence. But anyway, moving on. (But not really, because I have two examples I want to share.)

My eyes burn through the glass, wondering what answers it holds for me because I need them. I want the answers. No one seems to have what I need! They have solutions, solutions I don’t want nor need.

Even setting aside the grammatical issues in that paragraph, aren’t solutions and answers kind of the same thing in this context?

I need her like a wolf needs its last meal. I want her, and every one of my brothers knew this, they have seen our encounters. They’ve seen the way I push her against a wall and fuck her with my mouth. I couldn’t keep my hands to myself, I am like a horny teenage boy and I’m never like this–ever.

I mean, the tense changes four times in this paragraph, but also… this is during a dinner scene. Like, he’s literally talking about having sex with his lady friend in front of his dad and brothers.

The characters

Something petty first: I’m not clear on why the hero’s name is Kazier, of all things. I kept thinking of Hozier while I was reading and I’m sure that’s not what the author intended. Honestly, though, take me to church because something’s gotta cleanse me from all of this nonsense.

Kazier is supposed to be the hero of this book, but, I mean, I wouldn’t want to come within fifty miles of him. I certainly wouldn’t want anything to do with him romantically. Not only is he terrifyingly brutal (he enjoys watching an enemy be tortured to death in one of the opening scenes), I’m afraid that he might actually be a sociopath.  The man feels no remorse for any of his crimes, going so far as to remark on the beauty of a human body catching fire.

He’s incredibly misogynistic, frequently commenting on how Freya, the fiance he doesn’t even want, could be pretty if she put more effort into her appearance. He continually tries to determine whether Freya is sexy because, of course, her sexiness is the be-all and end-all of her existence. Don’t worry though, he plans to treasure Freya even though he doesn’t want to marry her… but he’s hooking up with Elina on the side. But it’s not his fault! He can’t help it because Elina is really sexy and knows how to act like a woman!

But does he treat Elina well? Of course not! This is Kazier we’re talking about! In a rare chapter from Elina’s POV, we get the following statement:

I would never condone abuse, I was brought up surrounded by it. I know it well, I’ve lived it. Even my father used to beat me when I didn’t listen. Kazier didn’t abuse me, that was just his normal.

Elina, honey, he just sliced you open with a knife. I don’t care if he’s cute or if you think you love him or if it’s different from the abuse you experienced as a child. Kazier is an abusive asshole and you need to leave him.

Moving on to Freya, I’ve seen a disappointing number of reviews that mention what a horrible character she was. I actually thought that Freya was the only character in the book who had some sense in her! She doesn’t put up with Kazier’s bad behavior and she’s totally willing to put him in his place. That said, she can actually be an idiot sometimes, because even she’s drawn in by Kazier’s magical pheromones as she asks him to kiss her amidst death, destruction, and revenge.

Apparently there’s also a character named Death and I’m still not entirely sure if that’s his real name or if it’s a nickname.

Did you know that they’re Russian?

This book is about the Russian mafia. I’m not sure if you realized that when the author mentioned the Russian mafia eighteen thousand times in 183 pages, but it is. In case you’d somehow forgotten, the characters are conveniently given the last name of “Smirnov” and are very frequently found drinking vodka straight from the bottle. Just in case you forgot that they were Russian… because you probably did.

(Yeah, they’re Russian.)

The setting

Did you know that I love Brooklyn? It’s one of my favorite places! I feel perfectly safe taking my three-year-old nephew out by myself. So I’m not quite sure what Brooklyn this book takes place in, where the Russian mafia owns all of the stores and people are constantly gunned down in their front yards. The real Brooklyn is a hipster paradise where people stop to let you pet their dogs and you can get some ooey gooey butter cake ice cream and rose petal doughnuts. There are other areas of New York City that this book could have been more realistically set in. I might have even forgiven this if it had been set in a very specific neighborhood of Brooklyn. But the idea that Brooklyn is this dangerous place filled with warring mafias is just… wrong.

Some medical concerns?

I’m not a doctor or a nurse or any kind of medically trained professional, but I have worked in a hospital for the last six years of my life and I’ve picked up a thing or two. I’ve also picked up a thing or two in my twenty-seven years of life. So here are two things that really, greatly concerned me during the course of the book.

First of all, why would you rip an IV out of your arm? This is such a cliched, horrible thing that happens all the time in books and movies and tv shows. Like, you know there’s a huge needle shoved into your vein, right? That’s what an IV is. But Kazier just wakes up and rips that IV straight out of his arm and everything’s fine. Nary a drop of blood to be seen. Amazing.

Kazier is also (evidently) such an amazingly talented and well-endowed lover that at one point, Elina’s waist literally starts shaking because she wants him so much. I repeat, her waist starts shaking. I would think, personally, that if your waist is shaking, you’re probably experiencing some gastrointestinal distress and should seek either a bathroom or a physician, but hey, that’s just me.


I ended up skimming the second half of the book and I don’t think that I missed much. I suppose that you might enjoy Distrust if you really like dark romances, but even then, I can’t recommend it. Usually I try to find something positive to comment on, but I just can’t do it with this one. It’s earned its place on my nope shelf.

#killingthetbr: eight months on shelf