Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Books That Lived Up to the Hype

I have read quite a few hyped books so far in 2018 and, to my surprise, all of them have lived up to it. I don’t know if that is a good thing or I am one that is easily influenced by hype. Either way, I enjoyed these books very much.


Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli


With the case of Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, I had previously read another book by Becky Albertalli, which was her second book The Upside of Unrequited. While I enjoyed that one, it was just cute and fluffy. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is cute and fluffy, too, but it has a little more depth to it. Plus, the romance was too adorable for words.


Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia


Eliza and Her Monsters is a hyped book I went into knowing I would like. It’s a love letter to fandom featuring a girl who is living a double-life as a lonely high school student and the mastermind behind a wildly successful web comic. That was all I needed to know going into this book.

The story spoke to me on a deep level, like it did many other people. As a teenager, I was a lot like Eliza; I did not have close friends and I turned to fiction to deal with it. Also, I had read Francesca Zappia’s debut novel, Made You Up, and I enjoyed it, though I acknowledge now there were some issues regarding handling mental illness. It was brought to my attention after reading Eliza and Her Monters that similar problems were present in that story, too. But I was able to overlook it because the positives outweighed the negatives in my mind.


History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera


History is All You Left Me is the first book I have ever read by Adam Silvera and it did not disappoint. From YouTube, I already took a liking to Adam as a person, so I’m glad he lives up to his status as an author, too. I liked his writing style as well as his way of creating characters and their relationships. I also think I read History is All You Left Me at the right time, given its discussion around grief. So, I’m glad I own his other books, They Both Die at the End and More Happy Than Not. Expect to see those in future TBRs and wrap-ups.


The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace


I picked up The Princess Saves Herself in This One from the local library during a time I was craving poetry. This is another one I suspected I would like; only I never thought I would stay up until the wee hours of the morning to finish it. This is another book I think came into my life at the right time. I needed something to remind me I should put myself first once in a while and to love myself.


The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert


Likely the most polarizing book on this list, I went into The Hazel Wood with low expectations. Except the plot was right up my alley: Alice and her mother live for years on the run from bad luck. Ella, Alice’s mother, thinks the days of running are over when Alice’s grandmother, Althea, the author of a wildly successful but extremely rare book called Tales from the Hinterland, dies in her estate the Hazel Wood. When the two finally settle, Ella is abducted by someone claiming to be from the Hinterland and leaves behind a message for Alice to stay away from the Hazel Wood. But Alice is determined to get to the bottom of the secrets that have been kept from her for years.

The reason I went into The Hazel Wood with low expectations is because the reviews around it on BookTube were not that great. Most said their reason behind it was Alice, that she was an unlikable main character even to those that tended to enjoy unlikable main characters. That’s why I got it out of the library, rather than break my book-buying ban for it. Ironically, the reason that made others not enjoy this book is the same reason I did enjoy it.

While Alice is rough around the edges and says and does things that are insensitive, selfish, reckless, etc., she’s not a bad person at her core. She stands up for herself and trusts her instincts. As for everything else about The Hazel Wood, I liked the dark fairy tale aspect and the writing and storytelling were good, though not perfect. Given this is a debut novel, Melissa Albert has the chance to get better with each book she writes. I’m especially looking forward to her publishing a real-life Tales from the Hinterland.


What book did you think lived up to the hype?


Review of As Old as Time by Liz Braswell (Spoiler Free)

One of the best things about the library is that you can find books you never heard of and try them out for free. That was the case with As Old as Time by Liz Braswell, the third novel in the Twisted Tales series.

The Twisted Tales are young adult novels written by different authors published by Disney Press. Each is a reimagining of a beloved Disney animated movie, where a pivotal event in the movie is changed and leads the characters into a different story. If you didn’t already guess it, As Old as Time is a reimagining of Beauty and the Beast, in which Belle discovers the mother she barely remembers was the enchantress that cursed the Beast.


As Old as Time is divided into three parts. Part One focuses mostly on the past, when a young Maurice, Belle’s father, moves to a kingdom that is the last known sanctuary for les charmantes, otherwise known as people who possess magical abilities or inhuman traits, such as hooves for feet. It is there that Maurice meets and falls in love with Rosalind, a beautiful, headstrong enchantress. During the time of their courtship, their marriage, and having Belle, the kingdom grows less safe for les charmantes.

When Belle arrives at the Beast’s castle and is taken hostage, she knows nothing about what her parents experienced before her birth. The story of Beauty and the Beast we know is twisted after Belle touches the enchanted rose and has visions of her mother, realizing she is the enchantress that cursed the Beast and his servants. Shocked and confused, she promises to help the Beast find another way to break the curse.

If you are expecting something cute and lighthearted, As Old as Time is not it.

What I find most interesting about this whole novel is how fairly the different viewpoints of people are expressed. No one is strictly evil (except maybe one character) but no one is strictly good, either. That includes Belle’s mother, Rosalind.

As Old as Time covers a major plot hole of the animated Beauty and the Beast movie that the live-action one attempted to fix. In the former film, it is stated that the prince had until his twenty-first year to break the curse and ten years had passed before he met Belle. Fans did the math, then asked the question: why did the enchantress curse an eleven-year-old boy? Well, Rosalind had her reasons…and they weren’t necessarily good ones. But like I said, in As Old as Time, no one is completely innocent.

If had to choose, I would say the Belle in As Old as Time is similar to Emma Watson’s version. She’s got a little more fire in her belly. Plus, the author makes it clear even Belle is not always perfect. She makes mistakes, rash ones, but learns from them. As for the Beast, the book shows more of his trying to grow as a person while struggling with his dual nature of man and monster as the curse takes affect. He also learns to love in a way that differs significantly from either of the films. The ending of this novel is open and surprisingly unexpected, leaving the reader uncertain of what is going to happen to Belle and Beast later.

I should also mention that Gaston is not entirely present in the novel. So, if you are as Gaston fan or just really enjoy the comic relief his character brings, know that if you decided to read As Old as Time.

Overall, I give As Old as Time by Liz Braswell 3.75 stars. While I did enjoy it because I am Beauty and the Beast trash, I did have some problems with it. The writing was mediocre and I felt the book dragged on in some parts. In fact, there were some things at the beginning that could have been saved for the end of the novel. If you also love Beauty and the Beast, I highly recommend checking out this novel.

In case you were wondering, the other companion novels in the Twisted Tales series are A Whole New World, which is a reimagining of Aladdin, and Once Upon a Dream, which is a reimagining of Sleeping Beauty, both also by Liz Braswell. There is a fourth Twisted Tale coming out in March 27th, this one titled Reflection, which is a reimagining of Mulan, written by Elizabeth Lim. Of course, since they all follow different movies, they can be read in any order you like, if at all.

But out of all of these, the next Twisted Tale I want to read is Part of Your World, a reimagining of The Little Mermaid by Liz Braswell. This novel is said to take place five years after the original film, in which Ariel does not defeat Ursula and she becomes queen of Atlantica while the sea witch is in charge of Prince Eric’s kingdom on land. When Ursula threatens Atlantica once more, Ariel is returns to the world she thought she would never see again. And it’s not coming out until September.

Have you read As Old as Time or any of the other Twisted Tale books?

What is your favorite Disney movie?

March 2018 TBR

I hope I don’t jinx myself by saying 2018 has been a good reading year so far. Last month I got distracted by library books, so my unread books at home were ignored. I will still pay regular visits to my library, because I want to support the institution to which I plan to build my career. But the ones I already own need to be a priority.

In March, I hope to read:


Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh


Flame in the Mist is one of the books I really need to get to in 2018. It was marketed as a Mulan retelling, however reviews say otherwise. That’s not a big deal to me. The novel is set in feudalist Japan, where Mariko, the daughter of a samurai, is betrothed to the son of the emperor’s favorite consort. En route to her wedding, her entourage is attacked by the Black Clan, a group of assassins. Disguised as a boy, Mariko infiltrates the clan to find out who wants her dead.

I’m so excited to read Flame in the Mist. Why haven’t I yet?


The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale


The Beast is an Animal is a young adult horror/fantasy novel that has flown completely under the radar. When Alys was seven her village was attacked by soul eaters, twin sisters controlled by a thing called the Beast. She and the other children in her village were spared, but sent to a nearby village that teaches them to fear magic. Unfortunately, Alys possesses some secret magical abilities of her own. Powers that make her feel connected to the soul eaters and the Beast. Powers that could also save the village she calls home from the darkness threatening them.

I just hyped The Beast is an Animal up for myself again.


Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst


I honestly have no idea why I have not read Of Fire and Stars. It is about two princesses falling in love and one of them, who is betrothed to the other princess’s brother, is hiding her magic in a kingdom that hates magic. I really think I will like this book once I read it. But I need to be held to it this time.


My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton


After finishing Cynthia Hand’s Unearthly trilogy and reading her recent release, The Afterlife of Holly Chase, I am certain I will enjoy My Lady Jane (even though I have not read anything by Jodi Meadows or Brodi Ashton). My Lady Jane is a humorous retelling of Lady Jane Grey’s story, in which the Nine Days Queen gets a happier ending that does not involve being tried as a traitor or a beheading. She’s one of my favorite historical figures, too. It would be nice to see her story get some justice.


Freeks by Amanda Hocking


Freeks is part of a growing trend of young adult circus books, this one about Mara, a girl who has grown up in a travelling circus. When the circus arrives in a small town and she meets a local boy, she thinks she has found an opportunity to leave the circus behind for a normal life. But when she discovers she has powers she never knew she had, it is up to Mara to save her family from the evil forces hiding in the town.

Freeks got a tiny bit of buzz when it was first released, but it has died down since then. While the reviews might not be particularly spectacular, they do promise a fun and easy read. And the concept kind of reminds me of Season 4 of American Horror Story: Freak Show.


Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge



Another book I have had on my TBR for a ridiculously long time is Crimson Bound. It is a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood and follows Rachelle, a young girl that has devoted her life to protecting her world from dark magic. When she was fifteen, she made a horrible mistake that bound her to the magic she swore to defeat. Three years later, after being forced to guard Prince Armand, a man she hates, Rachelle sets out to uncover a legendary sword that could protect the kingdom from those hell-bent on destroying it.

I read Rosamund Hodge’s debut novel, Cruel Beauty, years ago and it is one of my favorites. I am both excited and nervous to read Crimson Bound; excited, because the story sounds unique, and nervous because, like I said, it has been years since I read anything by Rosamund Hodge. I hope my tastes have not changed too much that I can’t enjoy it.


RoseBlood by A.G. Howard


RoseBlood is yet another retelling on this list, this one The Phantom of the Opera. Rune is an opera singer with a beautiful voice, but her gift comes with a price (naturally). Every time she sings, she feels physically weak. To distract her from this terrible affliction, her mother sends her to RoseBlood, a conservatory in Paris. The school is rumored to have ties to the Phantom of the Opera and while she is there, Rune develops a friendship with a mysterious boy named Thorn. When the Phantom sets his sights on Rune for a dark purpose, Thorn must choose between saving the girl he is falling for or be the minion of the only father he’s ever known.

As a disclaimer: I have not read the original story of The Phantom of the Opera. However, thanks to Wishbone the dog, I have a general knowledge of the plot. Then again, I have no clue to how much inspiration RoseBlood takes from the source material.


Heartless by Marissa Meyer


The last retelling on this TBR, Heartless is a retelling origin story of the Queen of Hearts. Before she was the infamous villain on Alice in Wonderland, she was Catherine, a sweet young woman that just wanted to open a bakery with her best friend. Instead, her parents and everyone else in Wonderland expect her to marry the King of Hearts. But when Catherine meets Jest, the court jester, she decides it is time she put her fate into her own hands.

Can we take a moment to appreciate how gorgeous the Heartless Owlcrate exclusive cover is? And why I have not read anything by Marissa Meyer, who is probably one of the most popular young adult authors right now?


Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas


One of the rare young adult fantasy stand-alone novels, Long May She Reign centers on Freya, who is twenty-third in line to the throne and has no hopes over ever becoming queen. That is fine with her, as she is content to living her life studying alchemy. But when the entire court is poisoned, including the royal family, she suddenly finds herself with a crown on her head. Now, Freya must catch the killers before they come after her while navigating the tricky politics where everyone is in it for themselves. And she will do anything to prove herself worthy to rule a kingdom.


Thanks everyone for putting up with me as a dwell on all the unread books I own! (I sound annoying even to myself sometimes.)


What is everyone reading in March?



February 2018 Wrap Up

I read a total of eight books in February. Painful events happened this month that I turned to books to cope with. And I learned something.

It’s good to be strong, but there is such a thing as being too strong. You are allowed to feel weak and take time for self-care. Books allowed me do that, and so did my friends and certain family members.


The ratings are all over the place, ranging from five stars to two. I would say it was successful on that front, too. I shamefully admit I broke my book-buying ban by purchasing copies of novels I originally checked out of the library. Although, because I read them already, my physical TBR has not gotten any bigger. So, I guess it’s fine. Right?


Saga, Vol. 8 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples

4.5 stars


Volume 8 picks up right where Volume 7 left off. I can’t give too much away because it is the eighth book in a series, but what I can say is that I overall enjoyed it, even though I would not say it was one of my favorites in the series.

The most interesting thing about Volume 8 is that it touches on sensitive topics people in the real world don’t want to talk about. There is more world building in the same beautiful artwork this series has always had. Common themes of these graphic novels are the gray areas in a world not black and white, which was evident in Volume 8. However, the plot was quite boring and not much happened in terms of action.


Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

3.5 stars


A beloved young adult novel, especially on BookTube, I can see why people enjoy Carry On. The story of Simon Snow, a boy wizard that turns the Chosen One trope on its head. However, this novel did not live up to the hype for me.

Carry On is clearly a spoof of Harry Potter, which I went into knowing. While I saw a lot of the Harry Potter characters in Carry On (such as Penelope being similar to Hermione), I did not feel connected to any of them, despite how likeable most of them were. In fact, the only one I can say I genuinely connected to is Baz; the .5 in the rating is for him. Aside from Baz, the only other interesting character was the Dumbledore figure in the novel. Plus, there were just too many POVs to deal with.

The chapters were generally very short, making it somewhat of an easy read. Only the book should have been 200 pages shorter, in my opinion. It was also kind of awkward to know Carry On was taking place in Simon’s eighth year of school without events from previous books to go off of.

I did like Watford and how it combined modern technology with magic. They even had regular soccer offered at the school. The magic system was easy to follow; people didn’t just use wands for magic and words were a big part of it.

Regardless of what I feel presently, I think I might reread Carry On in the future to see if my rating changes.


Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

2.5 stars


In my last book haul, I mentioned that Tender is the Night was one of the books I was most excited to read. Powerhouse American couple Nicole and Dick Diver’s marriage is shaken with the arrival of beautiful young actress Rosemary Hoyt. Dick is Nicole’s psychiatrist as well as her husband and her wealth allows them to live it up on the French Rivera. While vacationing, the Divers meet Rosemary, who falls for Dick and whose friendship gives Nicole the strength that leads to Dick’s downfall.

Tender is the Night was written after F. Scott Fitzgerald had not published a book for nine years…and it shows. Fitzgerald’s writing style changed significantly. It was descriptive, but it made the story dense despite being 317 pages. There was a lot of over-explaining and over-foreshadowing. The classic Fitzgerald social commentary was still present, such the comments on the war and gender roles.

However, Rosemary becomes infatuated with Dick, but she has guilty feelings about it because she does genuinely like and admire Nicole. As for Dick, he also becomes infatuated with Rosemary, but she’s eighteen to his thirty-something. He is clearly a narcissist, going out of his way to prove his worth as a psychiatrist. None of the characters were that interesting, unlike those in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

Overall, Tender is the Night was hard to get into and hard to finish. The only things I can say I liked about it were the “psychiatrist going psycho” trope and how the women come into their own in spite of Dick.


The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson

5 stars


Though I completely strayed from my February TBR, I was in desperate need of poetry towards the middle of the month. Emily Dickinson is my all-time favorite poet. Her insights on life, death, and nature were what I needed. She asks the hard questions and makes you think. She criticizes religion, war, and societal expectations. While I was slightly overwhelmed with the amount of poems, I still loved The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson.


The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

5 stars


I had The Princess Saves Herself in This One on hold at my library for the longest time. But it was worth the wait. I read this book in less than 24 hours. It is a free verse self-published poetry collection that focuses on healing, self-love, and self-awareness. Amanda Lovelace opens up about the abuse she experienced at the hands of her mother and how that affected the rest of her life, but also led her to becoming the person she is today. I did a whole post on how much I love The Princess Saves Herself in This One, if you are interested.


Speak: the graphic novel by Laurie Halse Anderson and Emily Carroll

5 stars


I had no idea Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson was being adapted into a graphic novel illustrated by Emily Carroll until I happened upon it at Target. Since I was still sticking true to my book-buying ban, I got it out of my library instead. I read the original novel in high school, but have never owned my own copy. I decided to change that.

In case you don’t know, Speak follows Melinda, a thirteen-year-old girl who starts high school an outcast after calling the cops at a party. Even her best friend turns her back on her and she is a target of bullying. But what no one knows is that Melinda was raped by an upperclassman at that party. The book is her journey through healing and finding her voice again. Even in graphic novel, Speak is still a powerful story.


The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

5 stars


I read Rupi Kaur’s debut poetry collection, Milk and Honey, last year. I enjoyed it, except it did not live up to the hype for me personally. I got her recent publication, The Sun and Her Flowers, out of the library. And it blew me out of the water.

The Sun and Her Flowers is another collection of free-verse poetry. It covers relationships, trauma, and healing, as well as touches upon worldly issues such as immigration and female genocide. The Sun and Her Flowers is one I had to own for myself. Plus, it promises more great poetry from Rupi Kaur in the future.


The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

2 stars


My first Holly Black book…and it was disappointing. I bought The Coldest Girl in Coldtown a few years ago, back when I was hardcore into vampires. However, given the recent publication of her new book The Cruel Prince, Holly Black’s other books have gotten attention. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was one of them. And the reviews were not the best.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is set in a world where vampirism is a plague that has infected a large portion of the world’s population. Coldtowns are quarantined cities housing vampires and those infected by the disease, as well as those obsessed with vampires. After a party, Tana, the main character, wakes up to find other guests dead, her ex-boyfriend infected and tied to a bed, and a brooding vampire chained to a wall. Fearing she is also infected, Tana and her two companions travel to the nearest Coldtown.

The main thing I enjoyed about The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was the nostalgia factor for me. The world of this novel was a nod to the dark, romantic, and slightly obsessive vampire culture humans create. But, overall, the book was ultimately boring. It was 100 pages too long. The characters were flat. The writing was not bad, but it could have been better. But I am glad I finally read The Coldest Girl in Coldtown.


What was your favorite book you read in February?



Top 5 Tuesday Top 5 (6) Bookish Pet Peeves

You might be surprised to know that not a lot of bookish things annoy me….

I don’t mind cover changes (unless it is ugly or trying to copy another cover) and it does not bother me if books in series do not match. Folded pages can be smoothed out. A cracked spine shows a book has been read. If I can’t take stickers off a cover, then whatever. The usual things that drive people crazy, I usually can ignore.

Then, I proceed to put my foot in my mouth by saying that I still have bookish pet peeves. I managed to come up with six of them for this Top 5 Tuesday.


Reading slumps

read mariah carey GIF

Reading slumps are the worst. It especially sucks when I pick up a book I know I will enjoy, but have to put it down because I just can’t get into it. While I learned over the last year that sometimes it is a good idea to take a break from reading, free time gets boring fast when you have no other interesting hobbies.


Running out of space on my bookshelves

david copperfield GIF

As my shelves fill up, I grudgingly admit that I have too many books. I own two tall bookshelves, plus a smaller one, a floating bookshelf, and another shelf above my desk. I managed to fill all those with the amount of books I own. And I know I will want to buy more once my book-buying ban is over.

I love the idea of having my own place to fill with books. Unfortunately, I still live at my father’s house and will likely stay at home until I finish graduate school.


Getting distracted while reading—TV, people talking to me, etc.

read new york GIF


I don’t know how I managed this in college. I could read while my friends chatted as they studied or my roommates watched TV. Now since I’ve been home, almost every little thing distracts me. The only way I can read uninterrupted is to sit in my bedroom on my bed with the door closed and my white noise machine on full blast.


Buying a book, reading it, and then hating it.

deny everything GIF

This started to be a problem when I was in college. By then, I had jobs that allowed me to buy my own books. Reading a book that I bought with my own money, then hating it, is something that really bothers me. In hindsight, I’m still supporting the publishing industry, even if I didn’t like a book. Plus, I have a lot of opportunities to donate locally, so someone else can enjoy it.


Any serious damage to a book, like stains, ripped pages, writing in the margins, etc.

biology GIF

Dog-ear pages don’t bother me; those can be smoothed out. It’s the other stuff that gets me. I’ve spilled juice and water on books. I went through a whole semester using a book with ripped pages for one of my English literature courses (try writing a paper with that). Seeing people’s handwriting distracts me from the actual author’s words. And let’s not talk about missing pages….

Yeah, see, nothing bothers me!


What are your bookish pet peeves?



Bookish M.A.S.H Tag

I’m a little behind on the bandwagon for this one…. Shanah from Bionic Bookworm tagged me to do the Bookish M.A.S.H a while back. Kyera from Kyera’s Library is the one who created the tag. I’m finally now getting around to it.

I can’t remember the last time I played M.A.S.H. When I played again for this post, I did it the old fashioned way: paper and pen. I used five as my lucky number. I liked what Shanah did, writing her answers as the synopsis of a young adult novel. But with my answers…I’m not even going to attempt that. It’s just too weird.

Here’s what I mean.









Historical fiction






Thomas Cresswell (Stalking Jack the Ripper series)

Jem Carstairs (The Infernal Devices trilogy)

Ethan Winters (The Afterlife of Holly Chase)

Nicholas Carter (Passenger duology)



Watford (Carry On)

The Los Angeles Institute (The Dark Artifices trilogy)

Stormsay (The Book Jumper)

Barcelona Spain (The Shadow of the Wind)



Tessa Gray (The Infernal Devices trilogy)

Manon Blackbeak (Throne of Glass series)

Magnus Bane (The Mortal Instruments series)

Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter)



Samjeeza (Unearthly trilogy)

Malcolm Fade (Lady Midnight)

The Nightbringer (An Ember in the Ashes series)

Queen Maeve (Throne of Glass series)



Fleetfoot (Throne of Glass series)

Hedwig (Harry Potter series)

Crookshanks (Harry Potter series)

Lying Cat (Saga graphic novels)




Book Jumper

Forensic scientist




Flying car






Read minds


Control fire

Translate people’s feelings into music



Chosen One

Lost Princess

Love triangle

Lose memory


I have no idea who has already done this tag and who has not. If this looks like fun to you, you can say I tagged you.


Also…if anyone wants to attempt writing a story with my answers, be my guest! I want to see what people come up with.


Reasons Why Every Girl Must Read “Speak” by Laurie Halse Anderson

A few days ago, I was browsing the book section of Target as one does and a cover on the bottom shelves caught my eye. I picked it up to discover it was a graphic novel adaption of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, illustrated by Emily Carroll of Through the Woods fame. Unfortunately, I am on a book-buying ban but that is what the local library is for.

I read the original Speak novel in high school. I borrowed it from someone and I never got around to buying my own copy. In case you are unaware, the story follows Melinda, a thirteen-year-old who enters high school an outcast after she calls the cops at a party. However, what no one knows is that she was raped at that party by an upperclassman and traumatized to the point she barely speaks. The whole novel is Melinda bringing herself out of her depression and finding her voice again.

I loved the Speak graphic novel as much as I did the book. Emily Carroll’s artwork adds to the story with the black and white color scheme in pencil. Although, I have to agree with Shanah the Bionic Bookworm on this one: if I had not read the original book, I might not have gotten much out of the graphic novel adaption.

But regardless of whatever format Speak is told in, it is still an important story for girls to read; although, I would encourage boys read this, too.

If I ever have a daughter of my own, I will give her Speak when she is thirteen, because of:


How trauma affects someone’s mental health

After being raped, Melinda has trouble speaking. For months after, she is deeply depressed. Her former friends won’t talk to her, even her best friend Rachel refuses to have anything to do with her. To make matters even worse, Melinda is strained from her parents, who are too caught up in their own stuff to notice anything seriously wrong with her. Yet, despite all this, she still manages to find ways to cope with her predicament.


Finding inner strength through things like artwork

A common theme in young adult literature is the main character, who has suffered a trauma, tends to turn more to other people to heal, primarily a new significant other. While turning to other people is a good thing, some, like Melinda, do not have that luxury. Her solace is her art class. Through drawing and other projects, she lets out her pain. When she feels strong enough, she opens up about what happened to her and is ready to face it.


High school and female friendships

In high school, mean kids override the nice ones, because even the nice kids don’t always do the right thing out of fear of being targeted themselves. Melinda is a prime target for bullies due to the fact everyone blames her for calling the cops, so virtually no one comes to her defense. And friendship is not always as solid as it appears—Rachel proved that when she dropped Melinda after the party.

Yet, when Rachel started dating Andy, the boy that attacked Melinda, Melinda could have easily stood back and did nothing. As far as anyone was concerned, she wouldn’t have any reason to care. Rachel turned her back on her. But instead Melinda attempts to warn Rachel, and other girls, to stay away from Andy.


Don’t ever feel bad about saying no to anyone

Heather, a new girl at school, makes a show of befriending Melinda but then drops her like a hot potato to get in with the Marthas, a goody-two-shoes group at school. She even returns the friendship necklace Melinda gave her. Then, later on in the book, Heather comes back expecting Melinda to help her decorate for prom. But instead of giving in, Melinda politely tells her no.

After standing up for herself, Melinda feels empowered. “No” is taught to be a bad word. But why should it be? No one should be forced to do something they are not comfortable with. I know I personally have gotten into more trouble being a “yes man” than saying no. No one should ever make you feel bad for stating your boundaries.


Your voice matters, even when you think it doesn’t

The Speak book came out in 1999 and the graphic novel came out in the beginning of February 2018. At one point in the story, Melinda steals a poster of Maya Angelou after one of Angelou’s books is banned from the school library. While that seemed more likely to happen in 1999, it could very well still happen in 2018.

Melinda was not the only one forced to silence; other students in her school are too. Classmates as well as the teachers call out kids who dare to express their different opinions. Banning a book from the library the school board doesn’t want because it does not fit with their values is exactly the kind of thing this type of high school will do. And Maya Angelou is the perfect example of that.


Have you ever read Speak, either as a book or a graphic novel? What did you think of it? Let’s discuss!

Reasons Why Every Girl Must Read “The Princess Saves Herself in This One” by Amanda Lovelace

I had this book on hold at my local library for what feels like the longest time but it was worth the wait.

In case you are unfamiliar, The Princess Saves Herself in This One is a self-published poetry collection by Amanda Lovelace. Much like Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey, the poetry is free verse and touches upon a lot of feminist issues. However, The Princess Saves Herself in This One feels more personal, as the author dives into her own life experiences rather than the experience of women as a whole, and a lot more swearing.

The other night, I couldn’t sleep. So, I picked up The Princess Saves Herself in This One…and then I didn’t put it down until the wee hours of the morning.

I knew I might like this poetry collection, although I never expected to love it as much as I did. Maybe it came to me at the right time. Regardless, I think every girl should read The Princess Saves Herself in This One because:


You learn to let go of not only toxic significant others and friends, but family members as well.

In the first half of the collection, Amanda opens up about the abuse she experienced at the hands of her mother and the struggle she went through to forgive her mother years later. Despite the efforts to get rid of girl on girl hate, women do hurt other women, including mothers that hurt daughters. Parents can be just as toxic as an abusive boyfriend or a bad friend, if not more so. But just because they are family does not mean you have to hold on to them.


Healing from trauma is an ongoing thing.

Amanda mentions that the effects of her mother’s mental and emotional abuse still live with her well into her adulthood. You will get better as time goes on, but you will have some bad days. You just need to roll with it when that happens.


Books and writing can help you in the healing process.

Books played a large part in helping Amanda cope with her problems as a child as well as an adult. While taking care of my mother these past few months, turning to books and my blog have helped me cope as well. In the book world, you don’t have to think about your problems. You can even find solutions within the characters themselves. With writing, you can put your pain to paper and let yourself bleed without having to hurt yourself physically.


Rise above everyone’s expectations of you.

Whether because of your circumstances or your gender, you do not have to bend to anyone’s expectations of you.


Learn to love yourself and don’t ever feel sorry to put your happiness first or know when to say “no.”

As women, we are expected to be the caregivers and put others ahead of ourselves.

We put our self-worth into who is in our lives and claim to love us. This really struck a chord with me, because of my own circumstances. But I know I have done what I can. It’s time for me to focus on my own life and know to put myself first.


Don’t be afraid to let people in; they can help, too.

There’s one section in the novel where Amanda talks about her fiancée and how much their relationship means to her. I thought that was conflicting with her messages about self-love and independence. Then, I remembered how much those that care for me have helped me these last five months, when my mother first went into hospice and when she died last week.

The princess can save herself, but it doesn’t hurt to have a little help along the way.


Have you read The Princess Saves Herself in This One? What did you think of it?


Top Ten Romance Novels on My TBR

I pride myself on being an optimistic realist…until I saw all the romance novels on my TBR.

I don’t generally gravitate towards books heavy with romance. I prefer romantic subplots. Only I think that has changed within the last year or so. Most of these books have other things going on besides the romance. Also, the majority of them are diverse, either featuring an LGBTQ couple or an element of mental illness.

The romance novels on my TBR that I am most excited to read are:


The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion


The sequel to The Rosie Project, which I have the audacity is my favorite contemporary romance, yet I still have not read its sequel. I can’t go into detail because of spoilers, but this book picks up right where the first one left off and Don is encountering a whole new set of social/romantic problems.


The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes


Of all the Jojo Moyes books currently on my TBR, The Last Letter from Your Lover is highest on the list. Mostly because I am interested to see how the author handles another controversial topic: adultery. There are two intertwining storylines. The first is in 1960 about Jennifer, who wakes up from a car accident with no memory of her life. The only clue she has is a passionate letter from a man calling himself “B” and not the man who claims to be her husband. The other is Ellie, a journalist in 2003, who finds B’s letter and becomes fascinated with the lovers’ story. As the synopsis implies, she does this in hopes her own supposed adulterous affair can have a happy ending, too.


Vanilla by Megan Hart


I bought Vanilla back during a time I was interested in erotic fiction but did not want to read the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy because of the atrocious writing excerpts I saw online. Regarding Vanilla, I am still interested; primarily because it is the woman, Elise, who wants to be the dominant one in the bedroom. Then, she meets Niall, a sweet, non-kinky guy that gives her a run for her money. The whole novel is basically them trying to navigate their relationship, in and out of the bedroom, when both are used to wearing the pants (so to speak).


How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake


All her life, Grace’s world has revolved around her alcoholic mother Maggie. Then she meets Eva, a girl who challenges her to finally take her life into her own hands. But as the girls pursue a relationship, Maggie does something unthinkable that forces Grace to choose between staying with what she knows or going after the life she deserves. Having spent five months taking care of my own mother and putting my life on hold, I think I can relate to this novel on some level.


Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall


Though I’m not always a fan of the “guy shows girl the truth” trope, or whatever it’s called, I am still interested in Under Rose-Tainted Skies. Seventeen-year-old Norah suffers from OCD and agoraphobia. As a result, she never leaves her house. Then, when struggling to bring her groceries in, she meets her neighbor Luke. Through their friendship and eventual relationship, Norah realizes she does not have to live her life defined by her mental illness.


Autoboyography by Christina Lauren


I already have high expectations for Autoboyography, despite having not read anything by Christina Lauren before. Bisexual Tanner Scott was forced to go back into the closet when his family made the move from California to Utah. As he enters his final semester of high school, he is counting the days until graduation. On a dare by his best friend, he takes a writing class where the students are charged to write the first draft of a book in four months. Except that is not Tanner’s biggest problem: it is Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy that mentors the class.

Bisexual main character, Mormon love interest, and a writing class: this already sounds like a recipe for one of my favorite books of the year.


The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily by Laura Creedle


Lily has recently gone of her ADHD medication and is trying to adapt to the changes. Then, she meets Abelard, a boy on the autism spectrum that enjoys medieval literature as much as she does. The two bond over The Love Letters of Abelard and Heloise, eventually falling hard for each other. But as the relationship gets complicated, Lily fears she will get the same unhappy ending as her idol, Heloise. I say, two kids with neurological disorders falling in love over literature? Count me in!


They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera


Rufus and Mateo are two teenaged boys that get a call from the organization Death-Cast declaring September 5th is their last day on earth. They connect on the Last Friend app and spend the day together living an entire lifetime in New York City. I totally just butchered the synopsis, but I read Adam’s other book, History is All You Left Me, which deals with similar topics such as relationships and grief. That one really pulled at my heartstrings, so I can’t imagine what They Both Die at the End might do to me.


Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch


After the death of her mother, Lina fulfills her mom’s dying wish by going to Tuscany, Italy and reconnecting with her long-lost father. At first, Lina is reluctant to do so, but when she inherits her mother’s diary that she kept while in Tuscany, a world of new possibilities opens up to her. And, of course, she has a male companion to help her along the way.

Given the circumstances of my life currently, I’m a little nervous how close Love and Gelato might hit home for me. I think that’s why I’ve put off reading it.


Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy


When Ramona Blue first came out, there was a lot of controversy surrounding it. The protagonist, Ramona, a teenaged girl struggling to keep her family together that identifies as lesbian, questions her sexuality when her childhood best friend, Freddie, comes back into her life. People seemed to think the synopsis implied that “the right guy can make a lesbian straight.” However, Julie Murphy herself said, though she is married to a man, she is bisexual and sexuality is more fluid than people think. Once I heard that, I was sold on Ramona Blue.


What are some romance books on your TBR?

Romantic Recommendations: My Top Ten Favorite Romance Novels

Happy Valentine’s Day!

If you have someone to share this day with, enjoy it with him or her and I urge you to continue to express your love even after today. If you are #foreveralone like me, that’s just as well—indulge on chocolate, buy yourself something you like, and, of course, read romantic books!

Today, I am recommending my top ten favorite romance novels for you to read either today or any day where you are in a particularly romantic mood (keep your mind out of the gutter, you cheeky monkey).


The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion


Arguably my all-time favorite contemporary romance, The Rosie Project follows Don, a socially awkward genetics professor trying to use science to find his perfect mate. Then, he meets Rosie, a young woman looking for help in tracking down her biological father. She helps him loosen up and teaches him that science is not always the answer. Naturally, adorableness and drama ensue from there.


P.S. I Like You by Kasie West


If you are looking for something cutesy and fun, I recommend P.S. I Like You. Sixteen-year-old Lily is bored during chemistry class one day and writes song lyrics on her desk. The next day, someone completes the lyrics. She then begins to exchange letters with the mysterious writer, eventually falling for him. Though you can kind of guess who Lily’s pen pal is, the story was still a fun read, with a little more than the romance to it.


The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli


Another cute, lighthearted read, The Upside of Unrequited follows Molly, who has had twenty-six crushes but no boyfriend. When her twin sister Cassie starts dating a girl named Mina, she is introduced to Mina’s hipster sidekick Will. It seems like the perfect situation for Molly to get her first boyfriend. But then Molly’s new co-worker Reid comes into the picture.


The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough


I always describe The Game of Love and Death as the offspring of The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Love and Death personified compete in a competition every few centuries by creating an epic love story between two star-crossed lovers. This time, it is Flora and Henry, two young people in 1930s Seattle. She’s black with dreams of becoming a female pilot and he’s a privileged white boy with no idea of what to do with his life. Love does everything he can to give Flora and Henry a happy ending, only Death is non too keen on seeing that through.


Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist


A book that took me by surprise when I read it myself on Valentine’s Day last year, Love and First Sight is about Will, a blind boy that transfers to a mainstream high school. He meets a group of cool new friends and even falls for a girl, Cecily. After he and Cecily start dating, he learns of an experimental surgery that promises his eyesight. But when Will goes through with it, he sees that Cecily does not fit the traditional standards of beauty. And he has to figure out if that is really as important as he thinks it is.


Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli


Probably one of the most beloved books on this whole list, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is the cutest and fluffiest read. Simon, who is a closeted gay teen, is exchanging emails with another boy at his school that is also gay and in the closet. Their banter is adorable and they help each other come out of their shells. If you read any book on Valentine’s Day, read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.


Me Before You by Jojo Moyes


I am well aware of the controversy surrounding Me Before You, yet something about Will and Lou’s relationship stuck with me. Lou is a quirky young woman hired by quadriplegic Will’s family to be his caregiver and companion. As the pair bonds, she learns something shocking about her client. Then, Lou makes it her mission to show Will that life can still be worth living regardless of circumstances. If you are looking to cry, Me Before You is a good one.


History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera


If you aren’t interested in Me Before You but are still looking for a good cry, History is All You Left Me is another option. Griffin loses his first love, Theo, in a drowning accident. Though they broke up, Griffin was convinced he and Theo would get back together, only that is not happening now. The whole of History is All You Left Me is a reflection on Griffin’s relationship with Theo, before and after they broke up. And it is so cute you might want to cry a little more.


Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen


Almost everyone, when asked their favorite Jane Austen couple, will most likely say Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. I do like them a lot, but Edward and Elinor, and Marianne and Col. Brandon are the ones that really make me swoon. Elinor and Marianne are two sisters caught up in their own love stories. Elinor falls in love with Edward, a sweet and shy young man that failed to mention he already had a fiancée. Marianne is swept off her feet (literally) by Willoughby, who she thinks is her dream man, until she starts to see family friend Col. Brandon in a new light. Sense and Sensibility is probably my all-time favorite classic novel, too.


Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown


Spunky and openly gay Jo is entering her senior year of high school when her minister father marries his third wife. The family then moves from Atlanta to a small town in Georgia. In exchange for her own segment on her father’s radio show, Jo agrees to spend her senior year pretending to be straight. At first, things are fine and Jo is having fun. Then, of course, she meets a girl. Not only is Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit a cute romance, it also has great discussions on religion and its relationship to sexuality.


What are you reading today for Valentine’s Day?