September 2017 Wrap Up

Remember all those library books I checked out at the beginning of the month?

I checked out those library books to give myself a break from the physical TBR at home. In theory, it worked—I was reading without feeling the pressure. On the flip side, I had checked out too many. As the weeks went on (who can resist free books?), that I had inadvertently overwhelmed myself again. I lost interest and returned most of them. Thankfully, I can go back and get them another day.

In total, I read seven books in the month of September; mostly library books, as well as one Shakespeare play that was sitting on the lower half of my TBR and one reread. I read three banned books, in honor of Banned Books Week. The ratings were all over the place, but nothing greater than a four. In fact, this month I gave my second one-star rating of the year.

In September, I read:

 

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (library book)

1 star

theoutsiders

The beauty about modern classics, or classic novels in general, is that they are open to interpretation. I went into The Outsiders with high expectations. Two gangs, each with kids from opposing sides of town, get into a rumble that ends in tragedy. I’ve wanted to read this book for ages. Sadly, I was disappointed.

The main reason I can think of for not liking The Outsiders is the writing style. In hindsight, I know the author was being realistic with the narrator, fourteen-year-old Ponyboy, who is from the “greasers.” Obviously, his vocabulary is not going to be top-notch. However, the way the book was written, I felt disconnected from the whole story. I did not feel for the characters at all and I felt extremely underwhelmed. The entire reading experience of The Outsiders had been deeply unpleasant for me.

 

The Memory Book by Lara Avery (library book)

4 stars

thememorybook

The Memory Book follows Sammie, a high school senior diagnosed with a genetic brain disorder that is slowly stealing away her memories as well as her health. Determined to take advantage of whatever time she has left, she makes the Memory Book, a journal to her future self documenting memories, good or bad, she might lose as the disease progresses. If you liked Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, you might also enjoy The Memory.

I did a whole spoiler-free review of this book, if you want to check it out. https://jillianthebookishbutterflyblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/10/review-of-the-memory-book-by-lara-avery/

 

Antony and Cleopatra by William Shakespeare

4 stars

antonyandcleopatra

Within the first two weeks of September, I was hit with a powerful nostalgia for school. I missed my English literature classes. So, on a whim, I picked up Antony and Cleopatra, a history/tragedy play by William Shakespeare that is a fictional retelling of the death of lovers Mark Antony and Queen Cleopatra.

If you don’t know the backstory of the couple, the whole plot might be confusing to you. Mark Antony and Cleopatra were madly in love, despite Rome and Egypt not getting along. Circumstances of war led them both to their deaths, out of love for their countries and each other.

Antony and Cleopatra was not my favorite play by William Shakespeare. However, I always appreciated Shakespeare’s portrayal of his female leads in his comedies and he was fair in his portrayal of Cleopatra. Roman history tends to describe her as this conniving queen that seduced Caesar. In fact, it is brought up several times throughout the play. Instead, Shakespeare paints the portrait of a strong queen who loved her people as much as she did her soulmate and her children.

 

Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik (library book)

3 stars

thingsishouldhaveknown

Things I Should Have Known follows Chloe and her older sister, Ivy, who is on the autism spectrum, as Chloe tries to find her sister a boyfriend. She thinks she has found the perfect match for Ivy in Ethan, a boy in Ivy’s class, who also happens to be the younger brother of David, a boy Chloe goes to school with that she despises. But as the four of them spend time together, they begin to learn things about each other, as well as themselves.

I would not say Things I Should Have Known is one of my favorite books of the year. The writing was OK, the main character was likeable but nothing special, and the “plot twist” was predictable. However, as the older sister of a young man on the spectrum, I appreciate this book entirely for its autism representation. It was accurate and I completely sympathized with Chloe and David, having had similar experiences with my own brother.

If you have been touched by autism, I highly recommend Things I Should Have Known to you.

 

Go Ask Alice by “Anonymous” (library book)

3 stars

goaskalice

Go Ask Alice is another banned book I read this month that I was disappointed by, although not as much as I was by The Outsiders.

The book is written entirely in diary format, which I enjoyed. Despite revelations that say otherwise, it sounded like it was actually written by a fifteen-year-old girl. Go Ask Alice was a fast read, something I needed at the time. The story did not shy away from the horrors of drug abuse. I loved the main character’s family, who were so unbelievably forgiving and supportive. However, the ending left me confused. It was unexpected nor was it particularly hopeful. Perhaps that was intentional? Is there something I am missing?

 

Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic (library book)

4.5 stars

wickedlikeawildfire

If I had to pick a favorite book I read this month, it would most likely have to be Wicked Like a Wildfire. Iris and Malina are seventeen-year-old twins with magical gifts living under the harsh thumb of their cold-hearted mother, Jasmina. When their mother is attacked, the girls set out to uncover the dark secrets of their family’s past as well as end a thousand-year old curse.

The magic system of the “gleam” the main characters have was fascinating and not something I had seen before. The setting was beautiful and so was the writing. It also made me hungry—I want everything Jasmina makes in her bakery. I enjoyed most of the characters, only I did not connect with any of them.

I had two big qualms with this book. First, is my annoyance that everyone has to be paired with someone else. While one of the sisters gets into a relationship I can get behind, the other’s relationship is totally forced and, in my opinion, not necessary. There was another option she had that I would have preferred, had things not gone they way they did.

The other issue is Jasmina’s behavior towards Iris. I don’t care if ultimately everything she did was for the sake of her daughters…you don’t call one of them a whore for simply wearing a tank top and shorts.

 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling (reread)

4 stars

sorcerersstone

Yes—I dared to give a Harry Potter book less than five stars! Believe me, I wanted to, because it was Harry Potter and I do love the books. However, now that I am twenty-four, I noticed things that I never would have as a twelve-year-old.

I love Harry, Ron, and Hermione. I flew through the book because I enjoyed the story so much. Hogwarts is still an amazing place to be. But even something like Harry Potter has its flaws. I go into my full musings in “Thoughts I Had Rereading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as an Adult” post, if you are interested.

https://jillianthebookishbutterflyblog.wordpress.com/2017/09/29/thoughts-i-had-rereading-harry-potter-and-the-sorcerers-stone-as-an-adult/

 

What was your favorite book of September?

 

 

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Thoughts I Had Rereading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as an Adult

In case you missed my End of the Year Reading Plans blog post, I decided to end 2017 with a reread of the Harry Potter series. After reading each of the seven books, I will do spoiler-filled individual reviews that are more like musings; thoughts that occurred to me as I was reading and things I never noticed as a twelve-year-old that I do now as a twenty-four-year-old.

Proceed with caution: Spoilers ahead!

 

Severus Snape is a douchebag!

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I get it: James Potter bullied him the entire time he was in school and stole his best friend Lily Evens from him. But Harry is not James. It was obvious from the first time he is introduced Snape is deliberately picking on Harry, going as far as to blame Harry for Neville messing up a potion that first class. If anything, he should have kept Harry close to his heart out of love for Lily.

I don’t care that Snape was a hero in the end—he had no right to pick on a young boy.

 

Hagrid is a pushover.

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I love Hagrid and I stand by that he is the only true parental figure Harry had in his life. But how can he let three 11-year-olds push him around like that?

 

If I had met Hermione Granger when I was eleven in real life, I don’t think I would have liked her at all.

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Obviously, I grew to love Hermione like everyone else did. Still, reading those first chapters with her, until the scene with the troll on Halloween, and how much of a perfectionist she is, I don’t think I would have liked her at that age. I might have respected her, in terms of academic and her strict rule following, but ultimately I think she would have annoyed me.

 

Only five points taken when facing off a troll by yourself, but fifty points taken for sneaking out of bed?

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Maybe it’s because the Stone was hanging around and McGonagall knew people would be after it, but still. Kids are curious and who wouldn’t want to explore the Hogwarts castle as much as they could? What if the kids couldn’t sleep and they were actually just taking a walk to calm down, Professor?

Then, you take into account of the troll getting inside the school on Halloween. Instead of doing what they were told and getting back to the Gryffindor tower, Harry and Ron did the brave thing to save Hermione from the troll. Hermione told McGonagall she went to face off the troll alone because she had read about them and thought she knew what she was doing—that should have taken fifty points. On the flip side to that, heroes Harry and Ron only get five or ten points each to Gryffindor for saving a fellow classmate from possible death.

I don’t get it.

 

Sending 11-year-olds out into the Forbidden Forest in the middle of the night to find a dead unicorn?

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Isn’t sending four eleven-year-olds out into the Forbidden Forest, the same place you told them not to go, a little extreme punishment? Hagrid is trained and perfectly capable of doing the job himself. Plus, they were separated; he even told Malfoy his dog Fang would not even protect him in a crisis. Wouldn’t Hagrid get in trouble if anything happened to the kids on his watch, since they were, technically, in detention?

 

J.K. Rowling’s writing in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is juvenile and often states the obvious.

 

Yes, even J.K. Rowling, the God of Storytelling, was once a newbie author. It shows in Sorcerer’s Stone. I understand that she was writing for children, but I saw her stating the obvious—explaining what the characters were feeling or over-explaining certain situations instead of showing. You don’t always need to dumb things down for kids.

 

Why was Peeves the poltergeist not in the movies?

 

He’s such a pivotal factor in some many scenes, especially this first book. How come he is never featured in the movie?

 

I like Draco Malfoy now because I know what kind of adult he grows up to be and what a father he is to his son.

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Growing up, like most people, I despised Draco Malfoy in books/movies 1 through 5. He is a terrible brat always causing problems for the Golden Trio. He was bad strictly for the sake of being bad. Though I ultimately disliked Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the highlight of that whole play was, ironically, Draco and his son Scorpios.

Throughout my reread of Sorcerer’s Stone, seeing Draco set Harry up to get into trouble, like challenging him to a midnight duel and tattling to McGonagall about Norbert the dragon, I knew this phase was temporary. He grows up to be a mature adult and a loving father to his son.

 

I like Ron more than I thought I did in the first book.

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Reading Sorcerer’s Stone, it’s obvious Ron would make a good Hufflepuff. He’s loyal to Harry. He sees Harry as a normal boy, not just the Boy Who Lived—until the later books at least.

Thinking of the drama Ron causes particularly in Book 4, it was hard for me to look past that and remember that, at his core, Ron is a good friend to Harry. He’s not perfect. We all know the dumb shit he starts in Goblet of Fire and Deathly Hallows. He dragged Hermione’s feelings through the mud in Half-Blood Prince. Hard to believe that guy is the same sweet, funny kid in Sorcerer’s Stone.

 

Hogwarts is still a magical place.

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No matter how old you get.

 

If the Dursleys had not been horrible to Harry, even if they never told him the truth about how his parents died and that he was a wizard, would he have been as accepting learning he was a wizard?

Reading Harry’s life with the Dursleys, leading up to the scene Hagrid arrives with the truth bomb—Harry, you’re a wizard—and, five minutes later, Harry is totally cool with it, I had to ask myself that question.

A common theme in young adult literature is a parent or guardian of the main character knowing he or she is a supernatural but does not divulge in the information for the sake of protecting said main character. I imagined this scenario: Petunia Dursley was close to her sister Lily and is devastated by the loss. When she takes Harry in, she and her husband Vernon vow to never reveal to Harry he is a wizard to protect him. They love Harry and raise him alongside Dudley like brothers. Eleven years later, the letter from Hogwarts arrives. If Harry had grown up in this situation, would he be so willing to leave the Dursleys?

I suppose giving Harry a horrible childhood is J.K. Rowling’s way of giving him motivation to go to Hogwarts. In hindsight, though, I wondered if his quick acceptance of learning he is a wizard is unrealistic. Perhaps I am reading too much into it, but I cannot be the only person that thinks this, can I?

 

Did you think any of the same things I did? Let’s discuss!

 

The Fall Book Tag

When Shanah over at @BionicBookworm created this book tag, I was ecstatic. I love seasonal tags and fall is my favorite. It means cooler weather, Halloween is coming up, Christmas is around the corner, and, when I was growing up, a new school year. Although, hopefully this time next year, I will be starting my first semester as a graduate student.

Now, onto the tag!

Crisp fall air: a book that felt fresh and new.

The Upside of Unrequited

The book that came to mind is The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli. The protagonist, Molly, is overweight and has anxiety. Her twin sister Cassie is a lesbian whose girlfriend, Mina, is Korean-American and pansexual. The sisters are sperm donor babies born to two moms. One of the moms, Nadine, is black, while the other mom, Patty, is Jewish and bisexual. Reid, one of Molly’s love interests in the novel, is also an underrepresented body type, “husky.” The Upside of Unrequited is just full of diversity.

Howling winds: an ending that blew you away.

sagavol7

Saga, Vol. 7 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples—the story started off slow and didn’t get interesting until the middle half. But the ending of that graphic novel went there. Worse yet, when I read it, I was on the train home from work and couldn’t cry because there were people around.

Comfy sweaters: book that gave you the warm and fuzzies.

firstsight

Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist, which follows Will, a teenaged boy born blind that undergoes an experimental surgery that promises to give him his sight. At the beginning of the book, he transfers to a public high school from his school for the blind, where he makes new friends and falls in love for the first time, with a girl named Cecily. Will and Cecily’s relationship has its ups and downs, but is so cute it made me feel like my heart might burst with the cuteness.

Bright colors: cover with either red, orange, or yellow.

I found covers for all three of these colors.

Red: The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh. While the plot seems more like a summer read, the color on the cover reminds me of leaves turning red in fall.

thewrathandthedawn

Yellow: The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes. Some might consider this shade of yellow to be too bright, but historical fiction is an ideal read for the autumn season.

thegirlyouleftbehind

Orange: Half Lost by Sally Green. This is the perfect shade of fall orange, in my opinion.

halflost

Leaf fight: a book with non-stop action.

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir was non-stop action from the beginning. There were three storylines going on at once, yet it was easy to follow along. Sabaa did a great job with developing plot, building suspense, and working in character development. I could not put it down when I read it. Plus, the third book in the An Ember in the Ashes series, A Reaper at the Gates, is coming out April of 2018 and I am PUMPED!

Pumpkin spice: your most anticipated read.

At this moment in time, An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson is my most anticipated read. This book doesn’t come out until the near end of September, but the reviews are good and I have a feeling I will enjoy this book when I read it.

anenchantmentofravens

Random question: how do people feel about the cover change with the An Ember in the Ashes series?

            I have a love/hate relationship with it, honestly. I like the cover for A Reaper at the Gates, only I am too attached to the original covers of the first two books.

 

Thank you Shanah for making the tag!

My End of the Year Reading Plans

Now that autumn is here, I have been giving some serious thoughts to my reading plans for the end of the year. I was going to do Ariel Bissett’s End of the Year Book Tag. Only I realized that my plans do not really fit with the questions in this tag.

My reading plans for the end of the year are:

 

Read the classics on my TBR

The books on my physical TBR that don’t get enough priority are the classics. I own some beautiful editions, yet most of them I haven’t even cracked the spine. Also, when I looked over my reading stats for this year so far on Goodreads, I realized I have only read 2 classics—one Shakespeare play and my second 1-star rating of the year (more on that in my September wrap-up).

After spending four years studying English literature, this is really sad. I own 14 classic novels and four books from a beloved classical series. Of these, I know which ones I want to read next, in what order. Regarding the rest of my TBR books, I change my mind so many times it’s overwhelming. I figured once I get my least-priority TBR books out of the way, the rest will be able to sort themselves out.

In case you were curious, the classics I have on my TBR are:

Little Women by Louise May Alcott

littlewomen

 

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

janeausten

 

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

The Monogram Murders by Agatha Christie

agathachristie

 

The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald

thebeautifulanddamned

 

The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

thehouseofsevengables

 

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

forwhomthebelltolls

 

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

thephantomoftheopera

 

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

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Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery

Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery

Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery

anne

 

Love Story by Erich Segal

lovestory

 

The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks (Is The Notebook considered a classic? I don’t know).

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Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut

 

The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

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Reread the Harry Potter series

It has been years since I read any of the original Harry Potter books. I started around this time last year, but made it up to the first chapter in Prisoner of Azkaban before I lost interest. After watching Emma on the channel emmmabooks do her reviews of the first three books, I decided to start over with the series.

I want to reread these books as an adult and see if I feel the same way I did about them as a kid. Also, I am considering doing either individual reviews for each of the books or doing a whole series review, reflecting on the story through the eyes of an adult. Knowing me, I could end up doing both.

 

What are your reading plans for the end of the year?

Netflix Book Tag

Like probably 50% of the population, I am addicted to Netflix. This has come to my rescue during reading slumps more than once. So, when I saw a book tag based on Netflix, I jumped on it.

 

Recently watched: last book you finished reading.

At one in the morning last night, Go Ask Alice by “Anonymous.” It was a banned book I have had my eye on for a while and I had gotten it out of the library to finally cross it off my list. While I did enjoy it overall, it did not meet my expectations. But more on that in my wrap-up.

goaskalice

 

Top picks: a book that has been recommended to you based on books you have previously read.

I had to browse the recommendations section on Goodreads for this question. The Meaning of Night caught my eye, recommended to me because I read Carlos Ruiz Zafon and The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova. The story follows Edward, an ambitious young man, who leaves the corrupted streets of London for the upscale English countryside to reclaim an inheritance he believes is his. However, obsession and delusion plague him, and a rival stalks him. Sounds like it’s right up my alley.

 

Recently added: the last book you added to your collection.

Technically, it was six books that I added to my collection last. I bought them all at one trip to Target when I was having a tough day in August. They were:

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

Lucky in Love by Kasie West

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

 

Comedies: a funny book.

The Queen of Babble trilogy by Meg Cabot; it follows an aspiring young wedding dress designer with a big mouth that gets her into hilarious and awkward situations all the time.

queenofbabbletrilogy

 

Dramas: a character that is a drama queen/king.

Snake from Definitions of Indefinable Things by Whitney Taylor was a drama king, on top of being annoyingly arrogant. He made too much of a big deal out of everything. In my opinion, he was the male version of the trope “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” with tattoos.

definitionsofindefinablethings

 

Watch it again: a book/book series that you want to reread.

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin, which I read years ago, and bought the sequel Dance of the Red Death but never got around to reading. As the title suggests, it is a retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story, set in a world where a deadly disease known as the Red Death has taken out of the majority of a city’s population and those who can afford it where masks whenever they go outside. I enjoyed it when I read it but it has been so long I must read Masque of the Red Death that I need to reread it before I pick up the sequel.

masqueofthereddeath

 

Action and adventure: an action-packed book.

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller, a fun and fast-paced novel set on the sea in a pirate ship with a badass lady pirate. Never a dull moment, particularly involving Alossa and Rider.

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New release: a book that just came out or is coming out soon that you can’t wait to read.

I’m currently hurting for money, so, naturally, there are a lot of upcoming releases I want or am looking forward to. Three of them are:

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

Hunting Prince Dracula by Kerri Maniscalco

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

 

Documentary: non-fiction book you would recommend to everyone.

We Believe You by Annie E. Clark, a collection of stories by survivors of college sexual assault and the aftermath of the events that altered their lives forever. This book made me uncomfortable, sad, and very, very angry. Some of the accounts are more graphic than others. The message was powerful and it has stuck with me since I read it last year.

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Popular on Netflix: book everyone knows about.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, the first book in a popular young adult series I haven’t read yet. If you are involved in bookish social media at all, you have heard people talk about this series. So far, it has gotten overwhelmingly positive reviews from people that have read the books.

 

Anime: last graphic novel you read.

Saga, Vol. 7 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples, the only graphic novel I have read so far this year. I want to read more, although I’m not sure that will happen before 2017 is over.

sagavol7

 

Continue watching: what you are currently reading.

I’m currently reading another one of my library books, Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic. I was reading it along with Go Ask Alice, so I’m a little over 30% of the way through. I’m really liking it so far, but I definitely have to finish it over the weekend because it is due back on Monday.

wickedlikeawildfire

 

If you are subscribed to Netflix, what is your favorite thing you have ever watched? Mine is Ripper Street.

Too Many Unread Books: Good or Bad?

I watched Jesse the Reader’s video on having too many unread books. He had a lot of good points: it is fine to have too many unread books on your physical TBR, that you should be excited by all the books you haven’t read yet, and no one can tell you how you should spend your own money.

Those are all very good points. I agree with everything he said. But the whole time I watched the video, thinking about my own TBR, I wondered when having too many unread books becomes a bad thing.

I currently have over 130 unread books sitting on my bookshelves. As far as I am concerned, buying more books might be a bad idea. I am in danger of overwhelming myself. There are books on my shelves that I’ve owned for years yet never even cracked the spines. Many of them, I don’t know why I have not read them. I just haven’t.

Most times, I think I buy books simply for the sake of buying them. Several ones I own I look at and wonder, why did I buy this again? Not exactly the kind of thing I should be thinking about something I bought. In my case, buying books when I still have so many sitting unread on my shelves is a bad idea.

Like a crazy person, I have already made reading plans for 2018. As of right now, I’m planning to divide my physical TBR into three-page Word documents. By completing each list, I will allow myself to buy books.

I am not doing it just to buy more books—I’m doing it so the unread books I already own do not gather dust on my shelves.

So, yes—it is OK to have a large physical TBR. No one has a right to tell you how you can or cannot spend your hard-earned money. But, if you are like me, it might be wise to evaluate your situation. Read some of your unread books before buying anymore. Again, that is only my way of doing things. It is just the system that works for me (when I actually make myself stick to it).

But you do you Honey Boo Boo.

The Drunk Book Tag

I saw Christine of PolandbananasBOOKS on YouTube do this tag a few weeks ago on her channel. Considering I attended my cousin’s wedding last weekend and helped myself to the open bar, I figured this tag would be fitting.

 

Wine coolers: a guilty pleasure read.

Paranormal romances are a guilty pleasure of mine. Depending on who is writing them, sometimes they have strong plots in addition to smutty sex scenes. Others though, all they are is sex. The romances are sometimes weird too, like the men exhibiting bad, borderline abusive behavior, i.e. Clayton Danvers from the Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong, yet they can be so sexy you can’t resist them anyway.

otherworld

 

Beer: favorite new adult/college-aged book?

Most people say Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell for this one, which is a good answer. But I chose I Was Here by Gayle Forman. The main character, Cody, is college-aged, though not in school. The majority of the book takes place in the college town Cody goes to after her best friend commits suicide and she is trying to get answers to why. I recognize this book has some problems, like the romance was forced, but I still enjoyed I Was Here.

iwashere

 

Tequila: a book you never want to see again.

It’s a tie between Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire and The Satanic Verses by Salmon Rushdie. The first I was drawn in by the beautiful book cover, only to be horrified by awful writing, story, and characters. The second I read for a college Banned Books course and reading it made me feel like I was on the closest thing to an acid trip I will ever get to in my life. A really, really bad acid trip.

 

Beer bing: a quick read.

The Saga graphic novels by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples. I read four or five of the comics in three days. Aside from their format and beautiful artwork, the story makes it a fun, action-packed, and amazing read. Once I pick up a new Saga comic, I can’t put it down.

sagacomics

 

Spring break: your favorite smutty read.

Sex Criminals, Vol. 1 by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky. I almost completely forgot about this series, mainly because I have only read the first volume of the Sex Criminals series. While this didn’t blow me away like Saga has, I still enjoyed it when I read it. Despite the drawings of glowing penises and graphic depictions of sex scenes that I had to hide in my room to read, the story is hilarious and sex positive. I really hope to marathon the Sex Criminals series next year.

sexcriminalscomic

 

Screwdriver: a dark and twisted book.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn is a little over 200 pages but hurts like a slap in the face. Camille, the main character, is an alcoholic that cuts. She is a journalist; she goes home to her small town where her uncaring, cruel mother Adora still lives to investigate the murder of preteen girls. This brings up a lot of buried memories that nearly push Camille over the edge. I really loved Sharp Objects when I first read it and I have wanted to reread it for years. But, unfortunately, my TBR has gotten far too big.

sharpobjects

 

Long Island Iced Tea (my favorite kind of alcohol after Angry Orchard): a diverse read.

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli is filled with diversity readers of this day in age are looking for. The main character, Molly, is an overweight teenaged girl with an anxiety disorder. She and her twin sister Cassie, who is a lesbian, are sperm donor babies born to two moms. One mom, Nadine, is African-American, and the other mom, Patty, is Jewish and bisexual. Cassie’s girlfriend, Mina, is Korean-American and pansexual. Reid, one of Molly’s love interests, is also chubby and not the typical brooding bad boy type most young adult authors favor.

Is that diverse enough for you?

The Upside of Unrequited

 

Sex on the beach: not worth the hype.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling and Jack Thorne, my second choice after The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. I settled on Cursed Child because The Outsiders is a modern classic, so it is always opened to interpretation. Plus, I recognized the book was not for me because of the lack of the exciting plot and the writing style, despite it being realistic to the main character.

I went with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child because this book was beyond hyped. I knew that going into it, but I wanted to give it a chance. Ultimately, I was disappointed. It firmed my belief that Harry Potter needs to retire.

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Wine: a cry worthy book.

I have not cried as much in a book as I did in A List of Cages by Robin Roe. I loved the two main boys. I wanted so badly to protect Julien, the youngest, but I couldn’t. His situation was simply horrifying. What is worse is that the author has experience working with kids like him, so I know what Julien is going through real-life kids are, too.

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Strip club: a sexy naked book.

My edition of Heartless by Marissa Meyer. This is the exclusive cover released by Owlcrate in their November 2016 Wonderland box. It is one of the prettiest books I own and sometimes I catch myself just staring at it on my shelves, naked or with the cover on it.

 

If you were to drink alcohol while reading, what would you drink? I would drink an apple Angry Orchard.

The Work Book Tag

I posted a poll two weeks ago on Books Amino on what to do next with my blog. Kc17lovesbooks directed me to a book tag she created: the Work Book Tag. I checked it out for myself. It looked like a lot of fun and I’ve been looking for more book tags to do.

 

First day: a book that you were nervous about but ended up really enjoying.

A book I was worried about not enjoying was P.S. I Like You by Kasie West. I received this book in an Owlcrate box last year. Prior to reading this book, I tended to not pick up fluffy young adult contemporary novels. Then, I had a reading slump and P.S. I Like You came to my rescue. It was a fun, lighthearted read. Even though I only gave it 3.5 stars when I read it, P.S. I Like You encouraged me to expand my reading tastes.

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Co-workers: which characters would you want to work with?

I really want to work with Daniel and Fermin, the main characters in Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind and The Prisoner of Heaven. Daniel is sweet, awkward, and loves books. Fermin is sassy, funny, and doesn’t take people’s crap. I would have a lot of fun working with these two.

 

Training: best book you read for school.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a novel I first read for my book club in freshman year of high school. I read it again in my sophomore year English Honors class summer reading. I used it with my students as my first year as a teaching assistant my sophomore year of college. The professor I worked with enjoyed it so much, she recommended it to the committee who selected the summer common read for the incoming college first-years, and it was chosen.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian has a perfect balance between humor and seriousness. Junior Spirit is one of the most inspiring protagonists I have read in young adult literature. I’ve read this book four times and my love has grown with each read.

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First paycheck: a book that was hard to get through (or just really big) but was worth the effort.

The first book that comes to mind for this question is Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman. It was not even 400 pages long yet it took me almost two weeks to get through it. Except I enjoyed what I was reading. The writing was beautiful and the story, which was based on John Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost, was fascinating. The problem was Traitor Angels was so slow, it was frustrating, and I almost gave up on it. But I am glad I pushed through.

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Annoying customer: your least favorite main character.

For me, it is easily Mia Thermopolis from The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot. She is the main reason I never liked the series. She was overly dramatic and had no agency to speak of. Actually, now that I think about it, I can’t think of any characters from that series I liked. The Mediator series by Meg Cabot was way better.

 

Closing shift: book with the best epilogue.

The last two pages of The Memory Book by Lara Avery gutted me. Even more than the Clockwork Princess epilogue by Cassandra Clare. The ending was expected, yet not quite. I cried and it takes a lot for a book to make me cry.

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Tip jar: a book that gave you more than you expected.

When I read City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson in August, I knew I would like it, only I never expected to enjoy it as much as I did. It was over 400 pages, yet I flew through it in two days. Tina, the main character, could give Sarah J. Maas’s supposed “badass” protagonists a run for their money. The story was fast-paced and eye opening. I could go on.

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Employee discount: book you got for cheap but was really good.

Does free count as cheap? My best friend’s mom is a reader and she gave me two books. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng was one of them. This is another book I thought I would like when I first heard about it, yet enjoyed it more than I thought I would.

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I tag anyone who wants to do this tag! And I recommend it. It’s fun!

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Recommendations for Non-Readers

Like me, most of you probably have people in your life that don’t read. Some of my friends have told me they want to read more, but school killed the desire for them or their lives just don’t leave enough room for it or they can’t find anything that interests them.

Regardless of their reasons, when it comes to recommending books, I tend to go for the shorter ones. The last thing you want to do is intimidate a new reader by getting them to read a Cassandra Clare or Sarah J. Maas novel. I also chose books based on content I think people could relate to.

Some of the books on this list are ones my non-reader friends have said they enjoyed when they read them. So, if other non-readers liked them, chances are others might too.

 

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

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The first time I read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian was for my book club in high school. I thought it was a stupid title, yet I flew through it in two days. Not only is it short, but Junior, the main character, is one of the best, funniest, most relatable protagonists I have read in young adult literature. The book is the perfect balance between serious and humorous. I even used this book with my students when I was a teaching assistant in college and they enjoyed it, too. And some of them weren’t readers until they picked up The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

 

The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

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A friend of mine who is one of those people who wants to read but can’t find the time made the time to read The DUFF when she did. She loved this book, and the movie, too. When I read it myself I saw the appeal. Bianca is headstrong and sarcastic, but flawed and vulnerable. Young readers can relate to her as she overcomes the peer pressures of high school.

 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of the books that my non-reader friends said they loved. While I personally did not fall head over heels for this book, I did see the value in the story. Charlie, the main character, is like a lot of kids in high school. We feel lonely and misunderstood. Then, we find those people who get us and who we click with.

 

Paper Towns by John Green

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My favorite of John Green’s books he’s published so far. High school kids get involved in a mystery left behind by their enigmatic friend Margo. This leads them to learn a few things about the girl they thought they knew, as well as sends them on a whirlwind trip around their little town. I would recommend this book to non-readers because Paper Towns is just so fun. I couldn’t put it down when I read it.

 

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

The Upside of Unrequited

I just loved this book so much when I read it. The Upside of Unrequited is cuteness overload. Molly is a relatable protagonist: a seventeen-year-old girl who has had many crushes but no real boyfriend. The characters are real people with real families—Molly and her twin sister Cassie are sperm donor babies born to two moms. Molly is overweight and has anxiety. Reid, one of Molly’s love interests, is chubby, too. Cassie is a lesbian and her love interest, Mina, is a pansexual Korean-American. This book is filled with diversity and I loved it.

Plus, I shared some of the quotes from The Upside of Unrequited on my Snapchat, and some of my friends asked me what I was reading. Then, they bought it for themselves to read.

 

What books would you recommend your non-reader friends?

Review of The Memory Book by Lara Avery

I finished this book over a week ago, and I’m finally getting around to talking about it…because I am a jumble of emotions.

The Memory Book is an underrated young adult novel following Sammie, a teenaged girl that discovers she has a rare genetic disorder that is slowly stealing away her memories. The doctors say it will ultimately take her health as well. Despite this, and taking hope that a later diagnosis buys her more time as her doctors say, she continues with her life plan: graduating high school as the valedictorian and attending NYU. Sammie also starts the Memory Book, a journal for her future self to look back on as the disease makes its slow destruction of her memories.

Lara Avery has a great writing style, making the book enjoyable to read as well as providing a strong plot. The novel is written in a diary/computer format, as Sammie dedicatedly blogs every monumental moment in her life since creating the Memory Book, including her memory relapses. In this style, the book was a quick read, regardless of being over 300 pages. However, there was a point where the story dragged towards the end, making me think this book could have shed 20 pages and been fine.

Sammie is a great protagonist. She’s smart and determined and knows what she wants. Most people would fall into a depression with her diagnosis, but not her. She refused to let the disease take more from her life than it already did. Sammie was flawed too; she did not have much empathy for her parents’ situation regarding her illness than she should have, and thought she was better off keeping people from getting too close. While I understand how the people in her life felt shunned or used by her, I could also understand why she did some of the things she did. And there were times I don’t think people were giving her enough credit. But Sammie proved everyone wrong, in the end.

As for the other characters, I found them all to be realistic. There was a strong, positive family presence. During the course of the novel, Sammie becomes involved with Stuart, a writer she knew in high school, and I liked how their relationship developed. Unfortunately, there was also, in my opinion, a completely forced love triangle with Sammie between Stuart and Cooper, her childhood friend who suddenly comes back into her life after they barely spoke for four years. It came out of nowhere; all it did was add more drama to a plot that was already solid. That was my main qualm with the whole book.

The literal last two pages gutted me, making my overall rating of The Memory Book by Lara Avery 4 stars. I enjoyed this book very much and I would highly recommend it if you like Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon.