November 2017 Wrap Up

When November started, I was content to embrace the reading slump and focus on my writing. For a while, I was writing a little bit, although not as much as I would have liked. Then, towards the middle of the month, I got the urge to read again, despite still in the throes of a slump. I wanted to buy books more than read them (which my bank account currently hates me for). I checked out library books, which helped.

In total, I read four books in November. All of them falling in or under the 3 star range. I don’t know if it was because of the books I chose to read or if it was because of the reading slump. Not that it should matter—I’m back to reading again, just in time for the end of the year.

In November, I read:

 

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

3 stars

mylifeontheroad2

A YouTube video I watched on reading slumps recommended reading a book outside of your comfort zone to get out of a slump. That is initially why I picked up My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem, a nonfiction work about how her experiences travelling and her nomadic childhood influenced her life. However, I was reluctant to read it after her comment that Millennial women only supported Bernie Sanders because “that was where the boys are.” That really got under my skin. Only I knew I could never part with this book because my favorite professors in the Women & Gender Studies program at my college gave this to me when I graduated and they signed it.

So, in the midst of a reading slump, I decided to give Gloria Steinem a chance. I have to say, it was an unexpectedly enjoyable read and educational. It helped me get out of my reading slump somewhat. But I am still picky about what nonfiction I read.

 

Lies She Told by Cate Holahan (library book)

3 stars

liesshetold

Lies She Told is about Liza, an author struggling to meet a 30-day deadline for her next potential bestseller midst trying to conceive with her husband David, who is currently distracted by the disappearance of his best friend. In between Liza’s chapters, we also get excerpts from her novel, which follows Beth, a new mom that kills her husband’s mistress. Liza’s reality then blurs with her character’s story after her husband’s best friend’s body is found in the East River like Beth’s husband’s mistress.

I would have done a full review of Lies She Told but I had so many mixed feelings it was hard to put into coherent words. The writing was good, but the second half of the novel really started to drag. It was fast-paced, the kind of book you want during a reading slump, but the characters were one-dimensional. I wanted to like Liza or Beth, but I could only sympathize with them. My feelings towards Liza in particular were mixed; while some bad things happened to her, some of her own behavior was selfish and she had her own consequences that I felt were fitting. So, overall, Lies She Told was just meh for me.

 

Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker (library book)

3.75 stars

emmainthenight

I wouldn’t go as far to say as to say Emma in the Night was a disappointment, but I was more excited for it than I was for Lies She Told. Unfortunately, it did not live up to the hype I had built up in my head.

It is about two sisters, Cass and Emma, that disappear and only Cass returns three years later. As she tells the story of what happened to her and Emma during the years they were gone, FBI psychologist Dr. Abby Winter starts to find holes in the story, focusing on Cass’s narcissist mother, Judy.

I wanted to give Emma in the Night 4 stars, only I ultimately had some problems with it. Cass was an unreliable narrator, but the reveal behind her story made no sense in the end. How Dr. Winter came to this revelation didn’t really make sense to me, either. Then again, I did not go to school for psychology like the author, Wendy Walker, supposedly did. I didn’t really care for any of the characters. The writing was good, though. Overall, Emma in the Night was a good book but I’m glad I got it out of the library instead of buying it.

 

Woman of God by James Patterson (library book)

1 star

womanofgod

Very controversial! This is the first time I have ever given a James Patterson novel a 1-star review. While I love the idea of a female pope—and I hope I live to see the day—and support female clergy, there were too many problems with Woman of God for me to enjoy it.

The plot, if there was one, was so boring it made me question why I kept reading. The writing made me feel detached from everything, even the truly terrible things that happened. I honestly felt like I didn’t care. The main character, Brigid, had no development to speak of. And there was so much insta-love it made me want to puke.

Because of Woman of God, James Patterson is firmly a “library only” author from now on.

 

How was everyone else’s reading in November?

 

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November 2017 Book Haul

The books in this haul are a result of a hard day I was rewarding myself for. Some of these I’ve read previously as library books and the rest are parts of series I want to start next year. There are six books in total which, compared to my past hauls, is very small. However, I should call this haul November 2017 Book Haul Part 1, because of Black Friday….

 

Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke by Anne Blankman

bloodandsmoke

Conspiracy of Blood and Smoke is the sequel to Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman. It is a young adult historical fiction duology set in Germany during World War II following Hitler’s “niece” as she uncovers his secret plans and becomes involved with a Jewish reporter.

I read Traitor Angels by Anne Blankman, her historical fiction stand-alone novel following poet John Milton’s daughter Elizabeth as she investigates a mystery involving Paradise Lost, at the beginning of this year. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. The Prisoner of Night and Fog duology looks like a great series to binge-read this winter 2018.

 

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge

brightsmoke

I have read only one book by Rosamund Hodge—her debut Cruel Beauty—and I another by her, Crimson Bound, but I have not read it yet. I have wanted to get back into her work for a while, especially when Bright Smoke, Cold Fire came out. It is a retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet with necromancy thrown in. Given how creatively Cruel Beauty mixed Beauty and the Beast with Greek mythology, I’m curious to see how Bright Smoke, Cold Fire will turn out.

 

Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

bloodforblood

Blood for Blood is another sequel to Wolf by Wolf, a novel I own but have not read yet and I really want to. It is an alternate history young adult novel set in a world where Hitler won World War II. The story is centered around a cross-country motorcycle race where a shape-shifting concentration camp survivor intends to win to kill Hitler for revenge. This is another duology I am looking forward to binge.

 

Sparks of Light by Janet B. Taylor

sparksoflight

Sparks of Light is the sequel to Into the Dim, a young adult historical fiction fantasy novel about time travel. Hope thinks her mother is dead, until she learns her family comes from a long line of time-travelers. She goes back to the 14th century to find her mother, who is trapped. Again, I have not read Into the Dim, which I got for Christmas last year and was excited to read it ironically. As of right now, I don’t know if it is just Into the Dim and Sparks of Light, but it seems like a great time to finally catch up on the series before any more potential books come out.

 

City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson

saintsandthieves

City of Saints and Thieves is one of the books I read from the library. Set in Kenya, it follows Tina, a refuge from the Congo, who is out for revenge against the man she believes killed her mother. This book beat my expectations; it was fast-paced and I had a hard time putting it down. I bought City of Saints and Thieves because I wanted my own copy.

 

Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic

likeawildfire

Wicked Like a Wildfire follows twin sisters with magical abilities to make anything beautiful that uncover a dark curse in their family. Despite my mixed feelings about this book, I am still interested in continuing with the series. The sequel, Fierce Like a Firestorm, comes out next year. Plus, the cover is so gorgeous, how can you not want it on your bookshelf?

 

Just wait for the Black Friday book haul….

What I am Thankful For

Totally stepping out of my comfort zone by writing this and posting it unedited. But given that Thanksgiving is tomorrow, I figured now is as good as time as any to talk about all I am thankful for. And maybe it will get my writing juices flowing again.

I have been seeing people create their “Books I’m Thankful For” blog/videos this past week. I attempted to write such a list, but I could not narrow it down. Because I realized I am thankful for books in general, not just any specific books.

I feel like I am now in a place where I am comfortable talking about this. But my mom has been in hospice since the week before Halloween. She has been ill for a decade and two of her major organs (kidneys and liver) are failing. Though my dad is taking half days at work, for six hours a day I am basically by myself taking care of my mom. My brother is autistic and there is only so much he can do/handle. It’s been tough; I’m starting to notice the affects the stress has had on my body, such as weight gain and my hair feels thinner than normal.

However, I tell myself that if I had a job right now, I would go crazy not knowing how my mom is. If she had to go to a facility, all I would do is worry about if she is getting what she needs or if she’s being ignored. For me, that is worse.

I’m not sure how, but I’m managing.

Despite my annual end-of-the-year reading slump, books have helped me get through these last few weeks. When I have managed to open a book, it has distracted me from all that is going on right now. On that note, I’m thankful for my local library, which is close to my house and their well-stocked supply of books.

Books have distracted me in other ways. I’m already making reading plans for 2018. The books I have on that TBR are making me excited for next year. I finally have something to look forward to.

One thing I have learned that is, in during times of grief, you learn who is there for you and who is not. I’m thankful I have a group of supportive friends, as well as a strong, caring community on Facebook. For the first two weeks my mom was on hospice, outside my family, I only told three of my closest friends what was going on. They were amazing, naturally, but I didn’t say anything on Facebook because I felt like I was looking for pity. Then, my friend urged me to do so, promising the community would be more caring than I thought.

She was right.

People were so supportive and caring and even those I barely spoke to asked if there was anything they could do. It was more than what my family got from some relatives.

After that, I didn’t cry so much. For that, for their kindness and my friends’ support, I am thankful.

Blogging has helped me get through this time, too. As I expected, my story writing took a hit. I got frustrated and distracted one day, then decided to put it off. I’ve been meaning to get back to it, but now I feel like I have to start all over again. On the flip side, focusing on my blog has helped a great deal. I’m drafting ideas for future blog posts, which distracts me and makes me feel relaxed, even for a little while.

No matter how bad a day might get, I tell myself that some people have it worse than I do. I know people in situations similar to mine have had the healthy parent walk out, leaving them the burden of such a responsibility, or worse, mentally check out and refuse to acknowledge it at all. I have a roof over my head, a bed to sleep on, and food in the kitchen.

Books and blogging give me happiness. My brother and my dad give me motivation to carry on, because I know they carried the brunt of this while I was in college. And, of course, many supportive friends and a few caring relatives.

Happy Thanksgiving! ❤

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Reasons Why I Blog

I have to thank Shanah for creating this topic. I had to think hard about why I blog. I thought I did, however there was more to it than I thought. Writing is the one thing I know I’m good at. I love doing it. It has kept me sane during the crazy times in my life. Writing is something I want to make a career out of.

Here are the top five reasons why I blog:

 

I blog to keep writing after finishing college.

My friends had urged me to start a book blog, but I didn’t really have the time for it during school. Then, I graduated and had too much time on my hands. As I expected, writing jobs were hard to come by. After four years of building such a deep passion, no way was I going to walk away from it.

Plus, some writing jobs I applied for requested a portfolio or blog of some kind. Starting my own blog seemed like the logical choice if I ever wanted future employers to take me seriously.

 

I blog to build on my writing and editing skills.

It goes without saying, “you don’t use it, you lose it.” Just because I was no longer in school, and it would be a while before I went back, that did not mean I should stop writing. Not only that, because I don’t have an editor or a professor to proofread my work, I have to look over it myself. In the past, I was in my own worst enemy. Now, I have gotten better at my editing skills as well as my writing.

 

I blog to talk about books.

Some of my friends do read, only not as much as I do. Now that I blog, I can talk about books with other people that read books. Not only that, because I was too shy to start a BookTube channel, I could finally do the coveted book tags I always watched.

 

I blog to keep busy.

When I graduated college, I was unemployed between May and October of 2016, until I swallowed my pride to apply at Macy’s in November. Blogging kept me distracted from my frustration at that time.

 

I blog to have something to maintain a routine.

I thrive on routine and to-do lists. If I read a book, I gave myself a deadline to write a review and post it. At a certain point, more people were reading; the desire not to disappoint was strong, even though it was all in my head. Still, blogging provided a routine that I needed when I was feeling lost.

 

What are the reasons you blog?

I Dare You Book Tag

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m obsessed with book tags. They are fun and (sometimes) easy. I found this one, “I Dare You Book Tag,” on Never Not Reading. I read through her post. Several of the questions were interesting, not the kind you see a lot in tags. Unfortunately, the origins of it are unknown to me. But if you know the person who created this tag, let me know!

On to the tag:

 

What book has been on your shelf the longest?

If we were going by my TBR books, I would say Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong, the final book in her Women of the Otherworld series or the remaining books in the Casteel series by V.C. Andrews. Aside from that, I would say The Mediator series by Meg Cabot or my original copies of the Harry Potter series, both of which I received in middle school. Any books from my childhood are likely in my parents’ basement.

 

What is your current read, your last read, and the book you’ll read next?

My current read is Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker, which is a psychological thriller following two sisters, Cass and Emma, who vanished without a trace three years ago. Only Cass returned, claiming her sister is being helped captive on an island. But as psychologist Dr. Abigail Winter unravels Cass’s story and meets the girls’ narcissist mother, she realizes the family is hiding a deep, dark secret. As of the time I am writing this, I am on page 85. The book goes back and forth between Cass and Dr. Winter’s perspectives; both are interesting and I’m curious to see where the story is going to go from here.

My last read, which I finished at one in the morning, is Lies She Told by Cate Holahan. It follows Liza, an author struggling to write her next bestseller by the 30-day deadline midst her husband growing distant after his best friend vanishes. The book also followed Liza’s character, Beth, a new mom that discovers her husband is cheating on her and then kills her husband’s mistress. I liked this book, but I was not blown away by it. It was somewhat predictable and all the characters were flat. On the flip side, it was fast-paced. However, given I have been in a reading slump, Lies She Told was the right book I needed to get out of it.

The next book I might read is Final Girls by Riley Sager. It’s about the three girls who survived the kind of massacres you see in slasher films. When one of them presumably commits suicide, the others team up to catch the killer while one, Quincy, struggles to come to terms with her past and the night all her friends were murdered by a madman.

I got Final Girls out of the library to read, because I had been interested but the reviews were all over the place. I decided it was time to check it out due to it being one of the Goodreads Finalists for Best Books of 2017.

 

What book did everyone like but you hated?

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, which I read in honor of Banned Books Week in September. It’s a modern classic most people I know read in high school or middle school and enjoyed it. However, I was extremely underwhelmed with this book. Reading it was not a pleasant experience.

 

What book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read but you probably won’t?

That book would definitely have to be For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. As I have mentioned in the past, I have a love-hate relationship with Hemingway. I enjoy his Nick Adams short stories. However, I have read two of his novels, The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms, both of which I disliked. For Whom the Bell Tolls is said to be his best work, only my history with Ernest Hemingway has made me reluctant to pick up his novels again.

 

What book are you saving for retirement?

No idea! Right now, I’m saving books to read in 2018. I don’t have a full-time job as of now, so thinking about retirement is too premature. If I have to answer, I would say I would spend retirement reading all the books I had not been able to get to while I was working.

 

Last page: read it first or wait till the end?

I tend to read last pages by accident. Sometimes, I flip to the back of the book to see how many pages are in the book or how many chapters are left. Then, I accidentally read the last page. I don’t remember a time I ever deliberately read the last page first, though I’m sure I have at some point.

 

Acknowledgement: waste of paper and ink, or interesting aside?

As a reader, I don’t usually read them, so I don’t care. As a writer, I appreciate them as the author showing gratitude to those involved in creating the book.

 

Which book character would you switch places with?

Tessa Gray from The Infernal Devices trilogy/Shadowhunter Chronicles by Cassandra Clare. She is a shadowhunter and a shape-shifting warlock. She loves to read, like I do, and she’s strong in a quiet way, something I admire. She has two true loves: Will Herondale and Jem Carstairs (admittedly, though, I lean more towards Jem). I would also want to be Emma Carstairs…mainly because I want Julian Blackthorn. However, I think I might really like Lucie Herondale when The Last Hours trilogy comes out.

 

Do you have a book which reminds you of something specific in your life? (Place, time, person)

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, which reminds me of two things: my friend Courtney and of the day I graduated from college. Courtney knew I was interested in this book and when she found it at a secondhand bookstore, she bought it for me with her own money. At the time, we weren’t going to the same school anymore. She came to my graduation anyway.

Graduation will also go down as one of the best days of my life. All through high school, I was an average student. People did not think I would go far in life. Then, four years later, I graduated from college Magna Cum Laude inducted into two national honor societies. Courtney was there to celebrate with me that day, when she gave me We Were Liars.

 

Name a book you acquired in an interesting way.

The first book I thought of was Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, which was given to me suddenly by my friend Lindsey’s mom, who also enjoys reading.

 

Have you ever given a special book away to a special person for a special reason?

I have given books away to charity, but I can’t recall giving a special book away to a special person. There have been books I enjoyed that I bought copies for friends I thought would like them, too.

 

Which book has been with you the most places?

The first one I thought of was The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova. I bought it at Half Price Books when I went to visit my aunt in Dallas, Texas. It came on the plane with me when I went back home to Massachusetts. By the time I went back to school, I had not finished reading it yet, so it went to my dorm room with me.

 

Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad two years later?

The Giver by Lois Lowry, which I read first my freshman year in high school as a summer reading book, then again when I was a junior in college for my Banned Books and Dangerous Ideas class. I thought it was boring first time I read it. Then, in college, I got a new perspective on the story that made it much more fascinating.

 

Used or brand-new?

I own both used and brand-new books. There is a used bookstore in my hometown I went to often growing up. My dad took me there around my birthday; I could pick out whatever books I wanted. I get brand-new books, too, usually from Amazon or Barnes and Noble, or any other time I find myself in a bookstore.

I like both used and brand-new books for various reasons. Used books smell good. Used bookstores sometimes carry books you can’t find anywhere else, like older books you wanted to read but can’t find anywhere. Brand-new books feel good on my hands, look good on my bookshelves, and there is little risk of it coming into your possession damaged in anyway.

 

Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?

No, but I want to.

 

Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?

I liked the Netflix adaption of Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood more than the book. The show was straight to the point, cutting out the excess stuff the book had. The characters were more fleshed out than they were in the book, in my opinion. The flashbacks made more sense and were well timed. There was also greater commentary on society and gender roles in the Netflix adaption than the book.

 

Have you ever read a book that made you hungry, cookbooks included?

Wicked Like a Wildfire by Lana Popovic, which includes detailed descriptions of food that sounds absolutely exotic and yummy. The mother of the main characters owns a bakery where she makes desserts that caused my mouth to water.

 

Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?

I usually get my book recommendations from BookTube or some of my real-life friends that read, too. Other than that, I go by my own judgment in picking out books I read.

 

Is there a book out of your comfort zone (i.e. outside your usual reading genre) that you ended up loving?

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, which I read my senior year of college for a sociology/WGS course. I don’t usually read nonfiction or memoirs, unless they were for school. I had heard good things of Tuesdays with Morrie from friends who had read it before. It blew my expectations out of the water.

 

There was the I Dare You Book Tag! I tag anyone that wants to do it.

 

The Book Pizza Tag

I saw this tag on Books Amino, created by Jessica. It looked like fun. Surprisingly, this tag didn’t make me as hungry as I expected it to. Maybe it might for you.

 

Cheese: a simple book that possesses much more depth to it.

cheese, close-up, crust

I had to think about this question for a minute before I answered. I came up with is The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian follows fourteen-year-old Junior, a Spokane Indian that leaves his reservation to attend an all-white school in town to pursue a better life. He is written as an awkward teenaged boy that has a dirty sense of humor. At first, it seems like a lighthearted comedy novel that tackles racism in a humorous light. But Junior encounters tragedies throughout the year that he triumphs over, using humor and his comics as his weapon.

partimeindian

 

Pepperoni: a well-known, continuously popular work.

baked, box, cheese

Basically anything by Sarah J. Maas, who came out with two books this past year. Even when Tower of Dawn came out, which was about probably one of her least popular characters Chaol Westfall, people still were excited about it. They are probably going to go crazy again when the A Court of Thorns and Roses novella comes out next year. Anything she writes, people get excited for.

towerofdawn

 

Mushroom: a textbook you found engaging.

cheese, delicious, dinner

I can think of a few that I read for a vampire class I took my freshman year of college. I just can’t remember the titles.

 

Sausage: a literary work that has just the right dose of a particular genre.

fast food, food, lunch

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, which is my favorite novel that I have read by her. It is the right amount of romance that it does not take up the whole plot. There are also themes of family, sisterhood, and social commentary.

 

Extra cheese: a work that was longer than it needed to be.

cheese, crust, delicious

Probably In the Afterlight by Alexandra Bracken, the last book in The Darkest Minds trilogy. The first book, The Darkest Minds, was good and Never Fade was fun. However, In the Afterlight was kind of boring and took too long to reach the end. Plus, there was an unnecessary epilogue. Thankfully, Alexandra Bracken’s work has improved since then.

 

Garden: favorite literary vegetarian (writer or character).

Rectangular Pizza

I think Meg Cabot is a vegetarian, but I could be wrong. I can’t think of any characters that are vegetarian.

 

Grandma: a work that makes you think of your grandparents.

cheese, dish, food

Hans and Rosa from The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak remind me of my paternal grandparents, who were Portuguese immigrants. My grandfather was kind and loving like Hans, an honest man who made a decent living for himself despite his fourth-grade education. My grandmother is still hard around the edges and a bossy loudmouth, overbearing but sometimes has good intentions.

geoffrey rush most anticipated movies GIF

 

Hawaiian: a work with a tropic atmosphere.

blur, cheese, close-up

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, which is the first book I thought of because of the island setting; a very enclosed island where the family tried to avoid each other. I don’t know, is it tropical?

 

Anchovy: a work you feel you and most people dislike.

cheese, cutlery, delicious

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire, a book I know I hated as much as some others. After learning it is supposedly Twilight fan fiction, I could forgive some of the elements in it. The love interest was abusive, something you get if you translate Edward Cullen’s behavior in a contemporary setting. There are characters I like now that I know have abusive or manipulative behavior, yet I still have some feeling towards them, though I know I probably shouldn’t. Looking back on it, I hated Beautiful Disaster because the writing was so bad and so were the main character.

 

Stuffed crust: a work that grabbed your attention at first sight.

beef, cheese, circle

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, which I saw at my school library in college. I didn’t have the time to check it out then. Eventually, I bought it at a bookstore in Salem, Massachusetts, one of my favorite places on Earth. I read it and, as I expected, I loved it.

theshadowsofthewind

 

Best of the best: what is your favorite kind of pizza?

My favorite kind of pizza is BBQ chicken with blue cheese.

Pizza GIF

 

What is your favorite kind of pizza?

 

 

 

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Books That Have Been on My TBR the Longest

Like a crazy person, I am already making reading plans for 2018. That includes making a list of all the unread books I own. Which means I realized I have books that have been on my TBR for way too long.

However, these I have a reason for not reading them. Most of them are part of series where I read the first book and it took me a while to get around to the other books, because I got them at a time when I couldn’t buy my own books. Now, it has been so long since I read the first book, with so many different books in between, I need to reread them before I move on to the rest of the series.

The top five books that have been on my TBR the longest are:

 

Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong

13

I virtually have no explanation as to why I have not read Thirteen, the final book in the Women of the Otherworld series. I have the nerve to call this series one of my all-time favorites, too. Truth is I read the novels in this series out of order. They are written in a way that they don’t have to be, but I never got the full experience. Plus, the series is so long—thirteen books total, plus an assortment of short stories and novellas. Before I get to Thirteen, I want to reread the whole series again first. That could take a while.

 

Dark Angel/Fallen Hearts/Gates of Paradise/Web of Dreams, otherwise known as books 2-5 in the Casteel series by V.C. Andrews

casteel

I read the first book in this series, Heaven, when I was obsessed with V.C. Andrews in high school. I got the whole series for Christmas and then…I don’t know what happened. I still want to read the Casteel books because it is a story of a young girl going from rags to riches and uncovering some really disturbing secrets about her birth mother’s past. I will get around to finishing this series…eventually.

 

Anne of Avonlea/Anne of the Island/Anne of Windy Poplars, otherwise known as books 2-4 of the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery

anne234

The thing about the Anne of Green Gables books I own, I think I read them. As a middle-schooler, I had a thing where I would read books in the same series at the same time. I don’t know why. I guess I was impatient. Of the ones I own, I know for a fact I completely read the first book, Anne of Green Gables. As for the other three, I doubt I finished them.

 

For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway

forwhomthebelltolls2

When I was nineteen years old, my dad told me to “stop reading the crap” and slapped three Hemingway novels on my desk. I read two, The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms, and had a love-hate relationship with both of them. That is the main reason I never picked up For Whom the Bell Tolls. Of all the books on this list, I’m in no hurry to pick up this one.

 

The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling

thecasualvacancy2

I bought this mass marker paperback edition of The Casual Vacancy at CVS two years ago, thinking I would read it. Of course, I still have not. I’m not entirely sure why. After reading her Cormoran Strike series, I think she does well writing contemporary novels. If I remember correctly, this is set in a small town where a prominent council member has died and people are vying for his position, leading to a lot of tension among the townsfolk. I tend to enjoy those kinds of books.

 

What books have been on your TBR the longest?

My Top Ten Unexpected Favorite Books

I got this idea from Regan over at Peruse Project on YouTube. These are the books that I picked up never expecting to like as much as I did. Some of these are quite popular, which is mainly why I was skeptical about them to begin with. Others were outside of my comfort zone or I initially went into them with little expectations.

Anyway, here about my top ten unexpected favorite books:

 

Saga graphic novel series

sagacomics

At the time I picked up the first volume of Saga, I was interested in branching out into graphic novels. Everyone and their mother on BookTube were obsessed with them, so it seemed like a good place to start. Prior to that, I was not really into science fiction.

Then, I read Saga, Vol. 1 in less than 48 hours and loved it. I grew attached to Marko, Alana, and baby Hazel. The artwork was beautiful. The story was compelling. As soon as I got my next paycheck, I went to Newbury Comics to buy the volumes that were out at the time. Since then, when a new Saga volume comes out, I pre-order it.

 

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

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Wink Poppy Midnight was the second novel by April Genevieve Tucholke I read. The previous one I read, Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, I was disappointed by. I had heard of Wink Poppy Midnight but had no interest in reading it.

Then, I saw it in Target and the cover drew me in. So, I said “to hell with it” and bought it. When I read Wink Poppy Midnight, I had great fun. The story read like its own folklore. The characters were like the ones you see in fairy tales. It was weird in an entertaining way. Wink Poppy Midnight is what encouraged me to give April Genevieve Tucholke a second chance.

 

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

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I first read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie my freshman year of high school for the book club I was a part of. I thought the title was dumb, so I expected the book to be, too. Then, I read it, finishing it in two days.

Junior Spirit, a fourteen-year-old Native American boy, attends an all-white school off his reservation in hopes of building a better future for himself. He faces racism at his new school and everyone but his family on the reservation turns against him. Despite this, and several tragedies, Junior triumphs.

I have read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian at least five times over the years. I used it when I was a teaching assistant in college. I still laugh when I read it, even though I know what is going to happen. I totally judged it by the cover when I first read it.

 

Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist

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Love and First Sight was recommended to me on Goodreads because of certain books I liked. It is about a teenaged boy named Will, who was born blind, that transfers to a mainstream high school. There, he makes new friends and meets his first love, Cecily. Shortly after he starts dating Cecily, Will is offered the opportunity to undergo an experimental surgery to give him his sight. The surgery works, but when he lays eyes on Cecily, he realizes his friends exaggerated her appearance, and Will tries to deal with that.

Love and First Sight is mainly a discussion about body image and living with a disability, and how it can affect your relationships with others and how people treat you. I enjoyed Will as a protagonist and the comedic writing style was similar to John Green’s. It was adorable and funny, though it had depth to it. I expected to enjoy this book, but loved it way more than I thought I would.

 

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

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Young adult contemporary is not a genre I typically reach for. The Upside of Unrequited is about Molly, a teenaged girl who has had twenty-six crushes but no boyfriend. When her twin sister Cassie’s new girlfriend Mina tries to set her up with her friend Will, Molly thinks it is the perfect situation for her first boyfriend. That is, until her nerdy new co-worker Reid comes along.

While the writing style was juvenile, The Upside of Unrequited was a lighthearted, fluffy book I found myself relating to. It was filled with diversity, portraying real life families and teenagers in 2017. I suspected I would like this book if I gave it a chance. I just never expected to enjoy it so much.

 

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

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Three years ago, the book Me Before You was everywhere. I bought it during a Books a Million “buy two, get one free” online sale, thinking it was another chick-lit novel. In case you are unaware, the story follows Lou, a quirky English girl who takes on a job as a caretaker of cranky quadriplegic Will Traynor. When she discovers some startling information about her client, she sets out to prove to him that life is still worth living.

The ending of Me Before You was not what I expected. It is one of the few books that brought me to tears. Though I see the problematic things now, at the time the story introduced some interesting questions that made me think about individual people’s choices regarding how they choose to live, or end, their lives.

 

We Believe You by Annie E. Clark

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We Believe You is a book I bought my senior year of college during my school’s annual Consent Day. It is a nonfiction book that took me completely by surprise: a collection of stories from survivors of campus sexual assault and the aftermath of the attacks.

We Believe You is powerful and empowering, as well as incredibly sad and uncomfortable at times. There were times I literally felt sick to my stomach, not because of the graphic accounts of the victims (though many were hard to read) but because the way the survivors were treated afterwards by the justice system as well as friends and family. Whenever I get the opportunity to talk about this book, I take it. Every college girl should read this.

 

A World Without You by Beth Revis

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A World Without You is about a teenaged mental patient, Bo, who thinks he can time travel. At the beginning of the book, his girlfriend Sofia commits suicide, only Bo firmly believes she is trapped somewhere in time. Beth Revis writes in a way that blurs the fantasy with reality. In my opinion, A World Without You could possibly fall under the magical realism genre. But the way the story played out, there were times I honestly believed Bo was time-travelling and everyone around him thought he was crazy, which is a common theme in young adult novels.

In short, I had expected to like A World Without You when I picked it up from the library last year. Only I anticipated a 4-star read instead of a 5-star read.

 

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown

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Last year, I picked up Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit from my local library for two reasons: I loved the cover and I wanted to read more diversely. It follows Jo, an openly gay preacher’s daughter that is forced to go back in the closet for her senior year when she leaves Atlanta to live with her father and his new wife in a small Georgia town. Naturally, she meets a girl and the promise she made to her father is put to the test.

For the first half of Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit, I was thinking the book was a 3-star/3.5 star. Then, something happened in the middle that bumped it up to a 4 star. Jo is a sassy protagonist and there was some great talk about religion’s relationship with sexuality, and how certain communities are more accepting than others. There was also a strong family presence, which I appreciated, and Jo’s stepmother, Elizabeth, was not the “wicked stepmother” stereotype.

 

The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

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The DUFF is about sassy, strong-willed Bianca that gets in a sexual relationship with her worst enemy, Wesley, to distract herself from her problems at home. Wesley calls her the DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend. Despite some problematic stuff going on, the book is all about body image, high school expectations, and accepting yourself for who you are. The DUFF was a lighthearted, funny read with some serious topics thrown in.

 

What books did you never expect to be a favorite when you read them?

The Justice League Movie Book Tag

I am probably the only human being on this planet that has not seen Wonder Woman…. I have not had any interest in DC or Marvel movies since middle school. Only I’m really bad about seeing new movies in general. But this tag looked like fun!

I was not tagged by anybody. I saw this on Storeys of Stories blog and I wanted to do it. Angelica and Rosie The Book Cover Girls created the Justice League Movie Book Tag.

On to the tag!

 

Batman: Your favorite antihero.

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My go-to answer for this type of question is Lizbeth Salander from the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson. While she does some questionable things, her motives are always good. She hacks into people’s computers for their financial information, but the people she targets are men that have abused women or robbed innocents of their money. She gets revenge on the man that brutally raped her. Lizbeth does not believe in sexuality labels; she has relationships with both men and women. Those she is loyal to know they have a friend that will do anything for them…unless they are stupid enough to cross her.

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Aquaman: a book or character that turned out to be better than you expected.

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A World Without You by Beth Revis, which is about a teenaged boy named Bo suffering from a mental illness that makes him believe he can time travel. His girlfriend Sofia commits suicide, only he is convinced she is actually trapped somewhere in time. Beth Revis wrote the story in a way that blurred the lines between fantasy and reality. There were times I actually thought Bo could time travel, but everyone else was convinced he’s crazy. When I picked up A World Without You last year from the library, I expected a 4 star book. Instead, I got a 5 star read.

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Wonder Woman: most badass female character.

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I could say Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series or Celeana Sardothian or Manon Blackbeak from Throne of Glass series. Those women are awesome in their own ways. But for this question I am choosing the severely underrated Tandoori “Tandy” Angel from the Confessions series by James Patterson.

Tandy is a brilliant teenaged amateur detective with a logical, analytical mind. She uses her head to get herself out of trouble. She is fiercely independent; she does not need anyone else to complete her. She might come off as cold, but she is devoted to her family, especially her twin brother, Harry. Whenever people have hurt her, Tandy holds her head up high and rolls with it. She came face to face with a serial killer and didn’t flinch. And she’s sixteen.

 

Cyborg: favorite science fiction novel.

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I’m not a big science fiction reader, so I had to think hard about this. I picked the Saga graphic novel series by Fiona Staples and Brian K. Vaughn. It is a space opera following a growing interracial family, where the parents are members of warring planets, and their adventures as they travel through the galaxy with several companions. The art is beautiful and makes the story all the more real.

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The Flash: a book you sped through.

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I can think of a few: City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson, An Ember in the Ashes and A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir, My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga, Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller, and P.S. I Like You by Kasie West. All of them I enjoyed a lot, especially since they were such fast books to read.

 

Superman: saddest character death. (CONTAINS SPOILERS)

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First one I thought of was Rue from The Hunger Games. I read The Hunger Games the summer before my freshman year of college. When I was not corresponding with my new classmates or shopping for school things, I was reading this book. Then, Rue died. After that, I had to pick up the required summer reading book for my class because I could not deal with it. And a few days passed before I picked up The Hunger Games again.

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I tag anyone that wants to do the Justice League book tag!

My Reading Distractions

I watched Jesse the Reader’s video on his reading distractions and it inspired me to do my own.

Normally, I’m pretty good about blocking out distractions if I am on a roll with my reading. That was how it was when I was in school. Back then, I looked forward to the end of the day when my classes were over and my assignments were done for the day. I made it a point to read then. And, as an English major, I read a lot.

However, I have been out of school for over a year and I realized, without a set Goodreads yearly reading challenge, I let my usual distractions get the better of me. And there are a lot more on this list than I would like.

 

Internet/Phone

This is probably the same for a lot of people. I’m no different. My greatest vice is YouTube. I watch BookTube videos for an hour, maybe more, when I should be reading my own books.

 

TV shows/Netflix

The TV is on ALL DAY LONG at my house. With what I’ve got going on, I can’t exactly hide in my bedroom with the door closed like I usually did. I have to go out into the living room, where I am readily available when I am needed. My current new favorite show is Mike & Molly, which is already in reruns.

For a while, I was good about avoiding Netflix…until they posted the live action Beauty and the Beast and Alias Grace dropped last weekend. At the end of 2016, I binge-watched the Justice League cartoon, Gotham, and BBC Ripper Street. That took out a lot of my reading time. Sadly, I didn’t regret it as much as I should have, since I was in my annual end-of-the-year reading slump.

 

Family responsibilities

I thrive on routine. But the mornings are usually so busy and with people in and out of the house all day, I’m too distracted or tired to read. Now, things are starting to get seriously hectic. I know in the coming weeks I might be way too distracted to even try to read.

 

My job(s)

After I graduated from college, the only job I could get was part-time at Macy’s until the store I was working in closed. Then, I applied to a temp agency and worked two assignments since then. During the times I worked, I came home too tired to do anything but veg out to YouTube.

 

Music

To concentrate on reading, I will put on my white noise machine when I read. Sometimes, I can read with people talking around me or if the TV is on but others are watching it. But music is a whole other story. If I want to read, I cannot have any type of music playing. I suppose I get too distracted by the beats or words.

 

Blogging

I hate to say it, but sometimes writing cuts into my reading. I would get ideas for blogging and spend most of my day writing. My method is to type articles in advance, then set for a scheduled posting, because I never know if I will have the time to later. As much as I love blogging and writing story ideas, it does intervene with my reading sometimes.

 

Uncomfortable reading positions

The most basic of all a reader’s problems: getting into a position comfortable enough to read. Sitting in my chair too long hurts my back. However, sitting on my bed, with my new Casper mattress, I go between comfortable and uncomfortable. When I am uncomfortable, I can’t stop adjusting myself. When I’m too comfortable in my bed, I fall asleep while reading. That has happened, multiple times.

 

What distracts you from reading?