February 2018 Wrap Up

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

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

 

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

 

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

4.5 stars

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

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

 

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

3.5 stars

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

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

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

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

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

 

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

2.5 stars

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

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

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

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

 

The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson

5 stars

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

 

The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace

5 stars

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

 

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

5 stars

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

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

 

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

5 stars

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

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

 

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

2 stars

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

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

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

 

What was your favorite book you read in February?

 

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Top 5 Tuesday Top 5 (6) Bookish Pet Peeves

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

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

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

 

Reading slumps

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

 

Running out of space on my bookshelves

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

Yeah, see, nothing bothers me!

 

What are your bookish pet peeves?

 

 

Bookish M.A.S.H Tag

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

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

Here’s what I mean.

 

M.A.S.H

Mansion

Apartment

Shack

House

 

GENRE

Historical fiction

Contemporary

Fantasy

Mystery

 

LOVE INTEREST

Thomas Cresswell (Stalking Jack the Ripper series)

Jem Carstairs (The Infernal Devices trilogy)

Ethan Winters (The Afterlife of Holly Chase)

Nicholas Carter (Passenger duology)

 

SETTING

Watford (Carry On)

The Los Angeles Institute (The Dark Artifices trilogy)

Stormsay (The Book Jumper)

Barcelona Spain (The Shadow of the Wind)

 

BEST FRIEND

Tessa Gray (The Infernal Devices trilogy)

Manon Blackbeak (Throne of Glass series)

Magnus Bane (The Mortal Instruments series)

Luna Lovegood (Harry Potter)

 

VILLAIN

Samjeeza (Unearthly trilogy)

Malcolm Fade (Lady Midnight)

The Nightbringer (An Ember in the Ashes series)

Queen Maeve (Throne of Glass series)

 

PET

Fleetfoot (Throne of Glass series)

Hedwig (Harry Potter series)

Crookshanks (Harry Potter series)

Lying Cat (Saga graphic novels)

 

JOB

Professor

Book Jumper

Forensic scientist

Shadowhunter

 

TRANSPORTATION

Flying car

Horse

Dragon

Broomstick

 

POWER

Read minds

Shape-shift

Control fire

Translate people’s feelings into music

 

TROPE OR TWIST

Chosen One

Lost Princess

Love triangle

Lose memory

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

How trauma affects someone’s mental health

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

 

Finding inner strength through things like artwork

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

 

High school and female friendships

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

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

 

Don’t ever feel bad about saying no to anyone

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Healing from trauma is an ongoing thing.

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

 

Books and writing can help you in the healing process.

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

 

Rise above everyone’s expectations of you.

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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Top Ten Romance Novels on My TBR

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

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

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

 

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion

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

 

The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes

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

 

Vanilla by Megan Hart

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

 

How to Make a Wish by Ashley Herring Blake

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

 

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

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

 

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

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

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

 

The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily by Laura Creedle

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

 

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

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

 

Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

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

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

 

Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

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

 

What are some romance books on your TBR?

Romantic Recommendations: My Top Ten Favorite Romance Novels

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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

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

 

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

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

 

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

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

 

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

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

 

The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough

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

 

Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist

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

 

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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

 

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

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

 

History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

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

 

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

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

 

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown

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

 

What are you reading today for Valentine’s Day?

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 10 “Ships” I Will Sail to the Ends of the Earth

You all might be surprised to learn that I actually had an easy time coming up with this list.

Though I am a romantic at heart, “shipping” is not a priority for me. I am more interested in plot and storytelling. Romance, particularly a romance I enjoy, is just icing on the cake. Something that adds drama to make the story a little more angsty or to provide a reprise from whatever danger is going on.

All the couples on this list are not the usual ones you see in the fan art posts on Instagram—i.e. Feyre and Rhysand. More often than not, the ships everyone else ships I don’t. Or, in the case of Sarah J. Maas’s couples, I see so much of them on social media I just get fed up real quick….

The top 10 ships I will sail until the end of the earth are:

 

Jack and Ashi from Samurai Jack

GIF by Adult Swim

Not a book couple, but Jack and Ashi are from the show Samurai Jack. Samurai Jack is a Cartoon Network show about a samurai with an enchanted sword that is on a mission to defeat the evil Aku, who banished him to a future where the demon (Aku) rules the whole plant. It was produced during a time Cartoon Network was actually good. My dad, my brother, and I loved the show and never missed an episode. Originally, it was only four seasons, ending on a cliffhanger that made you wonder if Jack made it back to the past. Then, out of the blue, we find out there was a fifth season released eleven years after the previous one and proceed to binge watch it on iTunes.

Ashi is introduced in the fifth season. She was raised in a cult, the Daughters of Aku, and trained from childhood, along with her sisters, to kill Jack. In the process, she learns that everything she was brought up to believe is wrong and aids Jack in his mission. But if you know Jack and Ashi you will know angst!

            I can’t talk anymore about them. It’s been months, but I’m still not OK.

 

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell from the Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco

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Move over Feysand and make room for Audrey and Thomas, who are too cool for a ship name.

There are no words to explain how much I love Audrey and Thomas, together as well as separately. Audrey is strong and independent, determined to prove her worth and she is motivated by something not romance. Thomas is a wise ass, but unlike most “bad boys with a heart of gold,” he does not hide that his heart is made of gold. These two grow together, and it’s something I love seeing.

 

Eliza Mirk and Wallace Wartland from Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

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Every time I think of Eliza and Wallace I think GAAAAHHHHH!!!

These two are so sweet together I can’t stand it. They feel so comfortable with each other and they bond over a love of all things nerdy. The progression of their relationship is a slow and natural pace, each taking turns to initiate things. He helps her make friends while she encourages his writing project. They are as comfortable with each other in person as they are online. While I understand most people have a problem with mental illness playing a part in the relationship, I still love Eliza and Wallace together.

 

Simon Spier and Blue from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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While we don’t know who Blue is for most of the book, the development of his and Simon’s relationship is so sweet. They open up to each other and support each other. I love how Simon does not push Blue to come out of the closet until he is ready, which is something I saw in another LGBTQ young adult romance that bothered me. Plus, Blue gets Simon to open up about his own confused feelings and gives him the self-confidence boost he needed. Once they finally do meet, the reveal is simply too cute to handle.

 

Elias and Laia from An Ember in the Ashes series by Sabaa Tahir

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I am aware of the “love rectangle” going on in this series, but I think after A Torch Against the Night, I’m pretty sure Elias and Laia are end game. (At least, I hope so.) They can be honest with each other. They communicate well. They were friends first. They would never do something to deliberately make the other person jealous or angry, something I see a lot in books that annoys me. Their relationship is a slow burn and likely only to progress as the series goes forward.

 

Clara Gardner and Tucker Avery from the Unearthly trilogy by Cynthia Hand

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These two are really so, so cute. Tucker loves Clara unconditionally, even though he is initially freaked out after finding out she is half-angel. Their banter is comfortable and, no matter what happened, they always find their way back to each other. While I did like Christian, Tucker’s personality complimented Clara’s better.

 

Holly Chase and Ethan Winters from The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

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Something about Cynthia Hand’s couples that just get to me. On the surface, both Holly and Ethan are spoiled rich kids, but their attitudes hide terrible pain. Both lost a parent at a young age. They were vulnerable, making it easy for their “Marley” to mold them into a different person they were not meant to be. In each other, they find themselves and someone who understands what it’s like to feel you have to protect yourself from the world.

Unfortunately, the ending is bittersweet for Ethan and Holly….

 

Molly and Reid from The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

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Another Becky Albertalli-invented couple, Molly and Reid are just too cute together. Molly suffers from social anxiety, but Reid makes her feel comfortable. They are not shy about being themselves around each other. Reid is nerdy and proud of it. Plus, he’s just a nice guy, not that “broody bad boy” trope I HATE.

 

Etta Spencer and Nicholas Carter from the Passenger duology by Alexandra Bracken

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I know their relationship is kind of insta-love, yet there is something about Etta and Nicholas’s relationship that made me totally fine with it. She’s feisty and smart, while he’s good-natured and a natural leader. Their personalities compliment each other. Nicholas is the rock Etta needed while Etta encouraged Nicholas to take chances once in a while. They worked well together as a team, too.

 

Gabriel and Nathan from the Half-Bad trilogy by Sally Green

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There is no other angsty LGBTQ relationship than Nathan and Gabriel. Both are black witches in a world that hate them. While Nathan struggles with his identity crisis as both a Black and White witch, Gabriel is his most staunch supporter and the little angel on his shoulder. Gabriel is not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve for Nathan, despite the latter’s constant insistence at pushing him away. When they finally do come together, it is beautiful…and then heartbreaking.

 

What are the ships you will sail to the end of the earth?

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Cover Buys

As a disclaimer, I don’t buy books by covers if I can avoid it.

When this was announced as one of the topics, I had to think about it. There are books I bought over the years whose covers drew me in, and then I bought them. The ones featured on this post, however, are books I recently bought that I had heard of and the covers drew me in. Enough that I really wanted to buy them.

You might recognize these books from my birthday book haul. These are my favorite covers out of that whole haul.

 

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

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I was going to check Autoboyography out of my local library, except the hold list was so freaking long. The cover is gorgeous: a giant book with two boys holding hands against a purple backdrop. I had heard all the hype surrounding it and I was interested in the plot: two boys, one of them a Mormon, falling in love in a writing class. If I’m being honest, the cover cinched it for me.

 

Far from the Tree by Robin Benway

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Even as it sits on my shelf, my eyes are still drawn to the cover of Far from the Tree. I like the pastel pink color scheme with the leaves and bold font. I even like the feel of it in my hands. I also think it fits the story: three siblings, separated as children and raised by different families, reunite years later to find their birth mother.

 

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

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The cover of Geekerella is literally too cute for words. As a Cinderella retelling surrounding fandom, it matches the synopsis. On the front cover, there is a girl in a ball gown and tiara, standing against a pumpkin-colored truck. On the back cover, you have the “Prince Charming” of the story dressed like a prince standing against a white trailer. It’s just perfect.

 

The Forgotten Book by Mechthild Glaser

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Much like The Book Jumper, Mechthild Glaser’s latest release, The Forgotten Book, has a beautiful whimsical feeling about it: the typography intertwined with the branches coming out of the book the girl is sitting on. It is almost like a children’s movie poster, with a whimsical and magical feeling to it.

 

The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily by Laura Creedle

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I had heard of The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily, but I had forgotten about it. Then, I saw it on Barnes and Noble’s website while I was using my gift card. It was the cover that drew me back in. With the crossed-out hearts and beautiful blue background, the cover of The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily is one of the cutest book covers I’ve ever seen.

 

What are your favorite cover buys?

My Birthday/Pre-Book Buying Ban Haul Part Three

This month was my 25th birthday; my family gave me gift cards and I treated myself as well. I might have indulged a little too much, but I was accepted into my dream graduate school. I earned it.

Still, I have decided to go on a book-buying ban until June, so I can get my TBR down and focus on the books I already have.

All these books make me excited for my 2018 reading!

 

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

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I checked The Afterlife of Holly Chase out of the library around Christmas and I’m still thinking about it even two months later. I had to own a copy. It is a retelling of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, following Holly Chase, a seventeen-year-old girl who was visited by the three Ghosts of Christmas and did not change her Scrooge-like ways. Then, she died and became the new Ghost of Christmas past at Project Scrooge. Five years later, Holly’s afterlife gets interesting with the new Scrooge: Ethan Winters.

I seriously want to reread The Afterlife of Holly Chase next Christmas….

 

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

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Adam Silvera is an author I have wanted to read for so long. I already own one of his books, History is All You Left Me, which I read in January and enjoyed.

If History is All You Left Me tugged at my heartstrings, I can’t imagine what They Both Die at the End will be like. It’s set in a world where there is an organization that can determine the day a person dies. Teenaged boys Rufus and Mateo both get such a call on the same day. They connect on the Last Friend app to have someone by their side as they spend their last day of life in New York City.

Yeah…this isn’t going to make me cry at all.

 

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

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Adam Silvera’s debut novel, More Happy Than Not, follows Aaron, a boy living in the Bronx projects. His life torn apart by his father’s suicide, he becomes distant from his friends and caring girlfriend. Then, he finds unexpected solace with a new friend named Thomas. But with the revelation of his sexuality causing more problems, Aaron turns to the Leteo Institute for a procedure to erase the memory of him being gay.

Fun fact: I bought the paperback version of More Happy Than Not because I liked it more than the hardcover. Aside from that, the concept of this novel fascinates me, though I have heard mixed reviews about it. Although, it is Adam’s debut; he was still getting his feet wet.

 

Far from the Tree by Robin Benway

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After putting her baby up for adoption, Grace, who was also adopted at birth, decides to look for her biological family. She discovers she is the middle child, with an older brother, Joaquin, and a younger sister, Maya. While the girls are interested in finding their birth mother, their big brother could care less. In doing so, each face an identity crisis that make them wonder where they belong and what family really means.

Far from the Tree blew up BookTube at the end of 2017, winning the National Book Award. The main reason I picked this book up is because the premise fascinated me. The subject matter also reminds me of A List of Cages by Robin Roe and The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout, two other books about foster care and found families I enjoyed.

 

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

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When Jude was seven, her parents were murdered and she, along with her sisters, were whisked away to the High Court of Faerie. For ten years, the girls have lived in fear of the fae. Yet, Jude longs to prove her worth to the fae and earn a spot amongst their ranks. But to do that, she must defy her sworn enemy: Prince Carden, the youngest and most wicked son of the High King.

I have been on the hunt for a good fairy novel for a while. With all the reviews I have been seeing for The Cruel Prince, my expectations for this novel are high.

 

The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily by Laura Creedle

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High schooler Lily ditches her ADHD medication and in detention meets Abelard, a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome. They bond over their mutual fondness for ancient love letters, namely The Lover Letters of Abelard and Heloise. They fall for each other, but are they too different to make it work?

I bought The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily for two reasons. First is for the ADHD and Asperger’s representations respectively in the main characters. Second, it is a young adult novel where the romance builds over a love of literature. I have a serious weak spot for books like that.

 

Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows

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Before She Ignites follows Mira, a young girl who inspired a treaty and is revered by her people. But she struggles to maintain her perfect image by hiding her anxiety attacks and compulsive counting. Then, Mira’s own people turn against her when she uncovers that others have broken the treaty by abusing dragons.

Jodi Meadows is an author I have wanted to read for a while. She co-wrote My Lady Jane, which I have not read either. But just from the plot of Before She Ignites, I have a feeling I will like her work.

 

The Forgotten Book by Mechthild Glaser

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As the daughter of her prestigious boarding school’s headmaster and the most popular of her friends, Emma is used to getting what she wants. While exploring an abandoned library, she comes across a book that, when she writes anything she wants into the book, it comes true. Only someone else knows about the book too, and they will go to any lengths to get it. To protect herself and the book, Emma finds an unlikely ally in her classmate, arrogant and aloof Darcy de Winter.

The Forgotten Book is allegedly inspired by Jane Austen’s novel Emma. The synopsis implies as much, especially with names like Emma or Darcy. I bought The Forgotten Book after I read Mechthild Glaser’s other novel, The Book Jumper, in January. She has a whimsical way of storytelling that draws me in.

 

Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

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Freya is the twenty-third in line to the throne, expecting to never be queen, and was content to doing research in her lab. Then, the entire royal family is poisoned and she suddenly finds herself queen. With everyone after her crown and the killers still on the loose, Freya must rely on herself to survive and protect her kingdom. But is she meant to rule?

I picked up Long May She Reign because it is one of the rare young adult fantasy stand-alones and it has a female protagonist that uses her brain as her weapon. This is one of the books on this part of my haul that I really want to read soon, probably within the next few months.

 

The Glass Spare by Lauren DeStefano

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Wil is the fourth child and only daughter of a king obsessed with wealth and power. While serving as a spy for her father, she is attacked and discovers she has an extraordinary gift: she can turn people into gemstone with her touch. She sets out for a cure and to learn where her powers came from, but there are others, namely a cursed prince, that have other ideas for her gift.

The concept of The Glass Spare fascinates me. Turning people into gemstones with touch is not the kind of power you see in young adult fantasy. Although, I admit I am slightly apprehensive; Lauren DeStefano is an author that often gets mixed reviews.

 

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

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As the title suggests, Geekerella is a Cinderella retelling. Based around fandom and nerd culture, the novel follows Elle and Darien. Elle has been a life-long fan of the show Starfield. Her late father even founded the convention based on the show. She also writes a popular blog surrounding Starfield. On said blog, Elle expresses her disapproval of the actor casted to play the lead role in the movie reboot of Starfield.

A former heartthrob on a popular TV drama, Darien is not taken seriously as an actor. But this new role is his chance to prove himself, as well as do justice to the show he secretly loves. The only person that seems to really believe him is the mysterious girl he has been texting…aka Elle.

From what I know about Geekerella, it is all fluffy cuteness and a smart representation of the fandom culture. Plus, I love the cover. It is probably one of the prettiest books in this whole haul.

 

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

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After reading, and loving, a few LGBTQ books like Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli and Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown, I was looking for more. Autoboyography is one that caught my attention. First, the cover is beautiful, another of my favorites in this whole haul. Second, is that it is set in Utah, a place not often featured in books, and the main character, Tanner, is bisexual. Third, it centers on a semester-long writing class in which the students complete the first draft of a novel in four months. Lastly, Tanner’s love interest, Sebastian, is a Mormon.

Autoboyography should be very interesting and hopefully a lot of fun.

 

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein

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Black Dove, White Raven is a book I checked out of the library at the end of 2017 but unfortunately never got around to reading it. Since I loved Elizabeth Wein’s novel, Code Name Verity, I am confident I will enjoy this book as well.

Black Dove, White Raven follows Emilia and Teo, the children of female fighter pilots. After Teo’s mother dies, Emilia’s mother adopts him and the family relocates to Ethiopia. But when civil war breaks out, Emilia and Teo’s friendship is tested when they find themselves on opposite ends of the war.

Aside from it being Elizabeth Wein and I like her storytelling, this is another event in history I have never heard of. I’m curious to learn more.

 

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

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Nazis captured American pilot Rose Justice after her plane crashed and she is sent to Ravensbruck, the notorious concentration camp for women. She bonds with the other prisoners in the worst possible circumstances. But given what I know about Ravensbruck and what went on there, I have a bad feeling something horrible is going to happen to Rose.

From my understanding, Rose Under Fire is a companion novel to Code Name Verity. A certain character makes an appearance in this novel. I think I know who it is and I’m super excited.

 

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

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Out of the Easy is another young adult historical fiction novel by Ruta Sepetys. Unlike Between Shades of Gray and Salt to the Sea, this novel takes place in 1950s New Orleans and there is a murder in the French Quarter.

Seventeen-year-old Josie is the daughter of a brothel prostitute. She’s determined to leave the Quarter for a college and build a different life for herself. When there is a murder near the brothel, her loyalty to her mother and the brothel’s madam conflict with her conscience as she is lured into the investigation.

A murder mystery in New Orleans? Count me in!

 

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

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The eighth volume in the only science fiction series I love, I’m worried about what is going to happen in this latest release. Volume 7 had the most heartbreaking ending so far in the graphic novels. I want to talk more about it, but I can’t because it would be spoilers.

 

The Bear and the Nightingale & The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

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The Bear and the Nightingale was one of the books I checked out of the library at the end of 2017 that I never got around to reading. Inspired by Russian folklore, it follows a young girl that must protect her family and her village from the mythical monsters lurking in the woods surrounding their home.

Because this novel is compared to Uprooted by Naomi Novik, I was hesitant to buy this book. It’s not because I didn’t like Uprooted, it simply did not live up to my high expectations. However, with The Bear and the Nightingale, as well as its sequel The Girl in the Tower, I decided to take a chance, for several reasons. A reviewer I trust raved about it. The first book has been compared to The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern as well, which I did enjoy. And the writing in this book is said to be lyrical. So, it better not let me down.

 

WHEW! We made it! Thanks for sticking through and allowing me to share with you all my (slightly unhealthy) book spending habits.

 

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?