Currently Reading Book Tag

I’m five books behind on my reading challenge, debating whether or not I want to quit it or at least lower the number and I have a pile of unread TBR books sitting on my nightstand….

Now is totally the time to do the Currently Reading Book Tag!

For a while, I felt like there was a slight lag in my blogging. Then, I saw Comfy 4 Books do this on her blog and it looked like fun! It gave me the urge to write again, so thank you.

On to the tag!

 

How many books do you usually read at once?

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Before college, I could read multiple books at a time, not that I always finished them all. After college, I usually read only one book at a time. However, if a book is over 500 pages, I tend to read one or two other books along with it. It helps me get through the drag in the bigger book.

 

If you’re reading more than one book at a time, how do you decide when you switch books?

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I switch books after reading a certain number of chapters in each one. Such as, every five chapters read in the primary book, I’ll pick up the secondary book and read five chapters of that one. Sometimes even every ten chapters, depending on the length and how fast I can get through them.

 

Do you ever switch bookmarks while you’re partway through a book?

 

No, I never have. When I pick a book to read, I make a point to find a bookmark in my collection to best match it. In fact, I go as far as dump all the magnetic bookmarks in this tea tin I got from an Owlcrate box on my bed to find the perfect one. More often than not, I already know which bookmark I want to use for a specific book as soon as I choose my next read.

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Where do you keep the book(s) you’re currently reading?

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I keep them on my nightstand, along with the books I want to read after. Since 2018 started, my monthly TBRs have sat on my nightstand, shrinking as I read books or changed my mind about if I want to read them, or they get bigger if I add books to read during the month.

 

What time of day do you spend the most time reading?

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It depends on what day it is. Monday through Friday, if I am awake enough, I will read on the bus during my morning commute. In the afternoon, it’s a little darker, harder to read, and I want to give my eyes a rest after sitting in front of a computer screen all day. On the weekends, I read the most in the morning, on the couch with a cup of coffee. With breaks in between to eat breakfast and shower and write, I usually keep reading until late afternoon.

 

How long do you typically read in one sitting?

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I can read between five to ten chapters of a book at a time. It really depends on time and my energy level.

 

Do you read hardbacks with the dust jacket on or off?

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I keep the dust jackets on, for fear of losing them. Besides, they don’t bother me like they do other people.

 

What position do you mainly use to read?

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I prefer to sit in a chair or on the couch, to stay focused (I swear I have a “sleep” button on my butt). Other times, if I want to relax, my bed with pillows piled behind me.

 

Do you take the book you’re currently reading with you everywhere you go?

I bought my work purse specifically because it could fit a book inside it. Even if I don’t read on my commute and end up listening to music or staring out the window, I still make sure I have a book with me, like some kind of security blanket. But any other time I go out, like the store or even to the doctor’s office, I don’t bring a book.

 

How often do you update your Goodreads progress on the book you’re currently reading?

I update my progress whenever I read a significant amount of pages. That averages to about twenty or so pages read each time.

 

I tag:

 

Shanah, J.W., & Crystal (when she gets back from her hiatus!) to do the Currently Reading Book Tag!

 

What book(s) are you currently reading?

Books I Want to Read Between May and August of 2018

In March, I went on a book-buying binge that added a lot of books to my physical TBR that made it harder than it already was to pick a book to read. In April, I had too long of a TBR that I barely put a dent in. Now, I’m behind on my Goodreads challenge.

So, I decided to do something different. Instead of doing TBRs during the summer, I am giving myself a list of books to read between May and August. I will still do monthly wrap-ups; I actually like doing those, looking back on the reading I did every month. This way, I am giving myself a deadline for priority books, while still having wiggle room for other books.

If this list works out, I might do one for September through November. By then, I will have started graduate school. Who knows how much free time I will have once I get into the trenches of academia?

Anyway, the books I plan on reading this summer are:

 

Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller

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The perfect summer read in my opinion, The Daughter of the Siren Queen is the sequel to Daughter of the Pirate King and the last book in the duology. It picks up right where the first book left off, with Alossa and her crew in a race against rival pirates for an ancient treasure. There’s a lot more going on than that, particularly since Alossa is half siren, but I won’t get into more details because of spoilers. You better believe I will be reading Daughter of the Siren Queen soon, though.

 

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

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The sequel to The Star-Touched Queen, A Crown of Wishes follows the younger half-sister of the main character in the previous novel, who becomes a political prisoner in a rival kingdom and must compete in a race with a sneaky prince for her freedom. I enjoyed The Star-Touched Queen and people have said the companion novel is even better, so I’m hyped for it.

 

Windwitch by Susan Dennard

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I loved the first book in the series, Truthwitch, and I forced myself to put off Windwitch for two reasons. First, I had other books before that one I wanted to read first (think I read all of them?). Second, I knew the next book in the series, Bloodwitch, would not be out for a while; I would need something to hold me over. But I have put it off for long enough now. I want to get back into the series.

 

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

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Why have I not read this??? I loved This Savage Song. I wanted to read Our Dark Duet when it came out last year yet I never got around to it. (Story of my life.) I’m making it a priority for this summer, though. Hopefully, I haven’t forgotten too much from the first book….

 

Now I Rise by Kiersten White

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Now I Rise is another anticipated sequel of one of my favorite reads of 2016, And I Darken. It is a retelling of Vlad the Impaler if he was a woman and the first book had been so much fun. Plus, the final book in the trilogy, Bright We Burn, is coming out in July. I need to get on this!

 

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

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I have briefly mentioned my love-hate relationship with Sarah J. Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy. These are like guilty pleasure reads for me, as they are for a lot of people. But they are problematic, for a lot of reasons. Still, I plan on finally finishing this trilogy, because I made it this far and I want to see it through…even if I have been spoiled for some things….

 

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

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Unlike Sarah J. Maas’s books, I put off Lord of Shadows not because I had problems with Lady Midnight. In fact, the previous book made me think The Dark Artifices could be my new favorite Shadowhunter Chronicles series after The Infernal Devices. Lord of Shadows fell to the wayside on my TBR because I had no idea when the sequel, Queen of Air and Darkness, was coming out and the book is said to be an emotional roller coaster. I had to prepare for that.

 

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

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I’m actually shocked I have not read Tower of Dawn. I was more excited for this one than A Court of Wings and Ruin…. Mostly because I am still a loyal Chaol Westfall fan girl and Tower of Dawn is supposed to be his redemption arc. The fact that it has been getting great reviews and some even said it is their new favorite book in the series just makes me even more excited to finally read Tower of Dawn.

 

Cinder

Scarlet

Cress

Fairest

Winter

By Marissa Meyer

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After reading Heartless, I know for certain I will like the Lunar Chronicles series. While the books are a series of companion fairy tale retellings, the science fiction aspect has always made me weary. Still, my fascination with this series was strong enough that I never let go of Cinder after owning it for at least two years and getting the remaining books this past Christmas. Now it is time to get on one of the most beloved young adult series.

 

The Kiss of Deception

The Heart of Betrayal

The Beauty of Darkness

By Mary E. Pearson

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The Remnant Chronicles is another young adult series I have wanted to get into for years. The reason I was so interested in this one was because the main character is a princess that runs away on her wedding day and chooses to become a waitress rather than live like royalty. Plus, she’s got two love interests, one was the prince she left at the alter and the other an assassin sent to kill her. The Kiss of Deception received a lot of hype when it came out, but it died down after the last two books. Miraculously, I have never been spoiled for anything that happens in this series. And I want to keep it that way!

 

A Great and Terrible Beauty

Rebel Angels

The Sweet Far Thing

By Libba Bray

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An older series I have wanted to read for a long, long time, the Gemma Doyle trilogy is a young adult historical fantasy series about a teenaged girl who goes to a boarding school with sinister secrets and a magical society. This trilogy has kind of fallen under the radar over the years; no one really talks about it anymore. But it’s time I read the series I am almost positive I will love, simply based on what I know about the series. Even though I have not read anything by Libba Bray before. I’m really taking a chance on Gemma Doyle.

 

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Which one should I read first?

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Books I Predict will be Five Star Reads

I have so many books on my physical TBR that I’m really excited for. I almost made a list of ten books I predict will be five star reads for me, but then I got nervous. I was worried I was setting myself up for disappointment. A lot of the books have hype surrounding them. Of course, hype is not something you can necessarily rely on.

The five I chose to put on this list for several reasons. One is I have read books I loved by these authors before, so I know I will love their new books, too. Another reason is the subject matter interests me and when I think about it, I get excited to read. That is how I determine the five books I predict will be five star reads.

 

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

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Despite being the most hyped book everywhere right now, I would read Children of Blood and Bone regardless. It is set in a world based on African mythology; something I don’t read enough of and I want to change that. A strong female lead along with several other companions, including a rogue princess, set out to bring magic back to their world. Plus, there’s an evil king and a morally gray prince. And, from what I heard, they ride leopards. How is that not cool?

 

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

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I am basing my expectations for To Kill a Kingdom on several factors. First, I love mermaids, yet I have not read a lot of mermaid books. Second, it is a retelling of The Little Mermaid, with the mermaid being a siren that kills princes and steals hearts—so, she’s not a nice person. Third, she is changed into a mortal as punishment by her mother and is sent to the human world to claim the heart of a prince. Lastly, that prince is a siren hunter. You cannot comprehend how badly I want to read this book right now….

 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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In regards to The Hate U Give, my five-star expectations are based on hype. It is inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and follows a young girl torn between two worlds and puts her life on the line when she witnesses her childhood best friend shot unarmed by a police officer. The reviews for The Hate U Give have been nothing but positive. I want to read more diversely in my 20s than I did growing up binging trash like Sweet Valley. I’m hoping The Hate U Give will teach me something, too.

 

The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton

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The Price Guide to the Occult is Leslye Walton’s second novel, her first in close to five years since her debut The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. Though I remember giving that book four stars, her writing style was beautiful and I believe talent improves the more you work at it. So, if she’s been working on The Price Guide to the Occult for that long, her abilities have likely gotten better since then. The story itself also excites me: generations of witches with secrets causing havoc in their small island community over an ancient spellbook. Of course, it is probably a lot cooler than how I just made it sound.

 

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

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How much love has this book gotten since it came out? I bought Lord of Shadows not long after I read Lady Midnight, which I did give five stars. However, I learned with authors like Cassandra Clare and Sarah J. Maas, I need to give myself breaks between reading their books due to possible emotional distress. From what I know about Lord of Shadows, “emotional distress” is the definition of the plot. And I need to make sure I’m mentally prepared for anything that might happen.

 

Have you read any of my five-star predictions? What did you think of them?

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Books I DIDN’T Like That Others LOVED

Shanah is putting us to the test with the topics this month….

But is it sad to say that I didn’t have a hard time coming up with books for this list? There have been quite a few popular books that disappointed me over the last year or so. I went into most of these with high expectations, only to be let down. I would not say I hated all of them, but I definitely did not love them as much as others did.

Not that it is a bad thing.

 

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

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A few years ago, everyone loved this book. They raved about the romance and the story. Plus, I loved the cover. Then…I read it. While I was not a fan of the romance, I was able to distance myself from it because the people in the relationship were adults. Their choices were their own, regardless of how problematic it was. The thing that made me dislike Beautiful Disaster was the writing; it was way, way too juvenile and simplistic for my liking. Plus, the story was pretty boring to me overall.

 

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

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A beloved modern classic, I was so excited to read The Outsiders, a book I know made others love reading. Unfortunately, it did not live up to the high standards I had set. I was extremely underwhelmed by the story and the writing style was like nails on a chalkboard. I was actually glad to return it to the library….

 

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling and Jack Thorne

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To be honest, I went into Harry Potter and the Cursed Child with low expectations. I am one of the few people in the world that think Harry Potter needs to retire. I especially did not understand why it had to be published as a play instead of a real novel. The whole story basically recycled major plot points of the original series, with a strange time travel element thrown into it. The whole time I was reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I could just hear JK Rowling say: “Here is your fucking eighth book. Now leave me alone.”

 

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

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I recently reread Alice in Wonderland before I finished Heartless by Marissa Meyer. When I read it the first time in 2013, I gave it 3 stars. That was back during a time I was scared of not liking books. Now I don’t care. I know Alice in Wonderland is supposed to be a book about nonsense. But where’s the plot? What message was Lewis Carroll trying to relay? Even with my four years of studying English literature, I still did not get it. Alice in Wonderland is a classic, so I’m assuming people love it. I just can’t figure out why.

 

Illuminae by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

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PLEASE DON’T HATE ME!!!

By no means did I hate Illuminae; I just didn’t love it as much as everyone else and their mother. While I found the mixed-media format really cool, the overall story went right over my head. What was the point of this? What is the point of that? Science fiction in general goes right over my head, though. For me personally, I think I would have gotten more out of Illuminae if it had been written in prose. And I don’t plan on continuing with the series—at least, not right now. Feel free to convince me otherwise if you want.

 

Have you read any of these books?

Review of The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale (Spoiler Free)

The Beast is an Animal is the rare young adult fantasy stand-alone novel set in a dark world where two sisters called the soul eaters terrorize villages under the orders of this terrifying monster called The Beast. When she was seven years old, Alys went wandering one sleepless night and encountered the soul eaters. They then kill all the adults, sparing the lives of Alys and the other children, who are sent to another village that lives in fear of magic or anything different.

For the next eight years, Alys keeps secret her connection to the soul eaters, but soon learns that the very thing that could get her killed could be what saves those she cares for.

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I forget where I first learned of The Beast is an Animal. But I’ve had it on my shelves for at least a year now. I thought it was a twisted retelling of Beauty and the Beast. You would think I would be disappointed it was not, only given the nature of Alys’s relationship with The Beast…probably a good thing it never went romantic. If anything, I think it took inspiration from some sort of Celtic mythology, though I can’t say for sure.

My absolute favorite aspect of the book was the beautiful writing style. Peternelle van Arsdale had a way of writing that made me want to keep reading. And read fast, because I wanted to get as much of the deliciousness as I could.

Nature plays a big part of the novel. The world she created was atmospheric and vivid. I think of it as like a historical fantasy; a Puritan village in an earth where magic is real. The Beast is their Satan and their God is called the Good Shepard. There were some instances that were nods to the Salem Witch Trials, too.

On the flip side to that, while the first half of The Beast is an Animal was fast-paced, the second half dragged. As far as plots go, there was not much going for it. Certain motivations remained unclear. Alys spent most of the novel trying to decide if she was good or evil, which is not a bad story, but for a book that is mainly plot-driven instead of character-driven, it didn’t quite work out.

Regarding the characters, the cast was divided between the morally gray and the ignorant, with few good people in-between. Alys does a lot of things she shouldn’t have, but she is a good person at her core. Her character development is actually quite good. Still, while I could empathize with her situation, I never felt fully connected to her.

As for the side characters, they were not as fleshed out as I would have liked. Especially since The Beast is an Animal has both present and loving parental figures. In her new village, Alys is taken in by a midwife and her husband. Her foster mother is who teaches her to appreciate nature and that it is neither good nor evil. There is also Pawl and Beti, traders from another community, who are like a second set of surrogate parents to Alys.

For the majority of The Beast is an Animal, I expected a refreshing romance-free story. Then, well into the second half, a potential love interest is introduced. While Alys is clearly attracted to the boy, it appeared more as her coming into her sexuality at fifteen and finally noticing the opposite sex. Plus, the love interest is described as being a person of color. Then…the insta-love happened. I thought I wouldn’t mind it, since I did like the love interest, but something about the romance didn’t quite fit.

Overall, I give The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale 3.5 stars. If you are a fan of Uprooted by Naomi Novik, I think you might also like this one.

 

Have you read The Beast is an Animal?

“Slightly” Shameful Book Haul

At the beginning of the year, after I went crazy with the book buying for Christmas and my birthday, I told myself I would go on a book-buying ban until I had my physical TBR under control. For the first three months of 2018, I was reading good books I already had and the library was a great resource for checking out other books I heard about. However, I never told myself how long this book-buying ban was supposed to last….

I got a new job early on in March and I was making money for the first time in about five and a half months. To make matters even more difficult, I work in a city with an abundance of amazing bookstores. Still, I resisted somehow. Then, I make it into work one cold Friday afternoon, only to discover the entire building was closed due to a plumbing problem. I thought about going home, then I thought: go home and do what? I decided to visit a bookstore someone had recommended to me and…well, you can guess what happened from there.

I call this haul “slightly” shameful because some of these books were previously library books I read. So, my physical TBR didn’t get any bigger than it already was. Also, most of these books are anticipated releases or popular books I have wanted to read for a while, but they are always on hold at the library for somebody else, or they are by authors I am familiar with. And don’t worry—these are a mix of bookstore purchases and Amazon, bought on different days.

Of course, it sounds like I’m making excuses. Most of you probably understand the struggle. And it’s my own money I’m blowing. But still…there’s graduate school in September. Needless to say, my wallet is not too happy with me about that.

Anyway, onto my new books!

 

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

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After checking out the new graphic novel adaption of Laurie Halse Anderson’s novel, Speak, from the library, I realized I never had my own copy of the book. I really enjoyed the graphic novel as much as I did the original work; in fact, the artwork added a lot more to the story, in my opinion.

 

The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur

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After my mom died in February, I was in a deep mood for poetry. The Sun and Her Flowers, Rupi Kaur’s newest publication following her successful debut Milk and Honey, was not a book I originally anticipated too much. While I liked Milk and Honey, I did not get much out of it personally. Then, I decided to check out The Sun and Her Flowers from the library. I read it and it hit me right in the feels. This book came to me at the right time.

 

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

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I’ve talked about this book almost every other post since I read it in March. An anticipated January 2018 release that has gotten mixed reviews, I fall into the group that loves The Hazel Wood. I’m sure you are already familiar with the story at this point, so I won’t bore you with details. However, fun fact: books bought from bookstores (either in store or online) feel way better than books bought from Amazon or Target. Am I crazy or has anyone else noticed this?

 

The Princess Saves Herself in This One & The Witch Doesn’t Burn in this One by Amanda Lovelace

I already talked about my love for The Princess Saves Herself in This One. Like The Sun and Her Flowers, it came to me at just the right time. A month after I checked that book out from the library, The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One was released. That was the one that inspired the whole splurge at the bookstore. I read that one as soon as I bought it and enjoyed it very much. Between the two though, The Princess Saves Herself in This One, is my favorite.

 

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

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Children of Blood and Bone has taken the book world by storm. This is one I decided to take a chance on and buy it, rather than wait forever for it to be available at the library. It is based in West African mythology, following a young woman determined to restore magic to her kingdom with the help of her brother and a rogue princess. The reviews for Children of Blood and Bone have been good so far. Still, I’m waiting for the hype to die down at least a little bit before I read it (and knock some other books off my TBR first, too).

 

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

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The moment I learned about To Kill a Kingdom, I knew I had to read it. It is a twisted retelling of The Little Mermaid, following Lira, a siren banished to the human world by her mother the Sea Queen after accidentally killing a fellow mermaid. In order to return to the sea, she must kill the prince of the world’s most powerful kingdom and steal his heart. The said prince, Elian, happens to be a siren hunter and when he meets Lira, you can guess what could possibly happen from there. But I love The Little Mermaid and I love mermaid stories in general. That’s all I needed to know to make me pick up To Kill a Kingdom.

 

The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton

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I knew I was going to buy The Price Guide to the Occult as soon as it came out. First off, because it was written by Leslye Walton, who wrote The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, one of my favorite books. Second, this new book follows generations of witches on a small island and their connection to a book that could mean the end-all for everyone. I could be totally butchering the synopsis—her stories are a little more complex than that. I just love Leslye Walton’s writing style and storytelling.

 

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

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Truly Devious was another young adult book that got some hype over the last few months. It is set in a boarding school where the founder’s family was kidnapped in 1936 and the mystery was never solved. In present day, new student Stevie Bell has decided to solve this cold case herself, just as death has visited the school again. While the plot does intrigue me, I mainly took a chance buying it because of Maureen Johnson. One of my favorite books as an adolescent was her novel Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes, which I unfortunately lost when my family moved years ago, and it was what fueled my desire to travel. Plus, she’s a good writer, so I have fairly high expectations already in place for Truly Devious.

 

The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl

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A complete impulse buy from the used bookstore not far from where I work, The Dante Club is written by Matthew Pearl, who wrote another thriller on my TBR, The Poe Shadow. As the title suggests, The Dante Club is focused on Dante’s The Divine Comedy, as a group of respected literary figures attempt to bring a controversial European work to the New World. The novel is set in 1865 Boston and the city has been terrorized by gruesome murders mirroring Dante’s Circles of Hell. One member of the Dante Club teams up with the first black cop on Boston’s police force to solve the murders before Dante’s journey to America ends before it begins and more innocent people are killed. OK…maybe this wasn’t that much an impulse buy.

 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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A book that swept the world of books off its feet, The Hate U Give follows a young black woman finding her voice after witnessing her unarmed childhood best friend be shot by a police officer. This is one of the books that is always on hold at the library. With all the rave reviews surrounding it and my desire to be more educated on the Black Lives Matter movement, I decided it is time I read The Hate U Give.

 

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Manon

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Another hyped book on social media, When Dimple Met Rishi is a young adult contemporary about two Indian teens with different views of their shared culture that are in an arranged marriage by their parents. Dimple is driven by her desire to go to college and pursue STEM while Rishi is a hopeless romantic. After their initial meeting doesn’t go as planned, the two are suddenly thrown together for a project and shenanigans ensue. When Dimple Met Rishi is a book I’ve had my eye on for a while. I definitely plan on reading it this summer.

 

Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Almed

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After reading All We Have Left by Wendy Mills last year, I want to read more young adult books featuring Muslim main characters. Love, Hate & Other Filters is just what I’m looking for. American-born Muslim Maya is torn between pleasing her parents and pursuing her dreams of studying film in New York City. When she starts her senior year of high school, a terrorist attack strikes Chicago and the perpetrator shares her last name. Suddenly, Maya and her family are faced with hatred and bigotry from people they have known for years.

 

Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller

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Daughter of the Siren Queen is the sequel to Daughter of the Pirate King, one of my favorite books of 2017. It is the last book in the duology and I really want to finish the series. (I haven’t finished any so far this year). Despite all the books sitting on my nightstand currently waiting to be read, I am seriously considering picking up Daughter of the Siren Queen this weekend….

 

The Arsonist by Stephanie Oakes

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I don’t know why it took me so long to buy this book, honestly. Stephanie Oakes wrote one of my favorite books of all-time, The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly. The Arsonist is her second novel. It is a historical thriller, following two teens with serious problems (the girl’s father is about to be executed and the boy is an immigrant with an embarrassing seizure dog) that are tasked with catching the murderer of an East German resistance fighter whose death brought on the destruction of the Berlin Wall.

This one is going to be so fun….

 

Ink, Iron, and Glass by Gwendolyn Clare

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Ink, Iron, and Glass is probably one of the most original books I own. It is set in a world where certain people are gifted with the ability, called scriptology, to alter their realities as they see fit with the written word. The protagonist, Elsa, finds herself in an alternative Victorian Italy when her mother is kidnapped and she turns to an elite society for help. That’s all I need to know and want to know. Plus, the cover is beautiful.

 

Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga

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Finding out your long-last dad is an indie rock star should be awesome, but for sixteen-year-old Tal, reality is about to hit her hard in the face. After so many years of no contact and her mother dodging questions, Tal’s father shows up for an unexpected family reunion. He takes her across country to meet the rest of her extended family, including the dying grandfather her dad wants her to meet. But in doing so, the fantasy she has built around him slowly crumbles as family secrets come to light. And if Here We Are Now is anything like Jasmine Warga’s debut, My Heart and Other Black Holes, I am anticipating getting hit with the feels.

 

In Search of Us by Ava Dellaira

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Much like with Leslye Walton, I nearly fell out of my seat when I found out Ava Dellaira was coming out with another book. I read and loved her debut, Love Letters to the Dead. Her newest release, In Search of Us, is an intergenerational story about Angie, a biracial teenager, and her mother, Marilyn. Raised by a white mother and looking more like her brown-skinned father, Angie wants to know about her dad, but Marilyn tells her daughter very little. When Angie discovers she has an uncle in LA, she convinces a friend to tag along with her on a road trip to meet him, hoping to learn more about the dad she never knew. But in doing so forces Marilyn to reveal some secrets she would rather bury.

 

I think I’m good for a while…what was your favorite book you bought recently?

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Books I LOVED that Others DIDN’T

When it comes to reading, I don’t always follow the crowd. Most of my TBR—the physical one and on Goodreads—contain books that are not so hyped up or well known on bookish social media. Initially, I made this list of books I enjoyed that were underrated or flew so low under the radar barely anyone knows about them. Only that proved to be a little too long….

The first three on this list were no-brainers, as they are well known polarizing books. The rest, I turned to Goodreads and went through all the books I marked as “read.” I arranged them by “average rating” and preceded through the list of books I enjoyed that, according to Goodreads at least, most others did not.

I don’t know why I feel like I have to do this, but I also don’t want to be blasted in the comments later. There may be spoilers in this post. So, read at your own risk.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

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 Let’s just get this one out of the way: yes, I liked Allegiant.

            I know why the overwhelming majority of people who have read it don’t like the finale of the Divergent trilogy. Most of the book is boring, leading to an ending that came out of nowhere (or so people think).

Truth be told, I went into Allegiant knowing the ending. While I agree with the consensus that it was overall boring, I appreciated the tragedy everyone else hated. Veronica Roth was, in my opinion, being realistic. In times of war, death happens. No one is immune to it. They honestly shouldn’t be, just because they are “main characters,” because that does not happen in real life.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

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My most recent read on this list, The Hazel Wood is a dark fantasy novel that came out in January and was hyped up for a lot of people. When it released, people either liked it or disliked it, with very little in-between. Those who claimed not to like it said their opinion lied within the main character, Alice, who is definitely unlikable. Others said it was the big reveal that it made no sense to them or they simply did not like it. Ironically, it is those two things that are rooted in my enjoyment of The Hazel Wood.

 

 Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

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Another controversial book, I loved Me Before You for the same reasons other people had problems with it. While I understand it came off as ablest, I saw it for what I think the author was trying to say: the matter of choice. For someone like Will Traynor, a young man that lived one adventure after another, life as a quadriplegic was mentally and emotionally unbearable. Plus, he was more prone to getting sick and having to go to the hospital in his condition.

I watched my mother go through a similar situation. I know what poor quality of life that is. Louise did her best to convince Will life was worth living and she brought him happiness. But it did not change the fact that he was sick and there was no chance of recovery. Will had the opportunity to end his life on his own terms in a dignified way. That was his right.

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

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According to Goodreads, Wink Poppy Midnight has an average rating of 3.32 stars, low compared to my 4.5 stars. To be fair, it is not the kind of book for everyone. Much like The Hazel Wood, it is written like a dark fairy tale with three characters, one of them not very likable and another very quirky. There is an element of bullying in here that makes people uncomfortable, something I completely understand. The ending is not quite clean, either. However, I enjoyed Wink Poppy Midnight for the lyrical writing and the twisted fairy tale element.

 

City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson

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The ratings for City of Saints and Thieves on Goodreads were not terrible. Only the average rating of 3.92 stars compared to my 5 stars says something. With the push for diversity in young adult literature, I’m surprised no one is talking much about City of Saints and Thieves. The novel is set in the Congo and follows a teenaged refugee seeking revenge for the murder of her mother. Problem is, I think, the author is a white non-refugee, so people didn’t take the representation seriously. But we cannot discredit Natalie C. Anderson’s work with refugees, where she got her inspiration for this novel. She used the book to educate young people on what is really going on in third-world countries. Something I totally support.

 

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? Let’s discuss!

Books I Want to Read April 2018

You will notice that I am not calling this post “April 2018 TBR”….

In case you did not already know, I started a new job that involves a long bus ride to and from. Ideally, that promises a lot of reading time. Except I have to get up super early in the morning, when it’s still dark out, and coffee doesn’t always work. Even reading after work is proving to be a challenge, because my brain is simply too tired.        My complaining aside, the job is going well so far and I have time on the weekends to read, but I’m being lazy. And after breaking my book-buying ban, my physical TBR once again has gotten dangerously overwhelming. I won’t even let myself visit the library, because I have so many books at home that I need to read, that I want to read.

Will I read all the books on this list? I hope so, but I’m not counting on it. If I can get through most of these, many of which are carried over from March, I will be satisfied.

In April, I want to read:

 

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

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As I am writing this, I am currently 39% through Heartless and I had stopped reading for a while. But not because something was wrong—I actually was having a lot of fun. I think I fell into some sort of weird slump trying to get into the swing of my new schedule. Surprisingly, after the rereading fail that was Alice in Wonderland, I am even more determined to finish Heartless soon, before I fall into a real reading slump in the middle of what could be a potentially awesome book.

 

The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale

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The Beast is an Animal is an underrated book that, to me, sounds a lot like some popular ones. It’s kind of a messed up retelling of Beauty and the Beast: a girl trying to hide her magical powers from the magic-hating people that raised her, feels drawn to the demons that destroyed her own village when she was a little girl. The Beast is an Animal sounds like a dark, twisted book, perfect to read as winter makes its way into spring.

 

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

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I NEED TO READ THIS! I WANT TO READ THIS! GUYS MAKE SURE I READ OF FIRE AND STARS IN APRIL! COME UP WITH A PUNISHMENT! HOLD ME ACCOUNTABLE!!!

 

Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas

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A rare fantasy stand-alone novel, this one is about a princess who never expected to be queen suddenly ascends the throne after everyone else in the royal family is poisoned. While trying to catch the killer, she must contend with court politics and proving to everyone she can be a queen. Another one I really, really want to read….

 

Freeks by Amanda Hocking

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A girl that grew up in a freak show searches for a normal life, only to have the dream taken away by her newly discovered magical abilities that hold the key to defending the circus from an evil ancient force in the town they are currently visiting. From what I’ve heard, Freeks is a fun, fast read.

 

RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

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A Phantom of the Opera retelling set at a boarding school in Paris…and the book is printed in red ink. Seriously, that makes me even more excited.

 

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

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ANOTHER BOOK I MUST READ! LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD! DEMONS! POSSIBLE HATE TO LOVE TROPE! THAT IS ALL!

 

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

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Like so many other books on my general TBR, I’m shocked I have not picked up Our Dark Duet yet. It is the sequel to This Savage Song, which was one of my favorite books of 2016. I really wanted to read Our Dark Duet and it was getting good reviews. But I am scared of the emotional roller coaster I’ve heard this book is.

 

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

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I remember being really excited for Vassa in the Night when I got it in an Owlcrate box. It is a retelling of Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Beautiful set in an alternative Brooklyn. Plus, it’s short and from what I’ve heard, the whole book is weird. That’s all I need to know right now.

 

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

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A Crown of Wishes is the companion novel to The Star-Touched Queen, a book I read last year that I enjoyed. It follows the younger half-sister of the main character of the previous book, who is competing in a race with a prince from a rival kingdom in hopes of freeing herself as a political prisoner. The two venture into a dark world where nothing is what it seems. Since I liked The Star-Touched Queen so much, my expectations are high for A Crown of Wishes.

 

Windwitch by Susan Dennard

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The sequel to Truthwitch, one of my favorite books of last year. I wanted to read it as soon as I bought it over the summer, but I had to refrain myself. The third book in the series, Bloodwitch, won’t be out for a while and at the time I knew I wouldn’t have anything else to potentially hold me over. But with Sightwitch out in the world, I can safely read Windwitch and hopefully not go into a full-blown book hangover.

 

Now I Rise by Kiersten White

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Now I Rise is the sequel to And I Darken, a historical retelling if Vlad the Impaler was a woman. I liked the first book very much and I’ve put off the second book long enough. As far as I know, this series (which will be wrapping up this summer) is highly underrated. I have no idea why that is.

 

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

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Yeah…I know….

In recent years, I have developed a love-hate relationship with Sarah J. Maas. I love her characters. I love the world she creates. I love the romances. But she also has a bad habit of totally butchering a specific character’s development solely for the purpose of making another love interest look good. And we all know about her problems with diversity.

Yet, her books are highly addictive. I want to know what happens next with these characters, with this story. And I will likely read A Court of Frost and Starlight when it comes out in May, too.

But, if I am being totally honest, there are other books on this month’s list that I want to read just a tiny bit more than this one….

 

Let’s do a poll: which three books do you think I should read after Heartless?

March 2018 Wrap Up

March was a decent reading month. I read seven books, one an interesting reread. I read a mix of fantasy and contemporary, with a little poetry and classic thrown in, as well as library books.

Since 2018 began, I have fallen behind on my reading challenge each month. March was the worst so far. I finally got a new job after fifteen weeks of unemployment and the adjustment is harder than I expected. The work itself is not terrible; I sit in front of a computer all day and my co-workers are hysterical. I realized recently it is the commute that is getting to me. I have to get up super early and when I try to read on the bus, I fall asleep. And when I get home, it’s a struggle to stay awake.

Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, managing to read seven books is an accomplishment, I guess.

In March, I read:

 

As Old as Time by Liz Braswell (library book)

3.75 stars

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As Old as Time is a reimagining of Disney’s animated movie, Beauty and the Beast, the third novel in a companion series by Disney Publishing. Except the story is changed at a pivotal moment in the movie, going in an entirely different direction. In this adaption of Beauty and the Beast, after touching the enchanted rose inside the Beast’s castle, Belle discovers that the mother she barely remembers is the enchantress who cursed the Beast. Shocked and confused, she agrees to help the Beast find another way to break the spell over him and his castle.

Overall, I enjoyed As Old as Time. It was a fun read and I ate it up. It fairly expressed people’s different viewpoints and no one was strictly good or strictly evil. But I am also Beauty and the Beast trash, so I would have liked it anyway. If you want to know my full spoiler-free thoughts, check out my review.

 

Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann (library book)

3 stars

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I picked up Let’s Talk About Love because it was a new adult contemporary novel that spoke to my inner gender studies student. Alice is biromantic asexual and the recent bad break-up with her girlfriend has convinced her that dating is off-limits. She is spending the summer living with her two best friends, Feenie and Ryan, in an apartment and working at the local library while dodging her family’s expectations for her. Then, she meets super sweet, super hot Takumi, her co-worker who becomes her unexpected ally in her friend drama. As they grow closer, Alice begins to wonder if Takumi is worth the chance of telling the truth.

The main thing I liked about Let’s Talk About Love is the asexual representation and the quotes surrounding it, as well as society’s views on sex and how it does not always mean love—something most people have a hard time understanding. I don’t know if it is OWN voices, but I do appreciate the book educating people on asexuality and how it is no different than being bisexual or gay or lesbian. The cast was also very diverse in other ways, such as Alice is a black woman and Takumi is half Japanese. And the romance is totally adorable and healthy.

However, while the romance blossoming between Alice and Takumi was made for a rom-com, the whole book itself lacked in a plot. It was mostly taken up by friendship and family drama, which is normal for a college-aged student in a contemporary setting. Except Feenie really annoyed me and at times I didn’t like how she tried to play the field vicariously through Alice when she was in an allegedly committed relationship. Also, the writing made the book an easy read, but it was a little too simplistic for my taste. It might have done better in first-person rather than third-person. Despite that, if you are interested in learning more about asexuality, I highly recommend reading Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann.

 

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

4 stars

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One of the most polarizing reads currently floating around on Booktube, The Hazel Wood is a dark fantasy young adult novel about Alice, the granddaughter of a notorious author who wrote a collection of short stories similar to the work of the Grimm Brothers. When someone claiming to be from the stories her grandmother wrote kidnaps her mother, Alice goes to her late grandmother’s estate, the Hazel Wood, to find her. What she finds is a world unlike anything in normal fairy tales.

I originally checked out The Hazel Wood from the library because the reviews made me nervous. Then, I read it and really liked it. Though I understand why people did not like Alice as a main character and the twist seemed kind of out there to some people, I enjoyed both of them. Alice is meant to be unlikable and the big reveal was one I did not see coming; something I liked, as I tend to predict plot twists in fantasy books. Plus, I really liked Melissa Albert’s writing style and the world she created in The Hazel Wood. Since it is her debut novel, I only hope she will get better with each book she writes.

 

Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

5 stars

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I realize now I put off reading Flame in the Mist for so long because I subconsciously knew I would enjoy it so much, I didn’t want to have to wait too long for the sequel.

Mariko, the daughter of a prominent samurai in feudalist Japan, disguises herself as a boy to infiltrate the Black Clan, bandits she believed were ordered to assassinate her en route to her wedding to a prince. She succeeds and among the members of the Black Clan, she is finally appreciated for her skills in alchemy. But aren’t they supposed to be her enemies?

While I personally cannot speak to the representation of Japanese culture in this book, I did enjoy how it played into characters’ respective mindsets. Honor is a cherished value yet everyone has different interpretations of it. The world itself was historical, with elements of fantasy woven throughout. There are also complicated politics and almost everyone is playing the game to their own end. Renee Ahdieh’s writing was flowery and the world she created was vivid. Lastly, Mariko is a strong, independent female protagonist that uses her head to get out of messy situations. Characters like her are some of my favorites.

However, for most of the book, not much happened in terms of plot. If I rated Flame in the Mist on the first 150 or so pages alone, I would give it a 4.5. Then, the last half happened. The action started to get underway, though not all questions have been answered just yet. That is to be left to the second book, Smoke in the Sun, which I’m sure will be a mind-blowing finale.

 

The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One by Amanda Lovelace

4.75 stars

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I bought this book in March (breaking my book-buying ban, but more on that later) a few days after it came out. I read The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One for two reasons: I was falling behind on my Goodreads challenge and I loved Amanda Lovelace’s first poetry collection, The Princess Saves Herself in This One.

While I enjoyed The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One, I didn’t love it as much as its predecessor. Amanda Lovelace is still an amazing poet and she touches upon a lot of serious issues like rape culture as well as how society expects women to be a certain way, then lashes out when one or more don’t fit the norm. However, this one personally didn’t get too close to home for me and I didn’t love all the poems. I still recommend girls (and boys too) read The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One, though, for educational purposes.

 

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

4.5 stars

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Another of my favorites that I read this month, My Lady Jane is a comical, entertaining retelling of Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Day Queen. Sixteen-year-old Jane is betrothed to Gifford (call him G) Dudley by her cousin and best friend, King Edward, who is dying from a sudden illness. Neither Jane nor G is happy with this situation, as she wants to be left alone with her books and he doesn’t want anyone else to know he spends his days as a horse. But when Edward, Jane, and G uncover a conspiracy, it is up to them to save England.

The story was like reading a fun history book, with kick-ass females, shape-shifters, and a sweet romance. The writing style made it an easy read, though it admittedly dragged at certain points. For my full spoiler-free thoughts, go check out my review.

 

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (reread)

1 star

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I decided to reread Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll because I will in the middle of reading Heartless by Marissa Meyer, which is a retelling of the origin story of the Queen of Hearts. I first read it in 2013; I wanted to reread it to see how close Marissa Meyer’s book was to the original story, as some things I remembered and others I did not.

This was the review I wrote on Goodreads about Alice in Wonderland in 2013, when I gave it 3 stars: “Whoever wrote this book was on something. The simplest way to describe this book is strange. But entertaining. It can be used to describe a child’s imagination–vivid and bright and full of talking animals in another world–or what the world would really be like without structure and order. Overall, a good book, and it pulled me out of the reading slump. The only drawback, I can think of, is that I kept comparing it to the Disney movie I watched as a little kid.”

Now: reading Alice in Wonderland was like pulling teeth. I had no idea what message the author was trying to convey, despite my appreciation for some of the more well-known quotes. Even two years out of school, my English-major brain will kick in and analysis a classic novel. That didn’t happen this time. Alice was annoying. The Queen of Hearts wasn’t as crazy entertaining. And, overall, Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll was boring.

That review in 2013 was written back during a time I was scared to give books a bad review. Alice in Wonderland is a classic and open to anyone’s interpretation, so it’s not like people are going to get offended if I didn’t like it. But I’m just disappointed because I watched the Disney movie as a kid and the edition I read this year was in the same Owlcrate box Heartless came in (I own two copies of Alice in Wonderland, go figure).

 

Have you ever reread a book and your opinion of it changed? Let’s discuss!