My July 2018 Wrap Up

I know a lot of people are going to say this in their wrap-ups, but it’s amazing how we are already halfway through 2018.

In terms of reading, July was much better than June. I read five books, a combination of library books and TBR books plus one reread, and none of them were below three stars. The first two weeks of July, my dad was on vacation and I took the time off, too. I could relax, read, and work towards getting my emotional state under control. Although, that last one, I think I might still need to work on more. But now Dad is back at work and I’m taking advantage the free time I have now until my next temp assignment. So, overall, July was pretty good.

In July of 2018, I read:

 

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

4 stars

The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

4.25 stars

 

The Lost Hero and The Son of Neptune are books 1 and 2, respectively, of Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series, the spin-off to Percy Jackson and the Olympians. The Lost Hero follows three new demigods named Jason Grace, Piper McLean, and Leo Valdez. The Son of Neptune follows a now seventeen-year-old Percy Jackson, as well as two more new demigods named Hazel Levesque and Frank Zhang. The series is about the Greek demigods of Camp Half Blood joining forces with the Roman demigods of Camp Jupiter to work together with the gods to defeat Gaea, Mother Earth, who is slowly waking from her long sleep and bent on destruction.

            The Lost Hero was a solid first book. It set up the foundation for the rest of the books as well as introduced new characters that will likely have important roles later on. I liked Jason and Piper, but Leo was definitely my favorite of the three, with his wit and easygoing nature. I enjoyed the quest they went on and how well they worked together, too, even though Jason had amnesia for most of the book.

I enjoyed The Son of Neptune a little more than I did The Lost Hero. Of course, we have the return of Percy Jackson and his winning personality, but I also loved Hazel and Frank. They are easily my two new favorite characters in the series thus far. I was also taken aback by the plot twist Rick Riordan presented at the end; it was not something I anticipated.

 

The Address by Fiona Davis (library book)

3.5 stars

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The Address is a historical mystery novel set in two timelines, following two women with a connection to a man murdered in the famed apartment building, the Dakota, in New York City. The first is Sara, a young English woman that comes to New York City in 1885 after being hired as a manager by Theo Camden, the architect behind the Dakota. A year later, after seven months in an insane asylum, Sara stabs Theo to death in his apartment. 100 years later, in 1985, recovering alcoholic Bailey Camden, the great-granddaughter of Theo’s ward, is hired by her “cousin” Melinda to redesign the apartment Theo had been murdered in. By doing so, she uncovers secrets about the murder and the truth about Sara. For my full spoiler-free thoughts, check out my review.

 

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (reread)

4.5 stars

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Continuing with my reread of the Harry Potter books, it took me about a month and a half to complete Harry Potter and the Goblet. I kept putting it down and picking it back up. I forgot how long it was—a little over 700 pages—and it’s only going to get longer in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Overall, I enjoyed my reread experience of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It served as a good gateway book to the rest of the series, as Voldemort rises to power and Harry steps into his role as the Chosen One. For all the spoiler-filled thoughts I had, go check out my review.

 

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (library book)

4 stars

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Tess of the Road is a unique medieval fantasy novel following a troubled young woman seeking redemption in a world typically unforgiving towards females. Instead of going to a nunnery like her parents want her to, Tess dresses up like a boy, puts on boots, and, literally, walks away from her old life in hopes of finding a new one. By doing so, she meets a variety of people that teach her a thing or two and learns to forgive herself after she makes a terrible mistake that ended in tragedy. Tess of the Road is beautifully written and it made me want to read Rachel Hartman’s debut series, the Seraphina duology, which is set in the same world. But if you want to know my full non-spoiler thoughts on Tess of the Road, go check out my review.

 

What is your favorite book that you read in July?

Books I NEED to Read Before the End of 2018

Notice my word choice in the title?

Admittedly, I am one of those people that are excited to have a large TBR on my bookshelves, imagining all the reading I will be doing. Plus, it’s not like they are going to get up and walk away any time soon.

On the flip side to that, there are some books at home on my TBR for longer than they should have been. Such as, books where I read and enjoyed the previous novel in the series like a year or two ago, then never got around to reading the sequel for whatever reason. That’s the case for the majority of the books on this list.

Those books are:

 

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

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            The companion novel to The Star-Touched Queen, A Crown of Wishes follows Gauri, the younger half-sister of the protagonist in the previous novel, who is a political prisoner to her kingdom’s enemy. With nothing left to lose, she teams up with Vikram, a prince from another rival land, to join the Tournament of Wishes, a deadly competition in which the Lord of Wealth grants the victor any wish they want. Except they will soon learn nothing is more dangerous than what you most desire.

I read The Star-Touched Queen last year, though I enjoyed it more than loved it. However, people have said more positive things about A Crown of Wishes and I do like Roshani Chokshi’s writing style.

 

Windwitch by Susan Dennard

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            Like many of the books on this list, Windwitch is one I am shocked I have not read yet. The first novel in the series, Truthwitch, was in my top favorite books of last year. At this point in time, I still stand by what I said: I liked the characters of Truthwitch more than I like the majority of Sarah J. Maas’s characters in both of her published series. Windwitch refers to Prince Merik, my new book beau, who was disfigured after the events of Truthwitch and now fighting for the oppressed in the royal capital. There is also a bunch of other stuff going on with the characters that, again, make me ask myself why I waited so long to read it.

 

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

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            I have no excuses for this one. I really don’t. I read This Savage Song two years ago when I got it in the Owlcrate Good vs. Evil box July 2016. It was one of my favorite books of that year with its morally gray characters and dark, gritty world filled with monsters. Our Dark Duet is the sequel as well as the final novel in the duology.

Seriously, I need to read this.

 

Now I Rise by Kiersten White

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Now I Rise is the second novel in The Conqueror’s Saga, the first being And I Darken. Again, I read the first novel two years ago and intended to read Now I Rise almost as soon as I bought it. I enjoyed And I Darken, probably a lot more than a lot of other people seemed to. As far as I am concerned, it is an underrated trilogy.

           

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

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            I don’t really have much of an explanation for why I have not read A Court of Wings and Ruin. I have been spoiled for quite a number of big things that happened in this alleged “finale” but I don’t really care. We all know why we actually read any of Sarah J. Maas’s books….

 

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

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            Like I said, not so much an explanation for Tower of Dawn, either. However, I am more hopeful for this one, as the reviews for the Chaol novel have been surprisingly very positive.

 

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare

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            When I read Lady Midnight last year, I already owned Lord of Shadows and I wanted to read it immediately. Then, I started hearing words like “major character deaths” and “emotionally draining” and “the last three pages killed me.” With Queen of Air and Darkness coming out in December, maybe it was wise I waited towards the end of 2018 to pick up Lord of Shadows….

 

Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller

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            I put Daughter of the Siren Queen on the list because I genuinely liked the first book Daughter of the Pirate King and I want to finish the duology this year. Truthfully, though, it is not a priority as some of the others. I won’t be too hard on myself if I don’t get to read Daughter of the Siren Queen before the end of 2018.

 

Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh

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Smoke in the Sun is the sequel to Flame in the Mist and the final book in the duology. I read Flame in the Mist earlier this year and learned I enjoyed it more than the majority of other people that have read it. While I won’t say I loved it as much as Renee Ahdieh’s The Wrath & the Dawn duology, I do like Flame in the Mist for the qualities it does have. So, I am still hopeful for Smoke in the Sun.

 

I also realized recently I have been failing on one of my main reading goals for 2018, which is read more classics. In 2017, I barely read anything older than five years. As an English major, that was embarrassing. So far this year, I’ve read three classics out of ten I aimed for (although I’m debating on whether I want to count the one that turned out to be a horrible reread).

The classics I want to read are:

 

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

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            When most people think of Jane Austen, they think Pride and Prejudice or Emma or Sense and Sensibility. Mansfield Park is one, I think, hardly anyone besides diehard Austen fans really talk about. It follows Fanny Price, who is sent to live with her rich cousins in Mansfield Park. Having grown up in poverty, she is looked down upon by her relatives save for her cousin Edmund. Then, the Crawford siblings Mary and Henry show up, bringing with them London glamour her cousins are drawn to. But only Fanny is suspicious to their true motives.

 

Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

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            One of my Women & Gender Studies professors actually recommended I read Northanger Abbey for its satire of the popular Gothic novel of Jane Austen’s time period. He said there was one chapter Jane actually sounds like she is yelling at women to not be so naïve. From my knowledge, it is basically about a young woman in a spooky mansion and it turns the tropes of the era on their heads.

 

The Professor by Charlotte Bronte

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Like Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte is mainly known for her most popular novel, Jane Eyre. In her frequent biographies, it is mentioned that, in boarding school, Charlotte had a crush on her older and married male professor. Obviously, the feelings were not reciprocated. The Professor is inspired by that girlhood crush, told through the eyes of a young male professor at an all-girls’ school and his complicated relationship with some of the women that work there, as well as one with a student.

 

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

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I read Anne Bronte’s other novel, Agnes Grey, in 2016 and, in my opinion, she is the underrated Bronte sister. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is another book on social commentary, this one focusing on marriage and women’s roles in Victorian society. After watching her husband succumb to alcoholism, a woman flees to another town with her young son to escape her husband’s influence and changes her name, hoping to rebuild her life as a painter. Then, she catches the eye of her landlord, putting her secrets at risk of being exposed and, when her husband finds them, losing her son.

 

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

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Oscar Wilde’s only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray is about a vain young man that makes a wish for his portrait to age while he remains youthful and handsome. The novel takes a harsh look at the decadence of London society and deep moral corruption in that era. Besides having loved Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest, my expectations are already high for The Picture of Dorian Gray because some of my friends who are not big readers liked this one, too.

 

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

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I’m pretty sure I saw Wishbone the dog do a segment on The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as a child, where Wishbone plays the lawyer friend of Dr. Jekyll that narrates the story. Not to mention the frequent retellings and references within the media. Still, I never read the source material, or anything by Robert Louis Stevenson.

In case you don’t know, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a novella following an ambitious doctor who creates a medicine supposed to rid people of their negative qualities. Only it backfires and at night he becomes his morally corrupt alter ego Mr. Hyde.

 

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

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One of the books I mentioned I wanted to reread, The Age of Innocence was one of my favorite books I read for sophomore year English class in high school. It is set in during the Golden Age of “old” New York City, where a simple rumor could destroy everything. Newland Archer is engaged to May Welland, but he falls head over heels for Countess Ellen Olenska, who has fled her abusive husband and returned home to New York. Except no one really cares about that. Archer is put into a compromising position: fulfill his duty or follow his heart and be ruined by scandal.

 

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

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The Phantom of the Opera is yet another classic novel Wishbone the dog spoiled for me as a little kid, if told in a more kid-friendly version. I’m sure there is more to it than a beautiful young opera singer falling in love with a guy wearing a mask that hangs out in the theater basement. I also read a retelling, RoseBlood by A.G. Howard, earlier this summer and, unfortunately, didn’t like it as much as I wanted to. But since the movie adaption of The Phantom of the Opera became available on Netflix, I am refusing to let myself watch it until I read the original work.

 

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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I read The Scarlet Letter back in high school and it was another of my favorites. Hester Prynne is a woman ahead of her time, facing her sin of adultery in quiet dignity and raising her daughter Pearl on her own while outcast by an entire community. It takes a look at the hypocrisy of religion and gender roles. Plus, I am fully convinced Nathaniel Hawthorne was a feminist because of the opinions he wove into The Scarlet Letter.

 

The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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The interesting thing about Nathaniel Hawthorne, regarding some of his short stories, what feels like a horror is more like commentary on society. The House of Seven Gables seems to follow the same method. It centers on two families, the Maule and the Pyncheon, and over two centuries of history inside a presumably cursed house haunted by tragedy. That’s all I need to know going into The House of Seven Gables.

 

With five months left in the year, the reading crunch is on!

 

What books do you need to read before the end of 2018?

 

 

Review of Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (Spoiler Free)

Tess of the Road is a young adult high fantasy novel set in the same world as Rachel Hartman’s most successful novel, Seraphina. It follows Seraphina’s younger half-sister, Tess, who is a known troublemaker and not at all what the medieval society expects women to be. After she does something so terrible she can’t bear to think about it, her parents decide to send her to a nunnery. But on the day she is set to leave, Tess instead puts on a pair of boots, dresses like a boy, and sets out with her childhood best friend, a little dragon named Pathka, to find a new life where she can finally be who she is.

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Before picking up Tess of the Road, I had heard of, but had not read, the Seraphina books. Truth be told, I was more interested in reading Tess of the Road because of the character arc: troubled girl searches for redemption in a fantasy medieval society typically unforgiving towards females. It was a good introduction to Rachel Hartman. I want to read her other books now.

Let me start by saying Tess is a very flawed, protagonist. While others have mistreated her, Tess is not entirely innocent. She makes a lot of bad choices. She pushes away anyone that tries to help her, like her half-sister Seraphina, or those that genuinely care, like her twin sister, Jeanne. But as she meets different people on the road, she learns to forgive herself and be a better person, as well as she is not the only person suffering. Tess realizes that nobody is perfect, even those, like her mother, who appear so.

Rachel Hartman has a beautiful writing style and a dazzling imagination. She created this fantastical medieval world with magical technology, creature-type beings that can take human form or can even change their genders, and lots of invented languages, religions, and mythologies. I personally found the world building a little slow and sometimes confusing. However, that could be because the world was pretty much already established from previous novels I have not read.

One thing you should know if you are interested in picking up Tess of the Road is that the plot is primarily character-driven and, for most of the book, Tess is literally just walking places. Her adventures are various incidents she gets herself into along the way and with the people she meets. Each person she encounters teaches her important lessons and makes her look at society’s problems, like why the woman is only blamed if the man is as equally responsible.

Another aspect most people might enjoy is that Tess of the Road has no romance. There are flashbacks to Tess’s ill-fated relationship with an older boy named Will, but it only serves as a plot device. In the present day, she has no love interest; the story is about her finding herself alone.

On Goodreads, Rachel Hartman herself said you do not need to read the Seraphina books before reading Tess of the Road. Only there are things I picked up on in the first few chapters I suspect are spoilers for the original series, except they could be very minor details. For me personally, I wonder if I would have benefited more from Tess of the Road if I had read the Seraphina books first, especially since I find the character of Seraphina so intriguing.

Overall, I give Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman 4 solid stars. The writing was beautiful and the main character realistic, but the story was too slow for my liking and not much happened in terms of plot. However, I would still recommend it if you like unique medieval fantasy novels.

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Books I’ve Read Because of YouTube

I’ve been watching YouTube since I think about sixth grade. In high school, I watched mostly beauty guru videos out of fascination (how do girls do that?) and baby name videos, because I struggled to name characters in my stories. I only knew about books like The Hunger Games and Twilight because of other kids at school. Then, I found book reviewers like Katie from Chapter Stackss and the girls from Get Bookish. That changed everything.

When Shanah announced this month’s topics, I knew right away which five books I was going to pick. Thanks to BookTube, I found some of my all-time favorite books that I am not sure I ever would have found on my own.

The top five books I have read because of YouTube are:

 

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

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The Handmaid’s Tale is actually recommendation from Katie of Chapter Stackss. It is one of her all-time favorite books and the concept intrigued me. I think at that point the only dystopian books I read were The Giver and The Hunger Games, and those were meant for young adults. The Handmaid’s Tale was not heavy with action scenes, but you feel the despair within this world. Religion has taken over the government, women are subjugated, and violence is everywhere. If I had to choose, I think I prefer to live in the world of The Hunger Games to the one in The Handmaid’s Tale.

 

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

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I remember reading The Wrath and the Dawn the summer after I graduated from college. I was unemployed and distracted myself by visiting the library almost daily. The Wrath and the Dawn, as well as its sequel The Rose and the Dagger, was everywhere on YouTube by that point. I checked this one out of the library because I was interested in reading it but it was not something I was used to reading. As you can imagine, I read it and loved it.

 

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

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If I remember correctly, I wasn’t sure if I would like An Ember in the Ashes either. Much like The Wrath and the Dawn, I heard a lot about it on YouTube so I checked it out of the library just to give it a try. Now, this series is one of my all-time favorites and I find little fault in the books.

 

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

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Though I was a newbie to high fantasy at the time and Throne of Glass was only beginning its journey to becoming a social media phenomenon, somehow I was confident that I would love this book. I not only bought Throne of Glass, but also Crown of Midnight and Heir of Fire, all of which had been published by the time I picked up the series. Admittedly, I did not love Throne of Glass, only enjoyed it just enough where I read the rest of the series. And, of course, loved those books.

 

Clockwork Angel/City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

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I read both Clockwork Angel and City of Bones in 2013 or 2014, after some years seeing Cassandra Clare’s name everywhere. Once The Infernal Devices trilogy and The Mortal Instruments series became more popular on YouTube, I watched enough reviews where I felt I would enjoy them if I read them. I did, though I gave Clockwork Angel 5 stars while City of Bones got 4 stars.

 

What was your favorite book you read because of YouTube?

 

Thoughts I Had Rereading “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” as an Adult

I am finally continuing my reread of the Harry Potter series. When June rolled around, I realized I was slacking on some of my reading goals for 2018, like rereading and reviewing the remaining Harry Potter books. Unfortunately, at that point, I was already in a weird reading mood. As I suspected, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire instantly drew me in. I read a few chapters before finally deciding to pick up something else. Then, for the next month and a half, I kept picking Goblet of Fire up only to put it down again, until I actually sat down to finish it.

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I wouldn’t go as far to say that Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is my favorite book in the series; I probably won’t know the answer to that until I finish this reread. But I definitely like it as a gateway to the second half of the story as Voldemort rises to power and Harry grows into his role as the Chosen One.

Here are some of the thoughts I had while rereading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as an adult.

 

Warning: spoilers ahead.

 

Hermione and S.P.E.W

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I don’t know why this was bothering me so much. Hermione’s heart is in the right place as she fought for the rights of house-elves. She did her research, even broke a rule by sneaking down into the kitchens to see what their working conditions are like. She is right in that they are treated like second-class citizens at best, slaves at worst, by wizards. She might even be right about them being brainwashed, if you look at the case of Winky and the Crouch family. Hermione wants house-elves to be paid, have safe working conditions, and overall treated better by the wizarding community.

And yet, even when Dobby is hired by Dumbledore, given pay and I think one day a week off, that’s all he wants. Dumbledore offered more, but he refused it. In fact, Dobby even cringed at the idea of having more time off. He still likes to work, as the other house-elves do; he just wants to be paid for it, which is totally his right. But as far as I can tell, Dobby is the only exception.

So, I guess my question is: if the house-elves don’t want it all, why should Hermione waste her time?

 

Dumbledore gets angry with Harry in the movie for presumably putting his name into the Goblet of Fire. But is that the more normal reaction than being calm?

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I know a lot of people were not pleased Dumbledore was initially furious in the Goblet of Fire film for Harry’s name being drawn. Yet, I wondered if that is really the more normal reaction a parental figure might have in a situation such as this, given Harry’s circumstances.

Harry is fourteen, three years younger than the required age to enter the Triwizard Tournament and he has not had the same amount of schooling as the other three champions. Also, his life is always in danger. If you take into account what happened at the Quidditch World Cup with the Death Eaters and the Dark Mark, Dumbledore was probably already starting to feel nervous about Harry’s safety, hence the presence of Mad-Eye Moody. Lastly, there is the matter that Harry is a known rule-breaker. While he would never do anything so stupid as enter the dangerous Triwizard Tournament, I’m sure it was in the back of Dumbledore’s head.

 

I think Harry and Ron are secretly jealous of each other.

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With Ron, it’s fairly obvious. Harry is the Chosen One, the Boy Who Lived. Hermione is the star pupil at Hogwarts. He’s always in the shadows of his older brothers, too. For so long, Ron put up with it because at his core, he’s a good kid and a loyal friend. But seeing Harry’s name pulled from the Goblet of Fire did him in.

Do I approve of Ron’s behavior towards Harry? No, I don’t. But I understand it completely.

Then, we get to the scene where Harry is talking to Sirius in the fireplace. It is their first near face-to-face meeting in months. Then, Ron unexpectedly appears in the common room and the visit is cut short. Harry lashes out, making a comment about Ron wanting a scar just like his. That got me thinking.

Ron has both of his parents, plus five brothers and a sister that he is very close to. They might be struggling financially, but Arthur and Molly Weasley are also not criminals on the run from the law like Sirius. If Ron ever needs to talk to his parents about anything, he can. Finally, there is the matter that Ron can have a normal life but Voldemort took that away from Harry.

Anyone else ever wondered this?

 

Hogwarts is like any other high school and even teenaged wizards are clueless.

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This really struck me during the Yule Ball chapters. Ron can’t see he’s hurting Hermione’s feelings by wanting to go with a “pretty girl” like Fleur and does not even see Hermione as a girl, waiting until he has run out of options to ask her to the dance. He also doesn’t believe her when she says she already has a date. But then again, Hermione can’t bring herself to tell Ron how she feels and ask him to the dance. Of course, he was a jerk to her, so I guess he deserved it. Also, why didn’t Harry ask Hermione to the dance, at least go with someone he would have been comfortable with if Cho Chang was going with someone else?

Ginny obviously has a crush on Harry and is clearly upset he asked out Cho Chang. If you think about it, she only accepts sweet, innocent Neville’s invitation to the dance because Harry didn’t ask her and she wanted to go.

Like any other high school dance, Ron and Harry didn’t really like their dates much. Harry pines over Cho Chang with Cedric Diggory. Ron glowers at Hermione with Krum. They only asked Parvati and Padma to the Yule Ball because they didn’t want to go alone. Krum treats Hermione better than Ron treats her (let’s face it), yet she still carries a torch for the latter.

No matter how magical a place, Hogwarts is still a high school.

 

Why Hermione Granger is really a good role model for young girls: she knows her worth.

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That scene she tells off Ron that she is not his last resort is still my favorite scene in the entire Harry Potter franchise.

 

Will Hagrid ever find love?

Poor Hagrid! He pours his heart out to Madame Maxime, about how he is half-giant and how his dad died when he was a kid, and then she meanly flat out denies she is half-giant. She’s got “big bones” she says. Then, later on, she has the audacity to try to get him to tell her about the third task!

However, I grudgingly admit Hermione had a point. Seeing how people treated Hagrid after Rita Skeeter exposed him as half-giant and that his mother was connected to Voldemort, we can’t really blame Madame Maxime for trying to hide it. (How do giants and wizards make babies anyway?) Still, that doesn’t mean I have to like her for the way she treated Hagrid.

 

I’m glad the movie changed it to Neville giving Harry the gillyweed.

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I love Dobby and Neville equally. But at this point in the series, Neville still doesn’t get to shine as often as he deserves. We know he likes herbology and he apparently gets good marks in the class. Only we never get to see him use that skill set in the books, at least not at this time in Goblet of Fire. The movie did Neville right in this regard.

 

J.K. Rowling brought up so many problems within our society in Goblet of Fire.

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The scene where Rita Skeeter throws Hermione under the bus really got to me. Was she that eager for dirt on Dumbledore and Harry that she would throw a fourteen-year-old girl under the bus? Hermione handled the situation well, even when the hate mail came in, but then the reality set in that this could happen in real life. The girl gets blamed for everything while the boys get off scot-free.

Then, there is the scene in the Penesive of Ludo Bagman on trial for supposedly relaying information to Death Eaters. I wouldn’t go as far as to call this dodo bird a Death Eater, but the fact that the wizards on the jury went out of their way to congratulate him on his victory in a Quidditch match said it all. Athletes get special treatment everywhere.

 

Wizards are racist; not just to Muggles and Muggle-borns, but to wizards from foreign countries as well.

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Hagrid’s comment about not trusting foreign wizards is what got to me. Is it because of Madame Maxime, who took advantage of him, and Karkaroff, a former Death Eater? Or does he genuinely feel that way? We know Voldemort and his followers definitely are. But even the supposedly “good guys” have made some negative comments about people not like them. And, when you think about it, wizards are potentially endangering themselves by not learning how to survive with Muggles, i.e. how the wizards conducted themselves at the Quidditch World Cup.

 

Harry Potter is a kid with adult problems.

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The situation in the cemetery reminded me of this. In the first three books, we have seen Harry overcome his various obstacles mostly on his own. Goblet of Fire is where we see him finally allow people to help him. Then, once in the cemetery, he finds himself completely vulnerable, wishing for even the Muggle police to show up. Yet, when faced with death at the hands of Voldemort, he embraces it. Not out of surrender, but because he is choosing to die fighting and not give Voldemort the satisfaction of seeing him weak.

 

Goblet of Fire is HUGE for a children’s book.

It dawned on me how a ten-year-old like I was when I first read Goblet of Fire finished a book over 700 pages. Not to mention Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix being close to 900. I mentioned this to my dad.

Dad’s response: “Kids went crazy for those books, begging their parents to take them out to buy them. The parents did it because then the kids would sit on the couch all day reading and leave them alone. That’s why she made them so long.”

 

What thoughts have crossed your mind when you read (or reread) Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire? Do you agree or disagree with any of my thoughts? Let’s discuss!

The Library Lover’s Book Tag

Hi, my name is Jillian and I love the library!

If you have followed my blog for a while, you know I frequently use my local library and that, in September, I will begin my first semester of graduate school pursuing my Master’s in Library and Information Science. I saw this tag done on Comfy 4 Books, only I don’t know who the original creator for this tag is, if there is one. But if you know, leave a comment and give them credit, please!

On to the Library Lover’s book tag!

 

How often do you visit your local library?

women studying GIF by US National Archives

At least three times a month, not that I’ve ever counted. There have been periods where months would go by before I stepped inside my local library again. But ever since I got my acceptance letter, I’ve made it a point to visit whenever I can. First trip is usually to pick up books I want to read. The following trips involve either returning the books as I read them (or lose interest in them) or picking up more, like if I put a book on hold or I’m finished with the stack I already have.

 

Are you the type of person who checks out more books than you can read or are you someone who checks out the exact amount of books you intend to read before they are due?

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Usually, I fall into the former category, but sometimes I do check out a smaller amount that I know I will finish before their due dates. Honestly, sometimes it depends on my financial situation or my mood towards my unread books at home. Such as, if I am in between temp assignments, I tend to check out a lot of books to sedate any book-buying urges. But I love the idea of free books in general.

 

How old were you when you got your first library card?

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I was about fourteen, I think. My family had moved and our new house (where we still live) was within walking distance of the local library. I distinctly remember walking over there with my mom and brother then being deeply disappointed. I walked home with a library card but also an incomplete Princess Diaries series. Back then, the library was poorly stocked. I read what I could, then returned them all.

I didn’t visit the library again until I graduated college, when I was twenty-three. It had received funding in recent years and the city had made strides to improve the place. I walked out with books I actually wanted to read and a new library card I was happy to have.

 

Do you go to your library for a particular book or do you check out anything that peaks your interest?

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When I go to the library, it is usually for a particular book or books. Sometimes, though, I’ll browse if I have the time. Depending on how interested I am in a book that catches my eye, I’ll either get it then or some other time. On my library account, it has an option of where you can make lists of books you want to read, so I add it to one of my TBR lists to check out later (I had to make a few TBRs because one list was getting too big and hard to keep track of the books).

 

Do you only check out books or do you also get DVDs, audiobooks, etc.?

vintage read GIF by US National Archives

I only check out books. I’m bad about watching my own DVDs, never mind checking any out from the library. While I appreciate audiobooks and e-books as a reading tool that helps others, I personally prefer physical books.

 

From what section of the library do you check out the most of your books?

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Mostly the young adult section and other books from one of the three floors of stacks. In my library, the first floor is reserved for fiction, adult as well as some young adult, and the third floor is classics, I think.

 

What is your favorite part of using your local library?

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Simply getting free books, the resources they have to get you a book if they don’t carry it on their shelves, and being surrounded by books. Also, it is a quiet place to be when I want to get out of my house.

 

I tag:

Grey

Shanah

& anyone else that wants to do this tag!

 

Who else uses their local library?

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 10 Books I Want to Reread

Growing up, I reread books all the time. Then, I started making my own money and I had access to a better library. Rereading suddenly became a thing of the past.

Recently, I’ve added books I read years ago to my current TBR list for one of two reasons. The first is that some of these books have sequels I have not read yet, but so much time has passed in between that I have forgotten a lot of what happened. The second reason is that I read these books in high school, loved them, and I have unread ones by the same authors, only I’m not sure I will love them as much as I did back then. The rest are just old favorites I want to visit.

The top 10 books I want to reread (because I could not keep it at 5) are:

 

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

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Not sure how many people are aware this exists. As the title suggests, Masque of the Red Death is a retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s short story of the same name. It is set in a disturbed dystopian world where people can’t leave their house without special masks—the ones that can afford the masks, anyway. The main character, Araby, is of the upper class that can afford the masks, and she distracts herself from the ruined city around her, as well as her twin brother’s death at the hands of the plague, by indulging in the sins at the Debauchery Club. When she becomes involved with two mysterious boys, Araby gets unwittingly swept up in a rebellion that forces her to make choices she never thought she would.

Masque of the Red Death is the first book in a duology, the sequel being Dance of the Red Death. I first read this novel when it came out in 2012 and I loved it. I bought Dance of the Red Death, and then never read it. I remember the first book being dark, back during a time when most young adult authors were afraid to go there. Plus, there are so few retellings of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories to begin with.

 

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

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I read The Queen of the Tearling about three years ago and I gave it 4 stars. At the time, I was still a novice to high fantasy. I have since bought the other two books in the trilogy, The Invasion of the Tearling and The Fate of the Tearling. In recent years some not-so-great things have been said about the series. But I want to form my own opinions on it.

 

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

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Fun fact about me: I didn’t always finish my required reading in high school.

Wuthering Heights was one of the summer reading books I picked from the recommendations list my sophomore year of high school. I’m pretty sure I didn’t finish it. I don’t exactly remember why. However, in college, on my own I read and enjoyed Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte as well as adored Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte. Both of Emily’s sisters’ other books have made their way to my TBR. Since Wuthering Heights is unfortunately the only book she ever wrote, I figured it was time I reread Wuthering Heights, now that I can appreciate it for what its worth.

 

The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

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I read The Scarlet Letter in my junior year of high school. I remember enjoying it back then. I read a few of Hawthorne’s short stories in my college literature classes, too. I like his writing style and his character development. But I want to reread The Scarlet Letter to familiarize myself with his novel works rather than his short ones before diving into The House of Seven Gables.

 

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton

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In my sophomore year of high school, I was fascinated with the author Edith Wharton. We read her novella Ethan Frome in my sophomore Honors English class, which led me to pick up her novel, The Age of Innocence, for a book report. Archer, who is already engaged to another woman, falls in love with his fiancée’s cousin, Ellen, a woman ahead of her time by leaving her abusive husband and having experiences that are her own. Since I have been away from Edith Wharton’s works for so long, I was to reread my favorite, The Age of Innocence, before I pick up The House of Mirth, another book of hers I own.

 

The Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong

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Confession time: I dare to say the Women of the Otherworld is one of my all-time favorite series…yet I have not actually finished it.

To this day, I have not read the final novel in this series, Thirteen. I always meant to. The Women of the Otherworld not only blended two of my favorite genres—fantasy and mystery—it also helped me find my own niche within writing. I want to reread this series, to get back to my roots and see what happens when the books are actually read in order.

 

The Mediator series by Meg Cabot

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If you grew up with Meg Cabot or had friends who read her books, you’re probably familiar with The Princess Diaries, or at least have seen the movies with Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews. This is one of the few instances where I preferred the movies to the books. I will spare you all my ranting about The Princess Diaries for another day.

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Anyway, while everyone else wanted to be a princess, I wanted to be a mediator. In case you are unfamiliar, The Mediator series follows Suze Simon, who can see ghosts, and she moves to a small town in California practically loaded with them. There is even one already living in her new house. His name is Jesse de Silva; he was murdered in the 1800s and still resides in his former home, which Suze’s family now occupies. Suze was strong, smart, and independent. Jesse was smart, caring, and protective.

For the longest time, I preferred to keep the series more for nostalgia purposes. Then, Meg Cabot dares to come out with an unofficial “seventh” book in the series titled Rememberance and, while I might not buy it, I love these characters enough that I would read it from the library. Before that, though, I want to reread the original series first, to bring back all the feels.

 

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison

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The only non-fantasy and non-classical novel on this list, The Rosie Project is about a socially awkward genetics professor trying to use science to find love. It’s as cute as it sounds. Thinking about it now, I’m not sure if I seriously need to reread this book before I pick up its sequel, The Rosie Effect. Only The Rosie Project was just so cute, I don’t mind rereading it.

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

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I read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children when it first came out in 2012 or 2013 and it was a five-star read for me. Then, a year or two later, I read its sequel, Hollow City, and…well…I was a little disappointed with it.

Looking back on it now, I think I gave Miss Peregrine’s such a high rating based on the hype instead of my actual enjoyment of it. I’m not saying I hate the books, but I think for me personally, they might be more of a three star than a five. And so much time has passed, I will definitely have to reread Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and Hollow City before even thinking about reading the third book, Library of Souls.

 

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

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A novel from the same era as Vampire Academy and The Mortal Instruments, Beautiful Creatures is a series people either love or hate. I read the first book, Beautiful Creatures, back in the day but I’m not sure if I finished it. I don’t think it was because I didn’t like it; I was just a lazy reader then. I own the second novel, Beautiful Darkness, and have always wanted to get back into these books. Their take on witches is different. There is also the fifty/fifty chance I could end up hating it, so who knows?

 

Have you read any of these books? What books from back in the day do you want to reread?

Review of The Address by Fiona Davis (Spoiler Free)

One of my favorite genres is historical mystery, particularly novels set in dual time periods where a tragedy or crime in someone’s timeline connects with someone else’s in a future timeline. Such examples of this is The Muse by Jessie Burton, The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes, The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova, Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay, and The Shadow of the Wind by Carols Ruiz Zafon.

The Address is a historical fiction novel set in dual timelines, approximately 100 years apart. The first follows Sara Smythe, a young Englishwoman in 1884 who is recruited by architect Theodore Camden to help run the staff of the famed Dakota apartment building. A year later, after seven months in an insane asylum, Sara stabs Theo to death in his apartment. The second follows Bailey Camden in 1985, the granddaughter of Theo’s ward Christopher. Fresh out of rehab for alcoholism, she takes a job offer by her “cousin” Melinda to redesign the Camden apartment in the Dakota. In doing so, she uncovers secrets about Theo’s murder and the truth about Sara.

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I first saw The Address at a bookstore and almost bought it. Thankfully, my local library came to my rescue. Although, I don’t think I would have regretted spending money on it, necessarily.

The novel is narrated entirely in third person, but Sara and Bailey are completely fleshed out protagonists. Both are likeable and show kindness to people around them. They are strong in different ways and are flawed, but they own up to their mistakes. Such as Sara makes serious attempts to maintain a professional relationship with Theo as he is married with three young children and Bailey owns up to the fact that she relapsed because she went out with people who drank and did drugs when she was supposed to be avoiding those situations. Sara is also a woman ahead of her time; she wants a career more than she ever wanted a husband or children.

Another aspect I enjoyed was Fiona Davis’s writing style. It was not too flowery or too simplistic. She showed both the pretty and the ugly sides of the 1880s, such as how New York City was still mostly farmland, as the Dakota was initially built on the outskirts of the city, and the horror Sara endured, as well as witnessed, in the asylum. In both time periods, while gender norms change, the class system does not. The wealthy still look down upon others, like Melinda does to Bailey, who carries the Camden name, but won’t see a penny of the fortune because she is not one by blood.

Lastly, there was a twist that took me by surprise. Fiona Davis did a good job of letting you think the story was going in one direction, then she takes you down a whole different route. All to show what people will do to preserve their reputations and protect their legacies. It led to an ending that was sad for one protagonist, yet sweet for the other.

On the flip side, the plot took forever to happen and there were big time lapses where weeks would go by without you realizing it. Plus, there was more telling than showing. Sara and Theo’s romance is supposed to have been built on mutual intellectual attraction, only with the time gaps it felt more like insta-love. Bailey had a romantic interest that had a more organic feel, but it was more of a subplot in her timeline, which I preferred over Sara’s.

Another thing I didn’t like was how quickly situations were resolved. Once one thing happened, it was a snowball straight down to revelation after revelation. The pacing was not quite right. I think that is why it took me longer than it should have to finish the book.

Overall, I give The Address by Fiona Davis 3.5 stars. If you like historical fiction that has a mystery plot or dual narratives, I recommend you check out it if you are interested.

Summer 2018 Book Haul Part Three: July

I wore myself out with the amount of books I bought in May and June. By the time July rolled around, the urge had subsided. There was just enough of it left to get books I had wanted for a while. Now, I got it out of my system.

I figured I have at least a month and a half left to fully enjoy my local library until I get swept up in the throes of graduate school. By then, I’ll have more than enough TBR books at home to keep me preoccupied when I’m not doing schoolwork…at least until the Black Friday sales.

In July of 2018, I bought:

 

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

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When The City of Brass was released towards the end of last year, I knew right away I would like it if I read it. The novel is set in in 18th century Cairo. The main character, Nahri, is a con woman who thinks she doesn’t have any real powers until she accidentally summons a djinn warrior. The djinn warrior then takes her to a dark world of jinni, Daevabad, where Nahri is swept up in deadly court politics.

 

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

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Little & Lion is one of the young adult contemporary novels I am most excited for. The protagonist, Suzette, who is black, Jewish, and bisexual, returns home to L.A. for the summer after attending boarding school in New England. When she learns that her stepbrother, Lionel, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, she hopes to convince her parents to let her stay in L.A. to give her brother support. But as she settles into her old life, Suzette falls in love with a new girl…the same one Lionel also loves. And as his mental state collapses, she must decide how to help her brother before he hurts himself.

 

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

thedeathofmrswestaway

The Death of Mrs. Westaway follows Hal, who receives a letter claiming she has been left a substantial inheritance by her grandparents. Strangely enough, Hal’s grandparents died years ago, so she knows the letter is not for her. But money problems convince her to go anyway. Once she arrives, she quickly learns something is very, very wrong with the situation and this mysterious inheritance is at the center of it.

I read Ruth Ware’s novel, The Woman in Cabin 10, last year and ultimately I was not impressed. Then, The Death of Mrs. Westaway was released. Unlike her other two books—The Lying Game and In a Dark, Dark Wood—I was interested in the plot of The Death of Mrs. Westaway as it reminded me of something Agatha Christie might write. Ironically, someone Ruth Ware is often compared to.

 

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

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From what I have heard, The Woman in the Window is a book people either love or hate. Agoraphobic movie buff Anna Fox spends her time watching her neighbors through her window. She takes particular interest in the Russells, the new family in the neighborhood. Then, one night, Anna glances out her window and sees something she shouldn’t.

Some people have compared The Woman in the Window to The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. One reviewer I trust regarding opinions on thrillers said if you liked the latter, you will most likely enjoy the former. Since Anna is agoraphobic, I’m curious to see just how she goes about to solve a potential mystery.

 

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

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I swear everyone and their mother have read Little Fires Everywhere at this point. I read Celeste Ng’s debut novel, Everything I Never Told You, about two years ago and enjoyed the insights she provided on family dynamics. Little Fires Everywhere takes a look at the supposedly perfect suburbia Shaker Heights where everyone follows the rules. Elena Richardson is the self-imposed queen of Shaker Heights and the principle ruler-follower. But when free-spirited artist Mia Warren and her teenaged daughter Pearl rent a house from the Richardson family and the Richardsons’ friends want to adopt a Chinese-American baby, Elena’s once cookie-cutter world is thrown into a tailspin.

 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

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I knew I wanted to read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine when I heard the words “socially awkward heroine that struggles with social skills.” Eleanor never thought life should be better than fine. She avoids social interactions and spends her weekends alone. When she and her co-worker, Raymond, a shy IT guy, save an elderly man named Sammy, the two men allow Eleanor the opportunity to finally open her heart to others and repair the damage done to it.

 

The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord

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The Names They Gave Us is the second “girl with a sick mom” book I bought this summer. Lucy is a pastor’s daughter who has everything going for her, until her mother’s cancer reappears. She would rather spend her summer as a counselor at her parents’ church camp, but her mother asks her to instead be a counselor at a camp across the lake, for kids that have had a rough time. While there, Lucy unexpectedly makes new friends with the other counselors, challenges her faith, and faces some old secrets about her family.

I learned about Emery Lord and her books about a year ago. I meant to check The Names They Gave Us out from the library eventually. Then, I saw this beautiful paperback on Amazon and I realized how relevant this book is to me currently.

 

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

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Blood Water Paint was a book randomly featured in a haul video by Hailey in Bookland and, once she described it, I knew I had to have it. Written in verse, tells the story of famed painter Artemisia Gentileschi. It begins when she is twelve, after her mother dies and she helps her father grind pigments for his paint. By the time she is seventeen, she is already one of Rome’s most talented painters, even though no one knows her name. But the time is 1610 in Rome and women are seen as inferior to men. So when she is raped, Artemisia must choose a life of silence or a life of truth.

            I want to read Blood Water Paint really, really bad!

 

The Game of Hope by Sandra Gulland

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Did anyone know Napoleon had a stepdaughter named Hortense? Because I didn’t, not until I saw The Game of Hope, again, in that haul video by Hailey in Bookland. Inspired by her autobiography, the novel follows Hortense, who starts the novel at a boarding school for aristocratic girls, where she enjoys reading, painting, composing music, and daydreaming about her brother’s fellow officer. Her mother, Josephine, has recently married Napoleon, who is a poor successor to her recently guillotined father in Hortense’s eyes. But her entire future is thrown off course as her stepfather rises to become the most powerful man in France and Hortense is handed a fate she did not choose.

 

Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh

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Reign of the Fallen is a book that has been flying under the radar that I had seen on one or two YouTube videos. The cover is cool, with the pretty shade of pink and the bejeweled skull. Plus, it has necromancers.

The main character, Odessa, is a master necromancer in the kingdom of Karthia. Her job is to retrieve the souls of royals after they die from the beautiful yet dangerous Deadlands and bring them back to the mortal world as Shades. The trick is to keep them shrouded; if any flesh is exposed, Shades become grotesque zombies. Then, after a series of vicious attacks on Shades and the death of a fellow necromancer, a conspiracy is revealed: someone is turning Shades into zombies and training them to attack.

 

Blood and Sand by C.V. Wyk

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In Blood and Sand, Attia is a warrior princess of Thrace, the greatest warrior kingdom anyone had ever seen since Sparta, until they are conquered by the Romans. Attia is then given as a gift to Xanthus, the strongest gladiator of his generation and the Champion of Rome, by his master. Only Xanthus is a slave, too, forced to fight for the Republic of Rome.

Attia and Xanthus form a bond that sparks a rebellion. A rebellion that will then lead to the destruction of Rome and give rise to the legend of Spartacus who, for all we know, could have been a woman.

 

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

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The Last Time We Say Goodbye follows Lex, whose life is forever altered after her brother Tyler commits suicide. Now, her family is falling apart, her boyfriend left her, and her friends walk on eggshells around her. She’s trying to get her life back together, but she has a secret. Tyler sent her a text the night he died—something that could have changed everything.

I’m super excited for The Last Time We Say Goodbye, despite it being such a deep, dark story. After reading comedic novels like My Lady Jane and The Afterlife of Holly Chase, I want to see how Cynthia Hand deals with such a serious topic like suicide.

 

That’s the last of them! Have you read any of these books and what did you think of them?

Summer 2018 Book Haul Part Two: June

I don’t know about everyone else, but June was an emotionally challenging month for me.

I’m not sure why. I had registered for my first semester of classes in grad school. While I had to get up super early in the morning to catch a bus, the temp assignment I had was a nice state job I could put on my resume and I was around a lot of fun people. Yet, I had been in a weird funk. I had little to no motivation to read but I wanted to buy every single book on my Amazon wish list.

I had to get creative with space on my bookshelves and ignore occasional side-eye from my dad, but I think buying these books, adding them to my TBR, made me excited for reading again.

In June, I bought:

 

The Way I Used to Be by Amber Smith

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After rereading Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and watching Season 2 of Thirteen Reasons Why, I realized I know little about victims of rape or sexual assault and the trauma the survivors endure after, whether they choose to report the crime or not. I personally never have been a victim of a sex crime, but I want to understand, so I can sympathize with those that are. The Way I Used to Be is the story of Eden, who is raped by her brother’s best friend in her own bedroom and never reports the assault. The novel follows her through her freshman into her senior year of high school and how the trauma affects her throughout her high school career.

 

Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen

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Orphan Monster Spy is a World War II story following Sarah, a blond-haired, blue-eyed Jewish girl that witnesses her mother shot at checkpoint. She is then recruited by a spy to infiltrate a boarding school for the daughters of high-ranking Nazis. Her mission is to befriend a prominent scientist’s daughter and steal the blueprints for a bomb strong enough to take out the entirety of Western Europe. Since her mother was an actress, Sarah knows she can play the part. Only she never expected to be in a fight for her life.

 

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

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I told myself I was not going to buy any of Victoria Schwab’s other books until I read Our Dark Duet, the concluding novel in the Monsters of Verity duology. Admittedly, I was more inclined to check out her A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy before I even thought about Vicious. Then, I saw on Amazon this gorgeous redesigned cover….

You could argue that Vicious was primarily a cover buy, but the story does sound cool. Amazingly enough, I have never been spoiled for anything; all I know is that it is about two former college roommates that developed super human powers after an experiment and then, ten years later, one is trying to kill the other.

 

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

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Before I got into high fantasy, urban fantasy and paranormal suspense were my favorite genres. Undead Girl Gang got a little bit of hype on YouTube recently. It sounded like so much fun. Amateur witch Mila refuses to believe her best friend Riley was involved in a suicide pact with June and Dayton, two mean girls at their high school. So, she uses a spell in an ancient grimory to bring the girls back to life. Problem is, none of them remember their deaths. However, they do remember their grudges. Which means Mila has seven days to get three dead girls in line and catch a killer before he or she strikes again.

 

What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard

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Having struggled with weight problems basically my whole life, eating disorders have always been a topic that disturbingly fascinated me. Mostly because that, while I was always conscious of how my weight could affect my health, I never had the mindset to intentionally starve myself. What I Lost follows Elizabeth, who enters treatment for anorexia but, of course, thinks she’s totally fine. She plans to fake it as much as she can, then get out of treatment and return to her mother, who also has a size 0 obsession. Then, while in the treatment center, Elizabeth receives mysterious packages, presumably from her ex-boyfriend, that make her wonder if treatment really is where she belongs.

 

A Tragic Kind of Wonderful by Eric Lindstrom

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A Tragic Kind of Wonderful follows Mel, a sixteen-year-old girl hiding her bipolar disorder from her friends and her struggling to let others in when she wants to keep them at arm’s length. Then, an old friend confronts her about why their relationship ended. When the facade Mel has built for herself slowly crumbles, she must decide if it is time to tell her friends the truth about her diagnosis.

Mental illness is another topic close to my heart. While I personally do not have one, people I love do. I’m glad to see their stories finally represented in literature.

 

You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon

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You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone follows twins Adina and Tovah, whose relationship is strained by not only something that happened in the past they refuse to speak of, but also their mother’s Huntington’s disease. When the girls turn eighteen, they get tested to find out if either carries the gene—one does, while the other does not. This puts further strain on the relationship as the two girls, both very ambitious, head down different paths and one embraces her Jewish religion while the other rejects it.

I just realized something: I bought two “teenaged girl with a sick mother” books in this summer (you will see the other one in Part Three). I guess I’m a masochist.

 

Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake

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Beyond a Darkened Shore, from my understanding, is inspired by Norse mythology. Ciara, princess of Mide, protects her people with her ability to control her enemies’ minds. But when a crow appears to her, promising greater threats to come, she reluctantly joins forces with young Northman leader Leif. Not only does he possess an impressive army fleet, he also has the same prophetic dreams as Ciara, leading them to use their shared power to protect their kingdoms from a common enemy.

 

Onyx and Ivory by Mindee Arnett

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Yet another high fantasy on my TBR, Onyx and Ivory is the story of Kate, otherwise known as Traitor Kate, the daughter of the man who attempted to assassinate the high king, and Corwin, the high king’s second son, who is more than happy to let his brother be their father’s successor. After years of being separated, the two are reunited when Kate uses her ability to communicate with animals to save Corwin from being killed by nightdrakes, deadly flightless dragons that are supposed to only come out at night yet Corwin’s peacekeeping tour was attacked in broad daylight. As the nightdrake attacks become more vicious and more frequent, the two team up to uncover a conspiracy that threatens the kingdom.

 

The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova

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An adult historical fiction mystery novel, The Shadow Land is set in Sofia, Bulgaria, where American Alexandra Boyd goes on vacation to hopefully heal after the death of her brother. While helping an elderly couple into a taxi, she accidentally takes one of their bags and discovers an urn containing human ashes. To locate the family, she goes by the name on the urn—Stoyan Lazarov—who turns out to once have been a talented musician whose life was shattered by oppression and his secrets still carry over into the present day.

Elizabeth Kostova is best known for her novel The Historian, although I have not read it yet. A novel of hers that I have read, The Swan Thieves, was another historical mystery I loved for its beautiful writing and intricate storytelling. I expect the same from The Shadow Land.

 

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

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The Kiss Quotient is a cute, steamy adult contemporary that came out of nowhere on BookTube that I was instantly drawn to, for two reasons. The first is the Asperger’s representation, because my little brother is on the autism spectrum. The second is that the main character, Stella, who has Asperger’s, is a smart thirty-year-old with a good job but severely lacking in the dating department than most people her age…something I can relate to. To solve her problem, Stella hires male escort Michael Phan to teach her about intimacy, only she gets a little more than what she bargained for.

So far, the reviews I have seen regarding The Kiss Quotient say that it is a sweet romance with lots of sex positivity. And I’m here for it.

 

Which of these books have you read and what did you think of them?