I Should Have Read That Book Tag

Like any bookworm, I have a large to be read pile that keeps growing. Not that I mind—I accept it at this point. Still, there are books sitting on my shelves unread, for longer than they probably should be. All for different reasons that I will try not to get into over and over again. You all just want to see the books, right?

I saw this book tag on Crystal’s blog.

 

A book that a friend is always telling you to read.

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I don’t have a lot of friends who are readers. But one who is a reader has frequently recommended the Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray. I have wanted to read this series for years anyway.

 

A book that’s been on your TBR forever, yet you still haven’t picked it up.

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Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge, which is a fantastical retelling of Little Red Riding. I loved her debut novel, Cruel Beauty, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast blended with Greek mythology. I want to get back into Rosamund Hodge’s books.

 

A book in a series you started, but haven’t gotten around to finishing yet.

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My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows. It’s the second in a series of companion novels about famous characters named Jane from history, in which the familiar stories are turned on their heads with a humorous fantasy twist. My Plain Jane is a retelling of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

 

A classic you’ve always liked the sound of, but never actually read.

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For one year of summer reading in high school, I was supposed to read Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Only I read enough of it to fill out the worksheet. Now I’m an older and wiser reader, fully embracing my hopeless romantic side, I want to reread Wuthering Heights from start to finish.

 

A popular book it seems everyone but you has read.

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The Hate U Give is a book I swear everyone and their mother has read and loved.

 

A book that inspired a film/TV adaption that you love, but just haven’t read yet.

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I had no idea the Hellboy movies were based off comic books until I actually looked it up. I love the 2004 film directed by Guillermo del Toro with Ron Perlman as Hellboy and Selma Blair as Liz Sherman, as well as the sequel, Hellboy 2: The Golden Army. To this day, I have not read the comic books nor do I really have any desire to do so.

 

A book you see all over Instagram but haven’t picked up.

I see a lot of books on Instagram that I have not gotten to yet. I swear it changes almost daily. Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo…The Cruel Prince by Holly Black….The list goes on.

 

I tag:

Rebecca

Grey

Kristin

Sophie

 

What books have been sitting on your TBR for too long?

Behind the Blogger Book Tag

It’s catch up time now!

With school, I didn’t have a lot of energy for creativity and I wasn’t reading enough to do individual book reviews. I found the Behind the Blogger Tag on Rebecca’s blog a while back. Now, I’m finally getting around to posting it.

Trying not to babble too much. On to the tag!

 

Why did you start blogging and why have you kept blogging?

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I started my blog in the fall of 2016. I had just graduated from college and found myself unemployed. Between filling out job applications and sometimes getting an interview and always getting rejected, I was slowly going insane. Worse still, I had story ADD—I could not settle on what novel project I wanted to focus on. I needed something to keep me grounded.

My friends had encouraged me to start a book blog. I don’t have a lot of readers in my life and social media offered a platform to find like-minded people. Most importantly, it would keep up my writing habit. After more deliberation, I wrote my first blog post on WordPress.

Three years later, I am still blogging. Besides meeting a ton of nice people in the comments, blogging has been overall therapeutic. It was a distraction when my mom was sick. It has continued to help me relieve stress in between homework and school projects. Though this past semester was relatively easy, one before was really stressful. Writing helped a lot.

 

What is your favorite type of blog post to write?

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Though I haven’t done any this year, monthly TBRs and wrap-ups. I’m a goal-oriented person. I like picking books I want to read in a month and then see how I did at the end. But in 2019, I wanted to try something different in order to work around my school schedule. That, and I wanted to see if I liked having the general reading wrap-ups, usually posted once I get around to it, over a monthly commitment.

 

What are your top 3 favorite blog posts?

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The first I thought of was the Recommending Books I Didn’t Love but You Might. I’m not a fan of bashing a book, even if I genuinely hated it. No one reads the same novel and I would feel guilty if I deterred someone from finding something they might enjoy just because it was simply not my cup of tea. The books on this recommendations post were ones I rated between 2 and 3 stars. Only they were not without their qualities I think other people would appreciate.

The second favorite blog post is the most recent: Top 5 Tuesday Slytherin House recommendations. I consider myself as far away from Slytherin as one can get. Yet, of all the House recommendations in Shanah’s Harry Potter themed February, the Slytherin post was the most fun.

The last of my favorites is a tie between the Random Books on my TBR post and the Hidden Gems Recommendations. The former was meant to remind me that there are books quickly gathering dust at home that deserve my attention. The latter I wrote while still on a high after reading four great books in a row. It was a blog series idea I had, since I tend to read a lot of books that fly under the radar. I still might do another one in the future.

 

What are some of your favorite things to do to relax?

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The main thing I do to relax is read. Writing for my blog helps me unwind sometimes, too. Although, lately, watching BookTube videos and Netflix shows has been my preferred choice of relaxing.

Another thing I like to do to relax or to stay focused is make lists. Lately, it’s TBR lists of books I own and books I will buy/read eventually. Sometimes, my mind drifted off during class (I woke up at 4:15 in the morning, guys). To stay awake, I made a list or two in my notebook. Once I do that, I’m able to get back to task at hand.

 

What are 3 of your favorite things?

I made a point of picking things that are not related to books or writing, i.e. Happy Hello Art magnetic bookmarks or libraries….

One of my favorite things is Christmas. While everyone is stressed out trying to shop for everyone, I like shopping. I like going to stores, picking out new ornaments to put on the tree and cute wrapping paper at Target. Fortunately for me, my dad and my brother are easy to shop for. I love Christmas music and movies. I like the cozy feeling. Lastly, I love the wrapping up of one year and the anticipation of another.

happy santa claus GIF by Macy's

A second favorite thing is my dog Ziva! She is a nine-year-old female shorkie, a half-shih tzu and half Yorkshire terrier mix. We got her in July of 2010. She was named for Ziva David, my family’s favorite character on NCIS. It’s a rather odd name for a dog, but her quirky, high-energy, and feisty personality make it a perfect fit. She refuses to sleep on her dog bed in the kitchen anymore. Whenever we tried to make her stay, she knocked down the gate and proceeded to sleep in the living room on her favorite chair. We’ve given up at this point. Ziva also likes naps, peanuts, eggs, and running around outside.

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My third favorite thing is Beauty and the Beast. The live-action film, the animated film, retellings, and any merchandise. I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but my bedspread is the glass window design from the original Disney animation movie. I was 25 when I got that for Christmas, but I asked for it and I don’t care. Sadly, I don’t have as much merchandise as I would like. I practically drool while browsing Hot Topic Beauty and the Beast stuff online.

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What are your proudest blogging moments?

Honestly, just starting a blog in the first place. I had to learn to “put myself out there,” so to speak. I had to learn how to build my platform and gain followers without being a troll. I took to Instagram and other apps to advertise whenever I posted. I became more involved in the blogging world, like participating in Top 5 Tuesday and commenting on other people’s works. When I started this blog, I had no intention of making it big. I only wanted to write and talk about books. I still only want to write and talk about books.

 

What are your hobbies outside of blogging?

Besides, reading and blogging, I don’t have a lot of hobbies. I like to go for walks, but I hate walking around aimlessly so I must have a destination in mind whenever I do. I watch a lot of BookTube videos. I watch movies on Netflix and sometimes TV shows; most recently, it was Castlevania (Alucard my babe <3).

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With Criminal Minds ending next season, I’ll have to find another TV show to watch. I want to say “hanging out with my friends,” is another hobby. However, after college, the majority of my friends moved out of state or our lives are so busy adulting we haven’t had a lot of opportunities to make plans. Fortunately, we text daily.

A hobby I want to get back into is coloring books. I got some coloring bookmarks from my latest trip to my local library. I forgot how therapeutic the activity can be.

 

Describe your personality in 3 words

Hard working: I put all I have into my school work and any job I have. I want my degree and I want money so I can move out of my dad’s house, into my own space.

Smart: Though I didn’t always feel like a smart person growing up, or even sometimes now, I know I am. I have to keep reminding myself that I possess my own type of intelligence that does not make me better or worse than anyone else.

A slightly extroverted introvert: Part of what drew me to the archives field of library science was that the job would not require too much interaction with the “public.” Then, I started my archives internship. While I had my own space to arrange the materials to best help me organize, not having frequent opportunities to interact with people was more uncomfortable than I anticipated.

When I met with my advisor to pick my classes for next semester, she asked if I ever considered reference or outreach in archives. She brought attention to what I had been wondering for weeks: that I might be a more sociable introvert than I always believed. It’s given me a lot to think about in terms of my career.

 

What are your top 3 pet peeves?

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  1. People who call and don’t introduce themselves. I got this all the time when I answered phones at my various jobs. I even don’t like it when it’s people I know who call me on my cellphone.
  2. Sexism on both sides, i.e. women can’t sleep around with whoever they want or a man can’t cry.
  3. I hate all of it.

 

What’s something your followers don’t know about you?

I repeated the first grade. I was never formally diagnosed with a learning disability, but I struggled in school as a child. For kindergarden and the first time I went to first grade, I attended Catholic school. My parents initially planned to enroll me in public school, but my mom changed her mind and somehow convinced my dad to send me to a private Catholic school.

Kindergarden was fine—my teacher so happened to be my grandmother’s godchild—only the first grade teacher was a horrible woman. I was a bubbly, quirky kid. I did not fit in with the norm. Worse still, even as they made parents pay through the nose for a supposedly top-notch education for their children, they did not have any resources to help me. My parents pulled me out of that school when they could, except it was too late. I was put into a box of expectations no one would let me out of it until I was well into my 20s.

Now, I have a Bachelor’s degree from a four-year college where I graduated Magna Cum Laude, and I’m now getting an advanced degree from a well-respected university.

F—k the haters.

 

I tag:

Shanah

Crystal

Grey

Kristin

The Book Buying Ban is Over!

My book buying ban is over guys! Well, sort of…

I got a temp job at a fine arts library for the next twelve weeks. I’m itching to apply for another job, too, one that’s recently opened up that I really, really want (and it could potentially be longer term, too). If not that, then an internship.

Thing is, the temp assignment only started this week….

I was out of a job for months. Taxes came through for me this year. I thought I could hold out until the summer before I bought more books. Then, as you will see, I cracked. I managed to get to my favorite independent bookstore. Barnes and Noble had new releases for half price as well as sales and so did Books a Million. But, to be honest, I’m pretty impressed with myself that I lasted for so long.

As for the “sort of” part…the right thing for me to do is save money for the next two months as I get settled into my new job. Will I stick to that? I hope so.

Until then, here are the books I bought:

 

Sightwitch and Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard

The novella and the third book in the Witchlands series. I wanted to get into this series after reading the first book Truthwitch then buying the second novel Windwitch, then never did. Technically, I bought Sightwitch and Bloodwitch back in February, which led me into the book buying ban in the first place. But these are priority reads for the summer.

 

The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One by Amanda Lovelace

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One of my most anticipated reads of the year. I bought the pretty Target exclusive edition. Amanda Lovelace is neck and neck with Emily Dickinson as one of my favorite poets, but sadly, I didn’t love The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One like I was expecting to. Check out my latest reading wrap up for my full spoiler thoughts.

 

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

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A mandatory read if you are a librarian or a library science student. It is a nonfiction novel surrounding the fire at the Los Angeles Public Library in the 1980s and the author’s speculations on who/what caused the fire and why. She also goes into her love of books and libraries overall. I had this on hold at my library, but the list was long and my demanding school schedule caused me to cancel the hold (and return all the other books I had checked out at that time). Now, I own it.

 

The Handmaid’s Tale graphic novel by Margaret Atwood and illustrated by Renee Nault

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A semi-impulse buy, I found this while browsing the book section of Target. I’ve wanted to reread The Handmaid’s Tale, especially with The Testaments coming out this fall. I didn’t want to read this right away, only I kept picking it up to gaze at the artwork. I read this recently, too. More on that in my reading wrap up.

 

Mist, Metal, and Ash by Gwendolyn Clare

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This is the sequel to Iron, Ink, and Glass, which I have not yet read. It is a series set in an alternate history of 18th century Italy. The main character and her mother have the ability to, literally, rewrite reality through an ancient magical form of writing called scriptology. When her mother is kidnapped, the protagonist, Elsa, joins a secret society of people like her with an assassin on her tail. Unfortunately, I’ve heard virtually nothing about this series on social media, but I’m still hopeful.

 

The Wicked King by Holly Black

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At this point in time, I still have not yet read The Cruel Prince. To be honest, I was hesitant about Holly Black after reading The Coldest Girl in Coldtown last year. Then, I read The Darkest Part of the Forest from the library and really enjoyed it. I like Holly Black’s take on fairy lore. Hopefully, I will get to both The Cruel Prince and The Wicked King around the time The Queen of Nothing comes out in November, so I can marathon.

 

Lady Smoke by Laura Sebastian

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Lady Smoke is the sequel to another unread book I own, Ash Princess. It follows a princess who uses political maneuvering instead of a sword to get her kingdom back from the tyrant that murdered her mother then held the protagonist captive for ten years. From what little I’ve heard, Ash Princess has gotten mediocre reviews and there’s been next to nothing about Lady Smoke. That’s fine with me, though.

 

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

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The Immortalists follows the four Gold siblings: Simon, Klara, Daniel, and Varya. In 1969, they sneak out in the middle of the night to have their fortunes told by a travelling psychic. She tells them when they are going to die, thus impacting each of the children differently as they move forward in their lives.

Literary fiction is a genre I’ve been getting more into within the last year or so, and most of what I read, I enjoyed. The Immortalists sounds like an interesting, thought-provoking one.

 

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

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In 1986, Eddie and his friends are bored kids when they find a dismembered dead body in the woods surrounding their small English village. Next to the body is a chalk figure, just like the ones they use as their secret code. In 2016, now an adult, Eddie is trying to move on with his life when he receives a letter in the mail with a chalk figure drawn on it and then finds out his friends got the same message. One of them is dead.

I tend to enjoy mysteries that surround secrets or trauma from the main character’s childhood. The Chalk Man is an underrated adult mystery/thriller and I tend to really enjoy those. We shall see.

 

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

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A Gentleman in Moscow is set in 1922 Russia. Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to house arrest inside a luxury hotel, deemed an unrepentant aristocrat under the Bolshevik tribunal. Despite being trapped, the tall, imposing count has the perfect view of the political unrest in his country, as well as his eccentric, eclectic neighbors in the hotel. I don’t know much about Russia’s political history, so A Gentleman in Moscow will be an interesting read for me.

 

Losing It by Emma Rathbone

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Admittedly, Losing It does not have the best reviews on Goodreads, only the plot hits so close to home. Julia Greenfield is still a virgin at twenty-six. She goes to visit her mysterious aunt Vivienne in North Carolina and discovers her aunt, at fifty-eight, is also a virgin. While trying to unravel the secrets of her aunt’s past, Julia spends the summer trying to prevent meeting the same fate.

 

The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu

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The first book in an adult fantasy trilogy set in the Shadowhunters universe, The Red Scrolls of Magic following Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood. While they are on vacation in Paris, an old friend of Magnus’s arrives to inform them a cult called the Crimson Hand is going around Europe raising demons. The cult was allegedly started by Magnus years ago—as a joke—but he’s taking the blame for it. Now, he and Alec have to chase the cult’s mysterious leader to clear his name. And, I would just like to point out, The Red Scrolls of Magic is probably the shortest Cassandra Clare book I’ve ever seen.

 

Night Music by Jenn Marie Thorne

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Night Music is one of those hidden gems I found at the indie bookstore I’m shocked I haven’t seen anywhere on social media. It follows two music prodigies who are forced to work together when the boy becomes an apprentice to the girl’s famous composer father. After she flunks an audition to a prestigious music school where her father is on the faculty, Ruby has no idea what to do with herself. Oscar is a talented young composer determined to make a name for himself and does not intend on falling for his white benefactor’s white daughter. But with the connection between the two of them as hot as the New York summer, it’s easier said than done.

 

The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees

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While the plot of this next hidden gem does intrigue me, if I’m being honest, it was the cover that lured me in. The Waking Forest follows two main characters. The first is Rhea, whose backyard is at the edge of the Waking Forest, home of the Witch, the second protagonist. Rhea sees dark shapes lurking in her backyard that quickly vanish when she reaches them. The Waking Forest is home for the Witch, who sits on her throne of bones waiting for dreaming children to beg her to grant a wish. Both girls are approached by a mysterious stranger that offers them a chance to answer their wishes, if only they are willing to play a game. Rhea’s path collides with the Witch as the two find themselves trapped in the midst of deadly secrets to survive.

 

The Weight of a Thousand Feathers by Brian Conaghan

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I apparently have a knack for finding “sick mom lit,” because I happened upon this one at the indie bookstore, too. The Weight of a Thousand Feathers follows Bobby Seed, who is trying to keep it together while taking care of his terminally ill mother, watching his younger brother, and navigating the waters of his relationship with his best female friend that wants a different kind of title. All while being a teenager still in high school. Then, his mom asks him to help her end her pain for good. Though the synopsis doesn’t outright say it, The Weight of a Thousand Feathers sounds like it’s going to be touching upon the topic of assisted suicide, which is a bold move to make for a young adult novel.

 

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Shout was one of my most anticipated reads of the year. It is a free verse memoir poetry collection by Laurie Halse Anderson, beginning with her rape at thirteen by a “friend,” leading into her becoming an author and an advocate for survivors of sexual assault. I also recently read Shout, so you can find my full thoughts in my reading wrap up.

 

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

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Long Way Down was previously a library book I had checked out but had not gotten around to reading. It is another free verse poetry novel, this one taking place during a teenaged boy’s elevator ride on his way to kill the person who murdered his brother. The elevator stops at different floors and he meets people who have already died that try to talk him out of his mission. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve been really getting into free verse novels lately. And, so far, I’m enjoying them.

 

A Girl Like That by Tanaz Bhathena

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The cover of A Girl Like That—a girl wearing sunglasses and a hijab on the cover along with the pink cheetah-print spine—has always caught my eye whenever I saw it in the library or the bookstore. For some reason, I never picked it up until now, when I finally read the synopsis.

The religious police is Jeddah, Saudi Arabia are called to the scene of a car accident where sixteen-year-old Zarin Wadia and her eighteen-year-old boyfriend Porus Dumasia are found dead. Though a good student and a bright, vivacious orphan, Zarin was labeled “a girl like that,” a troublemaker, by other kids’ parents. But when the police begin their investigation, everyone soon realizes there was more to Zarin than they ever knew.

 

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

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A classic vampire novel, The Historian is a book I’ve known about for years that I finally caved into buying when I saw it for sale at the bookstore. An unnamed young woman finds a series of letters hidden in her father’s study that lead her to finish his journey to uncover the truth behind Vlad the Impaler’s ties to the infamous Dracula. Along the way, she unravels her family’s history, how her father’s madness and ruin may have led to the death of her mother. If The Historian is anything like The Swan Thieves, I expect beautiful prose and a twisty plot to keep me up until two in the morning to finish it.

 

Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford

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I had heard of Suicide Notes years ago and added it to my TBR on Goodreads, then proceeded to forget it existed. Then, just recently, it was repackaged and I found it at the bookstore. In case you don’t know, Suicide Notes is about fifteen-year-old Jeff, who wakes up in the psych ward after what appears to be a failed suicide attempt. Forced to endure a forty-five day sentence, he’s convinced there’s nothing wrong with him, not like the other patients. Then, his fellow inmates stop seeming so crazy.

 

Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan

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Wicked Saints has blown up on BookTube. Though it has been getting rather mixed reviews since its release, it strikes me as the kind of book you should go into knowing as little as possible anyway. All I know it is about two warring kingdoms (as usual in high fantasy) and follows three main characters: a princess that can talk to gods; a prince that uses blood magic; and a monster boy. That’s really all I need to know.

 

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

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Yet another book I’ve already read, Two Can Keep a Secret was previously a library book I featured in a reading wrap up a few months ago. It is a young adult mystery set in a small town where three girls have been murdered in the last twenty-five years, the first being the aunt of one of the main characters. True crime buff Ellery and her twin brother Ezra move in with their grandma just as another homecoming queen goes missing. As a series of threats appear around town, she takes it upon herself to get to the bottom of it.

 

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez

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As I frequently do, I recently checked out too many library books that I didn’t get to before their due date. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter was one of them. It is a young adult contemporary novel about Julia, whose sister Olga was the “perfect Mexican daughter” that didn’t leave home to go to college or anything else their parents did not approve of. When Olga dies, something about her death doesn’t feel right to Julia. Enlisting the help of some friends, she digs into her sister’s life and finds there was more to Olga than their family knew.

 

Internment by Samira Ahmed

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A contemporary with a dystopian twist, Internment is set in an alternate universe where all Muslim Americans are forced into internment camps. Seventeen-year-old Layla and her family are among them. To fight for their freedom, she builds friendships with others inside the camp, receives help from her boyfriend on the outside, and forges an unexpected alliance. This leads them into a rebellion against the internment camp’s director and the guards. I haven’t read Samira Ahmed’s debut novel, Love, Hate, and Other Filters yet, but Internment is making me eager to read her books.

 

Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy

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As soon as I saw Once & Future on the Internet, I knew I had to read it. I own The Brilliant Death by Amy Rose Capetta, which I’m also interested in reading. But Once & Future is a reimagining of the tale of King Arthur set in space and the king is reincarnated in a teenaged girl. That’s all I needed to know. And the cover is gorgeous.

 

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe and translated by Lilit Thwaites

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The Librarian of Auschwitz was another book I previously checked out from the library a while ago and, of course, didn’t read. It is a nonfiction/historical fiction book about a young Jewish girl sent to the concentration camp Auschwitz and is the deemed the protector of the few books the prisoners managed to smuggle in with them. She does everything she can to keep the love of books alive as she and those she cares for endures unimaginable horrors.

 

How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow

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How to Make Friends with the Dark is a book that covers a topic I can relate to. A teenaged girl named Grace, otherwise known as Tiger, ends up in foster care following the unexpected death of her mother. Her dad not in the picture, it was always Tiger and her mom against the world. Now, she’s on her own. How to Make Friends with the Dark is about her coming to terms with grief and moving on after losing the only family she had. Yes, I am a sucker for “dead mom” literature, apparently.

 

Lovely War by Julie Berry

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I’ve read Julie Berry’s other books, All the Truth That’s in Me and The Passion of Dolssa and enjoyed both. Lovely War is a multi-generational story set between World War I and II. It is narrated by the goddess Aphrodite as she tells the story to her lover, Ares, and her husband Hephaestus in a Manhattan hotel room. It begins in 1917, where shy pianist Hazel falls in love with soldier James, who is later shipped off to the killing fields.

Along with him is Carnegie Hall musician Aubrey Edwards, who is a member of the all-African American regiment sent to help end the Great War. Romance is the last thing on his mind, until he meets a Belgian girl named Colette Fournier, a survivor of unspeakable tragedy at the hands of the Germans.

Are you already getting the feels? Because I am.

 

The Princess and the Fangirl by Ashley Poston

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I love fairy tale retellings, especially if set in a modern setting. The Princess and the Fangirl is the companion novel to Geekerella, a reimagining of Cinderella centered around a convention. The Princess and the Fangirl follows the co-star of the male lead in Geekerella, who is blamed for the leaking of a movie script and does a switch with a mega-fan that looks like her to find the culprit. At this point, I’ve heard several reviews of The Princess and the Fangirl. Unfortunately, they haven’t been as great as the ones for Geekerella. But there are so few retellings of any works by Mark Twain (The Princess and the Fangirl is a retelling of The Prince and the Pauper) that I still want to give it a chance.

 

Heroine by Mindy McGinnis

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Mindy McGinnis is yet another author I’ve wanted to get into for years, even owned one of her books for the longest time, but, of course, have not gotten around to it. She is one where her books get mixed reviews. Such as, great things have been said about A Madness so Discreet and The Female of the Species, except some of her other works got flack. Heroine is her most recent novel. It is a contemporary, following a teenaged athlete who becomes addicted to drugs to keep playing sports after an injury. I rarely see these kinds of books, even though the topic is so relevant.

 

Dear Martin by Nic Stone

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I want to improve on the amount of the diverse books on my TBR. Dear Martin is similar to The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. African-American teenager Justice finds himself in handcuffs after driving his ex-girlfriend home and he has no idea why. Told in letters to Martin Luther King Jr., he comes to terms with what is happening around him as one unfair thing leads to another.

 

Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith

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Another book I recently checked out from the library but did not read, Field Notes on Love is a cute, fluffy young adult romantic contemporary. When his girlfriend dumps right before a cross-country train ride, British-born Hugo gives her ticket to Mae, who happens to have the same name as his ex (Margaret). An aspiring filmmaker, Mae challenges Hugo to follow his dreams, but will their romance end once the train ride does?

 

You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman

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Ariel Stone has built his entire life around getting into college—violin first chair, community volunteer, and valedictorian candidate. After a failed Calculus quiz, he starts to pull all-nighters to keep his classmates from seeing any weakness. Reluctantly, he accepts help from a tutor, Amir, who provides too much of a distraction. But a relationship might be the thing that finally makes Ariel snap under pressure.

 

The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg

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Another LGBTQ+ romance, The Music of What Happens follows two openly gay boys in Mesa, Arizona, Max and Jordan. Laidback Max is gay and him nor anyone in his life is making a big deal about it. But despite this, he can’t bring himself to talk about an encounter with an older boy. Uptight Jordan is trying to hide the fact that his mom is spiraling while searching for his first kiss from Mr. Right who might not like him to begin with. In the heat of summer, their chemistry will be as hot as a June in Arizona. And this cover is adorable!

 

We Rule the Night by Claire Eliza Bartlett

werulethenight

A young adult fantasy stand-alone that sounds a lot like Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Revna is a factory worker caught using illegal magic and general’s daughter Linne disguised herself as a boy to join the army. Both are offered a reprieve from punishment by joining a secret women’s military flight. The girls can’t stand each other as they are forced to take on terrifying missions under the cover of night. But if they can’t figure out how to work together, the enemy will kill them before they kill each other.

 

The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe by Ally Condie

thelastvoyageofpoeblythe

The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe follows a young captain who is hell-bent on taking down the individual who murdered her beloved and robbed her of everything two years ago. As she navigates the treacherous waters of the Serpentine River, Poe discovers there is a traitor lurking her crew. From there, she will learn to move forward in her grief and anger, making a new path for herself. I haven’t read Ally Condie’s Matched trilogy, the cover for The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe (and my love of lady pirates) drew me in.

 

Izzy + Tristan by Shannon Dunlap

izzy+tristan

This one was an impulse buy. After learning the legend of Tristan and Iseult in my college English courses, I’ve been fascinated by the story. If you are unaware, it is an earlier version of the Lancelot and Guinevere legend. Izzy + Tristan is a retelling of the tale set in a modern-day Brooklyn neighborhood. Two teenagers are in an ill-fated love affair after Izzy starts dating Tristan’s cousin but falls for him instead.

 

Voices: the Final Hours of Joan of Arc by David Elliott

voicesjoanofarc

I had heard about Voices through BookTube and bought it when I saw it on sale on Barnes & Noble’s website. It is a retelling of the final hours of Joan of Arc as told through different forms of medieval poetry, through the eyes of Joan, her friends and family, and others, including objects. I finished it in a day, unable to put it down as soon as I started reading. It was also in my latest reading wrap up, if you want to know my thoughts.

 

Squad by Mariah MacCarthy

squad

You know what sold me on this novel? An outcast cheerleader gets involved with a transgender boy in what feels like love, only it isn’t. The cheerleaders at Marsen High School are normal girls trying to master the sport. But when Jenna finds herself suddenly on the outskirts, she sets out to take revenge on her former best friend while trying to come to terms in post-cheer life.

 

What is the best book you’ve bought recently?

2019 Reading Wrap Up #4

I’m back from my unexpected mini-hiatus!

For the last couple of weeks, I have been completely focused on my final assignments. I turned in my final paper last Monday and I start my new part-time temp job tomorrow. It’s in a fine arts library that I’m super excited for. I might take on another part-time job or an internship, if I can manage it. I’m devoting this summer entirely to making money and reading.

Since my last reading wrap up in March, I have read nine books. All of them were between four and five stars. All of them you should expect to see on my favorite reads list of the year. All of them I made a big mistake of picking up when I had so much homework. The books I read were:

 

The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

4.25 stars

thebloodofolympus

The Blood of Olympus is the final book in the Heroes of Olympus series and, I must confess, it was not my favorite. While I love Reyna and Nico (and I low-key ship Nico with Percy), we didn’t get enough of Leo, Piper, Jason, and the rest of the seven as much as I wanted. In my opinion, it made a lot more sense to narrate the final novel through all their perspectives rather than introduce two new narrators.

Still, I enjoyed The Blood of Olympus for how everything wrapped up in the central plot. The series was a fun read and the book made me laugh, a relief from any stress I was feeling. The book solicited my love for Leo Valdez as well as Leo and Calypso (which we were also denied more of). I like Piper and Jason grew on me. If anything, finishing The Blood of Olympus made me realize how behind I am on Rick Riordan’s books. I plan to remedy that soon enough.

 

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

5 stars

vicious

Vicious lived up to the hype. I enjoyed Victoria Schwab’s writing style and the character development. I liked Victor Vale more than I expected to, as he’s clearly a sociopathic anti-hero. But it shows in this novel, as well as the sequel, he does care for Mitch and Sydney in his own way and they’re like family to him. Eli, with his twisted moral compass, was a fascinating character as well. Sydney was easily my favorite.

As for the plot, it was fast-paced and read like a superhero/super-villain movie. Once I started reading, I kept reading until I had to put it down to tend to “responsibilities.” Then, as soon as I could, I started reading again. I read Vicious in a matter of days and, once I finished it, I had to read Vengeful immediately.

 

Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

4 stars

vengeful

Sadly, Vengeful was not nearly as entertaining as Vicious. The time jumps in this novel were off-putting. The plot was more focused on Victor and Eli, bringing up more problems that were resolved in the previous novel. The new character, Marcella Riggins, started off with such great potential. She was a woman murdered by her mob assassin husband after she caught him cheating and comes back from the dead as an EO with the power to literally ruin things with her touch. Then, by the middle of the novel, she lost any chance of complexity when she became consumed by her ambition to be in charge, eventually only becoming a plot device.

As for the other new female character, June, I had no idea what was going on with her or why she was so fixated on Sydney. There are holes in her backstory as well as her motive, leading me to believe there is potential for a third novel. The other characters—Victor, Eli, Mitch, and Sydney—didn’t seem to have much in their own development, either. While Vengeful was still enjoyable, I did not have as much fun as I did reading Vicious.

 

The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One by Amanda Lovelace

4.5 stars

themermaidsvoicereturnsinthisone

I made the mistake of picking up The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One while waiting for one of my classes to start right in the height of finals. All I wanted to do was read it. The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One is the third and final book in her first series of poetry. The first two being The Princess Saves Herself in This One and The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One. Unfortunately, despite owning this really pretty exclusive Target edition, it was not my favorite in the series.

Part One really sucked me in. Amanda opened up about her own “Me Too” story and I appreciate what an extremely brave thing that was. Still, by Part Three, I was starting to get bored. I felt like she was repeating herself in a lot of the poems. While I love her writing and style of poetry, eventually I was reading just to finish it. Regarding the subjects covered in The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One, I think she handled it well, yet I somehow kept getting the “all guys are bad” vibe. I know we all hate the “I’m a nice guy” type, but there are men who are genuinely good men. Regardless, Amanda Lovelace is still one of my favorite poets.

 

Voices: the Final Hours of Joan of Arc by David Elliott

5 stars

voicesjoanofarc

Voices is a novel written in various forms of medieval poetry about the final hours of Joan of Arc before she is burned at the stake as a heretic. In addition to Joan’s perspective, we also see snippets of her life, her mission, and her death through the eyes of the people and even the objects around her. Her parents describe how a pious though slightly rebellious girl grew into a martyr, wearing men’s clothing and leading an army against the English to put the (sexist) Prince Charles back on the throne.

Besides the beautiful prose and the “insights” of objects like Joan’s sword and her discarded dress, what got to me was that, in hindsight, what led to Joan’s demise was the patriarchy. In between sections of poems, there are excerpts the author took of the transcripts from her trial as well as the one after her death, of which her supporters moved to clear her name. Once I started reading Voices I couldn’t stop. It was so short and I was so captivated, I finished it in a day.

 

The Handmaid’s Tale graphic novel by Margaret Atwood and illustrated by Renee Nault

4.75 stars

thehandmaidstalegraphicnovel

I have been wanting to reread The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood for a while, especially with The Testaments coming out in the fall. The graphic novel adaption was the perfect alternative.

While I overall enjoyed the beautiful artwork, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing. Some things were taken out and/or modified to fit the graphic novel format, which I understood. We also got a little more exploration on certain gender/sexuality issues brought up, like how the protagonist, Offred, was her husband Luke’s mistress before she was his wife and how her friends viewed her actions versus how the new society of Gilead viewed it. (Spoiler: neither was pleased with her choices, for different reasons.) Still, while the central plot points were kept, I didn’t feel the same emotional punch as I did with the original novel.

But, if you have read and loved The Handmaid’s Tale, I recommend reading the graphic novel, nonetheless.

 

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

4.75 stars

shout

Another of my anticipated releases of the year, Shout is a novel written in verse, told in a vignette style as the author covers different events in her life. Laurie Halse Anderson describes how she was sexually assaulted at thirteen, which led her into a wild few years until she got her act together. Then, as an adult and after some more troubling encounters with members of the opposite sex, she became a reporter and an advocate for survivors of sexual assault.

I wanted to give Shout five stars and I almost did. In the first half, in addition to the aftermath of her rape and her high school years, she talks about her parents’ tumultuous relationship and how her dad was a war hero turned drunk pastor that occasionally beat his wife. I loved how she handled honestly discussing her rape and how her inner strength helped her turn her life around. We also see the first draft of Speak. But after Part Two, it steadily grew more boring. It took me a little longer than it should have to finish, but not really because of finals. Despite my feelings that it dragged in certain parts, Shout was a powerful read and, like Speak, I highly recommend everyone read it, especially girls.

 

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

4.75 stars

persepolis

If you remember, I mentioned Persepolis, as well as the sequel Persepolis 2, in my Top 5 Tuesday five-star predictions. Well, as you can see, it didn’t quite make it.

            I enjoyed the history aspect of this graphic novel and I liked the black-and-white comic strip art style. I liked learning about the Islamic Revolution through the eyes of someone who actually lived in Iran during that time, as well as from someone whose family was emotionally impacted by the changes in the country. Truthfully, I was bored for the majority of the story. It was the last 100 or so pages that gave me the emotional impact I was looking for. Until then, I didn’t feel connected to the plot or the narrator Marjane, who, frankly, I didn’t always like.

 

Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi

4.5 stars

persepolis2

Unfortunately, I was even more bored reading Persepolis 2 than I was the first volume. While I liked it well enough, I did not feel as much emotion as I was expecting. It took too long for her to move the plot back to Iran. To be honest, I didn’t care for Marjane much, even if I sympathized with her at points. I wanted more on the country’s political climate than her series of failed relationships. But I did eventually see how the new roles for women brought on by the new government in Iran played into her personal life.

My favorite aspect of the Persepolis graphic novels, as a whole, is getting a view of Iran’s Islamic Revolution through an Iranian that did not agree with the ideology of the country’s new government. Marjane’s family were communists and Marxists, and many of their close friends and family were persecuted by the regime, so they didn’t see what was happening with rose-colored glasses. Most people seem to have the misconception all Iranians supported the Islamic Revolution. Marjane proved otherwise.

 

What was your favorite book that you’ve read recently?