How Do I Choose to Borrow or to Buy? (Discussion Post)

To borrow or to buy?

As someone pursuing her Master’s in Library and Information Science, the answer should be simple, right? However, while I love the institution of libraries as a whole, I am still a book lover and a book collector (or addict or hoarder) overall.

I do my best to borrow and buy in equal measures. But when choosing which to do for which books, it depends on a number of different factors.

The first is the most obvious: finances. Sometimes, I simply do not have the means to buy a ton of books I am only interested in. Like the first four months of this year, I had no choice but to use the library to sedate my book-buying urges. There have been times I do have money, except I still need to be choosy on how I spend it if I need to save for something else (cough student health insurance cough).

pay me kim kardashian GIF by GQ

There have been books I was interested in reading, except not enough to justify spending money. In other scenarios, it was a matter of which came first. Books I wanted to check out from the library were then available at a discounted price at Barnes and Noble. There have been books that I wanted to read right this second and I did not hesitate when I saw it available at my library. Only that often led to checking out more books than I could read and having to return them unread.

This leads into a problem I’ve created for myself. For a while, whenever I did not read a library book, I checked it out again at a later date. Sometimes, I did manage to read them on time. But more often than not, I did not read them a second time around, for one reason or another. I know librarians don’t care how many times you check out a book, but it got embarrassing after a while.

studying high school GIF

Instead of getting over this embarrassment, whenever I return unread library books, I add them to my Amazon wish list to buy at a later date. In a way, I feel like this cheats the “borrowing before buying” system. Especially since some of these books were random titles I found while browsing the library stacks. Still, this somehow influences my desire to buy them anyway, even if that was the first time I had heard anything about them.

Another factor that determines whenever I borrow or buy a book is the level of hype surrounding it compared to my overall interest. Such examples include Everless by Sara Holland and The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton. Both of these books got a significant amount of buzz when they were released. I sometimes buy into hype more than I care to admit. Only the synopsis for both these books seemed so far out there for me to comprehend (even for fantasy novels), that I could not convince myself to spend money. In some cases, there are books that were so hyped, I’d get so excited for them, I borrowed them or bought them, depending on whichever came first.

christmas books GIF

The next factor is my previous experience with a specific author or a book similar to something I read before that I didn’t enjoy. A recent example of this scenario is Aurora Rising by Aimee Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I had bought into the hype surrounding their previous work, Illuminae. At the time, I was not deep into reading science fiction yet, so I got it from the library. Unlike most people (and their brothers and mothers), I did not love Illuminae. I don’t plan on continuing with the series either. So, when Aurora Rising was released, I had no interest in picking it up.

Once again, the hype won out. Also, I could not deny that this plot was much more intriguing to me than Illuminae. The cover being super pretty didn’t help. So, I caved and got it from the library. Thankfully, this time around, I was not disappointed. However, there have been other situations where I was disappointed again by an author I had faith in. And, no, I do not want to talk about Whitefern by V.C. Andrews….

season 1 books GIF by Portlandia

Availability of a book has recently, unexpectedly, become a factor of whether I borrow or buy. To my naïve surprise, not all books are readily available online. If I wanted an older title, such as Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson, I would have had to scour the Internet to find a used copy in relatively good condition, whereas I could just wait a couple of days for the interlibrary loan to go through (and not have to spend any money, of course). Sometimes, if a book is not easily accessible through other avenues, or it’s a book I don’t think I will want to buy later (as was the case with Aurora Rising), I will keep that library book to read instead of returning it.

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If you use your local library, how do you decide what books you want to check out?

How do you decide what books you want to buy?

If you read a book from the library and enjoyed it, do you buy it later?

What are your thoughts on borrowing and buying overall?

Let’s discuss!

2019 Reading Resolutions Check-In

I had this idea in the shower the other day (TMI?) on doing a check-in for my reading resolutions. In a similar vein to the “Mid-Year Freak Out Tag,” (which I will be posting in a few days) I did an update on how far, or not, I’ve come in sticking to my 2019 New Year’s Resolutions. And figure out if I want to bother continuing with them or not.


“Unofficially” read 30 books

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At the beginning of the year, I set a Goodreads goal of 30 books and, miraculously, I beat it in May. I did this under the assumption I would have the bare minimum of reading time once I started the second semester of graduate school. I wanted to set the least stressful goal, even though I promised myself I would not make a big deal out of it.

The first few weeks of the year, I was on winter break. I read a few graphic novels as well as a few lighter books in between job hunting. By the time the semester began, I was still unemployed with only two days a week available. Naturally, that did not help my chances in finding part-time work. But it did help my reading.

Since I had two full days totally devoted to homework, I had more time to read on the weekends, as well as on the commute to and from school. Right now, I am well into summer break. I don’t plan on raising the goal higher. I’m just going to keep reading as much as I can without stress.


Book buying ban of 2019

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I had to go on a book buying ban for the first three or four months of the year, which I decided after my original resolutions post. By the beginning of February, my optimism at finding a new job had dwindled. After making an impulsive book purchase, I quickly realized that certain things had to take priority. Books were not one of them.

I am proud to say I was successful in this. I lasted until April, when taxes came through for me and I finally allowed myself to buy books again. I probably shouldn’t have, since I was technically still unemployed, but going to the library wasn’t doing it for me anymore.

Now, I have a job for the summer at an academic library surrounded by bookstores. I’ve bought three books in the past few weeks. However, being twenty-six sucks. I have to pay my school to provide health insurance. The bill is due in August. So, instead of taking advantage of my current financial situation and bookstore access, it looks like I’m going to have to go on another ban. Or, at least, cut back on the amount of money I spend.


Prioritize and marathon book series

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Fail, fail, and more fail. I have not prioritized series. I have not marathon any this year, either. I have read first books in series or the concluding novels or sequels. The rest are stand-alone. I did check out completed series from the library and pull ones I intended to read off my bookshelves. Then, after a while of sitting around unread, I ended up returning them to where they belonged.

Going forward into the remaining half of the year, I have selected series I want to complete before January 1st, 2020. Some of those series are:

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes

Gemma Doyle trilogy by Libba Bray

The Remnant Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson


Make smaller TBRs but be flexible

books reading GIF

Honestly, I’m not sure what my plan was with this one.

I was not doing monthly TBRs because of graduate school. I read what I wanted when I had the time or energy to do so. I read mostly library books for the first few months, a combination of the book buying ban and using library books to make sure I kept up a healthy reading habit. Not that it always worked.

I like making reading lists and sticking to them, but I’m learning to be flexible when a “mood” hits. Lately, though, with all the books I want to read, the “moods” have been kind of annoying.


Unhaul books

shocked the favourite GIF by Fox Searchlight

Of all the resolutions I set for myself in 2019, this is the one I am happiest I completed. I was running out of room on my bookshelves. There were books I knew I was never going to read again that taking up space. My Amazon wish list was getting longer.

Then, in April, my advisor announced the department was holding a book drive for an elementary school’s library in Rwanda. The books that they didn’t give to the school would be used in a book sale to collect money for the students’ materials.

Every Friday, I came to school with an extra bag full of books to put inside the donation bin. While I was sad to see some go, I knew they were better off going to people who would appreciate them more. And I was better off, too. At the same time, it was also an euphoric relief. I kind of want to do another one later this year, should the opportunity arise again.


Practice borrowing before buying

dog read GIF by Originals

This has been successful: there have been books I read first from the library and bought later or I plan to. Only upon reflection, the frequent library use of the year has brought on some unexpected problems.

Aside from not reading all the books I checked out (that should be a drinking game), I was not reading books I already owned. Worse still, I often lost interest in the library books, in addition to running out of time even after renewing them. So, in a sense, I was not thinking “practically.”

At the time I am writing this, 21 out of 34 books I read so far this year were library books. The book buying urges as well as free days in the middle of the week influenced the frequent library trips. Various times, I found myself with more than thirty books checked out at once.

In the past, I would have returned the books, then got them from the library again at a later date. Except even then, I still didn’t read them most of the time. I have a habit of borrowing books and not reading them, only to buy them later. In a way, it’s cheating the “borrowing before buying” system.

I think I might have to avoid the library for a few months. Easy enough, since it’s closed on the weekends July through August and I work during the week. While I obviously love the institution of libraries, there are books at home that have been gathering dust.


How have you done on your 2019 reading goals so far?


The Anticipated Releases Book Tag!

I was tagged by Rebecca to do the Anticipated Releases Book Tag. So thank you!

To be honest: sometimes, I don’t pay too much attention to new releases unless it’s a book I’m very, very excited for, such as the next installment in a favorite series. More often than not, I forget when books come out until I see them available on Amazon or at the bookstore and library. I try to focus on the books that are currently released and in my possession or I have access to before I think about the ones not out yet. Somehow, though, I came up with enough answers for this tag.


Your most anticipated release of the year

Screenshot_2019-06-23 Capturing the Devil (Stalking Jack the Ripper, #4)

Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco, the final novel in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. I am deliberately putting off reading Escaping from Houdini so I can marathon finish the series.


A book you’re not anticipating

Screenshot_2019-06-23 Wayward Son

This might hurt some of you, but Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell. Wayward Son is the sequel to Carry On. While I’ve enjoyed most of Rainbow Rowell’s books, sadly, I did not love Carry On like so many other people have. Chances are, I won’t read Wayward Son.


Most underhyped anticipated release


Lovely War by Julie Berry, which I already own since Barnes and Noble had an amazing sale recently. I have read two of Julie Berry’s novels and I immensely enjoyed both of them. Even if I had not read any of the author’s previous works, I would have been drawn to it anyway. It is a fantasy historical fiction novel told through the eyes of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, as she tells the story of doomed lovers to Ares and Hephaestus in a Manhattan hotel room.


A book you’ve been waiting on forever


Though it is technically not a new release at this point—it came out summer of last year—a book I waited for what felt like forever for was Lethal White by Robert Galbraith/JK Rowling. It is the fourth book in the Cormoran Strike series and the one that got pushed aside in favor of the disaster that was the Crimes of Grindelwald. As far as I am concerned, JK Rowling needs to retire her Boy Wizard and focus on her adorable, grumpy London private investigator.


A book you’re anticipating that’s out of your comfort zone

Screenshot_2019-06-23 Starsight cover image

That would be Starsight, the sequel to Skyward by Brandon Sanderson. I picked up Skyward last year because I’ve been wanting to get into Brandon Sanderson’s books for years and I wanted to read more Sci-fi. It’s not something I often reach for, compared to other genres.


Your top 3 “Can’t Wait” Books of the Year

Teeth in the Mist by Dawn Kurtagich

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Technically, all three of these books are out by now, but they were all ones I was anticipating when I first heard of their publication. Contradicting my previous statement that I don’t pay too much attention to new releases unless it is by authors I’ve read previously, that is partially true.

Teeth in the Mist is Dawn Kurtagich’s third novel, and I read, and enjoyed, the other two. I bought Margaret Rogerson’s debut novel An Enchantment of Ravens when it came out, though I haven’t read it yet. But if a synopsis has any mention of libraries, magic, and sorcerers, like Sorcery of Thorns does, I am all for it. And I’m trash for Beauty and the Beast, so you bet your bottom dollar A Curse so Dark and Lonely, which came out way back in January, is on the list.


Top 5 most anticipated backlist books on your TBR



Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee

An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

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

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

I came to a slightly uncomfortable revelation about myself this year: I want all the books yet I continuously deny myself what I actually want to read. All of these books should have been read by now, among so many others. Yet I keep putting them unfairly on the backburner. No idea why. I guess I am a masochist.


What is a backlist book you keep putting off “for the right moment?”

(TAG! You’re it!)

Review of Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan (Spoiler Free)

I have a new goal for the summer: write more individual book reviews.

Did I just jinx myself? Probably.

Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan is another library book that made me think and feel an unexpected number of things. It follows Ren Ishida, who travels to a small town in Japan where his sister, Keiko, ran away to years before. Keiko has just been found stabbed to death in the rain. Despite their weekly phone calls, Ren has always felt the emotional distance from his bubbly, caring older sister. In hopes of learning more about her life, he impulsively accepts her job teaching English at the cram school in town and moves into her room at a politician’s house, where he will take on Keiko’s role of reading to the man’s bed-ridden wife. In the same vein as Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, Rainbirds is more of a contemporary than a mystery. Ren discovers Keiko was hiding more than a few secrets and even comes face to face with his own life decisions.


Though I went into Rainbirds expecting a more domestic mystery set in Japan, I’m not disappointed in how it turned out. The book was a quick and easy read, with flashbacks between past and present that managed to flow well. As far as I know, Rainbirds is a debut novel. The writing was still lovely. From what I’ve read in reviews, Akakawa, the town the novel is set in, is fictional. The author created a dark, beautiful small town atmosphere. It felt run-down and isolated yet exotic at the same time. Akakawa was as mysterious as many of its inhabitants.

Normally, contemporary novels like this focus on very bad sibling/family relationships. However, Ren and Keiko had a healthy brother/sister dynamic. Keiko was nine years older than her brother and, because of their parents’ tumultuous relationship, she often had to step in as a parental figure. Though there was a lot of responsibility placed on her shoulders, she never took her frustration out on Ren and continued to treat him with concern and compassion. She kept in contact with him even after she impulsively ran away when he entered high school, which is probably why Ren never held any bitterness towards her for it. Yet both siblings are private, independent people, making it harder for them to share troubling events going on in their lives with each other.

The overall arching theme of Rainbirds is “people are complicated.” That includes Ren, who is completely dominated by his Id and screws up a lot in his personal relationships. There is another character, a female student at the cram school, who he finds himself in trouble with. Despite this, Ren isn’t unlikeable. He acknowledges when he’s messed up and there are situations where he gets himself out before things go too far.

If you are looking for a book without romance, I recommend Rainbirds. Ren is a commitment phobe, although it is not written like a flaw. Some people are not interested in long-term relationships, preferring to live independently. That opinion won’t change with “the right person” either. Ren is one of those types of independent people, though he somehow tends to involve himself with women who are looking for the opposite. Usually, it’s how he causes himself, as well as other people, a world of grief.

One element in Rainbirds that I view as both a con as well as a pro is that not all questions are answered. At least, they are not answered clearly; more on the basis of assumption. Not having all the answers is annoying, especially since one of those questions was a pretty big one. At the same time, not all questions presented in real life are answered. Rainbirds isn’t a fantasy, so it shouldn’t be written like one. But I know for many readers, this could be extremely frustrating.

While Ren is smart, there are times when he comes to certain conclusions you have no idea how he got there. To me, it felt more like “cold reading”: he had a theory about someone, threw his suspicions at them, and then watched how they reacted. Most times, this was confusing.

Then, there is the closest thing to a “plot twist” Rainbirds had. When it was introduced, it felt as though the author pulled it out of thin air simply for the purpose of shock value. There was the bare minimum of nonexistent evidence provided to support of how this revelation could have happened. It was so, so out there.

Overall, I give Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan 4.5 stars. I enjoyed the beautiful writing and complex characters. If you are looking for an adult contemporary novel set in another country or if you enjoyed Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, I highly recommend this novel.

Review of Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar (Spoiler Free)

It’s been a hot minute since I did a book review….

Until now, I used the occasional reading wrap ups this year as an excuse for not writing individual book reviews. Truth is, there hasn’t been a lot of books this year that have made me feel a lot of things or think a lot of thoughts as much as Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar.

The novel is the fictionalization of the lives of famous sisters, painter Vanessa Bell and acclaimed author Virginia Woolf. When the four Stephan siblings—Vanessa, Virginia, and their brothers Thoby and Adrian—move into a new house in a bohemian neighborhood following the death of their fancy middle-class parents, they begin the Bloomsbury Group. It is a collection of eccentric intellectuals that break away from the 20th century English norms in their art, writing, and love lives, among other things. Manipulative as she is brilliant, Virginia and her unstable mental health is the center of her family, especially for her big sister Vanessa. But when Vanessa falls in love, the sisters’ once close bond is tested.


I enjoyed the writing style and format of Vanessa and Her Sister. It is written in a diary format through Vanessa’s first person point of view, with letters and other correspondence from Vanessa, Virginia, and other members of the Bloomsbury Group woven in. Vanessa Bell herself had an interesting way of speaking that the author incorporated into the prose. She also did a good job with the transitions between time jumps; the time passing never came without warning.

Thus leads into my main qualm with the book, which is the pacing. Parts One and Two seemed to fly by. We see the forming of the Bloomsbury Group and their Thursday Night meetings where they talk about art and writing. We see glimpses of what the Stephan siblings had to deal with in regards to Virginia’s mental illness and how they handle tragedy as a family. We also see the forming of the prominent romantic relationships and women embracing their independence, like Vanessa’s back and forth courtship with her husband Clive.

Parts Three and Four were more complicated, yet they seemed to drag on. Everyone in the Bloomsbury Group has a different dynamic with each other that somehow maintain a balance in the overall group, with occasional tilts in the flow later in the book. But any issues or disagreements that come up are handled in a very adult manner, for the most part, which is something I appreciated.

The characters—Vanessa, Virginia, their brothers, and the rest of the Bloomsbury Group—all felt like real people the author might have actually known. I liked watching Vanessa come into her own, learning to stand up to herself and deciding when to put what she wants first when she needs to. Some characters, like Vanessa’s husband Clive, you begin the book viewing a certain way, then have a different opinion of them at the end. One of the characters I loved fit the “sassy gay friend” type.

Some characters I liked, then could not stand at the end of the book. That particular person is Virginia Woolf, someone who is such an acclaimed feminist that does some things against other women, namely her sister, that I find deplorable. She is also described to being very brilliant, although she rarely did or said anything that I found to “brilliant.” Granted, I only read Virginia’s book A Room of Her Own and I didn’t like it much. Most of the time, I found Virginia Woolf—or, technically Virginia Stephan still in this novel—extremely annoying and selfish.

So, if you are a big fan of Virginia Woolf, be aware you might absolutely hate her if you read Vanessa and Her Sister.

But no one in the Bloomsbury Group is strictly good or strictly bad. They are complicated artists and individualists that reject the rules society places on them. They maintain strong friendships, embrace all forms of love and creation, and accept sexuality as a thing that should be explored instead of repressed. Because of them, I would say the novel was primarily character driven instead of plot driven.

Overall, I give Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar 4 stars. If you are interested in reading fiction novels on well-known literary figures or looking for a good historical novel in a different format, I highly recommend this novel.

TBR Alphabet Tag

I don’t know what it is about book tags, but I see a whole bunch I want to do, I write up a draft almost immediately in a notebook, and then it takes me ages to type it up, edit, and post it on the blogsphere. I don’t get it.

Oh well. I saw this tag on Kristin’s blog a little while ago. Here it is now: the TBR Alphabet Tag.



An Assassin’s Guide to Love and Treason by Virginia Boecker

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Beyond a Darkened Shore by Jessica Leake

Screenshot_2019-06-16 Beyond a Darkened Shore



Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge

Screenshot_2019-06-16 Crimson Bound



(The) Darkest Legacy by Alexandra Bracken

Screenshot_2019-06-16 The Darkest Legacy (The Darkest Minds, #4)



Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

Screenshot_2019-06-16 Empress of All Seasons



Far From the Tree by Robin Benway

Screenshot_2019-06-16 Far from the Tree



Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Screenshot_2019-06-16 Geekerella (Once Upon a Con, #1)



Heretics Anonymous by Katie Henry

Screenshot_2019-06-16 Heretics Anonymous



Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier

Screenshot_2019-06-16 Isle of Blood and Stone (Tower of Winds, #1)






Kindred by Octavia Butler

Screenshot_2019-06-16 Kindred



Little and Lion by Brandy Colbert

Screenshot_2019-06-16 Little Lion



My Name is Venus Black by Heather Lloyd

Screenshot_2019-06-16 My Name Is Venus Black



Northwest Angle by William Kent Krueger

Screenshot_2019-06-16 Northwest Angle (Cork O'Connor, #11)



Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Screenshot_2019-06-16 Out of the Easy



Providence by Caroline Kepnes

Screenshot_2019-06-16 Providence


Q: (The) Queen’s Rising by Rebecca Ross

Screenshot_2019-06-16 The Queen's Rising (The Queen’s Rising, #1)



Ruined by Amy Tintera

Screenshot_2019-06-16 Ruined (Ruined, #1)


S: Spindle Fire by Lexa Hillyer

Screenshot_2019-06-16 Spindle Fire (Spindle Fire #1)



Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Screenshot_2019-06-16 Truly Devious (Truly Devious, #1)



Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

Screenshot_2019-06-16 Under Rose-Tainted Skies



(The) Virgin’s Lover by Philippa Gregory

Screenshot_2019-06-16 The Virgin's Lover (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels, #13)




Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crawley

Screenshot_2019-06-16 Words in Deep Blue






You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

Screenshot_2019-06-16 You're Welcome, Universe





I tag:






Top 5 Tuesday: Top 10 All-Time Favorite Books of 2019 (so far)

Thank you Shanah for taking pity on us for this week’s topic. I had no idea how I could narrow it down my all-time favorite books to five, never mind ten. But even that list will go far beyond ten.

Since we are coming up on the halfway point of 2019, it seemed like a fitting time to do a check in on my overall reading of this year. This list is comprised of ten of my favorite books I’ve read so far in 2019. Those are:


I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak


I Am the Messenger has not gotten the best reviews compared to Markus Zusak’s other novel The Book Thief, but, as you can see, I enjoyed it. I liked the writing style and the coverage of different issues young people face in their lives and the desire to be something greater than yourself. Ed carried the book with his good heart, strong moral compass, and dry sense of humor. You might have to suspend your disbelief on certain scenarios, but I like that in contemporary novels.


Saga, Vol. 9 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples


The latest volume in the Saga graphic novel series, I was bored throughout most of it. While it covered a topic like irrational fear spread through fake news, not much happened. Then, the ending did. While I saw it coming in the first volume, it had not gone the way I expected. It hit me with all the feelings and took me a couple of days to recover. I have no idea what I’m going to do until volume 10.


To Make Monsters Out of Girls by Amanda Lovelace


Yet again, Amanda Lovelace has earned a spot on my favorites. I loved To Make Monsters Out of Girls, in which she opens up about her experiences with being The Other Woman and domestic violence. While she is honest about her mistakes and what choices she made cost her, she also reminds women that they will not always be the bad guy and they are still worthy of love and respect. I still have not figured out how to review poetry. The best I can offer is my emotional reaction, which is I felt everything.


Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon


Marina is set in 1970s Barcelona, Spain and follows fifteen-year-old Oscar, who gets swept up in a dark mystery with an enigmatic girl named Marina. Like all his other books, it had beautiful, descriptive writing and a twisty plot that you never knew where it was going to take you next. This is one of those books where you are better off going into the plot knowing as little as possible.


A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin


Another library book I went into with mediocre expectations, A School for Unusual Girls is set during the era of Napoleon at an English boarding school where girls with “unusual” gifts—i.e. a knack for science like the protagonist Georgie—are trained to be spies. I loved this book. It was fun and fast-paced. Georgie and the other girls at the school, along with their headmistress Emma, are all strong, smart, and independent in their own right. The guys—Sebastian Wyatt, Captain Gray, Lord Ravencross—were all swoon-worthy and the relationships were adorable. A School for Unusual Girls is the first book in the series, so you better believe I will be buying my own copy of this book, as well as the next two books.


Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus


Two Can Keep a Secret blew me out of the water. I flew through it in a few days, probably finishing homework too quickly to get back to reading. I liked all the characters—true crime buff protagonist Ellery, her twin brother Ezra, Malcolm, who is the other narrator, and Malcolm’s best friend Mia—and the writing and the plot made me want to keep reading. Then, it ended with likely the best line a mystery novel can end with.  


Invisible Ghosts by Robyn Schneider


This book got a tiny bit of hype on BookTube when it first came out a year or two ago, but I almost completely forgot about Invisible Ghosts until I found it browsing my library. It is one of the few books I saw both my current and past selves represented in a character. Rose Asher is an introvert intentionally cutting herself off from the world not only out of shyness, but to spend time with the ghost of her older brother Logan. You see her gradually come out of her shell as she finds her “people” as well as comes to terms with her grief. It’s one of the books on this list I still catch myself thinking about frequently.


Vicious by V.E. Schwab


Vicious is a book I have heard nothing but amazing things about for years and I finally read it. Thankfully, it lived up to the hype. V.E. Schwab did a good job blurring the lines between good and evil, and painting the world she created with more gray than black and white. For a sociopath, Victor Vale was surprisingly more likeable than I expected him to be. His friendship with Mitch and his protectiveness of Sydney added a deeper human quality to him. As for Eli, he was one of the most interesting villains I’ve read. The writing was also amazing and the plot was fast-paced and entertaining.


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


Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc was in my most recent book haul. I was not planning on reading it. But it was calling my attention from its new home on my bookshelves and I was looking for something short to read, being in the height of finals at the time. I finished this book in a day and it was amazing. The writing was lyrical, written in various styles of medieval poetry, through the eyes of Joan, the people that knew her, and other perspectives, even inanimate objects. It explored different issues of sexism in medieval society and how ultimately Joan was killed by the patriarchy she was trying to protect. That hit the barb home.


Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson


Another novel written in verse and another of my most recent purchases, Shout was another anticipated release this year that I had to read before I picked up any other book. It is a memoir, in which the author opens up about her parents’ tumultuous relationship caused by her father’s PTSD and drinking, her rape at thirteen, how she learned to cope with her trauma in the years following, and what led her to become an advocate for survivors of sexual assault, which then led to her writing Speak. Though it was not quite a five-star book like I expected, Shout was still a powerful novel that I highly recommend everyone read.


What is your favorite book you’ve read so far this year?

Top 5 Tuesday: 11 Debut Novels I Want to Buy (Eventually)

One of the things I love about Shanah’s Top 5 Tuesday topics is that she leaves them open to interpretation. With “Top 5 Debut Novels,” I could not keep it at five. There are a lot of books coming out this summer, or are already out, that I have my eye on. Worse still, my new top is smack in between two bookstores. But the promise of textbooks on the horizon and empty hangers asking for new clothes in my closet have me trying to refrain from going overboard with every paycheck.

Key word trying.

            Here are the eleven debut novels I am most excited to add to my bookshelves (or check out from the library, whichever comes for):


Again, but Better by Christine Riccio

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I’ve been following Christine’s writing vlogs since she started her novel project in 2016. Besides liking Christine and her videos, I’m drawn to this book anyway. The cover is super pretty and it’s about a shy bookworm that studies abroad in London in hopes of getting out of her shell to improve her college experience.


Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Screenshot_2019-06-02 Wilder Girls

An all-girls boarding school on an island is quarantined after a virus infects and kills the teachers then leaves the students horribly mutilated. The girls are left to fend for themselves on the island to wait for a cure and never go beyond the walls of the school. But when one goes missing, another girl dares to venture into the world outside to find her. In doing so, she uncovers more to the story than what she and her friends knew.


We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

Screenshot_2019-06-02 We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya, #1)

A girl disguises herself as a man to hunt in a cursed forest to feed her village and a prince assassinates those who dare to challenge his father the sultan. They are two heroes that don’t want to be heroes. Now one has to hunt the other as they are both in search of an ancient artifact that can save their kingdom from war.


Nocturna by Maya Motayne

Screenshot_2019-06-02 Nocturna (A Forgery of Magic, #1)

Finn is a skilled thief and shapeshifter that can disguise her face as anyone she wants. She’s blackmailed by a mobster to steal something from the royal palace, which causes her to cross paths with Prince Alfie. Grief-stricken by the murder of his older brother, Alfie feels he can never live up to his brother’s legacy and seeks forbidden magic to bring him back from the dead. But when he meets the shapeshifting thief, an evil force is accidentally unleashed. Aside from having a gorgeous cover, Nocturna is also based in Dominican mythology, something I am very interested in reading.


The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala

Screenshot_2019-06-02 The Tiger at Midnight (The Tiger at Midnight Trilogy, #1)

Having just watched the live-action Aladdin, I’m craving more desert fantasy. Based on Indian and Hindu mythology, The Tiger at Midnight follows a rebel called the Viper and a soldier who are forced into a power play as the Viper seeks revenge for those who took everything from her. Both think they’re calling the shots, but they are only pawns in a larger, deadly game.


Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim

Screenshot_2019-06-02 Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars, #1)

Spin the Dawn was a book I heard about on Hailey in Bookland’s most anticipated books of 2019 then forgot it until I made this list. A girl disguises herself as a boy to join a competition to become the emperor’s royal tailor to provide for her family. Then, she is presented the challenge of creating three dresses for the emperor’s betrothed—from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of the stars—and travels to the depths of the kingdom, finding more than she anticipated.


Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju

Screenshot_2019-06-02 Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens

Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens follows a bored, awkward queer teen named Nima who is in love with her straight friend and still reeling from her mom’s sudden departure. After an encounter at a festival, she is drawn into the drag scene where she not only learns how to love and accept it and herself, but also how to accept when love is lost. Plus, this cover is so freaking pretty.


How it Feels to Float by Helena Fox

Screenshot_2019-06-02 How It Feels to Float

Biz lost her dad when she was seven, although everyone but her thinks that. She doesn’t tell anyone she can still see him, or about her chaotic thought patterns, or how she kissed her friend Grace or noticed the new boy Jasper. Then, something happens to Biz one day at the beach and the strings that held her together for so long finally give way at the seams. The ghost of her dad disappears, leaving her to wonder if it might be easier to either disappear altogether or find her dad and bring him back to her. But there is a third option Biz has yet to find.


The Beholder by Anna Bright

Screenshot_2019-06-02 The Beholder

Selah is a princess that has waited her whole life to embrace her duty to marry for her kingdom and find happily ever after. But after a humiliating public rejection, she goes along with her stepmother’s plan of travelling the seas from country to country to find a husband. If she doesn’t come back engaged, she doesn’t come home at all. But while Selah embarks on the journey of a lifetime, she finds more than her stepmother’s schemes hiding belowdecks.


This is Not a Love Scene by S.C. Megale

Screenshot_2019-06-02 This Is Not a Love Scene

Aspiring filmmaker Maeve has a rare form of muscular dystrophy and is wheelchair-bound. Her friends and passion for what she does distracts her from constant rejection from the opposite sex. Then, she meets Cole Stone, a hot older guy starring in her senior film project that is giving her looks she’s never gotten before. With this new attention and unexpected confidence, Maeve gets a taste of teenaged dating life, both physically and emotionally. But when it comes to choosing between what she needs and what she wants, and getting an answer out of Cole, suddenly romance doesn’t look so fun anymore.


The Art of Breaking Things by Laura Sibson

Screenshot_2019-06-02 The Art of Breaking Things

Skye is enjoying her time partying with friends and counting down to graduation and art school until her mom rekindles a romance with the man who betrayed Skye’s trust years ago. Too young to understand what happened to her, she kept quiet. Torn between running away and staying to protect her younger sister, she must find the courage to reveal the secret she’s hidden for so long. With the help of her friends and her artwork, Skye becomes her best ally and finds her words.


What is your most anticipated debut of the summer or of 2019 overall?



Game of Thrones Book Tag

Confession time: I am not a Game of Thrones fan.

Yet I probably know as much about it as the true fan-people. If you are on social media, you can’t get away from the Game of Thrones memes and GIFs. In real life, my dad loves the show (until the finale) and so do the majority of my friends. I’ve gotten stuck in the middle of heated discussions over that week’s episode or conspiracy theories. I even watched a few episodes occasionally. But, for the life of me, the show could not hold my interest.

Well, except for the memes.

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With badass women, court politics, dragons, and morally gray characters backstabbing one another, I should have liked Game of Thrones more than I did. Ultimately, I boiled it down to having a beef with the show. While I was at college, my dad put a TV in my bedroom so he could watch the show in peace because my mom hated it. Every time I came home, I was banished from my own room on Sunday nights. The reviews claiming the show portrayed graphic violence against women and mentions of incest didn’t help much. Needless to say, from then on, Game of Thrones was tainted for me.

Except my blog needs content and I need to write or I will explode. Shanah provided an outlet when she posted the Game of Thrones book tag on her blog recently. She didn’t tag me, so I tagged myself.

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Before we go further, I should also mention that I only know maybe five of the families listed in this tag. So, I have no idea what their family mottos mean.

To the tag!


House Lannister (Hear Me Roar): Name a book that you originally loved but, upon a reread, you realized it wasn’t so great after all.

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I think most people can attest to this, but Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. I reread the book about two years ago randomly during a long reading slump, then ended up putting it down after a hundred or so pages. Unlike most people, it was not so much the borderline toxic, obsessive relationship. Back in the day, I was Team Jacob, so Edward Cullen was already a dickhead. It was the cringey, boring writing style that made me give up. I couldn’t do it. But I didn’t change my high star rating on Goodreads. I loved it as a teenager and, as flawed as it might have been, a lot of good came out of the Twilight saga.


House Stark (Winter is Coming): Name your most anticipated read for the year.

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Easily Capturing the Devil by Kerri Maniscalco, the final book in the Stalking Jack the Ripper series. I am deliberately putting off reading Escaping from Houdini solely for the purpose of preventing a book hangover or having to wait too long for the next book. Another close contestant is Teeth in the Mist by Dawn Kurtagich. Except I don’t want to read it too soon, since it seems she takes a while to write books and she’s from England, making the wait longer than others.


House Targaryen (Fire and Blood): Name a book that you felt completely slayed with fantastic characters, plot, pacing, etc.

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A completely unexpected book that slayed me earlier this year was A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin. I went into it expecting a fun historical romance with spies. Instead, I got a group of strong, independent girls with their own talents and intelligence, swoon-worthy guys, and a fast-paced plot. It was a library book I read, though you can bet I will be buying my own copy, as well as the rest of the books currently out in the series.


House Baratheon (Ours is the Fury): Name a book that ended with a cliffhanger that genuinely pissed you off.

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I won’t say I was pissed off, but I was not entirely satisfied with the ending of The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan, the final book in his Heroes of Olympus series.


House Martial (Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken): Name a book or series that’s been on your TBR since the dawn of time.

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The Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi, the Anna and the French Kiss trilogy by Stephanie Perkins, and the Selection series by Kiera Cass. The first two I currently have checked out from my local library, while the Selection series I plan to read, also from the library, later this summer. I’ve had these books on my Goodreads TBR for years, ever since I discovered BookTube and I was brought into a platform that introduced me to a plethora books I might not have found otherwise.


House Boulton (Our Blades Are Sharp): Name the most graphic or disturbing book you’ve ever read.

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Horns by Joe Hill, which follows a young man, Ignatius, who was accused of raping and murdering his long-time girlfriend. A year after her death, Iggy gets drunk, pees on a statue of the Virgin Mary, and wakes up the next morning with horns protruding from his head. The magic of the horns compels people to reveal their deepest, darkest, most disturbing, most lustful, and sometimes grossest desires to Iggy. Thus, he intends to use them to track down his girlfriend’s real killer. And, in case you are unaware, Joe Hill is the pen name for Stephan King’s son. So, yes, like father, like son in terms of all that is graphic and messed up.


House Tyrell (Growing Strong): Name a book or series that gets better and better with every reread.

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Admittedly, I don’t reread books or completed series often enough. The ones I have reread have been only once or twice, and my feelings didn’t change. However, a book I reread last year, but in a different format, was Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. It was published in a graphic novel format last year.

Emily Carroll’s artwork added something more to Speak instead of taking something from it. She used a black-and-white art style that resembled the bleakness throughout the story. Yet the way she drew the characters, particularly Melinda, empathizes how young they all are going through and doing things like this. I don’t know if that makes any sense.


Are there any other fake Game of Thrones fans besides me?


game of thrones drinking GIF by Sky


I tag:





Nope Book Tag (featuring random Game of Thrones and cat GIFs!)

I thought once school was out for the summer, my creativity would flow again and I would be able to write more for my blog. Only I think my brain is still in recovery.

Also, I’m still backed up on some blog posts. I saw this book tag, the Nope Book Tag, on Crystal’s blog a while ago. Thankfully, this is the last one I needed to finish.

Side note: I love Crystal’s blog and I hope you all check her out!

On to the tag!


NOPE ending: a book that made you go NOPE either in denial, rage, or simply because the ending was terrible.

grumpy cat no GIF by Internet Cat Video Festival

The ending of The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton, a recent read. The ending was not terrible, but it was rushed and I went into the novel thinking that it was the last book in a duology. Although, there were too many loose ends and, after a search on Goodreads, there is at least one more book. I suppose I am in denial—I only wanted two books. Not that I don’t enjoy the series. Dhonielle Clayton is a good writer, but the world she created in The Belles already feels like its running dry of story ideas.


NOPE protagonist: a main character you dislike and drives you crazy.

Aelin from the Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas as well as Feyre from the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. I liked Aelin way better when she was Celeana and, honestly, I don’t think she’s fit to be a queen. She’s too wild and a hothead. Regarding Feyre, she was too much of a wishy-washy special snowflake for my taste. Part of the reason I haven’t gotten to the final novels in the respective series is because of them.


NOPE popular pairing: a “ship” you don’t support.

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Cassian and Nesta from the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas. I really like him but can’t stand her. He could do so much better.


NOPE protagonist action/decision: a character decision that made you shake your head.

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Most of the character decisions in Vengeful by V.E. Schwab, mainly the ones done by Marcella and Victor.


NOPE genre: a genre you will never read.

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Dark erotica, like an abduction turned romance. I fully understand Stockholm Syndrome is a real thing. I just don’t want to see it in any sexual capacity.


NOPE book format: a book format you hate and avoid buying until it comes out in a different edition.

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I prefer hardbacks and paperbacks over e-books and audiobooks. E-books you can’t smell and you have to stop reading to charge the battery. Audiobooks can be expensive and there’s the risk of a sucky narrator. But I don’t necessarily hate either of them, since it’s so easy for me to avoid them altogether.


NOPE trope: a trope that makes you go nope.

break up love GIF by Denyse

One trope I’ve seen a lot, particularly in young adult novels, is authors butchering one love interest that was perfectly fine in the previous novel(s) for the sake of making a new love interest look more appealing, or simply introducing a new love interest for the sake of drama in an otherwise stable relationship. This trope is usually the most annoying to me because I’m always loyal to the ships I sail.


NOPE recommendation: a book recommendation that is constantly hyped and pushed at you that you simply refuse to read.

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The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. Normally, I love high fantasy, but for whatever reason, I could not get into the media adaptions for neither of these works. With all the books I want to read, I’ll probably never get to these anyway. I won’t force myself to, either.


NOPE cliché/pet peeve: a cliché or writing pet peeve that always makes you roll your eyes.

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That love cures all in any compacity. That’s all I’m going to say.


NOPE love interest: the love interest that’s not worthy of being one/a character you don’t think should have been a viable love interest.

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Seung, a character from Where I Live by Brenda Rufener, a book I read earlier this year. He was the best friend of the main character, who had a crush on him and could only talk about how hot he was. He had no personality to speak of. I simply couldn’t see what there was for her to like about him so much.


NOPE book: a book that shouldn’t have existed.

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I know I gave it a decent rating on Goodreads, but Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes. It is the sequel to You, which should have been awesome. Instead, we get a bloodthirsty yet totally boring stalker, an annoying new love interest I think I hated more than I was supposed to hate said stalker, and a plot that involved more sex than stalking. At the time I read Hidden Bodies, I had loved You so much and was so excited for the sequel, I couldn’t bring myself to give it a bad rating. Since then, I’ve seen other reviews that validated the negative feelings I have towards Hidden Bodies. I even unhauled it as a result.


NOPE villain: a scary villain/antagonist you would hate to cross and would make you run in the opposite direction.

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Gaea from The Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan. Since she’s the actual earth, running away from her would be very, very difficult.


NOPE death: a character death that still haunts you.

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One of the four perspectives in Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys and the one character I did not want to die.


NOPE author: an author you have had a bad experience reading and have decided to quit.

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Eliza Wass, who wrote The Cresswell Plot and The Life and Death Parade. The Cresswell Plot was a novel I remember being really excited about, then was relieved I checked it out from the library when I read it. A novel about extreme religious ideals in families that was not written well, I forgave it because it was her debut novel. Then, I read The Life and Death Parade last year, a book about a girl tracking down an elusive group she hopes can bring back her dead boyfriend, and was again deeply disappointed by the failed potential. Safe to say, I don’t think I’ll read any more of Eliza Wass’s books.


I don’t know who else has done this tag, but consider yourself tagged if you want to!


Who is an author you’ve had a bad experience with?