March 2020 Wrap Up

You know the last time I did a single monthly reading wrap-up? I don’t….

Since I started grad school in 2018, I opted to do reading wrap-ups every few months instead of monthly. Between work and school, I was not reading a lot. The only exception has been these past two semesters, when reading was part of the curriculum for a class. I wasn’t reading a lot in summer of 2019, when I was on break from school. Sometimes, after so many hours of school reading, fun reading was impossible. No matter how hard I tried.

I work and go to school in big, well-known cities. I was fully aware that the Coronavirus was happening and people were scared. And I understand why—America has never seen anything like this. I work at an academic library, and the school I worked for had been paying close attention to the updates. Meanwhile, my graduate school stayed informed, but had not made a fuss about it yet. Probably because the school is primarily full of commuters.

Then, three days into my spring break (the week of March 9th), my school sends out a mass email that they are extending the spring break to figure out what they were going to do about the Coronavirus and the rest of the semester. Two days after that, they announced they were going virtual for the rest of the semester, just like the university I work for and a lot of other schools.

The first week of this unexpected quarantine was a hard adjustment. Obviously, the library I work in is also closed and I have no idea when it will reopen. I can’t even go to my local library to study, since they are closed until April 6th. Right now, I am doing the best I can to not get distracted from my schoolwork. I’m also realizing that I can work later and sleep later now—I don’t have to work my schedule around catching a bus.

It’s the little things. Just like books and this blog and this platform.

I read seven books in the month of March. The first three were for my children’s literature class and mentioned in another wrap-up. The rest are here and mostly library books from my library book haul.

The last four books I read in March 2020 were:

 

I Work at a Public Library by Gina Sheridan (library book)

5 stars

I Work at a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories from the Stacks

I checked this one out of my school library (great timing, huh?) after seeing it on a display. It is a collection of stories by a librarian working in a public library. They were laugh out loud funny, some were heartfelt, and all were brutally honest. If you have ever worked in a library, you will appreciate the humor.

 

Coraline graphic novel adaption by Neil Gaiman (library book)

4 stars

Coraline

I watched the movie adaption of Coraline on Netflix a few years ago, without having read the book. This graphic novel is technically also an adaption of the source material, so there were probably things changed to better suit the format here, too. Between the two, though, while I enjoyed the graphic novel of Coraline, it was not as unsettling as the movie. Of course, you can count on Tim Burton to make just about anything terrifying. On the flip side to that, I liked Coraline in the book more than the Coraline in the movie. She was spunky, a quick study, and thought on her feet. The Coraline in the movie was annoying.

 

Doll Bones by Holly Black (library book)

3.75 stars

Doll Bones

Doll Bones was a book I read for a review assignment in my children’s literature class. It’s my first middle grade book by Holly Black that I’ve read. It follows three friends, Zach, Alice, and Poppy, who play a make-believe game of pirates, mermaids, and evil queens with their toys and the china doll sitting in Poppy’s mom’s glass cabinet. When Zach’s asshole dad throws out his toys declaring he “grow up” and then Zach lies to the girls about why he can’t play the game anymore, they manage to convince him to go on one last adventure: to return the ashes of a dead girl inside the china doll to her grave.

I went into Doll Bones with semi-low expectations. While I have liked the books by Holly Black I’ve read so far, nothing has reached 5-star level yet. Doll Bones was a fun and quick read, blurring the lines between fantasy and reality. There were moments where I wasn’t sure if what was happening was real or imaginary. The characters were realistic, though we only get Zach’s point of view in the third person. As for the plot, it was entertaining and made me want to find out what was going to happen next.

 

Break Your Glass Slippers by Amanda Lovelace

4.75 stars

Break Your Glass Slippers (You Are Your Own Fairy Tale, #1)

I preordered Break Your Glass Slippers, something I rarely do. I was in the middle of reading another book, trying to finish it after dragging it out for over a month. But I could not stop thinking about Break Your Glass Slippers. The same day it came in the mail from Amazon, I caved and read it in the next 24 hours.

Break Your Glass Slippers focuses a little bit on toxic romantic relationships like some of Amanda Lovelace’s other poetry collections. But this one is more on toxic friendships, toxic family members, other toxic people, and women building up other women. Mainly, the message of Break Your Glass Slippers is to be your own Fairy Godmother and prince as much as a princess. I loved the stress on women supporting other women and learning to find your own self-worth instead of looking to others for validation. The reason I did not give it a full 5 star rating was because not all the poems hit a nerve or made me feel something compared to the previous one I read this year, To Drink Coffee with a Ghost. Which, if I’m being honest, I will probably compare the rest of her works to for the foreseeable future. Of all Amanda Lovelace’s published books so far, though, Break Your Glass Slippers is the prettiest with the light-blue undertones and starry night endpapers.

 

What did you read in March?

No (BLEEPING) Shelf Control: a *huge* book haul

Do you all expect anything less from me at this point?

January was my birthday month. During that time, I promised myself that, after January, I would stick to the resolutions I set at the beginning of the year. I preordered books I knew I really wanted. Then…I’m not sure what happened.

There were series I wanted to read for ages. 2020 was the year to start crossing them off my TBR. Of course, in between the packages arriving from Amazon, I visited Target and the bookstores near where I work. Because I have a problem. Needless to say, my bank account was not happy with me.

This introduction is long enough. Let’s get to the books!

 

The Young Elites, The Rose Society, and The Midnight Star by Marie Lu

20821111    23846013. sy475     The Midnight Star (The Young Elites, #3)

Of all the good things I’ve heard about Marie Lu, I have yet to read any of her books. The Young Elites trilogy was the one I was most interested in. A historical fantasy series with an anti-heroine as the main character? I’m in.

 

When You Ask Me Where I’m Going by Jasmin Kaur

Bridge of Scarlet Leaves by Kristina McMorris

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

Cilka’s Journey by Heather Morris

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A few days after Christmas, I went to Target with my dad to get started on my birthday books. I had checked out Imaginary Friend from the library at the end of 2019, but didn’t finish it in time. I really liked what I did read, so I bought my own copy. When You Ask Me Where I’m Going was another library book I didn’t get around to reading. Bridge of Scarlet Leaves is a World War II book about an interracial couple who are sent to an American Japanese internment camp that I thought was a cover buy but turned out it was already on my Goodreads from years ago under a different title. The Bromance Book Club is an adult romance that sounds like a ton of fun and Cilka’s Journey is by the same author, as well as supposedly a sequel to, The Tattooist of Auschwitz.

 

Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini

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You know 2020 is going to be a good year when you wake up on New Year’s Day to an email that you got a free book! I won a Goodreads giveaway for the first time ever.

 

The Vanishing Stair and The Hand on the Wall by Maureen Johnson

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The second and third novels in the Truly Devious trilogy. I’m looking forward to binge-reading this series this year.

 

Sea Witch Rising by Sarah Henning

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The sequel to Sea Witch, which is an origin story to the sea witch from The Little Mermaid.

 

I Stop Somewhere by T.E. Carter

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A dark contemporary that has been compared to Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.

 

Ember Queen by Laura Sebastian

The King of Crows by Libba Bray

Devil Darling Spy by Matt Killeen

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Besides The Hand on the Wall, I preordered Devil Darling Spy, the sequel to Orphan Monster Spy; Ember Queen is the final novel in the Ash Princess trilogy; and The King of Crows is the final novel in The Diviners series. These came out after my birthday in January and in the first week of February.

 

The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

Maya’s Notebook by Isabel Allende

Magic Hour by Kristin Hannah

History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

Delicate Edible Birds and Other Stories by Lauren Groff

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

At the Wolf’s Table by Rosella Postering, translated by Leah Janeczko

Longbourn by Jo Baker

Ahab’s Wife; or The Star-Gazer by Sena Jetter Naslund and Herman Melville

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There is a used bookstore a block away from where I work. Admittedly, some of these were impulse buys I had never heard of before but their synopsis drew me in. Most of the books were already on my TBR or buy authors I wanted to read more of.

 

Skyward and Starsight by Brandon Sanderson

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Ever buy something and then regret it almost immediately after? I checked out Starsight from the library in December and made it halfway through before getting hit with a reading slump. I could have checked it out from the library again. I mean, I did like Skyward and what I read of Starsight. And yet…I’m not sure why I bought them.

 

The Night Country by Melissa Albert

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The sequel to The Hazel Wood that I want to read RIGHT NOW!

 

Song of the Dead by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Seraphina and Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

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Song of the Dead is the sequel to Reign of the Fallen, a book on my priority TBR that I want to read this year. Seraphina and Shadow Scale are a young adult series about dragons I’ve wanted to read for years.

 

The Fruit of the Tree by Edith Wharton

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

Before We Visit the Goddess by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

The Age of Light by Whitney Scharer

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

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One thing I love about the city I work in is that there are bookstores practically everywhere. There is a used bookstore in the area I walk through to get to my bus. Edith Wharton is a 20th century author I’ve read and loved before. I had never heard of The Fruit of the Tree, which is about assisted suicide—a subject that must have been very, very taboo during this time period. The Age of Light and A Reliable Wife were already on my Goodreads TBR. The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae and Before We Visit the Goddess were books I bought based off their synopsis that reminded me of other books.

 

Frostblood, Fireblood, and Nightblood by Elly Blake

Song of the Current and Whisper of the Tide by Sarah Tolcser

The Queen’s Resistance by Rebecca Rossa

Legendary and Finale by Stephanie Garber

Two Dark Reigns and Five Dark Fates by Kendare Blake

A Sorrow Fierce and Falling by Jessica Cluess

Shadow Song by S. Jae-Jones

Imprison the Sky by A.C. Gaughen

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao

The Cursed Sea by Lauren DeStefano

The Dark Days Deceit by Alison Goodman

Ozland by Wendy Spinale

Allied by Amy Tintera

Winter Glass by Lexa Hillyer

All the Wandering Light by Heather Fawcett

Endless Water, Starless Sky by Rosamund Hodge

Lost Crow Conspiracy and Winter War Awakening by Rosalyn Eves

Poison’s Kiss and Poison’s Cage by Breeana Shields

The Falconer, The Vanishing Throne, and The Fallen Kingdom by Elizabeth May

Ever the Hunted, Ever the Brave, and Once a King by Erin Summerill

The Traitor’s Kiss, The Traitor’s Ruin, and The Traitor’s Kingdom by Erin Beaty

Poison Study, Magic Study, and Fire Study by Maria V. Snyder

As She Ascends and When She Reigns by Jodi Meadows

The Defiant and The Triumphant by Lesley Livingston

The Traitor Prince and The Blood Spell by C.J. Redwine

27827203 Fireblood Nightblood Song of the Current Whisper of the Tide The Queen's Resistance Legendary Finale Two Dark Reigns Five ​Dark Fates

A Sorrow Fierce and Falling Shadowsong Imprison the Sky The Winter of the Witch Muse of Nightmares  Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix The Cursed Sea The Dark Days Deceit

Ozland  Allied  Winter Glass  All the Wandering Light

Endless Water, Starless Sky Lost Crow Conspiracy Winter War Awakening Poison's Kiss

Poison's Cage The Falconer The Vanishing Throne The Fallen Kingdom

Ever the Hunted  Ever the Brave Once a King The Traitor's Kiss

The Traitor's Ruin The Traitor's Kingdom Poison Study  Magic Study (Study #2)

Fire Study  As She Ascends  When She Reigns The Defiant

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These are all the series and sequels that I wanted to buy for ages. This haul is already long enough as it is, so I won’t go into synopsis for each one. Hopefully, you will see at least some of these in 2020 monthly TBRs and wrap-ups.

 

Gunslinger Girl by Lyndsay Ely

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Gunslinger Girl is set in an alternative Wild West world set after a Second Civil War in the U.S. To escape her suffocating life at home, Serendipity “Pity” Jones goes to the lawless city of Cessation. But her freedom comes at a price.

 

A School for Unusual Girls, Exile for Dreamers, Refuge for Masterminds, and Harbor for the Nightingale by Kathleen Baldwin

A School for Unusual Girls Exile for Dreamers  Refuge for Masterminds Harbor for the Nightingale

I read A School for Unusual Girls from the library and it was one of my favorite books of 2019. My library didn’t have the other books available, otherwise I would have read the rest of the series right away. This is another series I want to get to in 2020.

 

The Skylarks’ War by Hilary McKay

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Another FREE book! A girl in my children’s literature class offered it to me. Turns out, she already owned a copy of the book under a different title, but didn’t realize it when she pulled it out of the “free books” cart of the children’s literature department (that I never found). It’s a middle grade novel set during World War II about a family trying to adjust after one of the sons enlists in the war effort.

 

The Rosie Result by Graeme Simison

The Sleeping Prince and The Scarecrow Queen by Melinda Sailsbury

Between the Spark and the Burn by April Genevieve Tucholke

Still Me by Jojo Moyes

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At this point, I had told myself that is it. I was not going to buy any more books. Then, I realized I had forgotten there were other unfinished series that I had wanted to finally get to. The Rosie Result is the final novel in a trilogy which the first novel is The Rosie Project, one of my all-time favorite adult contemporary novels. Still Me is also the final sequel novel to Me Before You. Between the Spark and the Burn is the sequel to Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, a book I read back in 2015. Same goes for The Sleeping Prince and The Scarecrow Queen, books two and three in a young adult high fantasy trilogy following a girl who, in The Sin Eater’s Daughter, has a poisonous touch.

 

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Women Talking by Miriam Toews

Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly

The Power by Naomi Alderman

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Like I said, I planned on taking a break from book-buying after that last bit. Then, I go into one of the bookstores and I see four books I want are 30% off…can you blame me? Daisy Jones and the Six is a book everyone seems to adore as much as its predecessor, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo…both of which I have not read. The Power got a lot of buzz when it came out. Lost Roses is a companion novel to Lilac Girls, one of my favorite historical fiction novels. Women Talking is a book about women trapped in a cult where men are abusing them and how they plan on getting out.

 

Break Your Glass Slippers by Amanda Lovelace

Break Your Glass Slippers (You Are Your Own Fairy Tale, #1)

 At the time I am writing this, I’ve already read Break Your Glass Slippers, because I am absolute trash for Amanda Lovelace. You will see my full thoughts in my March wrap-up.

 

Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Manon

Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed

Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas

43985469. sy475   Yes No Maybe So

Chain of Gold (The Last Hours, #1)    44778083

These next four books were some anticipated releases for 2020. Though I have not read anything by Sandhya Manon, I am trash for any Beauty and the Beast retelling. Becky Albertalli, Cassandra Clare, and Sarah J. Maas are auto-buy authors. Even though I have not finished The Dark Artifices trilogy or the Throne of Glass series, or have read A Court of Wings and Ruin.

 

Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Normal People by Sally Rooney

Writers & Lovers by Lily King

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Warrior of the Wild and The Shadows Between Us by Tricia Levenseller

A Curse so Dark and Lonely and A Heart so Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

Heart of Flames by Nicki Pau Preto

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43446574. sy475 35702241 A Curse So Dark and Lonely A Heart So Fierce and Broken    52016138. sx318 sy475

Other people buy toilet paper…I buy books. In these dark times, we have to do what we can to keep the economy going.

 

If you are still here, thanks for sticking around! Let me know which of these books I should move higher up on my TBR.

Reading Habits Book Tag

This unneeded quarantine has made me so crazy that I can’t remember if I have done this tag before….Although, my memory is bad anyway. So, never mind.

I saw this book tag on Ariel Bisset’s channel a few days ago. I like talking about bookish things that are not necessarily books. And I have more than ten bookish habits than I mentioned in a previous post. Now, I have another reason to talk about them.

To the tag!

 

Do you have a certain place at home for reading?

what do you want book GIF by NRK P3

At home, I read mostly in my living room on the sofa. Sometimes, I read in my room at my desk or in my bed. Between all these, the sofa is usually the one I gravitate towards, as my bed makes me sleepy (naturally) and the desk isn’t the most comfortable after a few minutes.

 

Bookmark or random piece of paper?

Bookmarks—paper, magnetic, or metal. Depends on whichever looks better with my current book.

 

Can you just stop reading or do you have to stop after a chapter/a certain amount of pages?

read karen gillan GIF by HULU

I usually take a break from reading a book after a number of chapters, no more than five. Or ten, if the chapters are short. If something is going on around me or I lose focus, then I can just stop reading.

 

Do you eat or drink while reading?

interested tea GIF by 1091

Only water and occasionally coffee. I would never eat while reading—too many of my books have been damaged that way.

 

Multitasking: music or TV while reading?

The only music I allow when reading is my white noise machine, if I happen to decide to read in my bedroom. As for television, I sometimes read during commercial breaks, with the volume muted. I can also read if someone else in my family is watching TV and I happen to be sitting on the sofa.

 

One book at a time or several at once?

darren criss books GIF

One at a time; if I try to read more than one, I favor one book over the others and they sit ignored until I get around to them.

 

Reading at home or everywhere?

studying youtube GIF by SoulPancake

I bring a book with me to work or school, mostly as an incentive to take breaks during the day. I try to read on the bus into the city, but more often than not I end up falling asleep. It doesn’t always work, though. So, I do most of my reading at home.

 

Reading out loud or silently in your head?

  baby book story reading GIF

Silently in my head, since for me reading in a solitary activity.

 

Do you read ahead or even skip pages?

Yes and yes. Primarily to find out what happens next or to find out how many pages of a chapter/a book are left to read.

 

Breaking the spine or keeping it new?

I am a heathen that breaks the spines of my books and I don’t feel bad about it.

 

Do you write in your books?

tracy morgan no GIF

 

I tag:

Shanah

Rebecca

Grey

Kristin

Books That Exceeded My Expectations

The good thing about being unexpectedly stuck at home? More time to read and work on my blog while still doing homework.

The bad thing about being unexpectedly stuck at home? I cannot focus on anything but the fact that I’m stuck at home because school, work, and everything else is closed.

I have an assignment due tomorrow that I should be working on right now, but blogging might help me destress and get my brain juices flowing.

Books that exceeded my expectations was another Top 5 Tuesday topic I missed. When I pick up certain books, I go in with minimum expectations. There are books I pick up from the library that I think I might not like for one reason or another but I’m too curious to not read it. The ones I read for school definitely fall under this category sometimes, too. Who likes a book they are forced to read?

Few things make me happier when a book exceeds expectations. Those books are:

 

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

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I read Riley Sager’s debut novel, Final Girls, from the library shortly after it came out and did not love it. The book had such a good concept, but poor execution. I wondered if the same might happen with The Last Time I Lied. Since this one was set at a summer camp and involved complicated female friendship, I couldn’t ignore it. Most preferred Final Girls over The Last Time I Lied. For me, I thought the sophomore novel was better. I was engaged the whole way through The Last Time I Lied.

 

True Notebooks by Mark Salzman

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Until 2019, nonfiction was a genre I touched primarily for school. Very, very rarely on my own, honestly. True Notebooks I had to read for my literacy services class last spring, which is about a writer that volunteers to teach creative writing at a juvenile hall. The whole book was basically about the importance of literacy to certain populations, particularly prisoners. Though I would probably never reread it because the whole book had an unrelenting sadness throughout, True Notebooks showed how society can fail young people born into specific situations, as well as how books can help and heal.

 

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

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When Two Can Keep a Secret came out last year, it was right after I heard some rather negative things about Karen M. McManus’s debut, One of Us is Lying. That, and young adult thrillers are sometimes kind of cheesy and overdone. However, the idea of three murders of high school girls taking place in the same small town over a period of twenty years inside a theme park known as “Murderland,” was intriguing. As you can already guess, Two Can Keep a Secret was not a disappointment. I was entertained the entire time, loved all the characters, and it had the best ending line in a young adult mystery I had read to date.

 

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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Initially, I had zero interest in reading Aurora Rising for two reasons. First, I didn’t really like Illuminae by this author duo. Second, science fiction was a genre that I did not give much thought to, as most of its subjects go right over my head. Then, I kept seeing the cover of Aurora Rising everywhere and saw my library had a copy. I picked it up on a whim, then could barely put it down until I finished it. Sadly, I was not surprised when it was not getting the best feedback from other readers. Illuminae set the standards too high. But I liked all the characters and I thought it was a fun, solid first book in a series.

 

City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson

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The main criticism regarding City of Saints and Thieves that I heard was that it was not an OWN voices author. Despite Natalie C. Anderson’s history of working with refugees from the Congo, I had to admit, a white American writing about those types of experiences could be a delicate situation. I thought she did a good job though; the plot was exciting, the setting heartbreakingly realistic, and the main character was a strong, smart girl that knew how to think on her feet.

 

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

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When The Hazel Wood came out a couple of years ago, the reviews were so mixed it was scary. As much as I loved the concept and the cover, I could not bring myself to take the risk on purchasing it without having read it first. While the main character is not exactly likeable, the writing and the world-building was lush and beautiful. The fairy tales were how I like them: dark and gruesome. I flew through The Hazel Wood. I’m expecting the same thing to happen when I get around to reading the sequel, The Night Country.

 

What books exceeded your expectations?

 

Books That Were Not What I Expected

What do you do when you find a book that was not what you expected?

This was another Top 5 Tuesday topic from February that I missed. I know this sounds like a negative subject, however reading a book that is not what you expected can be a good thing also. Unfortunately, as evident by this list, reading a book that was not what I expected was commonly more a negative experience than a positive one.

 

Sabrina by Nick Drnaso

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Sabrina was the third book I read in 2020, recently purchased two or three months ago. I already want to unhaul it. That right there should be enough of an explanation. Sabrina supposedly won awards, yet I was so bored the entire time I was reading. This was not the mystery/thriller graphic novel I was expecting.

 

Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan

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Rainbirds gives off the vibe of being a domestic thriller set in Japan circa 1990s. Except this is one of the cases where a book not being what I expected was not entirely a bad thing. The protagonist, Ren, infiltrates a small town after his older sister, Keiko, is killed. He goes as far as even to replace her as an English teacher in the local cram school and moving into her old room in the local politician’s house. While it turned out to be a contemporary, Rainbirds ultimately had more pros than cons.

 

The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany

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The King of Elfland’s Daughter is supposedly one of the “greatest fantasy novels of all time.” Sadly, I found nothing “great” about it. How the hell did people figure out what was going on?

 

Kiss Me in Paris by Catherine Rider

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I picked up Kiss Me in Paris needing something short to get ahead in my yearly reading challenge before going back to school last year. Only this romantic comedy in Paris had more depth to it than I expected. I would compare this book to The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon: a whirlwind 24-hour romance that brings up some serious issues and handles them quite well.

 

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

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Everything I Never Told You sounds like a mystery when you first read the synopsis. It is about an interracial family as they unravel after the beloved middle daughter is found dead in the lake. While mystery behind the daughter’s death is the most constant thread throughout, the book’s main focus are the shifting family dynamics and how this tragedy brought forth the problems they have spent years ignoring.

 

Lizzie by Dawn Ius

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A retelling of Lizzie Borden set in the modern day? Sign me up! I can’t tell you how excited I was for Lizzie when it came out. While I know fanatically religious parents still exist, the book just felt too Victorian for something supposedly happening in the 21st century. The writing made me cringe. Not to mention the insta-love lesbian romance.

 

Part of Your World by Liz Braswell

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I really don’t want to talk about it, but I kind of have to, don’t I? Granted, I went into this retelling of Disney’s The Little Mermaid movie with low expectations. It is supposed to be set five years after the events of the movie and what would have happened if Ursula won. It was not nearly as dark and fun as I thought. I was not expecting great literature, but I wasn’t expecting to be bored.

 

And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman

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And When She Was Good felt like a Lifetime movie in book form. While I typically enjoy those kinds of books—if written well—I picked up this book expecting a thriller instead of a drama. With all the flashbacks, it took ages to get to the point and nothing major happened.

 

Invisible by James Patterson

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As a reader of James Patterson, I should know by now not to expect anything from his books. His books either hit or they miss. Obviously, Invisible was a miss. It started off well, but by the end he was recycling plot twists he had used before. Very, very boring.

 

A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell

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I went into A Simple Favor expecting a book about the complexities of female friendship when both have big secrets. Instead I got…not that. Normally, a sociopath would be fun to read about, but this woman was just extra. And the other’s secrets were taboo in a fun way, but were revealed too soon. A Simple Favor had so much potential.

 

What books were not what you expected?

Ten of My Bookish Habits

I can’t begin to explain the unfair FOMO I felt when Shanah announced February’s Top 5 Tuesday topics. The life of a graduate student is filled with Top 5 Tuesday FOMO.

But this blog needs content and I need to get over my FOMO. And I really want to talk about my bookish habits. Because I have ten, not five. Or, well, I probably have more than ten, but who has time to go that deep?

Ten of my bookish habits are:

 

Using my local library

I am getting my Master’s in library and information science, so I should practice what I preach, right? As if I need to justify free books. While I love supporting the great institution I aim to spend the next thirty or so years of my career, it becomes a problem when I’m ignoring the unread books I have at home. Like right now.

 

No dog earring!

I have so many bookmarks it’s a sin. There is no excuse for me to dog-ear my books while I read. Every time I pick my next read, I painstakingly pick a bookmark that best matches it. I will even dump all of them on my bed until I find the right one.

 

I read only one book at a time

I’ve been trying this lately and it is confirmed: I cannot read more than one book at a time. How do I know this? I lose interest in the other book(s) I’m reading to focus on just one until it is finished. No matter how long it is.

 

I carry a book with me almost everywhere

Even if I know I will likely not have time to read during the day, I still bring a book with me.

 

I keep track of books I read in a month inside a notebook

I started using a notebook to track my monthly reading around the time everyone else was going crazy over bullet journals. I was too lazy to go through making spreads and what not, but I like making lists. Using a notebook seemed like the easiest way to keep track of what I read during the month as well as what I rated each book.

 

Buying books without reading more of the ones I own

All the three-part book hauls on my platform—and my bank account history—can attest to this. I mean, I love supporting bookstores as much as libraries and, since it’s my money, I can do what I want with it (within reason, of course).

 

Using Goodreads

I participate in Goodreads yearly reading challenges and I use it to keep track of all the books I read in a year. Whenever I have read a certain amount of pages, I update the status on Goodreads. I add books to my Goodreads “want to read” every day. I enter giveaways. Of all the social media I have, Goodreads is the one I use the most.

 

Taking forever to finish book series

This is a habit I am sure many of you can relate to. We read the first book, love it, and then wait two or three sequels before finishing the series. Or there’s a series you want to read, but the whole series comes out before you actually get around to it. I own several unread series that I have every intention of reading. Eventually.

 

Making reading lists and monthly TBRs

I love making reading lists. It’s a calming thing, a way to get my thoughts in order when I’m struggling to focus. I make lists of books I want to read at the moment or future TBRs. Do I stick to the reading lists? Not always. I do my best, though.

 

Rarely rereading books

I used to reread a lot when I was younger. That was before I had access to a well-stocked library or my own income to buy books. Now, I rarely do it.

 

 

Do you have any of the same bookish habits I do?

The Coronavirus Made Me Do It: March 2020 Library Book Haul

It’s not entirely the Coronavirus’s fault…I already broke my New Year’s resolution of not checking out too many library books. But the extended spring break and then the announcement that my grad school will be finishing the rest of the semester online made me want to leave my house—i.e. go to the library to get more germs. I mean, books.

Do I have a lot of books at home I could be reading? Yes. Problem is, I needed an excuse to get out of the house. Plus, I have been visiting my library’s account more often recently. There were books I had saved on lists for as long as I had that account (three years). Books I really wanted to read for years. I even checked out two books from my school’s library—great timing, right?

Naturally, there are a lot of books here, so let’s get right to it.

 

I Work at a Public Library by Gina Sheridan

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This is one of the books I checked out from my school library, before the Coronavirus mania reached my school’s campus. I had heard of this book, even randomly saved it to my wish list on Amazon then deleted it. I Work at a Public Library seemed better to read from the library, as recounts the author’s experiences as a librarian in a public library. And I’ve already read it, so you will see it in a future reading wrap-up.

 

Coraline graphic novel adaption by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by P. Craig Russell

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Coraline was on the same display as I Work in a Public Library. I had seen the Tim Burton movie adaption a couple of years ago. I have already read this book too and you will see my full thoughts in a wrap-up.

 

Doll Bones by Holly Black

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The only book in this library haul that was actually for school, Doll Bones is for an assignment in my children’s literature class. At the time I am writing this, I’m currently reading Doll Bones and a little over 50 pages in. And the main character Zach’s dad is a dumbass jerk.

 

The Winter King and The Sea King by C.L. Wilson

The Winter King (Weathermages of Mystral, #1)    23496336

A few weeks ago, I did a project on paranormal romance novels for my collection development and management class. This was a genre I had not read much of in the past few years, at least not of the more adult variety. I actually deleted a lot off Goodreads. However, The Winter King and The Sea King were ones I did not delete. They are a series of companion novels set in an elaborate fantasy world following sisters with elemental magic. I’m slowly working my way through The Winter King (both are over 500 pages). So far, it has some of the typical paranormal romance tropes that C.L. Wilson is doing her best to make less toxic.

 

One Night with the Valkyrie by Jane Godman

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One Night with the Valkyrie was a book I borrowed before The Winter King, and the book I think really instigated the desire to read more adult paranormal romance, besides working on the project I just mentioned. I was drawn to this one primarily because the man is the human and his love interest is a Valkyrie that escorts souls back to Valhalla. She falls for him, but their relationship violates the laws of the gods. And we all know how well that goes.

 

Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning

Darkfever (Fever, #1)

The Darkfever series I’ve had saved on Goodreads and on my library account for ages. When I saw it on the list of “Best Paranormal Romance Novels” on Goodreads, I convinced myself to pick up the first book. In case you didn’t know, Darkfever follows Mac, a young woman who goes to Ireland to investigate her sister’s murder and discovers she has the ability to see fae. I’ve heard these books are very good books and has a great slow-burn romance.

 

Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead

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9833184  8709524  The Ruby Circle (Bloodlines, #6)

This series was recently featured on my anti-haul a few days ago. I got Bloodlines from the library because, if I’m being honest, I fell a little out of love with the Vampire Academy series. I was not Team Adrian Ivashkov, though I know now Dimitri probably wasn’t much better. Still, I need something fluffy to read. Richelle Mead’s books fit the bill.

 

Fallen series by Lauren Kate

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Another series from my anti-haul, the Fallen series is from an era of young adult literature where the heroine’s primary motivation is getting close to the dark, broody bad boy. All that I have ever heard about these books is that they are a cringe-fest. It was also another book I think was mentioned on the Goodreads “Best Paranormal Romance Books.” So, we shall see.

 

Dark Lover by J.R. Ward

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A staple in adult paranormal romance, Dark Lover is the first book in the popular, ever-growing Black Dagger Brotherhood series. All I need to know is that it has vampires and sex.

 

Angels’ Blood by Nalini Singh

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I’m pretty sure I had Angels’ Blood on my Goodreads TBR for a while, then I deleted it. After watching the TV show Evil on CBS, I was looking for stuff specifically with angels and demons. A vampire hunter named Elena is hired by the archangel Raphael for a dangerous mission and, as you’d expect, he’s ridiculously hot.

 

Stray by Rachel Vincent

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Shapeshifters are some of my favorite supernaturals. Stray follows a young woman, a werecat, who is forced to go back home to her Pride after an attack reveals a string of disappearing female werecats like her.

 

Shiver trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater

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One of the series I’ve had saved on Goodreads for the longest, I figured it was time I read the Shiver trilogy before reading The Raven Boys. I know I do not necessarily need to, but I’m way behind on Maggie Stiefvater’s backlist books.

 

Hush, Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick

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Besides being casually mentioned in a Polandbananasbooks YouTube video, I chose the Hush, Hush series primarily because my library recommended it for those who liked the Unearthly trilogy by Cynthia Hand. This might be another cringe-fest, though.

 

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

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The most recently published paranormal romance novel in this library book haul, Trail of Lightning is set in a post-apocalyptic world where Native American gods are alive and only those who lived on the reservations survived the end of the world.

 

The Night Before by Wendy Walker

The Night Before

I read Wendy Walker’s debut novel from the library, Emma in the Night, a few years ago and liked it, though it was not what I expected. Like that book, The Night Before also follows sisters. After getting dumped, Laura leaves her life in New York to live with her sister Rosie in Connecticut. When Laura doesn’t come home from a date with a man she met online, Rosie begins to fear the worst. Not that the man did something to Laura, but that Laura did something to him.

 

Marlena by Julie Buntin

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When Cat was fifteen, she became infatuated with her neighbor, an older girl named Marlena. Beautiful and manic, Marlena introduces Cat to the wilder side of life, until she is found drowned in six inches of water. Years later, as Cat looks back on those days, she is forced to face the guilt she feels and finally forgive herself.

 

The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs

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After her adoptive grandfather, famed mathematician Isaac Severy, commits suicide, struggling bookseller Hazel receives a letter from him. She is sent on a scavenger hunt to find mathematical treasure, where she interacts with other mentally unstable members of the Severy family. But when things do not go according to plan, Hazel is forced to enlist the help of those whose motives are questionable.

 

The Philosopher’s Flight by Tom Miller

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All I know about The Philosopher’s Flight is that a male scientist is sent to work with a crew with all female scientists and gender roles are flipped on their heads. I don’t need to know anything else besides that.

 

The Murderer’s Daughters by Randy Susan Meyers

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I’ve had The Murderer’s Daughters saved on Goodreads since 2012. The story follows thirty years of two sisters’ lives after their father kills their mother right in front of them.

 

Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

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Karin Slaughter was the author almost everyone was talking about a year or two ago. I’ve been cautious to read her books after I watched a review of how graphic her books are. Pieces of Her was her book I was most interested in, primarily because it focuses on a mother-daughter relationship. The mother has a secret past the daughter never knew about, and it is said to not be the most graphic of Karin Slaughter’s books.

 

What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman

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Another book I had saved on Goodreads since 2012, one a friend had actually recommended to me, What She Left Behind also follows a mother-daughter relationship. In this one, the daughter is trying to put together her family’s history after the death of her mentally ill mother. It begins after she discovers the diary of her ancestor, who reveals something deeply disturbing about the family.

 

The Girls by Emma Cline

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The Girls is a book I heard about when it was released and kept it on my radar after a friend recommended it to me. It’s a retelling of the Manson Family cult. At least, that’s what I heard. And I think I girl has a crush on another girl.

 

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

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The Language of Flowers has been on my TBR as long as The Murderer’s Daughters. It follows a young woman that grew up in the foster-care system and makes her living as a florist. When she meets a mysterious vendor, she questions what is truly missing from her life and confronts a painful secret from her past that has been holding her back from happiness.

 

The White Devil by Justin Evans

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The White Devil is set in a British boarding school with a connection to the poet Lord Byron. Seventeen-year-old American Andrew Taylor is sent there by his wealthy father after some problems at home. As one would expect, the school is haunted. Andrew soon becomes fascinated with Lord Byron’s time there as a student, when the young poet uncovered a dark mystery about the school.

 

The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler

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I found The Imposter Bride completely on a whim. It was recommended on Goodreads for those who have read The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan. Thing is, I didn’t necessarily like The Painted Girls…yet the idea of a daughter uncovering her late mother’s past and learning she stole someone else’s identity as a mail-order war bride was simply too intriguing. It seemed like fate when I saw that my local library had a copy.

 

The Lucky One by Lori Radar-Day

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Alice, a survivor of a childhood kidnapping, never forgot how she was nabbed from her backyard in a small Indiana community and how her cop father found her 24 hours later. Despite her family moving to Chicago to forget it all, she never did and volunteers with the Doe Pages to find missing people. Then, she sees the face of the man who abducted her and teams up with a woman named Merrily Cruz to find him before he hurts someone else.

 

Without Merit by Colleen Hoover

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I have never read a Colleen Hoover book and, seeing all her books saved on my library account, I made it a mission to leave the library with whatever book of hers they had on hand. Without Merit was the only one currently not checked out. This is one of her books I was most interested reading anyway. Without Merit is about a girl that blows the whistle on her family’s dirty laundry, thinking she has an escape plan. But when that escape plan falls through, she is forced to face the consequences of her actions.

 

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman

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Again, The Marriage of Opposites has been on my Goodreads TBR for too long. I have not read a book by Alice Hoffman since Aquamarine in sixth grade. After buying The Dovekeepers from a used bookstore and seeing the gorgeous cover of The World That We Knew everywhere when it came out, I was reminded of how far beyond I am in Alice Hoffman’s books. I had forgotten The Marriage of Opposites until I read the synopsis: the love story of painter Camille Pissarro’s parents.

Side note: I have no idea who this painter is.

 

Still Lives by Marie Hummel

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Kim Lord is an artist that has an upcoming collection of self-portraits as famous dead women. Before the grand opening of her gala, she goes missing. Editor Maggie Richter gets drawn into the case by both her fascination with Kim’s art and that her ex-boyfriend is a suspect in Kim’s disappearance. To find answers, she goes deep into a world built on money and secrets against the backdrop of a society that normalizes violence against women (aka our modern society).

 

The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

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In the 1920s, Rose Baker is a typist for the New York Police Department. She types up confessions of criminals during the day, and by night goes back to being a woman sticking to her Victorian values. She’s a proper lady, until enigmatic new arrival Odalie introduces her to jazz and speakeasies. Except an innocent fascination soon turns into an obsession that sends Rose down into a dangerous spiral.

 

Have you read any of these library books? Particularly, any Colleen Hoover or Karin Slaughter? What did you think of them?

10 Book Series I Want to Read But Not Buy: an anti-book haul

Wait…Jillian the bookaholic actually does not want to buy books?

Despite the amount of book hauls that have appeared on my blog in the past, I am an avid supporter of the library, as evident by my choice of Master’s degree. I use my library card as much as I use my debit card. Sometimes, I use my library so much I ignore the unread books I have at home.

You can decide if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

Most of the time, I will either borrow or buy a book, whichever comes first. If I am uncertain, I will check a book out from the library first. Others I know I will love and will buy it automatically. Lastly, there are the books I will only ever get from the library.

The book series’ on this list are in one of two categories. The first is from a generation of books whose hype has come and gone. But I’ve had them saved on Goodreads for so long I still feel compelled to read them. The second category are books that have not received the best reviews, yet I’m intrigued enough to read them.

Ten book series’ I want to read from the library are:

 

Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead

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Unpopular opinion alert: I did not love Adrian Ivashkov from the Vampire Academy series. I found him annoying, though I admit Dimitri wasn’t much better. I have since unhauled the Vampire Academy series. Regardless, I currently have the entire Bloodlines series checked out from the library, because I want to be back in this world. Richelle Mead’s books are the kind you need when you need something fluffy.

 

Mara Dyer trilogy by Michelle Hodkin

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Mara Dyer was at its prime between 2009 and 2011. Then, the final book came out and suddenly everyone hated it. The series is pretty dated at this point, so I expect a lot of not-so-great tropes from that era of YA. Despite this, I tend to like books with unreliable main characters.

 

The Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima

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The Seven Realms series has been saved on my Goodreads since 2012. I know next to nothing about it or the author. It came out during a time where I was not as into fantasy as I am now. Despite my lack of attention, I have heard good things.

 

The Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard

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I think the Red Queen series is likely the most polarizing on this entire list besides Mara Dyer. Since the publication of book one, this series has not gotten the best reaction from readers. But I want to read more high fantasy with elements of blood magic.

 

The Dublin Murder Squad series by Tana French

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The Dublin Murder Squad series is one I go back and forth on. It has great reviews, and is even being turned into a TV show. However, while I love crime TV shows, I have a somewhat shaky history with them as books. I don’t know why. My guess is I prefer the drama if I can see it on a screen versus reading it. We will see if the Dublin Murder Squad can confirm this theory.

 

The Lux series by Jennifer L. Armentrout

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I have read only one book by Jennifer L. Armentrout, but it was a serious young adult contemporary. While I am getting more into science fiction, alien invasion stories are still a hit or miss for me. Lux was at its height about five years ago, so there will likely be some cringe-worthy tropes from that era. Plus, from what I have heard of these books, they are dramatic to the point of ridiculousness. Not to mention the covers….

 

Hush, Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick

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Another series I currently have checked out, Hush, Hush was at its prime during the days I was not as enthralled with BookTube. It wasn’t until Polandbananasbooks casually mentioned it in a video a few months ago that I remembered the existence of this series. After reading the Unearthly trilogy by Cynthia Hand, I was looking for more angel books.

 

Ruby Red trilogy by Kerstin Gier

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The Ruby Red trilogy was on my Amazon Wishlist for years. There were too many other, shinier books coming out that were always more appealing. I remember next to nothing about it, besides it being a time-travel series, the main character didn’t know she could time travel and there is an insta-love story. This might be another cringe-fest….

 

Fallen series by Lauren Kate

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Along the line of cringe-fest, the Fallen series seems to be the first answer people have for “cringey.” From what I remember, the series follows a half-angel who falls in love with another angel…I think? Isn’t there reincarnation involved? I’ll let you know once I read it, since I already have it checked out.

 

Shiver trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater

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I do not know why it has taken me so long to get to the Shiver trilogy. Thanks to Jacob Black, I love werewolves as much as vampires. This is another series I had on my wishlist for ages, but now have it checked out from the library. There are so many books I want to own even more than I could ever want the Shiver trilogy. I just want to read them. Also, I’ve heard this trilogy is not Maggie Stiefvater’s best work.

 

Which of these series have you read?

 

What did you think of them?

 

Are there any on this list you want to see me individually review?

Books I Read for My Children’s Literature Class: January to March 2020

This semester, I’m taking a class on children’s literature and I love it more than I thought I would. If I’m being honest, it’s mostly because they helped me reach my Goodreads goal of 50 books in the first three months of the year.

The readings for this class were picture books and middle grade novels. Before this class, the only middle grade I read was the Percy Jackson books. I never even thought about picture books. Now, I seriously want to raid the super cute middle grade section of the bookstore near my work.

As for picture books, they were something I never appreciated. I would not call myself an expert in rating them by any means, though. All of these are rated based on my personal enjoyment of them.

There were so many of them, they had to have their own wrap-up. So let’s get right on it.

 

January

 

When Sophie Gets Angry, Really, Really Angry by Molly Bang (library book)

3 stars

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The Dead Bird by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Remy Charlip (library book)

The Dead Bird by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Christian Robinson (library book)

4 stars

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Yeah, we read the same book twice, just done by different illustrators. Basically, four kids find a dead bird in the woods and hold a funeral for it. Between the two, my favorite illustrations were Christian Robinson’s. Remy Charlip used too much blue.

 

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (library book)

3 stars

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Freight Train by Donald Crews (library book)

NO RATING

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This is the first time I opted not rate a book I read. Freight Train is simply a board book about colors. How does a 27-year-old childless graduate student rate that on Goodreads?

 

Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold

5 stars

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Tar Beach is the first picture book I rated five stars. It is based off a quilt from the author’s childhood and follows a little girl who flies over New York City every night in her dreams. It made me feel fuzzy all over.

 

Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins

5 stars

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Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans (library book/reread)

5 stars

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Madeline was one of my absolute favorite books as a child. I even had a Madeline themed birthday party when I was about eight. This one was a five-star completely for the nostalgia.

 

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (library book/reread?)

4 stars

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You notice I put “reread” with a question mark. I remember hearing lots about this book growing up, though I never recalled reading it. I think the monster drawings kind of freaked me out back then. When I mentioned it as one of the titles being used in my children’s literature class, my dad said he read Where the Wild Things Are to my brother and I when we were little. I’m simply taking his word for it.

 

The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton (library book/reread?)

4 stars

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I distinctly remember The Little House being read to me as a child, though by whom I don’t know. My dad didn’t recognize it, so it might have been a teacher. I really loved the pastel color scheme used in this picture book. The book overflowed with sweetness.

 

Knock, Knock: My Dad’s Dream for Me by Daniel Beaty (library book)

4.5 stars

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Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown (library book)

4.5 stars

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Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper (library book)

5 stars

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Maria Had a Little Llama/Maria Tenia una Llamita by Angela Dominguez (library book)

4 stars

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Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love (library book)

5 stars

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I love Julian is a Mermaid with every fiber of my being. This is a book I hope to someday read to my own kids. And I would not be annoyed if they wanted me to read it a thousand times in a row. The artwork was beautiful. A little boy sees mermaids, dresses up like one, and his grandmother is cool with it. Even brings him to go hang out with other mermaids. Makes my heart happy just writing about it.

 

Los Gatos Black by Marisa Montes (library book)

3 stars

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One Family by George Shannon (library book)

3.5 stars

One Family

 

Black and White by David Macaulay (library book)

3 stars

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Arlene Sardine by Chris Raschka (library book)

4.5 stars

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Funny thing about this book: the other people in my class were freaked out that Arlene the fish had to die to become a sardine. I was the only one that appeared to be fine with it. While the color scheme was a little saturated, I liked this book and appreciated what the author was trying to do with it.

 

They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel (library book)

5 stars

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Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik (library book)

3 stars

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Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same by Grace Lin (library book)

3 stars

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Sammy the Seal by Syd Hoff (library book)

3.5 stars

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We Are in a Book! By Mo Willems (library book)

5 stars

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You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang (library book)

4 stars

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February

 

Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel (library book)

5 stars

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Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish (library book)

5 stars

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A super fun classic children’s book that I finally read at 27. And, in all honesty, I think Amelia Bedelia has a point. “Change the drapes” makes no sense, when you think about it.

 

Go, Otto, Go! By David Milgrim (library book)

3 stars

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Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly (library book)

4 stars

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The week I read Hello, Universe was the week of chapter and transitional books. We were only supposed to pick two to read. Of course, I read more than two.

Hello, Universe is a middle grade book I heard good things about. It follows fours kids, with one a bully and one trapped down a well. I liked all the characters, even identified with Virgil, the boy that finds himself trapped down the well. The writing surprised me; it was easy, but not too simplistic nor written in a way that talked down to the middle grade reader. I had a fun time reading Hello, Universe. I definitely plan on picking up my own copy and reading more books by Erin Entrada Kelly.

 

Give Please a Chance by James Patterson and Bill O’Reilly

4 stars

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We had to do an analysis on a picture book. I stressed on what to pick, if I actually had to go out and buy one. Then, I remembered my mom had asked for Give Please a Chance for Christmas a few years ago and I still had it. I agree with the reviews: how did such an impolite person like Bill O’Reilly write a book about manners?

 

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henke (library book)

3.5 stars

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The other book I wanted to read along with Hello, Universe wasn’t available from my local library yet, but The Year of Billy Miller was. It was a great book that brought me back to second grade. I liked Billy and his family. But Emma Sparks was a little shit.

 

Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet (library book)

5 stars

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We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson (library book)

4 stars

We are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball

I don’t know if this would qualify as a “picture book” with how heavy it was and how dense the text. I personally knew next to nothing about the Negro League, mostly because I don’t care for baseball (or sports in general). But I did find it informative. So, if baseball history is your jam, I recommend We Are the Ship.

 

Josephine: the Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell (library book)

5 stars

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Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras by Duncan Tonatiuh (library book)

4 stars

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Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin by Robert Byrd (library book)

5 stars

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Benjamin Franklin is my soul twin—he gets me and my love of buying books. His whole life was interesting. I also love how he was the only Founding Father that supported women’s rights and he saw nothing wrong with indulging a little once in a while, even if he felt guilty about it. This book also painted Ben Franklin as an imperfect, but good, man, which I deeply appreciated. I am still debating on whether or not to buy my own copy.

 

Giant Squid by Candance Fleming (library book)

4 stars

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Honey Bunny Funnybunny by Marilyn Sadler

NO RATING

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I have no idea how to rate this book, if I am being perfectly honest.

Honey Bunny Funnybunny is a reread for me. This was one of my favorite books as a child; I asked my dad to read it to me so much, the binding is almost falling apart. I completely forgot about it until I needed an easy reader for an assignment in my children’s literature. I found it on the shelves my brother and I keep our childhood books.

On Goodreads, I saw a surprising amount of negative reviews for Honey Bunny Funnybunny. While I understand people’s feelings towards the boy bunny expressing his love to his sister by being mean to her, anyone who has a sibling, especially if your sibling was a little shit like mine was, this book might resonate with you. And, to the book’s credit, the parents do punish the older brother when his behavior goes too far. Up until that point, it is all stupid kid stuff.

And, despite what many of the reviewers might think, my brother and I have an adult relationship now. Because we got it all out as kids.

 

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner (library book/reread)

4 stars

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The Boxcar Children was one of my favorite books as a child. Sadly, I don’t own a copy anymore, or at least I think I don’t. I must have lost it or gave it away when we moved years ago. I had wanted to read it for an assignment, only it didn’t come from the library in time. I read it anyway. I thought I would give it five stars, except towards the end I didn’t care as much as I did years ago. In fact, I wonder now if I had finished it all the way through back then. (I was a naughty little reader.) Still, The Boxcar Children was as sweet as ever.

 

Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library by Barb Rosenstock (library book)

5 stars

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I picked up Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library for an informational text analysis assignment. Because what reader doesn’t love a book about books or libraries? Except it did not meet the criteria my professor set. I read it anyway. Yeah, Thomas Jefferson was a slave-owning man-whore, but the guy loved books.

 

Ghost Liners: Exploring the World’s Greatest Lost Ships by Robert Ballard (library book)

4 stars

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Ghost Liners is the book I ended up using for the informational text assignment I just mentioned. It was actually mentioned in an article I read for class. It’s about five shipwrecks, one of them being the Titanic. Lots of cool photographs and illustrations of the ships combined with the first-hand experience of survivors and witnesses (this book was published in the 90s). If shipwrecks or underwater exploration is your thing, Ghost Liners might be a good one to look into.

 

March

 

There is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith (library book)

4 stars

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A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat by Emily Jenkins (library book)

4 stars

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Beautiful hand drawings of different families making the same dessert. I know the drawings of happy slaves leaves a bad taste in people’s mouths, but props to the author for turning gender roles on their heads with the father and son making the dessert in the end.

 

A Birthday Cake for George Washington by Ramin Ganeshram (library book)

3 stars

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Another book with the unpleasant drawings of happy slaves, A Birthday Cake for George Washington follows Delia, the daughter of Hercules, George Washington’s slave chef. The artwork was beautiful, if you are willing to overlook the fact that the chef was working his ass off for the guy who kept him and his family enslaved.

 

Have you read any of these books?

 

What did you think of them?

 

What do you think of picture books in general? Do you still read them, with or without kids?

 

 

First Reading Wrap Up of 2020: January & February

It’s been two months since I have posted here on my blog. In that time:

I started my last semester of graduate school.

I’m currently on a now extended spring break because my school is taking precautions against the Coronavirus.

I broke at least two of my reading resolutions. (I’m sure you can guess which ones.)

I beat my Goodreads 2020 reading goal.

I READ 30 BOOKS IN ONE MONTH!

That is due to the children’s literature class I am taking this semester. Those books you will see in a separate reading wrap-up. But I have never read so much in a month.

I am glad to say I started off my 2020 reading year strong. Before school started again, I managed to read five books in January. It is also the month I read 30 books, making it more of a whirlwind than it already was. In February, I read only one book not school related.

In January and February 2020, I read:

 

January

 

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll (reread)

4 stars

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In the days leading up to 2020, I was fussing over what my first read of the year would be. Then, I heard a few people say they started the new year with a reread. I bought Through the Woods, which I read from the library in 2016, to reread at Halloween. That didn’t happen, so I decided to pick up this graphic novel anthology as my first book of 2020.

My rating is the same as it was in 2016. I love Emily Carroll’s art style. I liked all the stories, but I still have the same favorites: “A Lady’s Hands are Cold” with “My Friend Janna” as a close second. I really hope Through the Woods someday gets made into a movie.

 

To Drink Coffee with a Ghost by Amanda Lovelace

5 stars

To Drink Coffee with a Ghost (Things that Haunt, #2)

I already know that my favorite book of the year will be To Drink Coffee with a Ghost. The only book I can imagine topping it is A Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir, the final book in the An Ember in the Ashes series coming out in December. And that is if I read it right away when it comes out. But even that is a hard maybe.

I read Amanda Lovelace’s latest poetry collection in a single night before falling asleep. And I cried my eyes out the whole time. To Drink Coffee with a Ghost focuses on Amanda’s tumultuous relationship with her mother. Almost every single poem hit a nerve. It’s been a while since a book affected me so much. Which means extremely high expectations for Break Your Glass Slippers, coming out March 17th.

 

Sabrina by Nick Drnaso

2 stars

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Sabrina took me for a ride I was bored on the whole time.

I think the author was trying to provide a social criticism, but the execution made no sense. Too many times the plot went off course. Soon it became more about the characters’ life drama than learning what really happened to Sabrina. There isn’t any character development either; none of the characters seem to grow, including the main character, and none of their stories feel resolved in any way. Yet the book was so compulsively readable I had to find out if it got better. Some parts were good, and the author knew when to use dialogue, but I was ultimately disappointed.

 

Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds

4.25 stars

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Look Both Ways called to me from my shelves, despite the fact it was not on my intended reading list. After reading Long Way Down last semester, my expectations going in were high. I did enjoy this book’s “slice of life” stories, though admittedly I was bored for a chunk of it. Some of the characters, all in middle school, felt more fleshed out than others. Regardless, Jason Reynolds’s writing style was almost perfect.

 

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

3.5 stars

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Besides Look Both Ways, Pet also called to me from my bookshelves. And it was short, which meant getting ahead in my reading challenge. The concept was just too fascinating: a contemporary-feeling dystopian novel set in a city called Lucille, where no more “monsters” exist. Jam is a transgender girl who accidentally summons a creature called Pet from her mother’s painting with a drop of blood. When Pet tells her there is a monster living inside her best friend Redemption’s house, she agrees to help it find the monster, shattering her reality that Lucille, her whole world, is safe.

The concept behind Pet was really interesting. This book was packed with diversity. I liked how Jam being transgender was not a “thing”; her parents and friends just accepted it. Also, Redemption had three parents and there was a librarian in a wheelchair. Pet was a fascinating element, a frightening creature that was the only thing Jam could trust. However, the writing felt juvenile and it took a while to get to the point. That being said, I would consider picking up more books by Akwaeke Emezi if they write more.

 

February

 

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan (library book)

2 stars

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I had checked out The Painted Girls twice from the library. I’ve had this saved on Goodreads for so long, I had forgotten about it until I saw it on someone’s blog recently. By no means it is not a long book, yet it took me far too long to get through.

I thought it wasn’t The Painted Girls fault that it was taking me forever to read. I am a graduate student, after all. However, when I was reading it, I lost interest quickly. When I had chances to read it I didn’t want to.

Despite how bored I was while reading The Painted Girls, I did like the writing style and the atmosphere. Unfortunately, the characters were flat, and the plot took forever to get to the point. Not to mention the time jumps that came without warning; those took me out of the story instead of into it. Despite this, I am willing to believe that the timing was bad. Maybe someday I will check The Painted Girls out of the library again to reread one day.

 

What books have you read recently?