Seven Reasons I Know I Am a Book Lover

I don’t know how I could doubt I am a book lover. I’ve been reading on and off since I was very young. Growing up, I read so much I got in trouble for it. I’m pretty sure I own more books than clothes. Everyone in my life knows I’m a reader.

But there are other little things I do that, until now, I never gave much thought to. Habits that, in many ways, feel more like compulsions.  

            Seven reasons I know I am a book lover are:

When I’m not reading, I’m feeling guilty for not doing it

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Despite having read 86 books so far this year, I did not always choose books during the quarantine. Honestly, I probably could have made it to well over 100 by now. But it was hard to focus on reading, even settling on what book to pick up next. More often than not, I ended up choosing YouTube and Criminal Minds reruns on Netflix instead of reading. And I felt guilty every single time I did it.

Even if there was little chance I would get to read during the day, I still brought a book with me

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When I went to work or school, I always carried a book in my bag. At my last job, I was encouraged to take breaks during my shifts, since I was on my feet or in front of a computer for long periods of time, depending on the day. Only by the middle of the semester, my shifts were so short, I did not see the point in taking breaks. After that, it was homework for three hours.

            At school, I sometimes did take breaks in between classes and doing assignments to read. It was on the bus to and from the city that I always intended to get the day’s reading in, though. The commute, on a good day, was an hour and a half long. That time on the bus was an ideal time to read. Except it never failed—I would fall asleep instead.

I add books to my Goodreads TBR daily

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Between Goodreads articles and lists, the emails from bookstores I receive and websites browsed, my library’s recommendations, Buzzfeed, Instagram, YouTube, blogs, and other social media, I’m adding at least ten books to my Goodreads “want to read” list daily. This is the one habit that feels more like a compulsion, even as I find great titles on the Internet. To make matters worse, 2021 is coming out with some seriously amazing titles.

I can’t NOT go into a bookstore, library, or book section of any store

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My last job was a university library surrounded by bookstores. During my lunch hours, I would visit one of those bookstores, depending on where I decided to eat that day. I rationalized that I was walking around to get the exercise, but I know full well it was to look at the books. And sometimes, after I finished work for the day, I went back to get the books I found while browsing.

I make TBR lists of books I want to read (even if I don’t own them)

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This was a habit I developed last year. Graduate school can be stressful and one of the things that helps calm me down is making lists. A type of list I always made was a TBR, with books I owned and did not own. I have several wish lists on Amazon right now, plus another on Barnes & Noble’s website of books I eventually want to buy. Making those TBR lists gave me an idea of what books I wanted to prioritize reading or buying and which ones could wait a little longer.

My Instagram is entirely bookish

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95% of my pictures are of books, such as what I’m currently reading or recently posted on my blog. The same can be said for the accounts I follow, either publishing houses, BookTubers, or other bookstagrammers. It’s a great way to keep up with new and upcoming releases, as well as getting recommendations.

One of my top goals is a personal library

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It’s right up there with “getting married,” “having kids,” and “visiting England” on my what-I-want-to-do-with-my-life list. As much as living at home has saved me money financially, there is a lack of room for my books (among other things). I know as soon as I am able to begin apartment hunting, one of the requirements will be room for bookshelves and spaces to store books. Along with in-unit laundry and central air.

Right, like that will be easy to find….

How do you know you’re a book lover?

The First 10 Books I Ever Reviewed on My Blog

When I graduated from college in May of 2016, I had a Bachelor of Arts in English, concentrating in creative writing, with a double-minor in Communications and Women and Gender Studies. For the rest of the summer and into the fall, I sent out job applications almost daily and got one or two interviews, only to get rejected. Most of the time, I did not even receive responses to my applications. By November, I had swallowed my pride and took a job at Macy’s for the holiday season (and developed a hatred for Christmas music that year). I was struggling to write the novels I always promised myself I would write. On top of that, my mom was really sick.

In short, I was in desperate need of a distraction.

            My friends suggested that I start a book blog. Despite being an avid watcher of BookTube as well as having written book reviews for my school library, it had never occurred to me to be a blogger. But in September of 2016, I was bored, frustrated, and looking for an outlet.

            As of today, it has been four years since I started my blog. I don’t make a big deal about it as much as when I started out. Blogging has served the same purposes in 2020 as it did those long months in 2016. It also builds my portfolio as a writer as well as a librarian. However, back then, I wrote more book reviews than I do now. That’s why, after turning to old Top Ten Tuesday posts, I knew I could come up with ten. And, let me say, it’s been fun going down blog memory lane.

            The first ten books I ever reviewed on my blog were:

The First Time She Drowned by Kerry Kletter

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The First Time She Drowned is a book that left a lasting impression on me. It focuses on an unhealthy mother-daughter relationship as the daughter tries to find her way at college after her mother forces her into a mental institution for two years. I still think about it from time to time. Although, I’m not sure if I would reread it. It’s one of those books you don’t want to find out was not as good as you thought.  

This is Where it Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

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I remember I had a lot to say about This is Where it Ends. It is set in a single day, at a high school during a shooting. Four or five students narrate the book, none of them the shooter. I had a problem with that, because his alleged motivations were warped by the other characters’ perception of him. I don’t think I was a fan of the writing or pacing, either. Since then, I unhauled This is Where it Ends. That being said, I am interested in reading Marieke Nijkamp’s newest book, Even If We Break, as well as her sophomore novel, Before I Let Go. They will be borrowed, not bought, though.  

As I Descended by Robin Talley

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As I Descended, along with several others on this list, I originally read as library books. 2016 was the year I got a library card to my local library for the first time and I visited practically daily. As I Descended is a contemporary retelling of the Scottish Play with a female/female relationship at the center. It was a fun, spooky read, blurring the paranormal into reality. Given how much I enjoyed it, I’m surprised I have yet to pick up anything else by Robin Talley.

The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics

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Another library book I enjoyed so much I bought my own copy later, The Women in the Walls is a haunted house story about a teenaged girl whose family is cursed. I liked the protagonist, who has a self-harm problem but is strong enough to take matters into her own hands by getting help. There was also very little gore, yet managed to still be creepy. The Women in the Walls is another situation where I am surprised I have not picked up anything else by the author.

What the Dead Want by Norah Olson

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Just by the title, I automatically remember What the Dead Want was not a book I enjoyed. I can recall next to nothing about it, besides there being insta-love, ties to the Civil War, and a girl was bitten by a ghost. Needless to say, I had no problem returning it to the library.

Melody’s Key by Dallas Coryell

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In the first year of my blog, I received requests from independently published authors on reviewing their books. Melody’s Key was the first of the three I accepted. It is an adult romance novel set in the English countryside at an inn where an American rock star is staying for the summer after a bad publicity stunt. While there, he falls in love with the cynical eldest daughter of the family that owns the inn. At the time, I was wary of romance novels, still holding on to the misconceptions about the genre. Thus, looking back on it now, I think I was harder on Melody’s Key than it deserved. 

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

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Stalking Jack the Ripper is the first book from one of my all-time favorite series. I was so sad when I returned it to the library. My whole review is basically a gush fest. Which is surprising, because I’m pretty sure I went into it with low expectations. Obviously, those were exceeded.  

Rebel Belle trilogy review by Rachel Hawkins

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I read Rebel Belle primarily because of BookTube. In case you are unaware, it follows Harper, a high maintenance Southern Belle who suddenly becomes a guardian to the Oracle, who happens to be David, her mortal enemy at school. The overwhelming consensus is this trilogy went completely downhill—and I agree. The first book, Rebel Belle, was funny and exciting. The second book, Miss Mayhem, was “meh.”The final book, Lady Renegades, bombed. This review was spoiler-filled; I went into detail in how disappointed I was with the overall trilogy. I unhauled them last year. Regardless, I have not written off Rachel Hawkins entirely, particularly since she’s coming out with a Rebecca-inspired adult thriller next year.

Invisible by James Patterson and David Ellis

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I distinctly remember writing the review for Invisible in December of 2016. To this day, I still receive notifications that people are reading it. Not surprising, considering what a popular author James Patterson is. My review is actually on the second page of Google searches for reviews of Invisible. (A shameless little ego boost for myself.) Unfortunately, I was very, very bored while reading Invisible. I remember next to nothing about it, besides the love interest being a former FBI agent turned bookstore owner.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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All the Bright Places was the first book I read in 2017 (I remember reading it on New Year’s Eve) and the first book I reviewed that year as well. It was a three-star book for me, not one I think about often. I liked the concept: Finn helping Violet come out of her shell after she loses her older sister. Then, the ending threw me for a loop. Not quite in a good way, either. Other reviews of All the Bright Places said it sensationalizes mental illness, which I can see now. However, I do want to read Jennifer Niven’s following books, Holding Up the Universe and Breathless.

What is a book you did not like, but you’re willing to give the author another chance?

Yet Another Library Book Haul (because I still cannot buy books)

Did I do a library haul in September for Banned Books Month?

Yes.

            Did I read only three out of the twelve I checked out?

Yes.

            Did I return all the other unread library books because I had lost interest?

Yes.

            Did I feel compelled to go back two weeks later?

Yes.

            Do I feel bad about it?

Not at all.  

            Will I probably get more? I want to say no. But I think we all know by now I’m going to crack.

The desire to buy books is real. It’s not like I don’t own unread books I could read in the meantime. On top of that, being stuck in the house all day does not help. There were also series I checked out from the library a while ago that I want to finish.

In other words, I’m trying to justify my actions. Like I need an excuse to go to the library. The books I got this time from the library were:

Haunting the Deep by Adriana Mather

Haunting the Deep is the sequel to How to Hang a Witch, a book I read in August. It was a super fun young adult novel surrounding the Salem Witch Trials. Haunting the Deep follows the same protagonist, Samantha, and other characters from the previous book as they investigate another curse. This time, it is set around the Titanic.

Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer

Mara is a senior in high school when her classmates suddenly succumbing to manifestations of spontaneous combustion and the FBI comes into town to investigate. After I saw the advertisement for the movie starring Katherine Langford, I checked if my library had a copy of the book and they did. Both look hilarious. And don’t we all need funny right now?

A Cloud of Outrageous Blue by Vesper Stamper

Let’s keep it going with the pandemic books. I read and enjoyed Vesper Stamper’s other illustrated novel, What the Night Sings, this summer.  A Cloud of Outrageous Blue follows Edyth, a young woman who is sent to a priory following the death of her parents. Just as she begins a new life for herself, it is in danger of the Great Plague. I’m assuming, from the synopsis, this is referring to the plague of all plagues, the Bubonic Plague.

Playing for the Commandant by Suzy Zail

Another young adult historical fiction, this one set during World War II at Auschwitz. A Jewish pianist, desperate to protect her family, is chosen to play at the camp commandant’s house while he entertains guests. As if that weren’t horrible enough, she falls in love with the commandant’s son. Can anyone say drama?

The Fiery Heart, Silver Shadows, and The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead

I had the Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead borrowed from the library at the beginning of the quarantine. I read books 1 to 3, then got hit with a huge reading slump. As fun as her books can be, I tried to push through The Fiery Heart but I could not. At least, not right then. So, I put the series aside, reading other books I wanted until I got in a better headspace. I did enjoy Bloodlines, The Golden Lily, and The Indigo Spell, so I hope I will like the rest of the series as well.

How often do you go to the library?

End of Summer Recap: a book tag

Whenever I find any book tag, nine times out of ten, I will end up doing it. Tags are easy and fun. Sometimes, the questions make you think or you get to talk about books you don’t mention often on your platform. With this tag, which I found on Kristin Kraves Books, it’s a reflection on what I’ve read during the summer lockdown.

To put it likely, it’s been an interesting summer.  

What book can you not stop thinking about?

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Though I did just read it, a book I have not been able to stop thinking about is The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys. I read this 512 page book in three days. I loved the storytelling and the setting, and there is a male character I really, really wish was real.

Which book would you rather not have read?

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I don’t like saying I regret reading books. Unfortunately, it happens on occasion. As many of you can relate to, quarantine has made it hard to focus on reading. Several times I picked up books in hopes it will spur my desire to read.  One was Snow, Glass, Apples by Neil Gaiman, a graphic novel retelling of Snow White. Itwas not necessarily a waste of time, though it made me reluctant to pick up any other works by Neil Gaiman any time soon.

What genre did you read the most?

Between May and the first three weeks of September, I have read 24 books. I read equal amounts of contemporary, mystery, fantasy, and historical fiction. I also read three poetry books and two graphic novels. Only two qualified as science fiction. In short, the genres I read this summer were all over the place. I’m not what you would call a “seasonal” reader.

Which book surprised you the most?

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In June, I picked several unread books by Black authors off my bookshelves to read as my own form of educating myself. While I suspected I would like Dear Martin by Nic Stone, I did not expect to give it 5 stars. I learned so much and it made me think. I love books like that. I loved it so much, I added Dear Justyce, the sequel along with Nic Stone’s other books to my Amazon wish list.

Which book disappointed you the most?

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Unfortunately, I had two books that disappointed me this summer: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer. I went into Mexican Gothic expecting to give it 5 stars instead of 3.75 stars. Something similar can be said for Echo North. While they still delivered in some regards, I was not entirely satisfied with what I got. That being said, it does not mean I won’t read more works by these authors.

What was your favorite cover?

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The Queen’s Assassin by Melissa de la Cruz has the prettiest cover of all the books I read so far in 2020. Sadly, I gave it 2.75 stars, although I do not think it was entirely the book’s fault.

What was your favorite summer release?

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Home Before Dark was a book I got in my June Book of the Month box. I read it during a very stressful day. A welcome distraction, I got more than I ever expected. Home Before Dark was good, scary fun, taking all sorts of twists I never saw coming.

What book did you plan on reading, but never got around to?

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Little & Lion
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I wanted to read more books by Black authors this summer. I did well, then other books wanted my attention. Two of those books I wanted to get to but did not were Pride by Ibi Zoboi and Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert. Another book was One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London, a novel everyone was raving about for its great plus-size representation. I’m still hoping I can squeeze One to Watch before the end of 2020.

Which books do you plan on reading this fall?

Ummm…a lot. I could do a whole post on books I want to read this fall.

What was your favorite book you read this summer quarantine?

Random Books on My To Be Read Pile (September 2020)

These past few days, as I’m looking to the end of what has been a shit-storm of a year, I also started thinking about the books I need to read by the end of 2020. This is at war with other unread, non-priority books I own that I’m excited to read.

            Right now, I think I am settled in what I want to read September to December. Honestly, given I’m stuck at home, I probably could read all of them if I really tried. But thanks to the prolonged quarantine, I just don’t have the attention span. Plus, there is other stuff that I need to get done.

            The books on this list are just the tip of the iceberg of my TBR. There are a lot more where these came from. These are just the ones I chose to talk about today.

            Random books I pulled off my to be read pile are:

I Stop Somewhere by T.E. Carter

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If only I did not keep putting off finishing series I start….I Stop Somewhere has been compared to Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, a favorite book of mine. All through middle school, protagonist Ellie was bullied. Once she starts high school, she only wants to blend into the wallpaper. Then, she is brutally attacked and suddenly more invisible than she was before.

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

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Do you know how many times in 2020 I pulled Blood Water Paint off my bookshelves? A novel written in verse, Blood Water Paint is about Artemisia, a talented Renaissance painter in Rome. While she is making a name for herself in the art world, the year is 1610 and men think they can take whatever they want from women. After being raped, Artemisia takes her power back by using her art to find her voice.

Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne

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To get out of her situation, Stella Ainsley takes a job as a governess aboard a private ship called the Rochester. The captain, Hugo Fairfax, is a moody recluse and a drunk with everyone but Stella. Stella is convinced someone is trying to kill him. Only, as she digs deeper, she begins to question his role in the conspiracy threatening the fleet. In case you could not already tell, Brightly Burning is a retelling of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte in space.

You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

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After standing up for her supposed best friend by covering a slur at the back of the school with a graffiti mural, Julia is kicked out of the school for the deaf and sent to mainstream school, where she is the only deaf student. To release her frustration, she decorates the neighborhood with graffiti. Then, suddenly, finds herself in a graffiti war with another, mysterious artist showing her up at every turn.

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

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Rachel and Henry were friends that worked together in his parents’ bookshop. When her family moved away, she left him a note confessing her feelings and he never responded. Years later, a grief-stricken Rachel returns to her hometown. Words in Deep Blue is about Rachel and Henry reconnecting and falling in love again through their shared love of books.

What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera

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I think I know why I have put off What If It’s Us, story about two teen boys trying to pursue a relationship yet the universe keeps getting in the way. Some people I know who read this did not love it. Granted, I’ve only read one of Adam Silvera’s books, but I have no idea how his writing style will mesh with Becky Albertalli’s happy-go-lucky storytelling.

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

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Norah has severe agoraphobia and OCD with a wide ranging of irrational fears. Then she meets her new neighbor, Luke. He does not see a weird girl with mental health problems; he sees someone Norah desperately wishes she was. As they grow closer, she struggles to finally push herself to come out of her shell and not let her mental health define her.   

The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand

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All I’ve read by Cynthia Hand at this point, it’s hard to imagine her writing anything about suicide. Lex was an ordinary girl until her brother, Tyler, killed himself. As she struggles to pick up the pieces, she also tries to hide a secret: a text her brother sent the night he died that could have changed everything. Only the past is not ready to let Lex go.

Far From the Tree by Robin Benway

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Far From the Tree has the prettiest cover ever. It follows Grace, an adopted only child that goes looking for her biological family after giving up her own baby for adoption. She finds out she is a middle child with a sister named Maya and a brother named Joaquin. The three set out to look for their biological mother, while dealing with their own secrets and a sense of lost identity.

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

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When Lady Katherine discovers her recently deceased father was involved in a murder plot against Queen Elizabeth I, she disguises herself as a boy and sets out to kill the queen herself. Performing in William Shakespeare’s latest play is not what she thinks, however. Orchestrated by spy Toby Ellis, the play is meant to squash a rebellion. Only as Toby and Katherine grow closer, their respective positions become far more precarious.

What books on your overall to be read pile are you most excited for?

Drop One, Save One

I saw Hailey in Bookland do the “drop one, save one” book tag, which I had seen floating around the past few weeks, where she went onto her Goodreads and randomly sorted a shelf. To make it challenging, I sorted my favorites shelf randomly on Goodreads. As the name suggests, I compared two books, then decided which to drop and which to save. I did ten rounds of this.

            Spoiler alert: the results were surprising.  

Round 1: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

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The Opposite of Innocent by Sonya Sones

Drop: The Opposite of Innocent

Save: Lilac Girls

While I gave both 4-star ratings, Lilac Girls was higher on the scale. The Opposite of Innocent focuses on pedophilia. Though I think the author handled the topic well, it is not a book I am itching to own or reread. Lilac Girls, on the other hand, left a lasting impression on me.

Round 2: The Calling by Kelley Armstrong

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A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Drop: The Calling

Save: A Court of Thorns and Roses

The Calling is the second book in The Darkness Rising trilogy, which is my least favorite of Kelley Armstrong’s series I’ve read. A Court of Thorns and Roses is one of my all-time favorite books, no matter the hate SJM gets. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. Was it entertaining and checked off all of my Beauty and the Beast loving boxes? Yes, yes it did.

Round 3: My Sweet Audrina by V.C. Andrews

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Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

Drop: My Sweet Audrina

Save: Wink Poppy Midnight

This was one of the harder rounds. I gave a higher rating to My Sweet Audrina than I did Wink Poppy Midnight. It’s not because of the sequel, Whitefern, since I consider that an entity written by the ghostwriter for the sake of making hardcore fans happy. I chose to save Wink Poppy Midnight because this book was delicious fun and an entertaining read. My Sweet Audrina was a mind-fuck, way too intense.

Round 4: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

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Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

Drop: Lolita

Save: A Monster Calls

Again—books about pedophilia are not ones I reread. As much as I enjoyed Lolita, A Monster Calls is a more personal read. I liked it the first time I read it. But when I reread it this year, after everything I had been through since, it hit close to home. 

Round 5: Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library by Barb Rosenstock

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No Humans Involved by Kelley Armstrong

Drop: Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library

Save: No Humans Involved

I have nothing against children’s picture books. In fact, I’m wondering why I don’t pick them up more often. However, though I enjoyed Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library, it does not have Jeremy Danvers and Jaime Vega. I don’t always talk about the characters from the Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong, but Jeremy and Jaime were my favorite couple.

Round 6: Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller

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The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

Drop: Death of a Salesman

Save: The Last Olympian

Who would ever drop Percy Jackson? Especially if you are comparing him to the completely flawed, totally unlikeable characters in Death of a Salesman.

Round 7: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

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Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Drop: Code Name Verity

Save: The Hazel Wood

This is very surprising to me. Between the two, I gave Code Name Verity a higher rating. While Code Name Verity played with my emotions and was overall a great book, The Hazel Wood is extremely entertaining and sucked me in when I read it. I still think about it often, way more than Code Name Verity.  

Round 8: You by Caroline Kepnes

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Masquerade by Melissa de la Cruz

Drop: Masquerade

Save: You

Masquerade is the second book in the Blue Bloods series by Melissa de la Cruz, a YA vampire series I read in high school. I probably will never reread those books. As for You by Caroline Kepnes, I can see myself reading that again.

Round 9: The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red by Joyce Reardon

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The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

Drop: The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red

Save: The DUFF

This is another round that surprised me. I gave The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer 5 stars when I read it in high school. The DUFF, which I read in college, I gave 4 stars. Thing is, I don’t think the former was as good as I thought it was. I don’t think I even finished it; I was a lazy reader back then. I only rated the amount of book I read. Whereas, with The DUFF, I read the whole book and my thoughts are genuine.

Round 10: Saga, Vol. 8 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples

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Jinx by Meg Cabot

Drop: Saga, Vol. 8

Save: Jinx

The last round is also surprising. I enjoyed both these books. I read Jinx in high school, though I think it would stand the test of time. Saga are my current favorite graphic novels. However, I chose to drop Vol. 8 of the series because, if I am being honest, it is probably my least favorite of the volumes thus far.

I tag anyone and everyone who wants to do this tag!

Favorite Bookmarks I Own

I probably own as many bookmarks as I do books.

            Whenever I start a new book, part of the excitement is picking out a bookmark to go with it. Sometimes, I know which one I exactly want to use. Other times, I will pile them all on my bed until I find the right one.  

            There are roughly 40 bookmarks on this list I consider my favorite. Around 25 of them I bought from an Etsy shop called Happy Hello Art. The rest I bought from either the independent bookstores near my last place of employment or from Amazon and Target. One was a gift.  

            That’s enough for the introduction. This post is going to be a long one…

Etsy

Maas Valentine’s Day Bookmarks

I am not a big Rhysand/Feyre shipper nor do I love Aelin and Rowan. Except these Valentine’s Day ones are just so damn cute.

Reading Buddies

Admittedly, the Tessa Gray one is my favorite of this set…or maybe it’s the Katniss…or the Simon…or the Bella….

The Cadre & Cadre Reading “Butties”

These are not the only Happy Hello Art reading “butties” bookmarks I own. And there are more where that came from that I intend to get my hands on eventually.

Ariel Onesie

This bookmark of Ariel in a Flounder onesie is part of a larger set of Disney princesses in onesies. I plan on getting the rest of them eventually.

Belle and Hermione

If I had to pick two absolutely favorite magnetic bookmarks at this moment, it is these two.

Maas at Hogwarts

Rhys, Feyre, Rowan, and Aelin are examples of how no one, fictional or otherwise, is not a single House. Feyre is Gryffindor and Hufflepuff; Rowan is Gryffindor and Ravenclaw; Rhys is Slytherin and Hufflepuff; and Aelin is Gryffindor and Slytherin.

Audrey Rose

If you have followed me for a while, you know how much I love the Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco.

Squad 312

My sarcastic misfit babies!

Disney Halloween

I have a lot of Disney bookmarks from Happy Hello Art, but the ones with Belle, Ariel, Rapunzel, Aurora, and Snow White dressed as the villains from their respective films are my favorite.

Feysand Teacups

Again—not a Feysand shipper, yet I love them in teacups.

Book Lover set

I’m a librarian—do I need to explain why I love these?

Rhys and Rowan Cakes

What is it about these two hard-ass characters covered in cake that I love so much?  

Bookstore/Other

Cupcake Bookmarks

I am not a big eater of cupcakes, but I like them as bookmarks.

Colorful Harry Potter bookmarks

I love the colors and the quotes they chose. 

A dolphin with a brain fart

I mean…why not?

Drink Good Coffee and Read Good Books

The aesthetic of this bookmark is simply perfect.

Libraries Rock

This one was free from my local library. It’s my favorite shade of blue and, obviously, libraries rock.

A gift from a friend

One of my best friends, who always appeals to my love of butterflies, gave me this for my birthday a few years ago. I almost lost this a few years ago during a trip to New York City and since then I’ve barely used it, so scared of losing it again.

Metal bookmarks

After the bookmark my friend gave me, I started to take more to metal bookmarks. All of them I picked for the quote on them or they were simply too pretty not to own.

I like owls on my bookmarks

Harry Potter aside, books and owls are cute.

Mermaid bookmark

I love mermaids. That is all.

“She” Quotes

The color palettes of the bookmarks are my favorite aesthetics. The quotes are also my favorite.

Gemma Correll bookmarks

I found these bookmarks at Target and I bought them on the spot.

Oscar Wilde Pastel Flowers

A beautiful bookmark.

Eat Sleep Read

What else is there?

Keep Calm and Have a Cupcake  

If you look closely, you can see how worn this bookmark is. So much so, the tassel fell off.

Lone Wolf

I’ve had this bookmark since high school or college, during my deep love of wolves. Still love them.

Vampire Girl

If this bookmark is not an ideal vampire girl aesthetic, I don’t know what is.

Do you have a favorite bookmark?

Spoiler-Free Review of Fever, 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

If there was ever a book more relatable to 2020, it’s Fever, 1793.

            When I was looking for banned books to read in September, I found that Laurie Halse Anderson has had several of her books challenged and banned by various libraries over the years. Though I could not find any evidence of this particular book being targeted, I am behind on Laurie Halse Anderson’s books anyway. Plus, who doesn’t want to read about a pandemic during a pandemic? Fortunately, my library had a copy.

            With all that has happened during the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been mentions of the 1918 Spanish Flu. But no one talks of the yellow fever pandemic in 1793. If you ask me, there should be…because the people of the 21st century have no idea how good we have it now compared to those back then.

            Fever, 1793 follows Matilda “Mattie” Cook, an ambitious, independent fourteen-year-old living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1793 with her widowed mother and grandfather. The family runs a popular coffeehouse that Mattie is determined to take over one day even though her mother would rather she find a husband instead. Then, the yellow fever strikes.

            The plot revolves entirely around the yellow fever pandemic and is primarily character-driven. The hysteria in 1793 was very real, probably worse than it is now without easy access to social media. Almost every decision made by Mattie and the other characters connects to the yellow fever, as well as decisions made by others that impact them.

The pandemic began in August, then ended the following winter. There were time jumps where days sometimes jumped into weeks, yet somehow it was not jarring. It flowed well, and we were informed if anything had happened during the time gaps. Things in 1793 were generally a lot of slower, so the author probably didn’t think it necessary to go through every single day of the pandemic.

            Laurie Halse Anderson’s writing style has remained basically the same, at least in the books by her I’ve read so far. As with other topics she’s covered, she does not sugarcoat anything. She made me feel like I was actually in 1793 Philadelphia during the yellow fever pandemic. There are gross descriptions of the effects of yellow fever. Add that to not having modern-day resources. Even doctors did not always recognize the signs of yellow fever. Day to day life became even harder than it already was.

            That being said, the characters in Fever, 1793 did not feel entirely fleshed out. More like they were archetypes. The only exception is Mattie, as the book is told from her first-person perspective. She has a natural independent streak; while her mother wants her to marry up, Mattie wants to achieve status on her own. She is ambitious and has plans to expand the coffeehouse. She also has a healthy relationship with her grandfather, who encourages her to pursue her goals. As for her relationship with her mother, it is as you would expect between a mother and daughter with differing ideals. Eliza, the African-American cook at the coffeehouse, makes up a little for the maternity Mattie’s mother sometimes lacks.

            While Mattie is strong-willed and ahead of her time, she is still a fourteen-year-old girl. She struggles with self-doubt as she makes choices during the pandemic. Naturally, there is significant development in Mattie’s character by the end of the book. Thankfully, the ending of Fever, 1793 is a hopeful one for her as well as most of the other characters.

            Overall, I give Fever, 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson 4.5 stars. It took me a few days to read, a relief these days. The writing and storytelling sucked me in once I got into the swing of reading. Mattie Cook was a great heroine who felt like a real 1700s American teenager. If you can handle it and if you like books about pandemics, particularly historical ones, I would highly recommend Fever, 1793.

A Spoiler-Free Review of a Banned Book: Blubber by Judy Blume

Before Blubber, the last thing I read by Judy Blume was Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. Blubber was one of two I chose to read during this year’s Banned Books month. Judy Blume is well-known for having had her books challenged and banned by libraries. She is also an author that tells it like it is.  

            Blubber follows Jill Brenner, a fifth-grader with a mean streak who joins her classmates in bullying Linda in calling her “blubber” after she gives a report on whales. Not much else to it besides that. Because the book is 153 pages, in large print, I managed to complete it in one night. And in the hour and a half it took me to read Blubber, I was reminded me of how much I hated my adolescence.

            I think if I had read Blubber in elementary or middle school, I probably would have given it a higher rating. In my case, the writing presented as juvenile, but it would be perfectly accessible to younger readers. The vocabulary matches what a privileged, middle-class 1970s fifth grader would have. Jill’s voice was authentic; it felt like a child was actually narrating.

            As for the plot, it was simplistic, if at times boring. The situation was not quite fully resolved, but do fifth-graders really seek to resolve situations or to make them disappear? It would relate to someone like Linda (like me) or like Jill, either a child or an adult. I was not a bully and did my best not to fall victim to peer pressure. However, diplomacy was not my strongest suit back then. I know I gave in a few times. Blubber is further proof at how kids can be truly mean to each other.

            Jill was annoying, but aren’t most kids little shits anyway? At home, she behaved for her parents and the housekeeper, though she picked on her little brother. Around her peers, she was a different story. Jill was easily influenced. With Wendy and Caroline, she could be nasty. With Tracy, she was sort of better, though still not immune to trouble.

Speaking of Tracy, she was a sweet, levelheaded girl as well as the only person of color in this entire book (she’s Chinese-American). I suppose it is to be expected in a book that was published in 1974. The teachers, save one or two, were the kind that are in it for a steady paycheck. As for Jill’s parents, they were stable, good, and involved. Her housekeeper is like a second mother.

The friendships in Blubber are fickle, though there are a few, like Jill and Tracy, that manage to stay together. The kids felt real. Some, like Tracy and new girl Rochelle, were good. Some, like Wendy and Caroline, were plain nasty. Others, like Jill and Linda, were in-between. Meaning, they wanted to fit in and not be the next target.

The descriptions of the bullying in Blubber can be considered graphic, which is probably why parents protested to have it in the libraries. The kids go beyond name calling; they attempt to take off clothes, keep people from going to the bathroom, and even physical violence. While the scenes can be uncomfortable to read, they were honest.

Like I said, kids can be mean to each other, especially if they know their target won’t say anything or the adults around them are either not paying attention or can be manipulated. Sugar-coating that is not good for kids. For the ones experiencing the bullying, it is telling them that their pain is unimportant. For the ones not being bullied or participating in it, the descriptions of the bullying is a reality check. It tells them this behavior is unacceptable and it can happen to anyone.

Overall, I give Blubber by Judy Blume 3.5 stars. As stated previously, I was bored most of the time while reading, though I did relate to certain aspects and found the portrayal of the characters realistic. If I had read this book when I was much younger, I probably would have given it 5 stars. That being said, I would absolutely recommend Blubber by Judy Blume to an elementary-school reader.

Banned Books Library Haul

September is a month I did not plan to post a TBR pile. I wanted to finally pick up the books I own that I have been putting off for far too long. They are books I am genuinely excited to read. In September, I planned on avoiding the library and finally reading books I have at home. Then, I remembered September is Banned Books Week.

            Even before I went to library school, Banned Books Week in September was always something I felt passionate about. I genuinely resisted looking at the list I made on my library account for banned books I want to read. Some I checked out last year but did not get around to reading due to being in school. While I do own some banned or challenged books that I have not read yet, I like to make a point of getting others from the library as well. Books and the freedom to read are extremely important to my chosen institution. It also did not help that, after the lackluster reading month of August, I felt a reading slump coming out.

            To be frank: I do not intend to read all these library books. In fact, once I receive my giveaway book (I won a fourth giveaway this year!), which is a novel I am very excited to read, I will likely return the library books and begin reading the TBR ones I originally set aside. Until then, I expect these books to help me get back into the groove of reading before I ruin the fun with the books I am positive I will love.

            The frequently banned or challenged books I currently have checked out from my local library are:

Matilda by Roald Dahl

In elementary and middle school, Matilda was the movie teachers played when they did not feel like teaching. But I never read the book or anything else by Roald Dahl like almost every other kid. Now is the time to remedy that.

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

I had seen Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novels floating around the past couple of years. Turns out, she’s gotten so popular, at least one of her books was banned somewhere . Drama follows Callie, a middle school student going through an emotional roller coaster as she builds new relationships and others end.

Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes

The synopsis of Bronx Masquerade reminds me of The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. It follows a class of eighteen high school students in Harlem who form a poetry group after one reads his poems aloud in English class. Through their poetry, the students express their heartache, frustrations, and most intimate thoughts. I chose this one because I’ve heard good things about the author, Nikki Grimes, whose nonfiction book, Ordinary Hazards, won a Printz award last year.

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

Neverwhere is about an alternative magical London the protagonist finds himself in after stopping to help an injured person in the street. Though I own two other Neil Gaiman books (American Gods and Good Omens), Neverwhere is one of his works I’ve always had my eye on yet never got my hands on. Hopefully, I like it more than the other ones I read from the library.

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

Three sisters are found dead in their Jeep at the bottom of a cliff. It is ruled as an accident, but the newspapers does not report that a fourth sister survived nor that the sisters were the leading opponents to the dictator of the Dominican Republic of 1960. In the Time of Butterflies tells the story of the sisters and how they came to be known as Las Mariposas, the Butterflies. 

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

While this particular book of hers has been banned or challenged anywhere (at least not according to the list on the ALA website) Laurie Halse Anderson has had several of her other books in hot water. Fever 1793 is set in 1793 Philadelphia following a young girl who is seperated from her mother when the yellow fever breaks out and must learn to survive on her own. My expectations are high for this one, as it is with any Laurie Halse Anderson book I read.

Blubber by Judy Blume

I have not read a Judy Blume book since elementary school. But she is notorious for having her works challenged by parents and banned by school libraries. In this book, a group of fifth-graders bully a classmate and another doesn’t want to get involved, until it gets out of hand. I picked Blubber because the subject matter related to me, a girl being bullied by her classmates for her weight.

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki

Another middle grade graphic novel, This One Summer follows two girls, Rose and Windy, whose families own summer homes next to each other. With her parents fighting constantly, Rose seeks a distraction. Then, she and Windy get involved with an older teen, who gets them involved in something far more dangerous, and life-threatening.

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendon Kiely

Sixteen-year-old Rashad is accidentally accused of stealing and is witnessed being brutally beaten by a police officer by his classmate, Quinn. But the police officer happens to be the older brother of Quinn’s best friend. After reading Dear Martin and The Hate U Give, I need to read more books about police brutality. Also, I like Jason Reynolds’s writing style, so I have semi-high expectations for All American Boys.

The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson

13 Little Blue Envelopes was one of my favorite books in high school and likely what spurred the deep wanderlust I had. Except I never read any of her other books; I still have not read her Truly Devious trilogy. Probably just as well—The Bermudez Triangle is a book my mom never would have bought me. In it, high school student Nina’s senior year is off to a rocky start after she finds out that her best friends, Mel and Avery, became an item over the summer. While she desperately wants to be happy for the girls, her own long-distance relationship is falling apart and she suddenly feels left out, among other typical high school drama.

Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume

After her father is killed in a holdup at the 7-Eleven he worked at, Davey’s mother moves the remaining members of the family to New Mexico. When she meets Wolf, a boy who can see through her “sad eyes,” she begins working through her grief to get on with her life. I actually checked Tiger Eyes last year for Banned Books month but did not get around to reading it (naturally).

The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox

A thirteen-year-old boy is kidnapped and put on a ship bound to Africa, only to realize he is on a slaver with the responsibility to play music during the exercise periods of the human captives. If that does not sound intense, then I don’t know what does.

Hold Still by Nina LaCour

Nina LaCour is an author I’ve wanted to get into for a few years and have only heard good things about. Hold Still has since been reprinted with a new beautiful illustrated cover, but I’m going to be good and get it from the library first. It follows Caitlin, whose best friend Ingrid commits suicide. When she finds a journal Ingrid left behind, she begins to slowly put the pieces together to understand why her friend did what she did.

Which of these books are you most interested to see if I will read?