2019 Bookish Survey

I’ll be honest guys…I felt a little lazy with this post.

When I first drafted my 2019 bookish survey, I followed the survey created by Perpetual Pages. However, beyond the basics stats and a few other details, there is not a lot I wanted to talk about in terms of my reading for 2019.

Graduate school has taken up most of my life. My TBR was constantly put aside due to stress as well as other outside forces. Thus, 2019 was a mediocre reading year. Not that I didn’t read any good books or completely lose an interest in reading. I just was not reading what I wanted to.

I realize now it was a combination of stress of school, the book buying ban I went on at the beginning of the year, as I found myself using the library almost too much, and the fact that I apparently like to deny myself things I want.

Now that we got that therapy session out of the way, here is my 2019 bookish survey.


Basic Statistics

Number of books read: 59

Number of rereads: 3

Average length of books I read: 284 pages

Pages read: 16, 775 pages read across 59 books

Average rating for 2019: 3.7


2019 Reading Resolutions Recap

“Unofficially” read 30 books

Prioritize and marathon series

Make smaller TBRs but be flexible

Unhaul books

Practice borrowing before buying


What do I think of this?

Given that I set a goal of 30 books and read 59 while being a graduate student and working part-time, this is pretty impressive. The 3 books I reread were for school.

The average length of books I read—284 pages—bothers me probably more than it should. The same goes for the page count, 16, 775 pages across 59 books. These particular stats brought to my attention that I was not reading a lot of bigger books, like I had done in previous years. The longest book I read in 2019 was 560 pages.

I know a lower page count isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Considering the circumstances, it makes sense. I was gravitating towards shorter books, not having the focus for long books, due to all my energy being thrown into school. However, it also means I wasn’t challenging myself as a reader and that the larger books on my TBR, such as the Cassandra Clare and Sarah J. Maas books, were ignored. Not to mention all the adult high fantasy I’ve had on my Amazon wish list and Goodreads for who knows how long.

The average rating of 2019 does not surprise me at all even as it disappoints me. Like I said, I had a rather mediocre reading year. Nine books were 5 star reads, and three were 1 star reads. Another three were 2 stars. The rest were between 3 and 4 stars. Even most of the 5 stars I read this year are not ones I am filled with joy thinking about, compared to some others.

Again, this is my own fault. I disregarded the series I wanted to prioritize and marathon—the books that were genuinely making me excited about reading—out of stress. I was also using the library more in order to sedate my urges to buy books during my self-imposed book-buying ban. If I had stuck to the resolution of prioritizing and marathoning series, I might have had a better reading year in terms of the average rating.


Blogging & Bookish Life

For the thousandth time already…grad school took over my life. My blog, and my creativity, suffered as much as reading did.

I did not have any favorite posts that I wrote this year. I wrote stuff I liked, but nothing comes to mind at the moment. If I wasn’t in school, I was focused on work. If I wasn’t focused on work, school had my attention. There was a point where I felt slumpy, when even rereading old favorites for a class was a struggle. A few books, like The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, pulled me out of it, only for me to be shoved back under with books like Landscape with Invisible Hand by M.T. Anderson.

Eventually, though, I reached a point where I realized I needed a creative outlet in order to function. Towards the end of the previous semester, I made it a point to work blogging around schoolwork. This proved beneficial and I’m hoping I can continue to do so once I am in the throes of my final semester.

I sound like such a negative Nelly. My bookish life was not all bad in 2019. I used my local library a lot, as you probably already guessed. I’m putting myself through this torture to become a librarian, so naturally I should support the institution. I love the library I currently work in. There are three bookstores near where I work. I did an unhaul of books a few months ago when my school did a book drive for a program in Rwanda. I’m sure there were a lot of other good bookish things that happened in 2019…if only my memory wasn’t so terrible.


Looking Ahead

The amount of TBR books still sitting unread on my bookshelves is embarrassing. I know I own them and I can read them whenever I want. But these books have sat unread for longer than they should have. Not to mention all the series I’ve fallen behind on.

What is my number one priority book of 2020? All the books. A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir…A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas…Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab…Lord of Shadows and Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare….I could go on….

I’m anticipating a lot of books in 2020, as well. That doesn’t help my TBR, or my wallet in some cases. The Burning God by R.F. Kuang…Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff…Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare…The Night Country by Melissa Albert. Those are just the tip of the iceberg. Not to mention all the new-to-me authors coming out with their debuts or the next installments of series in 2020. That is a whole other post in and of itself.

In 2020, I would like to get back to blogging consistently, as well as provide more creative content for my platform. I’m hoping I can work that around school, particularly since I want to get back into doing monthly TBRs and wrap-ups. Getting back into doing regular book reviews would also be ideal.

The main blogging goal for 2020 would be to start a blog series. Like continuing with the “recommending books I didn’t like” posts. As well as doing recommendation posts for hidden gems. I would also like to work on other ideas I’ve had, like a “random reads” series, where I go to the library and pick up a bunch of books on a whim, then review them in a single post. I might get back into reacting to rereads, like I did with Harry Potter before I gave up. With The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes coming out in May, I might do one for the original The Hunger Games trilogy. Lastly, writing more discussion posts, too, is something I want to work on content for.

My main reading goal of 2020 is read all my priority books. To give myself motivation, I am only allowing myself to buy books once I complete between 10 to 20 books off my priority TBR (after January, my birthday month). Sticking to reading lists yet making sure I’m flexible is another. I know now I’m not a mood reader, but allowing myself to change my mind is important, so I don’t become a stickler in all aspects of my life. Reading is not that serious.

Reflecting on 2019 actually makes me excited for 2020, if you can believe that. I have a feeling it will be a good year for reading. 2020 feels like it might be a good year overall.

Hopefully I didn’t just jinx it….

Worst & Most Disappointing Books of 2019

I would like to consider myself a critical reader. In more recent years, I have become more selective with the books I choose to read. The thing is, I want to also make sure I span my horizons if I ever want to be a reader’s advisory librarian. But, still, there are still a few flops in between the gems.

Fact is, not everyone reads the same book. Just because one person did not like a book does not diminish its value. Or the value of the people who like the book the person did not like.

The thing is, a year ago, I did not like throwing salt on books. Either because people got offended or thought something was wrong with them for liking a book. We all know that is not the case. (At least, I hope so.)

Now, I just want to throw around some shade when I’m having a bad day. Some of the books on this list I can say I genuinely did not like; the rest were ones I was looking forward to but they disappointed me.

The worst and most disappointing books I read in 2019 were:


Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer


It feels a little unfair to put Kill My Mother on this list. I found it randomly in the graphic novels section of the public library. But this story was a complete mess, no matter how much I liked the noir style artwork.


The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany


I went into this book expecting one of the “best fantasy novels of all time,” as according to a list I found while I was doing a project for school. Instead I got something without plot, dialogue, character development, any substance to speak of. In short, I was glad to return it to the library.


Landscape with Invisible Hand by M.T. Anderson


I had to read Landscape with Invisible Hand for school. That’s my own fault; I chose this one because it was the shortest. Plus, 2019 was the year of me liking science fiction. I wanted to give it a chance. Then, I read Landscape with Invisible Hand. It had a poorly executed plot and flat characters. Everything about this book was one-dimensional.


The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab


The Near Witch is Victoria Schwab’s debut novel and a product of the 2015 young adult. As in, the cast was predominantly white, the main character was all about the “I’m not like other girls,” and the insta-love took the stage midst the characters trying to find missing children. While I would not say I hated this book, The Near Witch was definitely not up to par with This Savage Song or Vicious.


Where I Live by Brenda Rufener

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A book about teen homelessness filled with kids trying too hard to be quirky. The characters were two-dimensional at best, same as the plot. Where I Live had so much potential, then fell flat. I’m pretty sure this was a debut novel as well, so I can’t judge the author too harshly.


In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak


This is another book I feel unfair about putting on this list. In the Night Kitchen was a book I randomly selected off the American Library Association’s list of most banned books. Also, it was a children’s picture book, so maybe it’s too young for me now. (Which is alarming, as I am taking a class on children’s literature this spring.) In the Night Kitchen was the book that helped me realize I don’t have patience for nonsense.


The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton


I went into The Everlasting Rose expecting it to be the final novel in a duology. As much as I liked Camille, her love interest Remy, and her sisterhood with her fellow Belles, not to mention the trials and tribulations that come with being a Belle, this whole book was a let-down. The plot was a drag, yet rushed to reach a conclusion at the end. I left The Everlasting Rose very unsatisfied.


Dancing with the Enemy: My Family’s Holocaust Secret by Paul Glaser


Dancing with the Enemy is one of the few nonfiction books that I had been on my radar for years. Set during WWII, it follows a dance teacher giving lessons to Nazis to survive. How does that not sound incredible? Yet this book was just flat. I felt nothing for anyone. The writing made me feel disconnected. No matter what I learned, I got nothing out of it.



What was your least favorite book of 2019?


My Favorite Books I Read in 2019

I read 59 books in 2019. For a graduate student working a part-time job, that’s not terrible. And it’s two books more than I read in 2018. However, much like 2018, I still had a rather “meh” of a reading year. Unlike 2018, I do not have a specific favorite book in 2019. Although, I think I had more favorites this year than I’ve had in recent years, which is also saying something.

Quality over quantity, right?

My favorite books of 2019 are:


The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

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I could not find a single flaw with this book. The writing was beautiful. I loved the protagonist, Xiomara, and related to her so much. Thanks to school, I finally got to read The Poet X this year before it got so far gone on my TBR backburner. It is probably one of the books that saved my reading this year.


They Called Us Enemy by George Takei


Another book I read for school, and it is a memoir/nonfiction graphic novel. While I have had graphic novels on my favorites list, I don’t think I have ever included any memoirs or nonfiction books. 2019 was the year of nonfiction, which I will go further into in my yearly reading review.

But They Called Us Enemy follows Star Trek actor George Takei as a child living inside a American Japanese internment camp during World War II. The thing that blew me away about this graphic novel was how forgiving Takei was towards the American government. Despite what he, his family, and so many others had to endure, he understands that the government reacted out of fear and fear makes people act irrationally. They Called Us Enemy was just compelling overall.


Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

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Jason Reynolds is an author I have known about for years. School is what made me finally read Long Way Down, which I had bought intending to read it whenever. The book is written in the most beautiful, emotional verse, with a realistic portrayal of grief and a look at certain rules in a community that do not have to be a way of life. I read this book in a day. I don’t know how I managed to function afterwards.


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


Has there ever been a year where a Saga comic hasn’t ended up on my favorites list? I don’t think so. Right now, if I had to pick a favorite in the series so far, it would be Volume 9. What I had anticipated since Volume 1 finally happened. Only it was not quite what I expected. It left me feeling like “What the f–k!” 

And now I have to wait over a year for Volume 10….


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

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Voices is one of the most unexpected books of the year. I went into it knowing I would like it, as Joan of Arc is one of my favorite historical figures. Plus, I generally enjoy books written in verse. It was how much I liked Voices—reading it in a day, giving it five stars—is what surprised me.

The book is not just written in verse; it is written in different forms of medieval poetry. And it’s not just written from Joan’s point of view. We also get the point of view of other people involved, as well as objects, even the fire as she is burned at the stake. In between are transcripts from the trial where she was convicted as a heretic and the other that cleared her of wrongdoing centuries later. Most of all, it was the emotion I felt for Joan, who was turned on by the very people she risked her life to protect, that made Voices a new favorite.


To Make Monsters Out of Girls by Amanda Lovelace


Since 2018, Amanda Lovelace is quickly making her way up to my favorite authors. To give you an idea, To Make Monsters Out of Girls is after To Drink Coffee with a Ghost and The Princess Saves Herself in This One but comes before The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One and The Mermaid’s Voice Returns in This One. But I still gave it five stars. It covered important women’s issues and told reality as it was. Amanda Lovelace did not shy away from admitting the mistakes she had made in her life, but said those mistakes did not diminish her worth. The same goes for everyone else. That is something all people need to hear, not just women.


The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang

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I read The Dragon Republic over the summer and I think about it almost daily. This one is more of a political fantasy with a lot of battle scenes and magic woven in. Not all the characters, the protagonist Rin included, are likeable. But they are real people making real mistakes. R.F. Kuang does not shy away from the realities of war, racism, drug abuse, and trauma, among other things. While there is no specific romance, the possible relationship in this series and what happened between them made me feel the butterflies, then tore my heart out at the end. Though I liked the first book, The Poppy War, it was The Dragon Republic that won me over.


Scythe by Neal Shusterman


I went back and forth on reading Scythe for years, since its release. Young adult dystopian novels are a hit or miss for me. Everyone and their mother was singing praises for Scythe, yet I kept ignoring it. Then, I had to read it for my young adult literature class this past semester. I could not stop reading, even when I had other homework I had to do. It even made me cry at one point, which rarely happens. As soon as I finished reading, I bought the sequels, and you better believe I will be finishing the Scythe trilogy in 2020.


Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

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Another surprising favorite of 2019, I went into Aurora Rising with low expectations. I did not love Illuminae by these authors. Initially, I was going to ignore Aurora Rising but seeing the beautiful cover everywhere made it hard. Now, I’m glad I gave this book a chance. I loved all the characters and their individual sense of humor. The plot was fast-paced and sucked me right in. I love all the couples, even though I still kind of ship everyone with each other. I’m awaiting Aurora Burning (with my alien fae baby Kal on the cover) on pins and needles.


A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin


A School for Unusual Girls seemed like a lighthearted historical romance. While it feels like that at first, there is more to it. I loved the narrator, Georgie, and all the other girls in the spy school, Stranje House. The romances were just adorable, and all the male characters will make your knees weak. And the plot was fast-paced and compulsively readable. A School for Unusual Girl was absolutely fun and cute.


Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

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Two Can Keep a Secret was a book I checked out from the library with low expectations. Mostly because I did not hear the best things about Karen M. McManus’s debut novel, One of Us is Lying. Two Can Keep a Secret intrigued me, though. This was another favorite book I flew through and had so much fun reading. I liked all the characters and there was diversity without it being in your face. The ending is what threw me for a loop—one of the best I have read in a young adult mystery novel.


Invisible Ghosts by Robyn Schneider

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What I loved so much about Invisible Ghosts was how accurately I saw my high school self—maybe even my current self—in a fictional character. It hit close to home in a lot of different ways: the complicated feelings of grief, finally finding your “people,” and the familiarity of living inside your own shell while wanting to break out of it. Invisible Ghosts, now that I own a copy, is one I definitely plan on rereading sooner rather than later.


A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi


One word to describe A Crown of Wishes: beautiful. Beautiful writing, beautiful atmosphere, and beautiful characters. I loved the setting of this novel more than I did the one in The Star-Touched Queen, with the exciting games, the magical riddles, and trickster gods and monsters. I liked the characters in this one more than the ones in the previous novel, too. They were all flawed, especially the female lead Gauri, but they learned from their mistakes and grew from them.


Windwitch, Sightwitch, and Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard

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Ever read a book series you were excited about, loved all the books currently out, and then regretted it? I finally caught up with the Witchlands series after reading Truthwitch, the first book, in 2017. While the magic systems are somewhat confusing to me even after four books, I admit I’m in it more for the characters and kingdom politics at this point. I am attached to all the main characters and some of the secondary characters, while there are plenty others I think can go choke. And there is so much fascinating political maneuvering that puts Game of Thrones to shame. I have no idea how I will survive as I wait for the next book without any set release date.


I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak


Nobody talks about I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak, and when they do they don’t have anything nice to say. I liked it regardless. I loved Ed Kennedy’s snarky sense of humor, and I consider him book boyfriend material. It brought up a lot of valid social questions, particularly those regarding young people trying to find their way in the world. Needless to say, having loved two of Markus Zusak’s books, it raised the bar for Bridge of Clay.


Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

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Laurie Halse Anderson is an author that also never disappoints me and one I am desperately behind on her books. Shout is her memoir, written in verse, about her sexual assault when she was thirteen and the rest of her life following that, leading up to her writing Speak. Shout made me think and feel things that so many other people try to sweep under the rug, maintaining a hopeful feeling throughout.


Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi


Persepolis was another book I had had on my radar for years and finally read it in 2019. Only the first volume is on my favorites list, though. This one is set in Iran during the 1970s and at the height of the new regime. The author was a young girl growing up in an upper-class family during the political uprising and was directly impacted by what was going on in the country at the time. Besides the social and political criticism, Persepolis was also filled with emotional turbulence that made me want to put it on my favorites list.


And, of course, what is a favorites list without….


Honorable Mentions

Vicious by Victoria Schwab


Praise Song for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden


Evermore by Sara Holland


True Notebooks by Mark Salzman


The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black


Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar


Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan


You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins


Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon


What were your favorite books that you read in 2019?


The Last Reading Wrap Up of 2019

Welcome 2020!

When December began and school let out, I thought I had escaped the annual end-of-the-year reading slump. I borrowed over thirty books from the library. I picked a book I had been anticipating, only suddenly the act of reading felt grueling. That was when I knew I was in a reading slump. I returned all the books I had checked out.

A few days after Christmas, I really wanted to read more books before the end of the year. That was when I came up with a solution: graphic novels.

Last year, I bought a lot of graphic novel adaptions of classical works illustrated by Gareth Hinds. I read his adaption of Edgar Allan Poe stories at the beginning of 2019 and it was super entertaining. In the last week of the year, I picked up the three other graphic novels by him that I owned. And I’m very glad I did.

In the final week of 2019, I read:


Beowulf graphic novel adaption by Gareth Hinds

4 stars


I read the text of Beowulf in high school, though I think at the time I preferred the movie. After reading this graphic novel adaption, I realized Beowulf is one of the best classical stories to have illustrations, with all the action that happens throughout.

Gareth Hinds’s artwork added something extra to the story. He drew Beowulf as the ancient writers would have envisioned him: a massive, handsome golden-haired hero. The narration was still in the original medieval text, except cut back slightly to fit the graphic novel format. Beowulf is the kind of story that fits a graphic novel, in my opinion, with all the fight scenes. There is a lot of gore, though Gareth Hinds doesn’t go crazy with it. With his art, he also showed that, despite all the heroic acts, Beowulf was still a mortal, flawed man, which I appreciated the most.


Romeo and Juliet graphic novel adaption by Gareth Hinds

3.5 stars


In all honesty, I would not consider Romeo and Juliet my favorite Shakespeare play. However, I do agree with what Gareth Hinds says in his forward to this graphic novel: this story ages well. (Except the Leonardo Di Caprio version.)

One thing I realized that Romeo and Juliet relies heavily on dialogue. Only that didn’t fully hit me until several passages (you can tell how many times I’ve read/seen this damn play) were taken out and you had to rely on the illustrations to understand what was happening. Which is why I do not recommend anyone who has not read the original text read this graphic novel. I could not help but feel something missing while I was reading.

On the flip side to that, the entire cast of this graphic novel were people of color. Romeo and the Montagues were drawn of African-American descent while Juliet and the Capulets were Indian/South East Asian. The only white people I can remember in this entire graphic novel were Juliet’s nurse and the Friar. There were also some more modern edges, like Tybalt walking around shirtless showing off his tattooed chest. Normally, those kinds of things annoy me, but in the Romeo and Juliet graphic novel, it did not.


The Odyssey graphic novel adaption by Gareth Hinds

4.5 stars


The final book I read in 2019 and I’m glad it was this one.

Like Beowulf, I read an abridged version of The Odyssey in high school and watched the mini-series with Bernadette Peters as the witch Circe. I would still like to one day tackle the full text of The Odyssey, as well as The Iliad (of which Gareth Hinds also has a graphic novel adaption). But The Odyssey is another classic that suits the graphic novel format.

At first, I was thrown for a loop. Unlike other versions I have read or seen, the original work begins when Odysseus’s son, Telemachus, goes searching for news of Odysseus after the Trojan War, in hopes finding his father will get the obnoxious suitors of Ithaca away from his mother, Odysseus’s wife, Penelope. Then, it goes into Odysseus’s trials after the end of the Trojan War.

While that caught me off guard for a bit, I realized that was more of me reacting to what I had initially been exposed to. The mini-series put the events in chronological order for the sake of making the story easier to follow, which made sense for that format. Despite this, I really liked Gareth Hinds’s artwork in The Odyssey graphic novel. He used the ideal color palette and drew the characters in a way I think even Homer would have imagined them. The story was entertaining and I flew through the middle portion, which are the tales of Odysseus’s adventures. However, towards the end, I felt it drag a little. Regardless, it was a satisfying conclusion. An overall entertaining graphic novel as well.


What was the book you wrapped up 2019 reading?

The Longest Reading Wrap Up of 2019

Hi book bitches!

Sorry…I don’t know what came over me….

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I vanished off the face of the blogging earth in September a lot faster than I intended to. But I hit the ground running as soon as school started again. Now, I just finished my second to last semester of graduate school, with one final project due Monday. After that, I’m free until January 13th or so.

The past two weeks have been stressful. One major thing goes wrong throws everything off-kilter. I’m even procrastinating more and more. Right now, I’m taking a break from my final project to relieve my stress through a creative outlet and let you guys know, since my last reading wrap up, I have read sixteen books.

Hope you grabbed a coffee, because this could take a while….


March: Book One by John Lewis

3.5 stars


March: Book One was the required read for the nonfiction section of my YA class. It is the story of Congressman John Lewis’s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. While it was interesting learning more about the sit-ins and life in the United States during the years of segregation in the South, I was bored most of the time reading. Even though I finished it in a day, March: Book One did not leave the lasting impression on me than I would have expected. But if you like American history, I highly recommend it.


The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

4 stars

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As it turns out, 2019 was not only the year of reading nonfiction, but also the year of reading nonfiction I actually enjoyed. The 57 Bus was the second book I read for the young adult nonfiction. Honestly, I picked it because it was the only one on the professor’s reading list that I recognized. Then, I read the synopsis: a true story from Oakland, California following two teenagers and an incident on a public bus. The two students come from different racial and socioeconomic backgrounds as well as went to different schools. They never said a word to each other until one of them starts playing with a lighter and accidentally sets the other teen on fire.

The author, Dashka Slater, was a reporter that extensively followed the case for several years. She interviewed both teens, Richard, the misguided but ultimately good-natured fifteen-year-old black perpetrator, and Sasha, the sweet, quirky seventeen-year-old nonbinary white teen. She also interviewed their friends, family, classmates, teachers, and a range of eclectic individuals from all around Oakland who are involved in the case one way or another. The author also takes a hard look at society, particularly in Richard’s case, on how something like this even happened in the first place. Not just in Oakland, but anywhere in general.

The 57 Bus was an enjoyable, informative read. The author wrote it in a way like she was telling a story instead of relating facts. I felt for both kids, even Richard, who you are technically supposed to hate. For most of the book, I wanted to give it 5 stars, but it dragged in some parts and there was a point where there was more information than was needed. But, overall, The 57 Bus has encouraged me to look into more nonfiction.


The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang (library book)

4.5 stars

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The Dragon Republic is the sequel to The Poppy War, which I read last year also from the library after it received too much hype to be ignored. However, after reading The Poppy War, I admit I did not think about it much afterwards. The Dragon Republic was a different story.

The Dragon Republic continues with the war against the evil empress and Rin, traumatized after the events of the first novel, has joined the Dragon Warlord to turn Nikara into a democratic republic. Only Rin’s fire power has taken a toll on her mentally and emotionally. While she’s with the rest of the Cike, reunited with her friend Kitay, and protected by Nezha, the boy that tormented her in school who is now the sweetest bean ever, everyone around Rin has secrets. And as the war rages on, people finally show themselves for who they are.

One thing I have to respect about R.F. Kuang is that she goes there with the materials she covers in her books. The brutality of war, racism, drug abuse, trauma, etc. she writes it in the most honest way. Though Rin might get on your nerves, she is one of the most authentic characters you will ever read about. While all these are good things, I didn’t really feel the book until the ending. Anyone who has read this book who ships Rin and Nezha will know why.

The Burning God, the third and presumably final book in this series, can’t come fast enough.


The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon (reread)

4.5 stars


The Sun is Also a Star was the first required read of my young adult class. I halfway BS’d the discussion post because it took forever to read. I have no idea why. I still liked Daniel and Natasha. There were a lot of deep issues brought up that led to great discussions in the online posts. But at a certain point, The Sun is Also a Star just became more of a chore. Despite this, I left it at the original rating I gave it the first time I read the book in 2016. I chalked it all up to a stressed out mental state at the time.  


The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (reread)

4 stars


In a similar vein to The Sun is Also a Star, I reread The Impossible Knife of Memory for the same module in my online YA class. Again, I was too stressed out at the time to really enjoy rereading the book as much as I should have. As before, I left the rating as it already was on Goodreads. The book was still good, it was simply circumstances affecting the experience.


#Notyourprincess by Lisa Charleyboy (library book)

3.75 stars

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#Notyourprincess was one of the recommended reads for the nonfiction section of my young adult class. Surprisingly, I do not have much I can say about it, regardless of the somewhat higher rating. It is mainly a short collection of creative nonfiction and informative essays written by a variety of Native American women from different tribes sharing their respective experiences. It was a quick read, with lots of beautiful artwork and stories from Native American folklore. If you are interested in learning more about Native American culture and identity, I would highly recommend #Notyourprincess.


In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak (library book)

2 stars


When Banned Books week rolled around this year, I was determined to maintain the tradition of reading a new banned book, no matter how busy I was. Naturally, I checked out a bunch from the library and only managed to read two. In the Night Kitchen was one of them. It was a children’s book I randomly chose from a list on the American Library Association’s website. And, if I’m being honest, I read it because it was the shortest.

After reading a few reviews on Goodreads, I realized In the Night Kitchen had Holocaust undertones. Still, I was not quite sure what point the author was trying to make. The best explanation I can come up with is I’m not into books that do not have a solid plot.


They Called Us Enemy by George Takei (library book)

5 stars


They Called Us Enemy is a historical graphic memoir that was also on the recommended reads for the young adult nonfiction. It follows the Star Trek actor George Takei, who lived with his family in an American Japanese internment camp for four years during World War II. He was four years old and living with his family in Los Angeles when Pearl Harbor was bombed. It also follows the years after the war, and how Japanese Americans were affected.

They Called Us Enemy is drawn in an anime style with a bleak black/white/gray color scheme. George Takei tells the story how he remembers life in an internment camp as a four-year-old, and how things only got harder as the years went by. The most surprising thing about his narration to me was how fair he was to the American government. Reflecting on the anger he felt as a young man, in his adulthood, he eventually understood that what FDR did was out of fear, and fear makes people act irrationally. That’s really what made me give They Called Us Enemy 5 stars.


Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan (library book)

3.25 stars


I initially checked out Two Boys Kissing to read during Banned Books week. I didn’t read it during that week, but I luckily had it on hand for a school assignment on diverse reads in our local library (again, for my YA class).

Two Boys Kissing was a short book and there was a lot going on at once. While ex-boyfriends Craig and Harry are kissing on a livestream for thirty-two hours to make a statement after a fellow gay classmate is assaulted, you also see through the eyes of current boyfriends Peter and Neil, who are having some problems; a new romance blossoming between Avery and Ryan; and Cooper, a troubled boy struggling to come to terms with his sexuality. All this is narrated by the ghosts of men who had died from AIDS.

While the narration style was interesting and the characters were written realistically, admittedly I was bored. This was my first David Levithan book, so I had no expectations going in. I’ve just heard a lot about him over the years. There was some cute moments in between all the sadness, which I appreciated. I also think Two Boys Kissing should be taught in schools. But other than that, it was the middle of the road book for me.


Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

5 stars

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I read Long Way Down in 24 hours. I’m not exaggerating. I even read this during my breaks at work and I never do that.

I read Long Way Down for school, though I have wanted to read it for a while. Written in verse, it happens mostly during an elevator ride as a fifteen-year-old boy heads out to kill the man he thinks murdered his brother. On the elevator, he meets other people who have previously died from gun violence and is forced to question his actions.

This book does not shy away from social criticism. Will, the protagonist, is asked over and over why he is out to kill a man, always citing “The Rules” of the community. But as the novel progresses, he slowly begins to doubt his mission. The novel also explores the concept of grief, and how that can often cloud people’s judgement. Expect to see Long Way Down on some of my favorite books this year.


The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

5 stars

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Another book I read for school that has also earned a spot on some of my favorite books of 2019 is The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. The Poet X has been on my radar for well over a year. Prior to it being a required read in my YA class, I had come close to buying it whenever I saw it at bookstores several times yet never did. Honestly, it probably would have sat on my bookshelves for too long if I had.

The Poet X is written in verse and follows Xiomara, who is struggling to come to terms with her religion and her sexuality while living in a strict household under a tyrannical mother. That is simply grazing the surface of what happens in this book, as Xiomara discovers her love of slam poetry.

The Poet X is another book I read in a short amount of time and another that hit close to home. I loved Xiomara as a protagonist. I loved the writing style. I loved the supportive friend group. In short, I found little fault with this book.


Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (reread)

5 stars


I reread Salt to the Sea for my YA class and I forgot how much I really loved this book. I basically ignored my other homework to keep reading.

My feelings towards Salt to the Sea have not changed. I still loved the writing. I still loved Joana, Florian, and Emilia. I still didn’t like Alfred, though he only annoyed me this time around. I actually pitied him during this reread. It still made me cry. And someone STILL tried to talk to me while I was getting on the emotional roller coaster of the ending.


Landscape with Invisible Hand by M.T. Anderson (library book)

1 star


Landscape with Invisible Hand was one of the recommended reads for the final section of the YA class, speculative fiction, and it was actually not the one I initially chose to read. Truth is, I picked this book over Children of Blood and Bone because it was shorter and I had a lot of other homework at the time. Despite this, I was genuinely interested in finding out if I liked this type of science fiction.

I did not.

Everything about Landscape with Invisible Hand was a cringe-fest. The characters, the writing, the nonsequential nonsense plot, everything. While the author did a good job creating a contemporary world under an alien invasion, that’s all the positives I can say about it. This book fell flat with a big wham.


Scythe by Neal Shusterman

4.75 stars


If Scythe had not been a required read for my young adult class, I have no idea when I would have read it. I’m picky when it comes to choosing which dystopian YA novels. That, and Scythe was so hyped. Thankfully, it did not disappoint.

Set in a world where humanity has conquered even death, Citra and Rowan are two teens reluctantly chosen to be scythe apprentices. Scythes are individuals responsible for keeping the population under control by “gleaning” people. And that’s all I’m going to say. Because there is a lot going on in this book, a lot of important questions raised, and I think it is best people who have not read Scythe to go into it knowing the bare minimum. Just know that it is worthy of the praise it receives.


You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

4 stars

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You Bring the Distant Near, much like The Poet X, is a book I’ve had on my radar for a long time that I finally had a reason to read thanks to my YA class. It follows three generations of women from the same Indian-American family: Ranee, her daughters Tara and Sonia, Tara’s daughter Anna, and Sonia’s daughter Chantal. It begins in the 1970s, when Tara and Sonia move with their parents to America from London and embrace their new American lifestyle while their mother insists on them behaving like traditional Indian girls.

If you want to read You Bring the Distant Near, be aware that it can be slow-paced. The chapters read more like “slice of life” stories, as Tara, Sonia, Chantal, and Anna encounter different issues in their respective time periods. While I did enjoy that aspect, it also led to a lot of jarring time jumps. I was only aware of time passing unless a character said what year it was. The romances were cute, yet not as fleshed out as the familial relationships between the women. I personally loved the sisterly relationship between Tara and Sonia the best. The writing was also lovely and the plot was primarily character-driven, another element you should be aware of if that is something you don’t prefer.

You Bring the Distant Near is a book I wanted to give a higher rating to, but it had some problems. If I ever get around to rereading it, we will see if I still feel the same.


Dancing with the Enemy: My Family’s Holocaust Secret by Paul Glaser (library book)

3 stars


Dancing with the Enemy is one of the books I’ve had on my Goodreads TBR for years. I checked it out of the library twice this year, making a point to read it the second time I borrowed it. The concept was just too fascinating: the author, Paul Glaser, who was raised Catholic, finds out his paternal side was once Jewish and his father’s estranged older sister, Rosie, survived in Auschwitz by teaching ballroom dancing to the Nazis.

Paul tells the story based off of information he gathered from reading his aunt’s journals and letters. Rosie, a woman ahead of her time, came from a family of nonpracticing Jews. After losing the love of her life to a naval airplane crash, she marries the wrong man and then has an affair with another. She eventually drops both of them to open her own dance school, but when the Nazis invade the Netherlands, she is exposed by her jealous ex-husband and scheming former lover and sent to Auschwitz. In between the diary entries are also chapters narrated by Paul as he digs into his family’s history following an unexpected surprise while touring the Auschwitz museum.

While I would recommend Dancing with the Enemy to anyone interested in World War II nonfiction, it was sadly a middle of the road book for me. Rosie is a boss lady and the main highlight of this entire novel. We also get insight on what was happening in the Netherlands as Hitler rose to power. However, Dancing with the Enemy was barely 300 pages, yet there was too much filler. Paul could have shaved off some of his chapters, and made the focus entirely his aunt. There were also a lot of unexpected time jumps and more telling than showing (which I suppose is to be expected in a book based off diaries). If those things annoy you, be wary if you choose to read Dancing with the Enemy.


What have you read recently?

2019 Reading Wrap Up #6

When I opened my agenda to write down my work hours last week, it hit me: I start school again in a week.

Now that I’m down to fourteen hours a week at this place I’m currently working, I am at a loss of what to do on my days off. To be honest, I am not reading as much as I should be on those days.

In the past month or so, I have fallen down the rabbit hole of the scary side of YouTube, watching channels like Mr. Nightmare and Corpse Husband. I also want to write and post all the ideas I had before I become so busy with school I won’t be able to give my blog much attention. But thanks to this young adult literature course I’m taking this semester, I will be reading a lot.

While I will be reading, I don’t know how much I will be posting after all my pre-written material goes up. One of the priorities is the next reading wrap-up.

Since my last reading wrap-up in July, I am delighted to say that I have read four books on my list of books to read before the end of the year. Then, in the middle of August, I took a week off at the insistence of my boss. I suddenly had an urge to visit my local library again. I checked out a bunch of books, then returned a bunch a couple of weeks later. Of the original ones I checked out, I managed to read two. There are others I kept or checked out later. You will see those in a future reading wrap-up (if I ever get around to reading them).

In between the last few weeks of July and August, I read six books. Those were:


A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

4.75 stars


A Crown of Wishes is the companion novel to The Star-Touched Queen. It follows Gauri, Maya’s younger sister, who teams up with Vikram, the prince of a rival kingdom, to compete in a tournament for a wish. Gauri does this in hopes of winning her kingdom back from her wicked brother.

The setting was simply gorgeous, set in an otherworld where humans and mystical creatures all compete in various challenges for a wish. It was also a little spooky at times, since you never really knew what happened next. Roshani Chokshi’s writing was as beautiful as ever. She created a complicated heroine in Gauri; she was flawed, but she was someone you could root for. Vikram was also a very likeable character and the romance was a satisfying slow burn. The plot was also well thought-out, with webs weaving and interconnecting as the book went on.

I wanted to give A Crown of Wishes 5 stars. However, there was a POV introduced that I was not sure why it was included. I liked the character, but I wasn’t sure why we had chapters narrated from her perspective. Lastly, the end of the book seemed to drag a little too long. By that point, I simply wanted to reach the happily ever after and get hit with the feels I was waiting for.


Windwitch by Susan Dennard

4.5 stars

Sightwitch by Susan Dennard

4 stars

Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard

4 stars

I am finally caught up with the Witchlands series by Susan Dennard. I said before this series has potential to be greater than Throne of Glass and I stand by that statement. Admittedly, I am still confused about what directions certain aspects of the plot are going, which is why I have yet to give any book in the series over 4.5 stars. I love the character dynamics and how not all the main relationships driving the series are romantic. Obviously, I can’t go any further than that because of spoilers, but I highly recommend the Witchlands series. My favorite so far would have to be Windwitch.


Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer (library book)

1 star


Kill My Mother was facing front and center in the graphic novel section of the local library; the title in big, bold lettering that immediately pulled me in. It is a noir mystery set in the 1930s and 40s, following five women connected by two murders.

On the surface, it sounded interesting. Two of the characters are a mother, who works as a secretary for a drunk loser private investigator, and her grief-stricken teenaged daughter. The daughter felt abandoned by her mother, who threw herself headfirst into her new job after the murder of her cop husband, leaving her daughter alone in her grief. That was the only thing I remotely understood what was happening out of this entire graphic novel.

I liked the artwork, but that’s about it. Nothing about the plot made sense. It bounced from one thing to another without any warning. I had no idea what was happening or why the writer was introducing so many characters at once or how all these people could be connected. Graphic novels are usually quick and easy to get through. Only Kill My Mother was a real struggle for me.


Mary Shelley: The Strange True Tale of Frankenstein’s Creator by Catherine Reef (library book)

3 stars


2019 is the year of nonfiction for me apparently. I found this biography of Mary Shelley in the young adult section of the library. I picked it up expecting a fictional retelling. Only it turned out to be a literal biography, written in plain English for a teenaged audience.

            At first, I was intrigued. I learned that Mary Shelley’s mother was feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft, who died shortly after giving birth to Mary. Mary also had an older half-sister, Fanny, her mother’s child by an American lover than abandoned her. The girls were brought up by their father, a writer in his own right, and he would eventually remarry a woman with two children of her own. One of those children, a daughter, would grow up to be Claire Clairmont, lover of Lord Byron.

Another fact I learned that surprised me (though not really) was that Mary’s husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, was married to someone else when he met Mary. She was sixteen, smitten with him as he was with her. Eventually, Percy would abandon his wife Harriet and their two children to run off to Geneva, Switzerland with Mary and Mary’s stepsister Claire (who, by the way, was born Jane). I was also heartbroken to learn that Mary lost three children before the age of five to illnesses.

However, at a certain point, I felt like I was reading an extended Wikipedia page on Mary Shelley. While all the information I was getting provided insight to how she might have come up with a novel like Frankenstein and most of what I learned about her early life was fascinating, eventually I got bored. If you are interested in Mary Shelley though, I would recommend picking up Mary Shelley: The Strange True Tale of Frankenstein’s Creator by Catherine Reef.


What is a book you’ve read recently that you did not like much?

2019 Reading Wrap Up #5

Summer 2019


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The semester officially ended for me in May. But since Reading Wrap Up #4, I’ve been in a weird reading mood. I don’t think I would call it a reading slump. It had more to do with the fact that I was not reading the books I actually wanted to, in favor of other things.

After school let out, I had an itch to visit my local library again. Since the library isn’t open Saturdays July through August and I work during the week, I decided to take advantage of the limited time to visit. I checked out too many books (as usual). Thus, I neglected my TBR at home (again). It didn’t help that the first three library books in this wrap up were extremely meh. There was a point I did fear a reading slump coming. Then, I read the other three library books in this wrap up and was saved.

The library books I read recently are:


The Everlasting Rose by Dhonielle Clayton

3 stars


While I enjoyed The Belles when I read it last year, I went into The Everlasting Rose expecting a finale. Though I like the author’s criticism of beauty culture and how the ones with the most power sometimes don’t have the control, I was bored throughout the latter half of the book. I liked Camille’s character development and her growing romance with Remy. It was an easy read, but near the end I felt like I was finishing it just to be done with it. Honestly, if I had picked up The Everlasting Rose knowing for certain that it was a second book, I might have enjoyed it more than I did overall.


Death of an Eye by Dana Stabenow

3 stars


Death of an Eye is a book I found while browsing the new book shelves in the library lobby. Tetisheri is an old friend of Queen Cleopatra, who is currently very pregnant with Julius Cesar’s child. When her personal spy, the Eye, is found dead, Cleopatra enlists the help of Tetisheri to find the killer and expose a conspiracy.

I liked the characters, the writing style, and the ancient Egyptian setting. There is a love interest in here that also I like very much. But the novel was too short and the plot seemed too rushed. The ending felt abrupt. By the time I was finished, I felt meh, like nothing truly exciting had happened. In all, though, I liked Death of an Eye and I might continue with the series.


Still Star-crossed by Melinda Taub

3 stars


Probably the most meh book I’ve read so far this year, Still Star-crossed is a “sequel” to William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Someone is bent on breaking the delicate truce between the Capulets and the Montagues following the deaths of the doomed lovers. To keep the families from killing each other, and destroying the entire city of Verona in the process, the prince forces Romeo’s cousin Benvolio to marry Juliet’s cousin Rosaline. While the synopsis is intriguing when you read it, everything about Still Star-crossed was two-dimensional at best: characters, writing, plot, etc. I was so bored while reading, I had no idea what to feel.


Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar

4 stars


Vanessa and Her Sister is the first book I had individually reviewed since I started graduate school. It follows sisters painter Vanessa Bell and writer Virginia Woolf, and their famed social circle the Bloomsbury Group. The entire family has revolved around Virginia’s unstable mental health and indulging her whims. But when big sister Vanessa finds love, manipulative, possessive Virginia is not about to let her go so easily.

The novel is written in a diary-style format, with letters and other media of the era thrown in. You get inside Vanessa’s head as well as gain perspective of others involved from the development of the Bloomsbury group, leading into the drama that nearly destroys the Stephan family. The characters felt like real, complicated people, as if Priya Parmar might have personally known them, not like imagined historical figures.


Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan

4.5 stars


Another library book I reviewed individually, Rainbirds is an adult contemporary novel set in Japan. After his older sister Keiko is murdered, Ren Ishida travels to the small town of Akakawa to collect her remains. While there, he gets roped into taking her position as an English teacher at the local cram school and living in her old bedroom inside a politician’s house, where he reads to the man’s bedridden wife. Ren does this not only to escape his failing relationship in Tokyo, but to understand what happened to Keiko and why anyone would want to hurt her. Turns out, his sister kept more secrets than he thought.

Rainbirds sounds like a mystery, but it’s more of a family drama. This one focuses on a brother/sister relationship that was close-knit, but the two still kept secrets from each other. The writing was beautiful and the characters, especially Ren, were all flawed and multifaceted. The author created an atmosphere that felt exotic and isolated, sucking me right in. If you enjoyed Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, you will like Rainbirds.


Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

4.5 stars 


When Aurora Rising was announced, I had no intention of reading it. I did not love Illuminae, so I didn’t see the point. Except the synopsis did intrigue me once I heard it. A group of mismatched astronauts get lumped together after the leader, Tyler Jones, misses the draft to save a girl, Aurora, trapped in a frozen state on an abandoned spaceship that has been lost for over 200 years. This leads Tyler, Aurora, and the rest of the reluctant heroes on a mission that has been centuries in the making.

Unlike Illuminae, Aurora Rising was written in prose and in first-person narrative of each of the squad members. I was able to follow along better because things were explained rather than shown. I also liked Squad 312 more than I did Katy and Ezra. The squad felt more fleshed out, each with their own voices and thought process and feelings. While I felt some parts dragged, I did have a lot of fun while reading. There were two romances in here, one that frustrated me but the other was adorable. The ending pulled at my heart, too.

I definitely plan on continuing with the series. I might even buy my own copy of Aurora Rising.


Those of you that have read both Illuminae and Aurora Rising, what did you think of them? Do you prefer one over the other?


2019 Reading Wrap Up #4

I’m back from my unexpected mini-hiatus!

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

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


The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan

4.25 stars


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

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


Vicious by V.E. Schwab

5 stars


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

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


Vengeful by V.E. Schwab

4 stars


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

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


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

4.5 stars


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

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


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

5 stars


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

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


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

4.75 stars


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

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

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


Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson

4.75 stars


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

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


Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

4.75 stars


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

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


Persepolis 2 by Marjane Satrapi

4.5 stars


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

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


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

2019 Reading Wrap Up #3

If I’m being honest, at the beginning of this year, I was expecting three months in between my reading wrap ups. I didn’t know how much reading time I would have in the new semester. This semester, I have extra amount of time on my hands that somehow makes me anxious that I’m forgetting a school assignment….

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Really, I’m not complaining. Since I went on my book buying ban, I’ve checked out more library books than I can read (as usual). Last week, I had to return all of them because there was no way I could read them before the due date (even after I renewed them). I have a lot of unread books at home that I need to get to.

In the meantime, here are the five library books I recently read:


Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

4.5 stars


Carlos Ruiz Zafon is an auto-buy author for me and Marina was going to be my next purchase…as soon as a copy became available on Amazon. Once I realized my library had it, I didn’t see the point in waiting anymore.

Marina is set in Barcelona, circa 1979, and follows school boy Oscar. When he was fifteen, he disappeared for a week and would not tell anyone what happened to him or where he went. He had been befriended by a girl named Marina, who showed him something peculiar in a graveyard: on the last Sunday of every month, a woman dressed in black leaves a single red rose on an unmarked headstone. Intrigued, the children follow her one day. The novel takes off from there.

As one would expect, Carlos Ruiz Zafon creates a beautiful, haunting version of Barcelona that both frightens and fascinates. The mystery was a weird one, but held my interest and the book was hard to put down. Oscar wasn’t as fleshed out as Marina, but their friendship was the driving force of the novel.

However, Marina didn’t go in the direction I had expected. It begs the question “did any of this really happen?” If any other author had written it, I’m not sure I would have liked it as much as I did in Marina. 


A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin

4 stars


A School for Unusual Girls is an older title—it came out in 2015—and the first of an alternate historical fiction series set in a finishing school where teenaged girls are trained to be spies or scientists in the war effort after Napoleon is forced out of France.

A School for Unusual Girls follows Georgie, who is shipped off to Stranje House by her parents after accidentally setting her father’s stables on fire in an experiment gone wrong. Georgie thinks she’s entered a prison, when in fact Emma Stranje, the headmistress, has enlisted her to make a solution for an invisible ink. Teaming up with arrogant and handsome Sebastian, she soon realizes getting kicked out by her parents is the least of her problems.

If you all remember the days of young adult in 2015, the romantic tropes were not that great, or healthy. I loved Georgie as a protagonist and related to her feelings of awkwardness as she tries to come into her own, and I enjoyed how the plot unfolded as it went along. My biggest concern, however, was the romance. Sebastian came off a lot like William Herondale did when first introduced: arrogant and he talked down to Georgie. Once she proved herself to be his equal, he still teased her and flirted but he showed her more respect and he was never outright mean. Best part, while both felt an attraction, neither of them said “I love you” yet.

A School for Unusual Girls is a series of companion novels. I like all the girls and how Kathleen Baldwin turned history on its head. Plus, the second book is following two characters from the first book I am smitten with.


Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

4.75 stars


When everyone and their mother was raving about Karen M. McManus’s debut novel, One of Us is Lying, I had no interest in reading it. In between the praise I had heard things that didn’t exactly thrill me. Then, Booksplosion announced their February read was Two Can Keep a Secret, Karen M. McManus’s second novel. This one had me intrigued.

Two Can Keep a Secret follows true crime buff Ellery, who moves from California with her twin brother Ezra to Echo Ridge, Vermont to live with their grandmother after their mom gets sent to rehab. Having a theme park previously called “Murderland” is not the only disturbing thing about this otherwise normal-looking town. Girls have gone missing over the years, the first being Ellery’s aunt twenty-five years ago. Then, five years prior, the homecoming queen is found strangled to death. When strange threats start appearing around town and yet another girl goes missing, Ellery decides to take matters into her own hands.

When I was not reading Two Can Keep a Secret, I wanted to be reading. The author does a good job at building suspense and making different characters look guilty. As a main character, I liked Ellery, as well as the other narrator, Malcolm, who was the younger brother of the boy who was accused of killing the homecoming queen. I also enjoyed Ellery’s twin brother, Ezra, and Mia, Malcolm’s best friend. There was a good amount of representation as well, such as Mia is Asian and bisexual and the twins are Latinx.

The mystery was very good, the killer being someone I had not expected, and the novel ended with the best line I’ve read in a mystery. It was the characters and their dynamics are what made the book for me. They all felt like real people, with personalities and relationships completely fleshed-out.


Where I Live by Brenda Rufener

2.5 stars


Sadly, my second two-star read of the year is one I had relatively high expectations for. Linden Rose is a homeless orphaned teen living inside her high school and trying to hide it from her best friends, Ham and Seung. She runs the school newspaper and dreams of going to college with her friends, as well as of a possible romance with Seung. But when her classmate Bea starts showing up to school with bruises, Linden risks exposing her secret, and her painful past, to help someone get out of a bad situation.

While I appreciated the representation of teen homelessness and domestic violence, that was all I can say I liked. Linden was a two-dimensional main character, even though she was likeable. Ham and Seung were annoying characters, especially the former, even if he was totally comfortable in his sexuality and didn’t care what others thought. I didn’t care for the romance, either; the book would have been so much better without it.

The plot had a good concept, however the cringey, repetitive writing style did not help. There was a lot of winking and swearing and talking about how hot Seung is. My eyes glazed over a lot while reading. Needless to say, Where I Live had potential but fell flat. To be fair, though, it is a debut novel.


Invisible Ghosts by Robyn Schneider

4.25 stars


Invisible Ghosts follows Rose Asher, a high school junior haunted by the ghost of her older brother, Logan, who died four years ago when he was fifteen. Shy and introverted, she spends her afternoons watching Netflix with her brother. Then, her childhood friend Jamie comes back to town, and slips back in with their former group of silly theater nerds like he never left. When he crosses paths with Rose, and she learns he has a secret of his own, Rose is drawn back into the life she was missing out on after Logan’s death. But what if by choosing a life out of the shadows means losing her brother all over again?

I really, really enjoyed Invisible Ghosts. I was a lot like Rose when I was in high school and, in a lot of ways, I still am. I liked Jamie, their group of friends, and the romance was sweet, too. As for Logan, I saw him more as a metaphor than a ghost. When she would go out with her friends or get more involved in school and her extracurricular activities, he would throw a temper tantrum. I thought he more represented Rose’s insecurities and social anxiety. Though the book dragged in some parts, I was glad to see Rose come into her own and figure the problem out by herself.


What have you read recently?

2019 Reading Wrap Up #2 (2/23/19)

When this semester started, I was fully prepared to not be reading much. A month into last semester, I was completing one or two books in the span of a month. So far this semester, I have read seven books.

Granted, most of these were graphic novels. And it helps to have two free days in the middle of the week. Since I get up early enough, I get an adequate amount of homework done where I can read in the afternoons. This also usually leaves my weekends open.

This wrap up is a combination of books I own as well as library books, plus one book that was a recommended read for one of my classes. But more about that in the wrap up.

Between the last week of January until now, I read:


Evermore by Sara Holland (library book)

3.5 stars


Evermore is the sequel to Everless and is the concluding novel to the duology. In case you are unaware, Everless is set in a fantasy world where time is based in currency taken from the blood. The main character, Jules Ember, returns to the manor home she fled years before to earn money for her ailing father. In the meantime, she learns something about herself, as well as the kingdom at large.

While I enjoyed Evermore, I think I liked it a little less than Everless. The writing was atmospheric, yet a little too flowery at times. The magic system was fascinating and so was the mythology, however I think there were still holes in the story. Though I liked Jules and adored the romance in this novel, even if some might say it came out of nowhere, the plot was slow, then rushed to reach a resolution.

I checked both Everless and Evermore out of the library. Despite that I was interested in the synopsis, I didn’t want to risk the money on them. The concept seemed so out there for me to wrap my head around it.

Overall, I say I enjoyed the Everless duology. I might buy my own copies someday, and will likely read anything else Sara Holland writes.


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

5 stars


It took me a while to come up with something to say about the ninth volume of the Saga graphic novels. At least, something coherent or not a spoiler.

Even as they brought up strong criticism about media and intentionally spreading fear, there was a point I suspected it would be another “filler” volume, until the ending happened. The last thing I have to say is that what I have been anticipating since the first volume finally happened. Yet, it was not quite how I expected it to happen. This particular event was also coupled with something I had not seen coming. It added on more to the emotional preparation I had built up from the previous eight volumes.

Needless to say, it’s going to be a hard year before the next installment of Saga.


Poe: Stories and Poems: a graphic novel adaption by Gareth Hinds

4.5 stars


Gareth Hinds is a graphic artist that recreates classic stories in graphic novel adaptions. Poe: stories and poems is the first of his that I read. Inside are illustrated adaptions of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death, The Cask of Amontillado, Annabel Lee, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Bells, and The Raven. While the language has been condensed a little to fit the graphic novel format, the artwork in this collection is simply gorgeous. He uses different color schemes to match each work, like beachy pastels for Annabel Lee and a monochromic one for The Raven.

If I was rating the Poe graphic novel on artwork alone, it would be five stars. However, the majority of the stories featured in this were not my favorite of Edgar Allan Poe’s works. Gareth Hinds’ illustrations added something to them, though. The visuals in The Cask of Amontillado gave me a new appreciation for it. I already loved The Tell-Tale Heart, so the artwork added more to it. Yet the artwork for The Masque of the Red Death didn’t quite appeal to my imagination. So, if I’m being perfectly honest, I’m rating this Edgar Allan Poe graphic novel mostly on my reading experience.


To Make Monsters Out of Girls by Amanda Lovelace

5 stars


The Princess Saves Herself in This One had an emotional impact on me, The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One unfortunately did not have the same effect. Because of that, I kept my expectations for To Make Monsters Out of Girls neutral.

To Make Monsters Out of Girls was originally published on Wattpad under a different title. After her success with her previous works, it was republished with a new title as well as illustrations that added something to already hard-hitting, lyrical free verse poetry.

I’m not entirely sure how to review a poetry collection, beyond rating it by how it made me feel. I love Amanda’s style of poetry; how direct and honest she is. I also appreciated how she owned up to her mistakes, like how she was involved with a man already in a relationship. I enjoyed the topics covered in this collection and how it made me think and feel. I had the same kind of reading experience with To Make Monsters Out of Girls as I did with The Princess Saves Herself in This One.


And The Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness and illustrated by Rovina Cai

4 stars


And The Ocean Was Our Sky is a retelling of Moby Dick through the eyes of the whale. Bathsheba is a member of a whale pirate crew that hunt humans, claiming to be protecting the ocean from the world above. When they capture a human, it leads Bathsheba and the rest of her crew on a mission they deem to be their destiny. But as the whales carry out their mission and she talks more with their human captive, she has doubts about not only their mission, but the relations between humans and whales.

I flew through And The Ocean Was Our Sky like I thought I would. It is a combination of prose and beautiful dark blue/black/white/red artwork, as illustrated by Rovina Cai. Patrick Ness does a good job blurring the lines between who is right and wrong between the whales and humans, making neither look entirely innocent. Bathsheba is the narrator and we see directly through her eyes as the world she thought she knew unravels around her. I wanted to give it five stars but the plot twist kind of threw me for a loop. I had no idea where the author was going with it.


True Notebooks by Mark Salzman (library book)

5 books


Nonfiction is a genre I don’t reach for often, if at all. True Notebooks is a book recommended by the professor of my Friday class, Literacy Services to Underrepresented Populations, in preparation for our visit to a correctional facility in a few weeks.

True Notebooks is about the author, Mark Salzman’s, experiences as a creative writing teacher in a juvenile detention center. When his friend first approached him with the opportunity, he tries to think of ways to politely decline until he is persuaded by Sister Janet, a nun in charge of the program trying to rehabilitate these incarcerated minors. The book chronicles the various challenges Mark encounters—rowdy students, illiteracy, prejudice from outsiders and insiders, among other things—and how he not only helps his students, but they help him.

The book is narrated primarily from Mark’s first-person perspective, with samples of his student’s writing. For the first half of the book, the boys annoyed me. By the middle, as they began to understand these writing classes were a privilege that had to be earned, they had my sympathy. I felt the justice system was being too hard on most of them for a single mistake they made at fifteen.

However, towards the end of the book, you realize some of those boys had good reason to be in prison. They severely injured or even killed someone. And, while most of the boys grumbled society failed them (which in some cases, it was true), there were those that understood they were their own people who made their own choices that got them to where they were. That is what I appreciated the most about True Notebooks: there was more gray area than black or white.


The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black (library book)

3.5 stars


The Darkest Part of the Forest is a young adult fantasy novel based around traditional, non-Sarah J. Maas fairy folklore that I have had my eye on for years. Holly Black is also an author that has peaked my interest, especially since she published The Cruel Prince. Before I bought The Cruel Prince, though, I had owned one of her first works, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. I read it last year, wanting to read her previous works before the new. While I liked the nostalgia I got for my Twihard years, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was ultimately boring. Since I heard mention that a character from The Darkest Part of the Forest might make an appearance in The Cruel Prince, I checked it out of the library to read, instead of buying it.

Thankfully, I enjoyed The Darkest Part of the Forest. The writing was lyrical and the town of Fairfold a beautiful, atmospheric kind of creepy. I liked the traditional dark faerie folklore woven in and how the humans coexist with the fairies as they have always been there. The Sleeping Prince, a horned boy sleeping inside a glass coffin in the woods, was treated like a weird tourist attraction. I liked the protagonist, Hazel, her brother Ben, and Jack, Ben’s changeling best friend. The plot twist I kind of saw coming, but I liked it nonetheless, mostly because I don’t see it used often.

My favorite part about The Darkest Part of the Forest was the primary focus the relationship between Ben and Hazel. Though they resent each other deep down for different things and a lot of bad stuff happened to drive an emotional wedge between them, the siblings put each other ahead of everything. They both have love interests, but the romance is more of a side plot than a driving force.

Which leads me into the things I didn’t like about the novel. While I liked Hazel’s love interest, Ben’s romantic relationship feels too much like insta-love for me to get on board with. The writing was overly descriptive and sometimes certain scenes took too long to get to the point. Lastly, the ending seemed to drag on for longer than it should have, although it might feel that way to me because I checked the library book out for too long and I had to return it, so I had to read fast.


Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?


In case you are curious, here is the link to my first reading wrap up of 2019.