Small May 2020 Wrap Up

I’m preaching to the choir, but I really want this quarantine to be over.

I was slapped in the face by a reading slump in May. The first week and a half I deliberately took off from reading to focus on my final projects and finish grad school on a high note. Naturally, once I had the time to read, I wanted to do anything but.

At first, I rode out the slump, just like I always do. Except that got boring fast. Right now, I’m in the process of applying for jobs, while asking myself “why bother?” when libraries are still closed and places will be focused on bringing back their original workers over new hires. It was hard to stay focused on any other activity I tried—blogging, watching YouTube, Netflix, etc.

Near the middle of the month, I decided to try rereading old favorites, something I don’t do often when in a reading slump. Though I managed to read only three books this month, I’m slowly getting back into the groove of reading. Which means I’m getting excited about the pile of books on my desk instead of outright ignoring it. I just can’t pick a book to read yet.

It’s a start.

The books I read in May of 2020 were:

 

The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead (library book)

4 stars

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The Indigo Spell is the third book in the Bloodlines series and, I’m sorry to say, might be the reason I fell into a reading slump. This book was weak compared to the first two. The same thing that happened with the Vampire Academy series; first two books were very good, then everything and nothing seemed to happen in books three and four.

The Indigo Spell seemed to focus more on the romantic drama between Adrian and Sydney than trying to figure out the Alchemist’s secrets or finding out who was killing local witches. While I understand the message of “take a chance,” did certain Moroi really think the Alchemists would not do anything to Sydney if she and Adrian took their relationship out in the open? I haven’t read The Fiery Heart yet, but I can already guess that is what’s going to happen. Regardless, The Indigo Spell was still fun with the little mystery surrounding the soul-sucking witch and what little there was to expose the Alchemists’ secrets.

 

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes (reread)

4.5 stars

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The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly was one of my all-time favorite books that I read back in 2015. I thought if there was any book to get me out of a reading slump, it would be this book. It worked, but I got more than what I bargained for.

To be frank, part of my reason for lowering my rating of The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly is related to the Facebook TV adaption from over a year ago. Unlike the book, all the characters besides Minnow, Angel, and Jude were more fleshed out. Dr. Wilson was given more complexity and you could see how Minnow changed him as both a psychiatrist and a person. We got more of the Prophet’s backstory, making him a more humanized villain. The ending of the TV adaption was more hopeful and complete, rather than open-ended like the book.

Back in 2015, I was on a serious reading streak that summer and prior to reading The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly, I had never read a fictional novel about cults. I had high expectations going in, and I let those expectations influence my reading. While going from 5 stars to 4.5 stars seems like a harsh rating, it’s not. This book still provides good insights to society young adult readers should think about. Like deciding what they want to believe for themselves, and not let such decisions be influenced by the respective environments they grew up in. Nothing is quite black and white, including people. The book also did not shy away from the harsh reality of juvenile detention and how the justice system is not always fair to individuals of certain populations.

Lastly is a small nitpick I didn’t notice back in 2015. There was a lot of run-on sentences. Minnow also had a big vocabulary for someone that just started learning how to read. Plus, some characters seemed a little too philosophical, to a point where I thought, “No one talks like that.” Made me wonder if the author was a John Green fan….

But if you want to know: yes, I still recommend The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes.

 

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (reread)

5 stars

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I first read A Monster Calls in January 2016. When I read it before, I gave it 4.5 stars. I don’t think I was as impressed or I read it too fast to get anything out of it. But given everything I went through since the previous read, I decided to see if I felt the same as I did before.

Since I stayed up until 1am to finish A Monster Calls and cried the whole time, you can say I feel differently about this book than I did four years ago. Because I understood the anger, hope, and other conflicting feelings Conor experienced, even though I was much older than him when I went through it. The painful part of finally acknowledging those feelings and accepting it does not make you a bad person. That’s only your brain telling you those feelings are wrong. Not to mention the intentional or unintentional self-isolation, thinking no one could possibly understand what you’re going through. Most people don’t, even if they mean well, but it doesn’t mean they don’t care. Other people might also not want to talk about it, because they do not want to lose hope or scare the person they care for. And these types of situations bring out the dark, vulnerable side of people that they try to keep hidden otherwise.

Needless to say, I loved A Monster Calls this time around.

 

cookie monster GIF

 

I won’t be posting a TBR for the month of June. Right now, I want to reread books, read the rest of the library books I still have, and start reading books I own in equal measure. I’m just going with my “mood” at this point. Maybe not being such a complete control freak with my reading will help get out of this slump I can’t seem to feel like I’m fully out of yet.

So, June 2020 will be a surprise. Who knows what I will be reading?

 

What’s a book you reread that had a different impact on you than it did the first time you read it?

 

April 2020 Reading Wrap Up

With school slowly winding down and COVID-19 still keeping me from going to work, I expected to read more this month. I usually keep my weekends free. By the middle of April, though, I was not reading as much as I wanted. I planned on participating on Shanah’s Off the Grid-a-thon as well as the Stay at Home Reading Rush hosted by Ariel Bissett on YouTube. I read one book that I had already started prior to the read-a-thon, finished it, and then decided to take a break before I got sick of reading.

That “break” basically went as long as the rest of the weekend.

Epic fail.

I read a total of five books in April. I wanted to aim for six, but that last week was all about schoolwork. Plus, the mental state I was in at the time, I had to set aside reading for the time being. However, four out of those five books were some of my favorites I read this year. And, when I checked my stats on Goodreads, I realized read 59 books so far this year, which is the amount I read the entire 2019. So, in hindsight, I suppose my reading streak is getting better.

In April of 2020, I read:

 

The Winter King by C.L. Wilson (library book)

3.75 stars

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The Winter King is a fantasy romance I went into with low expectations. While it was a long book that dragged too much in some parts and had ten-page sex scenes, the plot was not as cliché as you might think nor was the romance. It took me a month to finish, except that’s not entirely the book’s fault. I had a lot going on at the time, getting distracted by school. When I did read The Winter King, I had a lot of fun. If you want to know my full spoiler-free thoughts, click the link to my review.

 

Anne Frank’s Diary graphic novel adaption by Ari Folman

4.5 stars

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After finishing The Winter King and realizing I was not in the mood to read its sequel, The Sea King, I randomly selected one of the graphic novels on my TBR: Anne Frank’s Diary graphic novel adaption. I read the original novel in sixth grade. I don’t remember much about the book, so I’m assuming this graphic novel adaption follows the book to a T. Regardless, I enjoyed this probably more than I did the original work.

Anne could be seriously annoying, but then again, she was thirteen years old. She was also trapped inside of an attic with her family, fearing for her life and theirs. On the flip side to that, living inside Anne’s head and her overactive imagination was sometimes entertaining, especially when you take in the drawings. However, by a certain point in the story, I was bored reading, even as the tensions started to rise. While the graphic novel format added something, it also seemed to take something away from it. What that was, I’m not entirely sure.

 

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (library book)

1 star

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In all honesty, I went into Shiver with relatively low expectations. I knew it was Maggie Stiefvater’s debut work, from the post-Twilight era where angsty, somewhat problematic insta-love was the thing in young adult paranormal romance. I tried to push forward, since people have said the first 100 pages of The Raven Boys are slow. I figured the same could be said for Shiver. But I reached almost 200 pages and I still did not feel it.

I know that, technically, Sam and Grace already kind of knew each other, but their romance still felt too much like insta-love. Individually, as characters, they were flat and there was no chemistry between them or any other feasible connection between the other characters. I wanted to keep reading the trilogy, as I checked all three books out from the library before the quarantine. But then I saw the other library books I had, ones I wanted to read way more than I did the Shiver trilogy. Shiver was just so boring and felt like pulling teeth. So, I set aside the trilogy.

If I had read Shiver at the height of its popularity, when I was in high school or college, I would have enjoyed it way more than I did now. However, since I am so excited to read Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys series and her other books, I am willing to give the Shiver trilogy a second chance if any of you can convince me otherwise.

 

Bloodlines by Richelle Mead (library book)

4.5 stars

The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead (library book)

4.25 stars

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The Bloodlines series was another I went into with low expectations. I didn’t think I would hate them or anything, except I thought of them as mediocre 3 star books. As you can see, at least books 1 and 2 beat those expectations.

Just from glancing at reviews on Goodreads and what I saw on social media in general over the years, people don’t like Sydney Sage, particularly in how she handled her feelings regarding Adrian Ivashkov. Though I understand people’s frustrations with her, I personally found Richelle Mead’s portrayal of Sydney’s conflicting feelings about vampires with her Alchemist upbringing very realistic. She’s been trained from a young age to be wary of vampires and that humans must not associate with them no matter what. That kind of brainwashing doesn’t disappear because of some boy, even if it is Adrian Ivashkov.

Regarding Adrian, I am slowly warming up to him, more than I did in Vampire Academy. I would find him funny and charming one second, than want to strangle him the next, especially when he made some not-quite-tactful comments on Sydney’s eating habits. Maybe I’m oversensitive, but it really bothered me, especially since I’ve been in Sydney’s position in obsessing over everything I ate. He’s also a little too cocky and arrogant sometimes for my taste. Jill is right that Adrian feels his emotions powerfully, though. And maybe a little fickle, considering it was only a few months since he was dumped by Rose. But I can relate to Sydney—a guy expressing his feelings like that to me would make me want to die from awkwardness, because I’m also socially inept and would have no idea how to react.

Speaking of Sydney, I dare say I like her more than Rose Hathaway. I identified with her more. I loved her awkwardness and how she’s such an intellect that lives inside her head, much like I do a lot. All she wants is to do right by people, even if she sometimes goes about it the wrong way.

Besides the characters making me feel everything, Bloodlines and The Golden Lily were binge-able with their fast-paced plots and easy to follow world building. I’m glad I waited so long to get into this series—these are the ideal books to read during the quarantine.

 

What was your favorite book that you read in April?

March 2020 Wrap Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The last four books I read in March 2020 were:

 

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

5 stars

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

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

 

Coraline graphic novel adaption by Neil Gaiman (library book)

4 stars

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

 

Doll Bones by Holly Black (library book)

3.75 stars

Doll Bones

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

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

 

Break Your Glass Slippers by Amanda Lovelace

4.75 stars

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

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

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

 

What did you read in March?

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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?

December 2018 Wrap Up

How is 2018 over?

Every year around this time, I see people talking about how such-and-such year was the “best year” or the “worst year” for them. I personally don’t agree with those statements—unless every day of your life for a year was total crap, then I am deeply sorry.

The beginning of 2018 was hard. I lost my mom and my grandmother within three weeks of each other. Grief is something I have been living with, will probably continue to live with, for a while longer. I had the scare of my life when my dad got into a car accident in October (he’s fine, thank God). But I also got my acceptance letter to graduate school in January and had a successful first semester. No year will ever be perfect, but no year could be terrible, either.

On a happier note, I had a good reading month in December, a nice way to wrap up my 2018 reading year. In the past, I got hit with a huge reading slump in December. That wasn’t the case this year. I read a total of five books, which were:

 

The House of Hades by Rick Riordan

4 stars

thehouseofhades

It took me almost two months to read The House of Hades—not because I hated it, but because of graduate school. And the emotional turmoil I was in for most of it.

I won’t get into too much because of spoilers, but if you have not read the Heroes of Olympus series, I’m sure you can guess where the seven chosen demigods have ended up. While I enjoyed the character development, as well as several of the relationships presented in this installment, and the moments that pulled on my heartstrings (I seriously love Bob), The House of Hades was not my favorite in the series. Some scenes took too long to resolve, some problems seemed to be unnecessary to have, and there were too many POVs yet there were characters I thought didn’t get enough page time. I plan to wrap up reading this series by reading The Blood of Olympus during my winter break from school.

 

Sold by Patricia McCormick (library book)

5 stars

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An older title on this list, Sold is set in Nepal and follows thirteen-year-old Lakshmi, who narrates the story in verse. While life is hard and her stepfather is not the most responsible individual, Lakshmi finds happiness in the simple pleasures of life. Then, a monsoon destroys her family’s crops. Her stepfather informs her she will go work as a maid in the city to support the family. Though sad to leave her home, Lakshmi is more than happy to help. Only it is too late when she realizes she’s been sold into prostitution.

In her author’s note, Patricia McCormick explained she took inspiration from stories of many girls, like Lakshmi, who were sold into prostitution either intentionally or unintentionally by their parents. Besides the disgusting treatment she receives at the hands of the men she is forced to serve, Lakshmi is also abused by the brothel madam, who cheats her and the other girls out of their earnings. Aside from Lakshmi, you get the stories of the other prostitutes and the children growing up in the brothel. Even in those dark moments, there is happiness for Lakshmi and that really got to me.

 

Girls on the Line by Jennie Liu (library book)

2 stars

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After reading Sold, I was looking for another short, intense book I could fly through. Girls on the Line is set in modern-day China (2009), told through the eyes of two seventeen-year-old orphans, Luli and Yun. After turning of age, Luli leaves the orphanage she has lived in since she was eight and joins Yun at a factory. While shy Luli is trying to get her footing in the real world, Yun is thriving on the independence and head over heels with her boyfriend Yong, ignoring the rumors about him being a “bride trafficker.” Then, she gets unexpectedly pregnant and fired in the same day. And, several days later, goes missing.

Girls on the Line covers the laws in China surrounding the country’s One Child policy and its mistreatment of women, as well as discussions around bride trafficking, in which men pay for young women to be kidnapped and brought to them, and child trafficking. The book focuses heavily on female friendship and covers the different issues young women, specifically young Chinese women, face in the modern day. However, the story was terribly slow, despite being roughly 250 pages. I was really bored the entire time I was reading Girls on the Line.

 

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson (library book)

4 stars

skywardlibrarybook

My first Brandon Sanderson book and I am glad to say I enjoyed it. He is an author I have been interested in picking up for years, but he has so many books I never know where to start. Skyward caught my interest after Booksplosion announced it as their December read.

Set on a planet where the supposed last of humankind is defended by pilots, Skyward follows Spensa, a sixteen-year-old girl who lives in the shadow of her father, who was labeled a coward and killed after fleeing a battle. She is determined to get into flight school and fulfill her dream of becoming a pilot. Despite other people’s efforts to break her will, Spensa refuses to back down. Then, she makes a shocking discovery in a cavern that changes everything.

Skyward was fast-paced and fun. Spensa was a bold, brash, and interesting heroine. I actually did not like her at first. She is flawed but she grows throughout the novel. There are side characters I also enjoyed that I hope we will know more of in future books. My main complaint about the book was how long it was; it could have shaved a few hundred pages and done fine, I think.

 

Part of Your World by Liz Braswell (library book)

2 stars

partofyourworldlibrarybook

I honestly don’t have much to say regarding Part of Your World. The latest installment in the Twisted Tales, a reimagining of Disney movies in book form. While I enjoyed As Old as Time, the Beauty and the Beast retelling I read earlier this year, I was not blown away by it. Sadly, I was even more disappointed by Part of Your World.

            The plot takes place five years after the events of the original film, only Ariel did not defeat Ursula and King Triton was killed. She returned to Atlantica as its voiceless queen and Ursula, disguised as Princess Vanessa, marries Prince Eric and rules his kingdom. When she receives word her father could still be alive, Ariel returns to the human world, where she is reunited with the prince she thought she would never see again.

Part of Your World was just boring with overly flowery writing. The characters were flatter than the original Disney creations. The motivations didn’t make any sense. It was honestly a struggle to get through.

 

Happy New Year everybody! Looking forward to 2019!

What I Read Recently #1

I’ve been up for almost an hour and, as I begin to write this post, I’m already worrying about the amount of homework I need to complete today. I have to rationalize it that writing this post is getting my brain warmed up to write two papers I have due in the next couple of weeks. That is how much graduate school is taking over my life right now.

But I miss my blog and writing for fun. Unfortunately, I haven’t read much for pleasure in the last two months. I want to read, I just don’t have much time or energy for it lately. I have to remind myself to make sure I take breaks when I can, to let my batteries recharge. So, that’s what I’m doing right now.

From the beginning of September to the middle of October, I have read a total of four books. Those are:

 

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

4.75 stars

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I finished this the week before I started graduate school. And I realized later it is the worst book to pause at in the middle of the Heroes of Olympus series. If you have read this book, you know the ending is a cliffhanger that makes you want to drop everything to read The House of Hades. But I had to stop myself from doing that and favor books that were not likely to be so life consuming.

Besides that, I did enjoy The Mark of Athena very much, although I think The Son of Neptune is still my favorite. The Mark of Athena had some of the best Leo moments as well as adorable relationship moments between Annabeth and Percy. The plot was stronger in this one, we got to see places like Rome, and encounter familiar characters from mythology, like Hercules (who, by the way, is not like the guy from the Disney movie).

As of right now, my plan is to get back into the Heroes of Olympus series around Thanksgiving break…hopefully.

 

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

3.5 stars

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It took me almost a month to finish Mansfield Park. Not because I didn’t like it—because of graduate school. Mansfield Park is one of Jane Austen’s least popular works, and I can guess why. Compared to a character like Lizzy Bennet, Fanny Price stays on the sidelines most of the time. The drama doesn’t involve her until near the second half of the book and most of the plot are people hanging out being teenagers. And, of course, there is the fact that Fanny’s only obvious love interest is her cousin, Edmund.

But I personally saw a lot more of myself in Fanny than I have in most other Jane Austen heroines. She’s quiet and shy, but very observant. She comes off as naïve, but she sees right through Henry Crawford when he starts toying around with Julia and Maria. And she does try to be nice to everyone, even the Crawfords. I found the drama of this novel to be extremely entertaining, especially since it was so tame compared to what you see now in most contemporary young adult novels. In terms of the romance, I don’t think it was unusual for that time period, given cousins married often. So, I took it with a grain of salt. Overall, I enjoyed Mansfield Park very much.

 

The Opposite of Innocent by Sonya Sones (library book)

4 stars

theoppositeofinnocentlibrarybook

At the beginning of October, I felt compelled to check out a bunch of library books. The Opposite of Innocent was one of them. It was the first that I read and as soon as I finished it, I brought it back to the library because it disturbed me so much.

Told in verse, The Opposite of Innocent follows fourteen-year-old Lily, who is madly in love with Luke, her father’s best friend. After travelling for two years, Luke returns and stays with Lily’s family. They soon begin a physical relationship that turns sexual and then abusive very quickly.

The Opposite of Innocent was one of those books I had to be careful when and where I read it. Because once I picked it up, I wouldn’t want to put it back down. While there were many parts I was uncomfortable—which I think was the author’s intention—the story is an important one. When I become a librarian, this is definitely a book I will encourage young girls, as well as boys, to read, so they can be wary of grooming and know that Luke’s behavior towards Lily, even though he says he loves her, is unacceptable. I wanted to give The Opposite of Innocent five stars, for the honest portrayal of pedophilia and Lily coming into her own. But I took off a star for the anticlimactic ending and I wish it were slightly longer.

 

The Life and Death Parade by Eliza Wass (library book)

2 stars

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Ever had that experience with a book where you are left feeling why did I read this? That’s what happened with me with The Life and Death Parade.

The novel follows Kitty, whose boyfriend, Nikki Bramley, died unexpectedly after a psychic told him he had no future. Grief has torn her away from the Bramley family, and she makes it her mission to track down the psychic that gave Nikki his fortune. Instead, she finds Roan, a master con artist she brings to the surviving Bramleys in hopes his tricks will give them comfort, as well as give her clues to the Life and Death Parade, a group of charlatans that mess with the balance between the living and the dead. But Kitty, like the Bramleys, soon falls under Roan’s dark spell.

I had read Eliza Wass’s novel, The Cresswell Plot, two years ago and I was terribly disappointed by it. But I wanted to give her a second chance, since it was her debut novel. Unfortunately, The Life and Death Parade was a let down, too.

Her writing was still good; she created a spooky atmosphere that was perfect for Halloween. The portrayal of Kitty’s grief felt realistic in that she wasn’t thinking clearly most of the time and she was beating herself up for not always being the most loving girlfriend (she was the daughter of the family’s maid, so their class difference bothered her, among other things). Since Eliza Wass lost her own husband, I can imagine she was reliving her own experiences. But that’s about it.

The characters were one-dimensional and not much happened in terms of their development, including Kitty. Roan is probably the only one I would call interesting, except barely. Though he was only seen at the beginning of the novel and in flashbacks, I found Nikki to be utterly annoying. As far as plots go, this one was weak. Nothing made sense. Lastly, the ending wrapped up too quickly. It happened so fast the book ended before I could process it. If she had allowed herself to write a few more pages, I think Eliza Wass could have done much better with The Life and Death Parade.

 

What books have you read recently?

 

 

August 2018 Wrap Up

August was the month I had planned to read all the library books as I prepare for the next chapter of my life as a library science student. It started out that way. Problem is, I checked out more books than I could read (as usual). I lost interest in a lot of them, too. It wasn’t too bad, though. I can always check them out from the library later or even buy them if I am so inclined, now that I have a job. The library I worked in last year hired me back for a part-time position the same length as my first semester and they were totally fine with working around my school schedule. Isn’t that awesome?

This month’s reading started out well enough. Then, there was a period of a few weeks where books were really letting me down. I felt a reading slump coming on until I returned the library books and did what I really wanted to do: focus my attention on my TBR books at home. Overall, I read a total of seven books in August and I am very happy with that.

In August, I read:

 

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang (library book)

4.5 stars

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I picked up The Poppy War from the library after seeing it praised almost everywhere. It is a Chinese alternative history fantasy novel. It follows Rin Fang, a war orphan from the poorest province in the kingdom who escapes her drug-dealing foster parents and an arranged marriage by enrolling into Sinegard Academy, an elite military school so few are allowed in. Only life at school is harder than she anticipated, as her wealthy classmates are not too pleased to have a dark-skinned peasant girl among their ranks. Rin later discovers she is a shaman and has the power to protect the kingdom from a Third Poppy War. But can she protect her people, and herself, from a vengeful god?

The Poppy War is graphic; every trigger warning you can think of—violence, rape, and drug abuse, to name a few—can be applied to this book. I enjoyed the writing style and the characters, including Rin, were unlikeable but realistic, something I appreciated more than I thought I would. The magic system and history woven throughout the novel were fascinating. However, I found it to be slow at times, which caused me to dock points off my star rating. For my full thoughts on The Poppy War, go check out my review.

 

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager (library book)

5 stars

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When I read The Last Time I Lied, my expectations were low. I was disappointed by Riley Sager’s debut novel, Final Girls. I enjoyed his writing style, but the plot of that novel ultimately fell flat for me. Still, I was intrigued by the synopsis of The Last Time I Lied. It follows Emma, an artist haunted by the disappearance of three of her friends, Vivian, Natalie, and Allison from Camp Nightingale fifteen years ago. When the camp’s founder asks her to come back to the reopening of Camp Nightingale as a counselor, she jumps at the chance to investigate the disappearance of her friends and finally get some answers. But when she gets there, Emma discovers the only security camera in the entire camp is in front of her cabin and finds clues left behind by Vivian that could lead to the truth to what happened to the missing girls. And, in Emma’s mind, no one is above suspicion.

The Last Time I Lied blew me out of the water. I liked Emma as a protagonist and I enjoyed all the other characters as well, especially Vivian and Theo, the son of Camp Nightingale’s founder. I finished the book in two days; once I started reading, I could not stop. It was fast-paced and kept me guessing the whole way through. The twist at the end was a little out there, yet I was not put off by it like I was by the twist in Final Girls. The twist in The Last Time I Lied started to make sense, once I put the pieces together. I think I liked it more than a lot of other people seemed to.

 

A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell (library book)

1.5 stars

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A Simple Favor is what got me on the slump train. It is a chick-lit mystery about two moms, Emily and Stephanie, who are supposedly best friends until Emily goes missing and leaves behind a baffling mystery for Stephanie to unravel. I picked this up mainly because of the movie with Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively coming out in September. Sadly, I was disappointed by the book’s mediocre writing, a cheesy plot, and flat characters. It made me really nervous about the movie. For my full spoiler-free thoughts on A Simple Favor, go check out my review.

 

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz (library book)

2 stars

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A Simple Favor got me on the reading slump train, but Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe kept me on it. I was terribly sad I didn’t like this book. It’s probably one of the most beloved works of fiction to be published in the last ten years. If I’m being honest, what really got to me was the cringey, repetitive writing style that had more telling than showing. I liked Aristotle’s sarcasm and I could relate to some of his teenaged angst. As for Dante, I’m not so sure about him. All I know is, to me, Dante and Aristotle’s relationship felt forced. If you want to know all my feelings towards Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, check out my rant.

 

Stuart Little by E.B. White

3 stars

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

3 stars

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A few weeks ago, when we were going through my mom’s things, on her bookshelf I found this collection of stories by E.B. White, something she probably bought when I was little. I’ve wanted to read Charlotte’s Web for years, yet I only ever thought about it whenever I happened upon it in Target’s book section. And I had no idea Stuart Little was a book before it was a movie, written by the same author.

            I don’t know if it was because of the reading slump or what, but both Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web were “meh” to me. They were quick reads individually, with not too much depth to them, which is the kind of book you need during a slump. Between the two of them, Charlotte’s Web had more of a plot, with the spider Charlotte trying to save the life of her friend Wilbur the pig. In my mind, neither book was particularly memorable, sadly.

 

Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller

4.25 stars

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Daughter of the Siren Queen is the sequel to Daughter of the Pirate King, one of my favorite books of last year and it was better than its predecessor. It follows the protagonist Alosa as she comes into her siren abilities while leading her predominantly female pirate crew on an epic treasure hunt with her distractingly handsome captive Riden in tow.

This novel was as bloody and emotional as it was fast-paced and fun. Alosa is now one of my all-time favorite heroines. And, if you love angsty romance, Alosa and Riden are for you; they are proud people with daddy issues that hate being vulnerable to anyone. It brought on so many feelings watching them barter back and forth, with all that sexual tension simmering underneath. And the crew on this ship is definitely one I would want to be a part of, were I a pirate.

 

To let you all know: I don’t know how active I’m going to be in September on my blog. I’m not making a TBR post for the month because I don’t know how much work I’ll have and, really, I need to focus on school these next few weeks. All I know is I will be doing this month’s Top 5 Tuesday. I’m writing and scheduling those posts throughout this Labor Day weekend. Besides that, I can’t promise a lot. And I want to thank you all for how nice you’ve been to me lately. You’re awesome!

My July 2018 Wrap Up

I know a lot of people are going to say this in their wrap-ups, but it’s amazing how we are already halfway through 2018.

In terms of reading, July was much better than June. I read five books, a combination of library books and TBR books plus one reread, and none of them were below three stars. The first two weeks of July, my dad was on vacation and I took the time off, too. I could relax, read, and work towards getting my emotional state under control. Although, that last one, I think I might still need to work on more. But now Dad is back at work and I’m taking advantage the free time I have now until my next temp assignment. So, overall, July was pretty good.

In July of 2018, I read:

 

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

4 stars

The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

4.25 stars

 

The Lost Hero and The Son of Neptune are books 1 and 2, respectively, of Rick Riordan’s Heroes of Olympus series, the spin-off to Percy Jackson and the Olympians. The Lost Hero follows three new demigods named Jason Grace, Piper McLean, and Leo Valdez. The Son of Neptune follows a now seventeen-year-old Percy Jackson, as well as two more new demigods named Hazel Levesque and Frank Zhang. The series is about the Greek demigods of Camp Half Blood joining forces with the Roman demigods of Camp Jupiter to work together with the gods to defeat Gaea, Mother Earth, who is slowly waking from her long sleep and bent on destruction.

            The Lost Hero was a solid first book. It set up the foundation for the rest of the books as well as introduced new characters that will likely have important roles later on. I liked Jason and Piper, but Leo was definitely my favorite of the three, with his wit and easygoing nature. I enjoyed the quest they went on and how well they worked together, too, even though Jason had amnesia for most of the book.

I enjoyed The Son of Neptune a little more than I did The Lost Hero. Of course, we have the return of Percy Jackson and his winning personality, but I also loved Hazel and Frank. They are easily my two new favorite characters in the series thus far. I was also taken aback by the plot twist Rick Riordan presented at the end; it was not something I anticipated.

 

The Address by Fiona Davis (library book)

3.5 stars

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The Address is a historical mystery novel set in two timelines, following two women with a connection to a man murdered in the famed apartment building, the Dakota, in New York City. The first is Sara, a young English woman that comes to New York City in 1885 after being hired as a manager by Theo Camden, the architect behind the Dakota. A year later, after seven months in an insane asylum, Sara stabs Theo to death in his apartment. 100 years later, in 1985, recovering alcoholic Bailey Camden, the great-granddaughter of Theo’s ward, is hired by her “cousin” Melinda to redesign the apartment Theo had been murdered in. By doing so, she uncovers secrets about the murder and the truth about Sara. For my full spoiler-free thoughts, check out my review.

 

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (reread)

4.5 stars

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Continuing with my reread of the Harry Potter books, it took me about a month and a half to complete Harry Potter and the Goblet. I kept putting it down and picking it back up. I forgot how long it was—a little over 700 pages—and it’s only going to get longer in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Overall, I enjoyed my reread experience of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It served as a good gateway book to the rest of the series, as Voldemort rises to power and Harry steps into his role as the Chosen One. For all the spoiler-filled thoughts I had, go check out my review.

 

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman (library book)

4 stars

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Tess of the Road is a unique medieval fantasy novel following a troubled young woman seeking redemption in a world typically unforgiving towards females. Instead of going to a nunnery like her parents want her to, Tess dresses up like a boy, puts on boots, and, literally, walks away from her old life in hopes of finding a new one. By doing so, she meets a variety of people that teach her a thing or two and learns to forgive herself after she makes a terrible mistake that ended in tragedy. Tess of the Road is beautifully written and it made me want to read Rachel Hartman’s debut series, the Seraphina duology, which is set in the same world. But if you want to know my full non-spoiler thoughts on Tess of the Road, go check out my review.

 

What is your favorite book that you read in July?

My Pitiful June Wrap Up & Hopeful July TBR

Is it just me or was June emotionally draining?

I read only two books this entire month. I had more of an urge to buy books than read them (you will see the result of that in a week or two). I would not say the desire to read wasn’t there, but I really had to push myself to even pick a book up.

Then, the temp job I had left at the end of May asked if I could come back for another four weeks. Not that I am complaining—it was a nice state job I can put on my resume and my co-workers were awesome. Plus there was a swell restaurant across the street where I ate lunch every day run by funny Italian men. Still, I had to wake up at 4:30 every morning to catch a bus and the assignment itself could be mind numbing.

The best explanation I can come up with to appease myself is that what I was feeling was a combination of a reading slump, tiredness, the overwhelming desire to read all the books (TBR, library, and books I wanted to buy), and grief. It’s like I see, hear, or read something and I get into these terrible thought spirals where I am plunged back into memories of that last awful year of my mother’s life. Books helped a lot in the beginning. Lately, though, YouTube was a more engrossing distraction.

Fortunately, the bad days are few and far in between now. I’m trying to tell myself I cannot change the past and my life is now a wide, open, sea clear of my mother’s storms. I have great friends, an amazing dad and brother, a blog I enjoy, and graduate school and my future as a librarian to look forward to. And those bad days is just grief playing with my emotions. It will pass and it does.

But now enough of Debbie downing and onto the reader shaming! The two books I completed in June were:

 

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler (library book)

4 stars

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Virginia Shreves is a sweet but insecure plus size girl and the youngest daughter in a family of slim overachievers. She puts her family on pedestals, especially her big brother Byron, and goes out of her way to please her parents. But when Byron is suspended from school for date rape, the Shreves family unravels, leading Virginia down the road to self-discovery.

I really wish I had read The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things when I was younger. Most of the books I read back then did not feature plus-size main characters. Virginia has some of the best character development I’ve seen in young adult literature, though the novel was too short and everything seemed to be resolved too fast. For my full thoughts on The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things, go check out my spoiler-free review.

 

And When She was Good by Laura Lippman

3 stars

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This is the first and only book I completed of the Backlist Book Challenge I barely attempted in June. While I was excited to try it, I quickly learned that I am a control freak that prefers to arrange my TBR in a specific order I want to read my books. It is fair to say I overwhelmed myself.

Anyway, And When She was Good is an adult fiction novel about Heloise, a high-price madam posing as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C. She gets swept up in a murder investigation when another madam in a neighboring county dies under suspicious circumstances and fears for her life at the prospect that Val, a murderer and her former pimp, could be released from prison on a technicality.

In my head, I compared And When She was Good to a less cheesy Lifetime suspense film. Heloise is a strong and self-assured but morally gray protagonist that makes many selfish mistakes out of self-preservation and has no scruples against using her sexuality to get what she wants. Val, the “villain” of the novel, was fascinating in that he was psychotic and unpredictable, yet he was the only man in Heloise’s life to respect her intellect. On the flip side to that, the pacing of the novel was off and the plot fell flat, as it took forever for anything to happen. If you are interested, go check out my spoiler-free review of And When She was Good for more of my thoughts.

 

Since my June wrap-up was so short, I figured I would combine it with my July 2018 TBR, just to fill up all the empty space….

When last month began, I realized I had almost forgotten about my Harry Potter reread. I read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban towards the end of last year, then got wrapped up in all the shiny new books I had sitting on my shelves. I made it about 170 pages into Goblet of Fire before I set it aside a few weeks ago. I really enjoyed myself when I reread the first three books and shared my adultish thoughts with you all, so I want to keep moving forward with the Harry Potter series.

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The Heroes of Olympus was one of the series I hoped to read in 2018, though not as badly as some others, to be honest. Then, I reached a certain point in June where I needed something fun to read. I picked up The Lost Hero, the first book, on a whim. I had as much fun as I did when I read the original Percy Jackson books. Right now, I like the new characters Jason, Piper, and Leo. At the time I am writing this, I have about 100 or so pages left in The Lost Hero and I plan on reading the rest of the novels in July, which include:

The Son of Neptune

            The Mark of Athena

            The House of Hades

            The Blood of Olympus

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Lastly, being on brand, I went to the library.

I currently have three books checked out and another eight on hold (I never learn from my mistakes). The three I have in my possession at the moment are:

 

The Address by Fiona Davis

theaddresslibrarybook

The Address is a historical mystery set in dual time periods, following two women 100 years apart and their connection to the Dakota building in New York City. The first perspective is Sara, a young woman in 1884 who is offered the chance of a lifetime by famed architect Theodore Camden to work as a female manager in the Dakota. Then, years later, for reasons no one fully understands, Sara stabs Theodore to death.

The other perspective is Bailey, a recovering drug addict, interior designer, and granddaughter of the boy adopted by Theodore Camden. However, because she is not biologically related to Theodore, Bailey will not see a penny of his money. Then, Melinda, Theodore’s actual great-granddaughter, offers her a chance to redesign the Camden’s lavish apartment within the Dakota and, in doing so, Bailey uncovers secrets about Theodore’s murder and the truth about the acclaimed madwoman Sara.

 

Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman

tessoftheroadlibrarybook

Tess lives in a medieval world where men and women are expected to live by certain rules, and dragons can do whatever they want. She is a magnet for trouble, but when she does something so disgraceful she can’t even think about it, instead of going to a nunnery, she disguises herself as a boy and, literally, walks away from it all. From my understanding, it is a novel about redemption and healing, following the younger sister of the main character in Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina series. I was more interested in Tess of the Road and, thankfully, I was told I didn’t need to read the original books to get into this one.

 

Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West

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What is summer without a fun, lighthearted young adult contemporary? While I have not heard some not so great things about the first books she published, Kasie West’s newest novels since P.S. I Like You are said to be up to par. Love, Life, and the List is one I’m most interested in. It follows Abby Turner, a seventeen-year-old dealing with an unrequited crush on her best friend Cooper and her mom’s growing anxiety about Abby’s dad being overseas, who tries to submit her art work into a show. But when the gallery owner tells her that her work lacks heart, she sets out to complete a list of goals within the next thirty days in hope to get some real inspiration for her art.

In case you were wondering, the books I currently have on hold are:

 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Circe by Madeline Miller

Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West

The English Wife by Lauren Willig

My Name is Venus Black by Heather Lloyd

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager

 

Will I read all these books? More? We shall find out!

May 2018 Wrap Up

It didn’t really hit me until now…it is the end of May.

I’ve been trying to get back to the place I was before the beginning of this year: not dwelling on time and living my life. Don’t know if I’m quite there yet, but I have graduate school to look forward to and books, writing, and temp jobs keep me preoccupied until then.

I feel like I wrote more for my blog in May than I did in April. I did more book reviews, which I’m really happy with. Except I feel unfortunately meh towards most of the five books I read this month. I don’t know if it was just the mood I was in or it was the books I was reading. I’m starting to wonder if my TBR is getting the better of me.

(And, as you will see in my June book haul in a few weeks, it’s my own fault.)

In May, I read:

 

Freeks by Amanda Hocking

2.5 stars

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Freeks is a young adult paranormal novel reminiscent of the Twilight era. Set in the 1980s, it follows Mara and her family of travelling circus performers that end up in a small Southern town where nothing is what it seems. While I did have quite a few problems with the novel, such as a heavy amount of insta-love and a weak plot, I was filled a surprising amount of nostalgia. Freeks is a super easy, fun read, but I think I would have given it 4 stars instead of a 2.5 stars had I read it when I was sixteen. For my full thoughts, check out my review.

 

RoseBlood by A.G. Howard

2 stars

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RoseBlood is a retelling of The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux set in a French boarding school. Rune Germain is born with an extraordinary singing voice, but whenever she uses her gift, she feels physically drained afterwards. Her mother sends her to RoseBlood, a conservatory in Paris, in hopes training will help Rune with her affliction. Except Rune has been brought to Paris for a dark purpose by the Phantom and he uses his dashing protégée Thorn to lure her into his web.

RoseBlood has been high on my TBR for a year. I went into ignoring whatever lackluster reviews I heard, wanting to have my own opinion on it. A.G. Howard has a beautiful writing style; if you like atmosphere and descriptive writing, you will definitely enjoy this book. I especially love how it was set in modern-day Paris, a place I have never been. She also did a good job going from first-person to third-person, though I admittedly liked Thorn’s third-person perspective more than Rune’s first-person. Between the two of them, his arc was the most interesting. Rune also finds a solid friend group midst the catty competitiveness at the school and I enjoyed those characters.

Unfortunately, within the gorgeous writing there was more telling than showing and there were big time gaps never explained. While I liked Thorn, Rune was OK; her character was underdeveloped in my opinion. The romance was borderline insta-love (Hi, my name is Jillian and I hate insta-love). A pet peeve of mine in young adult literature is the “fated lovers” where they have dreams about each other before meeting. I don’t know why, per say, but that trope really irks me. Lastly, the plot was confusing and weak in some spots. I did not hate RoseBlood; right now, I’m chalking it up to “read at the wrong time,” because this book had so many elements I usually enjoy in other books.

 

This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter (library book)

4 stars

thisheartofmine

Without a doubt, This Heart of Mine was my favorite book I read in May. It is a young adult contemporary novel following Leah Mackenzie, a seventeen-year-old with an artificial heart until a donor miraculously appears. Only that donor is Eric Kenner, a popular boy in her school that allegedly committed suicide and the twin brother of Leah’s long-time crush, Matt. When Leah starts having dreams about Eric’s death, she and Matt team up to find answers.

I went into This Heart of Mine with low expectations. I have not heard good things about C.C. Hunter and this book promised a blend of too many genres—contemporary, mystery, and magical realism—I had no idea how she would make it work. Somehow, she managed to blend them all together, though the contemporary elements were stronger. But for me, the most surprising thing about this novel was how much I loved the romance. Plus, the topic of transplants hits home for me and I was happy to see it represented in young adult literature. Check out my review for my full thoughts.

 

The Memory Trees by Kali Wallace (library book)

3 stars

thememorytrees

I went into The Memory Trees expecting the same emotional punch as The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender. That was no one’s fault but my own.

            Sorrow Lovegood’s older sister, Patience, died in a mysterious fire eight years ago. When she is sixteen, her memories of the day her sister died are blurry and to get answers, she leaves her father’s home in Miami for her mother’s home in Vermont. In the apple orchard that has belonged to the Lovegood family for generations, Sorrow finds her emotionally unstable mother, land that seems to have a life of its own, and a legacy of deep family secrets.

If you are looking for a novel without romance and more focus on family, The Memory Trees is one I would recommend. Kali Wallace’s writing style makes you feel like you are in the Lovegood apple orchard. Unfortunately, the descriptions took up a lot of page space, making the novel drag. Also, if you like plot-driven stories, you might enjoy this one, too. For my full thoughts on The Memory Trees, go read my spoiler-free review.

 

Lizzie by Dawn Ius (library book)

1 star

lizzie

A reimagining of the Lizzie Borden murders in modern-day Fall River? Yes please! Except…the author took that literally.

The Victorian ideals of the parents put in a modern-day setting clashed terribly. The author was trying too hard with her writing and she had this weird repetition thing that got seriously annoying. The mental illness element was handled in a way that was almost dramatized, when an illness like depression should not be at all. The characters were flat. Bridget, the love interest, was a Manic Pixie Dream Girl type. And, worse still, the romance was so obsessive and unhealthy on Lizzie’s part that it made me a little uncomfortable.

Needless to say, I will be very happy when I return this book to the library.

 

What was your favorite book that you read in May?