My Five First Book Boyfriends

Thanks to the announcement of Midnight Sun by Stephanie Meyer, the long-awaited retelling of Twilight as told through Edward Cullen’s perspective, there was a renewed talk of the Twilight saga and its problematic content. Those who read Twilight back during its prime know now that it was not as great as we remember it. But, for many of us, it got us into reading and introduced a whole new young adult genre, plus opened the door for new authors.

After some recent rereads, I looked over my shelves, both in person and on Goodreads, at books I haven’t read in years. It got me thinking about other books I loved at the same time I read the Twilight books. And all the book boyfriends I had back in the day.

Here are my five most notable first book boyfriends I had:

 

Jacob Black from the Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer

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Yes…I was Team Jacob. After New Moon, Edward Cullen was on my shit-list. I don’t think I liked him much to begin with; why did Bella want to be with a guy that wanted to kill her? Plus, moody, broody boys don’t do much for me, even back then. While Jacob’s friendship helped Bella through heartbreak, I admit he probably wasn’t much better than Edward. Jacob was sweet, but he had a temper and could be as possessive as Edward. Still, you can’t deny the eye candy that was Taylor Lautner….

 

Jesse da Silva from The Mediator series by Meg Cabot

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Jesse was the one that started it all. While anyone else who read Meg Cabot probably swooned over Michael from The Princess Diaries, I could not stand him. Even at fifteen, I knew it was weird for him to like a fourteen-year-old…but I digress. Jesse, on the other hand, was patient, mature, polite, caring, and protective but not possessive. He was smart and genuinely wanted to help people, despite being a ghost.

 

Derek Souza from The Darkest Powers trilogy by Kelley Armstrong

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Another werewolf, Derek was a grump when he was first introduced in The Summoning. Gradually, he opens up and becomes less of a grump. He can be a little too overprotective of Chloe and his brother Simon, but his intentions are always good. He knows his size can intimidate people, so he tries to downplay it by wearing big clothes. He pretends the discrimination doesn’t bother him, yet he goes out of his way to try to be good all the time. And I’m pretty sure Derek is the reason I like green eyes so much.

 

Will Wagner from Avalon High by Meg Cabot

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Meg Cabot wrote a lot of my book boyfriends back in the day. Aside from Jesse, Will Wagner was one of my favorites. Since he was the reincarnation of King Arthur, he was honorable and good-natured. His dad was a hard-ass, his stepbrother a pain in the ass, and his girlfriend was cheating on him with his best friend, yet Will rolled with it all in the most mature way. He’s the reason I wonder why there are so many jerk love interests in young adult literature.

 

Theseus Cassius Lowood from the Anna Dressed in Blood duology by Kendare Blake

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I don’t always love the sarcastic, snarky boys in YA. Theseus Cassius Lowood, aka Cas, is one of the exceptions. His sarcasm is more no-nonsense. He is smart and thinks on his feet. He doesn’t glamourize killing ghosts and is motivated, if obsessed, with his mission. Those who do have his loyalty, though, Cas is devoted to.

 

Is anyone else NOT going to read Midnight Sun, like me?

The Stuck at Home Book Tag

Sadly…this tag is still relevant.

I saw the Stuck at Home Book Tag, created by Ellyn, on Bookishly Rebecca’s blog. I’m slowly going nuts from not being able to go to work. Since I have nothing else to do without homework, I basically had to force myself to get my head together. Hopefully, you guys will be seeing more content from me in the coming weeks.

To the tag!

 

What are you currently reading?

Aurora Burning (The Aurora Cycle #2)

With all the library books I still have checked out, it took me a hot minute to pick my next read. But I finally settled on Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. And, after only 36 pages, I’m glad I did.

 

What’s your favorite “can’t-leave-the-house” activity?

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Besides reading, my favorite at-home activity is watching Netflix or YouTube. Since the 4th season of Thirteen Reasons Why is airing in the first week of June, I’m finally getting back into the show after stopping in the middle of the third season because of school. Another at-home activity I enjoy doing is blogging. Getting back into writing has been so nice.

 

A book you’ve been meaning to read for forever.

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Thing is, I don’t have a book for this question. I have a bad habit of putting off books, whether because I like to deny myself things or I’m distracted by new, shiner ones, or a combination of the two. A few books I have been meaning to read for so long are:

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Tower of Dawn and Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

 

A intimidating book on your TBR

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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins, a recent addition to my owned-books to be read pile. It’s 517 pages, except the size doesn’t intimidate me. It’s the fact that I’m worried how it could compare to The Hunger Games trilogy.

 

Top 3 priority books on your TBR

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I have over 80 books on my priority to be read pile…but to name a few:

Smoke in the Sun by Renee Ahdieh

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab

Fierce Like a Firestorm by Lana Popovic

 

Recommend a short book

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A short book that I enjoyed but rarely mention on my blog is Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. It’s a great, quick read that feels like a slap in the face.

 

Recommend a long book

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One of my favorite long books is The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova, which an intense historical art mystery with beautiful writing.

 

Something you’d love to do while stuck at home

Things I want to do more of while stuck at home are go for walks and work out on the rowing machine in the basement. Instead, I sit on the couch and drink coffee in the morning, then proceed to sit on my computer or doing anything else that does not involve physical activity.

 

What do you plan on reading next?

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After I read Aurora Burning, I’m going to move on to The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Normally, I would wait for the hype to die down. Only this time, I’m making an exception.

 

What have you been doing during quarantine? 

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.

 

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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?

 

Ten Cute Romances

Thanks to grad school, I missed the original Top 5 Tuesday post on this topic. Romance is a genre I don’t often reach for, but I’ve slowly gotten into it within the past year or so. I thought I hadn’t read enough romance-centric books for a list of five books, never mind ten. But somehow I managed it, so here is the list of my ten favorite cute romances.

 

This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter

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What drew me to This Heart of Mine was that the main character has a heart transplant and that the plot revolved around her dreaming of the last memories of the boy whose heart she received. While the book did have that, the story primarily focused on her relationship with her long-time crush, who happens to be the twin brother of her organ donor. This Heart of Mine was a depiction of a healthy romance between two teenagers trying to find a reason to get back to life after both have experienced their respective tragedies.

 

Kiss Me in Paris by Catherine Rider

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If there was ever a book that made me giddy, it was Kiss Me in Paris. It was a fun, sweet, insta-love story between an American girl and a French boy spending a day together in Paris. I read this book in under 48 hours. I could not stop reading.

 

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

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When I first read The Sun is Also a Star back in 2016, I had not expected anything beyond a cute insta-love story. I got way more than I expected from a romance novel. Though the book covers topics like immigration, the main focus of the story is the romance between Daniel, an idealist, and Natasha, a cynic. They meet by chance and then spend the next 24 hours together in an experiment to prove that Daniel can make Natasha fall in love with him in a day.

 

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

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God, this book is adorable! Simon’s growing relationship with Blue through emails was too cute, the kind that makes you want to kick your feet and squeal. And their first kiss scene is goals. Plus, I loved the friendships and the side romances also added substance to the fluffiness.

 

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

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The Upside of Unrequited is the book that introduced me to Becky Albertalli, as well as the one that convinced me to consider giving more lighthearted young adult contemporary novels a chance. The hype surrounding it was well deserved. I related so much to Molly, who was overweight and had a lot of crushes but was too nervous to make a move on any of the guys she liked. Her romance with Reid is adorable and healthy, which I deeply appreciated the most.

 

P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

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I probably never would have read P.S. I Like You if I had not gotten it in an Owlcrate box. It’s like You’ve Got Mail, in which the main character communicates with a boy that sits at the same desk in their science class. As you would expect, there’s another boy in her life that gets on her nerves, yet they seemed to be constantly pulled together. If you’ve seen You’ve Got Mail, you can probably guess what happens. Still, it’s cute.

 

Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist

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I found Love and First Sight randomly browsing my local library. It’s a severely underrated young adult contemporary romance novel. The main character, a boy, is born blind and recently transferred to a public school. There, he makes new friends quickly, one a girl the rest of the group is eager to set him up with. The two begin dating right as he finds out about an experimental surgery that could give him sight. But when he undergoes the surgery and sees his new girlfriend for the first time, he gets a hard lesson in beauty ideals.

 

Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown

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Jo is an openly gay preacher’s daughter that has go back in the closet for her senior year when she and her dad move to her new stepmother’s conservative hometown. At first, pretending to be straight is fun, until—naturally—she meets a girl that makes her question if she is willing to keep her promise to her dad to “fit in.” While the romance between the two girls is the focal point, there is also discussion of religion’s viewpoints on sexuality and how not everyone in this “modern” society is as accepting of the LGBTQ+ community as we would expect.

 

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

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The ideal summer romance book, My Life Next Door was a cute and fun young adult romance with a strong family element. The main character lives with her older sister and politically ambitious mother, but despite being it just the three of them, they are not close. Their neighbors, on the other hand, are a large, close-knit family. At first, she listened to her mother and didn’t associate with them. But when one of the sons suddenly sits next to her on her roof, her world opens up, blowing up her mother’s expectations of her along with it.

 

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simison

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Look up “adorable” in the dictionary, you will see The Rosie Project. The only adult novel on the list, it follows Don, a socially awkward but well-meaning genetics scientist enlisted by a young woman named Rosie to help her find her biological father. At first, Rosie does not fit Don’s criteria for his ideal life partner, only their chemistry is undeniable. Except Rosie has a little too much emotional baggage. Even with all that going on, it’s hard not to have fun while reading The Rosie Project.

 

What’s the cutest romance you’ve ever read?

The Percy Jackson and the Olympians Book Tag

I’ve been a slump in just about every way of life since school ended. This quarantine does not help. But thanks to Grey tagging me, I feel the first spurt of energy I’ve felt in days. Well, okay, that’s a little dramatic (even if true) and Percy Jackson makes me ridiculously happy regardless. Especially now, since Disney + is turning it into a TV show.

Now if only we can go places….

To the tag!

Side note: this tag was created by May and I forgot to link her before. Many thanks to Grey for letting me know who the creator was and many thanks to May for making it! ❤

 

Percy Jackson: your best/favorite book of the year

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No matter how many other good books I manage to read in 2020, my answer will remain To Drink Coffee with a Ghost by Amanda Lovelace, which was the second book I read in 2020. This poetry collection focuses entirely on Amanda Lovelace’s tumultuous relationship with her mother, and she talked about things that hit a nerve. I finally let myself cry over things I hadn’t before. It was a relief.

 

Annabeth Chase: a book where you’re in awe of the author’s genius

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And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie was like Criminal Minds, circa 1930s. The ending and the plot twist was not what I saw coming at all. It’s why Agatha Christie is called the queen of mystery.

 

Grover Underwood: a book you love that’s under-hyped

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The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough is a novel I don’t talk about often on my blog but I really love it. The best way I can describe this book is how I wrote it in my Goodreads review when I read it five years ago: a combination of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak with a little bit of Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell thrown in. Love and Death personified play a game with each other where they pick two lovers, like Romeo and Juliet or Antony and Cleopatra, and one tries to outdo the other to see their own outcomes. But Death has always won. Then, there is Henry and Flora.

Spoiler alert: this is on my June 2020 TBR….

 

Luke Castellan: a book that you thought you’d hate but didn’t

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I wouldn’t say I went into this book expecting to hate it, but I didn’t go into it thinking I would enjoy it as much as I do, either. That is the Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead. At the time I am writing this, I have read the first three books—Bloodlines, The Golden Lily, and The Indigo Spell. I enjoyed books 1 and 2 immensely, though The Indigo Spell was a little weak in comparison. I thought I would dislike these books because I had been disappointed by its predecessor, the Vampire Academy series. While there are still some similar problems, it has not been as bad as I expected.

 

Chiron: a book that will always feel like home

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Admittedly, I do not reread books enough to have a solid answer for this question. The best I can say is books by favorite authors, like Amanda Lovelace and Cassandra Clare, can feel like coming home because I enjoy their stories so much that I easily get swept right in.

 

Tyson: a book with a sibling relationship you adore

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Percy Jackson and his cyclops brother Tyson, hands-down. Cinnamon roll Tyson is already one of my favorite characters in all the Percy Jackson books. I love his relationship with Percy.

 

Thalia Grace: a book where time froze when you read it

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Hmmm…this is a hard question to answer. Books in general can freeze time for me if I am not distracted by anything else. Ones that I can say with certainty made time feel frozen when I read them were Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

 

Nico di Angelo: a well-loved book you love too

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The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand is a book that fills me with joy just thinking about it. Just like it does everyone else and their mother. I’d reread it right now if it was not such a Christmas book.

 

Calypso: a book you’d be marooned on an island with

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All the books I can have with me, in between trying to figure out how to survive on an island.

 

Rachel Dare: a book you predict you will give five stars

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The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd and A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir are two five-star predictions currently on my to be read pile. All other books I’ve read by these respective authors were 5 stars. Naturally, my expectations for these two are high.

 

Jason Grace: an upcoming book you’d get hit by a brick to read now

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Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco, which is coming out this fall. I think I might set aside every other book on my priority TBR if I somehow was graced with a finished hardcopy of this book. I don’t think—I know I would do that.

 

Piper McLean: a book you loved that someone convinced you to read

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I do not have a lot of readers in my personal life. However, if a non-reader friend tells me of a book they actually liked, I almost immediately pick it up. Such as Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. I had this book on my radar for years because it was a banned book. But I didn’t get around to it until one of my good friends, a non-reader, told me she absolutely loved this book.

 

Leo Valdez: the funniest book you’ve read

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Not a lot of books make me laugh out loud. I always hold back when I read around other people. Except a book I absolutely could not hold it in for was My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows, a hilarious historical fantasy that broke the fourth wall.

 

Hazel Levesque: an old book/book you read a long time ago but still love

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It’s a three-way tie between The Mediator series by Meg Cabot, The Darkest Powers trilogy by Kelley Armstrong, and the Anna Dressed in Blood duology by Kendare Blake. I read and loved all these books back in high school. They are the books I am terrified of rereading because I don’t want to find out they are not as good as I remembered.

 

Frank Zhang: a book you were afraid to reach the end of

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I was always excited to finish a book I started reading until Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma. Besides the warnings about the sad ending in the reviews I saw on YouTube prior to reading, I expected there would be a sad ending anyway. Forbidden is about sibling incest, a brother and sister genuinely falling in love. It is impossible to anticipate a happy ending in such situations.

 

Reyna Ramirez-Arellano: a book everyone hates but you love

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Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh, a book that was pitched as a Mulan retelling when it was anything but. For most other people I know read this book, it was a massive disappointment. While I was initially displeased with the revelation, by the time I figured it out, I already loved the book for what it was. I love Renee Ahdieh’s writing style and I finally found a protagonist in a young adult fantasy novel where her weapon was her brain. I loved Flame in the Mist simply for those reasons.

 

Octavian: a book you would punch without hesitation

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Sadly, there are a few books I would punch…Woman of God by James Patterson…A Simple Favor by Darcey Bell…I’ll stop there.

 

Percabeth: a book with the best romance

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Besides Percy Jackson and Annabeth Chase, Thomas Cresswell and Audrey Rose Wadsworth, from Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco, are romance goals in books. That’s why I have taken so long to pick up Escaping from Houdini, because from what reviewers have said, I don’t know if my heart can take it.

 

I tag…ALL THE DEMIGODS!

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Summer Reads

In the past, I avoided posts like these, recommending books based on seasons. Even more winter themed books, unless it is set during Christmas, I will read in the summer and vice versa.

Thanks to Top 5 Tuesday, I’m going to test my book recommendations skills by suggesting five summer reads. All of these have similar qualities: fast-paced and action-packed. The kind of books to keep you entertained during summer vacation. Or, in our current scenario, a quarantine.

 

City of Saints and Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson

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Set in Kenya and the Congo, City of Saints and Thieves follows a teenaged thief, Tina, set out to take revenge on the man she believes killed her mother. When she and her gang break into the man’s house, she finds evidence that sends her whole world into a tailspin. This book gets dark, really dark, but the action starts right on the first page. And you can travel to exotic Kenya while stuck at home.

 

The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury

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The Forbidden Wish is a fun desert fantasy romance you can read at the beach or by the pool. It is also a retelling of Aladdin told through the perspective of the genie, a girl. And did I mention there is a badass princess with a squad of equally badass lady assassins? Have I sold you on this book yet?

 

Daughter of the Pirate King duology by Tricia Levenseller

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If pirates do not equal summer, not much else will. Plus, there are sirens and a fun crew of lady pirates. Throw in a steamy romance and lots of blood and action, the Daughter of the Pirate King duology is great to read over a weekend when you’re stuck inside with the AC.

 

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

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Most people associate historical fiction with winter instead of summer. While Code Name Verity is a World War II novel and not exactly what you would call “lighthearted,” it’s the kind of book that sucks you in. Two female pilots and best friends fight to get back to each other after one is lost after a crash and held hostage by the Germans. Besides all the suspense, the ending will make you sad. But you will be sweating so much it won’t matter.

 

Anything by John Green or James Patterson

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I put these two authors in the same slot on this list for the same reasons. Their books do not have much depth to them, but they are quick, entertaining reads. If your brain cells are fried—like mine after such a crazy semester—these authors have the kind of books you read when you just want to read. Ideal summer books.

 

 

What is your favorite summer read?

 

What Do You Do When You’re in a Reading Slump? A Discussion Post

We all know that feeling—you want to read, but you can’t decide what you want to read next or nothing you pick up is holding your attention for long. Or—GASP!—you just don’t feel like reading.

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I am currently in a reading slump. It has been going on for the entire month of May. The first week was entirely focused on finishing graduate school. I didn’t want to read, mostly to stay focused on my deadlines. Also, frankly, I just did not feel like reading. It required more brain power than I had to give. Plus, there was a book I felt like caused the slump and none of my library books were holding my interest anymore.

When I am in a reading slump, I usually ride it out until I feel the urge to read again. Going a few days without reading is normal, to prevent myself from burning out. If I go for longer than a week, then I consider myself in a reading slump.

In my experience over the past couple of years, I usually get them twice a year. The first one is at the beginning of the summer, either in May or June. It is mostly because I have no idea what to do with all the sudden free time on my hands. The next reading slump happens in December. This is because I basically lose interest in every single book on my TBR as I become irrationally overwhelmed with all the books I want to read before the end of the year.

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Like I said, when I get stuck in a reading slump, I don’t force it. There’s a greater chance of me not liking a book I otherwise might have enjoyed. So, instead of reading, I do other things.

First, I watch TV shows on Netflix or movies on Disney +. Right now, I’m watching old episodes of Criminal Minds. I’ve watched Hotel Transylvania 3 at least four times already. I want to get back into Season 3 of Thirteen Reasons Why, which I was in the middle of when the new school year started. Now that I know Season 4 is coming out in June, I’ll wait to finish the season so I can binge. I also have a watchlist on Disney + of old Disney movies I want to watch, like The Black Cauldron, The Sword in the Stone, and Pinocchio. Not to mention the three re-watches of The Nightmare Before Christmas.

And, before anyone asks, we just finished The Tiger King Netflix miniseries. It was…fine.

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Another thing I do when I’m in a reading slump is I organize my TBR pile. Trying to get myself excited for reading again, I make lists of books still on my TBR. I arrange them by priority and my excitement level. This method is working right now, actually. Organizing all the books I want to read next in 2020 gives me something else to think about. Besides the quarantine and that libraries are still closed, so I can’t put my Master’s to use.

Next, when I’m in a reading slump, I attempt to work more on my blog. Right now, I have a backlog of ideas I meant to work on. Of course, since I am not reading as much, I can’t do the book reviews or recommendations I want. This is when I really have to get creative. I usually turn to BookTube, which both sparks my desire to read again as well as gives me a burst of ideas for creative content.

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When I finally feel like I want to get out of the reading slump, nine times out of ten, I will go to the library first. Most of the time I’m in a reading slump, I lose interest in the books I have at home. Instead, I go to the library and borrow a bunch of books. I read whatever I can get around to in between check out and renewal. Or, such as my current situation, I flat out lose interest in them, wanting to read my own books again.

From there, I pick a book off my TBR that I know I can get through quickly, like a graphic novel. Another type of book I might reach for is one low on my TBR pile, one I have minimal expectations going into, so there is no risk of me being disappointed by anything. I kill two birds with one stone: get out of my reading slump and take a book off my TBR that has gone unread for too long.

While this is my usual method, I’m trying something I don’t do very often. I’ve heard people rereading old favorites to get back into reading. I tried this at the start of 2020, rereading a book after a deep reading slump at the end of the previous year. It helped other times I felt a funk in my reading. Rereading books is something I want to do more of in general. I grabbed a whole bunch of my favorite books from over the past few years to reread until I feel like getting back to my regularly scheduled TBR pile.

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I don’t miss school. But in case you could not already tell, this quarantine is slowly driving me to insanity.

Thank God for books.

 

What do you do when you’re in a reading slump?

The Grad Student Tag (Original!)

I made a book tag!

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This randomly came to me the other night while watching 101 Dalmatians on Disney+. I am officially done with my Master’s in Library and Information Science. They’re having a the commencement ceremony over Zoom this Friday.

Since turning in my final assignment on Wednesday, I’ve had no idea of what to do with myself. I’m getting back into reading, but the urge to be creative is stronger than sitting down to read The Indigo Spell. Only I was running out of ideas. Until now.

After this book tag, I promise I will, at least, cut back on talking about graduate school so much. I’m sure you all are getting sick of hearing about it at this point.

Now to the tag!

 

Picking an area of study: What’s your favorite books and/or series from each of your favorite genres?

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My top three favorite genres are fantasy, historical fiction, and mystery. One of my favorite fantasy novels is Heartless by Marissa Meyer and one of my favorite fantasy series is The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare. Three of my favorite historical fiction novels are Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye, Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, and Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. Two of my favorite mystery novels are The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager and Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus.

 

GRE: What book or books did you feel like you really had to focus on while you were reading and/or you had a hard time concentrating on?

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The Poppy War and The Dragon Republic by R.F. Kuang, as well as The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. These are all dense epic historical fantasy with lots of military and political maneuvering. During parts where characters were planning coops and what not, I found my eyes glazing over. This would bite me on the butt later in following chapters.

 

Juggling work and school: What book took you too long to read and why?

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It took me too long to read Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. I read it during my first semester of grad school. I chose the wrong time to read a classic while I worked part-time and was bogged down by homework and projects.

 

Too much homework: Name a book you did not hate, but did not love.

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A book I read this year that I did not love but did not hate was The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan. The author’s writing was beautiful. I loved how she described the setting of 18th century France. The main characters, two sisters, could have grown on me. But this book was just so boring. Nearly 100 pages and nothing had happened. I had no idea what the author was trying to do or say with The Painted Girls.

 

Research projects: How do you decide what book you want to read next off your TBR?

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A combination of mood, like a book I am most excited for or a genre I am currently drawn to, and which books I want to finally get off my to be read pile. I try to prioritize books that have been on my TBR for longer than they should have been. It also depends on what I have going on at the time, such as if I had a lot of homework or I was busy with assignments from work. How excited I am when I buy a new book, as well as how long I’m willing to wait before I read it, depends on its placement in my TBR pile. And, of course, I take into account if I currently have any library books checked out. I want to keep up my good track record returning borrowed books on time.

 

Writing papers: What book, in your opinion, has the best writing?

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It’s a tie between The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo and The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Both of these books have a lyrical, beautiful flow of writing that sucked me right in as soon as I started reading.

 

Studying: What’s a book you stayed up way too late reading?

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I have stayed up late reading one too many times. I remember reading The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova and I Was Here by Gayle Forman under the glow of my desk lamp, squinting in the dark of my college dorm room because my roommate was fast asleep. Recently, I stayed up past midnight reading To Drink Coffee with a Ghost by Amanda Lovelace until I finished it.

 

No social life: Which fictional character do you think would make the best study buddy?

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A character that I think would make the best study buddy is Sydney Sage from Bloodlines by Richelle Mead. The girl is focused on her academics and always has her priorities straight. Plus, she loves learning new things, so she would be more than happen to listen to you talk about what you’re studying.

 

Final projects: In your opinion, what book(s) was the best series finale?

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Finales don’t always get it perfectly, but I do have a few favorites (like I could pick just one). Some of my favorite finales are Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller; Half Lost by Sally Green; Boundless by Cynthia Hand; The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan; The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh; Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare; Wayfarer by Alexandra Bracken; and, of course, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows by J.K. Rowling.

 

Getting that Master’s degree: What’s the most books you have bought at once?

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At the bookstore, I have bought around 10 books in one trip. If I am shopping online, like I did recently, I have bought 20 books in one go.

Bringing in those bags and boxes are good arm workouts, let me tell you.

 

I tag:

Shanah

Grey

Rebecca

Never Not Reading

Sophie

Joe

Sahi

Kristin

ReadyouLeyre

My Favorite Fictional Mothers

The day this goes up is the day before I do my annual Mother’s Day social media blackout. I read and watch movies all day and try to talk myself down from buying more books because I haven’t needed to do Mother’s Day shopping for the past two years….

It’s taken me a while to do a post like this. Not because of my own mommy issues….But because moms are usually awful or killed off in books, especially young adult. Surprisingly, I was able to come up with eight names for this list.

My favorite fictional mothers and mother figures are:

 

Molly Weasley from the Harry Potter series

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I mean…this one is a given. Molly Weasley is the kind of mother all moms should strive to be. She loves her children, even kids that are not her own, and is a hard-ass boss lady.

 

Sally Jackson from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by J.K. Rowling

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I love, love, love Sally Jackson. Raising a demigod boy—a son of Poseidon, no less—could not have been easy. Plus, we all know what a troublemaker Percy could be. Yet Sally did it all on her own. Everything she did was to protect her boy. She just rolled with all the craziness. But my favorite thing about Sally was that Poseidon wanted to give her a life of luxury, only she refused because she did not want to be dependent on a man. When Poseidon told Percy that Sally is “a queen among women,” he was not wrong.

 

Patty and Nadine from The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

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Patty and Nadine are the two moms of twins Molly and Cassie, and baby boy Xavier. Both are the “cool” moms, the ones the kids are comfortable talking to and fully love and accept their kids for who they are. Patty shot down her mother for making inappropriate comments about Molly’s weight, something my parents never did for me when my grandmother was at me about my weight. That scene always sticks out in my memory.

 

Ella from The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

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Another “cool mom,” Ella acts more like a best friend than a mother to Alice. While that might present some problems, their dynamic somehow makes it work. Alice is the definition of an unlikeable main character, except Ella simply loves her and accepts her for who she is. At the end of the day, they are the center of each other’s world.

 

Charlotte Branwell from The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare

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Charlotte had it together at twenty-three more than I did. She somehow managed to run the London Institute, keep up with her loving but scatterbrained husband, take care of three different teenagers that don’t always fully appreciate what she does, and be a boss among a bunch of sexist Shadowhunters. Charlotte is the kind of woman that makes you wonder, “how does she do it?”

 

Leda Strike from the Cormoran Strike series by Robert Galbraith

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Though we do not physically see Leda in the novels, her presence is known. Her death was her son Cormoran Strike’s motivation for going into the army in the first place. The reason she is on this list is because of what we learn about her during the flashbacks in Career of Evil. This woman went out of her way to do something extraordinarily kind for a street kid, simply because he was the same age her son was at the time. Leda even tried to help him get back on the straight and narrow before she died. Plus, Leda made Cormoran Strike, so there had to be something good in her.

 

Julian’s abuela from Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

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Most older adults would freak out if they found their little boy pretending to be a mermaid. Abuela is more mad that Julian used a curtain as his mermaid tail than the fact he was calling himself something “girly.” Instead, she gave him a necklace of beads and brought him to hang out with other mermaids. Only a special kind of parent or grandparent can do that.

 

Alys’s foster mom in The Beast is an Animal by Peternelle van Arsdale

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Most foster parents in young adult novels are not always good to the main characters. Alys’s foster mom is a midwife she lives with after her parents and the other adults in her former village are killed by demons from the woods. Alys knows she has magical abilities her Puritan society would never accept. However, her foster mom embraces her gifts, and teaches her the beauty of her nature magic. The two have a good relationship, developing into the closest thing to a mother-daughter bond two emotionally guarded women allow themselves to have.

 

Alana from the Saga graphic novels by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples

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Alana is an all-around badass, as a warrior and as a mother. Besides Molly and Sally, Alana is what I want to be like when I become a mother one day. She keeps it together, knows when to make hard choices, and always puts her family ahead of everything else. This is a mama you do not want to mess with.

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

Get to Know the Fantasy Reader Tag

In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I like book tags.

I saw this one, Get to Know the Fantasy Reader Tag, on Thoughts on Tomes’YouTube channel. Most of what I read is fantasy, either urban or high fantasy, mostly young adult. In recent years, I branched out into different genres, across adult, young adult, and now middle grade. But if you looked at my Amazon wish list or Goodreads, the books are predominantly fantasy.

Hence this tag, for the time being, is relevant to me.

 

What is your fantasy origin story? (How you came to read your first fantasy novel.)

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The first fantasy novel I distinctly remember reading is either Kiss of the Vampire, from the Sweet Valley University series, which probably wasn’t as fantastical as I thought it was. The other is the T’Witches series, one about teenaged twin witches I read because of the Disney Channel Movie.

Fun fact: I saw the Harry Potter movies before I read the books.

 

If you could be the hero/heroine in a fantasy novel, who would be the author and what’s one trope you’d insist be in the story?

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It’s a three-way tie between Kerri Maniscalco, Melissa Albert, and Susan Dennard on who I want writing a fantasy novel with me in it. These women have written some of my favorite female leads, such as Audrey Rose and Iseult. Also, they each have a writing style I like. And a trope that I would insist be in the novel is the Chosen One. Yes, I am a sucker for that trope. Another of my favorite tropes is fairy tale retellings, especially ones with a darker twist.

 

What is a fantasy you’ve read this year that you want more people to read?

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Honestly, not a lot of exciting fantasies read so far in 2020. However, the one I would recommend is Pet by Akwaeke Emezi. It takes a hard look at a supposedly “perfect” society where monsters do not exist. Except, kids are trying to tell their parents what’s going on but the parents have their heads in the sand. The main character, Jam, helps Pet, a creature pulled from her mother’s painting, track down a new monster living inside her best friend’s house.

 

What is your favorite fantasy subgenre? What subgenre have you not read much from?

I love historical fantasy, such as The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare and The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang. Magical realism, like The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan, comes in at a close second.

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A subgenre I have not read much from is dark fantasy or grim dark, which I heard can be extremely graphic. Not that graphic content usually bothers me. It’s mostly because I’m not drawn to the books that fall under the subgenre. Some exceptions would be the Nevernight trilogy by Jay Kristoff or Red Sister by Mark Lawrence.

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Who is one of your auto-buy fantasy authors?

Cassandra Clare, obviously.

 

How do you typically find fantasy recommendations? (Goodreads, YouTube, podcasts, Instagram, etc.)

Mostly YouTube, like Thoughts on Tomes or Peruse Project, but also Goodreads.

 

What is an upcoming fantasy release you’re excited for?

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The Burning God by R.F. Kuang, the final novel in The Poppy War trilogy.

 

What is one misconception about fantasy you would like to lay to rest?

A common misconception I heard is that fantasy is too hard or too complicated to follow. While some authors can info-dump in their books, not all fantasy is complicated. Urban fantasy is definitely not complicated. It’s one that I would recommend to new fantasy readers, because the world-building is so familiar to the one we know.

 

If someone had never read a fantasy before and asked you to recommend the first 3 books that came to mind as places to start, what would those recommendations be?

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Like I said, urban fantasy is the place to start for readers wanting to branch out into the overall fantasy genre. Since vampires are so popular, I would recommend the Vampire Academy series and the Bloodlines series by Richelle Mead, all entertaining and easy world building to follow along. The third is The Book Jumper by Mechthild Glaser, a stand-alone novel on the lower side of fantasy. It is still set in a modern setting, but the only magic involved is that the characters can jump into books at will and travel through different stories. A book lover’s dream, if you ask me.

 

Who is the most recent fantasy reader content creator you came across that you’d like to shout out?

None  Most of who I watch reads across all genres and that is what I personally prefer. As a librarian, I do not want to limit myself to one particular genre of books.

 

What is your favorite fantasy book and/or series?