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?

 

Books I Will NEVER Reread

As my TBR pile grows each day, I occasionally think about books I still own that I want to reread. Recently, as I started looking through my bookshelves, thinking about books I want to unhaul. I also started thinking about books I could never reread.

The books that I read and ended up not liking are a given. I don’t think I am alone in assuming most people would not reread a book they hated. I mean…if you do, you do you. However, there were books I did like, even loved, when I read them, but distance has made me realize I could never reread them.

Those books are:

 

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

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Ever read a book you loved so much you want other people to read it too? That was the case with me and The Kite Runner. Khaled Hosseini’s writing is utterly beautiful and the story left a mark on me. I thought about rereading it, once, but there were certain things that made me too uncomfortable or angry. Which, of course, I’m sure was the author’s point. Instead, last year, I decided to pass The Kite Runner off to someone else that wants to read it.

 

Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley

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I’ve wanted to reread Pretty Girl-13 because I considered it one of my all-time favorite books. Then, something occurred to me. There is mental illness representation in this book I’m not sure would fly as well in 2020 as it did in 2013. Looking back on it now, it was written in an almost sensational way. I might be wrong, only I don’t want to find out if I am not.

 

The Darkness Rising trilogy by Kelley Armstrong

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Of all the books by Kelley Armstrong that I have read, The Darkness Rising trilogy are ones I never think about. They weren’t terrible; they just weren’t as entertaining to me as The Darkest Powers. The tensions weren’t as high. The motivations of the villains didn’t make any sense. I didn’t connect to the characters. So, yeah, a reread of The Darkness Rising trilogy is not happening.

 

Prey by Lurlene McDaniel

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Prey is another of the books I go back and forth on if I could ever reread it. Considering it covers a relationship between a male high school student and his female teacher, those types of books can be a hit or miss. This book didn’t sensationalize it, but it’s one of those books that make me wonder if I want to go on that emotional roller coaster again.

 

The Darkest Minds trilogy by Alexandra Bracken

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Since the movie adaption of The Darkest Minds came out, I started thinking back to this series. When I first read it, I enjoyed it. Now, once I took time to think about the actions of the characters, particularly Liam and Ruby, all I can think is those little shits. Ruby made some seriously bad decisions, don’t get me wrong, but Liam’s actions during In the Afterlight still piss me off. I might as well not reread the trilogy.

 

What are books you will never reread?

50 Bookish Questions

I love talking about books (obviously). I love book tags. I love answering questions about books. That is why, when I saw this tag on Sahi’s blog a few weeks ago, I knew I was going to do it even if she hadn’t tagged me.

This one is going to be a long one, so let’s get right to it!

 

What was the last book you read?

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At the time I am writing this post, the last book I read was The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton. I had to read it for my children’s literature class.

 

Was it a good one?

I liked it.

 

What made it good?

Cute drawings and a beautiful color palette, with an important social message, I think.

Would you recommend it to other people?

Yes, but only to those who enjoy children’s picture books.

 

How often do you read?

I try to read at least 20 to 30 pages a day. There were times (like right now) I went several days without reading. Usually, though, I don’t last longer than a day.

 

Do you like to read?

Is water wet?

What was the last bad book you read?

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Sabrina by Nick Drnaso

 

What made you dislike it?

There was no character development and a one-dimensional plot.

Do you wish to be a writer?

Yes. I want to get back into creative writing in 2020. I even have a notebook set aside to write story ideas.

 

Has any book ever influenced you greatly?

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Most of the books I read influence me, to a certain extent. Two examples include The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace, a book that empowered me when I did not feel powerful, and Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume, inspired me to start writing.

 

Do you read fan fiction?

Not as much as I used to. I was more into it during high school until college, eventually only going back to read really smutty ones when I was bored.

 

Do you write fan fiction?

I did in middle school, I think.

 

What is your favorite book?

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I do not have a specific favorite book. For the sake of the question, though, I will say my favorite book that I have read so far in 2020 is To Drink Coffee with a Ghost by Amanda Lovelace.

 

What is your least favorite book?

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A surprisingly easy answer: Woman of God by James Patterson.

 

Do you prefer physical books or reading on a device (like Kindle)?

I exclusively read physical books. Too much screen time makes me feel nauseous.

 

When did you learn to read?

According to my dad, when I asked him for an assignment last semester, when I was one year old I was pretending to read. But when I actually learned to read, it was probably around five years old.

 

What is your favorite book you had to read in school?

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I enjoyed most of the required reading I did in school. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton….The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald….The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde….The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo….Those are the first ones I thought of, but there are a lot.

 

What is your favorite book series?

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Ummm…I don’t have a single favorite series. Who does? My current top three favorite series are Stalking Jack the Ripper series by Kerri Maniscalco, The Infernal Devices trilogy by Cassandra Clare, and An Ember in the Ashes series by Sabaa Tahir.

 

Who is your favorite author?

Again, how do you pick just one? Off the top of my head, a few of my favorite authors are Kerri Maniscalco, Sabaa Tahir, Renee Ahdieh, Cassandra Clare, Cynthia Hand, Laurie Halse Anderson, Robert Galbraith, Markus Zusak….

 

What is your favorite genre?

My favorite genre is fantasy, both adult and young adult.

 

Who is your favorite character from a series?

A recent new favorite character is Xiomara from The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. She is a strong-willed girl that tries to hide her vulnerable side because the people around her just won’t get it, or at least she thinks most of them won’t. I felt so much for her and I identified with her.

 

Has a book ever transported you somewhere else?

It’s easy for me to get lost in a book, unless I am distracted.

 

Which book do you wish had a sequel?

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The Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager, though I’m not sure how the plot would work out. The twist revealed at the end of this book has potential of being another good psychological thriller, depending on how the author chooses to go about it.

 

Which book do you wish DIDN’T have a sequel?

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Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes, the companion to You, should not exist.

 

How long does it take you to read a book?

It depends on a bunch of different factors. If I have a lot going on, I sometimes don’t have the energy to read. In those cases, it would take me longer than a week to finish a book. It also depends on page count; longer books, 500 and up, tend to take a while for me to get through, even if I do not have much going on.

 

Do you like when books become movies?

If it is done right.

Which book was ruined by its movie adaption?

Divergent (Divergent, #1)

Divergent by Veronica Roth, no question.

Which movie has done the book justice?

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The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, a movie I dare say I liked more than its source material.

 

Do you read newspapers?

Not as much as I should.

Do you read magazines?

Nope, I find them boring.

Do you prefer newspapers or magazines?

Neither.

 

Do you read while in bed?

Yes, I have gotten back into reading before bed, although I lapsed after starting the new semester.

 

Do you read on the toilet?

Ummm…no.

 

Do you read while in the car?

Does reading on a bus count? If not, no, I don’t read while in the car. I don’t know how to drive, so I am always the passenger looking out the window. On the bus, I will read if I am awake and the lighting allows it.

 

Do you read while in the bath?

If I had a bathtub or owned any kind of fancy bath products, I might. I don’t read in the shower, either. I don’t wear my glasses and I would hate to get my book wet.

 

Are you a fast reader?

I consider myself a fast reader, for the most part. Although sometimes maintaining my focus is hard.

 

Are you a slow reader?

Sometimes, if I’m struggling to focus or I’m not that invested in a book.

 

Where is your favorite place to read?

My living room couch.

 

Is it hard for you to concentrate when you read?

If there are too many distractions or I am just not in a good headspace at the moment, then I do have a hard time concentrating on reading. But if a book is really good, I can usually mentally block out noise around me.

 

Do you need a room to be silent when you read?

Not necessarily. If I am reading in my bedroom, I prefer to have my white noise machine on. I have managed to focus on reading in other noisier situations as well. Although, now I’m thinking about it, I might prefer silence.

 

Who gave you your love for reading?

My dad, who read bedtime stories every night when I was a child, and my aunt, who is a librarian and continued to encourage me to read while my parents wanted me to do more “normal” kid things.

 

What book is next on your list to read?

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Right now, I am currently reading The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan. While I am working my way through that, I will pick up the next books I need to read for my children’s literature class from the library.

 

When did you start to read chapter books?

Third grade.

Who is your favorite children’s author?

J.K. Rowling or Rick Riordan.

Which author would you most want to interview?

Carlos Ruiz Zafon seems like he would be interesting to talk to.

Which author do you think you would be friends with?

Christine Ricco of Polandbananasbooks on YouTube and the author of Again, But Better. She’s out loud quirky and I love those kinds of people. I think our respective energy would feed off each other.

 

What book have you reread the most?

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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, a book I have read at least three times.

 

Which books do you consider “classics?”

Books that have already been labeled “classics” are the books I think of as classics. Though Harry Potter is a good contender for this title.

 

Which books do you think should be taught in every school?

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Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan, and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.

 

Which books should be banned from all schools?

NO BANNING BOOKS! PERIOD!

I tag…EVERYONE!

Would you ever ban a book from a school? If so, which one?

(POST AT YOUR OWN RISK!)

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Reasons I Rate a Book 5 Stars

What makes me rate a book five stars? I never thought about that before….

When Shanah released the list of topics for January 2020, this is the topic I was most excited to write. I like it when I actually have to think of an answer.

For me to rate a book 5 stars, the book must have:

 

Great writing

If I don’t love an author’s writing style, chances are I’m not going to give it 5 stars. Sometimes, I do not mind juvenile or simplistic writing, as long as it goes with the narrative, such as the novel is told from the perspective of a younger protagonist. But if I find the writing too simplistic or cringey or repetitive, then forget it. If I think the writing style is beautiful, then I will give it a high rating.

 

A well thought-out plot and character development

Plot and character development go hand in hand in my book. Sometimes, I can overlook one for the sake of the other, but it has to be for a good reason. If a book is more of a character study and the protagonist goes through a major development, but there isn’t much a consistent plot, I’m fine with it. If a novel is more plot-driven without so much of a focus on characters, but the plot is entertaining, it’s no big deal. But to get 5 stars, the book has to have both in equal measures.

 

The ability to hold my attention, even when I’m not reading it

A common indicator that I will give a book 5 stars is if I’m thinking about reading it when I’m not reading it. If I am at work or school and I look for any excuse I can to take a break so I can read more, that is when I know a book is on the 5-star track. If I am in the process of reading the book and it’s the only thing holding my attention, that is also usually a sign of a 5-star read.

In short: if a book makes me ignore my responsibilities or my friends or my family, it’s a good book.

 

The ability to make me really think and feel something

I read for the enjoyment of reading. But I also don’t read just for the act of reading. I will read fluffy books to pass the time and relax. On the flip side to that, I tend to gravitate towards books with heavy plots or themes more often. If a book challenges my way of thinking, makes me consider something I hadn’t before, or makes me feel like I’m a real character in the book, then it is a candidate for a 5-star rating.

 

The ability to make me cry

I am genuinely not a book crier. I cry in movies, because the act of seeing it on the screen versus reading it on the page bothers me more. However, there are the exceptions that have made me cry in real sadness from what I read. And I’m talking real crying, not getting misty-eyed. If a book makes me shed tears, it’s a 5-star, hands down.

 

What makes you rate a book 5 stars?   

2019 Bookish Survey

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

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

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

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

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

 

Basic Statistics

Number of books read: 59

Number of rereads: 3

Average length of books I read: 284 pages

Pages read: 16, 775 pages read across 59 books

Average rating for 2019: 3.7

 

2019 Reading Resolutions Recap

“Unofficially” read 30 books

Prioritize and marathon series

Make smaller TBRs but be flexible

Unhaul books

Practice borrowing before buying

 

What do I think of this?

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

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

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

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

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

 

Blogging & Bookish Life

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

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

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

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

 

Looking Ahead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hopefully I didn’t just jinx it….

10 Year Challenge Book Tag

How is it not only the end of the year, but the end of a decade?

2009 seems so long ago. I was a sixteen-year-old freshman in high school struggling with math. In 2019, I am a graduate student getting my Master’s in Library and Information Science. The only thing that has not changed much is that I’m sleeping in the same bedroom.

I was going to do a post on how I have changed as a reader over the decade, except my memory is terrible. I saw this tag on Thoughts on Tomes YouTube channel, but she’s not the creator of the tag. All I know is that she made it look like fun.

To the tag!

 

What was your favorite book in 2009?

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Without a doubt, it had to be The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong. I probably reread it that year, too, since the sequel, The Awakening, came out in either 2009 or 2010. 2009 was the year I broke away from the trashy Sweet Valley books to the broader young adult genre, particularly urban fantasy.

 

What is your favorite book of 2019?

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I don’t know if I have a specific favorite book this year. Like last year, I did not give out much 5-star ratings and not a lot stuck with me. For the sake of this question, I will say it is a tie between The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo and A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin.

 

What was your least favorite book in 2009?

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Anything I read by L.J. Smith, mainly The Awakening, which was the first book of the Vampire Diaries series. I only read the first one, and I never made it beyond 50 pages. And this was at the height of the vampire craze, post-Twilight.

 

What was your least favorite book in 2019?

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It is slightly unfair, since I went into this book knowing nothing about it beyond the synopsis, but the graphic novel Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer. I found this one while browsing my local library. This had no plot to speak of and it had too many POVs than was necessary.

 

What is a book published in 2009 that you still want to read?

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Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson, which follows two best friends, one deceased, struggling with eating disorders.

 

What is a book published in 2019 you want to get to before 2020?

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I had originally checked out Marley by Jon Clinch from the library, which I think was a 2019 release, only I returned it last week. As in previous years, I got hit with a reading slump a few days before Christmas. I lost interest in all the books I checked out from the library. I grabbed a bunch of graphic novels I owned that I want to read by New Year’s, only none of them were published in 2019.

 

What is a genre you used to read a lot of that you don’t read as much anymore?

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In early high school until maybe my freshman year of college, I was really into adult mysteries and thrillers, as well as women’s fiction, primarily Meg Cabot. Urban fantasy and paranormal romance was my obsession until sophomore year of undergraduate. I was obsessed with Meg Cabot, who wrote predominantly in the latter genre. At that time, I was heavy into crime TV shows, too, so this played into my love for reading books in that genre.

 

What is a new genre you’ve discovered since 2009?

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In high school and college, I only read nonfiction for school. I still mostly read nonfiction for school. But now I am looking into picking up nonfiction for my own recreational reading. The same goes for science fiction. Most of the subjects in science fiction go right over my head, which was why I rarely felt drawn to it. Now, after picking up a few gems like Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, I am more apt to reading science fiction.

 

What is a reading or book habit you are hoping to leave behind in this decade?

There are a few small, annoying habits I want to leave behind. The first book habit is to not check out more books from the library than I can read. It’s not a major problem, but it is a minor annoyance I would like to remedy, since I do currently live in a rather small space.

A reading habit I would like to leave behind is not always prioritizing reading. During down times throughout the day, I take out my phone even though I bring a book with me. At night, I’ve been watching YouTube when I could be reading. Recently I realized that I sometimes do not always have the energy or focus to read books. I’m hoping this is adulting getting the better of me, and not anything else. Like losing an interest in reading.

Lastly, I would like to leave behind the habit not having a set budget for buying books. Book buying bans sometimes work, but only when I legitimately do not have the extra funds. At this point in my life, I have the privilege of not having to pay rent. But I hope to move out of my dad’s house by the end of 2020, so better late than never to practice before I am basically forced to. Although, I wonder if that might be a better option for me….

 

What is a new reading goal or habit you want to create in the upcoming decade?

One reading habit I would like to create, or rather focus on, is sticking to reading lists yet remembering to be flexible. I would not call myself a “mood reader” by any means. For the longest time, I thought I was. It was not until last summer, when I tried to challenge myself to randomly pick books, did I realize I like having structure in my reading. On the flip side to that, when I tried to be a stickler with the reading lists, I sometimes had lost interest in the books I had selected to read next. So, I want to leave a little wiggle room in my reading lists for change if I want to read something else than what I previously selected off my TBR.

A habit I want to create, or rather get back into, is reading before bed instead of going on my laptop. I used to read before bed. Then, I read a few books that made me anxious or scared or angry and I had a hard time falling asleep after. While listening to YouTube videos does help me feel drowsy, I fall asleep next to my laptop in bed. I wake up a few hours later with all my bedroom lights on and voices coming from my computer, disturbing my family members trying to sleep.

Another reading goal I want to maintain the next decade is read between 50 to 80 books a year. Like I have said in another post, reading is a big part of my life and plays into writing. Also, it one of my main forms of entertainment, something I genuinely enjoy doing. Since 2016, I read between 50 to 80 books to a year, so it seems like a reasonable goal to set. Plus, technology 24/7 is no good for me.

 

What is a reading habit you want to create in the upcoming decade?

 

I tag:

Grey

Kristin

Rebecca

Sophie

 

What Do You Think of People Who Don’t Read? (Discussion Post)

While Christmas shopping for my dad and my brother, I kept thinking about books I want to buy them. My brother reads occasionally and my dad pretty much never. This can be said for most other people in my life as well. Meanwhile, I’m reading books like I breathe air.

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Thinking about this brought me back to a conversation I had with another reader: what do you think about people who don’t read?

Growing up, I was super into reading. I didn’t understand how anybody could not like it. You read text messages, emails, Facebook posts, and gossip on your favorite celebrity, yet how can you say you hate reading? It made no sense.

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I’m an introvert like many of you probably are. I like being social when the opportunity arises. Sadly, that isn’t often, since I live farther out from my friends. More often than not, I spend my weekends at home. My family has a subscription to Netflix and now Disney +. I take full advantage of both. I also watch a lot of BookTube, as well as scary story channels, mostly Mr. Nightmare, Corpse Husband, and Lazy Masquerade.

I also watch TV in my down time. Criminal Minds, one of my favorites, is beginning its final season in January and I watch reruns constantly. A potential new all-time favorite, Evil, aired this year. I watch it live on Thursday nights at 10pm, no matter how tired I was from going to school that day. I also occasionally watch reruns of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. By no means would I call myself a TV buff, though.

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For the longest time, I thought of reading as a form of entertainment or a hobby. I wrote that in my “autobiography,” my first assignment for my young adult literature class this semester. Then, after my professor graded it, she wrote a comment of how she thought of reading as more of as a part of a person’s infrastructure. That got me thinking.

There have been times when I was in a reading slump where I just did not feel like reading. Or I kind of wanted to read but nothing held my interest at that moment. Usually, it was due to when I was busy with school and/or life. Other times, I simply just read too much too fast and burnt myself out. It passes within a week or so. This time around, however, I forced myself to take a break from reading.

I had checked out a lot of books from the library—as I do when I’m trying to refrain myself from buying too many books in order to save money—that I was really excited to read. I also had assignments piling up, all of them involving focus. After a final project had been screwed up, I knew I had to put reading aside until I turned in my last assignment for the semester.

I had no idea what to do with myself.

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That whole week and a half of not allowing myself to read anything not school related made me think of my professor’s comment on that paper. Reading was such a part of my life, I had no idea how much until I deliberately made it not so. It made me wonder what else I might have done if I never took up reading in the first place, especially since a love of writing stemmed from a love of reading.

Like I said, years ago, I had no idea how people did not like reading. After meeting people that struggled with learning disabilities, I finally made peace with the idea that reading is not for everyone. School doesn’t help much, with required reading and teachers only accepting answers they deem to be the “right” analysis of a work. It was different for me. I liked learning and had generally positive experiences in my high school English classes. Plus, I also had supportive professors in college during my English degree. Not everyone can say that.

If someone is genuinely interested in trying to take up reading, I do my best to give them recommendations. But by no means do I try to force anyone to like reading. My friends never tried to make me like the things they liked, so why would I do it to anyone else?

Regarding possible romantic partners, same thing. The other person liking reading is more of a bonus than a requirement. If I got involved with someone who did not enjoy reading, I would not try to make them like it if they did not want it. And I would not give someone a hard pass just for that one thing, not if they have so many other qualities I find attractive. If they tried to make me stop reading or outright hated the fact that I love reading, then we have a problem.

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In high school, college, and now in graduate school, and just in adulthood in general, I make time for reading because I want to. More than that, I realize now. I need to. I need the escapism and the ability to get out of my head or lost in my feelings. I need the creative energy as an outlet for my stress and the anxiety I feel when I overthink (which is a lot). I need reading to help me figure it all out.

But I know not everyone feels that way. And that’s OK.

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What do you think of people who do not read?

 

2019 Reading Wrap Up #6

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi

4.75 stars

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

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

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

 

Windwitch by Susan Dennard

4.5 stars

Sightwitch by Susan Dennard

4 stars

Bloodwitch by Susan Dennard

4 stars

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

 

Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer (library book)

1 star

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

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

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

 

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

3 stars

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

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

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

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

 

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

2019 Reading Wrap Up #3

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

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

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

 

Marina by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

4.5 stars

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

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

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

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

 

A School for Unusual Girls by Kathleen Baldwin

4 stars

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

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

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

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

 

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

4.75 stars

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

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

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

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

 

Where I Live by Brenda Rufener

2.5 stars

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

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

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

 

Invisible Ghosts by Robyn Schneider

4.25 stars

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

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

 

What have you read recently?

Why I Love Reading (Top 5 Tuesday)

I’m doing something different with this week’s Top 5 Tuesday. I managed to come up with five reasons, but saying words simply like “escapism” and “imagination” didn’t feel right, even if they are true. So, I’m just going with it.

Why do I love reading? Honestly, I never gave much thought to it.

Reading is something that has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. My dad read to me before bed every night when I was little. Then, I started reading on my own.

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I do remember there were certain periods of my life I was not reading much. I was into computer games and I liked being outside on my swing set. As I entered middle school, books became my constant companions, mainly because I didn’t have a lot of friends.

            While I was picked on, especially for liking books so much, for the most part people were nice to me or they ignored me. I kept to myself. I didn’t try so hard to get in with the “It” crowd. Still, I wasn’t exactly getting invited to birthday parties or to hang out after school.

In a way, I’m sure I had it easier than a lot of other kids in high school. I didn’t dread going to school out of fear of getting harassed daily. I tried extracurriculars, mainly so it would look good on college applications and to get my mother off my case about not having a social life. But everything I joined—book club, SADD, Youth Court—all got taken away so the budget could favor the football team.

 

I guess I liked people, at least sometimes, but I preferred books. It wasn’t until college that I made real friends who appreciated my love for reading. During that time, reading felt more like fun, mainly since I wasn’t sticking to just one genre of novels anymore.

Books got me through a difficult time in my life. The last two and a half years were rough. Throughout my four years of undergraduate, there was the underlying tension in my family as my mother’s health deteriorated. My friends helped me through those moments where the fear of losing my mom was real and I could distract myself with homework. But after I graduated, the security blanket college provided was gone.

Even though the people that cared were a text or phone call away, my mom’s condition was constantly in my face. For several months after graduation, I was unemployed. Then, the summer I left college, I had my own health scare. Between finding a job, worrying about my mother and managing her various doctor visits and other medical needs, and trying to take care of myself, books got me through it.

Reading books also came through for me when my mom went on hospice towards the end of 2017. For few times each day, I didn’t have to think about what was going on.

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OK—enough sadness.

On a better note, I love reading because it helped me find my passion: writing. When I was eight years old, I read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume and immediately after finishing it, wrote my own “novel.” After that, I couldn’t stop.

My parents said I was spinning stories before I could actually write. Reading books simply encouraged my natural storytelling ability. The ones I read at different stages of my life influenced my writing as well. When I was obsessed with the Sweet Valley books, I wrote about twins, or some “perfect” girl with mediocre problems. When I was obsessed with Meg Cabot books, I wrote about overly dramatic teenaged girls in chick-lit novels.

But none of those kinds of stories “clicked” with me in terms of writing. That didn’t happen until I was fifteen and I read The Darkest Powers trilogy by Kelley Armstrong. I could write about overly dramatic princesses, but only if said princess was a witch or had fallen in love with a vampire.

 

A love of reading led me to be an English major in college. I wrote a play that was performed on stage by my college’s theater my senior year. I started this blog because I love to read books.

In short: I love reading. I love books.

I just do.