Coming back at you with another tag! I found this tag on Book Loving Nut’s blog and I figured it would be a great way for my readers to get a little glimpse of who I am. Because I primarily e-read, my physical bookshelves are not exactly ready for a bookshelf tag quite yet!
I was getting nervous when I was counting because my books were slowly starting to mix with my boyfriend’s. But this one was a great middle ground! He recommended this to me a few months ago. This short novella was perfect for getting me out of a slump while also reading an author that my partner really enjoyed. I did originally listen to the audio book but I loved it so much that I wanted a physical copy! 26 turned out ok.
Having been a 14 year old girl during the height of Twilight mania, of course I loved reading that Bella grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. Everytime I read this book, I look forward to the scene where Bella uses the bathroom at Phoenix Sky Habor International Airport to give a vampire the slip. When I travel, I always think of Bella when I use the restroom in the airport. She was right though, they do have two exits. Perfect for tricking vampires.
Pick a book that represents a place you’d like to travel to.
I would love to travel to Ireland. While the main characters, Marianne and Connell, don’t necessarily hit all of the tourist spots, they do attend univeristy in Dublin. It will probably be a while before I get to Ireland (just pandemic things), but I have heard nothing but great things from my friends who have been there.
When I was growing up, I never really had a favorite color because all colors seemed to have the same impact on me. I decided when I was 10 years old that purple was my favorite color because I heard that it was the color of royalty. Is purple actually my favorite color? I don’t know, I just always say it is so I picked the Lost Apothecary. I love the dark purple on this cover. The gold foil in contrast with the deep purple make this cover one of my favorites that I have on my physical shelf.
I read this book when I was about 15. This story introduced me to the romance genre while also being pretty realistic about teenage relationships. Whenever I think about this book, I am transported to the summer after my sophomore year of high school, reading this book in my parents’ backyard with my family dog swimming laps in the pool. I haven’t read it since then and I’m a little scared to revisit because I don’t know how well it has aged.
Which book did you have the most difficulty reading?
The writing style mixed with the subject matter made this book such a slog. I couldn’t get into it. As someone who has listened to an extensive amount of true crime podcasts, this seemed like it would be right up my alley. The difference was 100% in the delivery. Truman Capote is very verbose and descriptive which didn’t include many natural breaks. I am glad that I finished it but if it hadn’t been for my book club, I would have DNFd.
Which book in your TBR pile will give you the biggest accomplishment when you finish it?
I have heard nothing but incredible things about this book. All this hype has made me nervous to start it. What if I hate it? I don’t want to break some hearts with a negative review so I have just let it sit on my shelf. I did get a physical copy of this book which is also contibuting to my hesitation. It’s so big! I’m currently waiting on the audio book from my library so I’m hoping that will help me tackle it.
Thanks for taking a read! Some of these books really brought me back. I won’t be doing a reread of Twilight again this year, but maybe I’ll revisit Judy Blume for a summer read! Did any of these answers surpise you? Let me know in the comments below.
March was a pretty good reading month for me. I had a lot of 4 star reads and my first 5 star read of 2021! There were a few books this month that really took me a lot longer to read than normal. I also had a couple that I tore through in one sitting. I mostly kept within my comfort zone this month when it comes to genres and that may have lead me into the slump that I’ve been dealing with at the beginning of April. Let me know if any of these books are your favorites!
This book is pitched as The Unhoneymooners meets The Hating Game which is what initially drew me to it. Unfortunately this book didn’t do either the beach getaway/forced proximity of The Unhoneymooners or the coworkers hate-to-love tropes of The Hating Game nearly as well. While I did find this book to be sweet and fun, I read this book at the beginning of March and I can’t remember anything about it other than the fact that the main characters go on a cruise. I initially gave this book 4 stars, but I think now that I have sat with it, it’s more of a 3 star.
My Goodreads review for this book is just “oof, but in a good way” and that still sums up my feelings about this book. This was one of the stories that I tore through extremely quickly. This book speaks candidly about grooming and abuse within the entertainment industry. This is super important to shed light on, especially within the YA format. In this story, the main character, Enchanted, gets swept up into the entertainment industry by a powerful R&B star. With the promise of her own recording career being dangled over her head, she is easily taken in by this man. While I do think that the pacing of this book was a bit strange, overall the message is super important for teens to read.
This was the March pick for my book club and although it was pretty universally liked, we also didn’t have much to say about it. I thought that the concept was a fresh take on the idea of purgatory. It was an easy and enjoyable read and supplied some valuable commentary about living with regrets. While it did deal with some death and mental health issues, it did so tastefully. The ending wrapped itself up in a nice bow and overall this book did what it set out to do.
I really wanted to love this one. The concept was so intriguing. It’s pitched as “Rear Window meets Get Out” and while this story had elements from both films, it failed to execute them in a successful way. The pacing of this book was very strange. The first 2/3 was extremely slow with a romance that was shoehorned in. The male lead made my skin crawl. I felt as though he was fetishizing Sydney and using performative allyship to try to earn her trust. I do think that Sydney’s comments about his eagerness to be seen as trustworthy is a stirring commentary about performative activism. While I really liked this concept, the story suffered because of the strange pacing. The ending happened all at once and I found myself wanting more from it. There was a lot of set up that felt unneccessary but at the same time there were lot of plot holes that needed more explanation.
I chose to read this book mainly because the cover was beautiful. I know, I know, don’t judge a book by its cover. But it’s so pretty! I did put myself into a reading slump after this one though. I loved the world building and the descriptions of the setting. I thought that 1920s Shanghai really came to life. If this were adapted into a Netflix series, I would be the first one to watch it because I think the visuals are stunning. I just didn’t care about either of the main characters. I understand that the “Romeo and Juliet” aspect of it all hinges on miscommunication but oh my gosh? Just talk to each other? Fantasy continues to not be my thing and I keep trying YA fantasy hoping that it’ll be a little easier for me to digest. I have concluded that I can digest it fine, I just don’t like it. And the ending? If you know, you know, but wow I was pissed. I don’t see myself reading the sequel but I do want to know how it ends. 🤷🏻♀️
Taylor Jenkins Reid has done it again. One of my favorite books that I read in 2020 was The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and it has become clear to me that I live for celebrity drama. While I do think that Evelyn Hugo does it a bit better, I tore through this book in one sitting. The coming-of-age story mixed with the drama of 1960s Hollywood was the perfect storm for me. I wanted to give this story 5 stars up until the very end. The ending was soooo rushed. There was so much time spent with these characters while they were in the band that the ending felt like an afterthought. It felt like a promo for “Where Are They Now?” but we never got the full episode . We only get one paragraph about Daisy and all of her successes after the band and I felt like she deserved a bit more than that.
“A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them.” A hell of a tag line. I will admit that the idea of this apothecary was too fun to pass up. While I enjoyed the story set in 1791, I was a bit bored with the story that takes place during present day. I was expecting more from the actual apothecary story and less time spent dealing with Caroline’s super shitty husband. The parallels were definitely there with the two stories, but there was some clunkiness that could have been ironed out.
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟
What a month. And what a slump I’ve been in since! Please send me some recommendations because my reading in April is so so dry. Did you love any of these books? Did you hate any of these books? Let me know! And thanks for reading. 📚
DNF. Did Not Finish. I love DNFing books. I have been able to read sooo many more books since I embraced the art of DNFing. I DNF books for a variety of reasons. Sometimes I just am not in the right mood to read a specific title and I will eventually return to it. Other times, I can tell within a few chapters that the story just isn’t for me. Whatever the reason, I have stopped feeling guilty for dropping books that I’m not interested in. That being said, I do get sucked in to bookstagram and booktube hype and I find myself picking up recommendations that I see online with sometimes little to no context. I couldn’t escape the following titles. I saw them all over the place and I was compelled to try them out. Some of them I may revisit, and others annoyed me so much that I will never pick up again.
DISCLAIMER: If one of these titles is your absolute fav, please don’t come for me! I know it’s hard to see negative reviews about your favorite title but these books just didn’t work for me, if they worked for you, that’s great!
This story is Lolita in the Me Too era and it does not hold back. I had to DNF within the first few chapters because the descriptions of abuse were so graphic and difficult to read that I couldn’t stomach reading the whole thing. While I think that this book has a valuable message about trauma and abuse, I personally was not in the right mindset to consume such a dark story.
Will I revisit? I’m honestly not sure, the writing itself was really well done (from what I read) but the subject matter was very upsetting. If in the future I feel compelled to read Lolita, I think I will pick this one up instead.
Everywhere I see this book, it is rated 5 stars. It feels sacrilegious in the book community to not love this book, but I just couldn’t connect with the characters at all. The writing felt inaccessible and exposition heavy. I also felt like Achilles and Patroclus had an instant-love connection and any character development flew out the window the moment they got together. I got about 30% of the way through and felt as though I got the gist of the story. Having read the Iliad and seen the movie Troy, I know this story and didn’t like Achilles in any of them!
Will I revisit? Probably not, I really didn’t connect with the characters or the writing and this is a story I already know so I wouldn’t be getting anything new from this book.
This is the book I probably got the furthest into before DNFing. I got just over 50% through this story and I had to dump it. The romance in this story was an enemies-to-fake-friendship-to-lovers and I felt like it was so rushed. I really enjoyed the first bit of the story and the build up to their relationship, however once they were together, I didn’t care about the side plot or any of the factors keeping them apart. I think I just had too many issues with the pacing that I needed to let it go. They got together so quickly and then the side plot and external factors moved sooo slowly. There are so many other romances with similar tropes that don’t take forever to get to the conflict.
Will I revisit? Probably not. There are so many other romances out there without a side plot that I didn’t care about. I just don’t have the energy to pay attention to fake politics when actual politics in the US require so much mental space.
I absolutely love the concept of this story. I really enjoyed the part that I did read, but I had to drop it. I only had the audiobook for this story and I felt like I wasn’t able to commit my full attention to the story in that format. I think that there are so many new words and concepts that I would have liked it a lot better if I had a physical copy. I have a hard time concentrating on audiobooks when they are doing world building in a fantasy setting.
Will I revisit? Absolutely. I would love to read this story in the physical format. I think once I know the story and understand the lore, I would enjoy the audiobook a lot more than I initially did.
This was another one that I really liked the concept but I had to say goodbye. I had to dump the book because I didn’t want anything bad to happen to the characters 🙃. I know that is a goofy reason to DNF a thriller but I just wasn’t in a thriller mood at the time. I think that Ruth Ware did a great job at establishing the plot and the setting. She opens the story by telling the reader that there are multiple deaths that occur during this book, and I wasn’t ready. I had just finished a thriller before picking this up and I think I was fatigued.
Will I revisit? I will definitely take another crack at this one because I really enjoyed the set up and I also loved the dual perspectives.
This is another one where I feel like I chose the wrong format to consume this story. I read this one on my e-reader and I DNF’d at about 20%. I think that I would really enjoy this story through audio instead. I really enjoy Caitlin Doughty’s Youtube videos and the way that she tells stories about her crematory and about the death industry. I think that listening to her tell this story would captivate me a lot more than the written version did.
Would I revisit? 100% I would love to try the audiobook for this memoir!
Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman
(I was unable to link to the Goodreads page as it was down, here is the Wikipedia page).
I absolutely hated almost everything about this book. I got to about 45% of the way through on my e-reader and I just couldn’t stomach it. The writing style didn’t connect with me at all. It was a little bit all over the place and in a stream of consciousness style that I found confusing. I also think that the glorification of a sexual relationship between a 17 year old boy and a grown man is something that I just can’t overlook. Especially when the author has been quoted saying that he “see[s] 12-year-old girls and [he] already find[s] them attractive.” (source). This attitude coupled with the Armie Hammer scandals really put a bad taste in my mouth over this story.
Will I revisit? Nah.
DNFing has changed my reading for the better. No more am I plagued by book guilt and books that I don’t connect with. Are any of these your favorite books? Let me know!
Finally! My most anticipated release of 2021 is here! Act Your Age, Eve Brown is the penultimate book in Talia Hibbert’s the Brown Sisters series. The Brown Sisters series is my favorite contemporary romance series for a number of reasons. Gone are the stereotypical romance leads! The self-insert, not-like-other-girls, Bella Swan archetype is nowhere to be found in the Brown Sisters series and I couldn’t be happier. Hibbert features women who are plus sized, differently abled, and bisexual. By featuring women who don’t fall into the stereotypical romance box, Act Your Age, Eve Brown is refreshingly unique while still delivering on all of the steamy and sweet moments a romance needs.
What’s it about?
Eve Brown cannot hold a job to save her life. Bouncing between professions in the hospitality sphere, her particular brand of destruction causes an expensive wedding to go awry, finally forcing her parents to cut her off financially. Eve is determined to prove to her parents that she is grown, so when the bed and breakfast down the road needs a head chef, Eve seems to have found the perfect solution.
Enter Jacob Wayne. Bed and Breakfast owner, Jacob, can tell with one interview that Eve’s chaos does not mesh with his perfectionism. Until she hits him with her car. Desperate for help at his B&B, he reluctantly takes on Eve for the head chef position while his injuries heal.
Eve’s unpredictability grate on Jacob, her every move irritating him. Eve’s sunshine personality and Jacob’s calculated nature make for the perfect hate-to-love romance.
This review will contain spoilers
Eve is everything I want in a main character. She is a little weird, she is smart, and determined to prove herself. Eve goes through life without caring what other people think. With bold purple hair and loud t-shirts, she stands out from other romance heroines. My favorite thing about this story is that the romance is central to the plot, but it’s not the only thing going on. Eve is on a mission to find herself and what she wants more so than finding a man. It just so happens that while she finds herself, she also is able to connect with Jacob.
Jacob and Eve bond through their idiosyncrasies which is something that I haven’t seen a ton of in contemporary romance. I love that both Jacob and Eve appreciate each other’s quirks and they are able to understand each other and love each other through them.
I love how this book spoke about autism and being on the autistic spectrum. Jacob opens the story by letting both Eve and the reader know that he is autistic. Both Eve and Jacob’s best friend love him for all of him and are understanding of his quirks. One of my favorite parts of the book was when a rival restaurateur is kind of ribbing Jacob and giving him a hard time by calling him “Spock.” Eve calls him on it without making a scene and while still showing her support for Jacob. This support no matter what really was the foundation of their relationship and I loved this interaction.
Overall I just think that this book had the perfect balance between sweet moments, steamy moments, and plot points. I loved Jacob and Eve together and I also loved the little cameos from the other Brown sisters. I can’t wait to dive into Talia Hibbert’s backlist and see what else she has to offer!
I mean do I even need to say it?
This was my first 5 star read of 2021! I can see this book becoming one that I re-read every year.
February was a weird reading month for me. I started out with the idea to read my boyfriend’s books. Instead of reading just romance books all through February for Valentine’s Day, I wanted to read books that my boyfriend liked or that he chose. While I think that it was a fun way to connect, he definitely has different taste than me. It was just reading slump after reading slump. I eventually dropped the theme of reading only his books in order to get back into the reading vibe. I think that after such a strong January, I just got a bit bogged down in all the numbers. I also think that all of the books I read during February were just ok. I didn’t really have any 4 or 5 stars which was discouraging. But! I will say that March is already off to a better start. Here are the books that I read in February and my thoughts.
This book is one of those books that always gets referenced. I decided to read it just because it was on my shelf and I was mildly curious about it. It was one of those things where I wasn’t particularly excited about my next read (especially after reading The Vanishing Half) so I just grabbed a book that was there. This is one of my boyfriend’s books and so the best part of reading this was that I could talk to him about it. I will say that Oscar Wilde’s writing is beautiful but definitely wordy. I found that the audiobook really saved me with the reading experience and was the main reason I was able to get through it.
This is another one of my boyfriend’s favorites and I really enjoyed reading this. This is a short and sweet fairy tale about an evil witch that raises two children separately. She raises the boy to only wake during the day and to fear the night, while she raises the girl to only wake during the night and to fear the day. This story follows the children as they meet each other and learn not to fear the unknown. I think that this was a nice pick me up after the Picture of Dorian Gray.
As someone who never reads westerns, this was surprisingly palatable. While I felt that this story was fun and definitely outside my comfort zone, I found the ending extremely dissatisfying and rushed. I really enjoyed how the author addressed nonbinary characters and bisexual characters. The way that she mentioned that the Kid is nonbinary and then just treated them like the rest of the cast without harping on their identity was a really fresh take for me. I felt the same way about how she addressed Lark’s bisexuality. A queer feminist western was something that I didn’t know I needed but that I really enjoyed.
For a full review, check out my blog post about this boy! This was the last book that I buddy read with my boyfriend this month and while I think that Stephen King is definitely a good writer, I don’t know if his content is for me.
So I definitely read this to get me out of the reading slump that Pet Sematary put me in. I was hoping to love this and I just didn’t. I thought it was fine but kind of forgettable. The only thing I remember about this plot 2 weeks after reading, was that the main character has an abusive ex. I do think that the depictions of manipulation and emotional abuse were handled really well, however the relationship between our two romantic leads was lackluster for me.
This was the February pick for my book club and let me tell you! This was divisive. The main character of this book is a sexist sadboy loser who can’t figure out why everyone in his life doesn’t live up to the ideal versions of them that he created in his head. While I think that Nick Hornby’s writing was really well done, the main character was soooo insufferable. If I didn’t have to speak about this in book club, I would have DNF’d it. I do think that after a bit of time, the story grew on me but the main character Rob just deserves every bad thing that happens to him. At one point it turned into me hate-reading this in order to see all the bad decisions that Rob would make.
This was my biggest disappointment of the month. This story had all the potential to be very sweet but the writing itself fell flat for me. The two main characters are a boy and a girl who each work at their families’ competing restaurants. This book was told through dual narratives in first person, but because our main characters were so similar, the first person narratives would blend together and I would forget which narrator was speaking. I also think that this book read very young. I know that this is a YA romance, but these characters seemed to read more closely to 14 or 15 as opposed to 18. The story was sweet but the narration and the writing lost me. Typically I can read a YA romance in one or two sittings, but this one took me nearly a week just because I wasn’t excited to pick it up.
My Rating: 🌟🌟½ (just because I couldn’t put this in the same category as High Fidelity)
February was such a weird reading month. I am hopeful that I will actually like what I read in March. I do have a couple that I am very excited about like Act Your Age, Eve Brown and The Midnight Library. I also already have a 4 star read for March so things are looking up!
Stephen King. One of the world’s best selling authors. And up until recently, I had no interest in reading any of his works.
I’m starting a new series on my blog featuring well known authors or books that I have never read. Will they live up to the hype? Or will I banish them to a 1-star rating on my Goodreads page? Only time will tell.
I think Stephen King is a worthy adversary for my first go at The Best Book I Never Read. Everyone, from my dad to my favorite YouTuber, has seemingly read at least one King book. Even I have reluctantly seen a few of his movie adaptations (but why is The Shining so boring??). I wanted to know what all the hype was about so I dug in to Pet Sematary.
In Pet Sematary, Dr. Louis Creed moves to Ludlow, Maine for a new job. Louis and his family can’t wait to get settled into their picturesque old home. But the trucks on the road in front of their house turn the corner just a little too fast, taking some of the neighborhood pets for road kill. The pets are laid to rest in the “Pet Sematary” in the woods near Louis’s home. But after a few visits to the Pet Sematary, Louis begins to hear warnings from both his neighbors and his nightmares about the secrets buried with the pets.
The Reading Experience
I chose Pet Sematary because the tagline “sometimes, dead is better” got me hooked. The autobiographical nature of the story intrigued me as well. The Author’s Note where King talks about the similarities between his move to Maine and Louis’s, down to the dead cat, reaffirmed my curiosity. It was also readily available at the library in both e-reader and audiobook format which made the decision even easier. I roped my boyfriend into buddy reading it with me which was a great way to bond with him as well as complain about the main character if I needed to.
I started off by listening to the audiobook which was narrated by Michael C. Hall (any Dexter fans out there?).
His narration was incredible. I hated the main character but Michael C. Hall’s narration kept me going because he gave life to Louis where I otherwise would’ve been bored.
About halfway through, I resigned myself to reading on my e-reader because I knew I could read faster with my eyes than I could listening. I think that the audiobook was the right way to get me intrigued and then switching to my e-reader helped me speed read through until the end.
This review will contain spoilers. This book was the definition of slow burn. King really spends his time planting little seeds of doubt in our main character’s mind which I found a little repetitive. Throughout the book, Louis is constantly thinking about the pet sematary (as the sign in the graveyard has spelled it) but rarely does he do anything about it. The entire first 80% of the book dragged a bit for me. There was also a lot of unnecessary sexism and racism that nearly had me put the book down for good. The way that Louis spoke about his wife and one of the doctors at his work was off-putting and unnecessary for the rest of the story. I did have to remind myself that this book was published in the early 80s and was most likely a product of its time. The ending though made me understand why people read Stephen King.
The body horror was described in such a way that I felt as though I could sense these grotesque monsters in my home, much like Louis did in the first part of the novel. Louis’s slow descent into madness after his son dies is drawn out in such a way that I could understand how he convinced himself to try to resurrect the boy. I think if this book had been about 100 pages shorter, I would have liked it a lot more.
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐
Overall I think that Stephen King is a great writer. The way that he describes both physical horror and psychological horror is unmatched. However, I do think that he suffers a bit when it comes to pacing. Sometimes you just need to spit it out man! I also think that this book is a sign of the times and I would hope that his more recent books don’t have such degrading language regarding women and people of color.
Would I read another Stephen King book? Maybe. While I didn’t love Pet Sematary, I do understand why people love his writing and this story was certainly unique.
Got any suggestions for me to tackle? Let me know!
Ok I know that this book is big and buzzy, but it’s for a good reason! This memoir is so outrageous and unbelievable and yet so beautifully written. There is nothing else like this book and I have told everyone I know to read this memoir. If you’re not usually a nonfiction reader, this is the book to pick up because it feels like a novel.
This story had me crying, laughing, and stressing. These characters are so vivid and so special that I couldn’t put this down. I think I may have even read this in one sitting. If you like YA contemporaries with some hard hitting topics, this is the book for you. I have a feeling I will be rereading this book in the future.
motive – a book that left you questioning everything
This book is honestly so weird. Dorian Gray is so unlikeable but so is every other character which is definitely not in my normal wheelhouse. I read this book because it was on my bookshelf and my boyfriend liked it so I didn’t know much going in other than the fact that the picture was haunted. And wow! Cursed! I went the entire book wondering how it was going to wrap up and the ending shocked me so much that I wanted to immediately read it again.
This book has it all! Enemies to lovers? Check ☑️. Young woman that is succeeding in a professional setting? Check ☑️. Mutual pining? Check ☑️. This romance is so fluffy and sweet while still giving me enough plot to really anchor these characters. I also love that the third act conflict doesn’t completely revolve around a small miscommunication but instead revolves around Lucy’s career evolution.
I would say this book raised the standard for me because it was the first book that really helped rekindle my love for reading. I picked up this book after having read a few serious flops and it really raised the standard for books that I would pick up in the future. It also helped me ease into reading adult books as I had previously been pigeonholing myself in strictly YA. This book really showed me that adult novels could be accessible and interesting without being boring.
six thirty – a problematic book that you love anyway
While I wouldn’t say I loved this book just because Wade’s problematic sad boy antics were very distracting, I would say that I liked this book despite his problematic commentary. This book has just the most intricate and enjoyable setting that viewing it through Wade’s eyes was only slightly annoying. I do think that this is a very accessible sci-fi for someone who wants to start out in the genre. The audio book also helped with the enjoyment of this novel. Wil Wheaton’s narration does a great job at making Wade as likeable as possible. But Ready Player Two? I’ll pass.
safety net – a book you immediately knew was a 5 star read
I knew the moment I picked this up that I was going to love it. I am here for any celebrity gossip and this novel delivered. It also gave me not one, but two powerful female leads and I couldn’t have been happier. This book has so many shocking twists that kept me on my toes the entire time. Evelyn’s character was so unlikeable and yet I felt like I fully understood why she did everything that she did, no matter how deplorable.
my hair – a well known author you haven’t touched but are interested in
It seems like everyone and their mother has read a Stephen King book. I have held off for so long because not only are there so many Stephen King books to choose from, a lot of his books are super long! I also know that since some of his novels are older, that there can be some problematic language surrounding Native Americans, women, and diversity in general. I am torn! Do I read King because he has so many novels that are important in the literary space? Or do I avoid supporting him because of his problematic language? Let me know!
I love the Brown Sisters series. I think that Get a Life, Chloe Brown and Take a Hint, Dani Brown are what I would consider my perfect romances. They have the right amount of plot balanced with characters that are realistic and likeable. These books also have some steam without it taking over the entire book. I can’t wait for the final installment of the series and I know that I will be rereading these books for years to come.
Ok so I am admittedly not someone who reads series (the Brown Sisters books work as stand alone novels). I typically will read the first book in a series, and I will almost never be compelled to continue on regardless of how much I like the book. This series however, I think will be the exception. I read An Absolutely Remarkable Thing last year and it was one of my favorite books of 2020. While I haven’t read the sequel yet, it is on my shelf (thank you to my friend Mandy for gifting it to me) and I will undoubtedly finish the Carls series this year. I do also think that I am significantly less intimidated by a duology as opposed to a full blown Game of Thrones-style series.
I have read this book to death. I read this for the first time in high school and I used to reread it every summer. This isn’t exclusive to this specific book, but I had a rotation of about 8 Sarah Dessen novels that I would reread constantly. These books to me just represent my teenage years and hold a lot of nostalgia. I think Just Listen was the first Sarah Dessen book that really resonated with me. I am grateful that these books handle serious topics while still being geared toward teenagers. I still pick up these books from time to time and just revel in the teenage feels.
This book defied all expectations. I went in to this book expecting a dark academia style, girl gang type of book and I got it? But not really? Our main character wants to be accepted by who she assumes is the popular crowd and oh man, is she up for a rude awakening! These popular girls could not be more opposite to the cliché popular girls that we see in books and movies. Mainly because they are practicing witchcraft and brainwashing their fellow students. You know, just girly things! But seriously this book is so strange and written in such a way that I couldn’t tell what was real and what was a dream.
obvious – a book you loved from a genre you don’t normally read
Westerns just remind me of my least favorite lit class in college. We read endless stories about cowboys who didn’t have any redeeming traits and only interacted with women to take advantage of them. Not exactly my favorite type of book. But Outlawed took the western genre and really turned it on its head. It follows a gang of women who have been exiled from society because they cannot have children. This was such a moving story about found family and women reclaiming their identities. I loved the way that this story handled sexuality and gender identity as well. This makes me want to explore more westerns!
pov – a book you would love to see told from a different point of view
This book left me wondering what the hell one of the main characters was thinking. Throughout this novel, we follow Lillian when she is hired by her estranged childhood friend, Madison, and becomes a nanny for Madison’s step children. Madison’s motives through the whole novel seemed so selfish and misguided through Lillian’s perspective and I think it would have given the reader a better understanding if we were able to hear Madison’s side of the story. This novel handles the subject of anxiety in such a unique and thoughtful way and I would recommend to anyone who wants a quick read.
This was so fun! I loved looking back through my Goodreads to find books that would fit each prompt. I would be interested to see what your favorite match up was. Let me know in the comments!
Stream Positions by Ariana Grande on Spotify here.
January was a great reading month for me! I made a point to try to branch out into a few different genres that I don’t normally read to spice things up. 2 YA fantasy books in one month? Unheard of! 2021 is the year that I am dedicated to reading more diverse genres. Now without further ado, let’s get into the 10 books (and what I rated them out of 5) that I read in the month of January!
This is the first book I read in January. We selected this book for my book club and it was very lackluster for me. The general consensus from everyone in book club was that it was forgettable and a little bit dated. There were a few funny moments like when Mindy talks about giving her friend’s new boyfriend 5 tries before she writes him off, but there weren’t enough of those moments for such a long memoir. While this book was published in 2011, there were some outdated and offensive jokes that I don’t think would’ve made the final cut if it had been published today.
This book has been on so many “Best of 2020” lists that I had to pick it up. While I don’t typically read horror, I think that this book did a good job of introducing me to the genre without being too complicated. There are incredible gothic elements as well as some disgusting body horror. I initially rated this book lower, but I can’t stop thinking about it. All I can say is: the mushrooms! Our heroine Noemí is a badass and I loved that she was both feminine and strong, they weren’t mutually exclusive. It doesn’t hurt that this edition also has a stunning cover.
Having already read The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, I had a bit of an idea as to what to expect from The Bride Test. This book was the perfect balance between sweet and steamy. I also felt like the 3rd act conflict made sense and didn’t feel forced. I had a good time reading this and I look forward to Helen Hoang’s upcoming release.
The next book I read in January was this YA fantasy about a boy who sells his soul to an evil spirit in order to settle a debt. I will admit that I am not typically a fantasy reader and this story was no exception. I think that the world building was done well and the characters were fine, but I didn’t find myself wanting to read the next book in the series. I also felt like there was a romance that was shoe-horned in and not necessary for the plot. Overall I think the plot was well thought out but there were some pacing issues that took me out of the story.
This was a sweet YA romance/coming of age story. It was a quick read about a girl who is trying to raise money so that her marching band can compete in their local marching competition. Our lead falls in love with the new boy in town and miscommunication ensues for our 3rd act conflict. I think that overall it was feel good and a nice palette cleanser, however I don’t think I will remember this novel by next month.
This thriller was such a nice change of pace for me. I used to love reading thrillers back when I was a kid and this story really reminded me how much fun that they can be. This story has a kind of gothic feel with a few twists that I didn’t see coming. While I kind of knew who our main character should not have trusted, it was still fun to see everything unravel. The ending was nice and satisfying and I can see myself reading more from Riley Sager in the future.
I love an enemies to lovers trope! I had read In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren in December and it was nice, fluffy, and an easy read and The Unhoneymooners did the same thing for me. It was pretty goofy and cheesy and I believed that the couple could be in love. While I liked the main story and the characters made sense together, I had to knock this story down to 3 stars because the epilogue was so unnecessary. It switched to the male lead’s point of view for the first time in the whole story and I found it very distracting.
Ok I know that Sarah J. Maas is controversial, and I can understand why. However, I did have a good time reading A Court of Thorns and Roses. This Beauty and the Beast retelling has our main character, Feyre, taken to the world of faeries as punishment for killing one. This book was unexpectedly steamy and had much more romance than I anticipated. I think it helped that I went in knowing nothing about this book. After looking into how the rest of the series goes, I will not be continuing on to the next book. But this was a fun and weird story and I’m glad I checked it out.
Oh I hated this book! Where to even begin? Our lead, Daisy, tells us that she is “not like other girls” because she is smart (?) and likes the Avengers. The fake dating plot was fine and I could get behind the reasoning as to why both of our leads needed a fake fiancé, but their love story? Awful! The writing was lazy and poorly edited (hockey games don’t have half time?). Our main characters tell almost every side character that their relationship is fake and proceed to summarize the entire book multiple times. There are also mentions of childhood abuse that serve only to make our male character seem more like a bad boy. This is the first book I have rated 1 star and it is very deserving.
Wow after the Dating Plan this was such a breath of fresh air. Brit Bennett’s writing is beautiful and effortless as she weaves together a multi-generational story about identity, race, and colorism. It was heartbreaking to read about these twin sisters living separate lives, and the damage it causes for the rest of their family. While both women are white-passing, one lives her life as a Black woman, and the other decides to live life as a white woman. Seeing their children unravel the mystery of their mothers’ lives was a beautiful study in family and privilege. This certainly lived up to all of the hype.
My Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
February is coming in hot with wildly different genres (so far) than January. I’m hoping I can find a few more books that are 5 star reads. While I’m always happy with a 3 star book, I do find that they are forgettable. If you have any recommendations or favorites, please feel free to let me know!
With the New Year upon us, resolutions are everywhere. In December of 2019 I set a resolution for myself to read 12 books in 2020. While not everyone believes in the power of resolutions, I managed to hit my goal and then some. Check out these tips I used to go from reading an average of 10 books a year to reading over 40 in 2020.
1. Be Open to Multiple Reading Formats
I used to be a physical book or die kind of person. I was adamantly against e-reading because I liked the idea of having the physical copy. This held me back from reading as much as I wanted because every time I was interested in a book, I would go to the store and buy one. Not only was this no longer an option in the midst of a pandemic, laziness often would win and I would resort to watching Netflix or watching YouTube videos (both viable forms of entertainment, just not in line with my reading goals). Once everything shut down and I was no longer able to access book stores, I bit the bullet and purchased and e-reader. I instantly was reading more simply because I could access any book I wanted with a couple of taps.
Before I started on this journey to read more, I had this idea that reading through audiobooks didn’t count as reading. I got into audiobooks because I was travelling to visit my out of town boyfriend and had 4 hours of uninterrupted car time per week. Downloading audiobooks helped me fill otherwise dead time with reading.
2. Utilize the Library
Seriously, the library changed the game for me. It seems almost too good to be true. Free entertainment? Not only free entertainment but I can also access it all from my phone without leaving my house? Incredible. Getting a library card and downloading Libby to access my library’s e-content helped me get more books than I could ever want. During the midst of a pandemic, the last thing I wanted to do was go to a bookstore to purchase a physical copy of something I might not even like. By using Libby and my e-reader, I could browse from the safety of my couch and instantly access books I was interested in. If I haven’t sold you on the ease of an e-reader, most libraries also offer curbside pickup. You can select the books that you want and pick them up at your leisure. The library is seriously so amazing.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ditch a Book
This one kind of goes hand in hand with the library usage because once I started using the library, I felt no guilt in returning books without having read them. I used to purchase books, start reading them, hate them, and then force myself to keep reading, all because I had spent money on them. In 2020, I dropped so many books in order to make time for books that I actually would enjoy. Whenever I am reading a book I don’t like, it takes me much longer to read. I will procrastinate reading because this unlikeable book is hanging over my head. By returning them to the library or putting them down when I was no longer interested, I avoided some reading slumps and I was able to focus my time on books I actually wanted to read. It’s ok to stop reading a book if you don’t like it, I promise!
4. Buy Cheap
While Barnes and Noble has a wide variety of books, they also sometimes have a hefty price tag. I have found that when I do want to bite the bullet and purchase a book, that looking for alternative solutions has saved me some cold hard cash. Goodwill and Savers are great places to find buzzy books. I was browsing through Goodwill once and found a brand new copy of Normal People by Sally Rooney for under $2, just weeks after the mega-hyped Hulu series had been released. Used book stores are also a great way to save some cash upfront. There are also a few online retailers that I have used to replace Amazon when buying books in order to either save money or help support my local bookstores.
Here are some great online retailers to purchase books:
Bookshop.org – This website carries e-books, audiobooks, and physical books and a portion of your purchase goes to local bookstore of your choosing.
Thriftbooks.com – This website houses primarily physical books for a fraction of the retail price.
Book of the Month – This is a subscription service that offers a selection of new release hardcovers for $10 a month.
5. Seek Out Recommendations
“I don’t know what to read next so I just won’t read anything!” This used to be my mindset but of course I wouldn’t know what to read next because I was relying on seeing books at the store that would catch my eye. I have branched out to listening to podcasts, watching YouTube videos, and using recommendation websites to ensure that I always have a variety of recommendations that I wouldn’t necessarily get from friends and family. Below are some of my favorites.
YouTube Noelle Gallagher – She loves a good romance as well as some Stephen King. FicionalFates – If you’re a fantasy reader, look no further. Booksandlala – She’s got great thriller recommendations as well as some aesthetically pleasing thumbnails.
Podcasts Reading Glasses Podcast – This was a great resource for me when I was trying to rebuild the habit of reading consistently. They also provide recommendations during every show. Professional Book Nerds – They speak to authors and discuss upcoming releases.
Websites Goodreads – I mean I speak about Goodreads in every post it seems, but they have a ton of curated lists for any type of reader as well as some great blurbs about each book. Whatshouldireadnext.com – You can input your favorite book and the website will generate recommendations based on it.
6. Track Your Reading
Whether you use a journal, an Excel sheet, or an app, tracking your reading is a great way to keep yourself accountable. I love being able to just scroll through my list and see everything that I have read throughout the year. Tracking your reading is also a valuable way to keep your reviews in one place. Sometimes when people will ask me about a book, I will need to reference my review to jog my memory. I am partial to the Goodreads platform for tracking my reading because I can also save books that I am interested in reading next.
7. Join a Book Club
Joining a book club was one of the best things I could’ve done to help improve my reading habits. It was so valuable because it helped me branch out into new genres that I otherwise would not have read. Having a monthly meeting also kept me accountable because I needed to be able to talk about the book without sounding like I had only read the Wikipedia summary (which I have been known to do to see if I will like a book). An unexpected benefit to book club was that it forced me to read more critically as well.
Book club was a great source of connection during the pandemic. Once things are no longer shut down, I would recommend looking for a book club at your local library or book store.
In the meantime, check out this article from BookRiot to find an online book club.
8. Talk About Books
This tip goes hand in hand with joining a book club. As someone who is not gifted in the art of small talk, talking to people about the latest book that I read helped me build connections with friends and family. I posted my top 5 favorite reads from 2020 on my Instagram story this year and was pleasantly surprised with the comments and recommendations that I got from it. I have been able to bond with family out of state and talk to old friends that I otherwise would not have. I read Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (just like everyone else in the universe it seems) and it was such an easy thing to discuss with people. People that hadn’t read it yet had heard of it and I was able to make a recommendation. I may read for escapism, but talking about what I’ve read has kept me more connected than ever before.
9. Set Aside Time to Read
This is something that I really needed to focus on when I was first getting back into the habit of reading consistently. Whether it’s before bed, on your lunch break at work, or listening to an audiobook on your commute, scheduling time in your day to get some reading done is crucial. When I first scheduled in reading time, I would tell myself “Ok, just 10 minutes and then if I want to stop I will stop.” More often than not, I would get sucked into whatever I was reading and I would end up reading for much longer than my allotted 10 minutes. My favorite time to read is either before bed, or whenever my boyfriend controls the remote to the TV (one can only watch Futurama so many times). Once I had established the habit, I didn’t need to schedule in time as it was automatically part of my day.
10. Read Books That You Like
Ok, ok, this one seems obvious right? Wrong! I was so hung up on all of the books that I should read, that I lost sight of what books I actually liked. Whey else would I attempt to read Pride and Prejudice 5 times (aside from the fact that the 2005 film with Kiera Knightley is a gem) and never finish it? There’s sometimes this stigma that comes with reading where it feels like if you’re not reading the classics or you’re not reading serious books, that your reading is somehow inferior. This ain’t it! While I do think that it is valuable to branch out and read books that are outside your comfort zone, sometimes reading a palette cleanser in between is a great way to avoid a reading slump. Did I read In Cold Blood and then immediately pivot to a fluffy romance afterward in order to continue having a good time? Of course!
So while it may seem obvious, read books that you like! Happy reading and here’s to 2021.
2020 was the year for strong female characters! This year has been a work in progress as far as rebuilding the habit of reading and relearning how to read for fun. That being said, I had no trouble reading these books, some of which I was able to get through in one or two sittings. While I read other books with a variety of characters, I always go back to women that I can relate to on some level. These are the only books that I rated 5/5 on my Goodreads page, (follow me to see all the books I read) which made narrowing down my top 5 pretty easy. For a synopsis on each book, I have included a link to the Goodreads page for each. Now without further ado, my ranking of my favorite reads of 2020.
This is the light and breezy sci-fi that I didn’t know I needed. Sci-fi is a genre that I am usually intimidated by usually because of the extensive world building that comes along with it. An Absolutely Remarkable Thing strikes the perfect balance between unbelievable sci-fi happenings and grounded characters in a universe that I recognize. The main character, April May, is unapologetic and stubborn to a fault. She is reluctantly thrown into the public eye due to her discovery of an alien being and she provides an uncensored view of influencer life. I think that Hank Green did a great job at capturing the uncertainty of life as a twenty-something just trying to figure things out, while also crafting a compelling mystery. The overall tone of this book was unusual in the sense that the narrator is addressing the reader directly. This allowed for some funny moments as well as some much needed introspection from April May. I was a bit dissatisfied at the end due to the massive cliff hanger, but that just means I will be readingA Beautifully Foolish Endeavour in 2021.
This novel was a buzzy book that I had heard tons of people raving about. Not only was it a Reese Witherspoon book club pick, but it was also a book that I read in my book club. This book has it all, murder mystery, coming of age, a touch of romance, marsh science, and betrayal. The writing in this novel was so beautifully done. Throughout the novel we follow Kya from her childhood all the way through old age and the writing style changes to mirror her development. There were time jumps that allowed the reader to really get invested in Kya as a character while evidence for the murder is slowly revealed. I loved how this book tackled heavy themes while still remaining true to Kya’s experiences and allowed the reader to learn about prejudices and injustices in the community along with Kya. I do think that this book suffered a bit with some pacing, especially toward the end where it seemed like the author just sped through a large portion of important details. However, I still cried my eyes out and rated it as my first 5 star read of 2020.
Full disclosure: I had attempted to read this novel many times and did not finish it many times. I think I had checked it out from the library in various forms ever since it was released in 2017. The racial unrest in the U.S. this year made it apparent that I needed to read this book. Starr serves as the perfect lens for viewing racial injustices because she attends a predominantly white school but lives in a predominantly Black neighborhood. Her struggles with code switching, covert racism, and being in a relationship with a white boy were all crucial to her figuring out where she belonged. It allows for the reader to learn along with her. Her perspectives about injustices and identity showed bravery where bravery seems impossible. The part of this book that really resonated with me was the Author’s Note at the end. Angie Thomas talks about representation and when she saw that there were very few books featuring Black girls, she wanted to write about Black girls who are powerful and use their voices to inspire change.
This memoir is unbelievably poignant and heart breaking. Everyone should read this book. While I expected details of Chanel Miller’s trial to be disturbing and horrific, I did not expect how incredible the writing was. She expertly describes her experience as a victim and her experience reclaiming her identity after being widely known as “Emily Doe” in the media when the Stanford rape case became public. Chanel discusses difficult topics such as victims rights, victim blaming, and PTSD. She is able to recall anecdotes from her life to help her describe how she was feeling throughout the duration of the trial without them feeling out of place or trite. This book is so important for everyone to see how truly difficult it is for rape victims to have to relive their trauma in court for only a fraction of hope for justice. Her writing is poetic and inspired and she is able to articulate traumatic memories with such eloquence that it often left me speechless. Truly a remarkable memoir.
I went in to this book expecting a fun novel about Old Hollywood glamour and while this novel certainly delivered on that front, it also was a devastating coming of age story that dealt with whitewashing in Hollywood, LGBTQ+ erasure, and the calculation of Hollywood tabloids. I both loved and hated Evelyn Hugo. This novel works by Evelyn telling her story to a reporter. I loved this framing because it allowed the reader to take in Evelyn’s story at a slower pace. The reporter, Monique, served as a great way to ground the reader and bring us back to the real world and all of the outside perceptions that we have about celebrities. There were also tabloid articles, blog posts, and social media posts sprinkled in to show the differences between what the public knew and saw about Evelyn’s life and what actually happened according to Evelyn herself. This novel handles a number of difficult topics without it feeling forced and without losing any sincerity. Both Monique’s and Evelyn’s character arcs throughout the novel were satisfying and believable even when their paths crossed through a shocking twist. This book gave me everything I wanted from a protagonist not once, but twice.