Recent Reads 2

Reading Wrap-ups, Reviews

Before I took a break from blogging, I did monthly wrap-ups and they were really long and took ages to write and put together so I wanted to try something different. I want to put out mini-reviews every time I complete three books. I think this will be more manageable for me and more readable for you guys so let’s get started! Find my last “Recent Reads” here.

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

Release Date: July 7, 2020

Genre: YA Horror

Pages: 352

Click here for trigger warnings.

Goodreads Synopsis

Ever since Margot was born, it’s been just her and her mother. No answers to Margot’s questions about what came before. No history to hold on to. No relative to speak of. Just the two of them, stuck in their run-down apartment, struggling to get along.

But that’s not enough for Margot. She wants family. She wants a past. And she just found the key she needs to get it: A photograph, pointing her to a town called Phalene. Pointing her home. Only, when Margot gets there, it’s not what she bargained for.

Margot’s mother left for a reason. But was it to hide her past? Or was it to protect Margot from what’s still there?

The only thing Margot knows for sure is there’s poison in their family tree, and their roots are dug so deeply into Phalene that now that she’s there, she might never escape. 

Brief Review

It’s been a little while since I finished this book but I still am not quite sure how I feel about it. I think it was incredibly atmospheric and I really liked Margot as a character. She wanted answers and something different from the life she had at home and there were many times growing up where I could relate. I also really liked Tess. She starts out pretty unlikable (or at least I was unsure about her) but I grew to love her more as the story progressed. The problem for me was that I felt that the first 75% of the book was really slow. I had some theories about the mystery that’s presented (I was wrong) and some of the early clues and reveals were exciting but overall, I just felt like it was so slow. I wanted something more but I can’t quite put my finger on it. The ending, on the other hand, was phenomenal. I really liked the direction the story took and I was satisfied with the ending. It was a wild time and I’ll never think about corn or apricots the same ever again.

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

Release Date: October 12 2010

Genre: YA fantasy

Pages: 553

Click here for trigger warnings.

Goodreads Synopsis

JASON HAS A PROBLEM. He doesn’t remember anything before waking up in a bus full of kids on a field trip. Apparently he has a girlfriend named Piper, and his best friend is a guy named Leo. They’re all students at the Wilderness School, a boarding school for “bad kids,” as Leo puts it. What did Jason do to end up here? And where is here, exactly? Jason doesn’t know anything—except that everything seems very wrong.

PIPER HAS A SECRET. Her father has been missing for three days, ever since she had that terrifying nightmare about his being in trouble. Piper doesn’t understand her dream, or why her boyfriend suddenly doesn’t recognize her. When a freak storm hits during the school trip, unleashing strange creatures and whisking her, Jason, and Leo away to someplace called Camp Half-Blood, she has a feeling she’s going to find out, whether she wants to or not.

LEO HAS A WAY WITH TOOLS. When he sees his cabin at Camp Half-Blood, filled with power tools and machine parts, he feels right at home. But there’s weird stuff, too—like the curse everyone keeps talking about, and some camper who’s gone missing. Weirdest of all, his bunkmates insist that each of them—including Leo—is related to a god. Does this have anything to do with Jason’s amnesia, or the fact that Leo keeps seeing ghosts?

Join new and old friends from Camp Half-Blood in this thrilling first book in The Heroes of Olympus series. Best-selling author Rick Riordan has pumped up the action, humor, suspense, and mystery in an epic adventure that will leave readers panting for the next installment.

Brief Review

The first thing I noticed about this book was the length. It’s over 550 pages but I still flew through it and enjoyed every moment of it. This has the same amount of action and excitement mixed with comedic moments that made me laugh out loud that were in the original series. I also really loved the characters we meet in this series. I really connected to both Leo and Piper and was really rooting for them to accomplish their goals and be happy. The ending was also phenomenal! That realization! That cliffhanger! I was so hype after I finished and excited to see what happens next in the series. Let’s GOOOOO!!

The Removed by Brandon Hobson

Release Date: February 2, 2021

Genre: Adult Contemporary

Pages: 270

Click here for trigger warnings.

Goodreads Synopsis

Steeped in Cherokee myths and history, a novel about a fractured family reckoning with the tragic death of their son long ago—from National Book Award finalist Brandon Hobson

In the fifteen years since their teenage son, Ray-Ray, was killed in a police shooting, the Echota family has been suspended in private grief. The mother, Maria, increasingly struggles to manage the onset of Alzheimer’s in her husband, Ernest. Their adult daughter, Sonja, leads a life of solitude, punctuated only by spells of dizzying romantic obsession. And their son, Edgar, fled home long ago, turning to drugs to mute his feelings of alienation.

With the family’s annual bonfire approaching—an occasion marking both the Cherokee National Holiday and Ray-Ray’s death, and a rare moment in which they openly talk about his memory—Maria attempts to call the family together from their physical and emotional distances once more. But as the bonfire draws near, each of them feels a strange blurring of the boundary between normal life and the spirit world. Maria and Ernest take in a foster child who seems to almost miraculously keep Ernest’s mental fog at bay. Sonja becomes dangerously fixated on a man named Vin, despite—or perhaps because of—his ties to tragedy in her lifetime and lifetimes before. And in the wake of a suicide attempt, Edgar finds himself in the mysterious Darkening Land: a place between the living and the dead, where old atrocities echo.

Drawing deeply on Cherokee folklore, The Removed seamlessly blends the real and spiritual to excavate the deep reverberations of trauma—a meditation on family, grief, home, and the power of stories on both a personal and ancestral level.

Brief Review

This isn’t an easy read, not just because of the subject matter, but because the way the story is told isn’t a structure you might be used to if you tend to only read white, western authors. Though this book is only 270 pages, it takes time to process and think about. Without spoiling anything, there are chapters that do not take place in the real world. There are chapters told from the perspective of an ancestor of the family that don’t seem immediately connected to the main story but if you sit and think and maybe watch some interviews and do some outside research, the genius of this book starts to become more apparent. This story draws from Cherokee folklore as well as history. There are discussions about, not only the trauma that has impacted this family in their lifetimes but also intergenerational trauma. I am reminded of Toni Morrison’s Beloved when I think about this book. I really enjoyed it and if you’re in the mood for a book that forces you to take it slow and think, I’d suggest picking this up. Flying through it just because it’s short probably won’t give you the best experience and taking it slow is worth it. Please check out own voices reviewers for this book as I am not Indigenous and will certainly have missed some of the nuance and maybe even some important aspects of this story.

What have you been reading recently? Have you read any of these? Are you interested in any of them? Come chat with me!

Auto-buy Authors

Book Recommendations

I think that before 2020 the concept of an auto-buy author wasn’t one I ever felt would apply to me. I had authors I would read the synopsis for and follow what they were releasing but I just didn’t have authors that came to mind when someone mentioned an auto-buy author. I think I have three now so I just want to talk about them and why I love them so much (if I can articulate it). Since there are only three, this will be a short one so I hope you enjoy!

The first author I want to talk about is Riley Sager. This pick is the one I probably feel the last strongly about but I have been excited about and enjoyed all four of his novels so far. He writes mystery/thrillers and my favorite is either Home Before Dark or The Last Time I Lied. I think, for the most part, his books get better and better with each release. He has one coming out later this year called Survive the Night about a girl who gets a ride with a serial killer. I’m really excited to read it this year.

The next author I want to talk about is N. K. Jemisin. I’ve only read The Fifth Season and at the time of writing this, two-thirds of The Obelisk Gate but I just know. The Fifth Season blew me away. I was shocked and I loved everything about it. I talk more about it here in my favorites of 2020 but it’s amazing (please read it). Seventy-five pages into The Obelisk Gate and I was sold. The way N. K. Jemisin drops major reveals like it’s nothing shocks and excites me every time. N. K. Jemisin has reignited my interest in fantasy and that means so much to me. I stopped really reading fantasy in undergrad and just couldn’t get back into it but someone bought me The Fifth Season from my wishlist and I tried it and was blown away. I am definitely interested in picking up her backlog and am prioritizing The Dreamblood Duology and The Inheritance Trilogy next. I’m so thankful for N. K. Jemisin for reigniting my love for fantasy and if you have any suggestions that have a similar vibe, I would definitely appreciate them.

The last author I want to talk about can just have all of my money. And that’s Tiffany D. Jackson. The first book I read by her was Monday’s Not Coming. I read it over a couple of days and finished it at 5:00 in the morning and just had to stare at the wall. I also talk about it in my favorites of 2020 so you read more about it there. The second book I read this year was Tiffany D. Jackson’s newest book, Grown. I never read a book in one day but this one really did it for me. The stakes are high all the time and I couldn’t stop turning the pages. Like with N. K. Jemisin, I want to go through Jackson’s backlog and read everything I possibly can. From what I know, Jackson only writes YA and it surprised me that I love her work so much since I usually like YA fine, but it doesn’t always floor and excite me the way Jackson does.

And those are the only authors I feel deserve the “auto-buy” title for me! Do you have any authors you’ll buy from no matter what they write?

Recent Reads

Reading Wrap-ups, Reviews

Before I took a break from blogging, I did monthly wrap-ups and they were really long and took ages to write and put together so I wanted to try something different. I want to put out mini-reviews every time I complete three books. I think this will be more manageable for me and more readable for you guys so welcome to my first three reads of the year!

The Road to Oz by L. Frank Baum

Release Date: 1909

Genre: Children’s fantasy

Pages: 261

Goodreads Synopsis

Meet Dorothy’s new friends, the Shaggy Man, Button Bright and Polychrome, as you travel with them to the Emerald City. Share their adventures with the Musicker and the Scoodlers. See how they escape from the Soup-Kettle and what they found at the Truth Pond. Find out how they are able to cross the Deadly Desert and finally get to the Emerald City of Oz.

Brief Review

As you might know, I’m trying to work through the fourteen books in the Oz series, and in 2021, I’ve committed to reading one each month until I’m done. The Road to Oz is the fifth book in the series. The beginning of The Road to Oz had me laughing out loud. The Shaggy Man and Button-Bright are new characters and their interactions are so funny. This one also gave me some insight into L. Frank Baum. I’m fascinated by him and what he was thinking about when he wrote these stories and in this particular entry, he includes a brief exchange between (I think) The Shaggy Man and the Tin Woodman where they talk about using money in exchange for goods. Oz, what I gather is supposed to be a perfect place in Baum’s eyes, doesn’t use money and the Tin Woodman finds the idea of money disgusting. I really thought this was interesting to include in the story. I do think the end was a little tedious but overall, still an interesting and fun story.

Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson

Release Date: September 15, 2020

Genre: YA contemporary, mystery

Pages: 384

Click here for trigger warnings.

Goodreads Synopsis

Korey Fields is dead.

When Enchanted Jones wakes with blood on her hands and zero memory of the previous night, no one—the police and Korey’s fans included—has more questions than she does. All she really knows is that this isn’t how things are supposed to be. Korey was Enchanted’s ticket to stardom.

Before there was a dead body, Enchanted was an aspiring singer, struggling with her tight knit family’s recent move to the suburbs while trying to find her place as the lone Black girl in high school. But then legendary R&B artist Korey Fields spots her at an audition. And suddenly her dream of being a professional singer takes flight.

Enchanted is dazzled by Korey’s luxurious life but soon her dream turns into a nightmare. Behind Korey’s charm and star power hides a dark side, one that wants to control her every move, with rage and consequences. Except now he’s dead and the police are at the door. Who killed Korey Fields?

All signs point to Enchanted.

Brief Thoughts

After reading Monday’s Not Coming last year, I’d been anticipating getting Grown from my library for months. As soon as I got it, I started reading it and before I knew it, I was halfway done. I took a break to eat dinner and then immediately went back to finish it. I don’t read books in one day but this one was so readable and I just had to know what was going to happen next. The pacing is phenomenal and keeps you turning the pages. This book, of course, deals with some difficult topics such as grooming, abuse, and stalking. It also has a lot to say about the way society doesn’t believe black women, especially in these situations. Enchanted is such an interesting and well-written character. She goes from wanting to live out her dreams to needing to protect herself and her family. The stakes are high the entire book and if you like hard-hitting contemporary, I recommend picking this up.

The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin

Release Date: August 16, 2016

Genre: Fantasy, Dystopia

Pages: 391

Click here for trigger warnings.

Goodreads Synopsis for the first book in the series (The Fifth Season)

This is the way the world ends. Again.

Three terrible things happen in a single day. Essun, a woman living an ordinary life in a small town, comes home to find that her husband has brutally murdered their son and kidnapped their daughter. Meanwhile, mighty Sanze — the world-spanning empire whose innovations have been civilization’s bedrock for a thousand years — collapses as most of its citizens are murdered to serve a madman’s vengeance. And worst of all, across the heart of the vast continent known as the Stillness, a great red rift has been torn into the heart of the earth, spewing ash enough to darken the sky for years. Or centuries.

Now Essun must pursue the wreckage of her family through a deadly, dying land. Without sunlight, clean water, or arable land, and with limited stockpiles of supplies, there will be war all across the Stillness: a battle royale of nations not for power or territory, but simply for the basic resources necessary to get through the long dark night. Essun does not care if the world falls apart around her. She’ll break it herself, if she must, to save her daughter.

Brief Thoughts

The first book in this series, The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin, was definitely at the top of my favorites list last year and I was so excited to pick up The Obelisk Gate. This is a fantastic sequel! It picks up immediately where the previous book left off and really allows readers to jump right back in and find out so much about this world and how the magic and orogeny works. I was also really excited to follow and character that I had so many questions about in the first book. I really appreciate Jemisin’s ability to casually reveal shocking information. The excitement every time I read something major sprinkled in a sentence was wonderful. I do think the middle portion of this book, in particular, is a bit slower than everything I’ve read in the series thus far but I think it was necessary in order to convey some complex information that was important to this story and that, I think, will be critical to the final installment. I can’t wait to read The Stone Sky next month and finish this wonderful series.

What have you been reading recently? Have you read any of these? Are you interested in any of them? Come chat with me!

2021 Goals

Personal Updates

I used to be one of those people that did see the point of setting resolutions for the new year because you can make those changes any time you want if you really want to but last year I set one goal: start journaling. It was successful and it was very helpful. It also started a new hobby that I truly enjoy.

In this post, I want to talk about some goals I have for 2021. Some will be related to reading and some will be just personal and I want to share them here as a way to keep myself accountable.

Reading Goals

Most people talk about their Goodreads goals and have different ways of approaching them. In the past, I just set my goal slightly higher than what I read the year before but I read 125 books in 2020 and I’m just not totally sure what 2021 is going to bring so I’m not setting my goal anywhere near what I actually read last year. I am just aiming for 52 (1 book per week) this year and will up my goal when/if I start getting close.

I also want to continue to read more of the books that I already own. I did a pretty good job of this in 2020 so there aren’t any real changes I need to make here. I just need to keep doing what I’m doing in order to get my owned TBR down and unhaul the books I don’t want on my shelves.

I also want to continue to read more diversely. I definitely started to be more aware of what I was picking up last year since it was my first year back to reading for fun in about two years but I want to set a more concrete goal this year. I’d like at least half of my books read to be by authors of color. A lot of my physical TBR is white. I bought most of my books from thrift stores and yard sales in my local neighborhood and they were just white. While I do have a goal to get through my owned TBR, I will supplement this with library books and most of the other books I buy in 2021.

Speaking of buying books, I want to be a lot more selective and strict with what I do buy. I will continue getting my book subscription boxes but outside of that, I really just want to buy books that I need to continue a series I already own/am reading. I will utilize my library for other books I’m interested in as much as possible and if I love them and want them on my shelves, I will add them to my wishlist and maybe treat myself to some around my birthday late in the year.

Personal Goals

My first personal goal is to continue journaling every day and utilize my planner. I talked about this on my Instagram last week but both of these hobbies really help me manage my anxiety. I make lists of things to accomplish almost every day and it really keeps me on track. I just want to make sure I stay on top of this habit because last year I definitely got out of it for a while and I definitely noticed it.

Another personal goal is to take better care of my body. This includes getting more exercise. I want to go on more walks and when I can’t do that, I want to do light workouts at home. I sleep better and feel better when I’m active in some capacity. I also want to eat more regularly. When my entire world got turned upside down in 2020, my eating schedule got destroyed. I’ve been bad about skipping meals and not eating regularly so I want to be more conscious of that and try a little harder. None of this is about losing weight because I don’t care about that much but I do want to take care of myself in these specific ways because it makes me feel better.

My final personal goal is to learn to embroider. I used to do it a little bit but stopped because I got into crochet but I love the look of embroidery and have some ideas of things I want to create. By the end of the year, I want to have executed at least two of my ideas. I’ve already started learning and made this piece in one night from a kit and while I stabbed myself about a million times, I’m pleased with how it turned out for the most part.

What are some of your goals for this year (reading or personal)? Come chat with me!!

Favorite Reads of 2020

Reading Wrap-ups

At the time of writing this, I’ve read 124 books in 2020. I’ve DNFd and gotten rid of a ton of books on my shelf but I’ve also read so many amazing books this year (31 FIVE-STAR reads!) and I wanted to take some time to talk about and celebrate (and persuade you to read) some of the best books I read this year. I’ll be breaking this down by genre and then I’m going to *try* to pick a favorite book for the year. This will probably be a longer post so let’s go!

Favorite Contemporary

I know there can be an argument that this book is historical but most people seem to have it shelved as “contemporary” on Goodreads so I’m going for it. The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi made me think and it broke my heart. This book opens with a woman in Nigeria finding her son’s body wrapped in fabric outside her door. Emezi then takes you on a journey to find out what happened also explores the ways grief impacts the people close to Vivek. It also discusses being queer in world that isn’t kind or even accepting to people in the LGBTQ+ community. This short book packs so much emotion and it’s something that has stuck with me since August and I think it will stick with me for a while.

Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy

I’ve always been really picky about the fantasy I pick up and sci-fi doesn’t usually do it for me but when I read The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin, something clicked. This book is difficult to explain but it takes place in a world where there is sometimes a fifth season that has the potential to destroy the world. A fifth season is upon our characters and Essun has just found her son who has been murdered and her husband and daughter are gone. I’m a sucker for interesting narrative structure and I can’t explain how this one works without spoiling it but once things started to come together towards the end, I was BLOWN AWAY. Please check this out. The characters are complex and interesting and I’m so excited to continue the series in January.

Favorite Horror/Thriller

This book had me up at 5 A.M. staring at the wall because I was broken. Monday’s Not Coming is the first book I read by Tiffany D. Jackson but it will not be my last. This book follows Claudia who is incredibly upset because her best friend is missing and no one seems to care. This books jumps back and forth in time so you get to see Claudia and Monday’s friendship as well as Claudia trying to solve the mystery of where her friend went. I thought that it was fairly apparent what happened to Monday but I still wasn’t prepared to read that particular reveal. I had to put the book down for a minute and just process it. There is another reveal after that which is pretty shocking and makes the narrative structure make sense. If you do pick this up, I would suggest checking out the trigger warnings, for sure because it’s pretty dark.

Favorite Romance

I don’t read a lot of romance. In the past, I’ve never even really cared about romance subplots in other genres but this year, I have a bit more interest in romance. This year, I only read a few straight-up romances but my favorite has to be Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert. This book follows Dani who is a PhD student and teaches college English. When a video of her being carried out of the building she works in by Zafir, the security guard, they decide to capitalize on the situation to help the charity Zafir runs. What really made this stand out for me was how much I related to Dani. I finished my MA this year and teach college English. I also tend to overwork and have a hard time not feeling guilty about relaxing – I just really got how Dani felt. In addition to the personal connections I felt with the book, I also just thought the anxiety rep was well done and I think Zafir and Dani have such a cute relationship. The pining was *chef’s kiss.*

Favorite Historical

This is easy. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid was one of those books I accidentally flew through. I was reading the ebook from my library and didn’t know how much was left and then it was over in less than 48 hours. This book has serious Fleetwood Mac vibes and follows Daisy Jones and her bandmates, The Six and is told in an interview format. I used to watch a ton of VH1 classic as a kid and devoured tons of documentaries and books about music history even if I didn’t care much about the music and this was totally reminiscent of that time in my life. I love the messiness and the drama and the heartbreak that came with this story. I also just think the atmosphere and setting are perfect. I already want to read it again now that I own a physical copy.

Favorite Nonfiction

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. No contest. I read this for a queer theory class this year and quickly fell in love. This is a graphic novel that talks about Alison Bechdel’s relationship with her father and navigating what her being queer means in the context of their relationship. I love reading about family relationships especially when they aren’t perfect. This, of course, gave me that. Additionally, I loved Bechdel’s references to literature and theory as a way to understand her relationship with her father. I don’t think you need to know the references to enjoy it but it did enhance my reading experience. I also think every single picture in the graphic novel is so intentional and can be analyzed and dissected to add to the story. There’s so much to look at and think about. Additionally, I just want to share this song from the Fun Home musical adaptation because it’s phenomenal.

2020 Favorite

This is such a difficult decision and it really came down to The Fifth Season and Fun Home but I think I’m going to have to go with Fun Home. I think about it all the time and I read it all the way back in February. It’s a story that’s really stuck with me.

I read so many amazing books and want to just mention My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russel, These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong, and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab as some other books I absolutely loved this year.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about some of my favorite books from this year and I hope you’ll check out some of them. Have you read any of these? What did you think? Come chat with me!

I’m Back?


So… it’s been a while. I didn’t mean to abandon this blog but I just found myself thinking of blogging as a chore, something I HAD to do, rather than something I truly enjoyed so I just stepped away. I kept posting reviews and wrap-ups on my instagram and I’ve really been enjoying that but over the past few weeks, I’ve been wanting to come back here.

That being said, I won’t be blogging in the same way that I was before. I was posting two or three times a week and barely doing any planning or scheduling and that wasn’t ideal when it comes to the quality of my content and my relationship with blogging. That being said, I’m going to try to schedule and plan posts a little more and I’m also going to hold myself to a lower standard when it comes to the amount of content I’m putting out here. I’m still going to be posting regularly on my bookstagram but I want to start coming back to my blog with the goal of posting at least once a week. If I have more ideas and can put together more than that, I will but I want to start with a reasonable goal for right now.

I also want to post more reviews. I typically post short reviews on my instagram for almost every book I read and I definitely don’t want to try to post reviews here for everything I read but if I really enjoyed a book and/or have a lot to say, I want to share that here as well. I still want to post wrap-ups, reading journal spreads, and recommendation lists but I want to put some more energy towards reviews.

As far as personal updates, things have been going about like they were when I left in October. I read a lot of books and finished teaching for the semester which continued to be a challenge. I’m now starting to plan to teach two college English classes in the spring. Thankfully, I’ll be totally online so while that can be difficult to plan, I won’t have that added “will I get COVID?” stress. I’ve also been playing a lot more videogames. It’s primarily been Assassin’s Creed but I’ve also been getting back into Nintendo games outside of Animal Crossing. Professor Layton is definitely a standout. 

I know this is a little short but I just wanted to update anyone who still checks this blog and put it out there that I want to come back in some capacity. Do you have any tips for planning and posting? Have you read anything amazing lately? Have a blog post you’ve been really proud of over the past few months? Come chat with me! I’ve missed you guys!

WWW Wednesday – October 7, 2020

WWW Wednesday

I think I’m finally back into some semblance of a blogging schedule and I am glad to be in a place where I can create content and talk to you guys. So here I am with the WWW Wednesday tag hosted by Taking on a World of Words. I like having a chance mid-week to share what I’m reading and see what you guys are up to, as well.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

One of the books that I’m currently reading The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan. I’ve divided up so that I can finish it on the 15th. Since it doesn’t really fit into my spooky plans this month, I wanted to be able to read other spooky books while I’m reading this one. I just want to say, I love this book so much. There’s so much action the entire time and the tension is so high and it might be my favorite in the series so far. I’m already planning to get myself the next series in this universe for my birthday because I definitely need more.

I am also reading A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro (which I realize was in my spooky TBR jar and not on my spooky TBR list). This book is about the modern, high school descendants of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson and their mystery-solving adventures. I am having a really fun time reading this and going along for the ride. It’s dramatic; there are some dark moments, and excited to see who the killer is. I do wish the romantic vibes weren’t there actually because the main characters seem better as friends but maybe that’s just me.

Since last week, I finished two books. First, I finished This Bridge Called My Back. I really enjoyed this and it’s definitely my favorite nonfiction reading experience. I really took my time with this to be sure I could stop and underline and make notes in the margins as I went along. I talked about this collection of pieces written by women of color in my wrap-up and I had a ton to say so I’ll just leave that link here.

I also read my first spooky book of October – The String of Pearls, or you might know it as Sweeney Todd. I thought this was fine. If you’re familiar with the musical, the actions of Todd and Lovett are actually the big reveal in the book version so the structure is really different. There’s also this entire other main plotline with a necklace and the relationships between the characters aren’t the same as the musical so if you know the musical, I don’t think this will work for you in the same way. I didn’t hate it; it just was what it was, I guess.

I’m truly not sure what I’m going to pick up next and probably won’t for the next two months or so. I plan to randomly select all of my reads for October and November from my backlog of spooky reads but you can check out the potential list here!

Have you read any of these books? What are you reading? If you participate in WWW Wednesday, link me your posts!

Five on my Backlog – 3

Five on my Backlog

Due to years of browsing overstock stores, used book stores, library sales, and yard sales I’ve acquired more books than any person needs. I also didn’t really read anything outside of school for two years. The backlog is real and I really want to get through them but sometimes I just don’t know what to pick next. I often use a random number generator to choose but I’m curious if there are any books you guys can give me any thoughts about. 

In order to do this, once or twice a month I want to make a post where I feature five books on my backlog and see if you guys suggest I prioritize some or warn me about others – anything! I read from a ton of genres and will just be working across my shelves to gather some thoughts. In the past two entries, people have really pushed for Flowers in the Attic and Jane Eyre so I’m interested to see what else is recommended to me.

First, I have The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. I got this from my partner for our anniversary and I can’t remember if I read this in school or not but I do love Caramelo by the same author. This looks like a short, fun read and I seriously can’t wait to pick it up one afternoon.

I also picked up The Mothers by Brit Bennett on sale not too long ago. I’ve heard people talking about The Vanishing Half by the same author and a few mention The Mothers but I don’t really know a ton about the plot of this book but I do know it’s contemporary literary fiction and that’s a genre that I generally tend to love so I have high hopes!

The next book I have is one I picked up a few years ago as a “blind date with a book” choice. It’s The Spy by Paulo Coelho and I’ve since learned that spy books don’t really work for me so I’m a little nervous about picking it up and not really enjoying it but I want to try to not have too many negative thoughts going in so that I give it a fair chance.

Another relatively recent purchase for me is All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I used to read a ton of historical fiction and much of it was centered around both world wars because that was a research interest of mine but I have since took a break from reading them. I have been having a bit of FOMO with hearing people talk about this particular book. I want to pick it up but I am a bit nervous that I won’t enjoy that genre as much as I used to.

The last book I have this month is a classic – Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I am intimidated. I have read and enjoyed Tolstoy and Chekov so I have experience with Russian classics but I’m always nervous going into bigger classics. I have enjoyed both Tolstoy and Chekov (ESPECIALLY The Cherry Orchard) so I have high hopes but I know it’s going to be a commitment and take some real time to get through.

So, there’s a few books that are on my backlog. Have you read any of these and enjoyed them? Did you read and hate any of these? Are there any that you’re interested in but want me to read so I can report back? Let me know in the comments!!

September 2020 Wrap-up

Reading Wrap-ups, Uncategorized

September felt like the longest month in the world. I was able to continue teaching online and I was able to spend a little time with my family and it made me feel a lot better. I did have some struggles with my ability to focus on much of anything and that was difficult but I’ve been trying to get back to using organization methods and checklists to stay on top of things and feel a little more in control. October is my birthday month and I don’t want to spend the whole time unable to focus or enjoy it so towards the end of September, I made conscious efforts to get my life back in order.

I talked about the music I was listening to last month in my wrap-up and I am here to report that I’m still constantly listening to Arctic Monkeys but I was also incredibly surprised by Machine Gun Kelly’s new pop-punk album, Tickets to My Downfall. The song, “title track” feels really nostalgic for some reason (Travis Barker’s drumming) and I definitely recommend it if you were into pop-punk in the early 2000s.

Now for the books! I read a variety of genres this month and many of them were ebooks from my library so essentially, my TBR went out the window but that’s okay. I still read some fantastic books I’d been wanting to pick up anyway. I will say that I did listen to some Arthur Miller plays via audio and read some Oscar Wilde short stories but since there were so many and they were short, I’m not really going to talk about them specifically or include them in my stats, but I do want to say that All My Sons by Arthur Miller and “The Canterville Ghost” by Oscar Wilde are both fantastic and I want to recommend them generally.


3 five-star reads

6 four-star reads

1 unrated read


1 audiobook

7 ebooks

2 physical books

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Much like August, I started September by listening to whatever audiobooks my library had available to me that also happened to be on my physical TBR. I listened to Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach over the course of two cleaning sessions and I’ll admit, it was a great time. This book follows James whose parents have been killed and he has to live with his two less-than-likable aunts. They treat him like Cinderella before the ball but when a magical, mysterious man brings him a bag of weird crawly things and one crawls into a peach, magic ensues and James goes on an exciting journey. Unlike my listening experience with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, as soon as I started this audiobook, I immediately felt nostalgic for the movie (HAVE YOU HEARD THIS SONG FROM THE 1996 HIT FILM?). I don’t think I ever read this book as a child and I was really interested in the parts that were left out of the movie, particularly the cloud men. I also can’t quite remember what happened to the ladybug at the end of the movie but I think book-ladybug’s ending was interesting to think about. Dahl’s ever-present characterization of fat people is an issue to be aware of when picking this up.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I was lucky enough to be sent Trust Me by the author, Nell Grey. I posted a dedicated review for this book here so head over and check that out! We love a good mystery/romance here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Early in the month, I had a hold come through from my library for Camp by L. C. Rosen. This book is a YA contemporary that takes place at a summer camp for queer teens. Randy has been going to this camp for a few years and has a crush on a guy named, Hudson. Hudson definitely has a type and it’s masculine. Randy reinvents himself as “Del” to try and get Hudson’s attention and we follow their relationship over the summer. This story is definitely messy but there’s so much more to it than that. Both characters really grow over the course of the story and I really appreciate that. I also think Rosen is able to tackle a variety of issues in this story and that gives Camp so much depth. Not only does Rosen deal with the issue of some people thinking there’s a right and wrong way to be queer, but they also tackle supportive and unsupportive parents, homophobia and bullying, and the importance of “queer-only” spaces. I think the biggest conversation surrounding queer-only spaces is the fact that while they are important and can build confidence to be yourself at all times, some people, especially teens living with unsupportive parents, don’t have the luxury of or are safe in being their true selves at all times. It’s unfortunate but I’m glad this was talked about. While this is a YA book, there is one fairly descriptive sex scene so if that’s not your jam, I just wanted to give that warning. Also, here’s a link for trigger warnings, if you need them.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Since I’m currently four books into this series, I won’t say a lot but The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan is action-packed and a great time. It was glad to see more of Nico and his journey and the tension between Percy and Annabeth is fun to read about even though I usually don’t care about romance at all in books that aren’t specifically in the romance genre. I was having a really hard time focusing and read along with the audiobook but that wasn’t because the book wasn’t interesting. My brain has just been all over the place. I am nervous and excited to see how this series will end and then hopefully pick up the other books in this universe early next year. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I got A Song Below Water from Libby after waiting for ages and I’m so glad I got a chance to read it. I wasn’t sure what to expect since I heard it was fantasy but that it wasn’t really or that it was confusing. I am so glad I didn’t let that deter me. This book follows Tavia and Effie, one is a siren and one pretends to be one at the Ren faire. When a suspected siren is murdered, things become dangerous and tensions run high as Tavia tries to keep her identity a secret and Effie is trying to figure out who she really is. This book takes place in our world but there are magical and fantastical elements revealed as if it’s completely normal. It reminded me of my recent read-through of Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go; I was given pieces of world-building and had to put things together for myself. I loved that aspect of the experience. Ultimately, this is a story about black girls finding and using their voices to stand up for themselves and bring awareness and justice to their community and I highly recommend it. Here’s a link to the trigger warnings, if you need them.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I know that I should be prioritizing my physical TBR but I’ve had to ebook for Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender for a few months and it was calling to me so I put it on my TBR for September. I don’t typically give five stars to contemporaries but this one certainly deserved it. Going in, I knew this book followed a black, trans, teen named Felix, and someone at his school posts old pictures of him as well as his deadname for everyone to see. There is so much more to this story, though. This is a story about acceptance and privilege and identity and love between friends, family, and partners. This book is emotional and funny and so much more than I expected. I know if you’ve seen anyone talk about this book, you’ve probably seen a lot of praise and I’m not sure that I have anything unique to add so I will just say that I highly recommend this beautiful book. Here’s a link to trigger warnings.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Ever since I read Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert earlier this year, I’ve wanted to pick up the sequel. Plus, I’ve been listening to a ton of Arctic Monkeys and have been in the mood for a romance. Thankfully, Take a Hint, Dani Brown came through from the library and I was able to read it before the mood for a romance passed. As much as I loved Chloe’s story, I think I loved Dani’s even more. Dani teaches college English (I can relate) and has sworn off romance after some bad experiences but when a video of her being carried out of a building by a gruff security guard goes viral, they decide to fake a relationship and reap the benefits. The banter and pining were so fantastic in this story and I also appreciated the discussions surrounding grief and anxiety. It isn’t just a romance; Hibbert tackles some more serious topics and that’s what keeps me coming back to her romances. I’ll definitely be checking out Eve Brown’s story when it comes out. Here’s a link to trigger warnings.

This is another book I got from my library and I’m going to be honest, I’m still processing my feelings. This book follows Vanessa in the present day as she finds out her English teacher from about fifteen years ago is being accused of sexually assaulting his students. The chapters alternate to show what happened between Vanessa and her teacher when she was fifteen years old. I won’t say that I enjoyed this book but I do think it is incredibly well written and gives the reader a lot to think about. There were many times where I was frustrated with “present day” Vanessa and I had to stop and think about why she was doing the things she was doing. Kate Elizabeth Russell doesn’t shy away from showing not only what happens in the moment, but also the mental turmoil that lasts for years after it’s over. It gives a view that books such as Lolita don’t offer. There were times that I had to sit back and think about things that have happened to me and the way I responded to those things. I also appreciated the perspective and discussion about the trauma that comes with women speaking out against abusers and that many times, there’s not any/much justice served. This is a heavy read, for sure and I had to stop many times to really think about what was going on. I sometimes find myself reading books and not really thinking about the broader applications and implications to real life but this one certainly made me think constantly. There are quite a few heavy trigger warnings for this book, so here’s a link.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The last library book I read this month was Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson. This book follows Claudia who is concerned because her best friend, Monday, hasn’t contacted her all summer and hasn’t shown up to the new school year, and no one seems to care. That’s all I knew about the book going in but I will say that this is not just a simple mystery story. I think it is pretty clear early on what the general nature of what happened to Monday, but there is another twist that I didn’t see coming, so there is still an element of mystery. Even though I did have an idea about Monday’s mystery, reading the description and the way it impacted Claudia really punched me in the gut. I had to put the book down and just breathe for a minute. Even if you don’t normally check trigger warnings, I would definitely consider checking them before going into this book. Something about this one is particularly unsettling but it does shine a light on how systems that are put into place to protect people can fall short in the most horrifying ways and I appreciate this book for being able to do that. I have also seen some people talking about the structure of this book and that it can sometimes be confusing and I agree that it takes a while to get used to and doesn’t fully make sense until the less obvious reveal. That’s why I didn’t give it 5 stars but I still think it’s totally readable and makes sense if you just stick with it.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This Bridge Called My Back is a collection edited by Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldua and was BY FAR my favorite read of the month. This is a collection of poems, speeches, and essays written by women of color that deal with topics such as intersectionality and the dangers and failure of white feminism among other things. Even though many of these pieces were written in the 80s, there are points that are still totally relevant today and sometimes it’s frustrating that we are still fighting the same fight, but that’s definitely part of the process of reading TBCMB in 2020. Part of why I wanted to (and had to) take my time reading this collection is because I constantly wanted to stop and make notes and underline sections while I read. I’m not really sure yet how to best review collections of work by various authors but I do want to end this review by mentioning a few of my favorite pieces from the collection. One piece I really enjoy is the introduction to the fifth section, “Speaking in Tongues” which is written by Gloria Anzaldua. This is a letter to women of color writers that discusses the importance of women of color to continue to write and take control of their stories. She also acknowledges the danger and difficulty that can come with that. It is a fantastic letter and really makes you think about the importance of writing. Another piece I really enjoyed was Pat Parker’s “Revolution: It’s Not Neat or Pretty or Quick.” This speech talks about the fact that real change takes a ton of time and you can’t give up quickly. This piece feels incredibly relevant now and I’ll just leave this review with a quote from this piece. “To end Klan or Nazi activity doesn’t end imperialism. It doesn’t end institutional racism; it doesn’t end sexism; it does not bring this monster down, and we must not forget what our goals are and who our enemies are. To simply label these people as lunatic fringes and not accurately assess their roles as part of this system is a dangerous error. These people do the dirty work. They are the arms and legs of the congressmen, the businessmen, the Tri-lateral Commission.”

If you read the whole thing, thanks! I appreciate you for putting up with my rambling. So, come chat with me about any of these books in the comments!

Stay safe!


WWW Wednesday – September 30, 2020

WWW Wednesday

I think I’m finally back into some semblance of a blogging schedule and I am glad to be in a place where I can create content and talk to you guys. So here I am with the WWW Wednesday tag hosted by Taking on a World of Words. I like having a chance mid-week to share what I’m reading and see what you guys are up to, as well.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

I only have about forty pages left in This Bridge Called My Back and I’m really hoping to finish it today so that I can talk about it in my September wrap-up. I am still really enjoying it and savoring it and I’m certain that it will be my favorite read this month. It certainly gave me a lot to think about and I think that pairing certain pieces from it with Hood Feminism would be interesting and hopefully I can get my hands on that book, too.

I am also reading The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan. This is the final book in the Percy Jackson series which I’ve been reading through them for the past few months for the very first time. I can’t say much because it would spoil parts of the series but the beginning of this final book feels more intense and dark than other beginnings in the series. I am very excited to see where this book goes and what ultimately happens at the end of the series. I hope to have a spoilery blog post about the entire series in October so if you’re interested, keep a look-out for that.

Since last week, I finished two really dark books. The first is My Dark Vanessa. I’ve been really thinking about this book since I finished it. It was heavy. I found myself disgusted by the teacher, obviously, but I also found myself fighting frustration with the main character in the present day timeline over a decade after her initial abuse took place. I don’t want to talk too much about my specific frustrations, but I will say that the author does not shy away from the reality of what life is like after being sexually abused as a child and sometimes that means making bad decisions. She also starts a conversation about whether or not it’s always worth it for women to relive trauma in order to speak up in these situations. I found myself having to stop reading and reflect on my own life and experiences and sit with some discomfort so if anything, this book really has me thinking. My Dark Vanessa also references Nabokov’s Lolita quite a bit and I think there’s something to be said about the point of view of that story in comparison to this one and it might be worth picking up and exploring but I definitely can’t do that right now because this was a tough read.

After My Dark Vanessa, I had another library book come through Libby called Monday’s Not Coming. This book is written by Tiffany D. Jackson and I’ve been hearing people talk about her and her books for a while now. After finishing Monday’s Not Coming, I definitely see why and I want more. This book follows a girl named Claudia and her best friend, Monday, is missing but no one – her parents, Monday’s family, the school – seem to care so Claudia takes the investigation into her own hands. I think early on, the general idea of what’s happened to Monday is clear but even having an idea did not prepare me for that particular reveal. I truly felt like I’d been punched in the gut and I kept thinking about it for days after. There is another reveal that I definitely didn’t see coming and I think it was cleverly done even if it makes the timeline a little confusing at first. Because this book was so shocking to me, I will leave a link here to trigger warnings if you want to check it out.

I’m truly not sure what I’m going to pick up next and probably won’t for the next two months or so. I plan to randomly select all of my reads for October and November from my backlog of spooky reads but you can check out the potential list here!

Have you read any of these books? What are you reading? If you participate in WWW Wednesday, link me your posts!