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!!

Five on my Backlog – 2

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. Last month, a lot of people had thoughts about Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews and I’ve added it to my weird/spooky/creepy list to read in either October or November so I hope you guys have some thoughts about this next round of books.

First, I have A Paper Son by Jason Buchholz. I got this from an overstock store for a few dollars and all I know is that it is about a writer who is writing about a family of Chinese immigrants and then there is a mystery about a missing son. I think there is a magical realism element to the story and I am not always a big fan of that so that’s why I’ve been putting it off. I know I’ll eventually get to it but as of right now, it’s near the bottom of my priority list.

The rest of the books I have on my backlog are classics that I just haven’t encountered for school yet. Among them is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. I only need to look at my friends’ reviews on Goodreads to see that so many people I know have read it and for the most part, enjoyed it. I am sure that I’ll like it but I also know that it can take me a while to get through classics and this one is chunky! I’m not intimidated but I am maybe a little nervous to pick it up.

I also haven’t read Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. I have read all of her other major novels but I just haven’t gotten around to picking this one up. Like with Jane Eyre, I’m sure I’ll enjoy this. I’ve heard it’s really different from her other novels but I still think it will be an interesting read. It’s also relatively short and I have two copies of it so it’s honestly pretty ridiculous that I haven’t read it yet.

The last two books I want to talk about this time are classics for children. First, I have Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie. I’d started listening to this one on audio last month but quickly realized that I needed to be able to physically read this one so I can follow the plot. I know the basic story but I kept feeling like I was missing a lot while listening to it.

Last, I have The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. There are a lot of film adaptations for this book; there was one in 2017 AND apparently in 2020. I used to really enjoy the 1993 version but I’ve never read the book. I couldn’t tell you a single thing about the plot because it’s been so long since I’ve seen the movie but I do remember that it was incredibly magical and beautiful. I hope the book has that same feeling. 

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!!

Choose Your Fellowship Book Tag

Blog Tags

I had a totally different blog post planned for today but as I was catching up on some Youtube videos, I noticed the TolkienAlong was taking place this year and lines up with my original plan to finish the Lord of the Rings trilogy in November and December of this year. I re-read The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring earlier this year and then got distracted by Percy Jackson but I’ve always planned to go back and read the final two books in the LOTR before the year ends. 

All of that being said, there’s a tag associated with the read along so I decided to post that today instead of my original plan. You can find the tag here if you’d like to participate!

Frodo “I will take the ring to Mordor.” – A book you’re not actually sure if you like or not

A book that immediately comes to mind for this question is These Witches Don’t Burn by Isabel Sterling. I enjoyed the basic plot but I had issues with some of the characters and that really made me feel confused about whether I enjoyed the book or not and whether I should continue with the series.

Sam “I can’t carry it, but I can carry you.” – A book you’ll always be loyal to

Easy. Atonement by Ian McEwan. That book (and film) is just so sad and powerful and tells a different kind of WWII story than a lot of the others I’ve read in the past. I also appreciate the twist that makes your feelings even more confused than they already were. Plus, a REALLY interesting narrative structure which is something McEwan does in many of his books.

Pippin “What about second breakfast?” – A book you’d like to reread

So many! I love rereading favorites. Turning around to look at my shelves, I think I’ll go with Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I read this a few years ago and I picked it up off and on over the course of a few months and while I really enjoyed it, I think it would be a different experience if I read it straight through without reading a bunch of other books in between.

Merry “We’re going with you, Frodo.” – A book about friendship

I think I’ll pick a manga for this question and choose One Piece. I am super new to the One Piece world which is a questionable and intimidating choice since the anime has over 900 episodes and there are over 90 issues of the manga BUT one of the things I really enjoy about this series is that Luffy is able to befriend anyone he brings into his group of pirates. It’s just such a fun time and I know I’ll probably never catch up but I’m enjoying where I am with the series.

Aragorn “For Frodo!” – A book with a hero or heroine to swoon over

Can I count Red from Get a Life, Chloe Brown? He’s got a tough exterior and seems gruff and unapproachable at first but really, he’s so kind and caring and I love that about him. 

Legolas “That still only counts as one!” – The biggest book on your TBR

That’s easily The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon. I have books unread on my shelves that are maybe a bit longer but this is the one that I’m most eager to get to. I want to read it before the end of the year and it might just end up being my entire December TBR alongside The Return of the King. I’ve just heard so many good things about Priory and really want to read it relatively soon but I don’t want to drag it out like I initially did with Anna Karenina

Gimli “Shall I get you a box?” – A short, but fun read

For this, I’m going to choose Coraline by Neil Gaiman. I read this after seeing the movie and I was surprised by how much more creepy it was but I also had a lot of fun reading it. I liked how immersive this world is and meeting all of Coraline’s odd neighbors. A fun time all around.

Boromir “They’ve taken the little ones!” – A series you still haven’t got past the first book in

This one is a little difficult because I’m in the middle of a few series or either finished with them but I can answer based on a technicality. If you group Little Women and Good Wives together, then I haven’t got past the first book to read the Little Men/Jo’s Boys book(s). I want to reread the first book(s) and continue with the series at the beginning of next year.

Gandalf “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” – A book that makes you question your life

I could choose a number of books here but I think I’ll go with Hunger by Roxane Gay. It made me really think about my own relationship with hunger, both literal and figurative.

So that’s the last question for this tag. I have links at the beginning of this post both for the tag and the announcement about the TolkienAlong itself. Like I said, I’m not officially joining in until the last two books but I am very excited to have a community to read them with so hopefully you’ll join if you’re interested.

Stay safe!

-Sam

Austen-Adjacent: Austen Adaptations, Retellings, and Other Related Media

Book Recommendations

I don’t *love* many classics, but I do love Jane Austen. I didn’t read anything by her until I was in my mid-twenties. I started with Sense and Sensibility and I wasn’t really a fan, but I wasn’t going to give up on her. I continued by reading Pride and Prejudice and Emma and I was SOLD. Emma is one of my favorite books of all time and I think about it constantly. 

But that’s not exactly what this post is about.

Today I want to talk about Austen adaptations or Austen-adjacent content because I’m fairly new to the world of Austen-related things but there are a few that I really enjoy and I want to share three of them today. I was partially inspired by Sofia at Bookish Wanderness and her post “Ranking Jane Austen Screen Adaptations” so please go check out her blog!

The retelling that Sophia mentioned that inspired this post is Bride and Prejudice. Clearly a Pride and Prejudice retelling, this Bollywood film follows Lalita as she meets several suitors including the American Mr. Darcy. This movie made me laugh so much! I liked seeing the ways they modernized the original Austen text and the musical numbers were so extravagant and fun. Also, for fans of the TV series Lost, it was fun to see Naveen Andrews as Charles Bingley.

Another Pride and Prejudice retelling I enjoyed is Longbourn by Jo Baker. This story takes place during the same timeline as Pride and Prejudice but follows the servants who work for the Bennets. I know some people don’t like seeing a different side of the Bennets, but I think Baker does some interesting work in showing all of the things that have to be done so that the Bennets can remain in relative comfort. Baker does not shy away from the sometimes disgusting reality of the work Sarah and the other servants have to do. I also appreciated (and wrote a lengthy paper about) the difference in the way Austen and Baker portray the soldiers. Showing the “behind-the scenes” of classics can be a way of making people aware of what had to happen in order for things to be the way they are. I won’t talk about this adaptation here but the 1999 Mansfield Park film does a good job of this, as well. 

The last thing I want to talk about is not based on Pride and Prejudice and is not a retelling. It’s a science-fiction story about time travelers who want to recover one of Austen’s missing text and, potentially, save her life – The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen Flynn. I was a little skeptical about this book because I am not a sci-fi girl but I did enjoy the historical references to Jane Austen’s personal life and the romance. I don’t want to say a ton about one particular element I enjoyed, because spoilers, BUT the main character, Rachel, is Jewish and that plays an interesting role in the story. It’s been a little while since I read this and I would love to pick it up again when my physical TBR is a bit more manageable but I do have positive memories when I think back on my initial reading experience.

I have definitely read and watched other Austen adaptations that I would like to talk about here so if you want to hear about those in the future, let me know! Also, do you have any Austen-adjacent or Austen retellings/adaptations you particularly enjoy? I need more!!

WWW Wednesday – July 22, 2020

WWW Wednesday

Since I’m really enjoying checking in here weekly, I’m going to continue doing 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 am currently reading The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley. This is another Libby hold I’ve been waiting for so I wanted to go ahead and get to it before I have to return it. This is a thriller which follows a group of friends who go on a New Year trip and get stuck at a secluded hunting lodge when a blizzard rolls in. Oh and someone is murdered. I’m only two chapters in, but it already feels a lot like The Guest List. I really enjoyed that book so I expect I’ll either also love The Hunting Party, or I’ll be unimpressed by it. We’ll see!

I finished four books since last Wednesday. First, I finished Black Enough which is a short story collection edited by Ibi Zoboi. I really enjoyed every single story in this collection and that is rare in short story collections. I love that not every story was about pain and suffering; readers get to see Black joy which I think is incredibly important. Some of the stories that stuck with me include “Black. Nerd. Problems” by Lamar Giles and “Kissing Sarah Smart” by Justina Ireland. Definitely pick this up if you’re interested in discovering new black authors; it’s a great way to sample over fifteen in one go.

I also finished The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. This is a non-fiction book that discusses the fact that even though the US had a Black president, we aren’t past racism. Specifically, Black men and their communities are suffering the effects of continued mass incarceration. I listened to this on audio while I was cleaning and doing laundry. I definitely want to pick this up physically at some point. There is a ton of information in this book and I know I missed some pieces. This is a little more dense than some of the other nonfiction I’ve read recently so I went through it pretty slowly but it was worth it. I think Alexander offers a huge piece to the puzzle that is the current situation in the US (and globally).

I also read continued my read-through of the Percy Jackson series with Rick Riordan’s The Sea of Monsters. I can’t say too much without spoiling the first book but I will say that I think this sequel brings the same comedy and action that I love in the first book. I only wish it was longer! The ending of The Sea of Monsters really has me pumped to continue the series next month. Also, I really love Tyson and want him to be protected at all costs.

Additionally, I finished Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. I listened to this on audio while reading along and I definitely have some thoughts. This play follows John Proctor and Abigail Williams who live in Salem, Massachusetts during the witch trials. Everyone’s being accused of being a witch, the girls are acting weird, and there’s total chaos. I read this in high school and had a good time with it. This time around I was more in tune with the connection to the Red Scare of the 1950’s but I had some problems with the way women and people of color were talked about. I’ll definitely have a little more to say in my July wrap-up, though.

The last book I finished this week, I just finished last night. That was Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward. This is a nonfiction memoir where Ward tells the stories of the men in her life she lost to suicide, drugs, accidents and also talks about her experiences growing up poor in the southern US. This book has an interesting narrative structure that, on paper, sounds confusing, but really works. Ward’s writing is powerful and beautiful while telling a truly heartbreaking story about a world that just doesn’t work in favor of, or value, Black men.

Next up for me has to be The Rise of Kyoshi by F. C. Yee. This is on my original TBR for the month and I just haven’t had a chance to get to it yet because of all my Libby holds (oops). This is part of the Avatar: The Last Airbender universe and follows Avatar Kyoshi, a female Avatar who existed before Aang. The second book in this series is out this month and I’m just excited about having more Avatar content in my life.

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

Checking In

Reading Check-ins

First and foremost, I’m sorry for not being active on my blog in the past week or so. The current events surrounding George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent protests made everything else in my life feel unimportant, I have been sharing resources over on my Instagram and Twitter but there are tons of other, more qualified creators speaking out on these issues so if you want more information, please seek it out. This link will take you to some places where you can help. This link will take you to some articles that discuss institutionalized racism and its history. If you were helping and amplifying black voices in the past week, keep that energy up because we are far from done. 

Additionally, I have been feeling a lack of personal motivation. These things might be related but I have just found myself spending a lot of time with the television on just zoning out for hours and not wanting to do much of anything. To be completely transparent, I have generalized anxiety and depression so I am working this week to push myself to read, write, clean, and leave my apartment so that my mental health can try to recover. Since this is a blog about books, I wanted to talk a little about what I’ve been reading since I last posted.

At the end of May, I started Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. I know. I’m late. I was browsing the tiny book section at my local Harris Teeter and picked up the mass-market paperback. I have since finished this book and I gave it a solid three stars. I was interested in quite a few characters and their plotlines but I do think it was a bit longer than it needed to be. There were times I found myself a bit bored but generally, I enjoyed laughing at the ridiculous concerns and worries of rich people. Paired with some of the real concerns and obstacles characters were facing, it makes for a read that made me feel a range of emotions.

I also started the audiobook for Gold Dust Woman at the end of May. This book is a biography of Stevie Nicks and follows both her career and personal life. If you’re like me and have listened to the Rumours album in the car with your dad a million times, you know that there is plenty of drama and scandals to be found. It’s written like most biographies about music; the writing is a bit dry but it was interesting to listen to while playing Animal Crossing or folding laundry.

I am currently halfway through Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. I don’t really read fantasy but some friends voted on this for our buddy read this month so I thought I’d go along for the ride. I was seeing a ton of people talk about this book and say that it’s good but it takes forever to get into it. Maybe this is my newness to fantasy showing, but I have been pretty invested in this book since the beginning. I haven’t really been bored at all yet. I plan to write a review with more of my thoughts when I finish since this is my first foray into modern fantasy so we will see how I feel as I keep reading!

You’ll notice that I haven’t mentioned any of the reads I planned for my #MakeYourMythtaker readathon. That’s because I’ve only read one: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Every time I read this book, I enjoy it and then can’t decide if I like to book or the movie better. They both have elements the other doesn’t that I enjoy. I also think the commentary about politicians and figureheads is incredibly interesting for a children’s book. There is definitely more to unpack (excuse the stereotypical English Major™ phrase) here and I think about this book more than I probably should, if I’m being honest.

I haven’t started the second book for my #MakeYourMythtaker readathon yet because I got sucked into some Kindle $2.99 sales. Right now I’m about 20% of the way through Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann. This book follows Alice who definitely isn’t looking for a relationship after just being broken up with by her ex-girlfriend. But then she meets Takumi and really likes him. Since Alice is asexual, she has to navigate what this attraction means and a summer rom-com ensues. I’m not usually a YA contemporary romance person but this has been a cute read so far. I plan to review this book as well so keep a lookout for that!

All in all, I’m not sticking to my TBR in any way this month and I would feel bad about it but I’m just here to have a good time! Have you guys been sticking to your TBRs this month? Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Do you want to read any? Come chat with me in the comments!