WWW Wednesday – August 5, 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 Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I haven’t read too much but I am really enjoying the format most of all. I like having the sort of news clippings between chapters. I really like that Reid incorporates interesting elements to the format of her narratives. That was one of the reasons I love Daisy Jones & the Six so much.

Like last week, I finished three books since last Wednesday and DNFd an audiobook. First, I finished Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. I think this book was SUPER creepy and I really appreciated the commentary on imperialism. I *almost* wish I was still in school and had an opportunity to write an entire paper on this novel. Having horror intersect with imperialism is so fascinating to me.

I also finished The Existence of Amy by Lana Grace Riva. This book was sent to me by the author in exchange for a review that I plan to post Monday so I’ll keep my discussion here brief. This book follows Amy in what appears to be a normal life but readers get insight into the ways OCD and depression can make normal things such as an office job and public transit so much more difficult. I think the first half reads a bit like a character study but the plot really picks up in the second half and has some important conversations about mental health that might also be applied to other “invisible illnesses.”

I know I said this month that I didn’t think I’d have any library holds coming through but just before Hurricane Isaias hit, I was blessed with Hunger by Roxane Gay. Since we lost power and my tablet was charged, I was able to read this through the night. Hunger is a powerful memoir about trauma, food, weight, and so many other topics – not just literal hunger, but hunger for affection, attention, and being able to indulge in femininity. I highly recommend this powerful read. I would check trigger warnings since this book deals with rape and disordered eating among other difficult topics.

Lastly, I DNFd the audiobook for Lost by Gregory Maguire. I thought the Wicked series was decent but everything else I’ve picked up by Maguire just hasn’t done it for me. I found myself bored and confused around 20% through the audiobook and just decided to call it a wash. I have a ton of other things to read on my shelves.

I think next I will pick up The Complete Stories by Zora Neale Hurston. I want to be able to finish all of my longer books on my TBR before I go back to work on the 20th. As long as no other library holds come in *knock on wood*, I think this will be manageable.

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

July 2020 Wrap-up

Reading Wrap-ups

I was shocked that I read thirteen books last month but I somehow topped it this month at fourteen. This is going to be a long post so I’ll just give some quick stats and then get into talking about each of the books.

Ratings:

1 five-star book

5 four-star books

3 three-star books

1 two-star book

4 unrated books

Formats:

7 physical books

5 eBooks

2 audiobooks

The first book I picked up this month was the audiobook for So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. This was available with no wait through Libby and I wanted to continue my anti-racism education. Oluo is writing to anyone who wants to start entering conversations about race and each chapter explains different topics within the larger conversation about race. These topics include microaggressions, the model minority myth, and cultural appropriation among others. Oluo knows who her audience is and speaks directly to them honestly and clearly. I think this is a good place to start if you’re new to talking about race but I also think Oluo has some good reminders for people who are more experienced. If you want to continue to work towards being anti-racist, this is a good book to pick up.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This month is about the time all of my Libby holds started coming in at once. That meant TBR be damned (for now) so that I could read these next few books before I had to give them back. The first book I had to read was Wilder Girls by Rory Power. This is a young adult horror about an all-girls school where students and teachers are quarantined on an island. There is a disease called “The Tox” impacting everyone and they are waiting for the Navy and the CDC to find a cure. I really enjoyed this book. The concept is intriguing and I found myself thinking about this book a lot when I wasn’t reading it. I am continuing to think about Power’s commentary on womanhood and puberty and female sexuality because that seems to be a central theme of the book. There are queer characters and a bit of a romance but that’s not a huge part of the story. As far as the ending, I know some people have problems with it being open and ambiguous but I really think it works in this situation. Since this horror, I will warn you that there are some graphic scenes and a ton of body horror so if that’s not your thing, I wouldn’t read this book. Otherwise, I definitely recommend it. 

Rating: 2 out of 5.

The Deep by Alma Katsu came through on Libby mere hours after I got the email about Wilder Girls. I honestly don’t know how to give a concise summary of what this book is about so I will include the link to Goodreads here. I went into this not really knowing what it was about apart from “spooky at sea” and boy was I surprised to find out that this book includes the Titanic, World War I, sirens? and ghosts? These are all things I love reading about individually but unfortunately, it just didn’t come together for me in the end. I felt there were lengthy plotlines and entire characters that didn’t really add anything to the main story and resulted in a book that felt MUCH longer than its 300 pages. I was also incredibly lost when the book did end. There were elements that didn’t make any sense. To be fair, I was skimming by the end because I just wanted it to be over. Overall, it felt like there was just too much crammed into the plot and if this would have been just a historical fiction novel with no horror elements, it would have been a fantastic book. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

As someone who literally never reads romance and usually thinks the romance plots in tv shows are a waste of time, I went into this book not expecting much despite everyone loving it. And also as someone who doesn’t read romance, I’ll go ahead and give an unqualified opinion and say that this is a good romance to start with if you want to get into the genre. Get a Life, Chloe Brown follows Chloe after a near-death experience as she works through a list she created in order to get a life. This could have easily been cheesy and sometimes it was but I didn’t mind because Talia Hibbert balances the lovey, cheesy moments with some more serious topics and fantastic character development. I also appreciated how both parties truly did their best to take into account each other’s pasts and limitations. It was refreshing to see. I don’t think I’m going to turn into an avid romance reader any time soon but I might not be so scared to pick up one every once in a while.

I love Mindy Kaling. I’ve had her second book, Why Not Me? for an embarrassingly long time and I figured since it’s a short, easy read, it’s about time I picked it up and read it. This is also the first book from my July TBR I actually picked up. In this book, Kaling talks about relationships, her show The Mindy Project (which I now want to rewatch), and meeting President Barack Obama among other things. I laughed and related to her in so many chapters. If you tend to like books by comedians, I’d definitely suggest picking this one up. It’s a quick read you might pick up after reading something heavy and an all-around fun time.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Black Enough is a collection of short stories edited by Ibi Zoboi. It contains stories that explore a span of Black experiences in America ranging from straight, LBGTQ+, wealthy, and poor. There are stories that tackle serious topics such as racism and homophobia but there are also stories that are truly about joy and just being a teenager. My goal going into this collection was to find some new authors to check out and that was definitely accomplished. Some stories that stand out to me are “Warning: Color My Fade” by Leah Henderson, “Black. Nerd. Problems.” by Lamar Giles, and “Kissing Sarah Smart” by Justina Ireland. It’s rare that I come across a collection where I enjoy every story but I did have a good time reading every piece in this collection. I think this is a good way to read from a variety of Black authors and find new voices to diversify your shelves.

Throughout the first half of the month, I listened to The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander on audio. This is a nonfiction book that primarily focuses on the mass incarceration of Black men in the United States. Though it was written ten years ago, much of the information still holds true. Alexander breaks down both how Black men are specifically targeted by law enforcement agencies and the impacts this targeting has on the community as a whole. Even though Barack Obama was president, that doesn’t mean that things are better for Black people as a whole. It’s frustrating to see these patterns continue and repeat but it is something you want to be aware of. There is a ton of information in this book and I would really like to get my hands on a physical copy at some point and read this physically. I know there are pieces to the timeline that I missed while cleaning and doing laundry but I still got so much from this book. Again, if you’re looking to continue your anti-racism education, this is a great book to pick up. It’s probably a step or two up from So You Want to Talk About Race as far as difficulty but even if you don’t get every single point, there is plenty there to take in and learn. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

In my quest to read the entire Percy Jackson series this year, I finally picked up the second book, The Sea of Monsters. Like this first book in the series, this one definitely didn’t disappoint! I can’t really talk about the plot of this book without spoiling the first one but I can say that I think this is a great continuation of the series. Rick Riordan is able to wonderfully recapture the comedy and action I loved about The Lightning Thief. He also combines history and mythology in such a fun way that I always appreciate. Also, I LOVE Tyson. I will say that this book is a bit shorter than the others in the series and I felt like it went by pretty quickly and I would have liked a little more in this entry in the series. Like I said, I can’t really say much but I do plan to write an entire spoilery blog post about the series when I finally finish it.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Like many people, I first encountered The Crucible in high school. I remember it being one of the few books I actually read from beginning to end that year so I guess I enjoyed it. I wanted to see if I still enjoyed it as much this time around. The conclusion: I guess I still liked it? If you aren’t familiar, this play follows John Proctor and Abigail Williams during the Salem witch trials. Kids are acting weird and everyone is being accused of being a witch and total chaos ensues. During this read, I was more in-tune with the parallels between the Salem witch hunts and the “red scare” so it made for an interesting read. I also thought quite a bit about John’s quickness to condemn Abigail and not take much accountability for his part in what happened until, maybe, the very end. Lastly, I had some problems with the way Tituba’s character was talked about and treated and the audiobook I listened to while reading the play didn’t help. The white man’s attempt at an accent was not great. Overall, it was nice to revisit and analyze this play as an adult but I was definitely in tune to more issues with it.

Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward is another nonfiction I picked up this month. It’s also another in the series of Libby holds coming in all at once. In this book 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. The structure of this story is what initially drew me in. She talks about her life chronologically and this is broken up with chapters about each of the men who were lost. These are in reverse-chronological order. It sounds confusing, but it works. This book is simultaneously heartbreaking and powerful. I particularly appreciated the honesty Ward gives readers while discussing a larger problem of a world that doesn’t work in favor of Black men. I’d previously read her novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing and while I’m not a fan of magical realism, I loved the writing in that book. The writing is just as strong, if not stronger, in Men We Reaped. I just might try and pick up Sing, Unburied, Sing again. 

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley is another Libby hold I’ve been waiting on for quite a while. I really enjoyed The Guest List back in May and wanted to check out more of Foley’s work. The Hunting Party’s premise sounds a lot like The Guest List – rich people go to a remote location where someone is dead and you don’t know who it is or who killed them. I was suspicious at how close these books felt to each other but the twists were definitely different. There were other things that really bothered me about this book, though. The “friends” don’t really seem like they ever could have been actual friends and participate in middle-school bullying and drama that doesn’t seem realistic for 30-somethings. There were also aspects of the twist that just didn’t sit well with me and one character particularly did something that just made absolutely zero sense. I still gave this a three-star rating because I think that if I’d read this before The Guest List, I would have enjoyed it a lot more but because I kept comparing it to The Guest List, it lessened the experience for me.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I know so many people have either been re-watching Avatar: The Last Airbender or watching it for the first time recently. I have been re-watching it and was in the mood for more content centered around this universe so I picked up F. C. Yee’s The Rise of Kyoshi this month. I was completely blown away. This book follows Avatar Kyoshi, an Avatar who existed before Aang, and her journey in realizing that she is, indeed, the next Avatar. I didn’t expect to get so attached to a new cast of characters but I certainly did. There’s battles, political intrigue, bending, and the sweetest blossoming romance. I even almost cried. It read like a season of the show and I really appreciated that. The only thing that kept me from giving this five stars was that you can tell this book is meant to set up a series therefore, the beginning is a little slower than the second half. Otherwise, what a magical, beautiful book. I definitely think watching the show first will add to the experience but I don’t think it would be too confusing to jump into without having seen Avatar.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

While I was reading The Rise of Kyoshi, I wanted something else to listen to on audio while I was doing chores and working on my reading journal. I chose something I owned physically so I can continue going through my physical TBR. This book follows Leonora as she’s received an email invitation to someone’s bachelorette party – someone she hasn’t spoken to in a decade. Leonora wakes up in the hospital unsure of what happened that led her here and we go along with her as she pieces it together. I think I listened to this too close to The Hunting Party. I had a difficult time distinguishing what happened in each book and I didn’t feel much connected to any of the characters though I do remember thinking Flo was really strange. I did enjoy the writing and the plot but it was a little slow to start. I also enjoyed the gripping suspense towards the end of the book. It was really exciting and I wanted to know what would happen next. Overall, this is a typical thriller and if you like Ruth Ware generally, I think you’ll enjoy this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I had given up hope that I’d have a five-star read this month. That was until I picked up Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. This book follows Noemí who receives a disturbing letter from her cousin who lives in the countryside of Mexico. She goes to check on her cousin and see if she needs to return to the city. When she arrives at the house, though, she finds that this is much more than a typical check-in. I’ve seen some reviews calling this book “slow” especially in the first half and I get that there isn’t a ton of action but I think it does provide such atmospheric writing typical of a gothic novel and starts to plant both creepy and sinister seeds which become important as the story goes. I enjoyed the commentary on imperialism and I think this book has so much to offer beyond “scary.” Here is a link to a list of trigger warnings, though because there are quite a few.

Anyway, that’s everything I read this month! I think I’ll start slowing down in August once the new semester begins and my wrap-ups might be a bit shorter in the future. I hope you also had a good reading month and if you want to chat about any of these books, leave a comment!

August 2020 TBR

TBRs

Welp. It’s August. In June I was able to finish fourteen books (look out for a lengthy wrap-up Monday!). I will officially be returning to work in a few weeks and probably won’t be able to keep that same energy in August but I’m still going to put six books on my TBR and see what happens. Here’s what I’m planning to read!

The first book I want to read this month is The Existence of Amy by Lana Grace Riva. Lana was kind enough to send me this book so that I could review it on my blog. I got it last month and have been excited for a chance to read it. This book follows Amy as she navigates life with a brain that sometimes makes things difficult. I know that this book talks about OCD and depression but I don’t really know much else and want to go into it relatively blind. Keep a lookout for a full review of this book later this month!

I also plan to pick up I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou this month. I have owned this for such a long time and have read parts of it but haven’t read the whole thing. This is an autobiography and having read Angelou’s poetry earlier this year, I am delighted to learn about her life. I am hoping my hold on the audiobook comes in time for me to listen and read along but if not, I’ll still be reading it this month.

This month I’ll also be continuing my first read-through of the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. This month I’ll be picking up The Titan’s Curse – the third book in the series. I’m expecting to continue loving this series and to write a fun, spoilery blog post about my experience reading this series for the first time as an almost-thirty-something.

I’m also definitely planning to read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. This book is about Evelyn, an older movie star, who is finally ready to write her biography. That’s about all I know (apart from the seven husbands bit). Oh and apparently people have cried and I’m here for that. I read Daisy Jones and the Six by the same author a few months ago and it became an instant favorite. I’ve heard so much about Evelyn Hugo from people across so many platforms and it’s just making me even more excited. I hope to have another favorite after I finish!

I also hope to pick up The Complete Stories by Zora Neale Hurston. I read Their Eyes Were Watching God by Hurston in high school and read at least one of the short stories in this collection in undergrad. This collection has her published stories plus some that weren’t published before. I don’t have much else to say about this collection currently but I am thrilled to finally pick it up.

Lastly, I’d like to read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. This book is about an English boarding school that doesn’t allow its students any outside contact but when a few kids do leave, they realize something isn’t totally normal about their school. I bought this book during undergrad after reading Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day which I adore. Though that book is historical fiction and this book is classified as sci-fi/dystopia, I still have hope that I will love Ishiguro’s writing just as much.

I guess the theme of this month is that I’ll be reading books from authors I’ve already read and enjoyed. I hope I can get to all of these but since I’ll be teaching this month, who knows! If I can’t get to all of these, are there any you’d prioritize (besides Evelyn Hugo obviously)?

WWW Wednesday – July 29, 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 Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and I really hope I can finish it before the end of the month. Noemí’s father receives a concerning letter from his niece and sends Noemí to check that everything is okay. It’s set in 1950s Mexico and the house makes strange noises and causes terrifying nightmares. This book is incredibly atmospheric and I’m really enjoying the commentary on imperialism. I also recommend listening to the Spotify playlist curated by the author. It really adds to the creepy vibes.

I am also listening to the audiobook for Lost by Gregory Maguire. I am trying to get through my physical TBR and was able to get this instantly from my library. It’s a little slow but I’m only about 15% into the book so who knows what will happen.

I finished three books since last Wednesday and DNFd an audiobook. First, I finished The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley. This books follows a group of friends who go on a New Year’s trip to a remote hunting lodge. Someone is dead and we’re not sure who or what happened. This sounds a lot like The Guest List by the same author. It is in premise but I did not enjoy this one as much. The twist felt a little cheap and one particular action by a character at the end didn’t seem realistic. I might have liked this better had I read it before The Guest List, though.

I also finished The Rise of Kyoshi by F. C. Yee. This is the first in a series of books that takes place before the events of the Avatar: The Last Airbender television show. This books tells the story of Avatar Kyoshi and her journey to realizing her powers. This book is definitely the first in a series because it spend a lot of time introducing characters and world-building – it might feel a little slow to some. I thoroughly enjoyed it, though. It’s so magical and full of political intrigue. I even almost cried at that one scene! Highly recommend.

I also listened to In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware. I think I listened to this too close to The Hunting Party. This books follows a group of friends who travel to a house in the woods for a bachelorette party. Leonora was invited even though she hasn’t talked to the bride in nearly a decade and when she wakes up in the hospital, she has to piece together what exactly happened at this party. I think this was a standard thriller – not bad but nothing special. I didn’t really feel connected to any of the characters but there was quite a bit of tension.

Lastly, I DNFd the audiobook for The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin. I listened to about 30% before I had to stop. This book takes place in 1950s New York and follows a woman who is friends with Truman Capote. The amount of ableist, anti-Semitic, racist, and homophobic comments made by characters in the book was truly bothersome. I think I picked this up and a thrift shop so I’m not too put out that I’ll be getting rid of it.

I’m not too sure what I’ll read next but I think I want to get to The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I LOVE Daisy Jones and the Six by the same author; I flew through it in two days without even realizing how fast I was getting through it. I have hears wonderful things about Evelyn Hugo and hope to have a similar experience.

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

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!

Sunshine Blogger Award

Blog Tags

Last week I was nominated by the wonderful Naemi at A Book Owl’s Corner for the Sunshine Blogger Award. I am so thankful and really urge you to check out their blog if you haven’t already. They are so supportive and kind!

What is the Sunshine Blogger Award?

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to those who are creative, positive and inspiring while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.

How does it work?

  • Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

  1. What is an interesting non-bookish fact about you that most people don’t know?

Most people in my real life know that I used to be an art major but I don’t think I’ve talked about it here. I started undergrad as a photography major and then switched to visual communication. I was incredibly depressed and broke so after two years, I dropped out of school. When I went back, I decided to major in English.

  1. Has your opinion on a book ever changed as you got older? For example: Is there a book you used to dislike that you now love, or a book you adored but fell out of love with?

I used to like the first three Twilight books when I was younger. I read about half of Breaking Dawn and threw it in the trunk of my car for six months because I thought the plot was ridiculous. I don’t think I could get through and of them now because I am able to recognize all of the issues with this book and would probably cringe so much. 

  1. Which fictional food would you love to try someday?

Lembas. I love a good bread.

  1. You get to resurrect a fictional character of your choice, but in order to gain the energy necessary to restore their life, you have to kill a different character. Who would you save and who would you sacrifice?

SKIP IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS FOR ATONEMENT

My favorite book of all time is Atonement by Ian McEwan. It’s very sad and I love sad books. My answer will spoil this book (and film) so skip this question if you don’t want to be spoiled. I would revive Robbie Turner and kill Paul Marshall. Though, I guess the book wouldn’t be as sad that way…

  1. Do you ever feel second-hand embarrassment when reading? If yes, name a scene that really made you cringe!

I don’t usually get second-hand embarrassment from reading but I DO get it from movies sometimes. One movie that stands out is The Guilt Trip with Seth Rogan and Barbara Streisand. I watched this with my grandma and Seth Rogan was so awkward I was embarrassed for him. I think about that a lot.

  1. If you could have one item of clothing from a book, what would you pick? Be aware that any magical properties won’t transfer to our world.

I’m certain the hobbit ladies had some style and I’d love to embody that in my life. I’d probably wear shoes, though!

  1. Do you speak any other languages? If so, what is one unique thing about them? If not – are there any languages you would like to learn?

I work off and on learning Spanish but I’d love to be better at it.

  1. What is your biggest bookish pet peeve?

I think people are sometimes caught up in policing other people’s bookish habits. People like to say thing such as “audiobooks aren’t reading” or “counting ‘X’ to your Goodreads goal is cheating” (at what?). Let people live!

  1. What would you like to see more of in books?

I’d simply like to see more horror written by women. Leave me some recs if you have any!

  1. What is the first book you ever read by yourself?

I have no idea! My grandmother used to check out a ton of books from the library and read to me until I could read myself. If I had to take a guess, it was probably one of the Arthur books by Marc Brown or this weird book about a red car.

  1. Recommend a book that you think doesn’t get enough love!

I already talked about Atonement but I’ll talk about it again. It’s about a child named Briony who falsely accuses someone of a crime when she sees things she doesn’t understand. We follow her effort to make up for what she did for the rest of her life. It’s beautiful and sad and I love it so much!


That’s the last question! I’ll leave my nominations below. If you’ve already been nominated, I apologize and no pressure to participate. I just really enjoy everyone listed here 🙂

Here are my questions:

  1. If you could only read one genre forever, what would you choose?
  2. What genre do you tend to avoid?
  3. What is one of your hobbies outside of reading?
  4. How do you track your reading?
  5. Do you often reread books?
  6. Why did you start blogging?
  7. What post are you most proud of and why?
  8. What is your favorite and least favorite trope?
  9. What is the last piece of music you listened to?
  10.  If you were to get a pet right now, what would it be (it doesn’t have to be real or practical) and what would you name it?
  11.  If you could get everyone to read one book, what would it be?

That’s it for now! Come chat with me about any of these questions in the comments!

WWW Wednesday – July 15, 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 Black Enough which is a collection of short stories edited by Ibi Zoboi. I know I said I was reading this two weeks ago, but as you might know, a ton of my library holds came through at once and I had to put this down for a bit. I am now able to get back into this collection. There hasn’t been a story I haven’t enjoyed yet which is rare for anthologies, I think. Additionally, I am listening to the audiobook for The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. This non-fiction work discusses the ways in which the US prison system works to maintain racial control. The New Jim Crow is both frustrating and enlightening. Seeing the same events continue to happen over and over again will certainly make you angry considering how much everyone preaches that we shouldn’t forget or erase our history.

I’ve somehow finished three books since I last checked in. First was The Deep by Alma Katsu. Last week I mentioned that I wasn’t sure if this book contained too many plot elements in one story. Those feelings didn’t change. I found myself unsure about why some scenes and even characters were included in the story. I also think the ending was a bit confusing and drug out. I will definitely talk about this more in my wrap-up but generally, I was pretty disappointed with this one which sucks because it had so much potential.

I also read another one of my Libby holds, Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert. This is a romance that follows Chloe who is just trying to “get a life” after a near-death experience. I don’t read romance. Ever. But other people I know who don’t really read romance seemed to be enjoying this one so I thought I’d give it a try. I definitely wasn’t disappointed. It had those cheesy romance moments but also tackled important issues such as chronic illness and recovering from an abusive relationship. It’s also definitely got some STEAM! I don’t think I’m going to turn into a serious romance reader or anything but after this experience, I’m definitely more likely to pick one up.

I also FINALLY read a book from my original July TBR this month! I picked up Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling and it was such a joy! I was at my mom’s this past weekend and I wanted to bring a smaller book to throw in my bag and this seemed like the best option. I really enjoy reading books by hilarious women and this was no exception. Not only did I laugh, but I also want to watch The Mindy Project again because she mentioned that the male lead, Danny, is inspired by Mr. Darcy and now I feel dumb for not seeing this show as a modern Pride & Prejudice. Plus, I just want to laugh at Morgan Tookers some more.

Next up for me is probably The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan. I started the Percy Jackson series for the first time back in May and I had SUCH a fun time. I’ve been excited to continue the series but it just wasn’t in the cards for me in June so I definitely want to make it happen this month. I put it on my TBR specifically to ensure that I actually get to it. I’m beyond ready to jump back into this magical, mythical world.

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

Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag

Blog Tags, Uncategorized

I am incredibly late in making this post, so I hope you guys are still interested enough to give this a look. I was debating whether or not to do this tag because I’ve only really been tracking my reading for the past few months, but ultimately, I decided it would be fun to try and answer these questions with the books I have read either for fun or for school before July.

Best book you’ve read so far this year

This might just be because it’s a recent read and because I JUST talked about Fun Home last time, but I’m going to say that my favorite book this year is Home Before Dark by Riley Sager. I’ve never had so much fun reading a thriller, and I’ve also never been so scared! Talk about the definition of a page-turner; I sat on the floor for hours completely entranced by this story. I never needed to know the end of a book so badly in my life. As someone who primarily comes to books to be sad or scared, these haunted house vibes really did it for me.

Best sequel you’ve read so far this year

I haven’t really read many sequels this year, but I did re-read The Hunger Games trilogy, so I’m going to go with Catching Fire. Remember how I said I like to be sad when I’m reading? Well, this one gets me every time. I also just enjoyed meeting all of the contestants in this set of games. Each character really had something to offer, and they didn’t feel like they were just thrown in without any thought. Plus, I think most people agree that Catching Fire is the highlight of the series.

New release you haven’t read yet but want to

For this question, I’m going with Mexican Gothic. I just got this in the mail last week, and I am so excited to be creeped out again this year. I also just have a feeling this book will be really atmospheric, and that’s something I genuinely enjoy. The historical element is also incredibly appealing to me. Fingers crossed, I can read this before the end of July!

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

I recently added Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell to my list, and since we have a thriller/horror/general creepy theme going on, I’ll say that one. I don’t know a ton about it apart from a woman goes missing, and everyone thinks it’s a guy who lives near the place where she went missing. I also know GabbyReads included it in a reading vlog recently, and we tend to have similar taste in thrillers, so I definitely want to check it out.

Biggest disappointment so far this year

Since I’m not going with books I read in July, it’s a little more difficult to choose my biggest disappointment this year. I guess I’ll go with The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer. This book had the potential to really give some new ideas about feminism, and instead, it was just a bunch of rich white people not doing much. I don’t really have anything else to say apart from the fact that it was so long and didn’t offer anything new.

Biggest surprise so far this year

Easy. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. I was a little older than the target audience when this book came out, but my younger brother LOVED it. We usually don’t agree on books, so it was a LONG time before I picked it up. I’m so mad I didn’t read this book sooner. It’s such a good story that pulls from mythology and history while still being a ton of fun. And talk about magical! I haven’t finished the series yet, but I’m just going to say who needs Harry Potter when we have Percy Jackson?

Favorite new to you or debut author

I haven’t read a ton from the same author this year, but my experience reading Daisy Jones & the Six made me want to read everything Taylor Jenkins Reid writes. I flew through Daisy Jones in two days, and not long after, I ordered The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. I am so excited to jump into more of Reid’s work.

Newest fictional crush

I don’t really crush on book characters at all, so I’m going to pass on this one!

Newest favorite character

I really admired Starr Carter’s ambition, and vulnerability in The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I also re-read The Fellowship of the Ring this year, and I have such a soft spot for Samwise Gamgee. What a great example of a friend!

A book that made you cry

I don’t ever actually cry at books this often, but the saddest book I read this year is probably Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (I had to talk about it, okay!). I read this for a class, and we were asked to listen to some songs from the musical as well, and that combination really hit hard. This graphic novel is funny and sad and insightful and made me feel so many things. 

A book that made you happy

I read volume one of One Piece this year, and Luffy just makes me so happy. There’s something about high seas adventure mixed with a bit of comedy that makes me smile the whole time I’m reading. Also, unpopular opinion, but Usopp makes me laugh a lot.

The most beautiful book you’ve bought or received this year

I treated myself to Gyo, Uzumaki, and Tomie by Junji Ito this year because I was really sad about finished grad school during COVID. Not only are the covers beautiful in such a creepy way, but the artwork inside is also fantastic! 

What books do you need to read before the end of the year

I definitely want to finish the Percy Jackson series this year, but apart from that, my main goal is to just work through my tremendous backlog of physical books so that I can start parting with some of them. I usually randomly pick books from a spreadsheet and work through them that way, so we will see what happens for the rest of the year!

May 2020 TBR

TBRs

I’m only a week or so late, but to be fair, I’ve been finishing my last semester of my Master’s program 🙂

My TBRs are usually made up entirely of backlogged books but since renewing my Book of the Month subscription and having so many Libby holds, I’ve changed up my process a bit. If I’m expecting a hold to come in, of course, that takes priority and I try to read my BOTM selections either in that month or the next. I only like to put four or five books on my list each month so I don’t feel bad when I don’t make it through everything on my list.

That being said, here are my five selections for this month:

My first three books are from BOTM.

My April BOTM pick is The Guest List by Lucy Foley. This is a thriller about a wealthy couple having their wedding on an island off the coast of Ireland. Everything is perfect except for the weather and the guests. When someone winds up dead, we are left to figure out both who is dead and who killed them.

I’ve already read this and I’ll post my thoughts on it a little later but the reason I chose this book is because I’m a sucker for a murder mystery. I like the uncertainty, the misdirection, and the creepy vibes. I recently read The Line That Held Us by David Joy and was in the mood for another thrilling read.

I chose Lock Every Door as my May BOTM add-on. This is another thriller but instead of a creepy island, this one takes place at the Bartholomew apartments in Manhattan. Our main character, Jules, has a job as an apartment sitter in this mysterious, high-profile building. But there are a lot of rules – don’t talk to the residents, don’t have any visitors, and don’t spend the night away from the apartment. When apartment sitters begin to go missing, Jules has to solve the mystery.


I chose this book for some of the same reasons that I chose The Guest List; I love thrillers, but I have also read and enjoyed Riley Sager before. I read Final Girls quite a while ago loved the writing and general plot. I also own The Last Time I Lied but haven’t got to it yet. I *probably* should read that one first but *shrug.*

My last BOTM pick is Kimberly McCreight’s A Good Marriage. This is a thriller (are we sensing a theme?) about Lizzie, a woman who works at a law firm. She gets a call from an old friend asking for help. He is in prison but has discovered that his wife is dead. Lizzie is left to determine what happened and slowly discovers that the marriage might not be as good as it seemed.

I’m excited to read this book because I don’t usually read a lot of legal thrillers. I think this might be a good way to branch out within the genre. We’ll see how it goes!

Lights All Night Long by Lydia Fitzpatrick is a literary fiction novel about a Russian boy, Ilya, who comes to Louisiana for a student exchange program. He is leaving behind a chaotic life; his brother has been arrested for murder and Ilya is not convinced he did it. Now Ilya must try to put the pieces together while living in another country.

I am reading this book with a group of friends so I’m not really sure what to expect. It still has mystery/thriller vibes though and is sure to fit well with the rest of my TBR this month. This is a debut novel for Fitzpatrick and I am excited to see where this book will take me.

The last book I have on my list for this month comes from my TBR envelope. It’s called The True Story of Hansel and Gretel and is a historical fiction retelling of Hansel and Gretel set in the final months of WW2. Two children are left behind by their father and stepmother; they must assume the names Hansel and Gretel to disguise their Jewish heritage. They eventually stumble upon the house of an old, eccentric woman who takes in the kids. She must protect them from a new German soldier who moves into the nearby village.

I really enjoy reading historical fiction from nearly any time period. I think this book will offer an interesting perspective because it is a Hansel and Gretel retelling. Paring the fairy tale backdrop with such a devastating time in history might make an interesting dynamic but I do see room for some issues. We will see!

So, that’s all I’m officially planning to read for this month.I’m hoping I can get through this and maybe pick a few more from my TBR envelope at the end. Let me know what you’re reading this month or if you’ve read any of these before!

Book Blog Newbie Tag

Blog Tags

Hey guys,

I just wanted to make a post to really introduce myself and, you guessed it, I’m going to adapt the Booktube Newbie Tag for a blogging format! I am certainly not the first to do this. Recently, I read Kayppuccino’s newbie tag post on her blog. Also, through some not so in-depth investigation, I found Brenda C’s Booktube Newbie tag, and it seems like she’s the one who started it (If I’m wrong, you can kindly let me know. I want to make sure I’m giving credit where I can). 

Before I start answering the questions, I want to just say a bit about who I am. My name is Sam. I’m 28, and at the time of writing this, I am two tasks away from finishing my MA in English and will be teaching college English in the fall semester. Of course, I love reading, but I also love playing Nintendo, journaling, and walking outside. My partner and I have been together for over ten years and enjoy living relatively close to the beach.

So now for the tag questions. 

  1. Why did you start this blog?

I’ve been consuming more bookish content online as I approach the end of my graduate program. I really just needed a way to get back into reading for fun since so much of my time was spent reading for classes and having slight anxiety attached. I NEEDED to mark my text and be prepared to either write or talk about it in a week. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the reading for my program; there was just a lot of pressure involved. 

Now that I’m done with school for the foreseeable future, I feel like I have the time to start getting more involved in this bookish community in a few different ways. I want to talk about books and create content, so I’ve started a bookstagram and started being more active on Twitter. Of course, starting this blog is part of this new desire to talk about books and be more involved with reading in a low-pressure way. 

  1. What are some fun and unique things you can bring to book blogging?

I own a ton of unread books. Most of them are here in my apartment, and I’m slowly bringing more from my mom’s house each time I get to visit. I’m talking an embarrassing number – like 200+. I acquired many of them either during my last two years of undergrad or during grad school when I didn’t really have time to read them. It might be fun to watch me try to REALLY chip away at that number in some creative ways (fun for me at least). 

I also missed the fantasy phase of my reading career, and I feel like I’m missing out. I’d like to try out some YA fantasy favorites and record that process. I basically know nothing about that world, but my interest is growing.

  1. What are you most excited for about this blog?

Making connections with other people! I’m honestly pretty shy when it comes to talking about things I like with people I don’t know really well, and so this might be a good step. I want to hear other people’s thoughts and opinions about books, get and give book recommendations, and even if no one wants to read what I have to say, I’ll enjoy having a place to record my reading journey. 

  1. Why do you love reading?

I love reading because it gives me a glimpse of an endless variety of experiences. Will I ever live in a house with ghosts? Nope. Will I ever be on a journey to be king of the pirates? Nah. Will I ever have a fancy wedding where someone gets murdered? I surely hope not. 

But I can read about it. It’s not that I feel like I’m being transported to another world, but I do get to see how that situation might play out, and that’s really fun!

  1. What series got you into reading?

I enjoyed learning to read a variety of Golden Books when I was growing up. Still, if we’re talking about an actual series, I’m going to have to be cliche and say Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, and A Series of Unfortunate Events. It’s funny because two of those are fantasy and I don’t really read fantasy now *shrug.* At my elementary school, many teachers would read a chapter of something after lunch each day. I was introduced to Narnia, ASOUE, and The Hobbit in this way.

  1. What questions would you ask your favorite authors?

Mostly, I just want to ask Ian McEwan why he went *that* route in his Hamlet retelling, Nutshell.  

  1. What challenges do you think starting a blog will be the hardest to overcome?

Hello, my name is Sam and I’m insecure about everything! 

But really, I just think like with any creative pursuit, not finding an audience is a big fear. A lot of this is for me, but I don’t think I’ll be motivated to keep this up as much if people aren’t reading/interacting with my work.

Consistency is another big thing for me. I’m better now at holding myself accountable for getting things done, but when I start teaching again or just get busy with other things, it will be more difficult for me to find time for things I enjoy, such as reading and blogging.

  1. When did you start reading?

I literally don’t remember when I didn’t have books in my life. My family read A LOT to me, and then once I learned, I was always reading. There were times when I was reading less because of college or depression or whatever, but I’ve always come back to reading eventually.

  1. Where do you read?

I mostly read on my couch these days, but sometimes, if I don’t feel well, I’ll read in bed. Ideally, I’d be outside somewhere in the sun reading, but my apartment’s deck is infested with wasps, so that’s not an option.

  1. What kind of books do you like to read?

I read a reasonably wide variety of genres, but I have been reading a ton of thrillers and historical fiction recently. I’ve also had more interest in manga and graphic novels lately. 

Anyway, that’s the last question. Thanks if you’ve read this far! You can check out links to my other socials on my “Contact” page and follow me here if you’re interested!