May 2021 Favs

It’s my first month off from teaching for the summer so I feel like I have SO MANY favorites from books to videogames to talk about because I’ve just been LIVING. As always, if you want to see more about the individual books I’ve read, check out my recent reads posts because I have more detailed reviews there.

Books

From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Like I said in the intro, I’ve been reading a lot and while I didn’t have any new standout favorites, I did enjoy most of what I read. I’m going to talk about three things here. First, I want to talk about a book that took me by complete surprise, From Blood and Ash, by Jennifer L. Armentrout. After seeing this fantasy romance everywhere and DNF-ing ACOTAR earlier in the year, I was SURE I wouldn’t be reading this one. BUT THEN one of my best friends was like, you have to! You really have to! And when I saw it at my local bookstore, I thought it was fate so I picked it up. Is this a new favorite? No. Did I have problems with the story? Yes. Am I putting off reviewing it because I don’t know how? Absolutely. BUT I really had a fun time reading this story. I predicted a lot of the plot but I still had fun because of the angst and tension. I’ll be picking up the next book after the Clear Ur Shit Readathon in June so I’m pretty excited.

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

I also read Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala this month. I’ve never read a cozy mystery before but I’m definitely going to be reading more. I had so much fun with this story about a woman who is helping out at her aunt’s restaurant when her ex visits and suddenly dies in the restaurant. I know if doesn’t sound fun but the food, family, and friendship really made me happy especially over the backdrop of a small town. I really felt like the friendship between the main character and her best friend felt realistic and I’m excited to see what happens in the rest of this series.

Blue Exorcist by Kazue Kato

Lastly, I’ve been continuing to read through the Blue Exorcist manga series. Wow. I know this story and it’s one of my favorites but this reread has been the exact fun I need. I am particularly drawn to the character development of Rin, the main character, and his relationship with his twin brother, Yukio. Oh yeah, Rin is the son of Satan, in case you’re interested. Seeing them both figure this out as exorcists, is fascinating. I’m currently reading volume 11 and around volume 8 or 9 is where this complicated dynamic is really starts to get interesting and the stakes feel a bit higher. I’ve forgotten some of the plot points because I haven’t read or watched this series in a while so while I’m still in rereading mode, it feels fresh in many ways. I think I’m approaching the point where I start reading volumes I’ve never read before and I’m really excited to see what this series looks like right now.

Music

I have nothing to say about my monthly playlist. I’ve been into older music along with some relatively new tracks. I’ve also been listening to a couple of Last Shadow Puppets songs I included on my older playlists and didn’t want to feature them again but you should certainly check those out too. I’ll embed the playlist at the bottom of this post so you can listen if you want!

Also, I’ve been listening to the Sweet Boys Podcast and I know this part of the Sweet Boys Universe is over and I am devastated but if you want to watch/listen to all of it, I highly recommend. I linked to the YouTube channel because I suggest utilizing the visual component because it’s CHAOS and I love it. I know I haven’t explained anything about it but if you listen to the first episode, you’ll understand why. I can’t explain ANYTHING about it. Just listen.

Hobbies

Calico game art

I haven’t really been watching TV or movies because when I’m not reading, I’m playing video games. I’ve really been in a handheld mode so I’ve been playing Switch and DS. I’ve talked about most of the games I’m playing currently in previous posts but I have two new fun recommendations. First, I got Calico on the Switch. The link takes you to Steam because it’s also available on PC. This is a game where you create a magical girl character and you get to run a cafe and there’s tons of animals you can have live there. Oh and you can make the animals giant and you can ride on them to places. HOW FUN! I’m currently on a quest for new recipes and clothes.

Crafting Mama Game Art

I’ve also been playing the old and highly addictive Crafting Mama on the DS. The Mama game franchise is one of the few series where I feel the need to totally complete everything and once I start, it’s hard to stop. I am enjoying making the different crafts and trying to get perfect scores. I also have Cooking Mama 4 on the DS so I’m thinking about restarting that game when I finish Crafting Mama. I’m currently on the hunt for Gardening Mama because that sounds like a fun time, too. Also, if you want a laugh, please look up Babysitting Mama. I used to have it on the Wii but my brother and I didn’t have the GIANT stuffed baby that came with it so it was a hilarious time.

So what have you been enjoying this month? Don’t forget to check out my playlist for April!

Recent Reads 15

I’ve been having so much fun reading recently since I have no real obligations for a while so I’m hoping to read more and maybe write a little more here if I can come up with some more ideas. Recently, I’ve read a YA fantasy with a ghost dog, a YA coming of age story about two friends who are very different, and a cute, cozy mystery. If you want to see more, you can find my last “Recent Reads” here.

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger

Release Date: August 25, 2020

Genre: YA fantasy, mystery

Pages: 362

Click here for trigger warnings.

Synopsis

Imagine an America very similar to our own. It’s got homework, best friends, and pistachio ice cream.

There are some differences. This America been shaped dramatically by the magic, monsters, knowledge, and legends of its peoples, those Indigenous and those not. Some of these forces are charmingly everyday, like the ability to make an orb of light appear or travel across the world through rings of fungi. But other forces are less charming and should never see the light of day.

Elatsoe lives in this slightly stranger America. She can raise the ghosts of dead animals, a skill passed down through generations of her Lipan Apache family. Her beloved cousin has just been murdered, in a town that wants no prying eyes. But she is going to do more than pry. The picture-perfect facade of Willowbee masks gruesome secrets, and she will rely on her wits, skills, and friends to tear off the mask and protect her family

Brief Review

“Maybe, sometimes, wants felt like needs. Because the alternative hurt too bad.”

This is SUCH a great YA book! The beginning of this story is so cute! A ghost dog named Kirby? Get out of here; I love it so much. I also really like the family dynamics in this story. It is refreshing to see parents involved in their child’s life in a positive way – they believe and trust Ellie. Thematically, this story brings forward so many discussions about microaggressions, white-washing and erasing history, stolen land, revenge, and exploitation by those with some degree of power. Darcie Little Badger is able to weave these themes into the story while still maintaining a fun and exciting atmosphere. I know people have been talking about this book since last year and I just want to add my voice to others who recommend this book.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Aristotle and Dante by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Release Date: February 21, 2012

Genre: YA contemporary

Pages: 359

Click here for trigger warnings.

Synopsis

A lyrical novel about family and friendship from critically acclaimed author Benjamin Alire Sáenz.

Aristotle is an angry teen with a brother in prison. Dante is a know-it-all who has an unusual way of looking at the world. When the two meet at the swimming pool, they seem to have nothing in common. But as the loners start spending time together, they discover that they share a special friendship–the kind that changes lives and lasts a lifetime. And it is through this friendship that Ari and Dante will learn the most important truths about themselves and the kind of people they want to be.

Brief Thoughts

“I got to thinking that poems were like people. Some people you got right off the bat. Some people you just didn’t get–and never would get.”

This character-driven, coming-of-age story contains some of the most beautiful writing I’ve ever read. It is heartbreaking and beautiful and I found myself rooting for Aristotle and Dante’s friendship. It isn’t an easy friendship and they go through so much but I still believed in it. I also loved the family dynamic of both boy’s families. They weren’t perfect by any means but they did accept Aristotle and Dante for who they are. I knew I would like this book but I didn’t think it would be something I absolutely fall in love with but I did. I know that I’m late to the party for this book but if you are too and enjoy YA contemporary, you should pick this one up. A sequel was announced not too long ago and I’m really excited to see where Ari and Dante are now.

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

Release Date: May 4, 2021

Genre: Adult cozy mystery

Pages: 336

Trigger warnings in the front of the book: indications of evidence planting and police intimidation, drug use, fatphobia, racism, and domestic violence.

Synopsis

The first book in a new culinary cozy series full of sharp humor and delectable dishes—one that might just be killer….

When Lila Macapagal moves back home to recover from a horrible breakup, her life seems to be following all the typical rom-com tropes. She’s tasked with saving her Tita Rosie’s failing restaurant, and she has to deal with a group of matchmaking aunties who shower her with love and judgment. But when a notoriously nasty food critic (who happens to be her ex-boyfriend) drops dead moments after a confrontation with Lila, her life quickly swerves from a Nora Ephron romp to an Agatha Christie case.

With the cops treating her like she’s the one and only suspect, and the shady landlord looking to finally kick the Macapagal family out and resell the storefront, Lila’s left with no choice but to conduct her own investigation. Armed with the nosy auntie network, her barista best bud, and her trusted Dachshund, Longanisa, Lila takes on this tasty, twisted case and soon finds her own neck on the chopping block…

Brief Thoughts

I’ve never read a cozy mystery before but I definitely think I want to read more. I loved the small town vibes and all the talk about food. I was constantly hungry and I think one of Lila’s later visits to a restaurant made me start wanting hush puppies. I also really liked Lila’s friendship with Adeema. They felt so realistic! There is a small, underlying romance developing in this mystery and it isn’t explored so I am interested to see what happens with the rest of the series. As far as the actual mystery, my second guess was the answer but I still really enjoyed the story. I don’t know if this is a cozy mystery thing, but the end happened so quickly and I might have enjoyed the discoveries slowed down a little more but I still really had a good time. I’ll definitely be checking out more from this author.

I’ve also read six volumes of manga so far this month! I’m still trying to figure out how and where to talk about them on my blog. It might end up being part of my larger monthly wrap-up with a special post on my Instagram giving my general thoughts. What are you guys reading now? Have you read any of these? Come chat with me!

Top Five Books on my TBR (eBooks)

A few weeks ago, I talked about some books on my physical TBR that I was most excited about. I didn’t include the books on my ereader in that post but there are DEFINITELY some exciting books there too and I’d like to talk about. As always, library books are preventing me from picking up the books I own, but I think about the books on my ereader all the time. These are in no particular but I tried to pick books from different genres so I can offer a mix.

The Poppy War

Without even looking at my ebooks, the first one that comes to mind is The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang. I think this will be everything I love. It’s based on actual historical events, namely the Second Sino-Japanese War. I know a bit about this time period and I think reading this book will be the catalyst to help me learn more. It also deals with shamanism and that is where the fantasy elements come in. I think the reason I keep putting this off is because it sounds so perfectly matched to my tastes. I love interesting takes on historical events and morally grey characters and just generally dark stories so if I don’t like it, I’ll be really sad and start to question my taste in books.

Sister Outsider

Most of my nonfiction is in ebook format so I definitely have to include one of them in this list. The one I’m most excited about is Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde. This is a collection of essays and speeches by Lorde, a Black poet and activist. I’ve read from her before in my favorite nonfiction of all time, This Bridge Called My Back and I’m so excited to read more from her. I have been a little detached from nonfiction recently but I want to get back into reading it. This might be the one to get me back into that genre.

Finlay Donovan is Killing It

In my last TBR post, I talked about wanting to get back into thrillers and a lighter thriller/mystery on my ereader that I think will help reinvigorate my interest is Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano. An author is overheard talking about her new book and someone thinks she’s a hitman so she gets caught up in this world. It just sounds fun! Like Arsenic and Adobo, which I talked about last time, I am hoping for something a little different from the thrillers or mysteries that I normally pick up. I’ve also just heard some great reviews for this story and I think it will make me laugh. That’s what I’m looking for in these warmer months.

The Only Good Indians

There are also quite a few horror novels on my ereader and it is really difficult to just choose one but I think I’m going to choose The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones. This is a horror novel written by an indigenous author and follow a group of men who are being hunted by a spirit. I have a certain idea about what the social commentary will be and if that’s the case, I am excited to see how it is woven into the horror narrative. I am a really big fan of horror that offers some sort of social commentary and I think Jones will deliver on that want for me.

Parachutes

Lastly, I want to talk about a YA Contemporary that I’m really excited about. I’ve seen Ashley from Bookish Realm on Youtube discuss Parachutes by Kelly Yang a number of times and I really trust her taste in books so I’m excited to read this one. This follows Claire who is sent from China to American to live after getting in some trouble. The daughter of her host family, Dani, resents Claire’s privileged background and I think they will end up having to learn from each other. I know that the cover is really cute but I’ve been told it isn’t a super light story and that really intrigues me. I am participating in a readathon next month and I’m hoping that I can work this into my TBR since contemporary is usually good for readathons.

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I’d love to be able to read these soon because I’m just so excited about them. My library holds are still coming through constantly so I haven’t been able to pick up my own books but I’m going to try and use the “deliver later” feature on Libby especially in June during the Clear Ur Shit readathon. What are you excited to read that you just haven’t been able to get to yet? Let me know!

Top 5 Books on my TBR (Physical)

I’m sure we’ve all done it. We are so excited about a book and we purchase it and then other things get in the way of reading it immediately. Whether it’s life in general, books we need to read for review or a project, readathons and book clubs, or my downfall lately, all those library holds, something prevents us from getting to those books we genuinely are excited about. I wanted to talk about some of those books I haven’t gotten to yet but am really excited about so here are my top five (in no particular order) books I physically own that I want to get to. I’ll have another list later for ebooks.

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia. P. Manansala

Browsing my shelves, the first book I see that *really* excites me is Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala. This is the first book in a new cozy mystery series with Filipino characters. This particular story follows Lila who moves back home to help her aunt’s failing restaurant. When her ex boyfriend and food critic dies after going to the restaurant, people begin suspecting her. That’s all I really know but I haven’t read any mysteries this year which is surprising for me but I think this one will really get me back into my normal mystery mood.

Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend

Next, I am really drawn to Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend. I read the first book in this middle-grade fantasy series, Nevermoor, last year and it was such a fun time. I really liked the whimsy and escapism this series has provided me with so far and want more from this world. I was trying to spread them out a bit since I can’t get the third book in paperback until late this summer so that’s why I’ve been waiting to pick up Wundersmith but with the twist at the end of Nevermoor, I’m really itching to see where the story is going to go.

The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

There’s obviously going to be more than one contemporary romance on this list because I am very much in the mood for them but I keep getting library books and then can’t pick them up but the first one I want to talk about is The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon. I mentioned wanting to pick this up in my post about my new interest in romance and I ultimately did. This follows two radio hosts who have to pretend they used to date in order to keep listeners invested in their radio show. I think this sounds like such a fun time and will give me all the summer vibes that I associate with contemporary books.

Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron

I’ll just go ahead and talk about another romance I picked up and am excited for – Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron. I don’t know a ton about this book other than there’s Muslim rep and the love interest is her neighbor but honestly? That’s enough for me. I’ve been keeping my eyes open for some more POC romances and the number of books with Muslim rep I’ve read are much lower than they should be so I figured this would be a fun one to pick up. I imagine myself carrying this book (and the last one) with me to my local beach and just sitting in the sun for a few hours and having a nice afternoon.

The Inheritance Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin

The last book is sort of cheating because it’s three of them – The Inheritance Trilogy by N. K. Jemisin. It’s no secret how much I loved The Broken Earth Trilogy, especially The Fifth Season and I got a bind-up of The Inheritance Trilogy not long after discovering how much I love N. K. Jemisin’s writing. The Inheritance Trilogy deals with gods and mortals and there is a political power struggle and that’s about all I know but I love Jemisin so much, I don’t need anything else. So far, she’s truly taught me that I can love complex fantasy and shown me what fantasy can really be and I’ll never not be appreciative of that. I want to work my way through all of her works but I am pretty intimidated because what I’ve read so far really takes focus and commitment – something I’m lacking lately.

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I’d love to be able to read these soon because I’m just so excited about them. Hopefully my library holds spread out a little more and I can pick them up soon. Does this happen to you? What are you excited to read that you just haven’t been able to get to yet? Let me know!

WWW Wednesday – October 7, 2020

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!

September 2020 Wrap-up

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.

Ratings:

3 five-star reads

6 four-star reads

1 unrated read

Format:

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!

Sam

WWW Wednesday – September 30, 2020

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!

October 2020 TBR

It’s almost my birthday month and time for all things spooky! While I know it won’t really be cool where I am for a while, I’m still in full fall mode and have a bit of a different idea for my TBR for the next two months. I want to read all things dark and spooky while still working towards my goal of getting through my embarrassing backlog of owned books, but I don’t want the pressure of selecting a few out of the many books I already own that fit the criteria.

The solution? I made a list of all the mystery/thriller/horror/generally dark books I already own and put each title in a jar and I’ll randomly select and read as many as I can over the next two months. I do have a couple of reads I’m already obligated to pick up (Find Me by Nell Grey and The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan) and some library holds are likely to come in but apart those, it’s going to be all spooky, all the time.

There is absolutely no way I can talk about each of these books in one blog post but I will leave a list with links to Goodreads to just show all of the options I have in my fall TBR jar.

This is clearly a long list that I definitely won’t complete in two months but I am looking forward to see how much I can knock off. I will definitely update my progress on my WWW Wednesday posts and at the beginning of November so I hope you’ll join me on this journey to get through my ridiculous backlog of books!

WWW Wednesday – September 23, 2020

You might have noticed that I took a week or so off from writing on my blog but things have been pretty stressful and chaotic for me so I just needed some time step back and rest for a bit but I’m back in some capacity now. 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 am currently continuing to read through The Bridge Called My Back which is a collection of letters, poems, and essays written by women of color and deal heavily with intersectional feminism. I find myself constantly underlining and making notes and just thinking about each piece. It takes me a while to get through each piece because of that, but it’s completely worth it.

I am also reading My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell. I am about halfway through this book and it’s really heavy. It follows two timelines – one when Vanessa was fifteen and being abused by her English teacher and the other seventeen years later and new allegations are coming out against the same man. This book does not shy away from the subject matter in any way so I would be cautious going into this but it is very well written and heartbreaking.

I won’t go through everything I’ve read since the last time I posted one of these but I will talk about my last two reads. This is the month of library holds and throwing my TBR out the window so I picked up Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert recently. I really enjoyed Chloe Brown and didn’t think it could get better but it did. This romance has fake dating, an English PhD student, and a grumpy security guard. It’s fun and sweet and steamy and just a really great time. I usually don’t care about romance but something about Talia Hibbert gets me every time.

I was also able to finally read Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender. I usually feel pretty average about YA contemporaries but this one truly surprised me. It wasn’t just about Felix being trans and trying to deal with the aftermath of someone posting old photos and his deadname at school. It’s also about love between friends, romantic love, acceptance, and identity. I don’t have anything unique to add to all the praise this book has been given but just pick it up if you can!

Next, I’m going to pick up Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson because it’s currently waiting for me in the Libby app. This is a mystery about a girl named Claudia who is looking for her friend, Monday, who is missing and no one else seems to notice. I have had this on my wishlist for a while and am excited to get to it and see if it’s something I definitely want to own.

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

WWW Wednesday – September 9, 2020

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’m currently in the middle of three books. First, I am continuing my read-through of This Bridge Called My Back. I only annotate my books when it feels right and this book just feels right. Each piece I’ve read so far is so powerful and I find myself underlining and writing notes in the margins and I definitely recommend it especially if you’re wanting to learn more about intersectional feminism. The pieces also use really accessible language so it shouldn’t be too difficult to get into.

I’m also reading The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan. I’m only a couple of chapters in because I got distracted by playing Mario Odyssey for a few hours yesterday. As always, there’s a lot of action in the opening chapters and I love that. I was supposed to pick up Felix Ever After next but I was really up for some action and adventure.

Lastly, I’m listening to another Arthur Miller play – Broken Glass. I’m only in scene three as I just started it this morning but I’m intrigued. The main character is constantly reading news from Germany during WW2 and she suddenly can’t walk anymore. I’m not sure where this is going to go but so far, I’m interested.

Since last week, I finished three books. First, I finished Trust Me by Nell Grey. This was kindly sent to me by the author and I have a full review scheduled to go up on the 18th but I will say that I really enjoyed the mix of romance and mystery aspects and I am really excited to pick up the sequel in October!

I also finished James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl. This was magical and fun to listen to and I liked the parts that weren’t in the movie quite a bit, especially the cloud people. I also recommend the audio version that has the added sound effects. It makes for a really fun experience. I still haven’t had a chance to watch the movie again but I do still want to.

Lastly, I finished Camp by L. C. Rosen. I got this from my library and I have a ton of thoughts. I will save my rambling for my wrap-up but I think this story does so much. This story takes place at a camp for queer teens and there’s a messy romance between two campers but Rosen also tackles themes of toxic masculinity, homophobia, supportive and unsupportive parents, the importance of queer-only spaces, and the unfortunate reality that once they leave this space, they have to look out for their own safety. There is a fairly descriptive sex scene, so if that’s not your thing, I’d maybe skip but I do think this book does some important work.

I’m going to say that I’ll pick up Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender next for the second week in a row. I definitely want to get to it since it’s on my TBR and Percy Jackson should quench my action/adventure thirst so I shouldn’t have a problem flying through Felix next!

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