The Coffee Book Tag

Hi all,

To be honest, I can’t quite remember where I first saw this tag (I forgot to favorite the link, oops!) but I knew I absolutely had to do it. Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge coffee drinker (I need at least two cups to get through the day) and I was so excited when I stumbled across the tag.

I got this from abookloversplaylist over on Blogspot. Enjoy!

1. Black: Name a series that’s tough to get into but has hardcore fans.
The first book that came to my mind for this is Percy Jackson. I can’t think of too many series with big fandoms where I hadn’t gotten in to the books. It took me years to read Percy Jackson (I didn’t read it until college) and I still haven’t picked up Heroes of Olympus or any of Riordan’s other series (Riordan himself has a pretty hardcore fandom)

2. Peppermint mocha: Name a book that gets more popular during the winter or a festive time of year.
My True Love Gave to Me, edited by Stephanie Perkins. I have yet to read this, but I see so many themed photos of this float around the internet around the winter season. Maybe this will be the year I finally get to it!

3. Hot chocolate: What is your favorite children’s book?
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. I said this in my review, but this is a book I absolutely adored in childhood, have reread several times as an adult, and would read out loud to my own child if I had one. (Review)

4. Double shot of espresso: Name a book that kept you on the edge of your seat from start to finish
Ya’ll, I just finished reading Winter, the fourth and final book in Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, and it was so suspenseful I never wanted to put it down. Every chapter pushed the story forward and always left me begging for more.

5. Starbucks: Name a book you see everywhere.
Two books came to my mind for this one: The Cruel Prince by Holly Black and A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E Schwab. I’ve seen both of these all over Tumblr and Instagram for what feels like months but haven’t read either of them. One day, ya’ll. One day.

6. That hipster coffee shop: Give a book by an indie author a shoutout.
I think I’ve only read a single indie book/series, and that was All for the Game by Nora Sakavic. Tell me ya’ll remember how big this was on Tumblr circa 2015.

7. Oops! I accidentally got decaf: Name a book you were expecting more from.
An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green. This was one of my most disappointing reads of 2018, to be honest.

8. The perfect blend: Name a book or series that was both bitter and sweet but ultimately satisfying.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. That’s probably a pretty typical answer, but while I was ultimately happy with the ending of the series, there were definitely thing I didn’t love, and definitely thing that hurt to read about.

Thanks for reading! Check back every Wednesday for a new post!

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Review: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

Published: Dutton, 2018
Genre: Sci-fi, contemporary
Pages: 338
My rating: 3/5 stars

Description:The Carls just appeared.

Roaming through New York City at three a.m., twenty-three-year-old April May stumbles across a giant sculpture. Delighted by its appearance and craftsmanship—like a ten-foot-tall Transformer wearing a suit of samurai armor—April and her friend, Andy, make a video with it, which Andy uploads to YouTube. The next day, April wakes up to a viral video and a new life. News quickly spreads that there are Carls in dozens of cities around the world—from Beijing to Buenos Aires—and April, as their first documentarian, finds herself at the center of an intense international media spotlight.

Seizing the opportunity to make her mark on the world, April now has to deal with the consequences her new particular brand of fame has on her relationships, her safety, and her own identity. And all eyes are on April to figure out not just what the Carls are, but what they want from us.” (Goodreads)

Why I picked it up:
I was skeptical about picking this up when it was first announced. I thought the premise sounded interesting, but honestly I had my doubts about whether or not I would actually like it. I’ll admit I’m more tentative with buying books that are written by people who are already well-known, as it’s easy to sell a book that’s not so great by slapping the name of a famous Youtuber on it (we all know this). I didn’t want to buy the book just because it had Hank Green’s name on it, so I waited for the reviews to come in. After hearing a lot of great things and it being heavily recommended by an old book club friend of mine, I finally decided to take the dive and pick it up.

Thoughts:
I wanted so much to really love this book, but I really think I was right to have my doubts going in. I ended up finding this book massively disappointing for a number of reasons. I think that the summary is slightly misleading, April was not a likable main character, and, to be the most honest, nothing happened in this book. However, before getting into all that, there were a few things that I did really like about this book.

One aspect of this book I found totally unique and fun were the Dream Sequence puzzles. It reminded me a bit of Ready Player One in that everyone in the world was able to access these puzzles and work together to solve them. Though they accessed them via a dream rather than VR, they still used the internet, forums, and chats to offer their info and help solve them. Not only was it fun to read about how they solved the puzzles, but I also thought that, in a book that about internet culture at it’s heart, this was a great way to portray a positive aspect of internet culture in a sea of negatives that the book also covers.

I also really liked the side characters, mostly Andy, Maya, and Miranda. I thought it was great the way their different personalities and interests (Andy being the YouTube sort of guy, the content creator; Maya being smart and mature but also totally wicked at solving the Dream Sequence puzzles; Miranda and her science and tech-y knowledge, and also cute nerdiness) all came together to accomplish both getting more information about the Carls and also help April’s growing internet fame. I also found the three of them much more likable than April herself.

The bad guys, the group constantly trying to discredit April and prove the Carls were dangerous, were annoying but powerful. There were definitely moments where I was afraid they would win, which is the mark of the best written bad guys, if you ask me. I also found this to be a great way of showing yet another aspect of internet culture, the good vs bad, this or that political arguments we see blooming all over the internet constantly.

On the topic of internet culture, which I’ve mentioned a few times so far, I will say I found the summary of the book to be misleading. This isn’t a critique of Green’s writing, and may not even be a critique of the way the publisher marketed the book, because I have been known to overlook details and see things in a way that’s, well, off. But reading the summary and things about the book before reading it myself, I thought it would be about April and her handling the Carls. I thought it would be about alien visitors and trying to solve their mystery with a side dish of maneuvering internet fame. It was vice versa – all about April navigating her growing internet fame with a side dish of trying to crack the case of the Carls. I was definitely more interested in the alien aspect, so this was a pretty disappointing factor for me – however, I think this is partially, if not fully, my fault for not doing proper research (and therefore having proper expectations) of the book before reading it.

That being said, I did find the book, overall, very boring. I think this is in part because I was more interested with the aliens than April navigating internet fame, but I didn’t feel like very much actually happened in the book. I felt like it was mostly April switching between complaining that being Internet Famous was so hard, and also being viciously selfish as she tried to become yet even more famous. There were more of her inner thoughts, monologues, and complaints than there were events and actions. 

I think this is the main reason I never grew to like April. I did like her at the beginning, because I love a female character who does not put up with anyone’s crap and does things her own way. But her constant complaining, selfishness, and often outright cruelty took away from this. Because of the way the book ended (which I won’t get into to avoid spoilers) I don’t feel like she ever overcame this or it was really handled properly. Instead of being part of her arc she stayed, throughout the whole book, pretty awful.

I also did want to quickly mention that bisexuality was handled very poorly int his book, which was a very deep knife for me as a bi reader. I understand (don’t agree with, but understand) why April agreed to lie and say she wasn’t bi when she was trying to gain more followers and more fame only because I know that being bi is often not accepted both by straight people and queer people, and it can be scary to be open with it, especially with strangers. But this was later used against her in the book, and then never fully addressed as a situation. She agreed to lie, had it used against her as a weapon, and that was it; it was never really talked about again. I really feel like it was used as a plot device rather than an aspect of her character, and that was ostracizing, and a little hurtful, to me as a bi reader.

Overall, I sadly found this book quite disappointing. I had such high expectations after reading reviews and I was definitely let down. Upon doing research on An Absolutely Remarkable Thing to write this review, I did discover that there is apparently a sequel in the works. Perhaps this one will be better, or resolve some of the issues I had with the first book?

Do you plan on reading the An Absolutely Remarkable Thing sequel? Let me your thoughts!

Some Quotes:
“Now, of course, I know how easy it is to feel like you don’t matter if no one’s watching.”

Buy the book: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Thriftbooks

Thanks for reading!
Find more reviews here.

Spring 2019 TBR

Hi all,

Time for another TBR! Out with the cold, in with the new (hopefully)!

Currently Reading: Winter by Marissa Meyer

My current read is Winter by Marissa Meyer, the final book in the main Lunar Chronicles series. I picked the first book in the series from my TBR jar back in January and have been reading the rest of the series since I loved the first book so much. I’ve been absolutely loving this series to the point where I’ve already bought the two companion novels and two graphic novels, and plan on reading them when I finish the main series. That will probably be the bulk of my Spring 2019 TBR, tbh.

Wires & Nerve volume 1 and 2 by Marissa Meyer

As I said, I’m definitely going to continue with finishing up all of the Lunar Chronicles books. I’m most excited for the graphic novels after I finish the main series though. The style looks super cool and I think a series like this will translate really well to the graphic novel medium. The Barnes & Noble cashier said it looked like a really cool read when I picked them up a few weeks ago – here’s to hoping he’s right!

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

The buzz surrounding the lastest Grisha-verse book has been real, and I immediately got my hands on it when it was released. I’m so excited to read this, especially given how much I loved Nikolai in the original Grisha trilogy. I’ve been reading (spoiler-free) reviews and I’ll admit I’m a bit nervous to read it as it doesn’t sound as like it’s as adventure-filled as Six of Crows, which I enjoyed a lot more than the original trilogy. Hopefully it lives up to my (too high) standards. (Also, how gorgeous is this cover? Bardugo’s publisher really knows how to create some beautiful books.)

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas

Ya’ll, I have been waiting for this book for months, and I am so excited it is finally here! I mean, do I even need to explain? The teaser! The cover! Angie Thomas’s writing! A shout-out to female rappers! I’m also a little excited that I happened to spot a signed copy in the wild. I cannot wait to dive into this read.

I’ll be continuing using my TBR jar after I finish up the Lunar Chronicles, so I’m not sure if I’ll get to all these books or not – it all depends on if they happen to be a random TBR selection or if the temptation is too much and I decide to read them anyway. We’ll see what happens, but so far I’ve really been enjoying the TBR jar technique. You can read about my TBR jar adventures a little more in my past Winter 2018/2019 TBR post and TBR Jar Update!

And that’s it for my Spring TBR! Do you have any books you’re excited to dive into this spring?

Winter 2018/19 Wrap-up & Faves

Hi all,

It’s time for another wrap-up! I don’t know about ya’ll, but I’m ready for spring.

In probably the most boring seasonal wrap-up I’ve done since starting this blog, here is what I have to report about my life: I’ve been working a job I hate since November, playing lots of the new Super Smash Bros. I did take a fun trip to NYC for Christmas with my girlfriend, and I’ve been buying/hoarding/reading plenty. Mostly, things have been quiet here, which I guess is a good thing, right?

Books

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

I have been having so much fun reading this lately! I had my eye on the first book, Cinder, years ago but for some reason never picked it up. I finally snagged it recently, and I immediately ordered the full series plus the two companion novels. I’m currently on Book 4, and plan to tackle the companion novels and then graphic novels directly after. You can check out my review of book one here!

Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson

I’ve wanted to read more Anne Carson for a while and I picked up a bunch of her books for my birthday in November. This was the first of them that I read and I absolutely loved it. It’s a novel in verse, which I hadn’t known when I initially picked it up. I ended up getting totally invested in the story and characters, which I totally hadn’t expected since I didn’t even know it was a novel in verse at first. It’ll be a definite reread for me. (Review)

Animorphs by K.A. Applegate

Okay, let me explain – I read nearly this whole series when I was in elementary school. They were hand-me-downs so some were missing. I’ve been sneakily reading ebooks at work (I work at a call center and if we’re getting no calls, there’s nothing to do), and so I’ve been rereading the whole series as ebooks. I’m on #14 now. It’s been super fun and interesting to reread the series, and I plan on writing a whole post about it soon.

TV & Movies

Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse

I’m here to tell ya’ll that the hype that surrounded this movie was totally earned. I’ve always been a big fan of Spider-Man as a character but didn’t really know anything about Miles Morales’s character until this film. It totally exceeded my expectations from the animation to the humor to the characters to the music. Check out my 5 reasons to check out the film!

Music

Ya’ll, I’ve been listening to a playlist of the same 100 songs all winter. Nothing new to report in this department, friends.

Games

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

This game totally took over my life for a bit. I played it nearly every day and to be honest, I can’t even tell you why I like it so much. And I have been too chicken to fight the final boss, but I’ll get there eventually, okay? I’ve just liked playing all of the different characters (I main Pikachu, Link, and Sheik btw) and experiencing all of the maps and music combos. I’ve definitely had a lot of fun with it so far!



And that was my winter 2018/19 in sum. Exciting, right? See ya’ll next week with another post!

Life Update: Blog Schedule Change

Hi all,

I’m not really sure how to intro this post so I’ll just get into it. It’s been a pretty rough few weeks here for me lately and for a few reasons, I’ll be changing my blog schedule starting this week. I thought about taking a hiatus altogether, but I think I’d miss it too much. Still, I am feeling a little overwhelmed and so I want to back down on blogging a bit. I used to only post on Wednesdays and I’m going back to that schedule, posting a review every other week.

The main reason I’m slowing my blogging  a a bit is that, as I said, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed with a bunch of things in my life right now. Most of them (like working full-time) are things I can’t really stop or back down, but blogging is one aspect of my life in which I can give myself a break. This year, I’ve really been trying to focus on taking care of my mental health, and I know that forcing myself to write 2 blog posts a week when I’m overwhelmed with a bunch of other things isn’t doing anything to help that. As much as I’ve tried to force myself to write the posts anyway, I know it’s not helping my mental health any and additionally, because I rush through writing the posts to get other things done, I don’t feel like their the level of quality I want to put out.

The other main reason is because I’ve been trying to put out job apps lately and I haven’t put as much time into this as I would like. Like I said, I can’t exactly stop working full time, but I’d like to find a job I actually like and that fits into my career goals. When I said I rushed through blog posts so I could get other things done, job applications are one of the main things I’m trying to squeeze in. I want to really buckle down and put out more quality apps so I can get a job I actually like.

There’s also lots of other things happening in my personal life and I won’t overshare here (at least anymore than I already do…), but my mental health needs to be a priority for me right now, and backing down on blogging and finding a job that doesn’t make me hate waking up in the morning are two good ways to help that.

I’m hoping that once (if) I find a new job and therefore don’t have to spend most of my afternoons pumping out cover letters and filling out apps with the same info over and over and over again (it’s not my favorite process), I’ll be able to go back to my schedule of two posts a week.

Until then, I’ll be posting every Wednesday, and you can look for reviews every other Wednesday.

Thanks for reading!

Top 5 YA Couples

Hi all,

Valentine’s Day is almost here, and it’s obviously a perfect time to dive into a sweet romance. I’ve compiled a list of my top 5 favorite YA couples whose love stories will make you swoon. If you’re looking for a cute romantic book to snuggle up with this Valentine’s Day, here are a few suggestions:

Simon & his pen pal (keeping it spoiler free, ya’ll) – Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
By now ya’ll probably know how much I absolutely adore Simon vs. I’ve read it three times, and each time I’ve smiled ear to ear watching this relationship unfold. The sweet emails leading up to the big reveal and that epic kissing scene at the end? Despite Simon’s struggles, this remains one of my favorite, most feel-good romantic reads. (Full review)

Sam & Grace – The Shiver Trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater
Taking it back a few years here, because there is no way I could write a romance list without including Sam and Grace. If you’re looking for a book where the romance starts right off the bat, or you’re into paranormal romance (okay, Sam does happen to be a werewolf) this is the read for you. I read this years ago and to this day, Sam and Grace’s romance is one that I envy. They’ll forever remain one of my favorite fictional couples.

McLean & Dave – What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
In an effort to keep my posts spoiler free, I will not go into deeper detail about why McLean and Dave have one of my favorite romances of all time. But I will tell you that when I first read this, I thought it was the epitome—the very definition—of romance. To this day, so many books later, it holds one of my favorite romance scenes of all time. We all know Sarah Dessen is the queen of contemporary YA romances, and this book remains my favorite of all of her releases, perhaps for that one scene alone.

Monty & Percy – The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzie Lee
When I read this book, I gave me nearly everything I wanted out of a queer romance. Monty and Percy have such an interesting and wild dynamic that changes shape over and over throughout the book and I loved going on this journey with them. It had me begging for one good romantic scene and then, when I got one here and there, it was never enough. Seeing their relationship grow and finally getting exactly what I wanted for them by the end was simply perfect. Writing this reminded me just how much I want to revisit their story; I just might need a reread soon!

Cath & Levi – Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
This is one of those soft, sweet Dessen-esque romances that I absolutely love. I mean, Cath and Levi getting close by her reading to him? Him constantly calling her Cather? Her learning to become independent from her family and learning to overcome her anxiety? Her allowing herself to fall in love? The roommate? This is one of the only books I’ve read that follows college students, and it was so refreshing to read about a couple my age and a character experiencing the same things in life that I am. Seeing Cath and Levi’s relationship blossom as she navigated the strange world of starting college, leaving family, and overcoming anxiety was just what I needed as a college student.

Honorable Mention:

Simon & Baz – Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
I know a lot of people dislike this book (it’s sort of a Harry Potter retelling but not? Very hard to explain) but I personally loved it. I know it’s hit-or-miss with people but I wanted to give it an honorable mention because within this books pages contains some of my most favorite kissing and confession scenes in romance (and clearly I’m a sucker for kissing scenes). And I just had to throw this out there because when I tell you I have them stick-tabbed and rereading them sometimes, I mean it. In fact, I think I’ll do that now.

Review: Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson

Published: Vintage, 1998
Genre: Poetry
Pages: 149
My rating: 5/5 stars

Description: Geryon, a young boy who is also a winged red monster, reveals the volcanic terrain of his fragile, tormented soul in an autobiography he begins at the age of five. As he grows older, Geryon escapes his abusive brother and affectionate but ineffectual mother, finding solace behind the lens of his camera and in the arms of a young man named Herakles, a cavalier drifter who leaves him at the peak of infatuation. When Herakles reappears years later, Geryon confronts again the pain of his desire and embarks on a journey that will unleash his creative imagination to its fullest extent. By turns whimsical and haunting, erudite and accessible, richly layered and deceptively simple, Autobiography of Red is a profoundly moving portrait of an artist coming to terms with the fantastic accident of who he is.” (Goodreads)

Why I picked it up:
I recently read Anne Carson’s Glass, Irony, and God for a poetry class and I’ve been hooked on her work ever since. At a local indie bookstore, I found copies of nearly all of her books, so naturally I picked up one of each. Autobiography of Red was a recent TBR jar pick, lucky as I’ve been trying to read more poetry.

Thoughts:
This is one of those books that I feel like I’ve read just at the right time. There was so much I loved about this book. I didn’t realize it was a novel in verse when I first picked it up, but I ended up getting surprisingly attached to Geryon and I appreciated and even related to most of the themes It’s been a good while since I’ve read a novel in verse, and this book definitely reminded me of just why I love poetry.

As I said, I didn’t know it was a novel in verse until I picked it as a TBR jar read. I bought the book because I was just pulling Carson’s books of the shelf at a bookstore because I rarely see them, and when I did, I took advantage of the fact. I wasn’t expecting a narrative and characters, and when I finally read the description as I was sitting down to read, I realized what I was getting into. I actually got surprisingly attached to Geryon and even Herakles. It takes a lot for me to truly care about characters in such a short narrative (usually it’s only longer series in which I actually get attached to characters), but Carson set up Geryon’s background and told his story so beautifully I couldn’t help feeling a little twinkly of love and appreciation for him, and I even liked Herakles despite how awful he was most of the time. I found myself wanting more of their characters after the book had finished, which is one of the main reasons I know I’ll be revisiting this in the future. (Luckily, Carson did write a continuation, Red Doc>, which I picked up shortly after reading and falling in love with Autobiography of Red.)

There were a lot of themes throughout this book that just hit home for me as I read this book. While I didn’t directly relate to most of Geryon’s experiences, I understood a lot of the feelings through which he navigated over the course of the story. The story largely revolves around Geryon’s feelings of loneliness and navigating identity, coming to a point of self-understanding/acceptance toward the end. I might be biased about this—I keep saying this, but this was just the kind of story I needed when I read it. But I really do think Carson did wonderfully at conjuring up these emotions, and this added depth and understanding to Geryon’s character.

This is just a small, sort of obvious thing, but I also liked that she used a single color—red—to drive the narrative. This reminded me very much reminded me of Bluets by Maggie Nelson, and it’s something I loved about both books.

Now, I could be missing something, but I didn’t quite feel satisfied toward the end. I think that after the time jump is when I really started to become confused with the narrative. I started to feel in a way that Geryon’s changes were a little out of nowhere instead of gradual. I also had a hard time understanding the point of Ancash’s character. That said, I’m talking specifically about what’s within these 150 pages – I have absolutely no experience with the original tale of Geryon so it could be that if I had a more concrete background I wouldn’t feel this way. I suppose I’ll have to read up on Geryon and Herakles, give Autobiography of Red a reread, and find out!

I had a great experience overall reading this. It feels like it fell right into my lap when I needed it, but I also love Carson’s work. I am so moved by her poetry, and this being a novel in verse just added to this in that I was attached to the main character. I’ll definitely be rereading this at some point and continuing to devour Carson’s poetry book by book.

Some Quotes:
“It is yourself you see—it’s guilt. / Guilt? Why would I be guilty about whales? Not my fault they’re in a tank. / Exactly. So why are you guilty—whose / tank are you in?”

Recommend for fans of: Bluets by Maggie Nelson, Love, an Index by Rebecca Lingenberg

Buy the book: Amazon, Book Depository, Thriftbooks

Thanks for reading!
Find more reviews here.