Summer 2018 TBR

2018-5-23 Summer 2018 TBR Header

Hi all,

This summer, my TBR stack is towering. I went on a book-buying binge after graduation as a gift to myself. Usually, I try to watch for deals or see what I can pick up second-hand to save money, so it’s tough to get new releases or books I really want; I usually have to wait until I see them on sale or secondhand. As a grad present to myself, I bought a bunch of books I’ve wanted for a while.
Summer 2018 TBR stack

The full TBR stack is pretty massive, so I’m going to talk about a few that I’m really looking forward to reading.

Cline_Ready Player One

Current Read: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

This was recommended to me by a bunch of book club friends and since we have similar taste, I decided to finally give it a shot. I’ve only read the first few chapters, and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it yet. You can follow my live-tweets over at my bookish Twitter! (Goodreads)

Albertalli_Leah on the Offbeat

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

As ya’ll probably know, I absolutely loved Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Even though I wasn’t the biggest fan of Leah, I was super excited to find out Becky Albertalli was writing a book with a bisexual main character. I’ve heard mixed things about this, so I’m really looking forward to diving in. (Goodreads)

Richards_Make Trouble

Make Trouble by Cecile Richards

This was gifted to me but the very first English professor I took a class with as a graduation present; I nearly cried when she gave it to me (the super sweet and motivational note written inside didn’t help matters). I hope the book is just as motivational! (Goodreads)

Atwood_Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I confess, I have yet to read The Handmaid’s Tale. I’m currently reading Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy, which I absolutely love, so I figure The Handmaid’s Tale is a must-read. (Goodreads)

Atwood_MaddAddam

MaddAddam (MaddAddam #3) by Margaret Atwood

I finally got around to diving back into the MaddAddam trilogy after reading the second book for a literature class. I recently finished up the first book, Oryx and Crake, and book three isn’t the book stack photo because it’s currently on it’s way. I’ve really enjoyed this series so far, and I’m looking forward to finishing it up. (Goodreads)

Thanks for reading!

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Spring 2018 Wrap-up and Faves

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Hi all,

I know we still have a little while until summer, but the school year has ended, it’s warmed up and sunny, I have a towering stack of summer TBR reads, and, you know what? I’m simply ready for summer. So I’m wrapping up spring a bit early this year. Here are some of the things I’ve enjoyed throughout March, April, and May.

Books

Dear Martin by Nic Stone
This was our Black History Month book club read, and I’m so glad we chose it! Everyone, including me, really loved it. It offers much the same message as Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give but is a little shorter and a bit more fast-paced. I was surprised at how much emotion was packed into this 200-page book. (Goodreads)

Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam  #1) by Margaret Atwood
I finally got around to reading this, and I’m so glad I did! I sped through this so quickly and just couldn’t get enough. It was strange to read since I’d already read the second one for a class, but I liked getting to revisit the world and get a better understanding of it’s dystopian origins. Obviously, Atwood is an incredible author, and I’m purchasing the third book in this series asap! (Goodreads)

Lullaby (with Exit Sign) by Hadara Bar-Nadav
This is one of the many poetry books my professor had me read for my independent study this semester. I don’t talk about reading poetry that much, but this one really stuck out to me. It tackled grief in a beautiful, expressive, and what I found to be a completely accurate way. I lost my grandmother to cancer about a year ago, and Bar-Nadav did an amazing job at capturing the feelings of grief. (Goodreads)

TV & Movies

Black Panther
Yes, it is as good as everyone says, if you were wondering. I haven’t been keeping up with the MCU since Age of Ultron in 2015; I just haven’t loved how they were handling the characters and overarching storyline. My roommate had been following the production of Black Panther since it was announced, and we had heard such great things about it, so we went to see it the first night in theatres. I was pleasantly surprised at how great it was! The storyline was fast-paced and interesting, and the characters were well-rounded and lifelike. Killmonger is probably my favorite villain in the entire MCU because I love villains with an extensive backstory and convincing side. I could go on about this movie forever, so I’ll stop here, but I definitely recommend seeing it if you haven’t yet (or, if you have, seeing it again). (Trailer)

Love, Simon
I had been anticipating this movie since it was announced, and I nearly cried when I found out they weren’t showing it at any of my local theatres. My roommate and I travelled over an hour to see it, but it was well worth it. I know it’s not a perfect film by any means, and there are a few things I didn’t quite like, but I’m not here to write an extensive review. I did really enjoy it and can’t wait to buy the DVD asap so I can rewatch it! (Trailer)

The Greatest Showman
Another movie I had been dying to see, and I ended up really enjoying it! I loved seeing Zac Efron and Zendaya in the same film, to begin with, and I thought it was a cute and inspiring storyline. Plus, the soundtrack is absolutely great! (Trailer)

Music

The Greatest Showman
Welp, speaking of the soundtrack…I’ve been listening to it a ton since I saw the movie; I listened to nothing else for the first two days after I’d seen it.

Love, Simon
Obviously. I loved this soundtrack! With new songs from Troye Sivan and Bleachers, how could I not? I’ve been listening to this nonstop whenever I’m feeling down because it’s such an upbeat and fun soundtrack.

Mania by Fall Out Boy
I’m not exactly the biggest fan of this album, to be honest, but I’m a lifetime Fall Out Boy stan, so I’ve been listening to it. I only like about half of the songs on it, and it’s definitely not their best album, but I’ve enjoyed listening to it here and there.

So that’s been my spring, as far as media that I’ve loved is concerned. I have a huge stack of TBR books to dig into, and I’m excited to see what I discover this summer.

Life Update: I Graduated!

Life Update_I Graduated_Header

Hi all,

It’s been a while! For the last three weeks, I’ve been working on finishing up my last undergrad papers, projects, and exams. And it all paid off! This Saturday, I graduated from Slippery Rock University with a BS in English with a concentration in creative writing, as well as a minor in gender studies and a certificate in book arts. It’s been a long, stressful, and exciting journey, and I’ll definitely miss SRU. The English department and Gender Studies faculty and students have given me such a wonderful undergraduate experience and I’m eternally grateful.

Grad Photo

(I have no other solo photos of myself and don’t want to post any with friends without their permission, so here’s a photo of my Legend of Zelda grad cap!)

So what’s next for me? This point in life feels so strange; up until now, everything was organized so neatly. Elementary school, two years of middle school, four years of high school, four years of college and…….the rest of your life! Good luck! Trying to apply for grad school amidst taking 18 credits was too much for me and my anxiety to handle, so I’m taking a year off. My roommate is attending grad school, so we’re going to stick together for the next year or two, and I’ll be moving to a new city with her, which is super exciting! We’ll be a lot closer to some major cities, which we’re really looking forward to. Living in the middle of nowhere has been all right, but I’m definitely ready for a little more excitement. Over the summer, I’ll be applying for jobs and grad schools and hoping for the best as we move. I’m hoping to eventually get my master’s degree in information and Library Science and become a librarian.

If you hadn’t noticed, this blog has had a makeover. Now that I’m finished with college (for now), I definitely want to spend more time creating content for this blog. Starting this week, I’ll be posting twice a week—Wednesdays and Saturdays. A review will go up each Saturday, and Wednesdays will be another kind of bookish, writing, or personal post. I currently have a TBR pile of 11 books stacked next to my desk, plus an entire shelf of unread books, an order of new books on the way, and a pile of reviews I still have yet to write. Hopefully, I can continue to create new content here and improve my blogging skills! I’ve also recreated my bookish Twitter account, which you can follow for live-Tweets of my reads and other bookish/nerdy things I don’t want to flood the timelines of uninterested friends with.

As of now, I’m working on rebuilding my queue of posts that’s run out over the course of the semester, brainstorming new content, packing up our apartment, applying for jobs/grad schools, and submitting to literary magazines. Wish me luck! (I think I’ll need it…)

If you’re new here, welcome! And if you’re not, thank you for sticking with me during this journey. The future has so much to hold, and I’m excited to get started!

Review: Once and for All by Sarah Dessen

Dessen_for once and for all

Published: Viking, 2017
Genre: YA
My rating: 4 stars

Description: Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself.” (Goodreads)

Why I picked it up: I’ve been reading Sarah Dessen since 7th grade and no matter how old I get, I always pick up her new releases ASAP.

Summary: This wasn’t my favorite Dessen novel, or her strongest, but I did enjoy it more than I expected. The characters felt a little flat to me, but the double storyline was unexpected and sad. Other than that, it did pretty much what I expect a Dessen novel to do.

Thoughts:
This book takes place in Dessen’s usual world of familiar towns and schools. I’ve always loved that about her novels, because it feels like they’re all taking place in the same time in their own little, quaint universe. I like being able to recognize certain characters or places mentioned in passing, and those things having a whole world of their own in another book. I’m sure there are other authors who do something similar, but this is something I’ve always loved about Dessen books.

As far as the characters, this is what left me a bit disappointed. I read a review that mentioned that the love interest, Ambrose was essentially Dexter 2.0 (This Lullaby) – which I admittedly agree with. I didn’t like Dexter, and I don’t like Ambrose for the same reasons. Many of the characters in this book felt flat or recycled. For a main character, Louna was pretty flat/boring. I couldn’t get much of a feel for her personality except that she was bitter about romance, which wasn’t driving enough. Her best friend, Jilly was, well, pretty annoying. She wasn’t very likable and I didn’t really enjoy scenes with her. However, I did absolutely love  Ethan (however heart-wrenching) and wish we had gotten more of him. He was a much more interesting and worthwhile love interest in my opinion. I was also a pretty big fan of her mother’s wedding planning partner, William, who I thought was hilarious. Side characters definitely saved this one for me.

One thing I really liked in this book was the double timeline. It’s unusual for a Dessen novel, which are usually pretty formulaic. The past timeline as unexpectedly heartbreaking and made me ball my eyes out. (I’m getting this review out of the way so I no longer have to dwell on the tragedy of Ethan any longer.) I definitely don’t expect Dessen novels to be sad – I usually reach for them when I want something light and fluffy. However unexpected, it was a nice change. Something I didn’t really vibe with, though, was the Night on the Beach. It seemed a bit unrealistic and far-fetched. Saying “I love you” within twelve hours of meeting each other seemed a bit far-fetched to me so I didn’t quite believe that, but I absolutely loved the wedding planning stuff. I expected the wedding aspect to be super cheesy but it was actually interesting and often hilarious.

As I said, this book, for the most part, follows Dessen’s typical formula: girl meets boy, dislikes him, somehow manages to keep running into him until they become friends and eventually fall in love while girl balances new relationship and friends with an Important Problem – in this case, the effects of gun violence. I’m big into fluffy romance and I love the way that Dessen’s later novels, this one included, balance the fluff with an issue bigger and more profound. They have a much greater affect on me this way. Despite the fact that this isn’t my favorite of Dessen’s novels, it did affect me a lot more than others. It had me crying on the floor and thinking about it weeks after I’d finished it.

Some quotes:
“Maybe it was better to barrel through life, breaking fragile things and catching on every jagged edge. Neat or messy, calm or crazy, I still ended up in this same place.”

Recommend for fans of: The Fault in our Stars by John Green (if you wanna cry some more, ya know?), Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.

Buy the book: Amazon, Book Depository, Thriftbooks

Thanks for reading!
Find more reviews here.

Top 5 Young Adult Contemporaries

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Hi all,

It’s probably pretty clear that I read mostly YA contemporary. I’ve been wanting to do another Top 5 for a while now, so I figured what better to do a Top 5 about? This is a mixture of both older and newer releases – my favorite YA contemporaries since I started reading YA in 7th grade.

Dessen_What Happened to Goodbye.jpg

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
Would this be a YA list from me if it didn’t include Sarah Dessen? This was the first post-Twilight YA that I read, and it holds such a special place in my heart. It may be partly due to nostalgia, but this is my favorite Dessen novel, and one of my favorite YA books of all time. What Happened to Goodbye is a typical Dessen novel – a teen tries to balance friends and a blooming romance with something bigger and a bit more deep. This one deals with divorce, constant moving, and family life along with probably my favorite cutesy book scene ever. This is a definite must-read if you’re looking for some fluff. (Goodreads)

Albertalli_Simon

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
I might just be riding the Love, Simon hype train right now, but I really loved this book! It was the perfect mixture of deep and funny and awkward. It was so uplifting and wonderful to read book with a queer character that focused more on the awkwardness of the journey than the possible tragedies of it. While I’m still searching for the Perfect Bi Book, I’ll keep this one close to my heart. (Goodreads)

Thomas_The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
This was one of the most powerful books I have ever read. As I said in my review, it has earned every bit of praise it’s received so far. Thomas was able to create well-rounded, realistic characters and a world that I felt I had visited myself. It’s difficult and relevant, and the heavy content is well-balanced with funny moments and hilarious dialogue. This is an absolute must-read for anyone looking for strong contemporary YA. (Goodreads) (Review)

Rowell - Fangirl

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
I thought this book was so cute! I know that it doesn’t quite accurately express what it’s like to be in fandom, but the representation of anxiety with Cat was really important to me. I also loved that it was set in college, which is really tough to find. The way that Cat’s strained relationship with her mother was handled was another thing that I don’t really find a lot in books. This book handled a lot of situations in a different – and, I think, more accurate – way than I usually find. (Goodreads)

Frank_America

America by E.R. Frank
I read this book my senior year of high school and it floored me. It’s focuses on a black teen in a mental health facility after experiencing trauma. Systematic racism in the U.S. is a huge topic, and as a high schooler is was something I hadn’t paid much attention to. From small things like the color of band-aids to larger things like the foster care system, this brought up things I hadn’t considered and was extremely eye-opening. It features a lot of mature content, but it’s a life-changing read. (Goodreads)

These are some of my YA must-reads. Let me know what other Top 5s you’d like to see me do in the future.

Also, don’t forget to follow my new Bookish Twitter.

Thanks for reading!

Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

missperegrine_334x518

Series:Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #1

Published: Quirk, 2011

Genre: YA fantasy

My rating: 3/5 stars

Description: A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow-impossible though it seems-they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.” (Goodreads)

Why I picked it up: This book has been on my radar for a while, but I hadn’t gotten around to reading it. It was required reading for my intro to literary and culture theory last semester, so I finally picked it up.

Summary: This wasn’t my favorite, but I did enjoy it more than I expected. It was a little slow to start, but it picked up about a third of the way through. I also found the world and it’s monsters really unique.

Thoughts:
The world really intrigued me. There was a lot about this book that I found standard for a YA fantasy, but the world stood out as unique to me. I like the way Riggs blended historical fiction and modern fantasy elements. The island and Miss Peregrine’s house always felt both fanciful and a bit creepy, which set the mood for the book itself.

I found story rather boring for the first third or so. Overall, it was a pretty basic “chosen one” story that I feel like I’ve read plenty of times before. However, it did start to pick up once Jacob left Florida. I loved his explorations of the island and Miss Peregrine’s abandoned home. Discovering aspects of the peculiar world along with Jacob kept my interest throughout the rest of the novel and kept me wanting more.

Part of Jacob’s learning about the peculiar world included meeting all of the peculiar children under Miss Peregrine’s care. I liked learning about what life was like in Miss Peregrine’s home, where they had come from, and what their unique abilities were. While there weren’t any stand-out characters in this book, I didn’t find any unlikable ones either.

With the use of vintage photos, Riggs does something else unique here. While I thought the photos were interesting, I’m still not sure if I loved them. I know they were used as inspiration for the story, but I didn’t always like them or feel they were even necessary to the story. They were different, though, and kind of fun, so I didn’t really dislike them either.

Overall, I’m really on the fence about this book. I didn’t quite love or hate it. I definitely think it’s a great read for people who are new to YA fantasy, but seasoned readers may find it a bit to repetitive of common YA fantasy narratives.

Some quotes:
“My parents were always trying to get me to care about money, but I didn’t, really. Then again, it’s easy to say you don’t care about money when you have plenty of it.” 

“What an unchallenging life it would be if we always got things right on the first go.”

“If you must fail, fail spectacularly.”

Buy the book: Amazon, Book Depository, Thriftbooks

Thanks for reading!
Find more reviews here.

Spring 2018 TBR

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Hi all,

Time for another TBR! Thankfully, I was able to get through nearly everything on my Winter TBR. With this being my final semester, and me taking an extra class to graduate on time, it seems I won’t have a whole lot of time for pleasure reading this semester. Still, I’m taking a young adult lit class that I’m so excited for, which means I’ll get to read YA for homework. I’m also president of the book club, which means I’ll have to read at least 2-3 novels outside of class, though we don’t know what until we vote!

I’m writing this a bit in advance so I’m not sure what I’ll have read by the time this goes up, but here are some books I hope to read this spring!

alexie part time indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
I’ve had this on by TBR forever and I keep trying to push it for book club, but it never gets chosen. Luckily, it’s one of the books we’re reading for my YA lit class, so I’ll finally have a chance to read it. (Goodreads)

hilton outsiders 40th anniversary

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
I read this way back in 7th grade, and it’s another required book for my YA lit class. I don’t read a lot of classics, and I think it’ll be really interesting to revisit something I haven’t read since I was pretty young. (Goodreads)

atwood oryx and crake

Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam #1) by Margaret Atwood
Last November, I read The Year of the Flood, the first book in this series, for my intro to literary and culture theory class. I’ve been dying to read the rest of the series ever since, and I decided to get it for myself as a little present when I ordered this semester’s textbooks. (Goodreads)

Thanks for reading!
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