Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Mini-Review Compilation #1

The Fate of the Tearling

This is the final book in the The Queen of the Tearling trilogy and I really enjoyed it! I’d probably rate the books The Invasion of the Tearling, The Fate of the Tearling, and The Queen of the Tearling in order of enjoyment. I didn’t like the first very much, but loved the second, and really liked the third! I thought the plot progression was interesting, although I got confused at times, and I love the characters. I thought it was really nice to see more of the background of the Tearling. I’d definitely recommend this trilogy to fans of fantasy stories.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Meursault Investigation

The three star rating is based on my personal enjoyment of the read, not an objective scale. I would 100% recommend this book to anyone who has read The Stranger by Camus. It provides a fascinating contrast and goes to show that there are many sides to every story. I struggled a bit with the meandering, rambling way it was written, but it served a purpose and it was well-done overall.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Their Eyes Were Watching God

This is another instance where my rating is very subjective. This book is great–it’s just not for me. I struggle with classics and with historical fiction and that’s really why this book didn’t work for me. I also think I would have enjoyed it ten times more if I had read it in a class, as that helps me get the most out of books I wouldn’t have otherwise enjoyed (see: The Awakening and Austerlitz). What I’m saying is, this rating is just for me and stars mean nothing.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Thanks for reading! Have you read any of these books? If so, what were your thoughts? You can also find me on Twitter and Goodreads.

Bookworm Blogging, Readathons

Make Me Read It Readathon 2017

This is going to be my first readathon, and I’m super excited!! I first saw this over at Wonderless Reviews and thought it looked like a really cool idea. It’s hosted by Tea and Titles, and here’s the gist of it:

What is #MakeMeRead?

Look at the books you own, either physical, e-book or ones you’ve borrowed from the library and pick out a few you really want to read, or feel like you should read. It’s up to you how many you pick, personally I’d pick a few more than you expect to be able to read in a week. Example: if you think you’ll only read two, pick out five books or if you think you can read seven, pick out ten.

Make a list of these books on your blog, or make a video, or a Goodreads shelf or post a picture on Instagram—whatever is easiest for you. Then get friends, other bloggers/booktubers/bookstagrammers etc. to vote on which books you HAVE to read.

When the readathon comes along, you read the books in the order of most votes. For example, if one book gets 10 votes—you read that first, then the one that got 7 and so on. If there’s a tie, then it’s your preference. The goal is to read as many as possible.

When is it?

This year the read-a-thon will be running from August 6th through to August 13th. You can start reading as soon as it hits 12am in your timezone, or whenever you’d like.

Remember that the idea is to have people vote on your books, so try and get that post/Twitter poll/photo up as soon as possible in order to give your fellow participants the chance to vote!

My poll is below! They’re all books I own and have not read yet (save for one reread) and you can choose up to three. I’m super excited about this and I really hope I’m able to get a lot of books read!!

Are you participating in this readathon? Please let me know in the comments below! And link me to your polls so I can vote too. 🙂 You can also follow me on Twitter and Goodreads.

Book Tags, Bookworm Blogging

Most Read Authors

So Brittany @ Beauty and the Bean Boots (is that not the cutest blog name ever??) did this post on Most Read Authors on Goodreads and I thought it looked fun! To find your most read authors on Goodreads, just go to “My Books” and click on “Most Read Authors” on the left-hand side. Without further ado, here we go!

Lemony Snicket, 14 books (A Series of Unfortunate Events & The Unauthorized Autobiography)

297671

Tamora Pierce, 11 books (Immortals Series, Song of the Lioness Series, Daughter of the Lioness Series, and First Test) (The cover below is probably one of my all-time favorite book covers TBH)

546113

Kurt Vonnegut, 9 books (The Sirens of Titan; Slaughterhouse-Five; Breakfast of Champions; A Man Without Country; Galapagos; Mother Night; If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?; Cat’s Cradle; Look at the Birdie)

9592

Stephen King, 8 books (Pet Semetary; Storm of the Century; Misery; Carrie; Cell; Nightmares and Dreamscapes; Gerald’s Game; The Green Mile)

155205

JK Rowling, 7 books (I think we all know which 7)

2

And there you have it! Are any of these authors on your top lists? What do my top authors say about me? Let me know in the comments. You can also follow me on Twitter and Goodreads.

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Arrows of the Queen [review]


Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey
Published by DAW Books, Inc. in March 1987 
First Edition, 320 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0-88677-378-6
Rating: ⭐️⭐️

I read Arrows of the Queen for the first time approximately 4 years ago and this was my second time with it. I wanted to reread it so I could continue with the series. Unfortunately, it ended up having the opposite effect. The writing needed a lot of polishing and I’m surprised I enjoyed it so much the first time around, but the plot had probably grabbed me too hard for me to notice it.

The main character, Talia, was kind of a Mary Sue (perfect in every way, essentially no faults), the other characters weren’t very well-developed, and the main romance felt really forced and completely random. I felt like it could have been done without completely and was kind of stuck in for no reason. The pacing of the story itself was jerky and weird with large swaths of time skipped over at random. There were far too many “but little did she know…” moments, which drove me nuts.

On the plus side, the world-building was good, the concept was really interesting, and there were several women loving women!!! I loved the way that the lgbtqia+ female characters were incorporated into the story. Their sexuality didn’t define them, but homophobia was still briefly discussed–it seemed similar to today, where some people had no issue with homosexuality, but others did.

Overall, the book wasn’t completely without its merits, but it just wasn’t really an enjoyable read for me.

Thanks for reading! Have you picked up any books by Mercedes Lackey? Let me know in the comments. You can also follow me on Twitter or Goodreads.

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Policing the Black Man [review]

NOTE: I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion. This in no way impacts my review.

Policing the Black Man edited by Angela J. Davis book cover
Policing the Black Man edited by Angela J. Davis
To be published by Knopf Double Day Publishing Group on July 11, 2017
ARC eBook Edition, 336 pages, ISBN-13: 978-1-101-87127-0

Policing the Black Man is a collection of essays detailing both the history of racism in the United States’ criminal justice system and the issues we face today. These essays were written by various criminal justice experts. The essays are strongly connected to modern issues, discussing recent killings of black men by police and the Black Lives Matter movement.

The essays are laid out in a common sense manner, beginning with the roots of racism in criminal justice and moving forward to where we are today. They are all extremely well-written and, for the most part, easily digestible by the layperson. Some of the material presented was things I already knew, but the details and additional statistics provided allowed me to more fully grasp what has been going on. A decent amount of the material provided was brand new to me–for instance, I had no idea to what extent prosecutors were involved in racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

This book was extremely eye-opening to me, particularly as a white woman of relative privilege. This book provided everything I look for in a non-fiction book, from good writing to fascinating content. I highlighted endlessly, whenever notable statistics or vital information came up. Its only downfall was that a handful of sections became a little too technical at times and I got lost in them. Otherwise, this was an incredibly important read that I recommend to all, particularly those with an interest in racial relations and/or the criminal justice system.

Rating: ✪✪✪✪

Thanks for reading! Please let me know what your thoughts are in the comments! You can also follow me on Twitter and Goodreads.

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Stranger [review]


The Stranger by Albert Camus
Translated from French by Matthew Ward
Published by Random House, Inc. in 1989 (originally in 1942)
First Vintage International Edition, ebook format, 124 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0-307-82766-1
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I read The Stranger at the behest of my cousin, Debbie because she wanted me to read The Meursault Investigationwhich probably doesn’t make any sense to read by itself as it is an independently-written sequel of sorts. I had never read The Stranger and I typically don’t like classics, so I honestly wasn’t expecting much. It’s a short read, so I figured I’d zip through it, read The Meursault Investigation, write brief reviews for both, and move on with my life. I do have to say, I was very pleasantly surprised. (Just a quick content warning for domestic abuse. It won’t be brought up in my review, but it is present in the book.)

Then he asked me if I wasn’t interested in a change of life. I said that people never change their lives, that in any case one life was as good as another and that I wasn’t dissatisfied with mine here at all.

The book is written in first person, which is typically off-putting for me, but it wouldn’t have worked in any other format. I desperately wish I had read this in school because I’m positive there is so much I didn’t pick up on that would have led me to appreciate it even more. The tone is relatively dry and matter-of-fact, which I disliked at the outset. It’s kind of a “this happened, and then this happened, and then that happened” kind of story.

I would have liked to have tried explaining to him cordially, almost affectionately, that I had never been able to truly feel remorse for anything.

Camus starts off the book with the death of Meursault’s mother, an event which seems to have little to no impact at all on the man. As the book continues, it becomes clear that Meursault moves through the world like an automaton: he goes about his daily life with barely a hint of emotions. He seems content, if contentedness differs from happiness.

Meursault started off as a flat, boring character, but he became fascinating to me. He has no moral code, he has no real sense of right or wrong. He’s not malicious, he just doesn’t seem to understand that the people around him feel. He mentions at one point that the deaths of others don’t bother him because he’ll just forget about them. He expects that when he eventually dies, that they’ll forget about him too. He falls into the same trap that many of us sometimes fall into: he cannot comprehend what others are experiencing because that is not what he is experiencing.

I truly felt for him. Is it possible to feel empathy for someone who cannot feel? It’s just a projection of my own feelings onto him. I place myself in his shoes and know how I would feel, so I feel that for him. But isn’t that exactly what he’s doing? He’s placing himself in others’ shoes and assuming they feel (or don’t feel) the same way he does. I don’t know, it was a fascinating concept, and very well-executed. The Meursault Investigation is next on my TBR, but I’ll also probably look into some essays and articles on The Stranger so I can wrap my head around this all a little more.

Have you read The Stranger? If so, please share your thoughts! If not, do you have any interest in reading it? It’s certainly a strange book, but also a quick one to get through.

Thanks for reading! You can also follow me on Twitter and Goodreads.

Not Books, Personal

Road Trip 2k17

So!!! My family and I went on a road trip to Washington, D.C. recently to visit some family. I hadn’t been down in a few years and I haven’t taken a proper vacation in years.


I don’t even want to talk about how much coffee I had during this vacation.


Compulsory Starbucks bathroom selfie! Why am I wearing a flower crown on a road trip? I don’t know.


Obviously cats are the most important part of any vacation, so here’s a handsome one.


We went to the National Zoo! This was the Amazonia exhibit, which was really cool because the animals weren’t fenced in! They were all around us.


I went to Duck Donuts for the first time… and the second… and the third. They’re fresh, made-to-order donuts with whatever toppings you want!


This is Cat #2! He’s an angel and my baby and I love him. His name is Malbec. 💕


I got liquid nitrogen ice cream for the first time and it was so cool???????


Me and Malbec bonding 



We went to a Nats game and their park is STUPENDOUS, but their mascots are a little creepy. This is my mom and I with Teddy. I also met Screech in an elevator, but didn’t get a picture!


My final picture: me and Lincoln (my second picture with him–I got one at Nats park too!). This was taken at Gettysburg on our way home.

All-in-all it was a great vacation! It was so lovely spending time with family I don’t get to see often and it was nice to see a different part of the country for a bit. I don’t travel nearly as much as I’d like to, but I’m hoping to do a bit more starting next year!

Bookworm Blogging, Discussions, Personal

Diversity in Books [discussion]

I’ve been seeing discussions about this going around, and figured I’d throw my opinion into the ring. As a disclaimer: I am a queer cisgender white woman, so while I can speak to some aspects of diversity in media, I obviously can’t speak to them all and hope that y’all seek out the voices of other minorities to get their thoughts as well.

Diversity in media is so, so important. Growing up, I did not see many lgbtqia+ folx in books or movies or television shows. I lived in rural New England in a small town and heard slurs thrown around as insults on a daily basis. Even at a young age, it was clear to me that being gay was a Bad Thing.

I was so sheltered in my exposure to lgbtqia+ information that I didn’t understand anything about the fluidity of sexuality. Even as a child, I knew that I wasn’t straight because I liked girls. But I knew I wasn’t a lesbian because I liked boys. I spent years lost and confused, thinking I was some kind of freak of nature. In middle school, I met someone who identified as bisexual and it turned my entire world upside-down. I still remember the sense of relief that flooded through me–there were other people out there like me, and there was a word for what I was feeling.

Even today, living in a city and surrounded by lgbtqia+ friends, my heart skips a beat when I see an indication that someone may be Like Me. When I see two women walking down the street holding hands, when I see someone with a rainbow bandana, when another woman casually drops the word “my girlfriend” into a sentence. Butterflies fill my stomach and I feel giddy and a smile blooms on my face. I feel less alone, I feel relieved, I feel right in the world.

Growing up in rural New England, I didn’t get to see any of these things. Sure, I had a handful of lgbtqia+ friends, but we were a minority. Most of us were either not out or were getting called slurs behind our backs if we were. Even if we weren’t. Sometimes kids just sensed there was something different about us, and those slurs were the only thing they had to pin to us.

One of the only things that made me feel better was seeing people like me in media. Seeing lgbtqia+ people on TV shows or in books was like the ultimate Where’s Waldo. I was starved for representation and would take any scrap I could get. Most of the media I took in reinforced negative stereotypes, queerbaited, and/or depicted lgbtqia+ lives in an overwhelmingly negative light (tragedy everywhere!). I had to make do with what I could.

Today, I feel a lot luckier. The world is a little more open, I live in a more accepting place, and it’s easier for me to find representative media. But there’s still so much missing! It’s still difficult to find “popular” media that doesn’t reinforce negative stereotypes or depict lgbtqia+ folx as living these sad lives. We deserve happy endings, too. We deserve realistic, healthy representations.

This doesn’t just go for lgbtqia+ representation, either. All underrepresented groups deserve this kind of representation. We all deserve to see ourselves as belonging to the world. Without that, it’s easy to feel lost.

I’ve seen some people say that it’s not necessary to intentionally seek out diverse media. I wholeheartedly disagree. While “popular” media is growing somewhat more diverse, it isn’t just going to happen on its own. Coming from a not-so-diverse area, a lot of my social circle is comprised of white Americans. So a lot of the media I’m exposed to is white, American media. In order to diversify my worldview, the onus is on me to seek out media that provides representations of groups of people I may be less familiar with.

I’m not saying we need to force ourselves to read things we don’t like. But if you like YA fantasy, maybe find a list of YA fantasy featuring people of color. If you like historical fiction, find historical fiction featuring lgbtqia+ main characters. The beautiful thing about bookish communities is that a lot of people love to give recommendations! If you can’t find a list of diverse books that fit your specific interests, put a call out asking for recs or use some google searches or consult a librarian. There is certainly diverse media out there that you will enjoy, but it’s unlikely to fall into your lap in large quantities. If you want to consider yourself an ally to any group of people, you need to do the work to support and understand them.

I also think it is a necessity to emphasize Own Voices in every way. Find Own Voices books, read Own Voices reviews. If I read a diverse book that talks about something I have no experience with, I try to look for Own Voices opinions on it before I write my review and before I form my final opinion. You may think the representation is fine, but maybe you’re not picking up on something that deeply hurts the people within that group. And that’s not your fault, but the opportunity to learn more is still there.

Authors writing about communities they don’t belong to can walk a fine line at times. I agree that it is not fair to expect perfection–of anyone–but if you are attempting to write about something you have not yourself experienced, you need to work to ensure that you are writing proper representation. Research is important, but I think having Own Voices folx provide feedback before you finalize your work is important as well. If you are writing a book about a bisexual woman and you’re straight, get the opinions of some bisexual women! Obviously no one person speaks for an entire group, but getting a few opinions from people within that group can be the difference between a flimsy caricature and realistic representation.

I don’t think I’m anywhere near perfect when it comes to reading diverse books (and that’s something I need to change) and my opinions are not the end-all of this discussion, but these are just some things I’ve been thinking about lately. I think it’s easy for people in positions of privilege to say that diversity is too overemphasized, but take a minute to imagine what it’s like not to see yourself anywhere. It’s easy to feel broken and like you don’t belong, like the world is saying “we don’t care if you’re here or not.”

Anyway, this got way heavier than I was expecting! If you made it this far, I applaud you. I guess my take-home here is really that diverse media has always been and continues to be important to me. Whether or not you feel it impacts you directly, supporting diverse media supports marginalized communities, both by making them more visible to the world at large and by making you, specifically, more aware of them and of their struggles and achievements.

Thank you all so much for reading. Please, please, please feel free to comment letting me know what your thoughts are! This is something I’m passionate about, but as I stated earlier, the discussion doesn’t end with my opinion.

Bookworm Blogging, Monthly Wrap-Ups, Personal

June Wrap-Up

Books I read:

  • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. 4/5 stars, review.
  • Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. 5/5 stars, review.
  • Policing the Black Man edited by Angela J. Davis. 4/5 stars, review to be posted July 11, 2017.
  • The Love That Split the World by Emily Henry. 4/5 stars, review.
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. 2/5 stars, review.
  • The Stranger by Albert Camus. 4/5 stars, review to be posted July 7, 2017.

Average rating: 3.83 stars
Books read: 6

Misc. Posts:

Reading Goal Progress:

This year I have read 30 books so far! My original goal was 35 for the year, so yesterday I bumped it up to 50. It’s kind of my white whale, for the 3 or 4 years I’ve been keeping track I haven’t hit 50 books. This year is the year, I can feel it. I’ve started prioritizing reading again and I’m loving it!

Anyway, this means I’m 6 books ahead of schedule and have completed 60% of my goal, which isn’t too shabby for being only 50% through the year.

Notable Posts by Others:

Blog Stats:

  • I currently have 43 followers, which I feel is pretty good, since I started this blog at the end of April.
  • In June, I had 190 visitors, which is over 4 times as many as I had in May
  • I published 11 posts in June (4 more than May)
  • I had 338 views in June, more than 5 times as many as May!
  • I attribute this growth to connecting more with the book blogging community, blog hopping more, and posting more frequently.

Personal:

  • I went to a Red Sox game with my sister on the 11th and it was loads of fun, even though they lost and we were sad. In a brush with fame, we saw pitcher David Price driving out of Fenway after the game!
  • I FINALLY(!!!) got a Boston Public Library card as soon as I found out that you don’t need to be a legal resident of Boston to get one (I live in Boston currently and still have a New Hampshire license BUT!! my paystub has my Boston address on it and proves I work in Boston)
  • I went on a ROAD TRIP!! My first vacation in years. It’ll have its own post.
  • I went to another Red Sox game with a friend of mine! (If you can’t tell, I kind of like going to baseball games)



Thanks for reading! How was June for you? Let me know in the comments. You can also follow me on Twitter and Goodreads.

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo [review]

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Published by Vintage Books in June 2009
Mass-Market Edition, 644 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0-307-47347-9
Rating: ⭐️⭐️

I have been plodding my way through this book for weeks, trying to figure out how I’m going to properly review it without tearing it apart. I dragged myself through the first 200 pages and then put out a call for help. After consulting with many people, all of whom had already read the book, I concluded that the book was to get better and I would not DNF it. I put it on pause to read Everything, Everything and then continued my way through it. And, well, here are my thoughts.

I think just about everyone has heard of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo at this point. The whole series is famous and the first book has been made into a movie–twice. Somehow I hadn’t gotten around reading it until now. I had been intending to for years, but the opportunity just never presented itself. A couple years ago I ended up getting a copy and immediately forgot about it completely. Recently I rediscovered it and decided it was time.

I usually keep my reviews spoiler-free, but in the interest of discussing all my issues with the book, I’m going to warn you all that there will be rampant spoilers throughout this review. I also want to put out a content warning for this book for rape, assault, incest, and plenty more. It was quite the read.

I’ll start off with the problem that almost caused me to DNF this book: it is almost entirely exposition. The first 200 pages alone are exposition. The first half of the book was, in my opinion, dry and boring and unnecessary. It is a translation, so it’s possible that something was lost here. I understood, to some extent, why so much setup was needed, but in my opinion the payoff just wasn’t there.

None of the characters were compelling to me. I understand books with unlikeable characters, but here the main characters were boring and two-dimensional. Blomkvist was bland and I couldn’t fathom why women were throwing themselves at him left and right. Salander had so much potential as a Strong Female Character™, but just ended up being more like an unrealistic caricature. She didn’t feel like a real person and because of that, she just wasn’t interesting to me. All of the romantic and sexual relationships had no chemistry and felt entirely unnecessary.

Sexual assault was essentially just used for shock value throughout the entire novel. Salander is assaulted multiple times. A graphic assault scene is bookended by sex scenes, which is a huge pet peeve of mine as, in my opinion, it contributes to the sexualizing of rape and assault (a huge problem in media). I really didn’t think I got anything out of the repeated assault except for motive for Salander’s distrust of men (I mean same, amirite).

The plot was in and out. Like I said, it kind of dragged on for a while, but it got interesting once things finally picked up. If the story had been condensed, I think I would have liked it a lot more. After the main mystery was resolved, it slowed down again. I almost wish the entire Wennerström plotline had been left out. It provided motivation and background for Blomksvist’s character, but really took up too much time and space and could have been avoided.

Apologies if this was a little meandering, I’m struggling to get all my thoughts put together concisely. I feel badly for not having much good to say about this book, but I was deeply disappointed by it. I’m intrigued about the Swedish film and intend to watch it, but I do not plan to continue reading the series.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Thanks for reading! Please let me know your thoughts on this book, either version of the movie, and/or the Millenium series at large. You can also follow me on Twitter and Goodreads.