Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Mini-Review Compilation #4

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At the Water’s Edge
cw: domestic abuse, gaslighting, drug abuse/addiction

At the Water’s Edge probably isn’t a book I would have picked up on my own. I got it through a Postal Book Club that my friend Rachel is running, and I honestly put off reading it until the end of the month because I really wasn’t expecting to enjoy it. I’m not big on historical fiction, although I did enjoy Water for Elephants, by the same author. I really didn’t think there was anything in this for me, but I was wrong.

The first hundred pages kind of dragged on for me, but after that, things really picked up! I sat down to read another 50 pages or so, and next thing I knew it had been almost two hours. The only reason I put it away was because I needed to get to bed and didn’t want to fall asleep while reading the end. I finished it first thing the next morning, poring through the last several dozen pages at my local coffee shop. Had it not been for the slow start, I would have given it five stars!

Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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Like Water

This is one of those books that I loved so much I don’t know how to write a review about it. I think all I really need to say is that it’s a queer latinx story with a genderqueer love interest and is beautiful and precious and definitely made me cry. There are so many good things about this. The MC casually realizes she’s bi and it’s not a huge deal and the MC is not only confident about her body, but also recognizes that different kinds of bodies are beautiful in different ways. There are just some lovely messages in this and the romance itself is beautiful and I highly recommend this read.

Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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Good Me, Bad Me
cw: domestic abuse, pedophilia, assault

This was incredibly well-written and conceptually very interesting. It’s about the daughter of a serial killer, who turned in her mother in order to avoid her own demise. It’s a lot of introspection, but even though we’re inside the main character’s head, there’s still a lot of the story missing. Definitely an interesting read if you like unreliable narrators. I enjoyed it, but just didn’t find myself as invested in the story as I would have liked. I still recommend it, though.

Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thanks for reading! Have you read any of these books? If so, what were your thoughts?

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(Covers courtesy of Goodreads)

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Strange Weather [review]

Strange Weather by Joe Hill
Published by William Morrow on October 24, 2017
432 
pages.
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Goodreads avg: 
4.01
cw: see below

Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

A collection of four chilling novels, ingeniously wrought gems of terror from the brilliantly imaginative, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Fireman, Joe Hill.

“Snapshot” is the disturbing story of a Silicon Valley adolescent who finds himself threatened by “The Phoenician,” a tattooed thug who possesses a Polaroid Instant Camera that erases memories, snap by snap.

A young man takes to the skies to experience his first parachute jump. . . and winds up a castaway on an impossibly solid cloud, a Prospero’s island of roiling vapor that seems animated by a mind of its own in “Aloft.”

On a seemingly ordinary day in Boulder, Colorado, the clouds open up in a downpour of nails—splinters of bright crystal that shred the skin of anyone not safely under cover. “Rain” explores this escalating apocalyptic event, as the deluge of nails spreads out across the country and around the world.

In “Loaded,” a mall security guard in a coastal Florida town courageously stops a mass shooting and becomes a hero to the modern gun rights movement. But under the glare of the spotlights, his story begins to unravel, taking his sanity with it. When an out-of-control summer blaze approaches the town, he will reach for the gun again and embark on one last day of reckoning.

As y’all may or may not remember, I went to Joe Hill’s release of Strange Weather a little while back and I finally finished this masterpiece recently. As the above blurb indicates, this is a compilation of four short novels written by Joe Hill. Each novel has an eerie twist to it — most are supernatural in some way and one isn’t.

This collection was an easy five stars for me. Each story blew me away in one way or another. Joe’s writing never fails to be any less than spectacular, he really is an incredible storyteller. Below I’ll go through and detail my thoughts on each story (and also share some of the relevant content warnings). They were all five-star reads for me, so ratings aren’t necessary this time around!

“Snapshot” is the first piece in the book and it reeled me right in. I had a visceral reaction to this one, it had me on the edge of my seat and I could actually feel the fear coursing through me. It was the combination of the tone of the writing and the content itself. The only cw I can think of currently is for memory loss, as it’s pretty heartbreaking in the context of this story. I may or may not have cried at the end of this one.

There was no obvious reason for caution — but a lot of our best thinking takes place well below the level of conscious cognition and has nothing to do with rationality.

“Loaded” was the second piece and it was an intense one, a take on modern gun violence and police brutality. This was also a very painful read, there are a few scenes that I wasn’t expecting and I damn near lost my mind reading them. I actually had to put down the book and message Destiny at one point because I knew she would wail over one scene in particular with me. cw racism, domestic abuse, suicide, alcoholism

“Aloft” was the third piece. I had heard an excerpt from this at Joe’s reading, so I knew a bit about the piece and where it was going. Where it went after that excerpt was kind of wild, though. It went in a direction I wasn’t really expecting, but I enjoyed that aspect of it a lot! This was probably the weakest story in the collection imo, but still very good.

It is odd how much we want to be in love when you think about how much anxiety comes with it, like a tax on money you win in the lottery.

“Rain” was yet another heart-wrenching story. But!!! The main character is a queer woman, so that’s rad. The concept here was really cool too, especially because there was a somewhat scientific aspect behind it (although I can’t speak to how accurate that actually was). cws for homophobia and animal death, there’s actually a somewhat graphic illustration on the title page (right after “Aloft”) that might startle or upset some people, so please keep that in mind!!

Overall, this was such a stunning collection and I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of Joe Hill’s work, as there’s still some stuff I haven’t read yet!

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Currently Reading [tag]

I saw this tag over on Wendy’s blog a little while back and it looked fun, so I decided I’d do it too!

1) How many books do you usually read at once?

I used to only read two or three books at a time (a physical book and an eBook, and sometimes another one thrown in), but lately I’ve been reading ~8 books at a time! I know it’s not for everyone, but it helps me read more because I can just swap out books when I start to lag a little.

2) If you’re reading more than one book at a time, how do you decide when to switch books?

I have a spreadsheet (which I got from Rachel) that keeps track of how far into each book I am. My “goal” is 3% of each book per day, so usually I’ll read 20-25 min (or more, if I’m really into it!) of a book and switch, unless I’m way behind. Then I’ll try to spend more time with that book.

3) Do you ever switch bookmarks while you’re partway through a book?

Only if my first bookmark was something flimsy that feels like it’s going to fall out!

4) Where do you keep the book(s) you’re currently reading?

One in my bag, eBooks on my phone, and the rest stacked on the living room table.

5) What time of day do you spend the most time reading?

On a weekday, after work or on my bus ride to work in the morning. On a weekend, in the morning at a coffee shop.

6) How long do you typically read in one sitting?

It varies so wildly! I’d guess 50 pages, but that’s honestly a wild guess.

7) Do you read hardbacks with the dust jacket on or off?

Off! Unless it’s a library book.

8) What position do you mainly use to read?

Sitting upright, with my legs curled under me.

9) Do you take the book you’re currently reading with you everywhere you go?

One of them, at least!

10) How often do you update your goodreads progress on the book you’re currently reading?

I used to try to do it once a day per book, but since I’m reading SO many books at once, that’s at least a handful of updates a day. At this point, I only update the progress right before I DNF something (so I know how far I got) or after I finish it.


I tag anyone who wants to do this tag!!

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

There’s Someone Inside Your House [review]

There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
Published by Dutton Books for Young Readers on September 26, 2017
289 
pages.
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Goodreads avg:
3.44
cw: statutory rape, suicide

Spoiler-free Review

GoodreadsIndieBoundAuthor’s Website

Makani Young thought she’d left her dark past behind her in Hawaii, settling in with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska. She’s found new friends and has even started to fall for mysterious outsider Ollie Larsson. But her past isn’t far behind.Then, one by one, the students of Osborne Hugh begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasingly grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and her feelings for Ollie intensify, Makani is forced to confront her own dark secrets.

Wow y’all, this was such a fun read!! I wasn’t sure what to expect going into a YA slasher, but I had heard it was less scary and more corny, which is totally up my alley. I’m definitely going to second this sentiment — if you’re like me and love horror but get scared easily, you might like this book. While there’s a bit of suspense and some gore, it didn’t turn me into an anxious mess or anything. I was on the edge of my seat a few times, but mostly comfortable with my reading experience.

The next morning, the entire school was buzzing about two things: the brutal slaying of Haley Whitehall and Ollie Larsson’s newly pinkened hair.

I adored the romance, I’m a huge sucker for YA romance and as far as that part of the storyline went, this leaned toward YA contemporary. I gushed over Makani and Ollie endlessly and felt that they had a pretty healthy relationship. It was also nice to see them interacting with each other’s guardians! I felt like it was a pretty realistic portrayal of how dating as a teen works.

It had been so long since Makani had felt any amount of genuine, unadulterated happiness that she’d forgotten that sometimes it could hurt as much as sadness.

I did have a few issues, which is why this wasn’t a five star read for me. While I enjoyed the writing as a whole, I tripped over several awkwardly-written sentences and grammatical errors. I also didn’t care for Makani’s mysterious backstory. I felt like the reader kept getting hit in the face with it and when it was finally revealed, I was just kind of like “…okay?” Maybe it was just me, but it felt kind of forced and more like filler than anything else.

There is a huge yikes moment at the beginning where the author deadnames a trans character. From what I’ve seen and been told, this was brought up to the author by beta readers and was still put into the final copy. I’m cis and can only speak to the topic so much, but it was an unnecessary inclusion and could have been easily adjusted or removed.

Other than those issues, I did enjoy the book. It was a quick read that could have used a little more polishing. It was nice to see some diversity, although again the portrayals are something I cannot speak to fully. I would love to hear your thoughts on There’s Someone Inside Your House in the comments, whether or not you’ve read it.

(This book features a non-white MC and a trans side character. Please contact me with any ownvoices reviews that you would like featured here.)

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(Blurb courtesy of Goodreads.)

Bookworm Blogging, Monthly Wrap-Ups

November 2017 Wrap-Up

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Books:

  • They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera. DNF.
  • Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich. DNF.
  • The Slow Regard or Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss. 4/5 stars.
  • These Violent Delights by Victoria Namkung. 3/5 stars, review.
  • There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins. 4/5 stars, review to come.
  • The Sea Beast Takes a Lover by Michael Andreason. 3/5 stars, review to come.
  • Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney. 4/5 stars, review to come.
  • Like Water by Rebecca Podos5/5 stars, review to come.
  • Oliver Loving by Stefan Merrill Block. 2.5/5 stars, review to come.
  • Strange Weather by Joe Hill. 5/5 stars, review to come.

Books read: 8
Books DNF’d: 2
Average Rating: 3.81

Movies:

  • 1922 [2017] directed by Zak Hilditch. 3/5 stars, review.
  • The Break-Up [2006] directed by Peyton Reed. Rewatch, 3/5 stars.
  • 13th [2016] directed by Ava DuVernay. 5/5 stars.
  • Lady Bird [2017] directed by Greta Gerwig. 5/5 stars, review.

Movies watched: 4
Average Rating: 4.00

Other Posts:

Reading Goal Progress:

This month was VERY productive for me as far as reading goes, thanks to a spreadsheet that my friend Rachel created. I might give this spreadsheet its own post, detailing how it’s helped me prioritize my reading to get more done! This puts me at 64 books for the year, which is 14 books ahead of my goal of 50 and at 128%. I’m thinking I’ll probably get another 8-10 read in December, I have a few graphic novels I’d really like to get to and I have some shorter novels on this month’s TBR!

Personal Highlights (aka a photo dump of things I did this month):

Thanks for reading! How was November for you? Let me know in the comments. 🙂

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5 Star Predictions

As soon as I saw Rachel post this, I knew I had to do it. It’s a challenge started by Mercedes on booktube. You choose 5 books on your TBR that you think you’ll give 5 stars to. After you’ve read them, you make a follow-up post seeing if they reached your expectations! Here are mine:

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Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

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Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

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The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

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Kitchen Table Tarot by Melissa Cynova

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Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

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(All covers courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

These Violent Delights [review]

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These Violent Delights by Victoria Namkung
Published by Griffith Moon on November 7, 2017
243 pages.
my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
goodreads avg:
3.77
cw: 
eating disorders, suicide, sexual assault, pedophilia

Spoiler-free Review of an eARC provided by NetGalley.

Goodreads IndieBound |  Author’s Website

At Windemere School for Girls, one of America’s elite private schools, Dr. Gregory Copeland is the beloved chair of the English Department. A married father with a penchant for romantic poetry—and impressionable teenage girls—he operates in plain sight for years, until one of his former students goes public with allegations of inappropriate conduct. With the help of an investigative journalist, and two additional Windemere alumnae who had relationships with Copeland as students, the unlikely quartet unites to take him down.

Set in modern-day Los Angeles, These Violent Delights is a literary exploration of the unyielding pressures and vulnerabilities that so many women and girls experience, and analyzes the ways in which our institutions and families fail to protect or defend us. A suspenseful and nuanced story told from multiple points of view, the novel examines themes of sexuality, trauma, revenge, and the American myth of liberty and justice for all.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when going into this book. I loved the cover and when I skimmed the blurb, it definitely seemed like something up my alley. While the book had several positive points, it was overall underwhelming for me and kind of fell in the middle of the road as far as enjoyment went.

Overall, the message in the book was great. It was extremely supportive of survivors from all over the spectrum — the MC often feels guilty and like her assault wasn’t “bad enough” and is quickly disagreed with by the other characters. I also like how all of the survivors were their own people, they had different experiences, different histories, and different reactions. It demonstrates that anyone can be a survivor and that there isn’t one “right way” to deal with things.

I felt like the writing itself could have used some more work. I didn’t feel emotionally connected to any of the characters, and so the book wasn’t as hard-hitting for me as it should have been. There was a romance that felt largely out-of-place to me and I wasn’t sure why it had been included. There was some stuff toward the end that I felt was mostly for the sake of shock value and that added very little to the story, for me anyway.

I wouldn’t steer anyone away from this book if they’re interested, but I also don’t see myself recommending it to anyone. I feel like there are better portrayals of assault survivors out there to read.

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(Cover and blurb courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Tags, Bookworm Blogging

Burn, Rewrite, Reread #2

I’ve definitely done this tag once before, but I saw that Steph @ Lost: Purple Quill had done it and got the urge to do it again!

What you have to do is: randomise your read shelf on goodreads, choose first 3 books & then decide which one and why you want to burn, to rewrite & to reread.

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1. Emma | ttyl | Arrows of the Queen

Burn: ttyl, I really liked it at the time I read it, but I’m sure I’d dislike it now.

Rewrite: Arrows of the Queen, the story had so much potential, but the writing left a lot to be desired.

Reread: Emma. It’s not quite my thing, but I’m not rewriting Jane Austen.

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2. The Glass Castle | Proof of Heaven | Crime, Shame, and Reintegration

Burn: Proof of Heavenwhich my mom made me read and which I’m pretty sure ended up being totally (unsurprisingly) fake?

Rewrite: Crime, Shame, and Reintegration had important info, but if I recall correctly, it was kind of dense and boring.

Reread: The Glass Castlewhich I enjoyed!

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3. Octopus! | The Sirens of Titan | Mockingjay

Burn: Octopus! As much as I love octopus things, this book just didn’t interest me much.

Rewrite: Mockingjaynot that I think could necessarily write it better, but I think some things could be tightened up.

Reread: The Sirens of Titan. I remember loving this when I read it? I was on a Vonnegut kick for a long time in my late teens.

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4. The Horse Whisperer | The Girl on the Train | Paper Girls, Vol. 1

Burn: Sorry The Horse WhispererI liked you, but your opponents win this round.

Rewrite: Y’all are gonna hate me for this choice but… Paper Girls. I just could not get into it but I loved the concept and think it could have gotten me if presented differently.

Reread: The Girl on the TrainHonestly, I loved this. I read it in one day and I loved it.

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(All covers courtesy of Goodreads.)

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Down the TBR Hole #9

The rules:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

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Lily and the Octopus

Combining the emotional depth of The Art of Racing in the Rain with the magical spirit of The Life of Pi, Lily and the Octopus is an epic adventure of the heart.

When you sit down with Lily and the Octopus, you will be taken on an unforgettable ride. 

The magic of this novel is in the read, and we don’t want to spoil it by giving away too many details. 

We can tell you that this is a story about that special someone: the one you trust, the one you can’t live without. 

For Ted Flask, that someone special is his aging companion Lily, who happens to be a dog. 

Lily and the Octopus reminds us how it feels to love fiercely, how difficult it can be to let go, and how the fight for those we love is the greatest fight of all. 

Apparently this is a tearjerker about a dog. I’m totally in. KEEP.

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Vita Nostra

Жизнь Саши Самохиной превращается в кошмар. Ей сделали предложение, от которого невозможно отказаться; окончив школу, Саша против своей воли поступает в странный институт Специальных Технологий, где студенты похожи на чудовищ, а преподаватели – на падших ангелов. Здесь её учат… Чему? И что случится с ней по окончании учебы?

Okay, well this is… entirely unhelpful. BUT, it has a 4.24 star average on Goodreads and the reviews in English are glowing. KEEP.

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A List of Cages

When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian—the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years.

Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kindhearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives…

Rated highly, also rated highly by friends. KEEP.

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Recursion

It is the twenty-third century. Herb, a young entrepreneur, returns to the isolated planet on which he has illegally been trying to build a city-and finds it destroyed by a swarming nightmare of self-replicating machinery. Worse, the all-seeing Environment Agency has been watching him the entire time. His punishment? A nearly hopeless battle in the farthest reaches of the universe against enemy machines twice as fast, and twice as deadly, as his own-in the company of a disarmingly confident AI who may not be exactly what he claims… 
Little does Herb know that this war of machines was set in motion nearly two hundred years ago-by mankind itself. For it was then that a not-quite-chance encounter brought a confused young girl and a nearly omnipotent AI together in one fateful moment that may have changed the course of humanity forever.

The blurb doesn’t catch me, none of my Goodreads friends have read it, and it has an average rating below 3.5 stars… TOSS.

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Good Me, Bad Me

Good Me Bad Me is dark, compelling, voice-driven psychological suspense by debut author Ali Land.

How far does the apple really fall from the tree? 

Milly’s mother is a serial killer. Though Milly loves her mother, the only way to make her stop is to turn her in to the police. Milly is given a fresh start: a new identity, a home with an affluent foster family, and a spot at an exclusive private school. 

But Milly has secrets, and life at her new home becomes complicated. As her mother’s trial looms, with Milly as the star witness, Milly starts to wonder how much of her is nature, how much of her is nurture, and whether she is doomed to turn out like her mother after all. 

When tensions rise and Milly feels trapped by her shiny new life, she has to decide: Will she be good? Or is she bad? She is, after all, her mother’s daughter.

This still sounds very intriguing and Rachel rated it highly, soooo KEEP.

Ok, so I only got rid of one book this time. And my TBR list keeps growing. Oops!!

Previous: Down the TBR Hole #8

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(All covers and blurbs courtesy of goodreads.)

Book Tags, Bookworm Blogging

The Fall for Books Tag

Hey, I got tagged in another thing! This time by Rachel @ pace, amore, libri. I guess it’s a week of tags for me, oh well. 😉

THE RULES

  • Please link back to this post so I can see your answers!
  • Have fun!

One of the first books you fell in love with

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There are a zillion books I could put here, but when I think about reading into the night as a kid, I definitely think about The Boxcar Children. I absolutely loved this series!!

A book you knew you were going to love from the first page

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[heart eyes emoji] Emily Carroll’s writing and illustrations are INCREDIBLE so I knew immediately that I’d adore this.

A book you didn’t think you would love as much as you do

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I honestly picked up this collection of short stories on a whim because the eBook was on sale and it had a Neil Gaiman story in it and honestly it ended up being the best short story collection that I’ve literally ever read.

The character who will always have a place in your heart

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Daine from Wild Magic has been one of my favorite characters for years, since I first read the book. The series is a quartet and I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve read it. I actually might be due for a reread soon…

Character you love on the page, but would never want to meet in real life

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I’m sure I’m the millionth person to say this, but: Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows. He’s such an asshole, but on paper he’s such a loveable asshole.

Literary couple you will ship until the day you die

Y’all I’m so sorry, but… I don’t have an otp. There are plenty of ships that I love, but there are none that I am absolutely burning up about.

An author whose writing style you fell in love with

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Joe Hill! I’ve loved everything I’ve read by him so far.

A book recommended to you by a friend/family member that you quickly fell for too

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A friend suggested the Wool series to me and I think I read the entire thing in around a week… this also deserves a reread, for sure.

Piece of book-related merchandise that you had to own

I honestly… don’t have very much book-related merchandise! My best friend got me a Ravenclaw keychain when she went to Harry Potter World, so that’s probably the closest thing I can think of.

An author whose works you love so much that you auto-buy/borrow their new releases

Again… Joe Hill. And Stephen King. There’s a theme here.

I tag:

Wendy @ what the log had to say
Rachel @ Rachel Reading
Destiny @ Howling Libraries
Kathy @ Books & Munches
Elizabeth @ Mountains of Books