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

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Where Am I Now? [review]

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Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson
Published by Penguin Books on September 13, 2016
259 pages.
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
cw: 
maternal death, anxiety, OCD

Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads IndieBound Author’s Website

Mara Wilson has always felt a little young and a little out of place: as the only child on a film set full of adults, the first daughter in a house full of boys, the sole clinically depressed member of the cheerleading squad, a valley girl in New York and a neurotic in California, and one of the few former child actors who has never been in jail or rehab.

Tackling everything from how she first learned about sex on the set of Melrose Place, to losing her mother at a young age, to getting her first kiss (or was it kisses?) on a celebrity canoe trip, to not being “cute” enough to make it in Hollywood, these essays tell the story of one young woman’s journey from accidental fame to relative (but happy) obscurity.

But they also illuminate a universal struggle: learning to accept yourself, and figuring out who you are and where you belong. Exquisitely crafted, revelatory, and full of the crack comic timing that has made Mara Wilson a sought-after live storyteller and Twitter star, Where Am I Now? introduces a witty, perceptive, and refreshingly candid new literary voice.

I’ve been a fan of Mara Wilson for ages now. Like almost everyone else, I loved her in Matilda, but I kind of lost track of her after that. A few years ago, I ended up following her on Twitter and found myself deeply admiring the person she had grown into. She’s witty, deeply into social justice, and has a take-no-shit attitude that I love. So when I heard Where Am I Now? was coming out, I knew I had to read it. Of course, it took me a while to actually get to it, but I’m really glad I did!

Being a celebrity meant being vulnerable. It meant my face, my body, even my death were for public consumption — none of them was mine alone.

Where Am I Now? is a series of stories and essays about Mara’s life. Each chapter has a theme, usually one that revolves around something specific that she experienced. She covers everything from child acting, to high school girls, to the death of her mother. Somehow she’s managed to capture the perfect mix of humor and solemnity, speaking about grave topics with grace.

There must have been days when I did more, but I have no memory of them.

The sections that resonated most with me were about Mara’s experiences with mental illness, including depression, anxiety, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. While I don’t have any personal experience with OCD, my depression and anxiety both began in childhood and while reading, I kept gaping at sentences that I felt described my past self perfectly.

This ended up being a very quick read for me (two or three days?) and I can see this becoming one of my most highly-recommended books. I think that Mara’s writing is very accessible, and that this is something that can be enjoyed by just about everyone. Definitely pick it up if you get a chance!

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(Cover and blurb courtesy of Goodreads.)

Bookworm Blogging

November 2017 Releases

Obligatory “I can’t believe it’s almost November???” comment because, uh, is it seriously almost November? While I have an existential crisis over the passing of time, y’all can check out the handful of books on my TBR that are coming out soon:

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Almost Midnight
November 2, 2017

Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell is a beautiful gift edition containing two wintery short stories, decorated throughout for the first time with gorgeous black and white illustrations by Simini Blocker.

Midnights is the story of Noel and Mags, who meet at the same New Year’s Eve party every year and fall a little more in love each time . . .

Kindred Spirits is about Elena, who decides to queue to see the new Star Wars movie and meets Gabe, a fellow fan.

Midnights was previously published as part of the My True Love Gave to Me anthology, edited by Stephanie Perkins and Kindred Spirits was previously published as a World Book Day title.

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Future Home of the Living God
November 14, 2017

The world as we know it is ending. Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature on earth. Science cannot stop the world from running backwards, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans. Thirty-two-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted daughter of a pair of big-hearted, open-minded Minneapolis liberals, is as disturbed and uncertain as the rest of America around her. But for Cedar, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant.

Though she wants to tell the adoptive parents who raised her from infancy, Cedar first feels compelled to find her birth mother, Mary Potts, an Ojibwe living on the reservation, to understand both her and her baby’s origins. As Cedar goes back to her own biological beginnings, society around her begins to disintegrate, fueled by a swelling panic about the end of humanity. 

There are rumors of martial law, of Congress confining pregnant women. Of a registry, and rewards for those who turn these wanted women in. Flickering through the chaos are signs of increasing repression: a shaken Cedar witnesses a family wrenched apart when police violently drag a mother from her husband and child in a parking lot. The streets of her neighborhood have been renamed with Bible verses. A stranger answers the phone when she calls her adoptive parents, who have vanished without a trace. It will take all Cedar has to avoid the prying eyes of potential informants and keep her baby safe. 

A chilling dystopian novel both provocative and prescient, Future Home of the Living God is a startlingly original work from one of our most acclaimed writers: a moving meditation on female agency, self-determination, biology, and natural rights that speaks to the troubling changes of our time.

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The City of Brass
November 14, 2017

Step into The City of Brass, the spellbinding debut from S. A. Chakraborty—an imaginative alchemy of The Golem and the Jinni, The Grace of Kings, and One Thousand and One Nights, in which the future of a magical Middle Eastern kingdom rests in the hands of a clever and defiant young con artist with miraculous healing gifts

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of 18th century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trade she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles. 

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to accept that the magical world she thought only existed in childhood stories is real. For the warrior tells her a new tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling hawks are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass–a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound. 

In that city, behind gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences. 

After all, there is a reason they say be careful what you wish for . . .

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Not Now, Not Ever
November 21, 2017

Elliot Gabaroche is very clear on what she isn’t going to do this summer. 

1. She isn’t going to stay home in Sacramento, where she’d have to sit through her stepmother’s sixth community theater production of The Importance of Being Earnest.
2. She isn’t going to mock trial camp at UCLA.
3. And she certainly isn’t going to the Air Force summer program on her mother’s base in Colorado Springs. As cool as it would be to live-action-role-play Ender’s Game, Ellie’s seen three generations of her family go through USAF boot camp up close, and she knows that it’s much less Luke/Yoda/”feel the force,” and much more one hundred push-ups on three days of no sleep. And that just isn’t appealing, no matter how many Xenomorphs from Alien she’d be able to defeat afterwards.

What she is going to do is pack up her attitude, her favorite Octavia Butler novels, and her Jordans, and go to summer camp. Specifically, a cutthroat academic-decathlon-like competition for a full scholarship to Rayevich College, the only college with a Science Fiction Literature program. And she’s going to start over as Ever Lawrence, on her own terms, without the shadow of all her family’s expectations. Because why do what’s expected of you when you can fight other genius nerds to the death for a shot at the dream you’re sure your family will consider a complete waste of time?

This summer’s going to be great.

Am I missing anything good? What releases are you anticipating this month? Which of you have been lucky enough to grab ARCs of these?
(All covers and blurbs courtesy of Goodreads.)

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Bookworm Blogging, Monthly Wrap-Ups

October 2017 Wrap-Up


Books:

  • All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Steifvater. 3/5 stars, review.
  • Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman. 5/5 stars, review.
  • A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland. DNF.
  • Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music by Nadine Hubbs. DNF.
  • The Snowman by Jo Nesbø, translated by Don Bartlett. DNF.
  • At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen. 4/5 stars, review to come.
  • Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust. DNF.
  • Where Am I Now? by Mara Wilson. 5/5 stars, review to come.

Books read: 4
Books DNF’d: 4
Average Rating: 4.25

Movies:

  • Happy Death Day [2017] directed by Christopher B. Landon. 4/5 stars, review.
  • Professor Marston & the Wonder Women [2017] directed by Angela Robinson. 5/5 stars, review.
  • The Snowman [2017] directed by Tomas Alfredson. 1/5 stars, I was going to do a review for this but BRUNCH says everything I wanted to say better than I could, so go listen to this episode on it.
  • The Sixth Sense [1999] directed by M. Night Shyamalan. 4/5 stars, rewatch.
  • Teeth [2007] directed by Mitchell Lichtenstein. 5/5 stars, rewatch.
  • The Hallow [2015] directed by Corin Hardy. 3/5 stars.

Movies watched: 6
Average Rating: 3.67 stars

Other Posts:

Reading Goal Progress:

I only read four books this month, bleh. I need to start letting myself off the hook with DNFing again because I wasted a lot of time trying to push myself through FOUR(!) other books that I ended up tossing. Anyway, that puts me at 56 books, on a goal of 50. I am 15 books ahead of schedule, and at 112% of my goal. #nice

Nanowrimo Goals:

For those of you don’t know, November is National Novel Writing Month. Essentially, the goal is to write a 50,000 page novel in one month. This ends up being 1,667 words per day. I’ve participated in Nanowrimo a few times, but have never finished. This year, I’m gonna play it a little differently. I intend to write 50,000 words, but I’m going to do a mix of fiction and non-fiction pieces. It’s essentially going to end up being a short story collection and/or a set of essays. I’m just going to go with the flow and try to write 50,000 pages of whatever I can by the end of November!

You can join me on the Nanowrimo website and also on Twitter, where I’ll surely be livetweeting my adventure.

Notable Posts by Others:

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








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

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Book Tags, Bookworm Blogging

Down the TBR Hole #8

It’s Saturday and you know what that means — time to tackle my TBR list again.

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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Mostly Void, Partially Stars

From the authors of the New York Times bestselling novel Welcome to Night Vale and the creators of the #1 international podcast of the same name, comes a collection of episodes from Season One of their hit podcast, featuring an introduction by the authors, behind-the-scenes commentary, and original illustrations.

Okay, I don’t usually do this, but I mostly just want this as a collector’s item. I think the covers of all the WTNV books are gorgeous and I just want them to sit on my shelf and look pretty. KEEP.

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The Princess Saves Herself in this One

A poetry collection divided into four different parts: the princess, the damsel, the queen, & you. the princess, the damsel, & the queen piece together the life of the author in three stages, while you serves as a note to the reader & all of humankind. Explores life & all of its love, loss, grief, healing, empowerment, & inspirations.

I don’t know how I don’t have this one yet. KEEP.

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Food: The Good Girl’s Drug

Sunny Sea Gold started fighting a binge eating disorder in her teens. But most books on the topic were aimed at older women, women she had a hard time relating to. Calling on top psychiatrists, nutritionists, and fitness experts, Sunny offers real advice to a new generation fighting an age-old war. With humor and compassion from someone who’s seen it all, Food: The Good Girl’s Drug is about experiences shared by many women-whether they’ve been struggling with compulsive overeating their whole lives, or have just admitted to themselves, that yes, it’s more than just a bad habit.

I have a complicated relationship with both food and my body, and I kind of don’t want to read this atm. TOSS.

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Alexander Hamilton

In the first full-length biography of Alexander Hamilton in decades, Ron Chernow tells the riveting story of a man who overcame all odds to shape, inspire, and scandalize the newborn America. According to historian Joseph Ellis, Alexander Hamilton is “a robust full-length portrait, in my view the best ever written, of the most brilliant, charismatic and dangerous founder of them all.”

Because I love Hamilton (the musical). KEEP.

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Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

What separates your mind from an animal’s? Maybe you think it’s your ability to design tools, your sense of self, or your grasp of past and future—all traits that have helped us define ourselves as the planet’s preeminent species. But in recent decades, these claims have eroded, or even been disproven outright, by a revolution in the study of animal cognition. Take the way octopuses use coconut shells as tools; elephants that classify humans by age, gender, and language; or Ayumu, the young male chimpanzee at Kyoto University whose flash memory puts that of humans to shame. Based on research involving crows, dolphins, parrots, sheep, wasps, bats, whales, and of course chimpanzees and bonobos, Frans de Waal explores both the scope and the depth of animal intelligence. He offers a firsthand account of how science has stood traditional behaviorism on its head by revealing how smart animals really are, and how we’ve underestimated their abilities for too long.

People often assume a cognitive ladder, from lower to higher forms, with our own intelligence at the top. But what if it is more like a bush, with cognition taking different forms that are often incomparable to ours? Would you presume yourself dumber than a squirrel because you’re less adept at recalling the locations of hundreds of buried acorns? Or would you judge your perception of your surroundings as more sophisticated than that of a echolocating bat? De Waal reviews the rise and fall of the mechanistic view of animals and opens our minds to the idea that animal minds are far more intricate and complex than we have assumed. De Waal’s landmark work will convince you to rethink everything you thought you knew about animal—and human—intelligence.

It’s been ages since I read non-fiction, but this is TOTALLY my jam. KEEP.

Okay, so I didn’t do great this week. I still managed to get rid of one book, which is better than none. Next week I’ll have to put the pedal to the metal.

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(All covers and blurbs courtesy of goodreads.)

Bookworm Blogging, Personal

Joe Hill Book Launch [recap]

Good morning, everyone! I’m practically falling over my keyboard after last night’s adventure, I was in such a buzz that it took me forever to fall asleep. Anyway! Onto the exciting stuff.

Last week, I was scrolling through Facebook, when I happened to see an event for Joe Hill’s book launch of Strange Weather. It was taking place at Brookline Booksmith, a local bookstore (probably my new favorite place). I had an appointment beforehand, so I wasn’t sure I would make it over in time–in part because I didn’t know what kind of turnout to expect, and whether I’d make it inside or not. Luckily, I managed to get in and had plenty of time to buy a copy of Strange Weather and to settle into my seat in the back row.


Joe’s introduction was hysterical–the employee told the story of the first time they had met him and then he stepped up to the mic. I could barely see him from where I was seated, but he was such a dynamic, animated speaker. He read an excerpt from the story “Aloft” (a graphic piece that drew some laughter from the crowd) and then spent most of the hour doing a Q&A. He was kind to all of the question askers, and told plenty of funny stories, along with giving serious answers. Some highlights:

  • On reading as an author: “If you’re not consumed with jealousy, you’re not reading the right things.”
  • When asked for writing advice (paraphrased): Don’t sit down to write a novel, sit down to write one good scene. Or one good sentence. Build up from there.
  • When asked about the shared universe theories: “Some people think this means that all these stories take place in the same universe. What it really means is my dad and me both like to fuck around.”
  • A question-asker mentioned that King name-dropped him in Sleeping Beauties: “Did he?! I haven’t read it yet!”


All-in-all it was a great experience! After the reading, everyone lined up for autographs and photos. I told him that I was blown away the first time I opened up Locke & Key because half my family lives in Nahant, MA and he responded, “oh yeah, it’s literally Nahant.” For those of you who don’t know, Locke & Key takes place on the fictional island of Lovecraft, MA and Lovecraft very closely resembles the town my mom grew up in. I’ll put some side-by-side photos below for comparison. You’ll see what I mean, I saw the resemblance as soon as I opened the comic. 

In addition the the aerial shot, inspiration was also drawn from Swallow Cave, and from the old bunkers scattered around the island. I’ll have to get some more comparison shots at some point.


Anyway, this was an incredible experience and I’m so glad I made it. I’m definitely going to keep my eye open for more events at Brookline Booksmith (Mark Z. Danielewski is doing one in a couple weeks and I’m stoked!!!). Have any of you attended a bookish event like this? What was it like? Let me know in the comments!


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Book Tags, Bookworm Blogging

Down the TBR Hole #6

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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Exit, Pursued by a Bear

Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a tiny town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of… she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.

In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.

I’ve heard lots of good things about this and it’s right up my alley. KEEP.

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Warrior Goddess Training

It’s no secret that women today are juggling a lot. We now make up more than half the workforce in the United States and are busier than ever with partners, children, family and friends, often putting the needs of others ahead of our own.

And if we feel overwhelmed by it all or fall short of perfection, many of us have learned to be our own worst critic rather than our own best friend.

In Warrior Goddess Training, bestselling author HeatherAsh Amara provides the antidote to the flawed idea that you are not enough.

Direct, honest, and unapologetic, Amara will show you how to release the layers of expectations to finally see yourself for the authentic, perceptive, perfect woman you really are.

If you don’t love and honor yourself with every fiber of your being, if you struggle with owning your power and passion, if you could use more joyful play and simple presence in your life, then it is time for an inner revolution.

It is time to claim your Warrior Goddess energy.

Drawing on the wisdom from Buddhism, Toltec wisdom, and ancient Earth-based goddess spirituality, the Warrior Goddess path includes personal stories, rituals, and exercises that will encourage and inspire you to become the true warrior goddess you are meant to be.

I’m just not feeling this right now. TOSS.

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

I’ve heard such bad things about this and wanted to read it anyway to see, but why subject myself to that? TOSS.

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Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Sophisticated, witty, and ingeniously convincing, Susanna Clarke’s magisterial novel weaves magic into a flawlessly detailed vision of historical England. She has created a world so thoroughly enchanting that eight hundred pages leave readers longing for more.

English magicians were once the wonder of the known world, with fairy servants at their beck and call; they could command winds, mountains, and woods. But by the early 1800s they have long since lost the ability to perform magic. They can only write long, dull papers about it, while fairy servants are nothing but a fading memory.

But at Hurtfew Abbey in Yorkshire, the rich, reclusive Mr Norrell has assembled a wonderful library of lost and forgotten books from England’s magical past and regained some of the powers of England’s magicians. He goes to London and raises a beautiful young woman from the dead. Soon he is lending his help to the government in the war against Napoleon Bonaparte, creating ghostly fleets of rain-ships to confuse and alarm the French.

All goes well until a rival magician appears. Jonathan Strange is handsome, charming, and talkative-the very opposite of Mr Norrell. Strange thinks nothing of enduring the rigors of campaigning with Wellington’s army and doing magic on battlefields. Astonished to find another practicing magician, Mr Norrell accepts Strange as a pupil. But it soon becomes clear that their ideas of what English magic ought to be are very different. For Mr Norrell, their power is something to be cautiously controlled, while Jonathan Strange will always be attracted to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic. He becomes fascinated by the ancient, shadowy figure of the Raven King, a child taken by fairies who became king of both England and Faerie, and the most legendary magician of all. Eventually Strange’s heedless pursuit of long-forgotten magic threatens to destroy not only his partnership with Norrell, but everything that he holds dear.

I still can’t believe I haven’t read this yet. The premise is super intriguing and I love the cover! KEEP.

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Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers

Lillian Faderman tells the compelling story of lesbian life in the 20th century, from the early 1900s to today’s diverse lifestyles. Using journals, unpublished manuscripts, songs, news accounts, novels, medical literature, and numerous interviews, she relates an often surprising narrative of lesbian life.

The reviews make it seem not very well-written and not very intersectional. I think I’ll put this one aside for now. TOSS.

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History of Madness

History of Madness begins in the Middle Ages with vivid descriptions of the exclusion and confinement of lepers. Why, Foucault asks, when the leper houses were emptied at the end of the Middle Ages, were they turned into places of confinement for the mad? Why, within the space of several months in 1656, was one out of every hundred people in Paris confined?

Shifting brilliantly from Descartes and early Enlightenment thought to the founding of the Hôpital Général in Paris and the work of early psychiatrists Philippe Pinel and Samuel Tuke, Foucault focuses throughout, not only on scientific and medical analyses of madness, but also on the philosophical and cultural values attached to the mad. He also urges us to recognize the creative and liberating forces that madness represents, brilliantly drawing on examples from Goya, Nietzsche, Van Gogh and Artaud.

Foucault can be difficult to read, but I really want to try to make it through this one. KEEP.

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The Girls

Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

Hmm, there are a lot of conflicting reviews on GR. I think I’m gonna pass on this one for now. TOSS.

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Year of Yes

The mega-talented creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and executive producer of How to Get Away With Murder chronicles how saying YES for one year changed her life―and how it can change yours, too.

With three hit shows on television and three children at home, the uber-talented Shonda Rhimes had lots of good reasons to say NO when an unexpected invitation arrived. Hollywood party? No. Speaking engagement? No. Media appearances? No.

And there was the side-benefit of saying No for an introvert like Shonda: nothing new to fear.

Then Shonda’s sister laid down a challenge: just for one year, try to say YES to the unexpected invitations that come your way. Shonda reluctantly agreed―and the result was nothing short of transformative. In Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes chronicles the powerful impact saying yes had on every aspect of her life―and how we can all change our lives with one little word. Yes.

Also a lot of conflicting reviews! This just isn’t appealing to me like it did when I originally added it. TOSS.

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Where Am I Now?

Mara Wilson has always felt a little young and a little out of place: as the only child on a film set full of adults, the first daughter in a house full of boys, the sole clinically depressed member of the cheerleading squad, a valley girl in New York and a neurotic in California, and one of the few former child actors who has never been in jail or rehab. Tackling everything from how she first learned about sex on the set of Melrose Place, to losing her mother at a young age, to getting her first kiss (or was it kisses?) on a celebrity canoe trip, to not being “cute” enough to make it in Hollywood, these essays tell the story of one young woman’s journey from accidental fame to relative (but happy) obscurity. But they also illuminate a universal struggle: learning to accept yourself, and figuring out who you are and where you belong. Exquisitely crafted, revelatory, and full of the crack comic timing that has made Mara Wilson a sought-after live storyteller and Twitter star, Where Am I Now? introduces a witty, perceptive, and refreshingly candid new literary voice.

I love Mara Wilson on Twitter and I can’t believe I STILL haven’t read this yet! I literally just went and put it on hold at the library in order to make sure I read it. KEEP.

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100 Days of Cake

There are only three things that can get seventeen-year-old Molly Byrne out of bed these days: her job at FishTopia, the promise of endless episodes of Golden Girls, and some delicious lo mien. You see, for the past two years, Molly’s been struggling with something more than your usual teenage angst. Her shrink, Dr. Brooks isn’t helping much, and neither is her mom who is convinced that baking the perfect cake will cure Molly of her depression—as if cake can magically make her rejoin the swim team, get along with her promiscuous sister, or care about the SATs.

Um, no. Never going to happen.

But Molly plays along, stomaching her mother’s failed culinary experiments, because, whatever—as long as it makes someone happy, right? Besides, as far as Molly’s concerned, hanging out with Alex at the rundown exotic fish store makes life tolerable enough. Even if he does ask her out every…single…day. But—sarcastic drum roll, please—nothing can stay the same forever. When Molly finds out FishTopia is turning into a bleak country diner, her whole life seems to fall apart at once. Soon she has to figure out what—if anything—is worth fighting for.

This sounds like it COULD be okay, but I just saw a review saying it contains some girl-on-girl hate and I’m not about that. TOSS.

Anyway, dang! I managed to cull SIX books from my list, which I think is a record for me. I’m proud of myself for managing to be so ruthless today. Have y’all cleaned out your TBRs lately?

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(All blurbs and covers courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Fen [review]


Fen by Daisy Jonhson
Published by Graywolf Press on May 2, 2017
208 pages.
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
cw:
eating disorders, pedophilia, incest

Goodreads IndieBound | Author’s Website

Daisy Johnson’s Fen, set in the fenlands of England, transmutes the flat, uncanny landscape into a rich, brooding atmosphere. From that territory grow stories that blend folklore and restless invention to turn out something entirely new. Amid the marshy paths of the fens, a teenager might starve herself into the shape of an eel. A house might fall in love with a girl and grow jealous of her friend. A boy might return from the dead in the guise of a fox.

Out beyond the confines of realism, the familiar instincts of sex and hunger blend with the shifting, unpredictable wild as the line between human and animal is effaced by myth and metamorphosis. With a fresh and utterly contemporary voice, Johnson lays bare these stories of women testing the limits of their power to create a startling work of fiction.

I saw a staff member recommendation in a local bookstore that this was similar to Karen Russell’s work. Vampires in the Lemon Grove is my favorite short story collection, so I was really stoked to get my hands on this! The library didn’t have a copy, but ordered it shortly after I sent in a request. I was delighted to get it. I think all of the versions have beautiful covers and I was contemplating buying one of each if this ended up being a 5-star read. As is, I still may end up picking up a copy of my own.

Watch out for the affection. It comes at odd, awful moments, mainly when he is not there: brushing your teeth, opening the door for a parcel, at the photocopying machine. There is nothing much about him you can see which would do this to you. Affection, you tell your housemates, is a sort of sickness.

Johnson has such a smooth, unique voice. Her writing is quite beautiful and her prose borders on poetry. Even when it comes to disturbing content, she writes with a soothing cadence. I have absolutely no complaints as far as her writing goes, but the stories themselves just weren’t for me. There were a few that I really liked, but most of them didn’t do much to capture me. Below, I’ve provided a list of the stories included and my rating for each:

Starver   ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Blood Rites   ⭐️⭐️⭐️
A Bruise the Shape and Size of a Door Handle   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
How to Lose It   ⭐️⭐️
How to Fuck a Man You Don’t Know   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Language   ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Superstition of Albatross   ⭐️⭐️⭐️
A Heavy Devotion   ⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Scattering   ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Birthing Stones   ⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Cull   ⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Lighthouse Keeper   ⭐️⭐️⭐️

If the blurb intrigues you, I would absolutely recommend that you read this. While it didn’t quite work for me, I think that this is a collection that is well-worth reading if you like the concepts hinted at. Although, do keep in mind the CWs I posted above, as there are some sensitive topics covered. If you do check it out–or if you’ve read it already–please let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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(Blurb courtesy of Goodreads.)

Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Raven Boys [review]


The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven Cycle #1)
Published by Scholastic Press on September 18, 2012
409 pages.
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
cw: 
domestic abuse, self-harm

Goodreads IndieBound Author’s Website

So I am finally jumping on the TRC train! I first read The Raven Boys in late 2013, I believe. I had gotten it as a gift and was on winter break from college–winter break is such a good time to get reading done and I miss it so much–and I just remember devouring it. Quite a while later, I picked up The Dream Thieves and I just… couldn’t get it into it. Mostly because it had been so long since I had read TRB that I could barely remember a thing! So I DNFed it and haven’t picked up any TRC books since.

For a while now, I’ve been thinking that the series deserved another shot from me. My bff Grace mentioned that she wanted to reread the series (she adores it), so I suggested a buddy read! And here we are. I’ve completed the first book, and it will probably be a couple more weeks until we move onto the second. In the meantime, here’s my review!

I can’t believe I forgot how wonderful this book is. Everything Steifvater does in it is incredible. The prose itself, the dialogue, the characters, the settings. It all just comes together to create this beautiful experience. I tore through the book in just a couple days and loved every second of it.

Even when they were quiet, people really were the noisiest animals.

Okay, y’all know I’m not usually one to gush, but I neeeed to gush about these boys. Adam is honestly perfect and I want to shrink him down and put him in my pocket and keep him safe from literally everything in this cruel world. Ronan is a Bad Boy and sulky and dark and loves his baby bird and is basically everything high school me would have loved. Gansey is living in his own world and somehow manages to offend everyone while also being a precious angel. And Noah is darling and cute and sad and I adore him. (Sidenote: There is NO WAY Adam does not know how to drive a stick shift and I refuse to believe that he doesn’t.)

Sometimes, Gansey felt like his live was made up of a dozen hours that he could never forget.

Of course Blue is the best character out of all of them. Part of me is like “you should try to be critical, is she a Mary Sue?” and the rest of me is like “who cares, she’s awesome and we deserve more female characters like her.” I want to say Blue reminds me of me, but she’s like a way cooler version of me, kind of. Anyway. Blue. She’s great.

Gansey looked up to them, and she saw in his face that he loved this place… She recognized the strange happiness that came from loving something without knowing why you did, that strange happiness that was sometimes so big it felt like sadness. It was the way she felt when she looked at the stars.

I cannot recommend this book enough. Stiefvater’s writing is just gorgeous and even if the story isn’t your thing, I think anyone can appreciate the talent she has. It’s worth a shot, anyway. To be honest, though, I didn’t love the ending. It was too abrupt and a little confusing to me–and I think I felt the same way the first time around. But I’ll see how it ties in to the rest of the series before I make a full judgment.

Okay, TRC fans: please let’s discuss. I am all about this book right now. And people who haven’t read TRC: read it so we can discuss, okay?

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Book Reviews

Emma in the Night [review]

**Note: This book was given to me by St. Martin’s Press as part of a sweepstakes. This in no way impacts my review. Review was written in May of 2017.


Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker
To be published by St. Martin’s Press on August 8, 2017
Advance Readers’ Edition, 305 pages, ISBN-13: 978-1-250-14143-9

I honestly do not know where to begin with this book. I entered the sweepstakes to win a copy of the ARC of Emma in the Night on a whim. The cover was enticing, the plot looked interesting. Hey, why not. I had not read anything else by Wendy Walker and I had not heard anything about this release yet. Boy, was that a good decision. This is an incredible read that could otherwise have slipped me by.

Emma in the Night is a story about a girl and her sister, who vanish without a trace. Three years later, the younger sister reappears. She seems willing to tell the authorities everything she knows about their disappearances. There’s a lot going on, however, that she isn’t willing to talk about. The story is told from the perspectives of Cass, one of the sisters, and Dr. Walker, an FBI agent who can see deeper than anyone else working the case.

At first, I found the disjointed storytelling to be confusing and frustrating. We were just getting bits and pieces of the story from Cass herself or secondhand from Dr. Walker’s recounted conversations with Cass. Right off the bat, the writing style made me feel really lost in the story. As things progressed, I realized how intentional (not to mention essential) this was. Cass is an unreliable narrator, and makes it clear that she only feels the need to reveal things that will help her cause: finding her sister.

The characters were fascinating, complex, and well-developed. The plot and the writing were phenomenal. I could not make myself put this book down. I loved watching the story unravel, seeing things make both more and less sense as we progressed until it all came together with an impressive flourish. I knew there were twists coming, but I truly had no idea what was in store for me.

Wendy Walker blew this out of the water. Her writing is immersive and carefully crafted. I cannot emphasize enough how much I enjoyed this book–and I’m sure it will be great as a re-read as well. I’d recommend it to all who enjoy a good plot twist, but particularly to fans of thrillers and crime novels.

 

Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

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