Read for You

Something I struggle with as a reader is juggling my TBR. There’s always the constant pressure to read the new releases that everyone is talking about, but then there are all of last year’s releases that you never got to. Then there are the classics that you’re constantly feeling guilted into reading because if you don’t, you’re not a “real” reader.

books in black wooden book shelf

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There’s a huge chunk of books on my shelf that I haven’t read, and it overwhelms me to no end. There’s no reason this should stress me out so much; after all, there are millions of books I’ve never read and millions more I will never get to. It’s nearly impossible to keep up with every single trending release unless you basically shirk all other duties and responsibilities. Readers, we expect too much from ourselves.

And this is what inevitably puts me into a reading slump, because I put too many books on my plate and can’t keep up. I’m sorry, but I can’t read six books at the same time. I can’t read thirty books per month.

What ends up happening is I tell myself, “Here’s an ARC I just received, I need to make this my priority so I can review it.” Then I say, “Here’s a new release that everyone has been talking about. I need to make this a priority so I can stay relevant.” Then I say, “Oh wow, here’s that book I bought 3 years ago that sounded so interesting. I’m finally going to tackle my back-list books and read it this month!”

Until I’ve got 12 ARCs, 3 new releases and about 46 back-list books on my immediate TBR. This cannot keep happening to me.

white book beside white mug

Photo by Ekrulila on Pexels.com

I’m going to read what I want, and if that means I’m going to binge-read every book that Brandon Sanderson has ever written, then that’s what I’ll do. If that means I want to read trashy Wattpad books for a month, I’m going to do it.

Listen, I’m not saying don’t prioritize those ARCs because I know you made a commitment to reviewing it. I’m not saying don’t read all the new releases, if that’s what you want to do. But y’all, read what you want, not what you think you should be reading, because then it becomes a chore instead of something you love.

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ARC REVIEW: Kalyn Josephson “The Storm Crow”

38330596Title: The Storm Crow

Author: Kalyn Josephson

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 2/5 stars

Release Date: July 9th, 2019

 

The Storm Crow has a stunning cover and an intriguing premise going for it, but it reads more like a middle grade novel to me.

This isn’t a bad thing, as I really enjoy middle grade books sometimes! However, this is supposed to be YA, so it’s a problem that this reads a little younger than that.

We get right into the action as the first few pages gets into the attack from Illucia on Princess Anthia’s kingdom, leaving their nation in ruin and their mighty crows all killed. In the time since, Anthia has been bed-ridden, leaving her older sister to take care of the kingdom in the wake of destruction.

When Anthia’s sister is forced to offer her up as a bride for Illucia’s crown prince Ericen, she decides it’s time to fight back. Their odds look even better after Anthia finds a single crow’s egg.

I’ll say that I thought the first few chapters were very strong, and seeing depression represented in a main character like this was new; we don’t see this often in fantasy novels. Sadly, things sort of went downhill from there for me.

I felt that the political aspect of this book was juvenile, and it didn’t make sense to me. Anthia goes before her sister, the queen, and other high-ranking noble-people of their kingdom, and announces, “I have an idea: let’s ally with the surrounding kingdoms against Illucia!” *applause all around*

… I mean, that’s not an idea exactly, but okay, we’re on the right track? It just seems to me this is something that anyone could have “come up with”, and Anthia brought it up like no one had ever considered the possibility.

Anthia and her sister are struggling to figure out how to hatch the egg because for some reason, literally no one left in the kingdom knows. Riiiiight. Supposedly, the egg has to be in the presence of royals in order to hatch, and the queen “doesn’t like” crows, so she refuses. This leaves Anthia, who is traveling with Ericen, the prince of their enemy kingdom, to take the egg into enemy territory. How does this make any sense whatsoever?

It was frustrating to read their strategies because I couldn’t understand for the life of me why they did the things they did. I felt some of the situations were orchestrated by the author and it didn’t compute with me.

A promising story, but lacking for me.

An e-arc of this book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

BOOK REVIEW: Karen Thompson Walker “The Dreamers”

81-ovSFCcPLTitle: The Dreamers

Author: Karen Thompson Walker

Genre: Science Fiction

My Rating: 3.5/5 stars

 

What a strange read with such strange writing. I’m still on the fence on whether I enjoyed this writing style or not, but it felt very dream-like (for lack of a better word). I suppose considering what the book is about, this isn’t a bad thing, but it could absolutely potentially turn off readers.

The story is multi-perspective, following several different characters from a town that is struck with a sudden sleeping sickness. It’s not a scary or tense read, but it’s very interesting and there’s an air of mystery as mass amounts of people begin to fall asleep. The town is put under quarantine while scientists and doctors alike try to keep the growing number of sleeping patients alive while also trying to understand the cause. While observing these patients, doctors are beginning to notice that every one of them is dreaming, and their brain activity while in this state is off the charts.

It’s hard to get into this review without getting spoiler-y, as some of the biggest things that happen are towards the end of the book. Because I don’t want to discuss these things, let me just say that the actions of one of the characters pissed me off so much. Also, the end was not at all satisfying. I still have loads of questions, but the author chose to leave readers in the dark. I understand this was intentional but it still makes me livid because I don’t like unanswered questions.

Yet while these things angered me, I still think about this book. I read The Dreamers in the middle of February and the events are still fresh in my mind. It’s thought-provoking and fascinating, and I could actually see myself rereading this.

This read left me with so many mixed feelings, but I can see this being a great book club read because it could bring about so many awesome discussions. If the premise interests you at all, I recommend at least trying this out simply so you can form your own opinion, and then discuss it with me because I’m furious.

What To Do When the Dreaded, “How Are You?” Text Arrives

*trigger warning: pregnancy loss, death*

“You’re pregnant,” my doctor informed me over the phone, and my heart dropped from my chest and into the pit of my stomach. Typically, this is supposed to be joyous news, but I had been bleeding for about a week by then. Originally I thought I was on my period, which is why I hadn’t considered the possibility that I was miscarrying.

So the elated, wonderful feeling was lost on me because in this case, pregnancy was the worst news.

This wasn’t the first time this had happened. The first time, I knew I was pregnant, and I was at my very first appointment at 8 weeks when the bleeding started. I was terrified and immediately started crying in the bathroom; heaving, horrible sobs that I could barely mask from women in surrounding stalls.

I composed myself and went back to the waiting room where my husband, who had been so excited, waited. I told him about the bleeding, mustering everything within me to keep my face from twisting and the tears from falling.

Thankfully, we were seen immediately, and while the doctors remained positive and upbeat, I had lost all faith. I knew I was losing my baby.  That night, I experienced the worst cramps I’d ever had, and I cried both from pain and loss. The symptoms continued for another week or so, a constant reminder.

Now, two miscarriages later, I am paralyzed by fear and anxiety. I am terrified of doctor’s offices, of both being pregnant and not being pregnant. All I’ve wanted my entire life is to be a mom and have a family. And while I know it’s so early to worry, there’s that thought always nagging: what if it never happens? 

The only thing more anxiety-inducing than talk of pregnancy or hospitals is that “How are you?” text.

“Hey, girl! I’ve missed you! How are you doing?”

Honestly, not great.

But I’m not really supposed to say that right? I’m not supposed to talk about my crippling fears or the fact that I can’t stop thinking about the smell of the hospital or how aimless and broken I feel. Nobody wants to hear about that. They want to hear, “Doing great!” so they can get on with their lives and feel good about checking in on me.

That’s a terrible thing to say. They’re well-intentioned messages and I’m sure they do care. It’s more about opening up the dam that’s keeping all of my feelings at bay. If I say one thing, I’m going to say it all. So really, I’m looking out for them, right?

Or maybe it’s about another fear: the fear of being vulnerable with my friends. Of course they care about me, of course they want to hear how I’ve been doing. I’m making excuses because I don’t want to talk about it. I’m making excuses because if I do talk about it, I’ll fall apart, and I can only afford to do that in the confines of my own home.

I don’t even feel like I can tell my own family the truth, because how pathetic is it to admit that I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning? That I cry about the smallest things now, including car commercials on TV? That I quit my job at the YMCA because I couldn’t be around those kids anymore, thinking about my babies that I’d never get to meet?

It plagues my mind, invading every thought and feeling. My loss occupies every crevice of my brain, but I can’t bring myself to talk about it with even my closest friends because I’m afraid they’re tired of it. I don’t want to unload myself on my mom because she had six miscarriages; surely she doesn’t want to hear my whining when she has more reason to hurt.

I feel lost and lonely and broken, and I don’t know how to fix it. I have tried positive affirmations, trying to trick my brain into feeling good feelings. I have tried counseling, where I was made to feel like I didn’t belong, that I wasn’t depressed enough.

I don’t know what the typical grieving time is for someone you never met, but this feels excessive.

I know things will be okay someday, but right now, I would be having a baby next month. I probably would have had a baby shower and we’d probably know whether it was a boy or girl already. We’d have their little nursery set up, and we’d be so, so excited. I’d be 8 months right now, and my belly would be huge, and I’d be able to feel it kicking.

But I don’t.

My heart goes out to anyone who has experienced any sort of loss, but miscarriage in particular. Because so few understand, and the pain we feel is so sharp. You carried a child inside you, you felt hope at the prospect of new life, and it was dashed. They don’t make cards for stuff like that. So whether it happened last week or 10 years ago, my condolences. Because I know that pain doesn’t just go away.

“A flower bloomed already wilting.

Beginning its life with an early ending.”

-RJ Gonzales

 

BOOK REVIEW: Courtney Summers “Sadie”

34810320Title: Sadie

Author: Courtney Summers

Genre: Thriller/Mystery

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

 

This book was intense.

I listened to the audiobook version of Sadie and absolutely loved it. The story alternates between Sadie’s point of view as she’s on the run and seeking revenge, and a podcast where they’re solving the mystery of Sadie’s disappearance. The audiobook has a full cast and is so well done; the podcast is recorded like an actual podcast, the narration is excellent and it truly makes you feel as if you’re part of the story. It pulls you in so thoroughly, and I found myself invested almost instantly.

Nobody knows who killed Sadie’s sister, but Sadie does. This is how she finds herself on the run and in search of a man. We follow Sadie on her travels as she follows clues and leads to her final destination, complete with huge climax and bittersweet ending.

The story deals with some heavy subject material, including rape and murder. It can be dark and difficult to read, but overall I’m glad that I did. It handles the tough subjects well and delivers a (semi) satisfying ending. I can’t say too much else without spoiling, but if you like thrillers or mysteries, I highly recommend Sadie.

BOOK REVIEW: Brittni Chenelle “Cold Kingdom”

419tsE4RbKL._SX337_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Cold Kingdom

Author: Brittni Chenelle

Genre: YA/Fiction/Action

My Rating: 3/5 stars

 

First of all, I have to say that this cover is stunning! It captures the essence of the book very well, so props to the designer!

Brittni Chenelle is a very promising writer. Her style and flow was so easy and I really enjoyed the prose. The story was promising also, but I found I couldn’t get on board with the characters, particularly Charlotte. I realize that the characters were supposed to read younger, as they were as young as 16. However, there was a pettiness about Charlotte I couldn’t stand. She was snobby and annoying, and it made it difficult to read anything from her point of view.

The representation in this book was awesome! I understand the author lives in South Korea and is very influenced by the culture; it shines through in her writing. The cast of characters were diverse and colorful, which I appreciated.

The political intrigue the author was trying to infuse here didn’t quite work for me, but I appreciated it nonetheless! Plus, there were some funny moments that keep the book light-hearted despite some of the darker tones.

Chenelle is on my radar after this read. Even though I may not have loved Kingdom Cold, I can’t wait to see what else she writes in the future.

An e-arc was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

 

Purchase the book: Amazon

Meet the Author: Wattpad | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

ARC REVIEW: Lea Geller “Trophy Life”

51LwxADg7OLTitle: Trophy Life

Author: Lea Geller

Genre: Contemporary/Fiction

My Rating: 4/5 stars

Release Date: April 9, 2019

 

What a sweet, funny book! Based on the synopsis, I wasn’t expecting the level of depth we got here and was pleased to find it wasn’t a fluffy, superficial read. This is Geller’s debut novel and she is someone that I’d definitely keep an eye on in the future.

The story of Agnes and her abruptly uprooted life is funny, but also full of heart. The relationship between Agnes and husband (who is 20 years her senior) is real, although many others doubt the love between them thinking that she’s just a gold digger and he’s going to replace her with a younger woman down the line. Agnes struggles when her husband goes MIA and wonders if the people in her life were right to be skeptical. She doubts the sincerity of her marriage, doubts her own abilities as a wife and mother.

It was interesting to see the dynamic of this particular marriage and this author’s insight into being in a relationship with an older man. I don’t feel like she generalized and it wasn’t a stereotypical relationship; I found myself invested, wondering what would happen to them.

Such a lovely read that I recommend to those who love women’s literature and author’s such as Kristan Higgins and Jojo Moyes.

An e-arc of this book was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

 

Pre-order: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Meet the Author: Goodreads | Twitter | Blog

BOOK REVIEW: Sam Hooker “Peril in the Old Country”

41HN8lZHsxLTitle: Peril in the Old Country

Author: Sam Hooker

Genre: Dystopian/Fantasy

My Rating: 3/5 stars

 

This is a very strange book, but absolutely perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman or Douglas Adams. It’s quirky; the dialogue is sharp and witty, and there are a plethora of fun and interesting characters.

The story itself was interesting but the writing was odd. Not necessarily bad, but could be off-putting. Some of the language used borders on pretentious if I’m honest, and the prose a bit flowery. I wish the plot had moved along at a better pace, but otherwise this was very silly and easy to get into.

I also find the cover extremely adorable; very Tim Burton-esq. I expected the content to be a little darker based on the cover art, but I’m not complaining! I think it was very fitting.

An e-copy of this book was provided by Black Spot Books and Smith Publicity via NetGalley in exchange for a review. Thank you!

 

Purchase the book: Amazon | Black Spot Books

Meet the author: Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram

BOOK REVIEW: Meagan Spooner “Sherwood”

81L5mq55HsLTitle: Sherwood

Author: Meagan Spooner

Genre: Action/Re-telling

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

This is Meagan Spooner’s second fairy tale re-telling and I have to say, she hit the nail on the head. This was so sweet!

Maybe “sweet” is the wrong word to describe this gender-bent Robin Hood imagining. But it was! I’ve seen some complaints about this so I’m going to clear a few things up.

This book follows Maid Marian, who’s betrothed to Robin of Locksley until he dies tragically fighting in the Crusades. In this telling, Robin is a nobleman and hasn’t yet become the famed thief. One of Robin’s men is accused of stealing, however, and Marian disguises herself as a man to save him from what she believes is an unjust punishment. Under cover of dark, no one knows who she is; but rumors spread that the hooded figure is Robin’s ghost.

So the legend begins, and Marian is forced to keep up the charade in order to save her friends. Before she knows it, she’s teaming up with a band of thieves to intercept food and supplies in order to save the overtaxed people of their land from starvation. Thus, taking from the rich to give to the poor. *eyebrow waggle*

I love the idea that the legend we all know was a hooded woman. Marian is told to be skilled with the bow, fighting, basically better than her fiance, Robin, at just about everything. It’s not that the original Robin Hood died, so Marian took his place. No, Marian is the original Robin Hood, in her own right. There are some who might not like this, but I found it very clever.

Sherwood has action, strong ladies, humor, heart, and a surprisingly sweet romance. The end was utterly fabulous; so ingenious that I could have cried.

My complaints though, are that this book is definitely slow to start. It takes a bit to get into it, and I admit that it’s a bit longer than necessary. However, I believe that the positives far outweighed the negatives, which is why these things don’t affect my rating nearly as much as it would have had this been any other book.

I thought Marian was a good character; she was compassionate and did her best for those she loved, and even for those she hardly knew. She fought for the hungry, hurting people of Nottingham and to great risks to help them.

Marian was flawed, too. She acted before thinking sometimes, but in these moments she acknowledged her mistakes and often did her best to right any wrongs. I loved the representation of a character that struggles with anxiety. This wasn’t stated outright, but Marian battles feelings of fear and the loss of Robin and is sometimes forced to pause and fight with her mind before continuing.

All in all, another strong read from the author of Hunted. Will absolutely continue to read Spooner’s retellings.