Finally Fall Book Tag

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It’s fall! … but it doesn’t feel like it for me, sadly. I live in Hawaii, which in retrospect is amazing and I know I’m unbelievably lucky to be here. Still, I do miss the temperature getting below 70 degrees and being able to wear sweaters and scarves without getting funny looks (because yes, I do still try to get away with it).

But it’s still fall in my brain, so by golly I’m gonna do this tag.

51bIN6SUb1L._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_Crisp Fall Air – a book that felt fresh and new

It took me way too long to come up with a single book that this applied to, which I suppose is a good thing! This means I’ve read lots of unique, amazing books so far this year. There were many contenders, but the title I decided on was Bird Box by Josh Malerman. This was such a great read and gave me hope that the thriller genre isn’t dead yet. It’s been such a struggle for me to connect with this genre lately, which is a shame because I love thrillers! They’ve just become so bland and predictable lately, and Bird Box breathed life into me again. Read my full review here.

9781250095312Howling Winds – an ending that blew you away

This one was also a close call, between Legendary and An Absolutely Remarkable Thing; and Legendary wins over by just a fraction. The whole book was a wild ride, and the reader was always thinking: Who is Legend? I loved the big reveal, but that cliffhanger was rough. Tella became a new favorite character and I found that I enjoyed this installment even more than I loved Caraval, the first book. Read my full review here.

81Csb1x-vSLComfy Sweaters – a book that gave you the warm fuzzies

So Love and Other Words may be a strange choice because this broke my heart, but it was also undeniably sweet. There’s nothing quite like a childhood love blossoming into adulthood, but this one had angst and tragedy as well. I felt about every emotion on the spectrum during this read, but ultimately, my heart grew and felt warm in the end.

411h5t91y4LBright Colors – a cover with either red, orange or yellow

I chose the first book I came across that applied and ended up with Vicious, a read from October. This book was positively villainous and I can’t wait to read Vengeance soon!

9781619636118Leaf Fight – a book with nonstop action

There was no question what book I would choose for this: Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J Maas. This final installment in the Throne of Glass series was chock-full of action and battle sequences that forced me to keep reading long into the night. Seriously, I stayed up until 4 am to finish this. It was worth it. Read my full review here.

KingofscarsPumpkin Spice – your most anticipated read

This was another obvious one for me; Leigh Bardugo is at the top of my list of auto-buy authors, and Nikolai is my sweet little cinnamon roll. Of course King of Scars is my most anticipated read. I could not be more excited for Nikolai’s spin-off books and I’m ready to just eat this up.

Thank you for joining me today! If you’re reading this, consider yourself tagged!

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BOOK REVIEW: Katherine Center “How to Walk Away”

91de-kA4w7LTitle: How to Walk Away

Author: Katherine Center

Genre: Contemporary

My Rating: 5/5 stars

 

I’ve seen this book compared to Me Before You a few times, but let’s make something clear: How to Walk Away is better.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the chemistry in Me Before You. Louisa and Will were absolutely precious and I will never not think about how adorable the sock scene was. But that ending.

(Spoilers for Me Before You ahead.) That ending made me so angry. I understand it, I do. I understand why it ended that way, but it didn’t have to. Will didn’t have to die. Of course circumstances in his life had caused him to become miserable, but didn’t Louisa prove that happiness in spite of the tragedy was possible? I’ll never get over that, I just won’t.

So in How to Walk Away, Katherine Center took a similar approach: Margaret is left paralyzed and burned from an airplane crash. She loses everything: fancy job, not-mangled body, handsome fiance. She faces many trials in the months to come and alternates between obsessing over getting better and not wanting to try at all. Many things occur that make her want to quit, and she does contemplate suicide.

Yet this story shows that even in the wake of adversity, contentment and even joy can be found again. And it doesn’t even have to be in the arms of a lover.

Although that’s super helpful because duh, romance.

Margaret reacts very realistically to her circumstances, and it makes her human. She doesn’t have a bunch of wise words now to share with her family, which is suffering from a bit of dysfunction itself. She doesn’t treat her piece-of-garbage fiance with grace or kindness when all is said and done. Margaret hurls all the righteous rage that is due her. She has depressive episodes and sometimes let’s it affect her recovery.

But what Margaret becomes in the end is not a shell of a person, but a beautiful flowering human who finds new hope and purpose in spite of her circumstances. I loved the message of this story and I loved the outcome.

The secondary characters were wonderful also. I loved reading about Margaret’s family drama, and of course loved all the scenes that included her attractive Scottish physical therapist. *wink*

I cheered for Margaret from the very beginning of this story and it was so rewarding to see her life play out for the better. What an inspiring story, that even caused me to examine my own life. I think that’s all we can ask of any good book.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

Just wanted to take a moment to wish my lovely American followers a wonderful day!

For those of you that aren’t close to family this holiday, I want to send special warm wishes your way. My husband and I are spending our second Thanksgiving in a row away from family, but we are having a joint holiday with one other couple and a few of my husband’s single friends, all of whom are far from their families.

We know it can be difficult, which is why we figure that we may as well spend the day with friends and all share a nice, nostalgic, home-cooked meal together.

Stay safe today and tomorrow during your Black Friday shopping! XOXO

Growing Pains Book List – Galaxy Adventurer

A long time ago *cough* (like a year ago) *cough*, when I first started this blog, I posted what’s called a “Growing Pains Book List”. It was inspired by my work with a music company where I talked about a few songs or artists that had impacted me and shaped me into the person I am today.

So a Growing Pains Book List is the same: a selection of books that have impacted you and made you who you are. I’ll link mine here, but today I’m going to introduce you to a dear friend of mine who will be sharing her Growing Pains Book List!

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From the @galaxyadventurer Instagram page

Today’s guest is Dominique from @galaxyadventurer. She is a book lover and geek from Indiana who loves musicals and Doctor Who!

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Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park
One of the first book series I read as a kid was Junie B. Jones, and while I still haven’t read all of them to this day, this is definitely a series that sparked my love of reading. One of the books that I kinda related to was Toothless Wonder. At my first dentist appointment ever I had my top four front teeth pulled out and they didn’t come in ’til I was almost ten years old. So I guess I related to her in that book because I to was a toothless wonder.

9780439381000_mresThe American Girl books
Like the Junie B. series, I still haven’t read all of the books, but this is another series that got me into reading. I liked how you could relate to at least one of the girls, even if they lived in a different time than you. Kit was one of my favorites; I liked how curious she was, and I loved her mystery books.

9780007117307The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
So I will admit, I saw the movies before I read any of the books, but now I love both so much! Both have made me wish I could find a portal to Narnia (I’m still checking wardrobes) and find adventures in the fantastical land with the Pevensie children and all the wonderful creatures.

51+zsntctrL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Storm Siren by Mary Weber
Guys, this book really got me into YA and just deepened my love of reading. And also introduced me to a horrible thing. Maybe you’ve heard of it, it’s called *cue the dun dun dun noise* a cliffhanger. Even though Mary tortured me with the cliffhanger ending, I love this book so much. I love the characters, the world, the writing, just everything about it. Storm Siren will always have a special place in my heart.

513EXnhPKDL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_A Time to Die by Nadine Brandes
This one is more than an amazing story and book for me. I read this one soon after losing my great grandma a few years ago, and it helped me through it. A Time to Die has so many meaningful messages in it and Parvin is definitely an inspiration to me.

Six-of-Crows-CoverSix of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
SoC was actually recommended to me by Devyn (which if you’re reading this blog post, you already know how fabulous she is), so I read the Grisha series and then the SoC duology. And let me say, I got hooked to this world. While the characters in SoC might not have the best morals, they show how people can come together, despite their differences, and become a team and family.

51gmpC4-MgLThe Color Project by Sierra Abrams
This is probably my favorite contemporary book I have ever read. It’s so much more than the fluffy contemporaries you are used to. It shows a real girl with relatable problems, and a family that goes through a hard time but sticks together. It shows doubts and anxieties, something I know I deal with.

BOOK REVIEW: Fredrik Backman “A Man Called Ove”

81jKaejWaNLTitle: A Man Called Ove

Author: Fredrik Backman

Genre: Contemporary

My Rating: 5/5 stars

 

What an adorable book.

I’ve been eyeing this for the longest time, but there were always other things I wanted to read. However, I’ve been on an audiobook kick lately, and A Man Called Ove happened to be available to read right away.

So I listened to this in a day and I love it. It was oh so sweet, and honestly hilarious. Ove is me. I am Ove. He’s a grumpy old man who doesn’t understand technology and gets annoyed by people, and I’m just like, “Saaaame!” Only difference is age.

His wife passed away about 6 months ago, so at this point, Ove is just going through his same old routine and going to work, waiting to die. But when he gets laid off from his job and forced to retire, he decides he has nothing left to live for. So Ove plans to take his life into his own hands, and plans his death.

His quirky new neighbors have other plans.

Ove spends the rest of the book trying to kill himself; but every time he starts to, he gets interrupted somehow. Neighbors ringing the doorbell, neighbors asking for a ride to the hospital, neighbors forcing him to take care of a mangy street cat they saved. Somehow, something always gets in the way.

This sounds sad. I guess it is, but it’s also so comical that I couldn’t help but laugh every time his plan gets foiled. So really, this book was just a delight all the way around. I adored it. I especially loved the audiobook because I felt it really added to the humorous parts and made me just laugh out loud.

I can’t wait to read more from this author! This was such a good introduction to Backman’s writing, and I will definitely be checking out everything else I can get my hands on!

‘Tis the Season for Fantasy, Thrillers, and Cheesy Holiday Rom-Coms!

Fa la la la la, la la, la, la! Am I one of those people? You bet I am. I love Christmas, and if it were even remotely acceptable to start celebrating in October, you bet I’d do that, too. But alas, I suppose two months of Christmas will have to be enough.

close up of christmas decoration hanging on tree

Photo by Gary Spears on Pexels.com

So it’s that time of year: the time to rewatch Harry Potter, Home Alone, The Grinch, and all the corny Hallmark Christmas movies. It’s also the perfect time to read all the thrillers, all the dark, atmospheric fantasy reads, and any wintery romance.

Of course, fantasies and thrillers are great to read any time of year, but isn’t it just so much nicer during the holidays? You can cuddle up in a warm fuzzy blanket, light a Christmas-y candle and read.

I say this like it actually gets cold where I am. Here in Hawaii, it doesn’t get below 70 degrees, so if I want to do any burrowing, I have to crank up the AC. But still!

51N8TdfrZ6LSo let’s talk about some of the books I’m planning on reading this holiday season! The first one is so obviously Christmas: My True Love Gave to Me is a collection of 12 short stories all set during the holidays. This will be perfect to read in the days leading up to holiday; I can read one story for each of the 12 days of Christmas! I’m especially excited to read the stories by Holly Black, Jenny Han, and Stephanie Perkins, who is actually the one author who edited and put the stories together.

9781492656623Next, I plan to read Furyborn, a fantasy from Claire Legrand about two women one thousand years apart. From what I hear, it’s full of magic and action, and it sounds like the perfect book to curl up with and read with a cup of hot chocolate. Several of my friends have already read this and said amazing things about this, plus I’m excited to read Sawkill Girls by the same author!

9781101985380_p0_v2_s550x406Final Girls by Riley Sager has been on my TBR ever since it came out, and I can just see myself huddling deeper under my covers and cuddling with my husband while I read this, scared out of my mind. This is about a group of women who are the lone survivors are horror movie-like situations. I’ve been interested in this story since the moment I first heard the synopsis, so I’m pumped to finally dig into this in the next few months! Maybe not the spirit of Christmas but the perfect book to keep you company during the winter months.

9780142412145Another very obvious choice is Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle. This is three different stories about a snowstorm in a town called Gracetown by three different authors. It sounds like the perfect formula for a cozy, adorable read that’s going to make my heart burst with happiness and Christmas cheer. Bring on the cheese, John Green! I’m ready!

815D5sneiNLThe last title I’m going to include in this collection is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This looks like the absolute perfect novel to get me through the cold nights of the AC blowing on my face… wait. Disregard. It will still be perfect magical read for the season!

I’d love to know what you lovely people will be reading during the holidays! Let me know in the comments below so that I can add those titles to my TBR!

Writing Update

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First of all, announcement: I’m writing a book! I know, you totally didn’t see that coming.

I’ve tried to write so many stories these last few years, but you could say I have commitment issues. I tend to work on a project for a little bit, take a break, and when I read it back a few days later, I realize it sucks and I trash it.

In my head, I know that writing the entire first draft in one go and editing later is the best course of action. Getting your entire book and all of your ideas out is essential; I just have a hard time making it past that stage of the writing process.

When NaNoWriMo started up this year, I felt inspired to really begin my writing journey. Of course, I haven’t really been keeping up and I think I’ve written about 1000 words total, but it is progress. This is the most motivated I’ve ever been to write, and I’m going to take advantage of it.

It’s a little early for me to decide what’s going to happen once I complete this book. There are so many options where publishing is concerned, so I’m really trying to do my research and take my time deciding which direction I want to take. If any of my followers have suggestions or advice on first-time publishing, I would appreciate anything you could give me!

It’s also too early for me to reveal much about my book, but at this moment in time, my project is shaping up to be an adult contemporary novel. It’s going to be full of tears, laughs, strong female friendships, and of course lurrrve. If that sounds interesting to you, great! I expect you to buy my book. I’ll be watching.

Anyway, more details on that to come! I’m very excited to take these next steps on this new journey and I can’t wait to share my experiences with my lovely followers. You all are so incredibly supportive in the bookish community, both on WordPress and on Instagram, that my heart is just overflowing with encouragement. I don’t know what I would do without you guys.

A Guide to Stop Book-Hoarding

As a book lover and someone who has dreamed of someday having my own library, I know that we all want something that looks a little like this:

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What’s not to love? Of course I want to dedicate a room in my house to just books.

Yet recently, I found myself feeling overwhelmed by the amount of books that I owned and had not read. I had been so focused on accumulating that I had allowed my unread shelf to pile up until it was completely unmanageable. It caused me to stagnate, and when it came time to pick my new read, it was impossible to choose.

If you’re not the kind of person who gets stressed by unread books on their shelves, then go crazy, kid. Buy all the books you want. You are your own person and you are free to own all the books in the world and read them at your own pace. I envy you!

However, if you’re like me and feel the need to purge and start fresh, then this post is for you.

One of the first things that I did was purge the books that I had already read, but may not have liked very well. Personally, I threw out any book that I had given 3 stars or lower, but you can do it however you’d like! I found this to be a great starting point for me because it was good practice in letting go for a person who tends to hoard everything.

Next, I got rid of any books that I owned that I wasn’t interested in reading anymore or anytime soon. Maybe I was when I first bought it, but some time has passed and my interests have changed. So that book that’s been sitting on your shelf, collecting dust for 5 years? Chuck it. You don’t need that weight in your life.

I did this in waves, because I’d go through my books one time and find a few that I wanted to part with. Then I’d look through them again and find a few more. I did this 3-4 times until I felt satisfied that everything left on my shelf was either a book that I’d read or a book that I was definitely planning to read in the near future.

The most important thing to do is make rules for yourself so that this never happens again. You may say, “No, I’ll do better. I won’t buy as many books.” But old habits die hard, and soon you’ll be drowning in unread books again.

I have two guidelines for myself when it comes to buying books now: either I’ve already read it and I gave it 4 or 5 stars; or I haven’t read it, but it’s by an author that I have read and liked at least 75% of the time.

For example, I’m interested in reading Markus Zusak’s newest book, Bridge of Clay. I have read The Book Thief, which was amazing, and I Am the Messenger, which was not so much. Because I’ve had two different experiences with this author, I don’t want to take a chance and waste money on a book I may not enjoy.

For this reason, I’ve put Bridge of Clay on hold at my library. If I end up enjoying it, then I can purchase it and add it to my personal library. If I don’t, then no harm is done and no money is wasted.

I want a big library just as much as the next bookworm, but I want to fill it with books that I love. But, this is just the way that I do things; if you read strictly from the library, that’s absolutely fine and doesn’t make you any less of a bibliophile. If you buy all the books in the world, it doesn’t make you any more of one. We all love to read, and that’s all that matters in this community: not the size of your library or the amount of books you read.

BOOK REVIEW: Hank Green “An Absolutely Remarkable Thing”

An-Absolutely-Remarkable-ThingTitle: An Absolutely Remarkable Thing

Author: Hank Green

Genre: Science Fiction

My Rating: 5/5 stars

 

If you’re familiar with John Green’s work and expect this to be similar, you’re going to need to undergo a complete mind-wipe before digging into this masterpiece of a book. Not that John isn’t fabulous in his own way, but Hank’s style is so distinctly his.

Plus all of John’s books are about angsty teenagers who talk like hipsters in their mid-thirties. And Hank’s debut novel is science fiction with an extremely complicated adult main character.

So that’s one thing that needs to be cleared up right away: Hank’s novel is marketed to adults, although it can be a great bridge from YA to adult. The content isn’t necessarily too adult, but all of the main characters are grown-ups well out of college.

This story follows April May, who happens across a sculpture on her way home from work late one night. She’s captivated by it and on a whim, she calls up a friend of hers to come take a look. April tells him to bring his filming equipment, and the decide to make a video featuring their new friend, who they lovingly name Carl.

The next day, April wakes to find that their video has gone viral. Not only that, but their’s isn’t the only Carl; there are 63 others circling the globe, and nobody knows how they got there.

So this starts out as a look at sudden fame and how different people deal with it. April and her friend are immediately thrust into this world of interviews and social media, and they both have to learn how to adapt. It’s interesting to see how April reacts, regardless of how little she cared for media and the news before her newfound celebrity status. She makes some poor decisions throughout her journey, and while it sometimes makes her unlikable, it makes her feel very real.

However, some new information comes to light and the world slowly begins to realize that the Carls are not of their world.

So, aliens.

This makes April’s position, right smack in the middle of it, suddenly all the more interesting because not only was she one of the first to discover the existence of the Carls, she also may have been the first to make contact. The story shifts from being a human examination to an almost Ready Player One-like mystery, where the entire world has to work together to discover what the Carls want and why they’re there.

It’s absolutely fascinating, and I adored this book. I had doubts going into it, and the beginning was a little rough. I also wasn’t a fan of some of Hank’s style choices: unnecessary exclamation points and some ALL CAPS that made the writing seem more juvenile. However, once I got into the meat of the story, I forgave those things immediately in favor of an absolutely remarkable journey.

The characters were all relatable and likable (although as previously mentioned, not all the time). Hank seems to know humans very well because the events of the story unfold in such a way that I believed it could all actually happen. The pacing of this story was excellent and I was never once bored; in fact I read it cover to cover in less than 24 hours because I was so engrossed.

I laughed, I cried, I was on the edge of my seat. Those last 50 pages had me losing my mind. The ending was fantastic and it was the perfect bridge between this and the sequel. Yes, a sequel! I thought this might be a standalone but once you get to the end, you’ll agree that if Hank doesn’t give us a second book fast, we’re going to have to go to his house and force his hand.

Not really, Hank! I would never do that!*

This was a wonderful book and it’s the kind of story that stays with you after and makes you think about it for days. So naturally I’ve been bugging my husband about it ever since and he’s about done with me. Sorry honey, it’s what you signed up for when you married me!

 

*Seriously though, I will riot if I don’t get that sequel.