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: 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.

BOOK REVIEW: Jenna Fischer “The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide”

51lpLheLJeL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Actor’s Life: A Survival Guide

Author: Jenna Fischer

Genre: Memoir/How-To/Self-Help

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

While I’m not an aspiring actor and therefore not the intended audience of this book, I still found it incredibly interesting.

Less memoir and more “how to make it as an actor”, there were still plenty of really cool tid-bits and stories from the filming of The Office and some of Jenna’s other projects. I immediately watched the Casino Night episode upon completion since I now have some of the “behind the scenes” knowledge.

So while this might appeal to fans of Pam and The Office for some special insights and stories, I also found this read informative. This is the perfect book for someone who is looking to become an actor, and would highly recommend that every wanna-be check this book out. Fischer shares some great pointers and advice, making this both a fun and educational read.

In conclusion: this book is meant for aspiring actors, but can also be enjoyed by some die-hard fans of The Office. I happened to find it highly entertaining!

PS: if you listen to the audiobook, the foreword (written by Steve Carell) is read by Rainn Wilson and is hilarious. If nothing else, listen to it for that reason.

Well, Hello There…

My bad.

I haven’t updated my blog in quite some time. To most people, this hasn’t made a single difference to them, so go about your business! Don’t mind me! I’m just gonna live in my bubble and pretend y’all missed me.

There’s been a lot going on in my personal life. Well, a lot and a little. You know how it is, when life just feels overwhelming enough to crush you, so you do nothing and just watched everything crumble around you.

That’s been me for the last few months. I’ve just sort of… let life happen, while I sit in bed, watching Netflix thinking, “Huh, everything sucks.”

I’m trying to fight it, but it sucks. Maybe it’s depression, maybe it’s laziness, maybe it’s crippling self-doubt, maybe it’s all three combined, but for whatever reason, I’ve stagnated as a person. I see things in myself that I hate, that I want to change, that I wish for all that is good I could change, but to no avail. At least not yet.

I’m trying to fight the voices in my head telling me I’m not good enough. I want to be better. I want to be healthy, mentally and physically.

Hah, you thought this blog post was gonna be about books.

If you came here disappointed to find another post about mental health, I’m sorry! It’s just that this is the thing that I’m struggling with the most at this point in my life. Reading does help though, so I’ll also continue to post and talk about books.

So this is me, promising to try and be better, and not just about posting on my blog. I want to be a better wife, sister, daughter, friend, person.

BOOK REVIEW: Kaitlyn Deann “The Brand of Anem”

41xtnkquoclTitle: The Brand of Anem

Author: Kaitlyn Deann

Genre: Dystopian/Romance

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

 

A brand is a divine marking that results out of intimacy and is considered beautiful… unless you’re unwedded.

Margaret James is the Duchess of Deneb and the daughter of the highest political figure in their city: Judge Mark James. She is expected to follow the rules without fail and to never, ever falter to her flesh. She has been pledged to the chief officer, William Lach. But there is one problem with this arrangement…

Margaret James shares a brand with Carson Owens.

Carson belongs to the infamous Owens family and to the Middle Class, which means it’s impossible for him to marry the woman he loves. Despite the rules, the two of them bound themselves together as young teenagers, and now they will do everything in their power to hide the brand given to them by Anem, the goddess of souls. If caught, they will suffer dire consequences.

Getting caught is inevitable.

The first in a series of novellas to follow, The Brand of Anem is a wild ride from start to finish.

Described by the author as an afternoon read, this book, while short, packs a punch. Deann manages to fit a lot of information in a limited number of words, and the story flows in an easy, simple way. We’re introduced to the characters and are immediately swept up in their lives and their forbidden love.

The Brand of Anem poses a lot of interesting questions about right and wrong, morality, sin and love. This will leave the reader with both a wonderful story and hopefully an engaged mind.

I found the world building fascinating and I’m excited to see the author develop on this in the next books. There was the obvious air of mystery regarding the Owens family and their history, and what lies in store for Carson and Margaret. The cliffhanger of this book was devestating and if I don’t get the next installment soon, I’m gonna lose my mind. (Trying to remain professional but on the inside, I’m screaming and using lots of exclamation points. Take that however you’d like.)

Definitely can’t wait to find out what happens next, and I highly recommend this special read!

Kaitlyn Deann: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

The Brand of Anem: Amazon | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Colleen Hoover “It Ends With Us”

817vqET828LTitle: It Ends With Us

Author: Colleen Hoover

Genre: Contemporary/Romance

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Ouch, this book hurt.

First of all, I almost didn’t read this. My first experience reading Colleen Hoover was November 9, which I despised. I hated it so much that I DNF’d it. I won’t get into it here, but I’ll just say: gross, controlling male MC. No, thank you.

Yet I decided to give Hoover another chance. I saw that It Ends With Us was a Goodreads Choice Awards winner, so I figured there had to be something good about it. The audiobook was available, so the stars were aligned. I read the book.

Holy crap, it hurt so much.

It’s difficult to talk about what this book is about without giving away too much; let’s just say that one of the heavier topics is domestic abuse. This wasn’t at all what I expected, but in the best way possible. It was beautiful and heartbreaking and so so difficult.

The main character, Lily, faces a few different abusive men in her life, the first of which was her father. Given her circumstances, it’s made her sure that if she ever found herself in a relationship with a man like that, she would never stand for it. She would never go back to him. She would be different.

Yet when she finds herself in a relationship with a man who does hurt her, she finds it’s so much harder when you’re the victim. She justifies it, makes excuses, and tries to write it off. He’s different, he’s not like her father.

When some new information comes to light about her current abuser, I was afraid that Hoover would make it seem like it was okay to stay. Encourage it even. In the end, though, I felt that the topic was dealt with really well. With such a sensitive subject, this book could have easily gone off-course; thankfully it didn’t.

I’m so glad that I gave Hoover another shot and hope to read a few more of her books. Comment your recommendations below!

BOOK REVIEW: Taylor Jenkins Reid “Evidence of the Affair”

41Cfcwc9hcLTitle: Evidence of the Affair

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Genre: Contemporary

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

For a short story, I’ll be writing a short review (which tends to be my type of review anyway; who wants to read a book about a book?).

This is a story told in letters written between Carrie and David. Their spouses are cheating on them with each other’s spouses. Messy stuff.

It begins with Carrie writing to David to inform him that his wife is having an affair with her husband. She knows this because she’s found some letters addressed to her husband from David’s wife. Carrie asks David if he can look for letters from her husband among his wife’s things because she just wants to know why, and asks if he wants to see his wife’s letters.

So begins the correspondence between the two as they cope with the pain of betrayal and ask each other for advice. What will they do? Will they try to work things out? Will they confront their spouses?

It’s a very easy read, and the end is both satisfying and yet not enough. It makes me wish there had been just a little bit more, or maybe even, dare I say it, a sequel? In such a short amount of time, Reid made me fall in love with Carrie and David. I cared for them both and wanted to see them happy.

I’ve had varying experiences reading Reid’s work, but I can say that this was a win for me.

BOOK REVIEW: Ruth Emmie Lang “Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance”

91p1dqTF21LTitle: Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance

Author: Ruth Emmie Lang

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance is the first Book of the Month that I ever selected. I’m ashamed it’s taken me this long to get to it, considering I’ve read several other BOTM picks since then. Oops.

That being said, I had heard lots of good things about this, so I finally picked it up the other day! Okay, I found the audiobook at my library and I listened to it. Sue me.

That being said, I really enjoyed this. I’m not sure what I expected, although I knew this was a fantasy labeled as “magical realism”. It follows a boy named Weylyn Grey through the perspectives of those closest to them. First there’s the girl who delivers meat for her father to Weylyn and his wolf pack. She’s immediately fascinated by him and his life with the wolves, and over time decides to run away with them. Strange things seem to happen around him, though, but she doesn’t think much of it at the time.

Then there’s the foster family that takes Weylyn in after he and the girl are discovered with the wolves. Specifically his foster sister, who takes a liking to him and bonds with him. There’s the general education teacher who desperately wants children who finds a void filled with Weylyn’s company.

So many people touched by Weylyn’s presence in their lives, while still odd things tend to happen around him. The story sees him well into adult-hood and shows his power over nature and people growing. It’s such a heartwarming, lovely story that will just make anyone feel good.

Weylyn is naive as a child, obviously, considering his time with the wolves, but it seems to follow him years later as a grown-up. I can’t decide if I appreciate this or not. On one hand, his naivety was charming as a child, but it makes him seem clueless and stupid as an adult. But it’s easy to dismiss with such an adorable character like Weylyn.

This was just a very sweet, feel-good story that will be enjoyed by anyone who likes a happy ending.

A Year Full of Beautiful Covers

Listen, I’m not saying I judge books by their covers. I’m just saying, they’re nice to look at, and I’m more inclined to take pictures of them and display them on my shelves and okay maybe I judge books by their covers.

It’s just so hard not to when the books coming out are so dang pretty, and this year’s releases are no exception.

My blog is full of posts talking about books and their contents and reviews of those books. I think I’m entitled to be shallow every once in a while and bask in the beauty of a butt-load of book covers.

So here we go.

51ub94q0GWL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Even though I may not have loved A Very Large Expanse of Sea, the writing on this cover is so aesthetically pleasing. This combination of colors and pretty fonts is perfect, and I’m just disappointed I couldn’t love the inside as much as I loved the outside.

91JGnozCxiLThere is something so wonderfully ghostly about this paranormal re-imagining of Jane Eyre, My Plain Jane. I also happened to really enjoy this read, even more than I did My Lady Jane! Although I’ve never read Jane Eyre before, it definitely made me want to get into the original! And anything that inspires me to want to read classics is a win in my book.

81PYy9EQs1LWhat’s a pretty cover collection without a Schwab title? So I’m mad that this cover isn’t available in the US and I ended up with the blue-ish cover, but I can still admire this beauty from a distance. *soft crying noises* City of Ghosts was such a fun, adorable read, and it has convinced me that Victoria Schwab can literally write anything. Any genre, any age group, anything.

60869Another stunning cover that I think everyone can agree is just jaw-dropping is The Hazel Wood. The gold and silver embossing on this book is to die for; if I hadn’t actually enjoyed this read, I still would have kept it on my shelf just because. This one has such opposing reviews online, but thankfully I found it inventive and haunting and I can’t wait to read the next one!

the-wicked-deep-9781481497343_hrThe Wicked Deep is another obvious one for me, especially for the naked hardcover on the first edition and the beautiful night sky. *heart eyes* Such a lovely, atmospheric read, with writing just as pretty as the cover. I can’t wait to reread this next year around Halloween!

34499221I’ll indulge myself one moment longer and share the cover of To Kill a Kingdom, this beautiful Little Mermaid retelling. I absolutely loved this read, and it gave me hope that retellings aren’t completely hopeless! That’s not to say I don’t enjoy them, but lately they’ve become a little repetitive. To Kill a Kingdom was inventive and unique while still remaining true to the source material.

Thank you for sticking around for my book fashion show. I promise I’ll go back to intelligent musings and discussions after this, but come on. You have to admit. They’re so pretty.