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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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

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.

BOOK REVIEW: Felicia Day “You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)”

23705512Title: You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)

Author: Felicia Day

Genre: Memoir/Humor

My Rating: 5/5 stars

 

I actually really enjoyed this.

I say really, because I didn’t expect much from this. To be perfectly honest, I haven’t been exposed to Felicia Day much except for her role in Eureka and a few episodes I’ve seen her in on Supernatural. I knew she was considered “Queen of the Geeks”, so she’s someone that I should know more about since I’m a self-proclaimed geek myself. I knew she was a gamer, but I’m only just now getting into video gaming and it’s definitely just on a recreational, occasional basis.

Moving on, Felicia Day’s memoir was so much more than I could have ever imagined.

First of all, I listened to the audiobook, which was read by her; so listening to her story in her own voice was an experience in itself. It felt like it was being told and read in the way that she intended, so it was perfect. Day is so funny, so her voice was a delight.

Learning about her early life was so interesting. I could definitely relate to her homeschool trials, being homeschooled myself, and found it so interesting that she originally went to college on a violin scholarship. Yet even though she could have made a career out of that, Day realized that she wasn’t passionate about playing violin like she should be. She chased a dream that hadn’t even fully formed yet, and for some reason there’s something so inspiring about that to me.

I’ve struggled myself lately, trying to figure out what I want to do with my life and what kind of career I want to pursue. There aren’t a lot of options for someone who doesn’t have a degree and doesn’t feel good enough to try. But Felicia Day dreamed and she took a leap. She put herself out there.

Amazingly, it wasn’t her work in commercials that launched her fame, but her web series start up. Felicia went against all odds to film a show without any professional help or funding, and she made a name for herself. I think that’s awesome, and it makes me think and realize that I am capable of anything. If she can do it, so can I.

It’s been a long time since a book moved me to become motivated in the way that I am now. It was amazing. I’m so glad that I read this and I think that anyone who needs a little push should read this as well.

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.

‘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!

BOOK REVIEW: Jenny Han “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”

15749186Title: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Author: Jenny Han

Genre: Romance/Contemporary

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

My thoughts:

So this is actually a reread for me, but I originally read this back when it was first published! I was so intrigued by the concept, especially because I had imagined scenarios similar to Lara Jean’s happening to myself.

That’s why initially, this turned out to be a little bit of a bummer for me the first time around. It wasn’t quite what I expected it to be and I ended up coming away from it with slightly negative feelings.

However, in light of the movie being released soon I decided that a reread was in order; and since I know how the trilogy ends now, I thought that maybe I would be able to read this with a fresh perspective and possibly enjoy it more. Luckily, I was right!

Since I was able to set aside my misgivings from my first read-through and just enjoy the adorableness of this story, I ended up loving it so much more!

The things that annoyed me the first time still annoyed me this time… that’s mostly just the lie that makes up the entire basis of this book. I hate when the main characters lie and the entire plot is all about keeping up that lie. It’s so frustrating to me and I have a hard time sympathizing with the characters when things fall apart and people have gotten hurt. Like, you caused this, you literally asked for it.

That being said, this is the perfect, fluffy summer read and I think there are very few who will be immune to the charms of Lara Jean and Peter K.

 

Jenny Han: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Margaret Rogerson “An Enchantment of Ravens”

30969741Title: An Enchantment of Ravens

Author: Margaret Rogerson

Genre: Fantasy

My Rating: 3/5 stars

 

In this world of fair folks, the fair seek out the “Craft” of humans. In other words, they themselves are talentless and unable to do the simplest things like cooking and writing, so they pay humans to do these tasks for them. Their payment? Enchantments.

In this story, Isobel is a human whose Craft is to paint. She’s highly-sought after by the fair folk, actually, her talents astounding. They come from far and wide for her to do portrait paintings of themselves and in return, gift her with enchantments of her choosing. Isobel asks for things to protect her and her family, mostly, even though the fair folk laugh at her practicality.

Unfortunately, after doing a portrait for the autumn prince, Rook, and making a terrible mistake, Isobel is taken against her will to stand trial.

My thoughts:

I’m afraid I didn’t do a good enough job of explaining the world in my summary, but sadly it was difficult to do in a way that flowed. I hate to give too much away since I went into this story fairly blind, but know that it’s a beautifully done world with a very interesting concept. I loved the idea of humans having Crafts and that the fair folk were imperfect, as they are rarely anything but supermodels in many other fairy stories.

The beginning of An Enchantment of Ravens was interesting and I found myself hooked from the beginning. Sadly, that’s where it seemed to peak.

There is an obvious attraction between Isobel and Rook, but love between fair folk and humans are strictly prohibited. The punishment: death.

I did not feel their romance at all.

I never got behind their relationship. I never liked Rook. This was a horrendous case of instalove that I could never believe. After spending a few days in the woods with Isobel, Rook decides that he loves her, even though he literally knows nothing about her. She’s immersed in his world so her eventual love for him makes a tiny bit of sense, but he knows nothing of hers. He doesn’t understand the ways of humans; not even their simple mannerisms. There’s no way he loves her.

And sadly yet, the conclusion was so abrupt and sudden.

This book had such a lovely beginning, and it sports some absolutely beautiful writing. However, for it being part romance, I have to actually believe in the couple. And I did not.

 

Margaret Rogerson: Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Goodreads

BOOK REVIEW: Markus Zusak “I Am the Messenger”

51Qn-Z31z-LTitle: I Am the Messenger

Author: Markus Zusak

Genre: Contemporary/Mystery

My Rating: 2/5 stars

 

Ed Kennedy is barely living. He’s an underage cab driver, he’s hopelessly in love with his best friend who has friend-zoned him for life, and he basically lives in a shack. He’s a dead-beat. But through a series of strange events, he stops a bank robbery and several days later is served the first ace.

On this playing card, he finds 3 addresses, and upon visiting these addresses finds different people that he needs to take care of; to either hurt or help them. This book follows Ed’s journey as he receives more cards, involves himself in other people’s lives, and ultimately learns an important lesson.

My thoughts:

I feel it should be noted that this book was written by the author of The Book Thief, which I loved. However, I never went into this expecting more of the stuff that The Book Thief has to offer, nor should anyone else. This definitely reads as Markus Zusak with his unique writing style and his John Green way of thinking. You know what I’m referring to: having consistently beautiful and poetic thoughts that are voiced always just ever-so-perfectly. It’s great, don’t get me wrong. However, there was definitely something missing for me this time.

It’s hard to say what it was. Something about the way this was written just didn’t click with me, but I can see how it might appeal to others. I just had a difficult time connecting with Ed, which ended up making this a difficult read. For being such a dead-beat, he thought an awful lot of himself apparently because he felt so entitled to his best friend’s affections. I hate this attitude, and I know many others do as well.

This book is definitely a little more heavy content-wise. If you’re triggered by rape, you may want to steer clear of this book.

Part of me was frustrated by the unrealistic air of the story. What, Ed receives 3 addresses in the mail and he just feels like he has to go there? And then once he gets there, he always knows exactly what he’s supposed to do?

Did I see what this book was trying to do? Yes. The message of the story is obvious, and I can appreciate what Zusak was trying to convey, but I don’t think it was as poignant or moving as it could have been. However, maybe this book didn’t resonate with me, but I can’t say how it might make some other reader feel. Perhaps it’s a matter of taste because I have seen many 4 and 5 star reviews on Goodreads. I’m glad that there are people that took good away from this book; unfortunately, I did not.

 

Markus Zusak: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

I’m a Terrible Reader, Please Help Me

I seriously suck.

Here we are, basically halfway through November, and I have read one book. ONE BOOK. And get this: it wasn’t even a book on my November TBR. Get this, there’s not a single book on my TBR that looks appealing to me.

So, yeah, I hereby ban monthly TBR lists for me. I can’t do them. I picked out a bunch of books, and I’m not in the mood to read a single one. Yet I feel guilty picking up anything that’s not on my TBR, so now I haven’t read anything. What a vicious cycle this is.

As of today, this monthly TBR has been disbanded and I am free to read anything I want. What a freeing, liberating feeling! *looks at my mile-high forever TBR pile* *cries* *hides in shame* *plays Skyrim instead*

I am in the worst reading slump, guys, and I need help. I can’t afford to be in a slump, so what are some all-natural remedies for a book-hangover? I thought that reading Geekerella would do it, and I really enjoyed it, but I still look at my pile of books and cower in fear. I still pick up a book, read three pages, then turn on Netflix.

In an attempt to pull myself out of this, I’m going to read another mystery/thriller type book, which was what seemed to have put me in a slump to begin with. The last book I completed last month was Little Monsters by Kara Thomas, which I loved. It was everything I wanted in a mystery/thriller and checked all of my boxes and was just so satisfying. Maybe if I read another book like this, I will cure myself; so Genuine Fraud by E Lockhart should hopefully do the trick.

In all seriousness, what are some tips and tricks from my fellow booklovers for pulling yourself out of a reading slump? How do you do it?