Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Book Title Tag

I wish I knew who had come up with this tag (I tried to trace back the trail and got stuck), so cheers to whoever it was because it was fun to do. I skipped a few prompts because I didn't care about them, so if I'm missing a number, that's why. Graphics stolen with love from Shannon's blog.


peace and tranquility and NO ONE AROUND TO INTERRUPT MY READING

I'm gonna cheat and use a Harry Potter book. DON'T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT.

Self-explanatory really.

Rome, travel destination of my heart. 😍


Okay, I wouldn't actually WANT to rule Lumatere or the Rock people or any of the others. But if I chose anywhere to be in that series, it'd be with the Monts. <3

Does this not sound like a band name? Imagine an all-girl group singing about OTPs of pain and #bookwormprobs. That's The Belles. 😁

Love the alternate reality I live in where Hillary won and we don't have to drown in anxiety and worry anymore. jk but seriously, I am always day-dreaming so this quite fits. I also wanted to put Lost in a Book here, which would've been equally fitting. :D

What are the book titles of YOUR life? :)

Monday, August 28, 2017

5 Reasons to Read Little & Lion

Title: Little & Lion
Author: Brandy Colbert
Publisher: Little, Brown
Release Date: August 8th, 2017!

*I picked up a copy of this at ALA annual.

Buy It: Amazon

From Goodreads...
When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn't sure if she'll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.

But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new...the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel's disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself--or worse.

1. It's intersectional. Suzette (aka Little) is black, Jewish, and bisexual. Her life is vibrant and messy and full and complicated, and I appreciated the way that the author explored it. A few reviews mentioned how she gets the teenage (and just life in general) experience, that sometimes it's so many things at once, and not just a specific issue or situation. I agree, and I thought everything was handled with care and sensitivity, that nothing ever felt unimportant or unnecessary. Though the story COULD have been longer, I felt that Suzette's personal journey was still at the forefront, even amid everything else.

2. It's queer-centric. Not only is Suzette bisexual, but her best friend is a lesbian (and is dating a lesbian). The love interest of both Little & Lion is pansexual. There are a lot of characters, and this book does so well at showing the variations of relationships. There is also much focus on sexuality, as Suzette isn't even sure if she IS bi. Did she just like her previous girlfriend and her new coworker and is actually straight? Or is she really attracted to guys and girls? It accepts this by having open conversations between the MC and other people in her life. Her parents are also supportive of Suzette 100%. So suffice it to say, I was very happy with the rep here.

3. It's full of family love. Suzette's parents are so damn cute and in love with each other. They are so understanding and kind, and they try very hard to give their kids freedom but not at the cost of their health. And Suze became fast friends with Lionel, who is by all counts her stepbrother even if her mother and Saul aren't actually married. But it's not all sunshine and rainbows. Relationships are complicated, and Brandy Colbert totally gets that. While they've got each other's backs, Suzette and Lionel both have to learn just how much secrets can spiral out of control. And they're both going through their own shit, and are trying to figure out who they are, separately and together. But their bond is still strong, and I loved that they had each other.

4. It's got a focus on mental health. I'm always here for books that have a strong mental health aspect, especially if it's positive. Meaning all books like this will resonate with people differently, as mental illness is so nuanced. But there are definitely ways in which stories can instead feed into negative stereotypes about mental illness, and keep people from seeking help. The author kicks back against this very thing, which was GREAT. Lionel has bipolar disorder, so he's not always a character you're going to like. He's selfish and kind of a disaster. He goes off his meds. He tries to emotionally blackmail Suzette into not telling their parents. But that made it realistic. It shows how mental illness can tell you lies and make your brain attack you. It's important to see the layers, the good and the bad. And I loved Little & Lion for showing that.

5. It's got a cute, sex positive romance. Suzette isn't sure of herself or her sexuality after what happened at her boarding school, and her not-break-up with her roommate. But she still finds a childhood friend super adorable, and decides to give it a chance, even while she's not sure if she's more into her new coworker. And through it all, she's got this sweet guy not pressuring for more than she wants to give, who isn't bothered that she's bisexual, who likes her for her. He is so understanding and caring, and their romance was so great. There is just so much positive here, so much good I can say about their relationship and the book in general. JUST READ IT, GUYS!


Friday, August 25, 2017

I Just Want to Read ALL THE BOOKS

I've just finished my 104th book for the year, beating my Goodreads goal of 100, and well onto my way of passing my # from 2016 (which was 160). And, you know, I'm pretty happy. Although I always hope to hit 200+ again like I did in 2014, the last few years were difficult, and I wasn't reading as much. And even since 2017 has started, I haven't been reading as much I've wanted to, especially given the backed up review copies on my multiple TBRs. I try hard, though, but I also know that if I don't let myself slow down a time or two, it's only going to make it worse when I'm stuck in a reading slump. I've kicked back against those already a few times this year, and I hate them as much as anyone. But I also like to make sure I've got a good balance of books and life. For missing precious moments because my nose is stuck in a story is not good. It's a careful balance, and one that I'm starting to perfect, but I still want to read as often as possible.

I know that I'm not the fastest reader in the world, especially when I look at a few people's numbers and wonder how the hell they've managed it. (Seriously Rashika, how did you read nearly 400 books in 2013?! yes, hello, my friends and I are stalkers, NOTHING IS SACRED). And I KNOW it's not about the numbers anyway. At least, for me, it's not. I'd much rather have quality over quantity, but to tell you the truth, I read A LOT because I just have so many books I want to get to. Yeah, I also might be competitive with others (hi Shannon) and definitely myself (I'm constantly striving to top that 2014 goal), but it's more that I'm just too interested in ALL THE BOOKS. It sucks to realize that I probably won't be able to read all of them in my lifetime, but I can damn sure try. I've gotten good at culling out my TBR and removing those I don't think are for me anymore. But there are still way too many books, and not nearly enough time to read them all.

So I've gotten a lot faster over the years, and I've learned my habits so well I can figure out how long it'll take me to read a book and be pretty spot-on each time. Typically, I'm very consistent. A 300 page novel will take me roughly 5 hours, give or take a few. That's a page a minute, and I've found that it doesn't tend to stray far from that pace. But there are quite a few extraneous variables that can change it.

1. The pace of the story. This is a huge factor in whether or not that I'll finish a book faster or slower than I anticipated. I just read Whichwood, and it was 360 pages, but it was really fast-paced and such a readable story that I finished it in like 3 and a half hours. Like WHOA. So yeah, if a book has pacing issues, it's going to affect how long it'll take me to read it.

2. How invested I am. Another huge factor! If I'm simply not interested in the story, what motivation do I have to finish it? Especially if I don't end up DNFing. Man, then I really start to regret everything. And even though I want to be done just so I can finally move on, I will still read slowly, or in bits and pieces throughout a few weeks or months. It's the wooorst when I feel like this. :(

3. The downhill rush toward the ending. Do you ever notice that the last 50 to 100 pages go by faster? Or is that just me? I've found that I tend to read faster the closer I get to The End. It's like the authors speed up the story once they've hit the complex, and it's all a smooth glide from there. I'll look at the time I'm done, and realize it took me at least 20 or 30 minutes less than I'd expected. Maybe it's just the fact that I KNOW I'm almost finished that I want to get there even faster. But this happens so frequently that I wonder if it's more than that. Have you guys experienced this too?!

4. The format. If you look at Illuminae and get intimidated by the size (it's 600+ pages, YIKES), I'll tell you a secret: it's a lot easier, and faster, to read than you think. Of course, that's dependent upon you liking the story enough. But that book took me hours less than I thought it would. Because of how it's formatted, it is so fast-paced that it doesn't even really give you time to slow down. Another one was 5 to 1, which was both prose and poetry. I love books like this honestly!

5. The genre. This is not always strictly true, but I definitely read most contemporaries a lot faster than I do, say, fantasies. Because of the intricacy of world-building in anything that's not realistic fiction (though I don't discount the buildup you have to do even for books set in the modern world), they're not as breezy to read through. And sometimes, you can get so bogged down in the details and the background that you wonder if the payout will be worth it. tbh, it generally is, but it doesn't make me want to read complicated, puzzles of stories when I can read another book in half that time. So sometimes I will definitely choose a short(er) book instead.

Have you guys ever noticed any reading habits like this? Do you think the latter half of a book goes a bit faster? Do you think genres can make a difference? How are you doing on your Goodreads challenge? Let's talk! :)

Thursday, August 24, 2017

July Mini Reviews

I meant to post this awhile ago. WHOOPS. I've been in such a blah blogging mood, and yeah, it's suffered. I mean, I've been reading A LOT. I was lucky enough to pick up a ton of highly anticipated books from ALA annual in June, so I've been reading most of those and feeling good that I'm getting through them. But when it comes to writing reviews, and posts in general, I just have got zero motivation or energy for it. So I'm sorry guys, but it might still be slow for awhile. However, I'm confident this is just a slump and that I'll come back stronger this fall. :) In the meantime, here's what I thought about these two July releases!


Title: What to Say Next
Author: Julie Buxbaum
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: July 11th, 2017!
*I picked up a copy of this at ALA midwinter.

From Goodreads...
From the New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me Three Things comes a charming and poignant story about two struggling teenagers who find an unexpected connection just when they need it most. For fans of Sophie Kinsella, Jennifer Niven, and Rainbow Rowell.

Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.

DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her.

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?

My Review!

For a book that should have wrecked me, I'm disappointed. Because of the drama of her mom cheating and Kit being the actual driver of the accident, I was emotionally taken out of the story. imo, it wasn't needed. This is the second book in recent memory that I've read this year that has overpowered a story of grief for shit like this. and you know, it's life, so things like that DO happen, but it felt unnecessary to me. Just a way for David and Kit to have their relationship challenged, and for Kit to be even more broken over her dad dying. idk, but after all that, the tears stopped, and I felt like the book lost its way.

But other than all that, I enjoyed this one, especially appreciated the representation with a character who is on the autism spectrum (specifically, Asperger's, which I guess isn't an actual DSM diagnosis anymore??? I feel I should have known this as a person with a degree in psychology). Again, though, it was not emotional for me, and I haaaated the bullying that David was subjected to, without like any sort of apology or help! I was not a fan of the way that this story handled any of that aspect. Ugh, idk. I still quite liked the book, and I adored David especially, but I wanted more from it.



Title: Lucky in Love
Author: Kasie West 
Publisher: Scholastic
Release Date: July 25th, 2017!
*I picked up a copy of this from ALA midwinter. 

From Goodreads...
Can’t buy me love…

Maddie’s not impulsive. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment—

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun…until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

My Review!
This one was very meh for me. It was basically a story about a girl who wins the lottery and starts spending all her money and trusting the wrong kind of people before realizing she needs to be more responsible about it. Pretty boring, even though the romance was just the right side of sweet. Seth was adorable, Blaire and Elise were great friends even when Maddie let this money change her and almost ruin her relationships with them (though I guess one was almost ruined because of another Thing, but that was such a small part of this). I was not a fan of her family, though; they've got issues and they took advantage of her. So the ending all wrapped up just a *bit* too nicely for me. Lucky in Love was definitely not my favorite West book, not even close. SUCH SADNESS.


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

(80) Top Ten Books I Wish I'd Read in High School

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic: Back To School Freebie: anything "back to school" related like 10 favorite books I read in school, books I think should be required reading, Required Reading For All Fantasy Fans, required reading for every college freshman, Books to Pair With Classics or Books To Complement A History Lesson, books that would be on my classroom shelf if I were a teacher, etc.


so yeah, if you're wondering why I'm posting this on Wednesday, that's why. I JUST GOT SUPER EXCITED ABOUT THIS PROMPT, OKAY? 


1. Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
I didn't become a feminist until college, after so many years believing the toxic attitudes toward women and thinking it was a Bad word. But I wish I'd read a book this empowering when I was in my young years, to tell Teen Me that she shouldn't be so mean about other girls, that she should be supporting them. And this was just so inspiring that I wish I'd had a Moxie "club" back in high school.

2. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
tbh, I think this book should be required reading for ALL teens. But myself especially could've used this after growing up near a small-town that was (and still is) predominantly white. My high school was not inclusive and pretty terrible, and none of us grew up understanding how the world actually was. We had our little bubbles of privilege, and that wasn't tested for me until after HS, so I'm so excited that this book can help shatters those for teens around the country.

3. The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord
I was always very shy about my religious beliefs, because people my age just had Views on church folk. I needed a book saying, "hey, it's okay to have faith" but one with an MC who still questions God and herself, and her values. One that says it's okay to not have it all figured out. Also love the strong focus on friendships in Emery's stories, so I could've used that when I was struggling with fitting in and being myself around people.

4. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
I STILL struggle with body image and insecurity and self-hatred, but in my younger years, it was a damaging cycle that kept me from feeling the even the slightest bit happy about how I looked. I needed the warm hug that is Molly and this book, this girl who is overweight and working through her own body image issues but who still is crushing and finding a new level of confidence in a boy who likes her for her.

5. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

To be fair, this came out before I was in high school even, but I'd never heard of it until I started blogging, SO I'M COUNTING IT. This is a story about a girl navigating being a teen after learning that her mom has depression, and wondering about her identity without her mom around. My mom was diagnosed with MI when I was young, so I definitely felt for Francesca's character, and how hard it is relearning a world that doesn't make much sense anymore. So good, I need a reread!

6. Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert
This book had such honest and open dialogues regarding race, sexuality, mental health, etc, that it would've been a great story to have at a time where you question everything about who you are and what you want out of life.

7. Quiet by Susan Cain
I've never felt more understood as a person. I didn't realize how much I needed someone say it was okay to be an introvert for me to believe it. I've always been told to go out and have fun, socialize, stop reading so much. For some reason, people have always thought (and still do apparently) that my life is unfulfilled and has no meaning because I need my introvert and quiet time, because I'd rather stay home to read on a Friday night than go to a party. It's aggravating, but I'm definitely happier with who I am than I've been in the past. SO. I'm fine missing those parties. ;)

8. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
I don't want to get TOO personal here, because damn my feelings for this book are so twisted up. But let's just say I could've used this book when I was a senior in high school, when I'd just lost someone very important to me, to say that it's okay to be angry. That it's okay to want to break things. That it's okay to cry. Though I did graduate after it came out, I would not read it for another 5 years, so that is sad. I also really loved Release and am glad teens nowadays have it!

9. Play On by Michelle Smith
There is so much good in this book that I don't even know where to start. It was so personally relatable for me that I definitely wish I'd had it as a teen. Austin and his beautiful soul, the exploration of mental illness through both a caregiver's perspective and someone who is going through it. Still one of the best portrayals I've read. This is the book of my heart, y'all.

10. Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand
Not only was it super nostalgic for me, but I really loved how Claire wrote Finley's character. I felt like I'd found a kindred spirit, and all I wanted to do was wrap Fin in a giant bear hug and tell her that I get it. <3

It's not really surprising that most of these are YA books, of which that have come out in the last few years. YA has gotten a hell of a lot better since I was a teen, and books now are more inclusive and more diverse than they've been in the past. Not nearly enough for sure! And there are still so many problematic ones out there. But I love what I'm seeing and reading right now, and teens are lucky, guys. 

What books do YOU wish you'd read in while you were in middle/high school? Would any of these make your list? Let's talk! :)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Why Is 2018 So Far Away

Sometimes I think about books coming out post-2017 and get excited. There are just SO MANY that sound freaking amazing, and I just want to read them already. But I can't. *sobs* In the meantime, I want to showcase the ones I'm most excited about. And I really, really did try to cut this down, but I COULDN'T. I TRIED HARD, GUYS. 

(I checked the dates on Goodreads, so they are all currently scheduled for 2018 publication. But as we all know, sometimes things happen, so let's just cross our fingers we get all of these next year! :D)

From Favorite Authors:
Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore: as she is one of my forever faves, I don't even CARE what it's about honestly. However, it does sound freaking amazing! And it's one of my highly anticipated for sure.

The Fast Track by Krista and Becca Ritchie: after loving the Addicted series, and the first two books in their Aerial Ethereal world, I will basically read whatever they write. And it's their first YA, exciting!

Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West: Kasie is one of my auto-read/buy authors, so OF COURSE I'm excited for her next book! :D

Sawkill Girls and Ashborn by Claire Legrand: I still have only read SKOH, but I loved it so much that I want to read her backlist and her upcoming books.

Aru Shah and the End of Time and The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi: Roshani has quickly become one of my favorite authors after loving her previous novels, so I'm really looking forward to what she has next!

Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi: I binge-read the series last year (or was it in 2015?) and fell so utterly in love with it, but I WAS a bit disappointed with the ending. So while I'm always nervous about add-ons, I'm super happy too.

Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson: have I told you lately how much I love the Remnant Chronicles? It's one of my all-time favorite series, so when I heard that there were more coming, I about died of excitement. Again, I'm a *little* nervous because I don't always have good luck with add-ons. But since these are companions and not direct sequels, I'm not as apprehensive. Plus, I've no doubt Mary is gonna write another amazing book!

Dear Miss Sweetie by Stacey Lee: I never used to read historical fiction because it just bored me, but I've gotten back into it, and Stacey's books have been some of my faves in that genre. So I'm very happy that she's coming out with another one! And it sounds freaking amazing.

From (Mostly) New-to-Me Authors:
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan: Asian mythology-inspired fantasy that sounds like it might have an f/f romance? yes, please!

Open Mic Night at Westminster Cemetery by Mary Amato: well, for one it's set in a cemetery which always makes for a fantastic setting. Two, there are ghosts!

A Court of Miracles by Kester Grant: a Les Mis reimagining! set in an alternate post-French Revolution Paris! starring Eponine! GIMME.

A Blade So Black by L.L. McKinney: all I needed to know was that it's a retelling of Alice in Wonderland to put it on the TBR, tbh. The MC is an ass-kicking black teen, and it's the type of diverse story so many people want and need.

The Pendragon Problem by Mari Mancusi: ALTERNATE KING ARTHUR SET IN THE MODERN DAY. hi, hello, when can I have this?

Pearl by Sherri L. Smith: it's a WWII graphic novel with a Japanese-American MC, and it sounds fabulous!

Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton: I just read "a dark fairytale" and I became one of those seagulls in Finding Nemo, shouting MINE. Haha, but seriously the premise sounds awesome!

The Boneless Mercies by April Genevieve Tucholke: I have read some of her previous novels and wasn't super impressed. But this is a Beowulf with badass women at the center of it, and I have a strong need.

A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh and Elsie Chapman: this is a YA anthology that is all retellings and reimaginings of East and South Asian mythology, so I am for this even though I haven't had great luck with anthologies.

Sweet Black Waves by Kristina Perez: another retelling, but this time of the story Tristan and Isolde! I'm not gonna lie, I don't know it well at all, but it still sounds great.

Mirage by Somaiya Daud: it's a Moroccan-inspired fantasy series revolving around a girl becoming the double body for a cruel princess. I'm so excited for it!

City of Islands by Kali Wallace: This looks like it's MG, but I'm still looking forward to it. It's about a girl who discovers bones on the ocean floor of ancient magic. So cool!

Queen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis: it's apparently a hybrid YA/graphic novel inspired by the early life of Queen Elizabeth I. hi, yes, want this.

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo: I've been excited about this ever since Allie shared the announcement. I liked her blog a lot, and I'm very intrigued by the sound of her book. Can't wait to read it!

The Black Coats by Colleen Oakes: a story about a vigilante group seeking justice for violence against women? GIMME.

Pilgrim Playwright Genie Guard edited by Marieke Nijkamp: an #ownvoices anthology with disabled teens front and center, which is so, so needed. It's one of my highly anticipated releases!

Toil & Trouble and Barbed Wire Heart by Tess Sharpe: the first book is an anthology about witches and witchcraft, so fuck yeah. And the second is a feminist adult thriller. So, yup, I need them both.

Circe by Madeline Miller: I want to get reacquainted with the mythology beforehand, but after loving The Song of Achilles, I'm very excited about Madeline's newest book.

I decided to focus only on standalones or first books in a series (or else there would've been more here because clearly I need Obsidio and the sequel to Strange the Dreamer asap). I did keep off the books that I was lucky enough to pick up at ALA Annual too, so that's why there are some (like The Belles, Unearthed, and More Than We Can Tell) that aren't on here. It started to get REALLY long, so I wanted a cut-off point. :) I'm also eagerly anticipating the books below, which already have fantastic covers!

Which of these books are YOU most excited to read? Are there any that didn't make my list that would be on yours? Are you too crying that we can't have these stories yet? UGH. WHY.