My Year of Reading | 2019

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This was a really great reading year for me. The past two years, I’ve averaged around 30ish books but this year, I finished my reading challenge and read more than I was planning!

Here are some of my stats:

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Here are all the books I read this year:

  • Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh
  • Song of the Dead by Sarah Glenn Marsh [REVIEW]
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama [REVIEW]
  • Saga vol. 9 [REVIEW]
  • This Will Be My Undoing by Morgan Jerkins [REVIEW]
  • Again, But Better by Christine Riccio [REVIEW]
  • What Makes Girls Sick and Tired [REVIEW]
  • City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
  • Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid [REVIEW]
  • Where I End & You Begin by Preston North [REVIEW]
  • the Great Alone by Kristin Hannah [REVIEW]
  • Vicious by V.E. Schwab
  • Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor
  • We Are Lost and Found by Helene Dunbar [REVIEW]
  • the Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Autoboyography by Christina Lauren
  • Vengeful by V.E. Schwab
  • When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri
  • Anne Frank’s Diary: the Graphic Adaptation
  • Book Love by Debbie Tung
  • Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck & Fortune by Roselle Lim
  • She Must be Mad by Charly Cox
  • Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
  • Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren
  • Sea of Strangers by Lang Leav
  • Chilling Adventures of Sabrina vol. 1
  • The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
  • Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren [REVIEW]
  • Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins
  • My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren
  • Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
  • Sadie by Courtney Summers
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  • Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell [REVIEW]
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom by Sylvia Plath
  • Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky [REVIEW]
  • If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
  • The Testaments by Margaret Atwood [REVIEW]
  • Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab
  • Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell
  • The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
  • Why I March
  • The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
  • Carrie by Stephen King
  • The Library Book by Susan Orlean
  • Aphrodite Made Me Do It by Trista Mateer [REVIEW]
  • Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
  • To Drink Coffee with a Ghost by Amanda Lovelace
  • Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: the Illustrated Edition
  • Generation Friends by Saul Austerlitz
  • Opal by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Illustrated Edition
  • Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini
  • Love Com vol. 1 by Aya Nakahara
  • Frankly in Love by David Yoon
  • The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
  • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  • No One is too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thungberg

How many books did you read this year?

 

 

 

Find any of these at your local bookstore!

 

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Everything I Read in October | WRAP UP

I totally forgot that a wrap up was a post I needed to write so here I am, at 7pm after work, writing this. I’m also listening to Christmas music because it’s almost my favorite time of the year. It was below 65 today and it was glorious. October is finally over so here’s all the things I read in the last month:

  • The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

This year I realized how much I love Gillian Flynn’s books. I read Sharp Objects and Gone Girl and loved them both. I decided to give this short story a chance because it was all they had by her at my library. It was SO good. I’m not huge on short stories but this one is worth the read, especially if you want something short and spooky.

My rating: ★★★★ out of ★★★★★ (4/5 stars)

  • Why I March: Images from the Woman’s March Around the World by Emma Jacobs

I got this at my library because I wanted to buy it when it came out but couldn’t. It’s essentially just pictures from the Women’s March but I sat and read all the protest signs and it was lovely. I don’t quite know how to rate a book that’s only pictures but I liked it!

My rating: ★★★★ out of ★★★★★ (4/5 stars)

  • the Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

I got a bunch of graphic novels from the library and I loved this one the most. The illustrations are gorgeous and the story is the cutest thing in the world.

My rating: ★★★★ out of ★★★★★ (4/5 stars)

  • Carrie by Stephen King

I wanted to get in the spooky mood so I read Stephen King’s first novel, Carrie. I wish I had read the book before the movie. I knew what was going to happen and the movie didn’t seem to differ much. Glad I can say I’ve read Stephen King now though!

My rating: ★★★ out of ★★★★★ (3/5 stars)

  • the Library Book by Susan Orlean

Ugh, I loved this book so much. I really wish I had my own copy because I loved it so much. It’s about the Los Angeles library fire, the mystery of it all, and the history of libraries as well. I learned so much from this book and her writing is impeccable. There’s some passages from this book I just want to read over and over again because they’re so good.

My rating: ★★★★★ out of ★★★★★ (5/5 stars)

  • Aphrodite Made Me Do It by Trista Mateer

You can read my review for this book here.

My rating: ★★★★ out of ★★★★★ (4/5 stars)

  • Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

I really wish I could give this five stars and obsess over it like everyone else is. I just couldn’t get into it. I was bored most of the time and I barely wanted to pick it up when I had time to read. Personally, I don’t think enough happened in this book for me. It’s not bad writing and the story itself isn’t bad, but the pacing wasn’t my favorite and I struggled with it because of that.

I also don’t agree with people saying this is an “adult Harry Potter” (lol I think Stephen King said that) but to me, it’s not. Just because it has magic in it doesn’t make it comparable. Also, I was kinda thrown off that this entire book essentially about drug use and selling? lol

My rating: ★★★ out of ★★★★★ (3/5 stars)

  • To Drink Coffee with a Ghost by Amanda Lovelace

I read this at like 11pm last night because I couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t my favorite work by her but I think that’s just because I couldn’t relate to it. It’s not bad by any means — Amanda is a great writer and I think if you’re grieving, you’d find immense solace in this book.

My rating: ★★★ out of ★★★★★ (3/5 stars)

 

and that’s it! I read 8 books in October. What did you read this past month? I’d love to know. 🙂

 

Find any of these books as your local bookstore!

 

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Feminist Friday | Aphrodite Made Me Do It [MINI REVIEW]

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“Bestselling and award-winning author Trista Mateer takes an imaginative approach to self-care in this new poetry and prose collection, Aphrodite Made Me Do It. In this empowering retelling, she uses the mythology of the goddess to weave a common thread through the past and present. By the end of this book, Aphrodite will make you believe in the possibility of your own healing.”

 

 

  • Edition: Trade paperback
  • Release Date: October 1st, 2019
  • Publisher: Central Avenue Publishing
  • Page Count: 224
  • Genre: Poetry
  • ISBN: 9781771681742

My Rating:  4 stars ★★★★ out of  ★★★★★ stars (4/5)

I was kindly sent an e-arc of this book by the publisher through Edelweiss. Thank you, Central Avenue Publishing!

 

I’ve never been a huge fan of modern poetry. I’ve read Rupi Kaur’s book and I’ve loved Amanda Lovelace’s books. I received Honeybee by Trista Mateer as a gift and have yet to read it but that might change. I had already heard such good things about Aphrodite Made Me Do It so I decided to snag it for review and WOW, that was a great read.

I read poetry quickly so I sat outside in the nice weather (it finally hit the low 60s!) and devoured this book. I love how this book connects the story of Aphrodite but also intertwines personal writing in there as well. If anything, this poetry book is a perfect feminist read. It immediately reminded me a bit of Sylvia Plath’s writing (not her poetry) and that’s a compliment. This book manages to show so much growth while still remaining consistent with it’s theme and creating a beautiful story with poetry.

I highlighted several different poems, but here are some of my highlighted quotes/poems:

  • “They called me a hundred different names, an epithet for everything. Couldn’t even bother trying to comprehend it all together– that I could be bloody and beautiful, that I  could be divine and approachable.”
  • “Aphrodite tells me that love is like wine. If your cup is already full and you try to add more, it will just spill onto the carpet. Some people try and try and just stain everything. Their fingers are purple with want.”
  • “To love something deeply is only to know that you will go to great lengths to protect it.”
  • “She says, if you were only meant to be beautiful, we wouldn’t have put you down here in the dirt.”

and so many more. The writing is so lyrical and gorgeous that it’s easy to love. Anyone who loves a good feminist poet or is interested in mythology will love this! I’ll be looking forward to this author’s next releases!

*please note I read an unfinished copy so these quotes might have been changing within the original copy*

 

 

 

 

Find Aphrodite Made Me Do It at your local bookstore!

 

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Twice in a Blue Moon [REVIEW]

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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners and the “delectable, moving” (Entertainment WeeklyMy Favorite Half-Night Stand comes a modern love story about what happens when your first love reenters your life when you least expect it…

Sam Brandis was Tate Jones’s first: Her first love. Her first everything. Including her first heartbreak.

During a whirlwind two-week vacation abroad, Sam and Tate fell for each other in only the way that first loves do: sharing all of their hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets along the way. Sam was the first, and only, person that Tate—the long-lost daughter of one of the world’s biggest film stars—ever revealed her identity to. So when it became clear her trust was misplaced, her world shattered for good.

Fourteen years later, Tate, now an up-and-coming actress, only thinks about her first love every once in a blue moon. When she steps onto the set of her first big break, he’s the last person she expects to see. Yet here Sam is, the same charming, confident man she knew, but even more alluring than she remembered. Forced to confront the man who betrayed her, Tate must ask herself if it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason… and whether “once in a lifetime” can come around twice.

With Christina Lauren’s signature “beautifully written and remarkably compelling” (Sarah J. Maas, New York Times bestselling author) prose and perfect for fans of Emily Griffin and Jennifer Weiner, Twice in a Blue Moon is an unforgettable and moving novel of young love and second chances.”

Edition: Paperback

Release Date: October 22nd, 2019

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Gallery Books

My Rating:  stars 3.5 ★★★out of ★★★★★ stars (4/5)

I was kindly sent an e-arc of this book by the publisher through NetGalley. 

I’ve been on a Christina Lauren binge lately. I may or may not have checked out nearly every Christina Lauren book at this point and I don’t regret it. I decided that despite the release date being far away, I’d give this book a go because, you know, it’s Christina Lauren. It’s a second chances trope between a Hollywood actor and a guy she’d met on a trip when she was eighteen. It skips forward to when she’s thirty half way through the book and this is obviously where we see the second chances.

I’m going to be completely honest with you — this book just wasn’t my favorite Christina Lauren book. It didn’t really feel like a Christina Lauren book to me either. The beginning of this book obviously takes place when the main character, Tate, is eighteen and on a vacation with her grandmother. They end up meeting an older guy and his niece who’s conveniently also Tate’s age. It feels SO much like a YA novel (something I’m not in the mood to read lately) because of their age and the INSTA-LOVE. They literally know each other for less than a few weeks and spend every waking minute together in London. I feel like if anything, she should’ve spent more time with her grandma on this trip. I just felt such a disconnection at this point. I didn’t care for their love story because they felt way too old to be acting the way they did. Maybe it’s because Tate is naive due to her situation but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

The climax of this book is interesting, at least. While on the trip, news breaks out about who Tate really is and she has to be flown home. She ends up getting, a PR assistant or something? who plays a fun character. It’s very obvious who ended up telling her story and she feels horrible about it because she wasn’t even supposed to tell people in the first place. I was sort of peeved that this happened but it makes for a more interesting second half of the book so I’m not going to complain about it like it’s a big deal.

The second half of the book, however, was much better than the first half. Tate is now thirty and an actor. She’s still very much talked about in the news day to day and has the same assistant. She ends up doing this movie deal with her dad who’s not very present in her life due to his break up with her mom and him being  a jerk to the media. I hated that he became a present character because he’s never likable and it’s hard to believe that the author wants you to like this guy when he’s never been in her life anyway.

In fact, I think the ending of this book was so, so predictable when in comes to her relationship with her dad and the re-entrance of Sam. I liked Sam in the second half of the book and I think it’s fantastic we learned why he did what he did. He seems no different from the beginning of the novel so of course, he’s a SWEETIE. Christina Lauren can’t write a bad romance because I loved their relationship in the second half of the book.

I think I just have negative feelings towards this book because I feel like it was supposed to have depth but it didn’t. I thought it was supposed to be much more focused on life lessons than it really was. It was just another really good 300 page contemporary novel I can give a solid four stars to and call it a day. Basically, what I’m saying is that I had higher expectations for this novel and they just weren’t meant. It’s not a bad book, truly. I’ve read a bunch of their other books by now and don’t think this one is the worst but it’s certainly not the best.

I think if you enjoy the rest of Christina Lauren’s books, especially Autoboyography, you might enjoy this one!

 

Find Twice in a Blue Moon at your local bookstore!

 

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I read TEN books this month? | September Wrap Up

Yes, you heard that right! I managed to read ten entire books this month. This is above my average (it’s around 4) and I’m so excited to be reading again! Let’s get into all the books I managed to read in the month of September.

1. Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell + Faith Erin Hicks

Screen Shot 2019-09-30 at 9.51.25 PM.pngI read this at the very beginning of the month and I absolutely ADORED it. It’s the perfect Fall read and I totally plan to read it again. I ended up giving this book five out of five stars. I have a review here for anyone who is interested in knowing more! ★★★★★

Edition I read: Paperback

Page Count: 368 pages

Date Read: September 5th, 2019

Find it at your at local bookstore!

2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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I decided to pick this up on audio because last month, I listened to Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn and really enjoyed it. I’ve always heard about Gone Girl and I know people love this book so I wasn’t worried about not liking it. I’m new into thrillers and I found this book SO entertaining. The audiobook is magnificent. I ended up giving it five out of five stars. ★★★★★

Edition I read: Audiobook

Page Count: 415 pages

Date Read: August 28th-September 5th
Find it at your at local bookstore!

3. Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom by Sylvia Plath

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I decided to listen to this on audiobook since it’s like 40 something minutes long and to be honest, I don’t remember a thing. I did enjoy it, though? I ended up giving it three out of five stars. ★★★

Edition I read: Audiobook

Page Count: 48 pages

Date Read: September 4th
Find it at your at local bookstore!

4. Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

Processed with VSCO with a6 presetI’ve never had so much fun reading a book. I wrote an entire review for this release, so here’s the link. I loved it and gave it a solid four out of five stars. ★★★★

Edition I read: E-book (arc copy)

Page Count: 720 pages

Date Read: August 26th-September 7th
Find it at your at local bookstore!

5. If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio

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So many people love this book but I just wasn’t feeling it. While it’s atmospheric and the characters are somewhat interesting, the plot bored me to death. I also found it kind of predictable. I gave it three stars! ★★★

Edition I read: Hardcover

Page Count: 368 pages

Date Read: September 8th-September 12th
Find it at your at local bookstore!

 

 

6. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

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I cracked open this book the moment I picked it up from the bookstore. I got it on release day and absolutely devoured it. I found this one way more entertaining than the first one! It might be an unpopular opinion, but I like it more than the first. If you want to know more of my thoughts, here’s my review! ★★★★★

Edition I read: Hardcover

Page Count: 422 pages

Date Read: September 12th-September 14th
Find it at your at local bookstore!

7. Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab

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This was another one of my audiobook picks this month and it was so good! It’s a newer release so I’m shocked I got it at my library so quickly but it was lovely. I can’t wait for the next book! ★★★★

Edition I read: Audiobook

Page Count: 304 pages

Date Read: September 8th-September 14th
Find it at your at local bookstore!

8. Kingdom Of Ash by Sarah J. Maas

33590260 What a finale. I’m so sad that these books are over. I’ve been reading them as they released and it’s been one hell of a ride. I’ll miss Chaol, Dorian, and Aelin so much. Until I read it again! I gave this book five out of five stars. Absolutely excellent. ★★★★★

Edition I read: Hardcover

Page Count: 984 pages

Date Read: September 16th-September 18th
Find it at your at local bookstore!

9. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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I’m so glad I finally got to reading this book. It’s on my Fall TBR so I planned to read it but wow, it was amazing. I love Angie Thomas’ writing so much and I already have On the Come Up checked out from the library. This should be required reading. I, of course, gave it five out of five stars. ★★★★★

Edition I read: Hardcover

Page Count: 444 pages

Date Read: September 19th-September 22nd
Find it at your at local bookstore!

10. Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

Screen Shot 2019-09-30 at 11.26.33 PMI have a lot of feelings about this book but I can’t really put them into words right now. I might write a mini review but as for now, know that I did love it but I just have minor issues with it. I missed Rainbow’s writing so much and reading this was such a relief. It was the writing I love dearly and also, Simon and Baz. I ended up giving it four out of five stars. ★★★★

Edition I read: Hardcover

Page Count: 984 pages

Date Read: September 25th-26th
Find it at your at local bookstore!

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the Testaments [MINI REVIEW]

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42975172“More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results.

Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third voice: a woman who wields power through the ruthless accumulation and deployment of secrets.

As Atwood unfolds The Testaments, she opens up the innermost workings of Gilead as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes.

“Dear Readers: Everything you’ve ever asked me about Gilead and its inner workings is the inspiration for this book. Well, almost everything! The other inspiration is the world we’ve been living in.” –Margaret Atwood”

Edition: Hardcover
Page Count: 432 pages
ISBN: 0385543786
Published: September 10th 2019
Publisher: Nan A. Talese / Double Day Books

 

“As they say, history does not repeat itself, but it rhymes.” ― Margaret Atwood, The Testaments

 

As some of you might know, I finished The Testaments shortly after it’s release! I got my book in the day of it’s release (the same day I miraculously sprained my ankle leaving the bookstore)  and I absolutely devoured it. My copy is full of green sticky tabs because there was SO many things I felt I needed to tab.

I decided to make this a mini review because I didn’t critically read it and write notes like I do with books that I usually will write longer reviews for. I just read this one for pure enjoyment and it was wonderful. I ended up giving it five out of five stars over on Goodreads because it was that good. Let’s talk about the things that I loved:

I thought the writing in this book was impeccable. I recently read the Handmaid’s Tale this year and I loved Margaret Atwood’s stand out writing in that novel as well. But, WOW. The writing in this novel makes it so much easier to binge-read. I found it much more entertaining and I didn’t feel like I had to stop and re-read the page like I did with the first book. I don’t know if it’s because the Handmaid’s Tale is such a popular feminist classic that it was daunting or I just simply enjoy this second book more. I definitely think there’s a shift in the writing style so if you’re looking for that same writing in the Handmaid’s Tale, I don’t think it’s here.

Another thing that made this book even more entertaining is that we get three POVs instead of one. I was ecstatic when I realized this. You get to know Gilead much better because you’re experiencing it in the eyes of three very different women. We follow a young girl growing up in Canada with a secret and mysterious link to Gilead, one girl growing up in Gilead (although to a wealthy family) and Aunt Lydia — a character we know from the first book. As much as I loved reading Aunt Lydia’s POV, I found the other girls POVs just as interesting and intriguing.

There’s a few scenes in this book that almost felt too real that it was scary. I think that’s a huge reason why Margaret Atwood wrote this book because so many of these things you’d expect in Gilead, are happening here in the United States. For example, there’s an Aunt Lydia scene where she’s been questioned about her past life (abortions, divorces, etc.) by a man essentially hiring her and I was so on edge the entire time. It’s upsetting how this way of thinking is real.

If you loved the Handmaid’s Tale because of how feminist it was, I think you’ll LOVE this novel. While the writing style isn’t as dramatic as the first book, I think the impact is still the same and this book proves it’s point. Also, if you’re wanting to know more about Gilead, this is definitely the book for you!

 

 

Buy the Testaments at your local bookstore

 

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Imaginary Friend [REVIEW]

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 “A young boy is haunted by a voice in his head in this “haunting and thrilling” epic of literary horror from the #1 NYT bestselling author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower (John Green).

Christopher is seven years old.
Christopher is the new kid in town.
Christopher has an imaginary friend.

We can swallow our fear or let our fear swallow us.

Single mother Kate Reese is on the run. Determined to improve life for her and her son, Christopher, she flees an abusive relationship in the middle of the night with her child. Together, they find themselves drawn to the tight-knit community of Mill Grove, Pennsylvania. It’s as far off the beaten track as they can get. Just one highway in, one highway out.

At first, it seems like the perfect place to finally settle down. Then Christopher vanishes. For six awful days, no one can find him. Until Christopher emerges from the woods at the edge of town, unharmed but not unchanged. He returns with a voice in his head only he can hear, with a mission only he can complete: Build a tree house in the woods by Christmas, or his mother and everyone in the town will never be the same again.

Twenty years ago, Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower made readers everywhere feel infinite. Now, Chbosky has returned with an epic work of literary horror, years in the making, whose grand scale and rich emotion redefine the genre. Read it with the lights on.”

On Sale Date: October 1, 2019
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
ISBNS: 9781538731338, 1538731339
Edition: Hardcover (I read an ARC e-copy)
Page Count: 720
Genre: Fiction / Horror 
TRIGGER WARNINGS: sexual assault, child abuse/abuse in general, alcohol abuse, violence against women

My Rating:  stars ★★★★ out of ★★★★★ stars (4/5)

 

I was kindly sent a physical copy of this book by Grand Central Publishing in exchange for a review. Thank you, Grand Central Pub! Any opinion stated is my own.

 

This review is SPOILER FREE!

I’m just going to start this review off saying that I’m not your usual horror/thriller reader. In fact, I’ve only recently started reading more thrillers. I’ve never really read horror before. These books just scare me so I would stray away from them. I’ve been picking up more and more Gillian Flynn and loving them so I decided that maybe I should give more horrors and thrillers a chance. So, what perfect timing! It’s the spooky season and Stephen Chbosky is releasing his second novel, Imaginary Friend.

I’m not going to lie, this book is a bit daunting. It’s a horror novel (something I don’t read often like I said) and it’s around 700 pages. Any 700 page novel is daunting to me but a horror novel?! I could never. But, HERE I AM. And I loved every bit of it. The main reason I decided to request this arc is because I am a huge fan of Perks of Being a Wallflower. I know, this book doesn’t seem anything like that but hear me out. I’m also quite the reader so I’m not afraid of reading things that make me uncomfortable and I’m also aware that an author’s writings aren’t going to be the same. I knew this whenever I requested Imaginary Friend that this isn’t my type of book but I trust this author so I’m going to read it anyway.

If you’re worried about this book due to the genre, the fact he only has one other novel that’s entirely different, or the size — That’s okay! Don’t give up on this book, though. I’m about to write an entire review about why I think it’s worth it and why I, someone who doesn’t even read horror novels, loved it.

If you don’t know what this book is about, the description probably won’t help you either. I think it’s best you go into this novel basically knowing nothing. It’s way more exciting that way. I realized after I had finish it that even though I did read the description, I still wasn’t expecting what I got. This isn’t a bad thing, though. I loved not knowing what was going to happen next. It’s 100% a page turner. The chapters are incredibly short and usually end with that sentence that leaves you shocked and wanting more. You’ll end up flipping through the entire book not even knowing how close you are to the end.

It’s a haunting story of Good vs. Evil, a story full of biblical references, and a story that really makes you THINK. There was a point in this novel that I got out a pen and paper to jot down notes and letters that ended up making a key sentence to the story. Once you read it, this will make sense. I also noticed while reading how EVERYTHING in this novel is important, even the time stamps because they relate to the story. I haven’t had this much fun reading a book in so long. I’m usually the type to figure out what’s going to happen next but once I finished this book, I couldn’t believe the amount of things I missed. I understand why it took so long for this book to eventually be finished. It’s genius. Stephen Chbosky’s writing style works seamlessly with a horror/thriller. The amount of foreshadowing and connections I didn’t realize at first blows my mind. It’s definitely a book I’ll pick up to re-read once it’s actually published.

There’s so many different characters within this novel but their storylines all intertwine and connect throughout the book and it was so satisfying to watch that happen. The cast of characters in this book kind of remind me of those in Stranger Things. I think this is the only reason this book reminds me of Stranger Things is because of the young cast of characters, the sheriff who plays a major role, and the mother being a main character as well. I also think this book reminds me of Neil Gaiman’s storytelling but Stephen King’s writing style. I can’t really explain why but isn’t that enough to make you want to pick it up?

I also want to quickly talk about why I think this book is still fitting to those who want to explore more of Stephen Chbosky’s writing after loving Perks of Being a Wallflower. While this is a horror novel, I would definitely call it a psychological thriller as well. This book portrays raw human emotion and sometimes, that can be scary. The amount of intellectual depth in this novel astonishes me. It’s a horror novel that feels so real because the role emotion plays and how it talks so openly about both love and fear. I think that’s why most Perks fans would love this. Also, it’s just a great story so technically, if you like good books, you’ll like this one.

I really can’t say much without spoiling this novel and trust me, I want to ramble on about this book with someone who’s read it. Jenna at @JennaClarek was actually reading it at the same time and it was SO fun to send each other reactions. We also had so many different realizations after this novel which is why it would make a great re-read. I can’t wait to get my hands on the physical copy so I can annotate the heck out of it.

Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky is an absolute page-turner, a complex and captivating novel at it’s best. If you’re looking for a spooky book to read this season, I HIGHLY recommend this one!

 

Find Imaginary Friend at your local bookstore!

 

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Pumpkinheads [MINI REVIEW]

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“Deja and Josiah are seasonal best friends.

Every autumn, all through high school, they’ve worked together at the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world. (Not many people know that the best pumpkin patch in the whole wide world is in Omaha, Nebraska, but it definitely is.) They say good-bye every Halloween, and they’re reunited every September 1.

But this Halloween is different—Josiah and Deja are finally seniors, and this is their last season at the pumpkin patch. Their last shift together. Their last good-bye.

Josiah’s ready to spend the whole night feeling melancholy about it. Deja isn’t ready to let him. She’s got a plan: What if—instead of moping and the usual slinging lima beans down at the Succotash Hut—they went out with a bang? They could see all the sights! Taste all the snacks! And Josiah could finally talk to that cute girl he’s been mooning over for three years . . .

What if their last shift was an adventure?”

On Sale Date: August 27th, 2019
Publisher: First Second (MacMillan)
ISBNS: 9781626721623, 1626721629
Edition: Paperback & Hardcover
Page Count: 224
Genre: Graphic Novel / Young Adult Contemporary

My Rating:  5 stars ★★★★★out of ★★★★★ stars (5/5)

 

This review is SPOILER FREE!

I’ve been waiting for this book since I came across a blank page, no cover listing on Goodreads titled “Pumpkinheads” by Rainbow Rowell. It was unclear what it was (obviously) and I didn’t find out until MUCH later that it was a graphic novel. To be honest with you, I love all of Rainbow Rowell’s books. She’s never failed me as a reader so I’m not hesitant to pick up a graphic novel written by her. Also, if you’ve ever read any of her books, you’d know her undying love for the Fall season. All of her books tend to take place in the Fall/Winter so it was no surprise she wrote an entire story based on a pumpkin patch.

As someone who also loves Fall more than anything, this graphic novel was a match made in heaven. I’m no stranger to a pumpkin patch and who knew I needed a romance set in one this bad? Rainbow Rowell was able to build the perfect seasonal friendship between Deja and Josiah. Not to mention, Faith Erin Hicks did a wonderful job illustrating them. I was rooting for them from the very beginning. This entire graphic novel is about Deja trying to be Josiah’s wingman because it’s their last shift at the pumpkin patch before college and he really wants to talk to this girl. Deja is the sweetest, most supportive friend in the WORLD so she spends her last day convincing him to talk to her and eventually, they look for her together.

If there’s any word for this graphic novel, it’s wholesome. The entire thing was enjoyable from start the finish. The illustrations make it 10x more captivating as they’re so beautifully done. I already want to re-read this graphic novel because it’s so adorable, witty, and again, wholesome. I also wanted to quickly add that even though this is a cute, light contemporary read, it’s also has so much intellectual depth. There’s a few pages in here where Deja and Josiah are talking about fate and how they both feel entirely different about the subject. Josiah thinks things happen for a reason and it’s just fates fault but Deja thinks otherwise. She talks about how these things happen because you make them happen and I just LOVED that entire conversation. They’re truly perfect for each other.

If you’re in the mood for a quick adorable and seasonal read, definitely pick up Pumpkinheads. I can’t imagine anyone hating this novel!

 

As I’m posting this, Rainbow is still doing personalized copies from Bookworm Omaha! You can check them out here.

Find Pumpkinheads at your local bookstore!

 

To hear my thoughts elsewhere, follow me on social media: Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter

We Are Lost and Found [REVIEW]

43298077A poignant, heartbreaking, and uplifting, story in the tradition of The Perks of Being a Wallflower about three friends coming-of-age in the early 1980s as they struggle to forge their own paths in the face of fear of the unknown.

Michael is content to live in the shadow of his best friends, James, an enigmatic teen performance artist who everyone wants and no one can have and Becky, who calls things as she sees them, while doing all she can to protect those she loves. His brother, Connor, has already been kicked out of the house for being gay and laying low seems to be his only chance to avoid the same fate.

To pass the time before graduation, Michael hangs out at The Echo where he can dance and forget about his father’s angry words, the pressures of school, and the looming threat of AIDS, a disease that everyone is talking about, but no one understands.

Then he meets Gabriel, a boy who actually sees him. A boy who, unlike seemingly everyone else in New York City, is interested in him and not James. And Michael has to decide what he’s willing to risk to be himself.”

Edition: Hardcover

Release Date: September 3rd, 2019

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Source Books Fire

My Rating:  stars 5 ★★★★★ out of ★★★★★ stars (5/5)

 

I was kindly sent a physical copy of this book by Source Books Fire  in exchange for a review. Thank you, Source Books! Any opinion is my own.

 

This review is SPOILER FREE!

TW: homophobia (unaccepting parents)

We Are Lost and Found is one of the rare books that I found the day it was posted to Edelweiss and emailed the publisher immediately. It had everything that I love in the description — it was compared to Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, it’s a coming-of-age story, it’s set in the 80s and it follows LGBT+ teens during the AIDs epidemic. Not to mention, the cover is stunning.

Coming-of-age is one of my favorite genres for so many different reasons but I love how real the stories feel even if it’s fiction. There’s so much character development and personality throughout these types of stories. We Are Lost and Found was no different. As the reader, you follow Michael and his two best friends as they grow up in the middle of New York during the 1980s. Michael goes to this club often that’s called the Echo, where he finds himself always dancing and forgetting. He’s always hanging out with either Jamie — the performer and artist or he’s with Becky, an strong female character who’s going through a lot at home.

Helene Dunbar was able to write such an interesting and fully developed cast of characters in about 300 pages. I loved all of them — Michael, Jamie and Becky. They each had their own backstories and were nowhere near being flat side characters. They also felt incredibly realistic. I find that sometimes,  in YA specifically, friend groups just seem so unrealistic and have me thinking “these people would NEVER be friends in real life” but this set of characters makes perfect sense. Jamie and Becky are never toxic and are so supportive. They’re the most unproblematic side characters ever and I ADORE them.

Not only are the friendships in this book fantastic, but family is such a huge theme in this book. Michael’s relationship with his parents and his brother plays a big part in this book. His brother is such a great character and I feel as if I relate to both of them. A lot of the times in YA books, families are often nowhere to be seen or also just incredibly unrealistic. It was a joy to see his family play a part in this book, even if it wasn’t exactly for the best reason. I really enjoyed seeing Michael’s relationship with his brother. Seeing them grow and have a healthier relationship near the end of this book is so rewarding and refreshing. On the other hand, Michael has a tough relationship with his parents and he never knows where he stands with them after knowing what they did to his brother. He feels trapped and it’s so hard to read but it’s so well done. I think a lot of readers, especially LGBT+ and closeted readers, will appreciate this.

Since this was the first ever book I’ve read by Helene Dunbar, I had no idea what to expect in terms of her writing style. I opened this book and quickly realized, “There’s no quotations marks.” I had been buddy reading this with Amber and I texted her about it immediately because to be completely honest, I think this might be one of the first non-classic books I’ve read with no quotation marks. I love dialogue and I’m not going to lie, I find myself skimming pages and just reading dialogue. Since this had no quotation marks, I obviously couldn’t do that. This story is written in beautiful vignettes and yes, there’s no quotation marks but DAMN, is it wonderful. I quickly fell in love her way of writing. I ended up marking up my review copy with pencil everywhere. I underlined anything I found funny or lyrical. I have so many quotes that I adored from this book and can’t wait to like them all on Goodreads. Let me share some little quotes I underlined:

(please note that this is from an unfinished copy and that some of these quotes may be taken out, edited, or completely changed)

  • “Happy. And that’s the odd thing. Not being happy, but realizing it. Because how often, when you’re happy, do you have the chance to step back and notice?”
  • “Becky says to stay away. That sometimes wanting is better than having — Whatever that means”
  • In this scene, he’s talking about playing guitar. “Somehow, everything I play sounds like the same thing: longing.”
  • “It’s like I left some important part of myself at Pride, and I don’t know how to get it back.”

Also, if you’re wondering why she wrote her book this way, this is a great interview!

Now to talk about a significant part of this book, We Are Lost and Found is set during the 80s and the AIDs epidemic. I’m usually hesitant when it comes to books set during real life events that are as heavy and difficult to talk about like the AIDs epidemic. Let me just say this: This is such a well researched YA novel set during this time. Since I got to read this book so early, I’ve been able to talk to Helene Dunbar herself and she’s truly so passionate about this subject and the book itself. I strongly suggest you read both the Afterword and Acknowledgements when finishing this book. Also, read the interview I linked above. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t know much about the AIDs epidemic besides the fact that it certainly did happen. This book exposes the most difficult and uneasy events that took place during the epidemic. There’s a few scenes in this book that I marked because they were truly excellent and captured the experience of a young, LGBT+ boy in the 80s. One of the scenes is near the beginning of the book when Michael is reading the newspaper and reading the statistics and result of AIDs. Throughout the entire book, Michael is so utterly scared of AIDs — whether it be him somehow obtaining it or his friends and brother. Another heartbreaking scene that captures the pure fear of the AIDs epidemic is when another side character ends up getting AIDs and his family doesn’t even visit him even though he’s dying because they’re scared they’ll get sick. These are such poignant scenes but they truly set the reader up for an eye opening read.

I’m planning to read more books about the AIDs epidemic since this one. I loved it even more than I thought I would. The writing was absolutely beautiful. Helene Dunbar wrote a book on such a complex topic and did it while being both poetic and light hearted at the same time. Don’t get me wrong — this book is a heavy read but it’s well worth it. There’s so much depth within this book that I didn’t quite expect but I really enjoyed it.

On a more random note, I think this would make the perfect book club book. I really love reading this along with Amber. It gives you so much to talk about and makes for incredibly interesting conversations! As a reader, you also learn so much about the AIDs epidemic from the point of view of an LGBT+ teen. Truly remarkable!

I can’t wait for this book to be released (I pre-ordered it right when I finished) so all of you can read it and hopefully love it as much as me! The description of this book seems quite accurate. I think this book has all of the things Perks of Being a Wallflower has so if you are a fan of that book, don’t hesitate to pick this one up! You might love it as much as I did.

Find We Are Lost & Found at your local bookstore! It comes out September 3rd, 2019.

 

To hear my thoughts elsewhere, follow me on social media: Goodreads | Instagram | Twitter

Required Reading that I Loved

School is back in session and I’m so thankfully not attending high school ever again! I decided I would talk about some of the required reading that I loved in high school because it seems as if most people hated the books they read in high school. For me, some of these books became my favorites.

I want to clarify that I went to school in Florida and I took mostly advanced English, AP Lang, and a dual enrollment college course in high school. This means my required reading might be a little different than what some people may have read in high school. For example, I never had to read To Kill a Mockingbird. I know, shocker right? I’ve never read Animal Farm either! So, if you’re wondering why I might’ve not mentioned one of your favorites or ones you remember, it’s most likely because I didn’t have to read them.

1. Hamlet by Shakespeare

329519“Among Shakespeare’s plays, “Hamlet” is considered by many his masterpiece. Among actors, the role of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, is considered the jewel in the crown of a triumphant theatrical career. Now Kenneth Branagh plays the leading role and co-directs a brillant ensemble performance. Three generations of legendary leading actors, many of whom first assembled for the Oscar-winning film “Henry V”, gather here to perform the rarely heard complete version of the play. This clear, subtly nuanced, stunning dramatization, presented by The Renaissance Theatre Company in association with “Bbc” Broadcasting, features such luminaries as Sir John Gielgud, Derek Jacobi, Emma Thompson and Christopher Ravenscroft. It combines a full cast with stirring music and sound effects to bring this magnificent Shakespearen classic vividly to life. Revealing new riches with each listening, this production of “Hamlet” is an invaluable aid for students, teachers and all true lovers of Shakespeare – a recording to be treasured for decades to come.”

Listen, I’m not a huge Shakespeare fan. But, I did read quite a few of his works throughout high school. I mean, didn’t we all? I’m pretty sure I had read: Romeo & Juliet, Othello, King Lear, and Hamlet. Hamlet was the last one I read since I read it in my Comp I class senior year of high school. When I tell you I loved Hamlet, I LOVED Hamlet. It’s actually on my Favorites list on Goodreads. Hamlet is such a great character. The play is actually intriguing, family drama, literally everyone dies, and it’s funny. What more could you ask for? Oh, and I know what he meant by “To be or not to be” now.

I also remember my English professor showing us this scene from the Simpsons to summarize Hamlet and it was golden. “Nobody out crazies Ophelia!” made me laugh so hard.

2. 1984 by George Orwell

40961427. sx318 Among the seminal texts of the 20th century, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a rare work that grows more haunting as its futuristic purgatory becomes more real. Published in 1949, the book offers political satirist George Orwell’s nightmare vision of a totalitarian, bureaucratic world and one poor stiff’s attempt to find individuality. The brilliance of the novel is Orwell’s prescience of modern life–the ubiquity of television, the distortion of the language–and his ability to construct such a thorough version of hell. Required reading for students since it was published, it ranks among the most terrifying novels ever written.

 

I wanna say that I read this book during sophomore year of high school but honestly, I can’t remember a damn thing about high school. I just remember we read a lot of dystopian and the only Orwell thing I ever had to read was 1984. To be quite frank with you, I loved everything about this book. I read ahead like I usually do and I remember being excited for the discussions. I’m finally glad to understand this book and all the references made in 2019.

 

3. The Crucible by Arthur Miller

17250. sy475 “I believe that the reader will discover here the essential nature of one of the strangest and most awful chapters in human history,” Arthur Miller wrote of his classic play about the witch-hunts and trials in seventeenth-century Salem, Massachusetts. Based on historical people and real events, Miller’s drama is a searing portrait of a community engulfed by hysteria. In the rigid theocracy of Salem, rumors that women are practicing witchcraft galvanize the town’s most basic fears and suspicions; and when a young girl accuses Elizabeth Proctor of being a witch, self-righteous church leaders and townspeople insist that Elizabeth be brought to trial. The ruthlessness of the prosecutors and the eagerness of neighbor to testify against neighbor brilliantly illuminates the destructive power of socially sanctioned violence.

Written in 1953, The Crucible is a mirror Miller uses to reflect the anti-communist hysteria inspired by Senator Joseph McCarthy’s “witch-hunts” in the United States. Within the text itself, Miller contemplates the parallels, writing, “Political opposition… is given an inhumane overlay, which then justifies the abrogation of all normally applied customs of civilized behavior. A political policy is equated with moral right, and opposition to it with diabolical malevolence.”

We actually read this out loud in class as if we were the cast of characters. I remember being picked to read Elizabeth and my only other friend in that AP class read John Proctor. I wasn’t usually excited to read aloud but it was so fun reading this play. Even though this events took place SO long ago, they were so fun to read about. I think I would probably re-read this today if I felt like it.

4. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

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In April 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Christopher Johnson McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.

Immediately after graduating from college in 1991, McCandless had roamed through the West and Southwest on a vision quest like those made by his heroes Jack London and John Muir. In the Mojave Desert he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, and burned all of his cash. He would give himself a new name, Alexander Supertramp, and , unencumbered by money and belongings, he would be free to wallow in the raw, unfiltered experiences that nature presented. Craving a blank spot on the map, McCandless simply threw the maps away. Leaving behind his desperate parents and sister, he vanished into the wild.

Out of all the books I’ve read in my life, Into the Wild remains in the top three. It’s funny because I originally only rated this book four stars and in my review, I mentioned not loving it. It’s been a few years since I read this book (I think I read in it 2016?) and it still manages to stick with me. I think about it often and I like to re-read a few passages of this book whenever I’m feeling upset. I left this book feeling so much and learning so much from Jon Krakauer and Chris McCandless. This is my bookseller rec at work because I just want everyone to read it. I’ve seen the movie and it was okay but I’ll never forget the feeling of reading it for the first time. I love this book for so many different reasons — it’s so atmospheric, it reads like fiction even though it’s not, it brings up the topic of transcendentalism, and some of the writing is just truly unforgettable.

 

What was your favorite required reading? Sometimes they’re hit or miss but I ended up really loving these!