April Wrap Up | 2019

So, I didn’t have the best reading month ever in April. I read a total of two books but I enjoyed them both so I’m excited to talk about them!

 

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I was sent an e-arc of this book through Netgalley and ended up reading it shortly after. I flew through this book in the very beginning of April (I think about 3 days) and really loved it. It wasn’t what I was expecting and I didn’t think it would stick with me but it did. I will have a review going up for this book closer to the release date! This was also one of my On My Radar books so I’m so thankful I got to read and review it!

 

 

 

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I recently bought this book from BookOutlet and I decided that I would just read it on a whim. It’s set in the 1970s in rural Alaska so of course, I had to read it. I love reading books set in Alaska so I gave this one a shot and I loved it. I did have some problems with it which is why I gave it only four stars out of five. I do have an entire review on it up on my blog though so if you want to hear more of my thoughts, you can read them there!

 

 

 

 

So, that’s all I read during April! I know, it’s not a lot. I hope to read much more in May! What did you read in April? I’d love to know!

Feminist Friday ↠ On Betty Friedan

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Betty Friedan is a feminist, activist, and writer. Her most popular book, The Feminine Mystique, published in 1963, is credited for starting the second wave of feminism. This book focused on getting women out of their traditional roles. She also took part to help further the women’s rights movement as one of the founders of the National Organization for Women (NOW). She wrote other books including:

  • The Feminine Mystique
  • It Changed My Life
  • The Second Stage
  • The Fountain of Age
  • Beyond Gender
  • Life So Far

 

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FUN FACT: As she starting the Feminine Mystique, she called it “the problem with no name”

POPULAR QUOTES:

  • “No woman gets an orgasm from shining the kitchen floor. ”
  • “Aging is not ‘lost youth’ but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”
  • “Each suburban wife struggles with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside her husband at night- she was afraid to ask even of herself the silent question– ‘Is this all?”

 

I personally haven’t read Betty Friedan yet but I’ve owned her books for so, so long. I’ve started the Feminine Mystique but for some reason, never finished it. I remember reading excerpts from it for my essay on feminism in high school. I focused a lot on the opening of the Feminine Mystique while talking about the second wave of feminism. She’s such an inspirational woman and definitely paved the way for so many other activists/feminists.

Have you heard of Betty Friedan? Have you read her books/writings?

May YA Book Releases

I can’t believe it’s already May. This post should’ve gone up on the 1st but I didn’t even realize it was May already! I apologize for the late posting but here’s some of my anticipated releases for this month.

1. Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle #1) by Jay Kristoff & Amie Kaufman [May 7th, 2019]

30075662From the internationally bestselling authors of THE ILLUMINAE FILES comes an epic new science fiction adventure.

The year is 2380, and the graduating cadets of Aurora Academy are being assigned their first missions. Star pupil Tyler Jones is ready to recruit the squad of his dreams, but his own boneheaded heroism sees him stuck with the dregs nobody else in the Academy would touch…

A cocky diplomat with a black belt in sarcasm
A sociopath scientist with a fondness for shooting her bunkmates
A smart-ass techwiz with the galaxy’s biggest chip on his shoulder
An alien warrior with anger management issues
A tomboy pilot who’s totally not into him, in case you were wondering

And Ty’s squad isn’t even his biggest problem—that’d be Aurora Jie-Lin O’Malley, the girl he’s just rescued from interdimensional space. Trapped in cryo-sleep for two centuries, Auri is a girl out of time and out of her depth. But she could be the catalyst that starts a war millions of years in the making, and Tyler’s squad of losers, discipline-cases and misfits might just be the last hope for the entire galaxy.

They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.”

Pre-order this book at your local bookstore

2. Again, But Better by Christine Riccio [May 7th, 2019]

81kW7J18kvL “From one of the most followed booktubers today, comes Again, but Better, a story about second chances, discovering yourself, and being brave enough to try again.

Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that?

Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!

Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart.

Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless.”

You can read my full-length review about this book here.

Pre-order this book at your local bookstore

 

3. Kingsbane by Claire Legrand [May 21st, 2019]

91D1jOTqkbL.jpg “In this sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller Furyborn, two queens, separated by a thousand years, connected by secrets and lies, must continue their fight amid deadly plots and unthinkable betrayals that will test their strength—and their hearts.

Rielle Dardenne has been anointed Sun Queen, but her trials are far from over. The Gate keeping the angels at bay is falling. To repair it, Rielle must collect the seven hidden castings of the saints. Meanwhile, to help her prince and love Audric protect Celdaria, Rielle must spy on the angel Corien—but his promises of freedom and power may prove too tempting to resist.

Centuries later, Eliana Ferracora grapples with her new reality: She is the Sun Queen, humanity’s long-awaited savior. But fear of corruption—fear of becoming another Rielle—keeps Eliana’s power dangerous and unpredictable. Hunted by all, racing against time to save her dying friend Navi, Eliana must decide how to wear a crown she never wanted—by embracing her mother’s power, or rejecting it forever.”

Pre-order this book at your local bookstore

 

4. We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal [May 14th, 2019]

36492488.jpg“People lived because she killed.
People died because he lived.

Zafira is the Hunter, disguising herself as a man when she braves the cursed forest of the Arz to feed her people. Nasir is the Prince of Death, assassinating those foolish enough to defy his autocratic father, the king. If Zafira was exposed as a girl, all of her achievements would be rejected; if Nasir displayed his compassion, his father would punish him in the most brutal of ways.

Both are legends in the kingdom of Arawiya—but neither wants to be.

War is brewing, and the Arz sweeps closer with each passing day, engulfing the land in shadow. When Zafira embarks on a quest to uncover a lost artifact that can restore magic to her suffering world and stop the Arz, Nasir is sent by the king on a similar mission: retrieve the artifact and kill the Hunter. But an ancient evil stirs as their journey unfolds—and the prize they seek may pose a threat greater than either can imagine.

Set in a richly detailed world inspired by ancient Arabia, We Hunt the Flame is a gripping debut of discovery, conquering fear, and taking identity into your own hands.”

Pre-order this book at your local bookstore

 

5. I Wish You All The Best by Mason Deaver [May 14th, 2019]

41473872.jpg “When Ben De Backer comes out to their parents as nonbinary, they’re thrown out of their house and forced to move in with their estranged older sister, Hannah, and her husband, Thomas, whom Ben has never even met. Struggling with an anxiety disorder compounded by their parents’ rejection, they come out only to Hannah, Thomas, and their therapist and try to keep a low profile in a new school.

But Ben’s attempts to survive the last half of senior year unnoticed are thwarted when Nathan Allan, a funny and charismatic student, decides to take Ben under his wing. As Ben and Nathan’s friendship grows, their feelings for each other begin to change, and what started as a disastrous turn of events looks like it might just be a chance to start a happier new life.

At turns heartbreaking and joyous, I Wish You All the Best is both a celebration of life, friendship, and love, and a shining example of hope in the face of adversity.”

Pre-order this book at your local bookstore

 

6. Dev1at3 by Jay Kristoff (Lifelike #2) [May 2019]

40177770.jpg“After the climactic battle in Babel, she finds herself separated from Ezekiel and Cricket in the wastelands. Lemon’s abilities to manipulate electricity mark her as a deviate, and deadly corporate operatives are hunting her to use as a weapon in the war between BioMaas Incorporated and Daedelus Technologies. Instead, Lemon finds herself falling in with a group of fellow deviates—a band of teenagers with astonishing abilities, led by an enigmatic figure known as the Major, who may hold the secrets to Lemon’s past.

Meanwhile, Cricket finds himself in possession of the puritanical Brotherhood, a religious cult set for a head-on collision with the Major and his band. Searching for Lemon, Ezekiel finds a strange ally in an old enemy, and uncovers a plot that may see him reunited with his beloved Ana.

And inside Babel, a remade Eve hatches a plan to bring an end to the world.”

Pre-order this book at your local bookstore

 

7. Romanov by Nadine Brandes [May 7th, 2019] 

40590407.jpg“The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it.

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them . . . and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of survival are to either release the spell, and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya’s never dabbled in magic before, but it doesn’t frighten her as much as her growing attraction for Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her . . .

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.”

Pre-order this book at your local bookstore

 

8. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo [May 7th, 2019]

38739562“With her daughter to care for and her abuela to help support, high school senior Emoni Santiago has to make the tough decisions, and do what must be done. The one place she can let her responsibilities go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness. Still, she knows she doesn’t have enough time for her school’s new culinary arts class, doesn’t have the money for the class’s trip to Spain — and shouldn’t still be dreaming of someday working in a real kitchen. But even with all the rules she has for her life — and all the rules everyone expects her to play by — once Emoni starts cooking, her only real choice is to let her talent break free.”

 

Pre-order this book at your local bookstore

 

 

Are you looking forward to any of these upcoming releases? I’m so excited about I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver!

Again, but Better [SPOILER FREE REVIEW]

81kW7J18kvL“Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal — but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that?

Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change — there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!

Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart.

Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic – the possibilities are endless.”

Edition: Hardcover

Release Date: May 7th, 2019

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Wednesday Books

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

 

I was kindly sent an e-arc of this book by the publisher through NetGalley. The opinion is my own.

THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER FREE!

I have been following Christine on social media for so long so I’ve obviously been following her writing series since the beginning. If you’re not familiar, Christine has made writing videos from the moment she started her book and they’re still ongoing. It’s been such an interesting journey to watch Christine struggle with drafts and rewrites to finally getting to sign her first ARC at Yallfest. Once we were finally given the description of her book, I pre-ordered it immediately.

I loved the idea of uncertain 20 year old who decides she’s going to study abroad in hopes to meet new people, make new friends, and learn about something she’s truly passionate about. Also, maybe find an incredibly cute boy on the way. As a clueless almost 20 year old, I needed to finally read something like this.

I’m going to quickly get out some of my more negative thoughts and disclaimers first before anyone thinks my rating doesn’t match up. I gave this only 4.0 stars because I had some minor issues with the book that I would if this was any author. I’m not being extra nice because I follow Christine and love her. I truly did love this book but we’ll get into that in a second.

  • First, this didn’t ever seem like a YA novel. I think this would be better off marketed as a New Adult novel instead. The main character is 20 years old and in college, studying abroad where drinking is legal. There’s nothing in this book that makes it unreadable to Young Adults but it just makes more sense? It gave me the feeling of a New Adult novel too but the category of New Adult is just now beginning so who knows.
  • Second, I felt a shift between the first and second half of the book. The writing seemed to drag a bit in the beginning and I could obviously tell this is someone who doesn’t have experience writing novels. The writing at the beginning is quite lack luster but it’s not terrible. It just could’ve been better and I’m sure as Christine starts writing more, it will. This could have something to do with that not much happens in the first half of the book. It’s a lot of introducing of new people and experiences. The second half of the book was so, so entertaining and brilliant. The writing gets better almost instantaneously for some reason that I couldn’t tell you. I ended up finishing this book in one night because I was so excited to keep reading after I finished part one. I just think the writing is amateur and awkward. She uses phrases like “what the fudge” and the word “Epic!” a lot and I wasn’t a fan. It doesn’t make sense for the character to use the phrase “what the fudge” while other characters did curse. Maybe it’s just a quirk — but it was excessive and annoying.
  • and a quick Disclaimer, this book is VERY Christine. But, I feel like nobody would notice this if her life wasn’t online. This is her first book and she’s worked so hard on it. It feels like this book is reminiscent of her own experiences and memories she may have. Her main character, Shane, is quite similar to her but I wouldn’t say exactly. I obviously do not know Christine besides her Youtube channel but Shane and Christine definitely have the same quirks (loving Lost, the username and love of writing, etc.) I don’t think this is at all wrong but just a personal preference. Some people might find it a bit lazy, but I think it makes the reading experience even more fun.

Now, onto the things I loved!

Christine did a WONDERFUL job with character development and growth. Christine was able to portray Shane’s inner thoughts constantly but not in a way it was overwhelming. Shane is a very anxious and thoughtful person. She’s in her head a lot and she comes off as almost naive or innocent? She’s extremely passionate about writing and knows the direction she wants to go in, but is held back by her family. I feel like Christine’s style of writing went perfectly with the personality of her main character. She’s funny but also incredibly nervous that makes the situation awkward but not too awkward. Since her character is funny, this book made me laugh out loud a few times. I even laughed reading the acknowledgements.

As for Pilot (the love interest), his character fell flat for me. He wasn’t that interesting or anything. He was an average character who played character. I found their banter really cute and they have some adorable interactions but overall, he’s just okay. It’s hard to talk about their relationship without spoiling anything but I feel like people blame Shane too much for his actions. It’s common people always blame the woman but I hope future readers understand her situation more than the reviews I’ve seen recently. Oh, they also totally remind me of Ross & Rachel from the TV show Friends. I’ll go more into this in my spoiler review. I also can’t forget her roommates! I liked the Disney roommate but I found it hard to like them in the second half of the book. Nothing against the book personally but some of their actions just royally upset me. You’ll understand immediately whenever you read the book.

On a personal level, this book is incredibly relatable. There isn’t enough college related books so being able to read a college student with pretty obvious anxiety was nice. It also makes me long for studying abroad even more. It brought me into a world I wish I lived in for awhile but took a spin near the end. There is a plot twist that most probably won’t see coming but I did. It seemed pretty obvious to me from the moment a certain character was introduced but I think this ending makes the book so much better. I think it helped the story a ton and was definitely the best part. If this book didn’t take that turn, this would’ve been a three star book for me. But, I ended up finishing this book all in one sitting once I reached part two. I loved it. It becomes so much more emotional and raw than the beginning and it had the type of ending I loved. It’s those endings you never see coming or the ones you don’t exactly wish for. Christine did an excellent job of ending this story and wrapping things up. This book portrayed a lost college student in the most satisfying way. From dealing with her family, her major, her friends and her love life, it was all so lovely. I definitely can’t wait for others to read this to hear their thoughts!

 

Find Again, But Better at your local bookstore!

 

 

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

 

 

Feminist Friday Announcement!

Good afternoon everyone! If you’ve been following me for awhile, you would know that I do Feminist February and have for the past two years. While I love doing it, I feel like it takes too much away from Black History month. It also doesn’t make sense when the month after, March, is Women’s History month (lol). I didn’t even realize this when I first started it. I also want to do more for feminism and I feel like weekly, I would be able to do that. I’m not saying this would be posted EVERY Friday, but hopefully, most Fridays. I want to post all things feminism on Fridays whether it be tags, feminist book recommendations, a possible feminist book club, etc. I just feel like feminism is so apparent in my life, especially in the book aspect, that I want to put more of it on my blog.

As from now one, my Friday posts should be related to my Feminist Friday tag! The posts will have a header like this one above. I made it the other night and think it’s really cute, so hopefully everyone else does too!

If you have any ideas about what kind of feminist posts I should do, let me know. I’d love to hear your ideas 🙂

 

I’ve also been looking for a feminist book club because I’m debating whether or not I should make my own. I just can’t find an online active one!

What If It’s Us [REVIEW]

This is an archived review. For the original post, here’s a link to Goodreads post.

36260157Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?”

Edition: ARC e-book
Page Count: 488 pages
Publish Date: October 9th, 2018
Publisher: Harper Teen
ISBN13: 9780062795243

Rating: ★★★★/★★★★★ (4.5/5 stars)

 

I was so kindly sent an early copy of this book by Harper Teen in exchange for a review.

“I don’t know if we’re a love story or a story about love.”

I am so excited for this book to be shared with the rest of the world! I got the honour to read and review this book early and as always, these authors didn’t disappoint me. While I don’t read many contemporary books anymore, I always end up reading both Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera’s books. They both write quite differently as Adam Silvera writes incredibly deep and emotional books and Becky’s books can get emotional but are usually pretty lighthearted. This book is a perfect combination of what real love feels like when it hurts and when it’s the only thing you can think about.

It all begins with two teenagers named Arthur and Ben meet in a New York post office on accident. It’s definitely a bitter sweet meet-cute considering they flirt but don’t exchange any contact information, not even a name, so all they do is think about each other afterwards. They search craigslist, have a friend internet stalk one another, etc. and soon enough, they’re together again on their first date. As the expectations are high, things start to disappoint when their multiple dates don’t end up as planned. But, they keep trying anyway to make their story as picture perfect as possible. Unfortunately, love isn’t always that simple. Was the universe helping them or not?

I have to admit: Arthur and Ben’s messy love story was hard to read at times but it’s definitely worth it. It shows that not all relationships are perfect and there’s definitely struggles whenever it comes to love but it’s the ride that counts. They did over their first date in attempt to have the perfect one but it never seemed to work out. Arthur was jealous and insecure at times and Ben didn’t quite understand. They were troubled and made many mistakes but that’s the reality of it all. It wasn’t insta-love or perfect like they wished but it was real. That’s what makes this story so genuine and heartfelt.

The characters alone didn’t need each other to be interesting because of how descriptive and intriguing their personalities were. Becky Albertalli wrote Arthur, a broad-way obsessed teen who’s living in New York over the summer. The mentions of Hamilton and Dear Evan Hansen were an excellent plus. Adam Silvera wrote Ben, a New Yorker who just got out of a relationship and is struggling with summer school. Not only are these characters both gay but Arthur is a Jewish boy with ADHD and Ben is Puerto Rican. As readers, we explore Ben’s struggle with his racial identity because he doesn’t exactly look Puerto Rican. Not only that, but we get insight on Arthur’s personal struggle living with ADHD. As we get introduced to both Ben and Arthur, we meet several side characters who play important roles in their lives and are diverse. We meet their closest friends, their significant others and their families but it’s still crucial to the plot. We experience their families meeting at Arthur’s home and their world’s colliding. It was so wholesome seeing their parents talk about each other as a couple.

The only problem I found while reading was that Arthur and Ben felt a lot older than they were (I believe they’re like 15-16?). They felt much older, like college students but it might’ve been the fact they’re living in NYC and they were quite independent. Also, some of the conversations were just weird (those roommates?? lol).

It was so refreshing to read a LGBT+ love story that was genuine and normalized. It was a bitter sweet romance during the Summer in New York. I could see the ending clearly but I didn’t want to believe it. What’s better than a realistic romance in New York with two incredibly diverse characters with outstanding personalities? Not to mention, I fell in love at all of the broadway references and how they mentioned real bookstores like Books of Wonder. It was like the icing on top of the cake (cliche, I know) but I loved everything about this book.

I sincerely cannot wait for it to be released so everyone else can understand how lovely it is as well. I think we all need a good LGBT+ love story by the king and queen of YA contemporary.

Have you read this book? Are you planning to? Let me know!

If you would like, here’s a little button to add it to Goodreads:Related image

 

Buy this book at your local bookstore

ON MY RADAR → Suggested Reading by Dave Connis

On My Radar is a series I’ve been doing since I started blogging in 2016. I share with you books that may not have as much hype that I’m excited to read. I like sharing debut novels or books I just don’t think enough people are talking about. I usually find these books on Edelweiss and try to provide a review closer to the release date. I love doing these posts so I can boost some great books and help others find their next read!

9780062685254_82faa“Eleanor and Park. The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Their Eyes Were Watching God. These are just a few of the books at Lupton Academy that are now considered “prohibited media.” A passionate reader who loves staying up all night to highlight the best lines in her favorite novels, Clara Evans is horrified when she discovers the titles on the principal’s hit list are being taken out of circulation at the school library. In fact, the books aren’t allowed anywhere on the school’s premises, and students caught with the contraband will be sternly punished. Many of these stories have changed Clara’s life, so she’s not going to sit back and watch while her draconian principal, Mr. Walsh, abuses his power. She’s going to strike back.

With the help of her friend and student body president, LiQui, Clara starts an underground library—the UnLib—in her locker, doing a shady trade in titles like Speak and The Chocolate War. But when one of the UnLib books she loves most is connected to a tragedy she never saw coming, Clara’s forced to face her role in it. Will she be able to make peace with her conflicting feelings, or is fighting for this noble cause too tough for her to bear?”

Edition: Hardcover, E-book

Release Date: September 17th, 2019

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (an imprint of HarperCollins)

 

 

 

Are you looking forward to this book now as well? Don’t forget to add it on Goodreads to help the hype!

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Pre-order this book at your local bookstore! Pre-orders help books out IMMENSELY.

TURTLES ALL THE WAY DOWN [REVIEW]

This is an archived review. For the original post, here’s a link to my old blog.

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“It all begins with a fugitive billionaire and the promise of a cash reward. Turtles All the Way Down is about lifelong friendship, the intimacy of an unexpected reunion, Star Wars fan fiction, and tuatara. But at its heart is Aza Holmes, a young woman navigating daily existence within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

In his long-awaited return, John Green shares Aza’s story with shattering, unflinching clarity.”

Edition: Hardcover
Page Count: 288 pages
Publish Date: October 10th, 2017
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers
ISBN13: 9780525555360

My Rating: 5/5 stars ★★★★★

 

TW: This book does portray OCD in a very realistic way so if that’s something you’re uncomfortable reading, I would stray away from this book.

 

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

All spoilers in this review contain BOLD brackets around the text like this [EXAMPLE]. Feel free to skip around these to avoid spoilers. 

Review

I’ve been thinking about this book a lot. The day after I finished it, it’s the only thing I thought about. I thought about it so much and how it impacted me, it was hard to handle. I told myself I’d write a review when I’m comfortable coming back to it with my feelings all together. They’re not and I don’t think they will ever be? This isn’t a bad thing. In fact, I love it when books make me feel this way. These are the books that become my favorites. I’ve sat down and recorded a few videos of myself talking about it because no one had finished it yet and I needed to figure out what I’d say in my review. I had so many things to say, definitely on the spoiler-y end, but if I have to say anything, it’s that it was real and I loved it.
John Green has always written books that interested me. From Paper Towns and the wanderlust angst, to The Fault In Our Stars and the love it showed me. But they felt like stories to me. These books just felt like books and nothing more. I’d re-read them occasionally and meet with the characters again. With Turtles all the Way Down, I feel like I’m stuck with Aza. I’ll think about this book a lot. Whenever I’m having a “thought spiral,” I’ll probably think of the ending and maybe I’ll try to calm down. John Green has mentioned that this book is personal to him and you’re able to see feel that whenever you’re reading it.
Before I get too deep into personal thought, let me talk more about the book itself. We follow Aza, a girl struggling with OCD and her best friend Daisy, as they decide one day they’re going to try and solve the mystery of the billionaire who recently went missing in their town in order to receive the reward. A long the way, Aza gets in touch with the billionaire’s son, Davis, who she used to be friends with as a kid. Aza’s OCD is very much shown through her constant fear of disease or specifically, C Dif. Feel free to look it up. It’s complicated.
While I am going to talk about the characters and plot individually, I want to talk about her OCD and anxiety first. It’s obviously something very important to this book as we follow her life having OCD and we’re in her head a lot, just like she is in hers. You get to see the broken down rawness of her OCD a lot in the first chapter, which is a brilliant idea. Props to John because we refer back to that first chapter through out the entire book whether it’s mentioning the disease itself or her story life metaphor. The thoughts she has going on in her head are hard to read. I’m not going to lie to you. It’s difficult and frustrating because you feel like it’s your mind. It’s how mental illness should be displayed. John Green doesn’t dumb it down and he doesn’t make it look easy. It’s not romanticized, it’s unbearable. This aspect is important to me in a novel because the romanticization of mental illness is YA literature has been around for so long and as someone with mental illness, I want something real. The only reason this book was tough to talk about afterwards was due to the fact it made me think of my own anxiety. While she does have OCD and I can’t mention if he directly states anything about having anxiety, it’s definitely there in her actions at some points. There’s a scene that stood out to me and my anxiety where she tells him about a mathematician,

“I told him about this mathematician Kurt Gödel, who had this really bad fear of being poisoned, so much so that he couldn’t bring himself to eat food unless it was prepared by his wife. And then one day his wife got sick and had to go into the hospital, so Gödel stopped eating. I told Davis how even though Gödel must’ve known that starvation was a greater risk than poisoning, he just couldn’t eat, and so he starved to death… He cohabited with the demon for seventy-one years, and then it got him in the end.” (pg. 203)

I wish I could thank John personally for this. His writing style is so unique because of all these littles things and metaphors he’ll add in order to explain something that just make so much more sense than if you were to simply explain it. That’s one of the beauties of this book.
Now while this book does follow a mysterious plot, I think the most important and climatic scene in the book is Aza dealing with her OCD at the end of the book. Obviously, John mentions how “Mental illness is a story told in past tense” but THIS ONE ISN’T. Aza even talks about how she feels like she’s in some kind of story and how she’s the author and this isn’t past tense. [SPOILER: The climax to this book was definitely the part: where she’s in the hospital after the car accident and she swallows the hand sanitizer. I hate even thinking about putting hand sanitizer near my mouth and so does Aza but she does it anyway because she’s scared and she feels like she has to and so she does. This scene was absolutely heartbreaking because she rather die from drinking hand sanitizer than the possibility of actually getting C diff (the disease she talks about).]

Now, this book had excellent character development. I actually felt this book to be very character based and very much in their heads so the development is great. I’ve mostly already talked about Aza’s character development but now I want to quickly talk about Daisy. Daisy was honestly my favorite from the start. She’s a fanfic writer who’s dedicated to writing Star Wars fanfic and is actually quite popular online. She has some really good parts that just had me laughing out loud so I’m going to share some. There’s this scene where she’s talking about a boy who possibly likes her and she says he’s that vast boy in the middle,

“The whole problem with boys is that ninety-nine percent of them are, like, okay. If you could dress and hygiene them properly, and make them stand up straight and listen to you and not be dumbasses, they’d be totally acceptable.”

or even the scenes where she’s talking about drawing the short stick and having to wear the Chuckie costume. That minimum wage teenage job struggle is real. (lol)

While I found her character hilarious and a great sidekick, the ending was pretty sad. [SPOILER: It hurt to read her fanfic when Aza realized there was a character very much like her and it was almost insulting. Yet, I think I understand Daisy. Yes, it was wrong but it can be hard to deal with people with mental illness but it’s never okay to treat them unfairly for it. She used her fanfic as an outlet and never thought Aza would make the connection. It hurt even more when she told Aza that “You don’t even really know me. What’s my parents’ names?” One of the worst parts is when she quoted Mychel,

“…you’re like mustard. Great in small quantities, but then a lot of you is. . . a lot.” 

which is even more heart breaking because a few pages beforehand, she thought, “I now saw myself as Daisy saw me– clueless, helpless, useless. Less.” ]

To finally wrap this up, (this review has been unfinished for awhile because wow, it was a lot), I really loved this book. I still stand by everything I said. I think this is John Green’s best book and I am nervous/excited for the movie version. If the ending of this book made me feel a certain way for days, I don’t know what the movie version is going to do to me.

If John Green is writing another book, I have no idea how it’s going to be as raw, relatable, and revolutionary as this one.

 

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The Great Alone [REVIEW]

Screen Shot 2019-04-24 at 4.39.54 PMAlaska, 1974.
Unpredictable. Unforgiving. Untamed.

For a family in crisis, the ultimate test of survival.

Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier.

Thirteen-year-old Leni, a girl coming of age in a tumultuous time, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if it means following him into the unknown

At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources.

But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.

In this unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience, Kristin Hannah reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska―a place of incomparable beauty and danger. The Great Alone is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.”

THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER FREE

Edition: Hardcover, Audiobook
Page Count: 435 pages
Publish Date: February 6th, 2019
Publisher: St. Martins Press

My Rating: 4/5 stars ★★★★

 

TRIGGER WARNINGS: alcohol abuse, domestic violence, violent death of animals

 

“Books are the mile markers of my life. Some people have family photos or home movies to record their past. I’ve got books. Characters. For as long as I can remember, books have been my safe place.”

 

Review

 

I’ve had a fascination about Alaska (Particularly, living in Alaska) since I discovered Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer in high school and loved it. It’s an incredibly fascinating place so of course, reading about it is always fun. I picked this book up because I know it was a bestseller for awhile and it takes place in Alaska during the 1970s.

I’ve heard of Kristin Hannah before because of her most popular release, The Nightingale. People at work (I’m a bookseller) always tell me how much they love the Nightingale and how it’s the best book they’ve ever read. I haven’t read it yet but this one seemed a bit more interesting to me so I picked it up first. As Max said in his review, she makes Alaska feel like it’s own character.

I read both the physical copy and listened to the audiobook. The narration is done beautifully by Julia Whelan. I loved listening to the audiobook on my way home and back from work. It was captivating throughout the whole story, even if not much was going on. This isn’t just due to the narrator but of course, Kristin Hannah’s writing. Her writing is so enticing and lyrical.

Unfortunately, if her writing hadn’t been so beautiful, it would’ve been hard to make it through this book. Not much happened between page one up until about page 250. It wasn’t exactly boring but it wasn’t too exciting either. Things really started going at the 200 page mark but it was A LOT. Most of the shock value and climax is near the end of the book. Big things kept happening one after another in only such a short span of time. The book does skip ahead years which might be a reason for this but it felt like a lot.

I did cry reading this book which is weird because I haven’t gotten so emotional while reading in a long time. I think a lot of this has to due with the discussion of grief in this book. Leni, the main character, talks a lot about dealing with grief and dealing with her dad’s PTSD and his abusive behavior. As someone who understands domestic abuse and has seen it themselves, it was really hard watching her mom talk about how scared she was to leave him. This is why I included the trigger warnings in the review because for some people, this might be a lot.

Other than that, this was still a really great read. I didn’t hate it  — I just didn’t love it. It was enticing, emotional, and overall a great story about life and everything that comes with it.

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Daisy Jones & The Six [REVIEW]

“Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnanMt, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.”

Edition: Hardcover
Page Count: 368 pages
Publish Date: March 5th, 2019
Publisher: Ballantine Books

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars ★★★★½

“I had absolutely no interest in being somebody else’s muse.
I am not a muse.
I am the somebody.
End of fucking story.”

Review

 

Ever since I finished this book, it’s the only thing I’ve been thinking about. I went into this basically having no idea what this book is about except that I knew it was set in the 1970s. I love reading about the 60s/70s so I decided to give it a whirl after only seeing it on bookstagram every five seconds. I truly bought this book because of the hype.

I haven’t read Taylor Jenkins Reid’s other books so I wasn’t exactly sure if I’d like her writing style or not but it turns out, this book is written much differently.

It’s written as an oral history of the band, Daisy Jones & the Six from the very beginning. It’s like you’re reading their responses in a Rolling Stone interview but it intertwines and creates a beautiful story.

It starts off from when the Six was just becoming a band to the very end. There’s several different main characters but I’d say the main ones are Daisy, Billy, and Billy’s wife (I can’t remember her name). As the reader, you’re thrown into the life of a band during the height of rock n’ roll and fame. It’s so atmospheric — between the setting, the writing style, and the personality of each character, it truly feels like a real band. I’m pretty sure it’s based off Fleetwood Mac but I still googled if Daisy Jones & the Six were a thing (lol).

While this book does highlight all of the great aspects of rock n’ roll and it’s time, it also shows you the devastating factor of drug abuse. There’s a lot of substance abuse in this book so if that’s nothing something you’re comfortable with reading, I’d steer clear of this book. Billy is an alcoholic and Daisy abuses pills and other hard drugs like no tomorrow. While Billy is trying to be sober throughout this book, it’s still a heavy topic and hard to read at times but worth it in the end. This story doesn’t glamorize drug addiction and substance abuse. It doesn’t just shame it entirely — it shows that there is a path to recovery and both characters explore it.

Also, I’ve added this to my Feminist list on Goodreads because I’ve never read such empowering female characters in fiction. Every single one of the women in this book (Karen, Daisy, and Camila) are so uniquely powerful in their own ways and I loved it. Karen’s story, in particular, resonated with me. I wish we got to read more of her story because about half way in, I loved her so much. She doesn’t take any sh*t from anybody and is willing to do what’s best for her and it’s admirable.

The only reason I gave this book 4.5 stars instead of a complete 5 is because I felt the ending was lack luster. I didn’t predict the ending but it was a little bit of a let down after what I had just read. It was clever in a way but unfortunately, not my favorite type of ending. The bands ending in itself was foreseeable, though. I just wish the ending was a little bit bigger?

Despite that, this book makes for one hell of a reading experience and I can’t wait to finally listen to the audiobook. I’ve had it on hold at my library and I’m just waiting for my turn because I’ve heard it’s even better. I also can’t wait for this mini series adaptation so I can finally hear all the beautiful lyrics out loud. “Regret Me” by Daisy live? I’m here for it.

 

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