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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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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Things Not to Say/Do to Your Bookseller

I’ve been a bookseller for about a year now at two different bookstores (a chain and an indie) and there’s so many things I’ve heard that I wish I didn’t. As a bookseller, you learn a lot about your customers based on what they read and the endless conversations you have with them about these books. After a year of bookselling, there’s just some things that I want to advise you NOT to say to your bookseller.

  • “Are you sure you don’t have it? It says in stock right there.”

This was something that happened to me SO often at Barnes & Noble. The customer service desks faced out towards customers and this caused a lot of issues with customers thinking they know what they’re reading. Yes, while the computer says it’s in stock, that’s only at a warehouse. If I tell you we don’t have the book and we can order it, just order it and believe me.

  • “Don’t you have a cheaper version like a paperback of this new release in store?”

This was ALWAYS for new releases. Please understand that most of the time, publishers don’t release paperbacks until about a year after the release. This time frame mostly depends on how well the book is doing. If a book is flying off the shelves in a hardcover (For example: Where the Crawdads Sing), it’s less likely they’re going to release a paperback anytime soon. This is simply because they’re making more money off these hardcovers. So, if you don’t want to pay for the hard cover, you’re going to have to wait a year or so.

  • Please stop leaving your iced plastic cups on the bookshelves. You’re ruining our shelves and books.

Most bookstores with Starbucks or coffee shops attached know what I’m talking about. There were so many different occasions I’d find an iced drink leaking all over the shelf because someone decided just to leave it there. There’s trash cans, people. Also, maybe get a more environmentally friendly cup that you won’t leave everywhere? It’s just annoying when there’s rings on our bookshelves because of other people not having manners. I get it, sometimes you forget your drink and it’s an accident, but DAMN. This happened to often for everyone to be that forgetful.

  • You don’t have to whisper.

As an indie bookseller in a small store, it’s just awkward if you whisper. It’s not a library so you don’t need to be quiet. I can promise you I’m probably not even listening because I’m too busy reading my own book. It’s okay to talk to your friends or family while you’re book shopping!

  • While I do have an expansive knowledge on books, I don’t know that book that was mentioned on the news this morning or a magazine.

I wish that I knew these books that are promoted on TV or in the paper. But, unfortunately, I don’t have time to watch the morning news. I’m usually at work when that’s airing. I’m not mad if you ask about these books but it sucks when I’m not able to find them online when you’re looking for them. I really do want you to find this book! Try to take a photo of the news article or the TV screen whenever they’re promoting the book. I’ll definitely be able to find it then.

  • Print books aren’t dying and neither are the bookstores.

I hate it when people tell me this and remind me of their trusty e-reader they love so much. Don’t get me wrong, e-books are great. But, if you’re standing in the indie bookstore I work at, why would you tell me this? I’m aware of the popularization of e-books but it’s important to know print isn’t dying. If it was, we wouldn’t be a bookstore full of physical books. It is important to know that bookstores aren’t as busy as they were before but there’s new indie bookstores opening everywhere in America. In fact, there’s more newer indie bookstores than ever. That’s why it’s so important for you to shop at your indie bookstore. If you want to be able to linger around a bookstore for hours sipping on your hot coffee, you gotta at least get some books there!

  • “The last time I read a book was for high school reading. It sucked.”

I’m glad you’re bragging about being illiterate, Brad. Why are you even here?

  • “Do I HAVE to start with book one in the series?”

I can’t believe people really start in the middle of some series. Yes, I’m pretty sure if you want to understand most series: you should start with book one. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some series that you don’t really need to start at the beginning. But, if you ask me if you need to read the first book in Throne of Glass or A Darker Shade of Magic, I’m going to tell you: Yes. Definitely.

  • Please stop taking photos of our books to buy them somewhere else.

Man, I really hated seeing this because I knew most people do this to pick up the book somewhere else (Amazon, probably). Google exists for a reason! Don’t waste my time asking me to help you find a book if you’re not going to buy it here. I’m not an Amazon bookseller. I’m an indie bookseller! I could be helping someone who genuinely wants to read and buy the book they need help finding.

  • “The book you recommended me sucked.”

This hasn’t happened to me personally but it did happen to one of my old co-workers. I love giving recommendations to people but listen, I’m going to be bias. I’m going to recommend my favorite books to you if you ask, “What’s the best book you’ve ever read?” That question doesn’t let me help you find YOUR favorite book, it just lets me show you mine. If you’re going to ask for recommendations, please give us more on what you’re into. What was your last favorite book? What’s your favorite TV show? It helps us way more!

  • “Why would I read the book when I can watch the movie?”

I don’t know, why are you in a bookstore when you can just go buy some DVDs or something? Also, the book is ALWAYS better.

  • Don’t flip over or move a book that you don’t agree with or that you just don’t like.

I used to do this when I was a KID simply because it’s childish. It’s annoying when you turn over Donald Trump’s books or move them to an entirely different section. This causes customers to be mad at US for not being able to find the book you moved. I don’t like his books either but I’m also aware of the extra work that causes for booksellers. Not to mention, we don’t get paid enough to walk around the store looking for books customers moved. Also, even though I get bored, I don’t want to turn over a bunch of political books because a customer decided to be petty. It’s annoying so please don’t.

  • Don’t argue with booksellers if we say the book is in the back and we can’t get to it right now.

My first ever horrible experience at Barnes & Noble was with a dad who INSISTED on getting this book for his daughter. It was some obscure paperback that even I hadn’t heard of. This was during the holidays so we were so busy and the back was FULL of boxes. I couldn’t just go rip through all the 50+ boxes for this random paperback. He went to several booksellers about this saying, “Isn’t the title on the box?” like no, it’s not. If it was, I could’ve gotten it for you. Anyways, the manager had to rip through all the books to find it because this person couldn’t wait for the receiver to unbox it. RIP. Most of the time, the book is in the back and we can get it for you but you just have to be patient!

  • “I’m just going to buy it on Amazon. It’s cheaper!”

Why would you ever tell a bookseller that? Let alone, an indie bookseller? It literally hurts hearing people come in here and just say they’re going to buy it online. We can order any book you want, we offer discounts for teachers, our bestsellers are 25% off and we work much harder to help you than Amazon will. I know that books are cheaper on Amazon but don’t you want a bookstore near you to rely on? Don’t you want to have weekends where you linger around a little indie bookstore and end up finding your favorite book? I get it, some people will STILL shop on Amazon. But, there’s no reason to tell your bookseller that. I don’t think you’d walk into Wendy’s and say, “I’m just going to get food at McDonalds. BYEEE” like ??? I don’t get it. Have some manners, please.

 

To find an indie bookstore near you, check out this link.

 

I love being a bookseller but there’s just some things that make me giggle or that I had to get off my chest. If you’re a bookseller, HOLD ON TIGHT. You can do this! If you have more to add to list, comment! I’d love to see how others feel as well lol.

 

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

HAPPY RELEASE DAY | We Are Lost & Found

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

Happy release day to Helene Dunbar’s We Are Lost and Found! I have an entire spoiler free review for this book that you can find here.

If any of you remember, We Are Lost and Found was actually one of my ON MY RADAR picks and I’m so happy for it to finally be out in the world!

Find We Are Lost & Found at your local bookstore!

 

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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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

the “Lover” Book Tag

I have no idea if someone has already done this. I tried to check but didn’t see anything. So, here it is! A book tag based on Taylor Swift’s new album, Lover! If you end up doing this tag, please tag me. I want to see your answers!

Here are questions with no answers:

  1. I Forgot That You Existed ↠ What’s a book you wish you forgot?
  2. Cruel Summer ↠ What’s your favorite book set during the summer?
  3. Lover ↠ What’s your favorite romance trope?
  4. The Man ↠  Who’s your favorite feminist character?
  5. The Archer ↠ Since this song discusses being imperfect, what’s an imperfect book you love?
  6. I Think He Knows ↠  What character do you know very well?
  7. Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince ↠ Favorite book set in high school?
  8. Paper Rings ↠ What bookish OTP you want to get married?
  9. Cornelia Street ↠ What’s a book set near or where you live?
  10. Death by a Thousand Cuts ↠ Who’s your favorite character who’s been through a lot?
  11. London Boy ↠ Listen, I can’t help it. Who’s your favorite British character?
  12. Soon You’ll Get Better ft. the Dixie Chicks What’s a book that’s made you incredibly sad?
  13. False God ↠  Since this song talks about her relationship being greater than them, name your ALL TIME favorite book?
  14. You Need to Calm Down ↠ What’s your favorite LGBT+ book?
  15. Afterglow ↠ What’s a book you think you rated too harshly the first time you read it?
  16. ME! ↠ What’s your favorite uplifting book?
  17. It’s Nice to Have a Friend ↠ What bookish character do you wish was your best friend?
  18. Daylight ↠ Since this song is already underrated, what’s your favorite underrated book?

And now for my answers:

Continue reading the “Lover” Book Tag

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!

 

 

 

Feminist Friday | Three Women

Feminist Friday Announcement!

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“Desire as we’ve never seen it before: a riveting true story about the sex lives of three real American women, based on nearly a decade of reporting.

It thrills us and torments us. It controls our thoughts, destroys our lives, and it’s all we live for. Yet we almost never speak of it. And as a buried force in our lives, desire remains largely unexplored—until now. Over the past eight years, journalist Lisa Taddeo has driven across the country six times to embed herself with ordinary women from different regions and backgrounds. The result, Three Women, is the deepest nonfiction portrait of desire ever written and one of the most anticipated books of the year.

We begin in suburban Indiana with Lina, a homemaker and mother of two whose marriage, after a decade, has lost its passion. She passes her days cooking and cleaning for a man who refuses to kiss her on the mouth, protesting that “the sensation offends” him. To Lina’s horror, even her marriage counselor says her husband’s position is valid. Starved for affection, Lina battles daily panic attacks. When she reconnects with an old flame through social media, she embarks on an affair that quickly becomes all-consuming.

In North Dakota we meet Maggie, a seventeen-year-old high school student who finds a confidant in her handsome, married English teacher. By Maggie’s account, supportive nightly texts and phone calls evolve into a clandestine physical relationship, with plans to skip school on her eighteenth birthday and make love all day; instead, he breaks up with her on the morning he turns thirty. A few years later, Maggie has no degree, no career, and no dreams to live for. When she learns that this man has been named North Dakota’s Teacher of the Year, she steps forward with her story—and is met with disbelief by former schoolmates and the jury that hears her case. The trial will turn their quiet community upside down.

Finally, in an exclusive enclave of the Northeast, we meet Sloane—a gorgeous, successful, and refined restaurant owner—who is happily married to a man who likes to watch her have sex with other men and women. He picks out partners for her alone or for a threesome, and she ensures that everyone’s needs are satisfied. For years, Sloane has been asking herself where her husband’s desire ends and hers begins. One day, they invite a new man into their bed—but he brings a secret with him that will finally force Sloane to confront the uneven power dynamics that fuel their lifestyle.

Based on years of immersive reporting, and told with astonishing frankness and immediacy, Three Women is a groundbreaking portrait of erotic longing in today’s America, exposing the fragility, complexity, and inequality of female desire with unprecedented depth and emotional power. It is both a feat of journalism and a triumph of storytelling, brimming with nuance and empathy, that introduces us to three unforgettable women—and one remarkable writer—whose experiences remind us that we are not alone.”

Edition: Hardcover
Page Count: 320 pages
Published: July 9th 2019
Publisher: Avid Reader Press / Simon Schuster

 

Happy Feminist Friday everyone! I decided today I would share with you one of the biggest and newest feminist releases. It’s called Three Women by Lisa Taddeo and it’s been on the New York Times non-fiction bestseller list for three weeks straight. I put the description above for any of you that are interesting. I don’t think I’ll be picking it up anytime soon but it was a BOTM book which you can check out here!

 

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

August YA Releases | 2019

Here’s a list of the upcoming August YA releases! Which ones are you most excited for?

39679076“In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.”

 

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“By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie.” When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society’s ills, but she’s not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender.

While her opponents clamor to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo off on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. But when her efforts put her in the crosshairs of Atlanta’s most notorious criminal, Jo must decide whether she, a girl used to living in the shadows, is ready to step into the light.”

 

40942619. sy475 “There are so many ways the world could end. There could be a fire. A catastrophic flood. A super eruption that spews lakes of lava. Ellis Kimball has made note of all possible scenarios, and she is prepared for each one. What she doesn’t expect is meeting Hannah Marks in her therapist’s waiting room. Hannah calls their meeting fate. After all, Ellis is scared about the end of the world; Hannah knows when it’s going to happen.

Despite Ellis’s anxiety — about what others think of her, about what she’s doing wrong, about the safety of her loved ones — the two girls become fast friends. As Ellis tries to help Hannah decipher the details of her doomsday premonition, she learns there are secrets Hannah isn’t telling her. But with time ticking down, the search for answers only raises more questions. When does it happen? Who will believe them? How do you prepare for the end of the world when it feels like your life is just getting started?

Katie Henry, the author of Heretics Anonymous, delivers an engrossing and thoughtful tale about how people survive — with some faith in family, friends, and maybe a few prepper forums.”

 

44139388. sy475 “The day after the funeral all our mourning clothes hung out on the line like sleeping bats. ‘This will be really embarrassing,’ I kept saying to my family, ‘when she shows up at the door in a week or two.’

When Deena’s wild and mysterious sister Mandy disappears – presumed dead – her family are heartbroken. But Mandy has always been troubled. It’s just another bad thing to happen to Deena’s family. Only Deena refuses to believe it’s true.

And then the letters start arriving. Letters from Mandy, claiming that their family’s blighted history is not just bad luck or bad decisions – but a curse, handed down through the generations. Mandy has gone in search of the curse’s roots, and now Deena must find her. What they find will heal their family’s rotten past – or rip it apart forever.”

 

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“Kazi and Jase have survived, stronger and more in love than ever. Their new life now lies before them―the Ballengers will be outlaws no longer, Tor’s Watch will be a kingdom, and the two of them will meet all challenges side by side, together at last.

But an ominous warning mars their journey back, and in their rush to return to Tor’s Watch, just outside the fortress walls, they are violently attacked and torn apart―and each is thrust into their own new hell.

Unsure whether the other is alive or dead, Kazi and Jase must keep their wits among their greatest enemies and unlikeliest allies. And all the while, Death watches and waits”

38097294“Perfect for fans of Nina LaCour and Nicola Yoon comes a novel about first love and family secrets from Stonewall Book Award winner Brandy Colbert.

Dove “Birdie” Randolph works hard to be the perfect daughter and follow the path her parents have laid out for her: She quit playing her beloved soccer, she keeps her nose buried in textbooks, and she’s on track to finish high school at the top of her class. But then Birdie falls hard for Booker, a sweet boy with a troubled past…whom she knows her parents will never approve of.

When her estranged aunt Carlene returns to Chicago and moves into the family’s apartment above their hair salon, Birdie notices the tension building at home. Carlene is sweet, friendly, and open-minded–she’s also spent decades in and out of treatment facilities for addiction. As Birdie becomes closer to both Booker and Carlene, she yearns to spread her wings. But when long-buried secrets rise to the surface, everything she’s known to be true is turned upside down.”

 

Color Me In“Debut YA author Natasha Díaz pulls from her personal experience to inform this powerful coming-of-age novel about the meaning of friendship, the joyful beginnings of romance, and the racism and religious intolerance that can both strain a family to the breaking point and strengthen its bonds.

Who is Nevaeh Levitz?

Growing up in an affluent suburb of New York City, sixteen-year-old Nevaeh Levitz never thought much about her biracial roots. When her Black mom and Jewish dad split up, she relocates to her mom’s family home in Harlem and is forced to confront her identity for the first time.

Nevaeh wants to get to know her extended family, but one of her cousins can’t stand that Nevaeh, who inadvertently passes as white, is too privileged, pampered, and selfish to relate to the injustices they face on a daily basis as African Americans. In the midst of attempting to blend their families, Nevaeh’s dad decides that she should have a belated bat mitzvah instead of a sweet sixteen, which guarantees social humiliation at her posh private school. Even with the push and pull of her two cultures, Nevaeh does what she’s always done when life gets complicated: she stays silent.

It’s only when Nevaeh stumbles upon a secret from her mom’s past, finds herself falling in love, and sees firsthand the prejudice her family faces that she begins to realize she has a voice. And she has choices. Will she continue to let circumstances dictate her path? Or will she find power in herself and decide once and for all who and where she is meant to be?”

 

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“Lena and Campbell aren’t friends.

Lena has her killer style, her awesome boyfriend, and a plan. She knows she’s going to make it big. Campbell, on the other hand, is just trying to keep her head down and get through the year at her new school.

When both girls attend the Friday-night football game, what neither expects is for everything to descend into sudden mass chaos. Chaos born from violence and hate. Chaos that unexpectedly throws them together.

They aren’t friends. They hardly understand the other’s point of view. But none of that matters when the city is up in flames, and they only have each other to rely on if they’re going to survive the night.”

 

Pre-order any of these at your local bookstore!

Upcoming Reviews | 7/26/19

Hello everyone! These are all the ARCs I have to read into 2020. I will be posting a review for all of them and I hope to meet each of the deadlines I gave myself. I obviously might not post on each of these days but I plan to. As you might’ve noticed, most of these days I plan to post are a week BEFORE the release date. I’ve always done reviews like this because it gives me more time to read the books and it allows me to promote my review whenever the book is published. I’m also probably going to be reviewing more books but might not have the ARCs yet or it’ll be a review of some random book I just read. If you have any questions, just let me know!

  • We Are Lost and Found by Helene Dunbar

Release Date: September 3rd, 2019

Review Date: Most likely August 26th, 2019

  • Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

Release Date: October 1st, 2019

Review Date: Most likely August 24th (I’m hoping for this but it’s also a VERY long book so who knows)

  • Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

Release Date: October 22nd, 2019

Review Date: Most likely October 15th, 2019

  • Infinity Son by Adam Silvera

Release Date: January 14th, 2020

Review Date: Most likely January 7th, 2020

  • Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Release Date: January 21st, 2020

Review Date: January 16th, 2020