Happy Friday, bookish friends! After seeing this awesome idea over on Words About Words’ blog, I decided I’d give it a go myself using the books I have on my bookshelf… err, shelves because I’m kind of a book hoarder (sorry not sorry ’bout it, y’all). Let’s dive right in, shall we?
Hello, fellow readers! Welcome back to another Bonus Content Friday! I’m so excited to share that this week’s post is a book tag I was nominated to do by a fellow blogger, Riddhi Bhargava over at Whispering Stories. Thank you so much for the nomination, Riddhi! Please go give her blog some love when you get finished over here — she has some fabulous content up on her site!
- Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog
- Answer the 11 questions given to you
- Nominate 11 other bloggers
- Ask your nominees 11 questions
Riddhi’s Questions for Me:
1) What is your favorite book series?
This question is such a hard one because there are so many series that are near and dear to my heart. If I had to pick just one, it would have to be the Dark Elements series by Jennifer L. Armentrout. The characters are just so lovable (and some hateable lol!), the plot is perfectly paced and action-packed, and the plot twists blow my mind every time I read it. It was also one of the first series that got me into reading!
2) What is your favorite song?
My favorite song changes almost weekly (so many good tunes out there now, y’all!), but this week’s would have to be Blow Us All Away from the musical, Hamilton. I don’t know what it is about this song that’s so addictive (the whistling because I can’t for the life of me whistle, maybe?), but I swear I could listen to it for an hour straight and not get bored of it!
3) Favorite movie?
I’m not a big movie-watcher, but I guess I would have to pick Divergent for this one since I always feel so kick butt after watching it (even though I sure as heck would not have been a Dauntless!). And, it just so happens to be a book-to-movie adaptation, so perfect choice to put on my book blog, I think!
4) What are your hobbies?
When I’m not reading or blogging, I absolutely love to cook and bake! I also have the most precious two-year-old sheltie pup named Rowan (yes, named after the fictional character from Throne of Glass!) that I have so much fun hanging out with in my free time.
5) Dogs or cats?
I know I’m supposed to just pick one but I literally cannot for this one — BOTH!!! Huge animal lover here if you can’t tell!
6) Favorite genre?
My favorite genre definitely fluctuates from time to time, but I think with the current goings on of the world, I have been reading a lot more contemporary romances than I used to and LOVING them because they never fail to bring a smile to my face!
7) One genre you have never read?
Horror fiction — and I don’t plan to read it ever, if I can help it! I’m not a huge fan of doing/reading things that intentionally scare me, though I do know a lot of people who enjoy this genre of reading!
8) Favorite month of the year?
You’re killing me with these tough questions, Riddhi (LOL!). Though I don’t love the cold weather, my favorite month would have to be December because I love the family time I get to soak up around the holidays. The long break from school is also a huge plus since I have so much extra time to dedicate to other, more exciting things (like blogging and reading!).
9) One thing that people love about you?
Other than my endless book recommendations (HA!), I think people appreciate the fact that I’m willing to help them brainstorm and implement creative solutions to relatively common problems they are having to contend with. This especially comes in handy and has appeared to be helpful to others when we have had to work together on college group projects.
10) One character you would die for?
Oh, man. Hmmm…. This one has to be the toughest question on the list because most of the characters I would want to save are perfectly capable of saving their own lives even in the most extreme of circumstances. I guess I would have to go with Percy and Monty from A Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue because they’re kind of hot messes and could use all the help they could get if put in a life or death situation!
11) Which habit of yours do you want to change?
So I actually just recently just started working on this, but I am a habitual fingernail-chewer when I get stressed out. Luckily this habit is almost broken now, but I’d totally be lying if I said I wasn’t guilty of falling back into this bad habit!
- Em @ The Geeky Jock
- Lila @ Hardcover Haven
- Tree and Bree
- A Little Book Love
- Lily Lovebrook
- Jacquie (Rattle the Stars)
Questions for My Nominees:
- Least favorite genre you’ve read?
- Favorite animal?
- What’s something many people don’t know about you?
- Favorite book you’ve read this month?
- Who is your favorite author?
- How many books do you own (physical, ebooks, and audiobooks included)?
- Favorite midnight snack?
- What post on your blog are you most proud of and why?
- Paperbacks or hardcovers?
- Favorite season?
- Fruits or vegetables?
Even if I didn’t tag you, I still highly encourage all of you to do this tag. Not only was it a ton of fun, but it will also help your readers find some fabulous new book blogs to check out — what a great way to support others in the bookish community, right? 🙂
Until next week, bookish friends! May your weekend be filled with all the books 🙂
Release Date: August 6, 2018
Genre(s): Contemporary with Paranormal Elements
Format: PDF Copy from Author
*** I received a copy of Haze from the author in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts/opinions in the review below are all my own and have not been influenced by this exchange in any way.***
“When Eliza Owens gets a phone call in the middle of the night from a girl she’s never met, she doesn’t know what to think. The girl introduces herself as Paige, and says she used to date Erik Stern, Eliza’s fiancé. What’s more, she has something important to discuss.
The only problem? Paige has been dead for years.
Believing it to be a sick prank, Eliza tries to force it from her mind until Sam, Eliza’s older sister, tells her she met Paige only a few weeks before. And, according to Sam, Paige has nothing nice to say about Erik.
The fight which follows shatters the lives of everyone involved, and Erik disappears without a trace.
Five years later, Erik returns to town after his father’s death. Old wounds quickly resurface, and with them several burning questions. None the least of which is: Who spoke to Eliza and Sam if it wasn’t Paige? And why?”
What Did I Think?
To describe this book in a few words …. dark, mysterious, and downright spooky!
The overall concept of Haze fascinated me from the get-go. The vibe is probably split 50/50 between contemporary and paranormal, which I found really intriguing, given that I haven’t encountered other books with such an even mix of both before. Though the narration isn’t truly alternating between our main protagonists, I found myself really enjoying learning about what Erik and Eliza were doing separately just as much as I liked the moments when the story was being told with them in the same location. I’m a total sucker for anything in books that breaks from the normal text, so seeing those journal entries pieced into Haze was so cool to see. Though the main plotline of the book is pretty intense and serious, I think the humor in the dialogue between characters kept me engaged and from getting too sad about the events that sparked our characters’ adventures. While Haze isn’t something I likely would have picked up on my own due to it being on the darker side of things, I thoroughly enjoyed the change of pace and exploring a novel with an overall concept so different from anything I’ve read before.
Though I’ve never experienced half of what Eliza, our main protagonist, has gone through in her life, I found myself so sympathetic to her cause, even when she turned to not-so-great habits to cope with these hardships. After the death of someone very close to her and another just up and leaving, it seemed perfectly reasonable for Eliza to crack and sink to her lowest point. I appreciated the realness we got to see from her character during this time even though it totally did break my heart to read about. However, Eliza’s fiery personality we see at the very beginning of the book is never fully smothered. I lived for the moments when she would put her foot down and stand her ground, even when I thought she was totally crazy for doing whatever it was she insisted on — it’s the effort and drive that counts, right? My favorite moments from Eliza were those where she used her inner strength to help pull others out from under the control of their own personal demons (though it was a little hypocritical in some instances). It didn’t happen often, but I couldn’t help but appreciate this compassionate yet insistent side to Eliza that I also think helped her move past her anger and bitterness for life. As a whole, I liked Eliza’s character okay, though I did find it difficult to connect with her in any real way outside of just being sympathetic to the struggles she has been going through since tragedy struck.
I found that I had a stronger connection with our second main protagonist, Erik. While I couldn’t connect with the tragedy he’s had to face and the people of Riverside’s general wariness of him due to his father’s past sins, I think his reserved yet sincere personality is similar to mine, making it easier for me to understand his motives (even if I didn’t always agree with how he approached things). I appreciated the fact that while Erik has made some pretty terrible choices in life, he does his absolute best to atone for his actions and make it up to the people he’s hurt. I also loved the fact that he didn’t hide what he was feeling or mince words — he’s always quick to tell Eliza how he feels about things, even though she did her best to avoid any emotional topics (to her own detriment, I think!). Overall, Erik’s charismatic nature was kind of hard to resist, and I couldn’t help but respect him all the more for how hard he tries to make up for time lost in Riverside with those he cares about.
I’ll be the first to admit that if there had been no Miles in this book, there’s a good chance it would have been way too dark for my psyche to handle. This dude brought all the humor, laughter, and a good time to all the situations he was put through and did so with a great attitude. I loved the banter he carries on with both Eliza and Erik, as well as how he wasn’t afraid to give them a piece of his mind when they needed it. I think everyone needs a friend like Miles in their life — funny, loyal, and ready to face whatever comes his people’s way right along side them!
While I very much enjoyed Haze, there were some things I wasn’t super keen on. One of the main issues I had dealt with the lack of development from the main characters. I thought there were so many times where a moment would help one of our protagonist start to change course but never did. While not all characters have to have a huge amount of development, it just seemed like all of them stayed relatively stagnant throughout the course of the novel — I just expected so much more from them, in the end. I also had some issues with pacing. I’m a huge fan of fast-paced plots, but this one almost moved TOO fast, leaving some plot holes and the storyline feeling rather incomplete in the end. I think slowing down the action and spending some additional time on transitions (i.e. making it clear when a character left one place to go to another, as one example) would have made the plot a little more clear and easier to follow. The only other component of Haze I just wasn’t sold on was the ending bit. No spoilers, but it just went too far into the paranormal. Did I enjoy it? Totally, but it didn’t work for me in terms of consistency with the rest of the book.
Haze is a quick read sure to satisfy any reader’s paranormal contemporary romance craving! It was spooky, funny, and a whole barrel of mystery I had a blast uncovering alongside our crew of characters. If you’re looking for a dark, ghostly read to get you in the mood for the fall season/Halloween, Haze would be the perfect choice!
Who Would I Recommend This Book To?
***NOTE: While nothing is necessarily explicit, there are certainly mature themes mentioned on more than one occasion (drug usage, some components of romance, and violence) that you should be aware of before giving Haze a read!***
If you are a fan of the New Adult/Adult paranormal/paranormal romance genres and don’t mind a substantially dark read, Haze is the perfect choice for you!
I’d also recommend Haze to fans of Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Don’t Look Back and Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush series.
Hiya, fellow book-lovers! Welcome back to another Bonus Content Friday! This week, I’ve decided to share my favorite classic novels I’ve read over the years that I really enjoyed. One of the things I love most about this list is that I’ve included some picks from all over the world and/or those that have the ability to educate the reader about other cultures and ways of life. Some may ring a bell since they’re pretty popular, but others are lesser-known picks that I hope you will consider reading because they are fabulous! I don’t want to keep you in suspense any longer, so let’s jump right into this thing, shall we?
This past week I actually did a re-read of the first half of The Arabian Nights and I remembered once again why I loved these stories so much! While the frame stories are capable of making the best of scholars’ heads spin, I greatly appreciate the complexity of this text’s structure, and there really is a little something for everyone in here: glimpses of Islamic religion, magic found at every turn, and some shocking happenings you aren’t expecting! In addition to these stories just being a barrel of monkeys to read, The Arabian Nights is loaded with insight about ancient Middle Eastern culture.
While I definitely wouldn’t call myself a mega fan of Oscar Wilde, I can’t help but smile anytime someone mentions The Importance of Being Earnest. I’ve read this play on more than one occasion and also seen the fabulous filmed version with Reese Witherspoon in it and each time, my love for this masterpiece grows stronger. If you’re looking for just a sliver of a play full of humor, witty banter, and a whole lot of English social satire, you’ll love The Importance of Being Earnest!
A Tale of Two Cities is the only work by Charles Dickens I’ve read, but I hope to read more by him at some point in the future. I read this novel in high school, and given that I’m not really one for history, I don’t think I quite realized how important of a work this really is at the time (though my English teacher did attempt to beat me over the head with how exquisite this work of literature is more times than I can count!). However, as I got older, I found myself having little flashbacks of the novel’s focus on the idea of personal and societal transformation. While the French Revolution aspect of A Tale of Two Cities is very topical, the smaller underlying themes of challenging the status quo, taking responsibility for one’s personal actions, and finding it within yourself to change who you are for the better are very much universal ideas that modern readers can still connect with today.
If there was ever a book out there that is so relevant to today’s social movements, it’s The Bluest Eye. The focus of this novel centers on what it means to be beautiful according to Western society’s standards and how this depiction tends to marginalize individuals who don’t conform to these requirements. In a time in America that is filled with discussions of race, diversity, and learning to accept individuals who aren’t exactly like ourselves, I couldn’t recommend reading this heartbreaking, breathtaking, and inspiring masterpiece by Toni Morrison.
Angels in America was one of those reads that will forever stick with me because it taught me so much about topics I didn’t really understand at the time in which I read it. This relatively contemporary play was written as an education piece about the 1980s HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States. I don’t want to say too much because it truly is a reading experience you need to have yourself to grasp its message, but if you’re looking for an emotional, riveting, educational, and diversity-filled read, I highly recommend you give this play a chance — you won’t be sorry you did!
You didn’t think I was going to make it through this whole list without adding at least one dystopian pick, did you? Written in 1933, Huxley pretty much hit the nail on the head when it comes to society becoming significantly more reliant on technology as time goes on in Brave New World. I had so many emotions while reading this book, including but not limited to disgust, fascination, shock, alarm, and frustration. Many of these emotions stemmed from the fact that many of the aspects of society Huxley was satirizing in his novel are still present today, and I began to see some of the issues that are starting to come from our strong reliance on technology, particularly in the medical field. Brave New World is perfect for readers seeking an exhilarating dystopian novel that you can apply to the happenings of today.
While this novel is really more of a contemporary classic, I have no doubt that everyday readers and scholars will continue reading this novel for years to come. I’ll be the first to admit that The Kite Runner was an extremely difficult book to read due to its very mature themes and content, but it’s a story that no doubt needs to be told and heard by those willing to listen. Taking place in Afghanistan as the monarchy crumbles, two young boys from different social classes form a very unlikely friendship. Highlighting the issues surrounding power, identity, and social construct in Afghan culture, Hosseini’s The Kite Runner is a gripping, heart-wrenching, and inspirational tale you are sure to never forget.
Orlando is one of those books that while you’re reading, you’ll find yourself deeply confused as you struggle through each page, but in the end, after some thoughtful reflection, its purpose and meaning finally click. Over the course of 300 years, the reader has the opportunity to see Orlando experience life in society from the perspective of both genders — Orlando sporadically switches biologically between the female and male sexes as time passes. Some would say that this novel is one of the first to take on the topic of “gender fluidity,” but I would argue that it serves an even larger purpose: to make the point that gender should not dictate how one should experience life in any society.
Ahhh. Let us discuss our dear ol’ Holden, shall we? Young adult novels weren’t necessarily a thing during the time in which The Catcher in the Rye was written, but I can’t think of a book that manages to capture all the angst, stumbling blocks, life lessons, and new experiences of your teen years than this one. Though the lives of teens these days don’t necessarily align perfectly with what Holden experiences, many of the overarching experiences he goes through are similar to the “growing pains” many young adult readers experience in their lives today. As if this doesn’t intrigue you enough, the ending will leave you SHOOK and there have been lots of attempts to ban this novel due to profanity and mature themes. If you’re looking for a book that’s through and through a coming-of-age story sure to make people talk, give The Catcher in the Rye a read!
I had to round out this list with one of my all time favorite novels: Snow Falling on Cedars! While the overarching plot of this book surrounds a fictional murder case being unraveled on a fictional island outside Washington, Snow Falling on Cedars leaves the reader reeling from so much more than just the murder mystery. Given that this murder trial takes place following World War II, there is a lot of prejudice against people of Japanese heritage — an element that plays a huge role in the movement of this novel’s plot. Snow Falling on Cedars is a tale of struggling to be treated fairly in a society not ready to move forward from past conflict, pushing aside stereotypes to stand up for what’s right, and fighting against the odds for those you love.
While I don’t typically pick up classics to read in my free time, I sure have read quite a few over the years that have made a lasting impact! Do you have a favorite that didn’t make my list? Let’s chat about them below!
Congrats, everyone — we have at last reached another weekend! Take care, and I’ll see you back here next week for some more bookish fun! 🙂
Release Date: May 9, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
“Winner of the 2018 Young Adult Virginia Book of the Year
Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.”
What Did I Think?
While the overall concept of It Started with Goodbye appears to be like other fluffy and sweet contemporaries, this book was so much more than that! The other loose fairytale retellings I’ve read have been in the fantasy genre, and I loved that June was able to create such a fabulous retelling of “Cinderella” through a modern, contemporary lens set in today’s world. The emphasis on Tatum and the relationships she has with the other members of her blended family remained at the forefront, setting the tone for the wonderful coming-of-age story that this book transforms into.
For someone as young as our protagonist, Tatum, she sure does handle all the new changes in her life like a trooper. Unfortunately, Tate was the victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time when some shizzz went down and has basically been forced into seclusion by her father and overly-controlling stepmother… well, except when she is out on the town doing community service. I greatly appreciated the fact that while Tate wasn’t thrilled with how her summer unfolded, she managed to find some good in what was thrown her way and took the extra time she had to focus on things that she saw value in, like honing her graphic design skills. A part of me got really upset that it took Tate so long to stand up to her stepmother in a constructive way, but given her reserved, quirky personality and her parents’ refusal to listen to her previously, I began to understand why she was so hesitant to handle conflict head-on until she really hit her breaking point. Overall, I found Tatum’s character relatable and the development we see from her very realistic for the age and stage she’s in.
I can’t help but take a moment to comment of how intriguing Tatum’s family is. She is a part of a big blended family (something so many readers can relate to!) and the personalities of each member are vastly different from that of other members. I loved how Tatum’s abuela was so free-spirited and always willing to use logic to help sort out conflict within the family. I also appreciated the fact that she wasn’t afraid to step in on behalf of Tatum when her stepmother and father were way out of line. Tilly sure had a massive attitude on her, I found it interesting to see how she and Tatum got along as sisters, as their personalities were kind of born to clash. I think it would be a hoot to see this family spending time together all at one time — I’ll bring the popcorn!
While the vast majority of the story follows Tatum and her family, there is also a very charming and endearing virtual Prince Charming we totally need to discuss. While under house arrest, Tatum works on a website for her “virtual pen pal” of sorts and they strum up a solid friendship. I enjoyed the fact that like Tatum, Secret Pen Pal was kind of quirky and certainly not what one would consider a mainstream teen. I loved the fact that both Tatum and Mystery Man were able to help and support one another from a distance and seemed to be what the other needed just in the nick of time.
It Started with Goodbye was a very sweet, wholesome, and beautiful read that highlighted the importance of forgiving those who have wronged you and mending relationships that have never quite been whole. It has the perfect blend of humor and hardship, friendship and family, and misunderstanding and learning to understand. The characters were flawed but relatable, the family dynamic was complex but so intriguing, and June’s writing was just stunning to read and totally fit the fairytale whimsicality that frames Tatum’s story. The lessons presented in this book are timeless, and I truly believe that readers of all ages can take at least a tiny morsel of wisdom with them by the end of their reading of It Started with Goodbye.
Who Would I Recommend This Book To?
If you’re in the mood to read a contemporary with hilarious dialogue between characters, a strong emphasis on family, and a coming-of-age tale through and through, I highly suggest giving It Started with Goodbye a read!
I’d also recommend this book to fans of Jennifer E. Smith, Miranda Kenneally, and Morgan Matson.
Hello, bookish friends! Welcome back to the blog. This week, I thought I’d throw another discussion post your way. As avid readers, you’ve probably had the “hardcover vs. paperback” battle in your mind (and maybe in person!) a time or two in your life. Someone earlier this week asked me my thoughts on the topic, and since it got me pondering my own opinions, I thought “Why not share this on the blog since it is the ultimate question posed to bookish people?” So alas, here I am, bringing you this very topic in pro/con list format! Ready to dive in? Leggo:
- Hardcovers don’t get nearly as beat-up as paperbacks do when you put them in a bag and take them on the go. As someone who is all about having pristine copies of the books I own, this is a huge plus for me!
- If it’s a book that has a whole lotta pages, you don’t have to worry about cracking the spine.
- Hardcovers have a better chance at surviving if you get caught in the rain, splashed at the pool, or accidentally getting dropped in the bathtub.
- The covers of hardback books are STUNNING and make beautiful statement pieces on your bookshelves!
- Not that you need me to tell you this, fellow readers, but hardcover books are often times much more expensive than paperbacks.
- The dust jackets on the outside of most hardcovers drive me a little crazy sometimes. For example, when I’m reading outside and the dust jacket AND pages start blowing around , I start flailing to get things back in order and it’s just a hot mess.
- Hardcovers often take up a lot more space on my shelves than paperbacks. As someone who has a lot of books and little space to store them (because my shelves are now officially filled to the brim), this is definitely a drawback for me.
- Most of these suckers are HEAVY.
- Paperback books are much more affordable. There are times in my life where I’ve been able to buy two paperbacks for the price of one hardcover!
- There are so many different “feels” of paperbacks. There are some that are soft/smooth and others that have sort of a grainy feel, and for some strange reason, these different textures make the reading experience that much more pleasurable!
- You can pack a crap ton more paperbacks onto your bookshelves since they are much more compact than hardcovers. I have a few paperbacks that are over 600 pages long, and they take up much less space than a hardcover with the same page count would.
- Overall, I find that paperbacks are more comfortable to read. Paperbacks just tend to naturally fit in my hand better and don’t leave me with pesky hand cramps like hardcovers do.
- It’s super easy to damage a paperback. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve thrown in my bookbag to read during class…. err… I mean, after class, and when I pulled them out, the covers were bent. Le sigh.
- I have found it harder to keep the pages open when reading paperbacks since the spines are bound very tightly.
- You typically have to wait longer to get a paperback copy of a book since most are released in hardcover format first.
- The bane of my existence: Accidentally cracking the spine of a paperback. My heart breaks a little more every time I do this because then the title is left with a bunch of permanent wrinkles in it, starting back at me on my shelf for the rest of its bookish life.
My Personal Preference
Okay… the moment you have all been waiting for: my personal preference! It honestly depends on what I’m wanting to use the book for (i,e, reading, decoration, travel, etc.), but since the overall reason for having books is to read them, then I have to admit that I prefer paperbacks over hardcovers. Haters gonna hate, but I chose this format because paperbacks are just so much easier to handle and are way more comfortable for me to hold onto while reading. If we were talking decoration, though, hardcovers would 100% take the cake!
Now you all know my personal thoughts on this uber controversial bookish topic! Hopefully my paperback preference didn’t disappoint any of you too much! What are your thoughts on these two formats? Let me know below and any reasons ‘why’ that didn’t make my list!
Happy Weekend, lovelies, and I’ll see you next week for some more bookish fun! 🙂
Hi, bookish friends! I’m back at it again with another Reading Recap for you guys, and I decided to try something new. Since my college classes just started back and I am doing a lot of reading of traditional texts, I thought I’d include these in my reading recaps each month. So, you’ll get to see what I’m reading for fun and those I’m reading in my LITS seminar class — cool, huh? Let’s get going on this thing then, what do ya say?
What I Read This Month
Let’s Break It Down
New Books Read: 3
New Novellas Read: 0
Book Re-Reads: 1
Novella Re-Reads: 0
Monthly Total: 4
Average Rating of this Month’s Reading: 3.66 stars
Favorite Read of the Month: From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Most Surprising Impressive Read of the Month: The Odyssey (Emily Wilson Translation)
Least Favorite Read of the Month: The Mahabharata
If you read last month’s recap, you know that I was super upset to have had to list one of JLA’s books as the most disappointing read of the month. Well this month, my JLander heart overfloweth with joy because From Blood and Ash was FANTASTIC!!!! This is Jennifer L. Armentrout’s first adult high fantasy book, and it had just about everything I could have ever wanted in a book in this genre: a kick butt female protagonist, a very mysterious love interest, a truckload of romance, plot twists at every turn, stunning world building, and an ending that shocked the living crap out of me! My full thoughts on this bad boy will be share in a review in the very near future, so stay tuned for that in the coming weeks!
I’ve read numerous versions of The Odyssey, but Emily Wilson’s translation by far takes the cake as my favorite! While this text is LONG, it just reads so smoothly and so much like an adventurous bedtime story that I found myself unable to put it down. I’m also a sucker for Greek mythology, so anytime the gods and their shenanigans were mentioned, I was all for it! Overall, big fan, and if you’ve never read this version, you totally should!
While I loved the fact that I learned so much about early Indian culture, I had a lot of trouble following the storyline of The Mahabharata. A lot of this was because a great many of the names of the characters were very similar to each other, which made it hard for me to distinguish between who belonged to which of the warring families. I have actually read the Ramayana (another ancient text from India) and prefer it to The Mahabharata, but I did find the emphasis on religion and morality fascinating in this book. Overall, not a huge fan at all, but enjoyed learning about the culture in which it was written.
I was completely shocked by how much I enjoyed reading this play. It is based on a section from the Mahabharata, so going into it I just hoped I liked it more than I did that text … and I totally did! This play was super funny, but also gives the reader some great insight into early Indian culture. This was my last read of the month (literally finished it this morning!), and I have to say: it was a great one!
Another monthly reading recap in the books (pun intended, as always!). Though I again didn’t have much time for recreational reading, I always enjoy reading texts I wouldn’t have picked up ordinarily in my college classes. What do you guys think of me including my thoughts on these texts on the blog in addition to my “fun reads?” Let me know below, along with all the book you had the opportunity to devour this month.
May your September be filled with lots of fun reading — I sure hope mine is! 🙂
Series: Blood and Ash #1
Publisher: Blue Box Press
Release Date: March 30, 2020
Chosen from birth to usher in a new era, Poppy’s life has never been her own. The life of the Maiden is solitary. Never to be touched. Never to be looked upon. Never to be spoken to. Never to experience pleasure. Waiting for the day of her Ascension, she would rather be with the guards, fighting back the evil that took her family, than preparing to be found worthy by the gods. But the choice has never been hers.
The entire kingdom’s future rests on Poppy’s shoulders, something she’s not even quite sure she wants for herself. Because a Maiden has a heart. And a soul. And longing. And when Hawke, a golden-eyed guard honor bound to ensure her Ascension, enters her life, destiny and duty become tangled with desire and need. He incites her anger, makes her question everything she believes in, and tempts her with the forbidden.
Forsaken by the gods and feared by mortals, a fallen kingdom is rising once more, determined to take back what they believe is theirs through violence and vengeance. And as the shadow of those cursed draws closer, the line between what is forbidden and what is right becomes blurred. Poppy is not only on the verge of losing her heart and being found unworthy by the gods, but also her life when every blood-soaked thread that holds her world together begins to unravel.”
What Did I Think?
Y’all, I am SHOOK. A little backstory for you all: JLA announced the title and cover of this book on THE DAY IT FREAKING RELEASED (yes, seriously — not even exaggerating!) AND it was her very first time releasing an adult high fantasy novel. As if that didn’t shock me enough, I am completely flabbergasted to say that now that I’ve read it, From Blood and Ash just might have made my top three favorite books of hers of all time!
Now that you understand why I am completely SHOOKETH, let’s discuss the overall concept of this total gem! From Blood and Ash had just about everything I could ever want in an adult high fantasy novel: multi-dimensional characters, stunning descriptions of the very complex world of Masadonia, all the political intrigue, and an action-packed plot that kept me on my toes from beginning to end. I thought the religious tie-ins were fascinating to read about, and I thoroughly enjoyed them in conjunction with the mythical creatures and themes that were also woven into the story. From Blood and Ash has so many moving parts, and I thought all of them worked together beautifully — like a well-oiled machine!
Poppy, our main protagonist, is a force to be reckoned with. Given the role of ensuring the Ascensions of the people of Masadonia, Poppy is forced to live her life in solitude, following the explicate orders of the Duke, Duchess, and priestesses. However, the reader learns quickly that Poppy often secretly breaks away from what is expected of her in order to try and maintain some control over her life. From the very first chapter, we see that she’s not too keen on following direct orders from the people who are supposed to “rule over her” and that she is more than capable of protecting herself when need be. Throughout the course of the book, we continue to see her question everything she previously thought was true, and the more she manages to discover, the more she begins to fight for what she feels is right and what she wants, rather than what those around her expect her to do for the “good of humanity.” I loved that the reader sees the fire in her from the first page and that we hardly ever see it go out, even as she struggles through some very tough moments. I found myself rooting for Poppy over the course of the entire book, and I am so excited to see how the events of this book have shaped her character in the next one!
As always, JLA gives us a totally swoon-worthy supporting lead, and this go-round, it’s Hawke Flynn: handsome, crazy clever, and one of the wittiest JLA characters of all time, if you ask me! Though he comes across as this very mysterious tough guy, he also has a softer side to him that had me saying “awhh!!!” in my head like a million times over. One of my favorite components of Hawke’s character is the fact that instead of trying to protect Poppy from every little thing as her royal guard, he understands her need to take control of her own life and fight for herself. I’ve never been the biggest fan of the whole “tough guy constantly save the damsel in distress” trope, so I was happy to see that Hawke helped when needed, but wasn’t the overbearing, brood-y male lead we often times see in similar novels. To say that Hawke never got on my nerves/made me really angry is a total lie (no spoilers, friend! Just give this book a read and you’ll totally get what I mean!), but a part of my soul still loves him to pieces. Hawke’s character has so many secret layers, and I cannot wait to see more of them unravel in Book #2!
One last comment before I cap this review off: THAT FRICK FRACKIN’ ENDING, YOU GUYS! PREPARE YOUR HEARTS AND SOULS BECAUSE THAT WAS CRAY!
From Blood and Ash was basically what you’d end up with if Throne of Glass and Twilight had a baby. I loved watching Poppy navigate through the uber-controlling world she lives in and how Hawke provided the breadcrumbs she needed to sort the facts from fiction she’s been told her entire life. The romance was legit FIRE, the characters had so many layers that I loved seeing unravel as the story went on, and the plotline was so fast-paced that it was legitimately breathtaking. I am so thankful that the second book, A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire, releases tomorrow because I seriously cannot wait to dive back into this world!
Who Would I Recommend This Book To?
*NOTE: This book is definitely only for mature readers (the romance is STEAMY and there is also quite a bit of graphic violence/murder). I would not recommend this book to readers under the age of 18.*
If you’ve read Jennifer L. Armentrout’s other books (particularly her paranormal romances!), From Blood and Ash may just turn out to be your next great read!
I’d also whole-heartedly recommend From Blood and Ash to fans of Sarah J. Maas, and Stephanie Meyer.
Hello, bookish friends! I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate my 21st birthday than with you all, talking about books, so I did some digging and found the Birthday Book Tag — YAYY! The creator of this tag is Antonia over at Always Books. Big shout out to her and her awesome creativity! Y’all ready to talk all things books and birthdays? Me too, so let’s get to it!
Girl and boy live next door to each other, are basically complete opposites, and fall in love in the summertime? Yeah, the overall concept of this book is totally cliche, but I can’t help but love it anyway! The characters are oh so lovable, the writing is absolutely beautiful, and this book perfectly describes the ups, downs, and awkwardness of first love. Every time I pick it up (even if I just pick it up to clean off my bookshelf), I can’t help but smile because My Life Next Door is just that sweet!
If you’ve been hanging around my blog for awhile, you already know that my love for the Montague Siblings series by Mackenzi Lee knows no bounds, so when I saw that there was ANOTHER book, I could hardly contain my excitement! I’ve been longing for Lee’s hilariously relatable characters and quirky writing style since I finished the last book in the series. Not to wish my life away or anything, but can it be December already so I can go buy The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks, please?
When I picked up this book, I was a little bit unsure as to how I would feel about it, as usually Sarah Dessen books are either a hit or a miss for me. The fact that this book will go down in history as one of my favorite contemporaries I’ve read in my life shocks me to say, but it’s true, folks! I loved that even though there were some very light romantic undertones, the main focus remained on Saylor getting to know her mother’s side of the family and filling in the blanks surrounding her mother’s past, which ended up helping Saylor find a new part of herself she didn’t realize was there before. The Rest of the Story was funny, heartwarming, emotional, and just so much fun to read from beginning to end.
I’m totally not going to lie to you guys: Whenever I hear a whole lot about an upcoming release months before it actually hits shelves, I do sort of avoid said very hyped book for at least a few months to see what readers really think about it. With A Curse So Dark and Lonely, I waited a few months per my usual system, but when I finally finished reading it, I wanted to kick myself for waiting so long! I absolutely loved the characters, the world-building, and all the fairytale tie-ins. Don’t let the hype scare you like it did me — this book is totally deserving of all the attention it got!
You guys already know that I love this book for so many reasons: it’s action-packed, the characters are total smart alecks but have so many layers, and the world-building is seriously incredible. Something you all may not know is that there were numerous points in this book that I literally got teary-eyed at because the writing was just that beautiful. There were quotes from character that made me laugh so dang hard that I cried as well, so this book definitely has a good balance of emotional and humorous elements. I don’t think I will be forgetting this read for a long time. If you haven’t read House of Earth and Blood yet, just do it! You won’t be disappointed!
Don’t get me wrong: I LOVED this book when I read it the first (and second) time! However, I think I was just enjoying the story and beautiful writing and not actually taking in the true meaning the author was trying to convey through the main characters. If I were to pick this up and read it now that I have some true life experience under my belt, I think I would be able to relate more to Camryn and her journey. Guess that means it’s time for a re-read to see if my theory holds true, huh?
This is kind of a crazy choice because this fantasy is about as dark as it can get, but hear me out! I read this duology a couple of months before I started my first year of college. As someone who wasn’t a huge fan of change at the time, I found the transition to this new phase of life a little overwhelming (I’m sure some of you can relate to this!). I loved this series because I was so invested in these characters and the super dope plot that it gave my brain something to do other than stress about what was coming next for me. And dang did it keep me on my toes because THOSE PLOT TWISTS, MAN!
What a perfect way to round out my birthday week — right here with you guys talking about some great reads! I encourage all of you to do this tag when it gets close to your birthdays, and if you’ve already done it, drop links below so I can check out your answers!
Have a great weekend, bookish friends. Until next week! 🙂
Series: Cursebreakers #1
Release Date: January 29, 2019
“Fall in love, break the curse.
Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year, Prince Rhen, the heir of Emberfall, thought he could be saved easily if a girl fell for him. But that was before he turned into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. Before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.
Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, Harper learned to be tough enough to survive. When she tries to save a stranger on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s pulled into a magical world.
Break the curse, save the kingdom.
Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. A prince? A curse? A monster? As she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.”
What Did I Think?
A Curse So Dark and Lonely was my very first Brigid Kemmerer book, and I can honestly say that it totally lived up to all the hype surrounding its release,
The overall concept of A Curse So Dark and Lonely in some ways fits what I was expecting from a Beauty and the Beast retelling, but also completely broke away from any preconceived notions I had before giving it a read. The bones of the story remain the same as the tale: a curse that needs to be broken, a misunderstood beast, and a distraught (at first) damsel who has the power to break the curse and save the land. I loved that this retelling creates a modern twist to the tale by having the perfect blend of time spent in modern-day Washington, DC and that spent in Emberfall, the story’s magical land. I really enjoyed the fact that it was told from both Rhen and Harper’s perspectives in alternating chapters, as they both have such distinct voices and life experiences that are equally important to the story. As a whole, I found the overall concept to be intriguing from the very first page. Pair that with the beautiful writing and world-building, and I am SOLD.
Harper’s character was one of those I don’t foresee myself forgetting for a long time (if ever!). As we learn early on, she has a pretty rough home life. Her brother is trying to make ends meet by taking less than ideal jobs from a group of criminals in DC, and Harper spends her time watching over him and their terminally ill mother. I’ve never read a book where the protagonist has cerebral palsy, and I found reading about Harper’s struggles with this condition in her daily life really enlightening, as I wasn’t all that familiar with what someone with a less severe case of this condition goes through to accomplish everyday tasks. Though she doesn’t have a cream puff life, Harper is a SPIT FIRE, let me tell ya! She has sass, class, and is totally kick… err, you can fill in the blanks on that last one, but I absolutely loved all of the moments where we got to see Harper open a can of kick butt up on someone, as well as when the more compassionate side of her personality shined through. While Harper has a whole lotta layers, all of the facets that made up her characterization worked together beautifully. I can’t wait to see how her character has changed (and stayed the same, in some ways!) in Book #2.
Rhen, Rhen, Rhen. While the whole “tortured male lead that decides to just hide his problems from everyone” trope isn’t my favorite, I thought having his character fit this mold worked perfectly in this case due to A Curse So Dark and Lonely being a Beauty and the Beast retelling. Rhen is the prince of Emberfall, and for someone who was cursed at the age of 18 by the evil enchantress Lillith, he has had a rough go at life so far. In order to break the curse that has held him hostage for so long, he has to fall in love, but this is obviously easier said than done. What I liked about Rhen’s character the most was that even though Grey’s job is to protect him and Harper was brought to Emberfall to essentially serve as a contestant on The Bachelor, Rhen protects those he’s close to fiercely and doesn’t let his past mistakes dictate the decisions he makes in the present. I also loved the fact that while he is haunted by his past, Rhen cares deeply about the people he rules over (as the reader sees time and time again) even if his subjects don’t realize it. While I enjoyed Rhen’s character in this book, I’m looking forward to getting to know him in a more sincere way (if I had to pick one fault, it was that I couldn’t connect to his character in this book) and seeing how Harper’s presence changes him as the series goes on.
Last but certainly not least, let’s discuss Commander (aka Scary) Grey. If I had to pick a favorite male character from this book, it would 100 percent be Grey, hands down. Even though he’s around the same age as Rhen and Harper, he is definitely wise beyond his years. I cracked up every time he gave Rhen advice (good advice at that!) because he sounded like a legit prophet or something. He was the only guard to survive a brutal attack on Emberfall, and now serves as Prince Rhen’s personal guard (and, maybe just maybe is also his only true friend). I loved that even though Grey was super hardcore on the outside, he also had a softer side to him that was hard not to love. I think everyone needs a friend like Grey — smart, witty, and loyal to the core. After that ending, I am so excited (but also slightly afraid!) to see what’s up with Grey in the next book!
A Curse So Dark and Lonely was one of those books that I found myself unable to put down. The plot was perfectly paced and full of action, the journeys of the characters were both heartbreaking and compelling. Kemmerer’s writing style was the icing on this beautiful cake that made this story come straight off the page. I’m really looking forward to picking up the next book, A Heart So Fierce and Broken, in the very near future!
Who Would I Recommend This Book To?
If you’ve read Brigid Kemmerer’s other works and enjoyed her beautifully whimsical writing style, you should totally check out A Curse So Dark and Lonely.
I’d also recommend this book to anyone looking for a fast-paced fantasy read with complex, witty, and clever characters that are sure to steal your heart. Oh, and did I mention that there’s a little dash of romance as well? If you’re into all of these things, go get you a copy of this book!
Fans of Jennifer L. Armentrout, Holly Black, and Sarah J. Maas will also likely enjoy A Curse So Dark and Lonely.