January Books

The grad school life has been extremely crazy lately. I am very behind on my blogging schedule right now and am hoping to get on track soon. However, the work right now is not going to really let up for a while. I do want to share what I read in the month of January. It was a pretty great month for ready, especially with being so busy!

Turtles All the Way Down (3.5/5 stars): So I am not really sure why I didn’t love this one. I am a huge John Green fan but had a really hard time getting through this one and I found it to be a little confusing and unexpected, in not the best way. I really don’t like to hate on books and I still overall liked it but just didn’t love. In short it is about a girl who really struggles a lot with some mental things. She also becomes involved in a mystery of a missing billionaire. I feel like this is kind of a terrible summary but it is basically about this girl’s inner struggles with some side stories about relationships with people and this crazy mystery.

Howl’s Moving Castle (4.5/5 stars): I had no idea this was a book until I was sent it for a Life’s Library book club read. I was so excited and it did not let me down. If you haven’t seen the movie, it is about a girl who works in her family’s hat shop. One day a witch walks in and puts a spell on her that causes her to appear as an old lady. She leaves town and comes across Howl’s moving castle. The story revolves around her time in the castle and her relationships with the inhabitants. It sounds kind of strange and crazy but it is such a beautiful story!

The Silent Patient (5/5 stars): Definitely my favorite read from the month of January. I just loved it. It is kind of a thriller/mystery about a psychotherapist who moves to an institution in hopes of getting one specific patient to talk. This patient, Alicia, has not spoken a word since she killed her husband years before. There was a lot of hype about this book and I wasn’t totally drawn in at first. Someone recommend I read it so I gave it a try and absolutely loved it. I didn’t expect it and thought it was very well-written.

The Only Plane in the Sky (5/5 stars): I guess this was just a great month for reading because this was also a five star read. It is an oral history of 9/11. I highly recommend listening to it via audiobook because it is read by a whole cast and I think it just adds to it since a lot of the book is people talking about their experiences. I cried a ton and just was overwhelmed with feelings. It is very well written and will resonate with anyone who had an experience with the event. I don’t even really have words for how this made me feel. Truly heartbreaking and moving! I will say that it is very heavy so be prepared mentally and emotionally.

Have a great rest of the week!

Erin

Book Recommendations: Review Week Edition

Last week (January 19th-25th) I participated in #reviewweek which is something Phoebe from readandwright.com organized/started. Basically she shared a book every day for that week that fit a different theme/category. So on Instagram I participated in  five out of the seven days. I decided to do a whole round-up of those books on my blog and add my picks for the categories I did not share. Before I get into my reviews I am going to go over the categories.

Sunday: A new release or hyped up book

Monday: A book from 2019 you didn’t review but loved

Tuesday: Anything YA

Wednesday: An honest review of a book that was just “meh” for you

Thursday: An audiobook

Friday: A @bookofthemonth or book that was recommended by a friend

Saturday: A book that you have a personal connection/attachment to

Sunday: So I did start my Instagram reviews on Sunday and shared my pick for a hyped up and new book, American Royals. I talked about this book quite a bit last fall because I loved it so much. I really like Katherine McGee and I think she did a wonderful job with this novel. I chose it for this category because as I looked back through the books I read in 2019 it kept coming back to me and it is a relatively new release. I also felt like in September/October it was very hyped up on Instagram. I am going to include three key reasons why I loved this book. The first is that the characters are interesting and they are royals which is always fun. I just feel like the three royal siblings are all very different and it is so fun to follow their stories. Second is just the whole take on US history. Katherine McGee creates an alternate future where instead of George Washington becoming president he becomes the king and the Washingtons continue to reign. My third reason is definitely the romance. I am very hit or miss when it comes to love stories. I am not sure why but I think there is a fine line between interesting/fun and way to cheesy. The love stories in this are very well done and I think they characters play a large part in that. All in all I highly recommend this book especially if you like books about royals!

Monday: My Monday pick was Verity by Colleen Hoover. I did actually talk about this book in an Instagram story because I was totally shook by the end, but I chose if for this category because I read it before I started rounding up my books each month so I have not really talked about it in depth. I really don’t want to give anything away because it is an amazing thriller with very unexpected twists. In short is about this woman who is hired to finish writing these books that another woman was writing. The original author basically can’t finish writing a series so her husband hires someone else. It is wild. I mean again I don’t want to say much but there are some crazy twists and turns. If you are a thriller person this is an absolute must read.

Tuesday: As you may know I am a big YA fan. This was a hard category since I have read so many great ones. In the end I feel like my final pick was a no brainer only since it is a book that changed my thinking and really opened my eyes. It is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. It is one of the only books that I immediately thought should be read by everyone. I do mean everyone (like it should be required reading in all schools). It is about a black girl who struggles with living in her mostly black neighborhood while going to school at a wealthy, mostly white, prep school. She witnesses the shooting of her friend that really changes her whole world and impact both entire communities in very different ways. I think this is such an important read that brings to life some events that have really happened in the United States. Of any book on this list, this is the one I would most recommend.

Wednesday: While I have read quite a few books that I did not like I don’t usually review those books in depth because I don’t really like being negative about books. I know that authors put a lot of time and effort into their writing and often I feel like the reason I don’t like a book is subjective. Because of that I did not include one for this category last week but I do have one that I will share now. For this I ended up deciding on The Royal Runaway by Lindsay Emory. It is about a princess who is left by her fiancé and ends up meeting his brother a little while later in a bar. She finds out from him that there is a big mystery and no one actually knows where her ex-fiancé went. So the two of them go on a mission to figure out what happened. There are a couple of reasons I ended up feeling ‘meh’ about it. The first is that I think I just had such high expectations and was really into books about royals when I read it. I hyped it up for myself and it kind of ended up being a too scattered for my liking. I just felt like there was a lot of unnecessary action that did not add to either the mystery or the romance. So it is definitely my personal opinion but it was not a favorite for me and I expected a lot more (probably unfairly on my part).

Thursday: I read a ton of audiobooks last year so this was also a very hard category. There are so many great ones out there. I ended up choosing Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I think I chose it since I read it very recently (at the end of December) and loved it so much. I would say that it was in my top five of all the books I read in 2019. For some reason I really loved it as an audiobook and felt like the narrator did an incredible job. In short it is about this girl named Kaya who is pretty much abandoned by her family at a young age. The overall story is about her relationship with the natural world and with other people who come into her life. There is also a lot of emphasis on how other people see her. She struggles a lot with understanding the world and with relationships. It is such a beautiful book! There are a couple of reasons that I felt it was so powerful. First I thought Delia Owens brings nature and science into the book and a beautiful way and that is something that I really related to. Also Kaya is a very complex and interesting character. I don’t think I have ever read a character quite like her and that was very refreshing. Finally, it made me think a lot about relationships with people in general and how we (as humans) perceive each other. This is also one that I would recommend to everyone! I will say though that as far as story line goes if you like fast past action this might be hard to get through. I will give a bonus entry for this category since I thin Daisy Jones and the Six is one of the best audiobooks I have ever heard!

Friday: This was the last day I participated in on Instagram. The hard part about this one is that I do have quite a few Book of the Month books that I have not read yet. I ended up choosing Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore which I have talked about before and did review in a monthly post. I chose it for this because it was a beautiful romance that has an interesting backdrop and it was one of my favorites last year. The story centers around Annabelle who is a young women trying to find her way in late 1800’s England. As she becomes involved in the suffrage movement she is charged with targeting influential men. He meets Sebastian and they have a very interesting connection and relationship. I really liked Annabelle as a character because she is an incredible, strong female lead that drives a great story. I also really enjoyed that the history of women’s rights at the time is woven in and is so interesting. The love story side of it was also very well done so that was a big bonus!

Saturday: So I struggled a lot with this category. It made me realize that I should read some more books that relate to my life and my beliefs more. Maybe that is hard to do but I had a hard time finding one that I truly feel I have a personal connection to. I decided to choose Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. My reason is that it is a book that blew me away and that I have never forgotten. It has shaped how I see the world in so many ways. It is such a hard one to explain. Basically the world is explained by a gorilla in the most fascinating way. I could talk about this for hours so let me know if you want a more detailed review. I highly recommend giving it a read! It totally changed my world view and I feel like I need to reread it now.

Thanks for reading and I would really love to hear what your favorites are for those categories!

Erin

Best Recent YA Reads

Happy Wednesday! Today I am excited to share my favorite YA (young adult) reads from the last couple of months. I am a big YA fan so I am hoping to get around to an all time favorites post. For now though, here are the best YA novels that I read in the past six or so months.

The Hate U Give: I am convinced that this book should be required reading in high schools right now. There is so much to learn from this account of a black teenager’s experience watching her friend get shot by the police. It is a perspective that is hard for me, as a privileged white-girl, to fully grasp and this book really helped. It is heart-braking, eye-opening and incredibly well written. If you read anything on this list, this book is definitely the one.

American Royals: On an entirely different note this is a very light hearted novel about the romances of American royalty. It spins the current state of our government in that instead making George Washington a president he was made king and the United States became a monarchy. The historical changes are fascinating and I highly enjoyed both the setting and the story lines. It centers around the royal children coming of age and their experiences with love. I was absolutely sucked into this one from the very beginning. If you want an easy but fun read, this is a great pick!

Scythe: So the Scythe trilogy has quickly become a favorite of mine as well. I found it when Aiden took me to Barnes and Noble for my birthday and I am a huge dystopian fiction fan so this series quickly caught my eye. It is set in a future where the government is largely artificial intelligence. The only thing humans still really control is who dies since the population is still out of control. Scythe’s choose who die and are the ones to kill them. This story follows Citra and Rowen through their journey as scythe’s apprentices. I am currently in the middle of the second book, Thunderhead and am still loving it.

Caraval: The other series that I have been very into in the last few months is the Caraval series. It is so magical and the author does an incredible job bringing the characters to life. I find myself so able to see and feel what the characters experience. I listened to both the first and second books as audiobooks and really enjoyed it. The series centers around two sisters and their relationship with a fantastical performance/game called Caraval. It is a fascinating story that had me hooked from the beginning.

As a kind of bonus I wanted to include some YA that I am excited to read in the next few months. I chose the top three on my list and tried to mix up genres a bit.

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First is Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. I have always been a John Green fan and was just excited for this one when it was released. I am honestly not sure when I have not finished it yet. I got about 50 pages in a few months ago and then had to leave for fieldwork so it just kind of fell to the wayside. I am still psyched about it and hope to finish soon.

Next is The Royal Runaway by Lindsey Emory. After reading American Royals I really was feeling something similar so I took a deep dive into books (specifically romance) that center around royalty. I am also really wanting to read Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. Yep anything with royals and a forbidden romance.

Last on todays list of to read YA is Endgame by James Frey. I am not sure I would have picked this out myself but I found it in my grandmother’s books and was intrigued. I read the back cover and am now dying for some time to read it!

That is all for today! I hope that you are having a great week and that you enjoyed today’s book list.

Erin

July Books

July was definitely not my best for reading since it has been crazy with research but I still managed to get in a couple of audiobooks and one print book. My favorite was definitely There There by Tommy Orange. Seriously such a great book.

Annihilation (3.5/5 stars): I was very mixed on this one. I really liked the idea as it sort of a dystopian style fiction with an interesting female lead but I was not 100% sold on the main character. Granted this is a series so I am sure more will be revealed in the coming books. I am not sure where to even begin with this plot. It is kind of a crazy, this group of women enter into a barred off zone with the purpose of researching and of figuring out what happened (I am sorry this is such a terrible explanation, I am not sure how to overview without giving anything big away).

In the Unlikely Event (4/5): This Judy Blume novel is about the people involved in a series of unlikely plane crashes and the events that occur over time to the characters. I really enjoyed this one and the characters are amazing. I highly recommend checking it out! I listened to it on audiobook which I actually really liked but I am sure I would have understood the characters even better if I read it via print.

There There (4.5/5): Hands down one of the best books I have read this year. Its about many different people connected in different ways. They all are making there way to the Oakland Pow Wow and their individual lives and stories come to life throughout. It is such a moving book that portrays the modern struggles of native peoples with identity in todays world. I highly enjoyed it!

Where’d You Go Bernadette (3.5/5): I have to be honest about this one. I am a little confused about why it got so much hype and why so many people liked it. It was okay to me but I felt like it kind of went on for a really long time and did not hold my attention despite being a mystery. I thought the voice of the book just did not flow super well. In theory the story of a girl sounds good but it was just not flowing for me. I have to say that I am glad I kept reading because I did enjoy the last eighth of the book (still not sure how worth it it is). For how I felt while reading it, I think three stars is actually pretty generous.

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That is it for July reads! I would love to hear what you have been reading lately!?

Erin

Book Round Up

About every three months I am going to be rounding up all the books I have read in that time. This will be a good way for me both keep track of everything I have read and to share what I have been reading. In that time I also have some personal goals to read a variety of different genres including at least one newer book and one non-fiction. I will go ahead and do a short verdict on each book I include.

Book Stack

Capture Your Style: For anyone interested in media/blogging etc. this is a really useful book. It helped me think a lot about instagram as a platform and how to utilize it. I really liked her approach to thinking about not just the photos you posts but your feed as a whole. You are telling a story and that should be easy to follow and understand.

The Rules of Magic: Because I did a whole review on this book I won’t go into detail but I absolutely loved this book. Read more here.

Sense and Sensibility: Jane Austin is a favorite of mine but her books can be slower since the language is a little more difficult and the pace in general is a lot slower. This is the one Austen book that I knew nothing about so it was great to read. I actually listened to it as an audiobook while driving back from South Carolina and I think that actually helped me get through it.

Reason for Hope: This is Jane Goodall’s autobiography and it was incredible. I found it to be one of the most honest accounts of life I have ever read. She goes into so much more than just her experience as a scientist. She talks a lot about spirituality and her struggle with humanity and violence.

Astrophysics for People in a Hurry: Neil DeGrasse Tyson has always been so intriguing to me. I loved Cosmos and have always been fascinated by the stars. This book breaks down quite a few astrological concepts into manageable pieces and understandable language.

Everyman’s Poetry by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: I am not big into poetry but since I loved The Psalm of life so much I decided to try some more of Longfellow’s work. I highly enjoyed it and am opening up a lot to poetry in general.

Harry Potter: I am lumping the second, third and forth together since they are all books I have read many times before. There is something so comforting about re-reading beloved classics. This time was even more special because I was listening to Harry Potter and the Sacred Text throughout. I feel like I thought about many events and characters in such different ways than how I have in the past.

During the very first week of 2018 I was finishing up Party Girls Die in Pearls by Plum Sykes but I included that in my 2017 favorites so you have find that here. Thanks for reading! I am always eager for reading suggestions so feel free to comment with your favorites.

Erin