Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 in Review

In all honesty, this year has been a weird one. I know it has been for all of us, but mentally and emotionally it has worn me out. I'm sure you could tell by the on-again, off-again way I've been on the blog and social media throughout the year. I know I technically quit the blog last year, but obviously not. I'm not sure what I will do this coming year, but I am hoping to find more balance.

Anyway, you're here for books. I've had a weird reading year as well. While I know that I read about the same amount as I always do, I feel that I don't have as many that stand out in my mind, that I loved. (Partly because I have yet to read both of V.E. Schwab's 2016 releases what is wrong with me??) I did read more nonfiction this year, which I am proud of, and hope to read even more next year. But here are the top books I read this year.



I'm not going to explain all of them, but if I had to pick my top books it would be Stalking Jack the Ripper and The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (they're basically the only two I rec ask anyone). My top series would be Harry Potter and The Raven Cycle (while I only have one book each listed, they represent the whole series). 

Here's to a better 2017, both reading wise and other. Happy new year!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November Wrap Up

Hiiii. Wow. Okay. I haven't done a monthly wrap-up in 2 1/2 years (hehehe...oops) and really can't remember the last time I did any sort of personal/chatty post. Which makes me sad, so I have decided to bring them back. I'll probably change up things in these first few until I settle on a format, but they will mostly be casual and chatty. Anyway...on to this month (how is it already December?!?)

If you follow me on Goodreads, you might have noticed that back in July, I stopped rating books. I decided just to try this, since I already did not rate nonfiction/classics, and found that it made reading much less pressured and therefore more enjoyable. I have decided to still rate review books, as well as 5-stars, but those will be the only ones with a star rating.

5-star reads: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet
Audiobooks: Bossypants, Modern Romance

If you follow me on any social media, you know that I actually took a break for the month of November. This didn't work as well, as I ended up getting back on Snapchat and Tumblr within like a week. BUT I did manage to stay off of Twitter and Instagram, which were really the ones I was concerned with anyway.
Other than that, I've been super busy with school, and now with finals coming up, I'll probably still be staying off the internet until they're over.
Music: Hamilton Mixtape drops TONIIIITE and I am so excited for it, but I pretty much have not played another song since Immigrants (We Get the Job Done) came out. hashtag obsessed.

I want to start adding maybe a "month in photos" part here, but I am very bad at taking photos of real life (seriously, I haven't posted on my personal insta since July). I also want to add different types of posts to the blog, maybe a "What I've been Reading" since I don't review every book I read. Basically, I don't know.

If you have any ideas for posts, or how to make these wrap-ups less rambly, or how just how to get back into the groove of blogging in general, I would love to hear them. Also, make sure to follow me on tumblr because that's where I seem to spend most of my time these days.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Rad Women Worldwide

Title: Rad Women Worldwide: Artists and Athletes, Pirates and Punks, and Other Revolutionaries Who Shaped History
Author: Katie Schatz, Miriam Klein Stahl (illustrator)
Genre: Historical Nonfiction
Rating: n/a
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
source: publisher

In Rad Women Worldwide, writer Kate Schatz and artist Miriam Klein Stahl tell fresh, engaging, and inspiring tales of perseverance and radical success by pairing well researched and riveting biographies with powerful and expressive cut-paper portraits. Featuring an array of diverse figures from Hatshepsut (the great female king who ruled Egypt peacefully for two decades) and Malala Yousafzi (the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize) to Poly Styrene (legendary teenage punk and lead singer of X-Ray Spex) and Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft (polar explorers and the first women to cross Antarctica), this progressive and visually arresting book is a compelling addition to women's history. 

I realize I just reviewed a book very similar to this one, but to be honest, I'm just really glad that we are getting a rise in books like this. I think these books work for young girls to teenagers to adults. The stories of women have been squashed for so long, and it's about time we got to hear them.

I loved the illustrations in this one, as they were beautiful and striking. And let's face it, no matter how old you are, pictures just make everyone better. One thing I also loved about this book was how so many of the women were new to me. Which is sad, but I'm glad their stories are finally getting told. I loved how we saw people from all backgrounds, from every single continent (yes, including Antarctica!). The range of women was very diverse, and I think every little girl will find someone they relate to in here. The book did spread across a lot of history, but a lot of these women are also modern, a good majority of them being still alive. I loved that, as I think it's a great thing for young girls to see that women are still fighting and paving the way.

The stories are not too long or complex, making this a great book for younger readers as well. But I also think older women will get just as much out of it. It's one of those books that I want to recommend to everyone. 

Books like this: 

 Women in Science Wonder Women Rad American Women

Kate Schatz &
Miriam Klein Stahl (illus.)


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Silent Songbird {by Melanie Dickerson}

The Silent Songbird by Melanie Dickerson
Title: The Silent Songbird
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Series: Hagenheim #7
Genre: YA Fairytale Retelling
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Source: publisher

Evangeline is the ward and cousin of King Richard II, and yet she dreams of a life outside of Berkhamsted Castle, where she might be free to marry for love and not politics. But the young king betroths her to his closest advisor, Lord Shiveley, a man twice as old as Evangeline. Desperate to escape a life married to a man she finds revolting, Evangeline runs away from the king and joins a small band of servants on their way back to their home village.
To keep her identity a secret, Evangeline pretends to be mute. Evangeline soon regrets the charade as she gets to know Wesley, the handsome young leader of the servants, whom she later discovers is the son of a wealthy lord. But she cannot reveal her true identity for fear she will be forced to return to King Richard and her arranged marriage.
Wesley le Wyse is intrigued by the beautiful new servant girl. When he learns that she lost her voice from a beating by a cruel former master, he is outraged. But his anger is soon redirected when he learns she has been lying to him. Not only is she not mute, but she isn't even a servant.
Weighed down by remorse for deceiving Wesley, Evangeline fears no one will ever love her. But her future is not the only thing at stake, as she finds herself embroiled in a tangled web that threatens England's monarchy. Should she give herself up to save the only person who cares about her? If she does, who will save the king from a plot to steal his throne?

This is not the first time I have finished a Melanie Dickerson book within hours of receiving it, as I always get completely sucked in to her stories. This book is a retelling of The Little Mermaid, which is not a fairytale I particularly like, but I really enjoyed this story.

Evangeline is sheltered in the castle, as a ward of the king, and never really allowed to go anywhere or do anything. When the king tells her he has betrothed her to a horrible man, Evangeline runs away. To protect her identity, she fakes mute, and joins a group of servants traveling home. Except their leader isn't a servant; he's the son of a lord.

While stories that start off with deception are not my favorite, this one was handled well. And all was revealed earlier than one might expect, making most of the story not about the deception, but about what else is going on, politically. Eva was very reminiscent of Ariel, with her wide-eyed wonder at all things, her eagerness, and of course her voice.  While Wesley was your typical hero character - kind, caring, ready to save the day - there were some things I was not a fan of  (when your "protection" takes away someone's agency as a woman, we're going to have problems).

But despite that, I did enjoy this story. It was fun, it was cute, and it was a fast read. I adore Dickerson's characters and settings and her stories in general and this one definitely lived up to my excitement. I loved the secondary characters in this one as well, as we got to see more of them, and just normal friend interactions, something Eva has never had before. The whole political mess was a bit meh, as I'm not sure realistically that would have really been able to happen. Overall, this was a great story and I loved it.

Melanie Dickerson:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Faithful {by Alice Hoffman}

Faithful by Alice Hoffman
Title: Faithful
Author: Alice Hoffman
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Source: NetGalley

Growing up on Long Island, Shelby Richmond is an ordinary girl until one night an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend’s future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt.
What happens when a life is turned inside out? When love is something so distant it may as well be a star in the sky? Faithful is the story of a survivor, filled with emotion—from dark suffering to true happiness—a moving portrait of a young woman finding her way in the modern world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls—including an angel who’s been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night.
Here is a character you will fall in love with, so believable and real and endearing, that she captures both the ache of loneliness and the joy of finding yourself at last. For anyone who’s ever been a hurt teenager, for every mother of a daughter who has lost her way, Faithful is a roadmap.

Faithful was my first book by Alice Hoffman, and I will definitely be picking up more of her work. There is just something about her writing that is so distinct and compelling.

The beginning of this story was a bit slow for me, and it took a while to get into. But once I did, I couldn't put the book down. The story follows Shelby over the course of about 10 years, starting two years after an accident that changed her life. She's 19 (I think?), lives in her parents' basement, talks to no one, and does nothing (except drugs).

Slowly, we see Shelby start to live her life again, started by her decision to move to the City (NYC) with a boyfriend, get a job, all the other life things, while trying to learn how to move past the guilt that says she doesn't deserve her life after her best friend lost hers.

Honestly, this book was just so real. Navigating your twenties is hard, even without all the extra stuff that Shelby has going on. Even if I can't speak to Shelby's exact struggles, I could empathize. Shelby feels like she self-sabotages everything good in her life, she makes friends and goes through relationships, she rescue approx. 100 dogs, she eats way too much Chinese takeout. I think everyone can relate to Shelby in some way.

While some things were done really well (Ben, her mother, Maravelle's family), I felt other things were not fleshed out well at all (James, school, wtf is up with Helene). But other than a few things, I think the story was written very well. I especially loved the relationships Shelby learns to have, like with her mother and with Maravelle.

Since this book ranges such a long period of time (drastic changes happen in your twenties), I think this book will appeal to a wide range of people. I think this could even crossover into YA, as Shelby basically is a young adult when the story starts out. Overall, I thought this was a deep, complex, compelling book, and I really enjoyed it.

Alice Hoffman:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | Goodreads

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Timekeeper {by Tara Sim}

Title: Timekeeper
Author: Tara Sim
Series: Timekeeper, #1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Source: Edelweiss

In an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.
It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.
And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.
But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.

I loved this book. I actually went into this not really knowing what it was about, except magic clocks which was enough to interest me. The world-building, the writing, everything sucked me in from the beginning and did not let me go.

Danny is a clock mechanic in a world where the towers control the time. The mechanics make sure that time keeps running smoothly, but most of them no longer believe the mythology of how these towers came to be. Neither does Danny... until he meets a fabled clock spirit while fixing a tower. But Danny also needs to find out how to save his dad, and figure out who is bombing clock towers before they kill him too.

My favorite part was probably the world-building. The story is set in an alternate Victorian London, and I loved it. I also loved the writing, and the tidbits of their mythology that were added in. I felt that added a lot to the story, as it added background in a way that wasn't just telling us. While I did like the characters, I wish Danny had been fleshed out a bit more. His character seemed almost... flat. I did enjoy the secondary characters, especially Cassie.

I will admit, I almost didn't see the ending coming. I think I was just too entranced into the story to think about it, but I did appreciate that the story kept me on my toes. I thought this was a standalone when I read it, but it's actually a series. While this can stand on its own, I am excited to see more from this world and these characters.

Tara Sim:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Pinterest | Goodreads

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling

Why Not Me by Mindy Kaling
Title: Why Not Me?
Author: Mindy Kaling
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Humor
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Source: publisher

In Why Not Me?, Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it's falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you're constantly reminded that no one looks like you.
In "How to Look Spectacular: A Starlet's Confessions", Kaling gives her tongue-in-cheek secrets for surefire on-camera beauty, ("Your natural hair color may be appropriate for your skin tone, but this isn't the land of appropriate-this is Hollywood, baby. Out here, a dark-skinned woman s traditional hair color is honey blonde.") "Player" tells the story of Kaling being seduced and dumped by a female friend in L.A. ("I had been replaced by a younger model. And now they had matching bangs.") In "Unlikely Leading Lady", she muses on America's fixation with the weight of actresses, ("Most women we see onscreen are either so thin that they're walking clavicles or so huge that their only scenes involve them breaking furniture.") And in "Soup Snakes", Kaling spills some secrets on her relationship with her ex-boyfriend and close friend, B.J. Novak ("I will freely admit: my relationship with B.J. Novak is weird as hell.")
Mindy turns the anxieties, the glamour, and the celebrations of her second coming-of-age into a laugh-out-loud funny collection of essays that anyone who's ever been at a turning point in their life or career can relate to. And those who've never been at a turning point can skip to the parts where she talks about meeting Bradley Cooper.

Guys. I LOVE Mindy Kaling. I don't really pay much attention to celebrities and whatnot, but if there was one I was obsessed with, it would be Mindy. I've actually never seen The Office (don't hate me) and I've only seen a couple seasons of The Mindy Project, but it's just Mindy herself that I love. This book was hilarious, in Mindy's signature way, and I loved every bit of it.

I can't remember the last time I laughed out loud this much at a book. I think I may have even liked this one more than her first book, which is saying something. This book was just so... real. Mindy (we/re on first name basis duh) isn't afraid to say what she's thinking, I loved getting an inside peek at her life, from her day to her relationships (romantic and friends), to behind the scenes on The Office and The Mindy Project. But she also has a few serious essays, like the one on body image, and female friendship.

I'm not sure I can even pick a favorite essay. There's the transcript of her Harvard speech, which if you haven't seen yet, you NEED to (so worth it. You'll thank me). There was also a scene from the alternate life she imagines fro herself that had me dying of laughter.

I could gush on for hours, but this book seemed to encompass everything love about Mindy--funny, confident, poised, frank, honest. I loved this book, and I think you will too.

Books Like This:

Mindy Kaling:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads