Book Review

What I Read: June

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Hello fellow bookworms! It’s hard to believe it is the end of another month of reading! The books covered in this post will be on the light side–only four–because in addition to these four new reads, I also reread the entire A Court of Thorns and Roses series. Because I am obsessed. I am honestly thinking about going in for round three this month, but I’m trying to make myself read some new stuff! Aside from ACOTAR, here’s what I read this month:

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia: This book is one of the many reasons I love Owl Crate. I doubt I would have picked up this book on my own, because based on the cover, it is not something I would have been drawn to. However, I fucking loved this book. I wish this book had been around when I was a teenager because it spoke so much truth to my introverted self. If you have ever felt like the weird one, whether at school or in your family or in your job, this book is for you. I have so so much love for so many aspects of this novel. It obviously spoke to my introverted self, but also to my creative self, as it examined the pressure to create, and this weird balance of creating for you while also creating for your audience. It’s an interesting take on that relationship, one I only know from the audience side of things, but could someday end up struggling with as a writer. But I cannot say enough good things about this book. Read it. ASAP.

Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz: I’m not going to tell you my thoughts on this book here, since we discussed it in the latest episode of Down to Fangirl. So go download the podcast and hear all of Brianna’s and my thoughts!

Prodigy by Marie Lu: This is the second book in the Legends series. I really enjoyed Legend, but I struggled a bit with Prodigy. It could be ACOMAF interference–once I start reading that book, I don’t want to read anything else–but I didn’t love it as much as the first one. I did just buy Champion, the final in the trilogy, and I am hopeful I will enjoy it. The one thing I really liked about Prodigy is the shift in the Les Mis retelling. In the first book, the two main characters are modeled after Jean Val Jean and Javert. However, in this one, the love triangle very much resembles the Cosette-Eponine-Marius relationship, which is cool. It’s definitely worth a read, especially if you liked Legend.

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson: This is the second book I’ve read by Morgan Matson after seeing her speak at the LA Times Festival of Books, and it was just as enjoyable as the first one. I don’t typically love contemporary YA literature, but Matson’s stories are such fun reads. In particular, her dialogue always rings so true (coming from someone who listened to teenagers for eight years). This is the perfect book to read during the summer: humorous, fun, romantic, and still touching and thought-provoking. I’m looking forward to reading more of her books!

Even though it was a light month of reading, it was a good one! I’m aiming for seven new books in July, so make sure you check back then, and follow my bookstagram to keep up with all my reads!


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What I Read: April

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April was a pretty solid month for reading. I finished one awesome series and started another one and read some other great novels in between. And I managed to exceed my goal of five books per month. So go me! Here’s what I read in April:

Ten Thousand Skies Above You and A Million Worlds with You by Claudia Gray: I read the first book in this series last month and really enjoyed it. It’s definitely more sci-fi based than I usually read, but Gray created such a cool world, and such relatable characters that I really got into it. I read all three books within the span of about two weeks and I wanted more! I will be seeking out more books by Gray (who has also written some Star Wars tie-in novels) because I loved her writing style. I even learned some stuff about physics!

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty: So I have read a couple of Moriarty’s books in recent months and absolutely loved them. I had high expectations for Truly Madly Guilty, and I don’t know that they were met. It took me a long time to get into this book, I didn’t have the immediate connection to the characters that I’ve had in her other books. Also, the whole toddler incident hit a little too close to home for me, and some moments were hard for me to read. But even without that personal aspect, I don’t feel like this one was as good as The Husband’s Secret or Big Little Lies. Still a good read, just not as good as I have come to expect from Moriarty.

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab: So this book was in an Owl Crate box a long time ago and I’ve just never got around to reading it. I liked it, though it took me a while to really get into it. The concept was intriguing and I was a fan of the whole Romeo and Juliet kind of spin on the relationship between Kate and August. I don’t know that I’ll run right out for the next book, but I could definitely see myself picking it up at some point. It was a little more gruesome than I like, but I liked the two main characters so much that it kind of made up for the gore.

 

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge: I was kind of eh about this one. I love the idea of a Beauty and the Beast retelling, but I didn’t love this one. I think my main issue was that I didn’t like either of the main characters. Both were kind of annoying, along with being not super nice people, so it made it hard for me to care about what happened to them. I liked the concept, but found the execution lacking.

Legend by Marie Lu: I really enjoyed this first book in the Legend series. I was recommended Legend by a friend of mine who is a librarian since it is loosely based on Les Mis, which I love, and also because I am working on a retelling of my own. If I hadn’t know it going in, I’m not sure I would have picked up on the Les Mis notes in this, but I think I would have enjoyed it all the same. I love the world that Lu has created, and again, the two main characters are relatable and likeable. I already ordered the second book in the series, so that should tell you something about how much I enjoyed the first one. I also got to here Marie Lu speak at YallWest this past weekend and it was really cool listening to her thoughts on dystopian YA lit.

All in all, April was a great month of reading. I have a seriously long TBR for the next couple of months and I don’t know how I am going to make the time to finish all the books I want to read. But I’m sure I will find a way! What are you currently reading?


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What I Read: March

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So because I spent much of March in bed feeling like poo, I knocked out SEVEN books last month. Hells to the yes. And I actually read a lot of fun stuff that I would love to share with you!

Empire of Dust by Eleanor Herman: I read the first book in this series in February and enjoyed it, so I went ahead and picked up the second book. I am enjoying the series, and will continue to read it, but they are not anything earth-shattering. The books follow a young Alexander the Great, along with a cast of interesting supporting characters. If you are into mythology at all, you will enjoy the series. The bad news is that the third book isn’t out yet and I could see myself losing interest in the series by the time it is released. But I also hate leaving a series unresolved, so we’ll see how I feel when it comes out.

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarity: Moriarity is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers. I read Big Little Lies (also watched and loved the show on HBO) in two days and did the same with The Husband’s Secret. I found this book to be just as intriguing as Big Little Lies. I love the combination of interesting female characters and mysterious story lines that constantly keep me guessing. I have another of her books on my TBR for this month and I have high expectations.

There’s Always More to Say by Lynda Young SpiroI was sent a free copy of this book in exchange for my review. This was an interesting (and really fast) read. I finished the book in one sitting and was honestly left a little perplexed at the end because I couldn’t really figure out if I liked the book or not. It is written in a very poetic style, with lots of fragments and tons of repetition. Normally that’s not my thing, but I liked it in this book. What was hard for me is that there is very little plot in this story, not much happens. And the characters are hard to connect with because they are both kept gender neutral, and we don’t ever even learn their names. So this book was missing the normal elements that would attract me to a piece of literature, but it was written in such an interesting style that I was able to kind of be okay with it.

Gray Places by Julia ByrdThis is another book I was sent in exchange for my review. If you are a fan of the classics, think Austen and the Brontes, then you will really like this book. The main character is a young woman who is on a mission to finish her father’s book after his death, which is a big deal in the 18th century. Her research takes her to a strange new town, and an even stranger man. The two of course end up falling in love during her stay. There is not a ton of plot action in the book and there is a lot of description of architecture (the subject of the character’s book) that I could have done without. I also felt the characters were a bit underdeveloped and kind of boring. I am not a fan of the classics so this was not my favorite in terms of interesting reads, but if you are into that style of prose, then you will probably like Gray Places.

Caraval by Stephanie GarberI LOVED this book! Caraval was in the February Owl Crate (which was an awesome box all around) and I knew I was going to love it from the first chapter. The concept is very similar to Night Circus, but it is a YA take on it, and the journey the main characters go through is totally unique. While I loved the story and the characters, my favorite part was the descriptions Garber uses. She uses colors as descriptions, and her writing is absolutely brilliant. I can’t wait to see more from her, and I can’t wait to see the inevitable movie version of Caraval.

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth: Ugh. So many mixed feelings on this one. First, I must come right out and say how much I HATED Allegiant. I thought it was one of the worst novels in YA I have ever read, and it was such a disappointment considering how much I liked Divergent. I was not the only one who felt that way about Allegiant, it was ripped apart by pretty much anyone who read it and likes books. So I am kind of baffled by the release of Carve the Mark, because while it has some strengths, it also has a lot of problems. And after the travesty that was Allegiant, I would think Roth wouldn’t have put something new out that wasn’t perfect. The strength of Carve the Mark lies in its two main characters, who are well-developed, interesting, likeable, and relateable. I connected with both of them and they were definitely the highlight of the book. The problems lie in the relentless unnecessary descriptions of details that have nothing to do with the main point of the book. And the random and unneeded details make it hard to pick up and focus on the details that do matter, so lots of times I was confused. I also don’t know why this is set up to have a sequel. She could have very well cut the fat and made this one really good book. I am still undecided as to whether or not I will pick up the second book, which doesn’t speak too highly of this one. We’ll see. But honestly, I kind of feel like Roth has had multiple chances and blew them all. So I might be done with her.

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray: Not going to lie, definitely bought this book because the cover is so cool looking. I don’t even think I read the summary before I bought it, so when I saw that it was about multi-dimensional travel, I was kind of bummed. Not my thing. But I ended up really enjoying this book, way more than I would have thought. I am always impressed when an author can present me with a love triangle that doesn’t have a clear winner. Like if I want the main gal to end up with her different guys equally, that is a skill that not many writers have. I found myself rooting for both of Marguerite’s love interests at different points in the book. I liked this one so much I have already finished the sequel (which you can read about in my April reading recap) and ordered the final book. Even if you aren’t particularly into sci-fi, this series is worth giving a shot.

Overall, March was a great month of reading. I have some really good books on my TBR for this month that I am already excited to share with you. If you pick up any of my March reads, make sure you let me know what you think!

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What I Read: February

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So after a really good month of reading in January, February was kind of a let down. I read one really good book, one that was pretty good, and two that were just eh. So far March has been much better to me, but I want to share my Feb reads anyway, because it wasn’t all bad (hang in until the end for the good stuff!).

Home by Eleni McKnight: So I was asked by the author to read and review this book, which is something I try to do as often as possible for no charge other than a free copy of the book. According to every blogger and social media expert out there this is not something I should be doing as I am basically giving away my time and influence for free, but as someone who is hoping to become a published author at some point in the foreseeable future, I have a soft spot for new authors and I want to do what I can to help bring attention to books I love. Unfortunately, Home has a lot of problems and it screams new and inexperienced author. Honestly, if I weren’t reviewing it, I wouldn’t have finished. The story itself is awesome, it’s very dystopian, but also has a lot of religious cult themes that were interesting and not something I had read before. However, the book is riddled with spelling and grammar errors that render the book almost unreadable. We’re not talking typos, we’re talking straight up errors that any editor or proofreader (or author for that matter) should have caught and fixed before publishing. I had high hopes for this novel since I loved the idea behind it, but it was just not good.

A Whole New World by Liz Braswell: I sooooo wanted to love this book. You all know how much I love my Disney (duh) but Aladdin in particular has a soft spot in my heart. It was always one of my favorites growing up, and it was the best production I ever directed, with some of my best kids ever, plus I am a huge fan of the Broadway musical. So it’s safe to say I love me some Aladdin. I really loved the idea behind this retelling (a lot of comparable political situations happening in this version of Agrabah and America right now) but it just didn’t live up to my expectations. I was thrown off in the beginning at how similar the book was to the movie–like exact scenes and lines of dialogue. And I just never really got into it. Very disappointing because this is a series and I so wanted to read all of them, but now I don’t think I will read anymore. Sad.

Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman: After two disappointing reads, I really needed something to get me back in the swing of good reads and Legacy of Kings mostly did that. This is book one in a series mainly focusing on a teenage Alexander the Great. There are lots of mythology references in the book, which I enjoyed, and it is clear the author did a lot of historical research while prepping to write it (the author is actually known for her non-fiction books and you can see that in her fiction). In general, I really enjoyed this book. It has a good mix of action and adventure, with a bit of romance and magic thrown in for good measure. My main complaint about the book is that there are a lot of characters and it was hard in the beginning to keep everyone and their storyline straight in my head. But it got easier as the book went on, and I have already read the second book (recap coming next month) and will definitely pick up the third when it comes out.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty: Okay, I know most people have already read this book, but I just picked it up and it was sooooo good! I blew threw this one in about two days and I loved all of it (though some of it was scary since my kid is almost ready for school). The basic premise follows a small group of kindergarten moms and a murder mystery and it is fascinating to watch the relationships between the moms, and to see how it affects the kids (again, scary). HBO is currently airing a mini series based on the book and I have only watched one episode so far, but it was just as good as the book. I already went out to buy more of Moriarty’s books and I can’t wait to read more by her.

Already, March has been a better reading month than February, but I am glad that I found a new series and an awesome new author. You’ll see more from both of them in next month’s recap. What are you reading right now?

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What I Read: January

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If you don’t know by now, I really love to read. I am obsessed with books, particularly those in the young adult lit category, and I devour them whenever I can. I made a yearly goal to read 52 new books this year, and made a monthly goal for January to read four new books. If you caught my goals recap for January, you saw that I crushed it in the reading department last month and actually read seven new books! Woot woot! I loved pretty much everything I read last month so I figured I would share some of my reads with you!

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon: I’ve talked a little bit about this book already, but words do not do it justice. This book moved me. Like actually reached out through the pages and touched my heart. I cannot recommend this book enough. Seriously, so so so good.

Romeo and What’s Her Name by Shani Petroff: So I was drawn to this book because I am a longtime lover of Romeo and Juliet. This comedy novel was okay, but it wasn’t anything spectacular. It was a quick and easy read, but it was predictable and is one of those books I was just eh about. (Note: I received a free ecopy of this book in exchange for my opinion.)

The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher: This memoir was FASCINATING. This is Carrie Fisher’s last book, and I, like many others, picked it up after her passing. I haven’t read any of her other books, but I am going to now. Carrie’s writing is so beautiful and poetic, and this particular book contains her actual diary entries from the filming of Star Wars (and her diary entries sound better than anything I have ever written). The book focuses on her affair with Harrison Ford during the shooting of A New Hope and it is a must read for any Star Wars fan.

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst: This was the December Owl Crate book and for the most part, I really enjoyed this fantasy tale of a young princess who moves to a new country to be with the boy she is betrothed to, only to find herself falling in love with his sister. I loved the twist and the LGBTQ elements, though some of the writing was a bit wordy and drawn out for me. But overall, a solid and entertaining read.

RoseBlood by A.G. Howard: This was the January Owl Crate book, and it might be the first time I finished the book in the same month I received the box! I was super excited to see this retelling of Phantom of the Opera in my Owl Crate and overall I really enjoyed the book. It did take me a while to get into it, but once I was in, I was hooked. However, printing a book with red type is dumb and no one should do it ever again.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han: I LOVED THESE BOOKS! I mean, it should be a testament to their awesomeness that I read two books from the same series in the same month. I am so into Jenny Han’s writing style, and the characters she has created in these novels are magic. They are so real, you feel like you are friends with them by the time you are done reading the book. The final in the trilogy comes out in a couple of months and I can’t wait. Also, these are some of my favorite covers ever!

All in all, it was a really great month of reading! I am hoping to read four more books in February, and I will be sure to share them with you next month! I’m always looking for book recommendations, so let me know what you think I should read!

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Owl Crate Subscription Box: December

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Well folks, it’s that time again, my favorite time of the month (or time to talk about my favorite time of the month because the holidays kicked my butt and I am way behind on posting…but anyways…). Time to reveal the full contents of my Owl Crate subscription box. If you are new to these parts (welcome!) Owl Crate is a monthly subscription box designed especially for lovers of young adult literature. I signed up about eight months ago and I have not been disappointed with the contents of my boxes! December’s theme was EPIC, and this box was the shizz. I loved November’s box, but this month’s was basically made for me (though it did not contain either Richard Madden or Orlando Bloom, so there’s that). But on to the goods! Here’s what we received in the December Owl Crate box:

These Game of Thrones coasters from Dark Horse Comics are the best. Probably my favorite item I’ve ever gotten in an Owl Crate. I am still halfway through book two in the Song of Ice and Fire series (as I have been for about six months), but I am hoping these coasters will encourage me to actually finish reading them soon. If nothing else, they will be a sweet addition to my Season 7 Game of Thrones premiere party (though it may be hard to top the last one, I’m going to try!).

This month’s book is Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst. I am really excited to read this one because it seems like a unique take on fantasy and I am in love with the fact that there is an LGBTQ teen in the novel. It has been bumped up on my TBR list because I am so excited for it.

Obvs I love me some Harry Potter so I was sooooo excited to add to my HP Funko collection. I have to say, I think I like the minis better than the full size, however since I already had a full size Harry, it looks a little funny next to my mini Hagrid (Harry is double the size of Hagrid, which just ain’t right). But this is the cutest Hagrid ever and I love it!

I have loved Jane Mount’s pins from Ideal Bookshelf for a while (please make a Romeo and Juliet pin Jane!!!) so I was stoked to see the Lord of the Rings pin in the box. Not gonna lie, never read the books and I have no intention to, but I loved the movies (I know how that makes me sound, no judging….also I may or may not have had an unhealthy Orlando Bloom obsession back in the day).

Also in the box was this amazing Narnia themed greeting card from Susanne Draws (her artwork has been in the boxes in the past and it’s always so beautiful!) and this Darker Shade of Magic sticker from Miss Phi, along with the monthly pin illustrating the theme.

Honestly, I probably would have been happy with this box with just the coasters and my Hagrid mini Funko, so all the other awesomeness was just a bonus! The January theme is Classic Remix, which should be interesting because despite the fact that I have an English degree and taught English for six years, I haven’t read the majority of classics in the literature canon. So we’ll see what happens! If you are interested in checking out Owl Crate for yourself (and you should!) please use my referral link and help a sista out!


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Book Review: Girl in Pieces

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Ugh, you guys. This book was soooooo good. Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow is about a seventeen year old girl named Charlie who is a cutter. She is sent to an inpatient clinic, but is released after just a few weeks because she can’t pay the fees (so many thoughts on that subject). She ends up traveling to Arizona to meet up with an old friend and she starts to get her life on track. She gets a job, finds a place to live, and seems to be doing okay. Then she meets Riley West, a former one hit wonder rocker with a serious drug and alcohol problem and things start to take a dangerous turn. Charlie has to figure out what kind of life she wants to lead and what kind of person she wants to be (and think about how hard that is to do as a teenager, now couple it with a mental health issue).




I loved this book for so many reasons. One, the writing is beautiful. This is Glasgow’s debut novel, which is actually hard to believe because the writing is so powerful and well-crafted. Two, this is such an important topic and I am so glad that so many young adult literature authors are handling it in such an authentic way (see my review on All the Bright Places if you want another awesome book on teen mental health). I spent eight years of my life working in junior highs and high schools and I can personally attest to the fact that there are so many teens struggling with self harm and the majority of them do a really good job of hiding it. When books like this come out and gain popularity it can have such a tremendous impact on kids who are in a similar situation. It makes my heart happy to think that there are kids out there reading this book and seeing themselves in Charlie. If nothing else, they know that they are not alone.

The main reason I think this book resonated so much with me is that all of the characters are so real. Charlie is the kind of character that makes the reader feel her pain along with her. When Charlie struggles, you want her to be okay. When she succeeds, you cheer on her achievements like you would your best friend’s. The supporting characters are equally as strong and well-developed, and are a diverse and interesting group of people who seem real and authentic.




Whether you are a young adult literature fan or not, Girl in Pieces is the kind of book that everyone should read. Mental health issues are a huge problem in our country (mainly due to the serious stigma that goes along with them) and we need to start the conversation, especially with teens. Books like this can do so much to help that conversation along and I truly hope you will take the time to read it soon.


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