1 In Tag

100 Truths Tag

I shamelessly stole this 100 Truths Tag from Katie over at Pages & Pugs, aka my blogging soul sister. Who doesn’t love a classic MySpace meme to pass the time on a slow Friday?

General Facts

1. What is your name?

Patricia.

2. Any nicknames?

Trish and Tricia, mostly.

3. Gender?

Female.

4. Star sign

Aries.

5. How old are you?

29.

6. Relationship status?

Single.

7. Any children?

No.

8. Any pets?

Two orange tabby cats named Pixel and Pumpkin.

9. Any tattoos/ piercings?

I have a tattoo of a star on the inside of my right ankle, and a semicolon on the inside of my left wrist.

10. What do you like about yourself?

I’m quick, resilient and always willing to stand up for what I think is right.

11. What do you dislike about yourself?

My inability to commit to a weight-loss plan.

12. Righty or lefty?

I’m a leftie, actually!

 

Lasts

12. Thing you drank?

Diet Dr. Pepper.

14. Thing you ate?

Chicken alfredo.

15. Text message?

“She’s shocked, lol”

16. Phone call?

Somebody pretending to be the IRS telling me I had 24 hours to pay my delinquent taxes or I’d be arrested in 24 hours.

17. Email?

An invitation to a reception I will likely skip because anxiety.

18. Last song you listened to?

Paper Planes by M.I.A.

19. Book read?

Legendary by Stephanie Garber.

20: Time you cried?

It’s been a few days but I can’t recall why any more.

21. Blog you read?

Jessica, over at Reading With Jessica!

22. Last person you spoke to?

My coworker.

23. Last place you visited?

Like, on a vacation? Chattanooga, Tennessee for my friend’s wedding.

24: Holiday abroad?

Abroad meaning “overseas”? I’ve never left the US.

Have you ever …

25. Gotten back with an ex?

Yes, and I never recommend it.

26. Been cheated on?

Yes, by the guy in #25. See also: I’m an idiot.

27. Cheated on someone?

No, never.

28. Lost someone special to you?

Of course, it’s an unfortunate byproduct of being human.

29. Been so drunk you threw up?

Maybe twice in my life.

30: Fallen out of love with someone?

Yes.

31. Met someone who changed you?

I think we all have.

32. Been in a situation where you found who your real friends were?

Sure.

33. Kissed someone you shouldn’t have?

No.

34. Found out people were talking about you behind your back?

I attended high school, so …

35. Broken someones heart?

Maybe but I don’t think so.

36. Kissed a stranger?

No!

37. Had your heart broken?

Of course.

38. Had sex on a first date?

No.

39 Been arrested?

No.

40. Been attracted to the gender that isn’t the one you find attractive?

No.

41. Done something you regret?

Any answer but “yes” is a lie, folks.

42. Had a threesome?

43. Embarrassed yourself in public?

Duh!

44. Misjudged someone?

Sure.

Beliefs/Opinions

45. Do you believe in god?

I’m a Deist. I believe there was something at some point, but they have not been around in a long time.

46. Believe in yourself?

I have to.

47. Believe in Santa?

My mother used to tell me that if I stopped believing in Santa, I’d start to get socks and underwear for Christmas. So I haven’t believed in Santa since age 18 or so.

48. Believe in ghosts?

Yes. At the very least, I believe that we can leave behind energy when we pass on. Do I believe in the apparition woo-woo haunted house sort of ghost? I don’t think so.

49. Believe in aliens?

I refuse to believe we’re the most intelligent thing out there.

50. Believe in miracles?

Not in the Biblical sense, but yes.

51. Believe in the power of positive thinking?

I think it’s important to not be a 24/7 pessimist, but I wouldn’t say I go out of my way to be Positive Patricia.

52. Believe in love at first sight?

No, but I do think one date can tell you everything.

53. Can money make you happy?

Happy? No. But can it buy stability and relief? Yes.

54. Would you say you’re a feminist?

I think that all women should have the same opportunities afforded to them as men, and that no one is a superior gender.

55. Pro-life or pro-choice?

Pro-choice. I do not have – nor do I want – the ability to manipulate someone’s future on this level. That is a decision between you, the partner involved, and whatever higher power you answer to.

56.Strong political beliefs?

I am fairly liberal socially, and conservative fiscally.

57. Strong religious beliefs?

No.

58. Most important thing to give a child?

Self-assuredness.

Right Now

59. Eating anything?

No, lunch was 30 minutes ago.

60. Drinking anything?

Polishing off the Diet Dr. Pepper.

61. Listening to?

People talking.

62. What are you thinking?

About how much I want to go home, not even gonna lie.

63. What are you waiting for?

4:30 pm!

64. Most excited about?

The weekend!

65. What is your pet peeve?

People who walk slowly side-by-side taking up an entire hallway.

66. What is your favourite thing?

Cuddling.

67. If you weren’t writing these questions what would you be doing?

Working, but I’m taking a break and digesting from lunch.

Firsts

68. Best Friend?

Her name was Jenny, she was in my classes Pre-K to 2nd grade and then they moved to Florida. I always wonder what happened to her but I can’t find her on Facebook …

69. Kiss?

Mike.

70. Celebrity Crush?

In fifth grade, I had a friend give me an N*SYNC photo of the band at my birthday party. Everyone put on lip stick and kissed their favorite. I went last, and kissed JC out of a sense of empathy because nobody else had. So it was probably JC, but twas all a lie.

71. Holiday?

I know this means vacation, but I have no idea, so I will say Easter, LOL.

72. Pet?

A cat my parents got as newlyweds named Decker.

73. Regret?

Being a JC-kissing faker, probably.

74. Job?

I worked in an after-school care center at a local church for 3 years.

75. Childhood memory?

Crawling from my parents kitchen into the living room, in the house I grew up in.

Which would you choose?

76. Love or money?

Money. Sorry!

77. Twitter or Facebook?

Twitter.

78. Hook up or relationship?

Relationship.

79. Dogs or cats?

Cats.

80. Coffee or tea?

Coffee.

81. Beer or wine?

Wine, but the real answer here is a rum punch.

82. Sweet or Savory?

Sweet.

83. Introvert or extrovert?

Introvert.

84. Vampires or Werewolves?

Vampires.

85. Seaside or countryside?

Seaside.

86. Summer or Winter?

Winter.

87. Books or Movies?

Books! Duh.

88. Horror or comedy?

I like both and which one I reach for depends entirely on my mood.

Random

89. Do you wish you could change the past?

No, it made me who I am.

90. Dream job?

Nonprofit manager.

91. Guilty Pleasure?

I refuse to be ashamed of the things I enjoy.

92. What are you afraid of?

Heights, bugs, guns and the dark when I am somewhere unfamiliar.

93. What did you want to be when you grew up when you were younger?

A veterinarian, then a teacher.

94. If you could have any superpower what would it be?

Teleportation.

95. If you could change anything about your life what would it be?

I’d give myself a pay raise.

96. Would you want immortality?

Only if my loved ones could join me. Including my cats.

97. If you could interview anyone dead or alive who would it be?

Anderson Cooper.

98. Would you say that you are happy?

I think “content” might be a better word.

99. What advice would you give your younger self?

He’s not worth it. Don’t stop reading or trying hard. You’ll find your stride in college and never look back. Above all: be brave.

100. Where would you like to be in five years time?

Fulfilled.

This was a lot of  fun, thanks for posting it Katie! I tag Lauren at Northern Plunder, Kris at Boston Book Reader, Nicola at Fantastic Book Dragon, Sarah at Book Hooked Nook, and Jessica at Reading With Jessica! Thanks and enjoy!

5 In Review

Review: Legendary by Stephanie Garber

Review: Legendary by Stephanie GarberLegendary (Caraval, #2) by Stephanie Garber
Published by Flatiron Books on May 29, 2018
Pages: 451
Format: Hardcover
Goodreads

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.
After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.
The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more—and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister's. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about—maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.
Welcome, welcome to Caraval...the games have only just begun.

Last year’s smash hit Caraval was one of my favorite releases of 2017, however I know many people didn’t feel that way. I suppose I am a sucker for purple prose and beautiful, immersive descriptions, though I can see how that could get on the nerves of some more literal readers. I have clung to my stubborn beliefs that Stephanie Garber is a mastermind of the written word, and I almost lost my mind when I saw Legendary available for preorder on Amazon.

My copy arrived in the mail alongside my apprehension – what if this suffered from Sequel Syndrome and fell flat in all the ways its older, established sibling succeeded? Was I setting myself up for failure?

Nah.

Rating: 

There are spoilers for Caraval here, though they won’t be any more major than what you can get off the Legendary book flap. Just a warning!

How I’d Describe This Book to a Friend

We are left with a cliffhanger the size of a crater when we are forced to exit the world of Caraval, and so I’ve been holding onto those questions for quite some time now. Thankfully, Legendary manages to answer a good many of them, but it also tacks on enough new ones to make up for that imbalance – after all, you have to be persuaded to buy the third book next year, right?

This time, we get into Donatella’s head: the perpetual little sister, the baby, the one who was presented in the first book as an airhead who would stick her tongue down the throat of any man kind enough to smile at her.

Donatella, I said. 

It’s clear that Tella feels her reputation like a brand on her skin, as she is constantly thinking about how she is more than just a pretty face, not a toy to be played with. Tella is constantly fighting against this mark against her, and begins to use these feminine wiles and more ladylike attributes in her favor toward the middle and end of the book.

We begin with a sort of “recap and what’s to come” session, learning about how Tella had died in order for her sister Scarlett to win Caraval, how Scarlett is currently dating some actor guy who is utterly forgettable and whose name starts with J, and how – most importantly – Tella has been corresponding with a “friend” who has promised to find her mother (who we’ve assumed was very much dead) in exchange for a simple favor.

Of course, as you can guess, the favor is not so simple: her friend wants Legend’s name. His real name.

Though Caraval itself was just mere days ago, there is another one being planned in the capital city to celebrate the empress’s birthday – a special Caraval, where everyone across the land can participate. And the winner will meet Legend himself. Naturally, the only way to get his real name would be to meet him – possibly kick him in the shins, but shake the man’s hand first. So it is with trepidation that Tella ventures to the castle in the capital city, to sign up for the game and win not just Legend’s name, but her mother’s life.

From there, we’re trapped in a whirlwind that would give too many spoilers if I say too much more than that. But this is a sequel to a book that had so many plot twists you might as well have been doing a dot-to-dot of a lightning bolt, so this shouldn’t surprise you.

Among others, the things you’ll find in Legendary include: Mardi Gras-esque costumes, wool cloaks, undead ghost people, cults, magic rings, top hats, curtains, wanted posters, tattoos, and a deck of cards. Oh, and a good time. A hell of a good time.

The Bottom Line

Guys, I just really unashamedly love this universe. Sure, the prose is purple and Ms. Garber can’t just say “the water was blue,” she has to give it 5 modifying adjectives, but I like that. It creates a sense of immersion I don’t ever find in any other books – I can’t compare this series to anything because it’s its own unique blend of mystery and awe.

I remember exiting the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus with my father as a young child, no older than 5 or 6, and walking across a breezeway back to our car. A stuffed elephant plushie was pinned under my arm, one hand clenched in my father’s, my other brandishing a purple and pink plastic sword made to look like a dragon breathing fire. My sword pulsated light into the dimly-lit summertime sunset as we walked across broken popcorn kernels, cracked peanut shells, abandoned cotton candy sticks: the detritus of a circus’s remains.

That feeling of nostalgia, awe and wonder at the things I’d seen and would never forget … that’s what Caraval and Legendary did for me. And if they did it for you in the first book, they’ll do it again in the second. A different way, but still there nevertheless. Please grab your purple and pink plastic dragon sword and venture out into the carnival night – and remember, it’s only a game.

 

“Not everyone gets a true ending. There are two types of endings because most people give up at the part of the story where things are the worst, where the situation feels hopeless. But that’s when hope is needed most. only those who persevere can find their true ending.”

8 In Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Summer TBR

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday (as always, hosted by the inimitable Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl) is meant to be about what your top ten beachy/poolside reads are for this summer. However, I am of Norwegian descent, and if I look at the sun I burst into a pillar of flame. The idea of going outside intentionally during the summertime is ludicrous to me, so I won’t even pretend to tell you what I’ll read poolside because I will be reading it at home, in my air conditioning. Luckily Jana had people like me in mind when she put this prompt up, so I was able to take the “plan B” quitters/pale people route and have therefore elected to make this week’s TTT post all about 10 of the books on my summertime TBR!

#1: The Book of Essie by Meghan Maclean Weir

My blogging girlfriend and soulmate Katie over at Pages & Pugs is sending her ARC of this to me, because when I discovered that it was $20 on Amazon I almost fell out of my chair. So I need to read this one ASAP and get it back to her.

#2: Little Do We Know by Tamara Ireland Stone

I am a sucker for a book about religion/organized religion/religious doubt/inner conflict, and this one just seemed too perfect to not pick it up upon release. Plus look at this gorgeous cover! I mean oooof.

#3: Save the Date by Morgan Matson

It is against my made-up religion to read a Morgan Matson book any month that is not July or August, so I am putting this on the slight TBR backburner until next month. Any book by Matson is guaranteed to make you feel the steamy summer heat in your face, possibly because you are me and you live in Georgia and it’s 100 degrees with the heat index and why did God forsake our state?

#4: Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

I bring up Katie at P&P again not to sound like a stalker (oops), but because she is constantly mentioning how much she loves Jenn Bennett. I picked up this beauty last year, put it on my shelf, and immediately forgot about it. When I recalled its existence, I told myself I had to wait until summertime to pick it back up. Lo and behold, it’s summer now: time to see what all the fuss is about.

#5: Vicious by V.E. Schwab

I have yet to read anything by Schwab, yet I own three of her series starter books. Whoopsies. This seems most accessible/interesting of the three, so I figured I’ll start with Vicious and go from there. I do love a good villain story.

#6: All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor

This has been sitting on my TBR shelf for far too long (aka: since its May release date), and I really want to crack into it. For some reason, the summer months make me want to read contemporaries (a bit understandable), and thrillers (slightly less understandable). I have a good feeling about this one, I just need to find a good space and time to dig into it.

#7: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

I read and adored A Court of Thorns and Roses not all that long ago, but I got distracted by shiny things and other books, so I stepped away from this sequel. I need to read it before I completely forget everything that happened in the first book.

#8: Olivia Twist by Lorie Langdon

I’ve had miss Olivia here sitting on my shelf for a while now – she was my May Once Upon a Book Club book, and so it’s just sitting there, surrounded by cute little wrapped packages and I just haven’t had the time to pick this one up and solve its mysteries. My favorite classic novel is Dickens’ Oliver Twist, so I am anxious to see how this retelling holds up.

#9: Renegades by Marissa Meyer

I have had this sitting on my shelf for far too long considering how much I adored the Cinder series. With the second book in this series coming out later this year, I definitely need to get Renegades under my belt quickly.

#10: The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

I’ve had this sitting on my shelf since release day. While it’s not normally a book I’d reach for typically, suicide is an issue close to my heart and I am eager to see how this novel deals with it. I’ll keep this one close to my chest when I feel “ready” for it.

What do you think of my summer TBR? Are any of these on your TBR shelf, or maybe you already read them? Let me know!

5 In Review

Review: Every Fifteen Minutes by Lisa Scottoline

Review: Every Fifteen Minutes by Lisa ScottolineEvery Fifteen Minutes by Lisa Scottoline
Published by St. Martin's Press on April 14, 2015
Pages: 435
Format: Audiobook
Goodreads

A visceral thriller, which brings you into the grip of a true sociopath and shows you how, in the quest to survive such ruthlessness, every minute counts.
Dr. Eric Parrish is the Chief of the Psychiatric Unit at Havemeyer General Hospital outside of Philadelphia. Recently separated from his wife Alice, he is doing his best as a single Dad to his seven-year-old daughter Hannah. His work seems to be going better than his home life, however. His unit at the hospital has just been named number two in the country and Eric has a devoted staff of doctors and nurses who are as caring as Eric is. But when he takes on a new patient, Eric's entire world begins to crumble. Seventeen-year-old Max has a terminally ill grandmother and is having trouble handling it. That, plus his OCD and violent thoughts about a girl he likes makes Max a high risk patient. Max can't turn off the mental rituals he needs to perform every fifteen minutes that keep him calm.
With the pressure mounting, Max just might reach the breaking point. When the girl is found murdered, Max is nowhere to be found. Worried about Max, Eric goes looking for him and puts himself in danger of being seen as a "person of interest" himself. Next, one of his own staff turns on him in a trumped up charge of sexual harassment. Is this chaos all random? Or is someone systematically trying to destroy Eric's life?
New York Times best selling author Lisa Scottoline's visceral thriller, Every Fifteen Minutes, brings you into the grip of a true sociopath and shows you how, in the quest to survive such ruthlessness, every minute counts.

I have been a long-time fan of Lisa Scottoline and her twisty, ruthless hold on me. You never suspect her, and to me her writing is the perfect marriage between Jodi Picoult and a more amped-up thriller, perhaps similar to Tana French. At the end of the day, though, Scottoline holds her own and has a style so uniquely hers that you can’t help but sit up and take notice. This was my third Scottoline book, and it was certainly no exception.

Rating: 

How I’d Explain This Book to A Friend

Meet Eric Parrish. He’s a young father, husband, and psychiatrist, both in a unit and in private practice in his home. He loves what he does, and especially loves his little girl, Hannah, who is his world and encapsulates all of his values. Eric is well-liked, respected, and cherished at work by residents, staff and patients alike.

So it’s a bit of a shock when it all comes crashing down.

His wife, Caitlin, decides to leave him – unceremoniously driving a wedge between them until Eric is forced to purchase a small home just to stay afloat and see patients. She denies him access to Hannah, and forces him to talk to her through a lawyer. So we meet Eric in an emotionally compromised space when he is called down to the emergency department to meet an old woman, terminally ill with likely just days left, and her teenage grandson, Max. Max has had a hard life, and his grandmother is the only family he cares for. Max needs help facing his grandma’s – sweetly called Gummy – mortality, and so Eric agrees to take him on as a private patient.

Max is a sweet, malleable young man. He clearly has OCD, and it manifests in his having to perform a certain, small ritual every 15 minutes or he gets completely worked up. He is also very much in love with a young woman who comes to his tutoring job – a beautiful, bright girl named Renee – but being young and awkward, he doesn’t quite know how to pursue her. His care for her manifests in his following her home from her job at a frozen yogurt shop, making sure she gets home safely since she drives like a bat out of hell.

And then, one day, all Hell breaks loose.

What follows is the story of Eric, Max, and the murder of Renee. Max has gone missing, Eric gets pulled in by the police, and his world turns upside down. To a man whose routine is of paramount importance, this feels like a death sentence. And if Eric didn’t kill Renee, and he knows in his gut that Max didn’t either, who did? And why?

The Bottom Line

Interspersed through this page-turner are first person monologues by a self-professed sociopath. We don’t find out who this person is until the eleventh hour, but they’ve always been this way, and they absolutely love themselves. These chunks of the book are alarming because we could be sharing an office space with this person, or an Uber Pool. They could be your dentist, your doctor, your local librarian. Sociopaths are everywhere, they are just good at hiding it, and that’s what this book really brings into the chilly, frightening light. Scottoline really did her research well, on sociopaths and psychiatry both. You really feel like you’re in the unit with Eric, and your jaw will drop alongside his every time.

I was prepared to give this book a solid, middle-of-the-road 3 out of 5 stars because I was gearing up for a disappointingly stereotypical ending, but the last 2 chapters completely turned this on its head for me – Scottoline got me good, and I didn’t see the twist coming at all. I absolutely give her props for that – her books never leave me bored, always challenging me to shake those preconceived notions we all have of what certain people are like.

If you’re like me and hate waiting for the next Jodi Picoult book, if you like your domestic thrillers a little bit spicier than the now-stereotypical “husband keeps wife locked away/abused/dirty little secret/Gone Girl” formula, please don’t hesitate to give Lisa Scottoline a try. She is quickly moving up the ranks for me, becoming one of my most favorite authors. You won’t be disappointed.

“I’ve read that one out of twenty-four people is a sociopath, and if you ask me, the other twenty-three of you should be worried.”

3 In Tag

Books I’ll Probably Never Read Tag

I was lucky enough to be tagged in the Books I’ll Probably Never Read tag by Kris over at Boston Book Reader! Kris writes all sorts of interesting posts, and does a bunch of awesome challenges and tags! I definitely recommend checking her blog out. As far as the tag goes … well, it is what it says on the tin really: a tag about books you’ll probably never read. Who knew?

A really hyped book you are not interested in reading?

I fully expect to be pelted with tomatoes and rotten eggs for this one, but I just could not get into it. I am not the world’s biggest fantasy fan, and so it takes a lot to suck me into a book that deals with a lot of magic and mysticism. Will it stay on my shelf? Yes. Will I try again? Probably. But for some reason it’s just not attracting me at all. Please don’t kill me.

A series you won’t start/won’t be finishing?

Remember what I said about fantasy? That extends here, too. Just not my cup of tea and I have never had any interest in any of these books. I’m glad people enjoy them! But they’re just not for me.

A classic that you’re just not interested in?

Please don’t kill me, but I’d rather get a root canal than read Pride & Prejudice. I have never liked it, I never had that Austen phase so many of my peers had in high school. I was too busy falling in love with Charles Dickens, because I was weird.

Any genres you have never read?

I can’t say there’s anything I’ve never read, but I don’t like and almost always avoid nonfiction.

A book on your shelves that you’ll probably never actually read?

Do I own 3 copies of Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone? Yes, yes I do. Will I ever actually read this beautiful Ravenclaw edition? Probably not. Am I sorry? Not a bit!

I tag … you! Anyone who wants to do this tag, I’m easy. Enjoy!

1 In WWW

WWW – June 6, 2018 Edition

Hey there innertubers, it’s Wednesday, and we all know what that means – it’s time for WWW! Which I will always and forever call “Whatcha Wreading Wednesday” in my head, and you can’t stop me.

This beautiful gem of a weekly post is brought to you by Taking on a World of Words, and on this blessed and hallowed day, we answer three questions:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

 

When my copy of Legendary came in the mail I practically screamed with excitement – I loved Caraval like it was my bookish offspring last year, and Legendary feels a lot like coming home. I started on it yesterday and am already over 50 pages in – a lot for me when I work 9 hour days and have night classes, too. My eARC read right now is Hidden Pieces – Paula Stokes was so sweet to have seen my sad tweet about getting denied on Eidelweiss and made sure to ask her publicist to grant me a copy. I am really loving it so far!

What did you recently finish reading?

Sadie, which was amazing. I can’t say much about it though because it would just spoil you – hence the lack of a written review here. Suffice it to say that if you like true crime, podcasts, family dynamic stories … you’ll love this book.

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

My copy arrived yesterday, signed in cheerful purple marker with a smiley face. Morgan Matson books always feel like dipping my feet into a cool swimming pool on a hot day – like coming home. And there’s a puppy on the back, too! Perfection. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into this when I finish Legendary.

What’s on your WWW docket this week? Can’t wait to hear about it!

5 In Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Might Have Given Up On Too Quickly

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday (as always, hosted by the inimitable Jana over at That Artsy Reader Girl) is about the concept of DNFing. I am not a huge DNFer, although I do tend to put a book to the side to return to it later if I start on it and I feel like I should be enjoying myself, but it’s just not coming. That definitely happens from time to time. Sometimes, however, I put a book to the side and I just never pick it back up again. That’s what this week’s TTT concerns: book orphans.

^ It looks like she’s talking to Edward Scissorhands, but it’s actually a pile of DNFd, abandoned books in the shape of Edward Scissorhands.

  1. The Raven Cycle. I’ve tried to read The Raven Boys twice now – I have a copy of the first two books sitting on my shelf, looking forlorn. But I just can’t seem to push past the first 100 pages of the first book. Does it get better? I hear that it does, but I am skeptical.
  2. Throne of Glass. Same as the Raven Cycle, I suppose – I’ve tried to read these because everyone and their mom and probably their mom’s mom is absolutely in love with these, but I just can’t get past the first couple of trials. I think one time I got to the “there’s a ghost in the castle” part (or something? I don’t … I don’t remember), but I just cannot make myself read any more of this. I feel like a book blogger sham.
  3. Pride & Prejudice. I have never read this book – or any other Austen book – all the way through. I’ve bought it and started it more than once, but I’ve just never gotten past more than the first quarter of the book or so before I get bored and discard it. Classics are not good at keeping my interest.
  4. Sharp Objects. I have read, and really enjoyed, Gillian Flynn’s other two books. I’m a huge thriller nut. But I picked up Sharp Objects last out of her three and I just couldn’t get snared in her web like I could with Gone Girl and Dark Places. Speaking of Gillian Flynn, when is she writing another book? Ooof.
  5. The MagiciansThe formula for this series makes it seem like I should love and adore it – urban fantasy is my jam. But for some reason – perhaps the same reasons why I can’t get into the Raven Cycle books? – it’s just not doing it for me.
  6. His Dark Materials. I was very young when I read The Golden Compass – high school, I think maybe 15 or 16. I know I picked up the second book in the series, but I just don’t think I read these very thoroughly, or gave them nearly enough thought or credit. I know that these are very layered, multifaceted books with amazing detail and metaphor, but this all flew over my head as a teenager. I should really try these again.
  7. The Mortal InstrumentsAt one point, I read the first three books in this series. I was 23, I think, and they were mindless and fluffy. I went back to them a few years later to finish off the series and I just couldn’t do it – they were terrible. Part of me still wants to try, though. Is it because the box set is pretty? Probably!
  8. Red Rising. I made it all the way to the part where Darrow is shown the “big reveal,” and I just couldn’t keep going. Was it the writing style? The plot? Language? I have no idea, because so many people I greatly admire and trust absolutely love this series. I want to give it another try someday, but maybe it just wasn’t the right time the first time. My copy is still on my shelf.
  9. The Name of the Wind. This book is beloved by so many who love Game of Thrones. They tell you to read it, to embrace it and love it – it’s like George R.R. Martin if he were more funny and killed off less characters, they say. Maybe it’s me (and it’s probably me), but this was just not doing it for me. I really need to stop picking up fantasy because it never winds up being what I want it to be.
  10. Turtles All the Way Down. I was a huge, huge John Green fan for years in college, starting when I was 19 or so. Something disenchanted me somewhere along the way, though, and when I picked up The Fault In Our Stars as a new release, I almost retched reading it because it was so bad. I preordered my copy of Turtles in the hopes that maybe The Fault In Our Stars was just a fluke, but alas, I don’t think it was. I might try this one again later, but it’s not looking too promising.

What about you?  Have you DNF’d any of these? Got any reason to defend books on my list? Let me know down below!

0 In Review

Review: Breakout by Kate Messner

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Breakout by Kate MessnerBreakout by Kate Messner
Published by Bloomsbury Children's Books on June 5, 2018
Pages: 448
Format: ARC
Goodreads

Nora Tucker is looking forward to summer vacation in Wolf Creek--two months of swimming, popsicles, and brushing up on her journalism skills for the school paper. But when two inmates break out of the town's maximum security prison, everything changes. Doors are locked, helicopters fly over the woods, and police patrol the school grounds. Worst of all, everyone is on edge, and fear brings out the worst in some people Nora has known her whole life. Even if the inmates are caught, she worries that home might never feel the same.
Told in letters, poems, text messages, news stories, and comics--a series of documents Nora collects for the Wolf Creek Community Time Capsule Project--Breakout is a thrilling story that will leave readers thinking about who's really welcome in the places we call home.

I had the pleasure of getting an eARC of Breakout by Kate Messner via NetGalley, and while it took me a while to read, I have to say that I genuinely adored every page. I wasn’t expecting a lot – middle grade thrillers are usually pretty weak – but I was pleasantly surprised by just how nuanced and multifaceted this book was.

Rating: 

How I’d Describe This Book to a Friend

Breakout is told in a largely epistolary style, with other forms of media (comics, transcribed audio interviews, text messages) sprinkled in. The premise is this: Wolf Creek Middle School is putting together a time capsule, and the seventh graders are tasked with filling it up with assorted things (letters, mementos, etc – you know, the usual time capsule stuff). Our main character Nora is a reporter for the school paper, so she chooses to view this as a journalistic opportunity, and writes about the important things in her life – her best friend Lizzie, her mom and dad and her two brothers. Wolf Creek is populated largely by a huge, centralized prison that employs the vast majority of adults, including Nora’s father, who is the warden. Field Day is coming up – it’s early June, and in Wolf Creek school gets out in mid-June – and everyone is abuzz with talk of the big race taking place that goes back generations. Nora’s biggest worry is not winning that race like her mother did, and her older brother.

But everything changes when two prisoners escape from their cells and are on the lam in Wolf Creek.

We get a third perspective as well, Elidee, a young African-American girl whose mother is a nurse and whose father passed away when she was very small. Her older brother is in prison in Wolf Creek, and so she and her mother moved here to be closer to him. Elidee is used to New York City proper – the gritty, downtown feel of it, not this upstate New York bourgeois. Before leaving the city, Elidee’s school got to go see a production of Hamilton, and it’s been burned into her brain. She is in love with poetry and the written word, and struggles greatly in Wolf Creek because she is part of one of two – count ’em, two – black families in her school. Elidee’s mother works long hours, and she spends her free time writing poetry reminiscent of  Hamilton, and Black Girl Dreaming. Elidee is such a sweet character, and her developing bond with Nora and Lizzie is organic and flows well.

On top of the “hey there are two convicts on the loose” issues, there runs a thread of race relations. Nora and Lizzie’s world views are challenged when they are asked to leave their backpacks at the front of the local convenience store – something they’ve never had to do when Elidee was not in tow. Elidee also does not want to thank the local police for their service in helping find these escaped convicts – what’s up with that? Why would Elidee not like the police? There is no shortage of teachable moments here, folks.

The Bottom Line

Kids who read this book will learn about everything from peaceful protest to rumrunners (the speakeasy guys, not the alcoholic beverage). There is no end to the information hidden within this book’s whopping 400+ pages, and let me tell you – it was worth every single turn of the page. I absolutely adored Nora, Lizzie and Elidee, and I reveled in their successes and felt the wind sigh out of my lungs at their defeats. Whether they are cub reporting at a press release, running a relay race, or baking cookies, you’ll be enamored by these characters and their quiet life together in Wolf Creek. I recommend a trip there, too – just make sure you don’t go in June or you might run into an escaped prisoner.

0 In Wrap Up

May Wrap-Up & June TBR

I can’t believe it’s June already, but every month I say the same thing – “I can’t believe it’s {month}, what happened to {month}?!” – I am clearly not nearly as original as I think I am. But isn’t there  some sort of tenet that says once you enter the workplace, you’re legally obligated to say “living the dream!” when asked how you’re doing at least once a month? Maybe it’s just me, but that’s my go-to office babble response now. How was your weekend? “Not long enough!” Oh Karen, our witty banter is priceless.

Anyway.

 Pages Read: 2,092 – an average of 348 pages per book

 Average Rating: 4.5

 Least Favorite: Copycat

 Most Favorite: Girl Made of Stars

I had a great reading month, as far as enjoying what I read goes. Except for Copycat, this was a solid 4-5 star month and I’m pretty impressed by that. I am learning that I’d rather read 6-8 books a month that I thoroughly get enjoyment from, versus 12-15 books that are largely “meh.”

 

I never know how much of my TBR is actually going to happen for the month, because I’m very much a sensory reader – whatever I am feeling like reading in that moment is what’s going to get read, even if I had every intention of reading something else entirely the day before. So this entire list could change, but this is a rough idea!

 Sadie by Courtney Summers – I am reading this one right now, so it’ll definitely be a June book. I am loving it so far and am so grateful to Katie for loaning me her beloved ARC!

 Legendary by Stephanie Garber – This is one of my most anticipated reads of 2018, so as soon as I finish Sadie I am moving right to this guy.

 Save the Date by Morgan Matson – I have a big amount of love for Morgan Matson – she, combined with Sarah Dessen and Huntley Fitzpatrick, represents “summer contemporary” to me. Do I know what this is about beyond “a wedding”? Nope. Did I preorder it anyway? You bet.

 Vicious by V.E. Schwab – I was lucky enough to be able to preorder the “deluxe” version that just came out – the one with the extra story pieces and the preview of the second book in the series. This is my most tentative TBR title so far, but I feel pretty confident it’ll come up sooner rather than later.

Are any of these on your TBR? What are you reading for June? Talk to me down below!

0 In Review

Review: Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake

Review: Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring BlakeGirl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on May 15, 2018
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover
Goodreads

"I need Owen to explain this. Because yes, I do know that Owen would never do that, but I also know Hannah would never lie about something like that."
Mara and Owen are about as close as twins can get. So when Mara's friend Hannah accuses Owen of rape, Mara doesn't know what to think. Can the brother she loves really be guilty of such a violent crime? Torn between the family she loves and her own sense of right and wrong, Mara is feeling lost, and it doesn't help that things have been strained with her ex-girlfriend and best friend since childhood, Charlie.
As Mara, Hannah, and Charlie navigate this new terrain, Mara must face a trauma from her own past and decide where Charlie fits in her future. With sensitivity and openness, this timely novel confronts the difficult questions surrounding consent, victim blaming, and sexual assault.

It took me until now to write this review, largely because if you’d asked me before now what my feelings were on Girl Made of Stars, I would just exhale and make a noise that sounded like “oooooof.” If a book could be a sucker punch straight to your gut, this one is it. I’ve been processing this one for a while now, turning it over in my head, but I think I’m finally ready to attempt to do this beautiful, beautiful book justice.

Rating: 

How I’d Describe This Book to a Friend

Girl Made of Stars is about a pair of twins – Mara and Owen. It is also about Mara’s best-friend-but-also-girlfriend-but-also-ex-girlfriend, Charlie, and Owen’s best friend Alex. It is about Owen’s girlfriend, one of Mara and Charlie’s good friends, a beautiful girl named Hannah. It is about all of these people, and yet it is also simply about the stars.

Mara and Owen are as close as possible – sharing that twin bond we read about and hear tales of, always looking skyward, raised on stories of celestial bodies in the sky and dreams of candy fluff clouds. Now that they’re looking toward college and getting older, however, they’re starting to pull apart at the seams ever so slightly. Mara has come out as bisexual to her family, and has recently broken up with Charlie, who is her best friend in the world – the relationship had to end by lack of other options, and Mara is angry and alone when she sees Charlie at a party with some other girl so soon after their split. Did she mean nothing to her? Irritated, Alex sees Mara and offers her a ride home – since Owen has gotten into the hunch punch a little too much and has run off with Hannah to make out in the woods somewhere, she agrees.

But the next day after school, something is wrong. Her parents and Owen are curled into the sofa, crying. Hannah, they tell her, has accused Owen of rape, and will be attempting to pursue pressed charges. Suddenly, Mara’s world turns upside down.

There is so much to unpack here. Who does Mara believe? Her good friend who she can’t possibly see lying, or her brother who swears up and down there was no sexual assault. Mara has struggles all her own, too – she has a past experience that keeps her from getting as close to people as she’d like, and on top of that Charlie is experiencing severe gender dysphoria – she feels like a girl sometimes, but sometimes a boy, and she is too afraid to tell her family. Charlie’s struggles as she comes to realize she is genderfluid mixed with Mara reconciling her past and the Owen vs. Hannah debacle really puts the heat on Mara, and you feel it yourself – it flames across your face, you rejoice with her victories and shed a tear at her sorrows. Each character is bright and vivid, painted with bold strokes right on your screen. They want to be seen, and make no mistake, you will see them.

The Bottom Line

I can’t think of a single person who shouldn’t read this book. Parents of teens, teenagers, “new” adults, teachers, guidance counselors … everyone needs to pick this up and give it a read. It’s on the shorter side – under 300 pages – but each word feels like it is beating a pulse beneath your fingertips. Blake has done what is largely impossible: she’s given these words a soul, and spoken life into a fictional girl. But Mara is not simply fiction – she is in all of us, so is Charlie, and Hannah, and yes, even Owen and Alex. We are all the girl made of stars, and we are all trying to navigate our way through the milky night sky.

 

“Some parts of me are gone. Some others have come alive, woken by the need to fight, to matter, to be heard. Some parts are wary, others angry, others heartbroken. But I’m still me. I’m still moving.”