Book Review

Book Review: The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

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First of all, this was 100% a cover buy for me. And I don’t regret it.

In the Astonishing Color of After, sixteen year old Leigh is dealing with the aftermath of her mother’s suicide. Although her mother suffered from depression for many years, Leigh believed strongly that she would get through it. Leigh becomes extremely lost after her death, and when a mysterious red bird shows up on her doorstep sounding exactly like her Mother, she decides she must figure out why.

Leigh ends up going on a trip to Taiwan to meet her grandparents for the first time. There’s a big language barrier and it’s a rough go at first, but eventually Leigh goes on a wild goose (or just a red bird?) chase leading her to different memories of her mother, Dory. With the help of her grandparents and family friend, Leigh ends up understanding much more about Dory and her life before she was born.

This novel does a beautiful job at weaving through the grief and emotion of losing someone you love. It flashes back and forth between the past and present but it was not hard to understand.

As other reviews have said, it does not romanticize suicide, which I believe is important. There is a long, long story leading up to her Dory’s death which helps us understand more of her background, however, you don’t find out much until you’re pretty deep in the book. The author does a great job mixing Leigh’s story with her mother’s.

The magical realism wasn’t too heavy and was certainly believable. This book was so, so different from many of the books I’ve read lately. Emily X.R. Pan is incredibly talented and I simply cannot wait until she publishes another novel.

Book Tags

Mid-Year Freak Out Tag

I’ve been seeing the Mid-Year Freak Out Tag all over booktube and the book blogger sphere so I decided to give it a go. I haven’t read as many books this year as I’d hoped, but I’ve definitely read some good ones. Enjoy!

Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2018

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Circe by Madeline Miller
Circe was one of those books that I knew I was going to love well before I even read the first page. I’m a sucker for anything mythology related. This book was completely character driven but the atmosphere was great. Circe was one BA chick I wouldn’t mess with.

Read My Review Here

Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2018

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Novelista Girl (Blogger Girl, #2)
Chick-Lit is definitely not my cup of tea anymore, but both Blogger Girl and Novelista Girl were hilarious and well written. Meredith Schorr writes fantastic romantic comedies and I highly recommend this series. Plus, the main character is a book blogger! Bridal Girl (the next book in the series) is already out and on my TBR.

Most Anticipated Release For The Second Half of the Year
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City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab
I’ve never read anything by Victoria Schwab, but the synopsis for City of Ghosts has me shook. Scotland and paranormal stuff? Count me in.

Biggest Disappointment

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Reign of the Fallen by Sarah Glen Marsh
I actually had to bribe myself to finish it. The cover is GORGEOUS but I absolutely could not get into the story.

Biggest Surprise

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The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

The book sounded good, so I knew I would like it. But holy moly, this mystery had me on the edge of my seat. SO GOOD. And more paranormal stuff!

Read my review here

Favorite New Author
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Therese Ann Fowler
She’s not a new author, but she’s one that I know will become an automatic buy from now on. That’s Therese Anne Fowler who wrote Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald and A Well Behaved Woman: A Novel of Alva Vanderbilt. Both of these novels were incredibly well written and researched. I cannot wait to see what she will be writing next!

Read my review here

 Newest Fictional Crush:
I actually don’t have a new crush, but my longtime crush of Rhysand still stands. I DID read ACOMAF this year, so that counts, right?

Newest Favorite Character

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Mila Flores from The Undead Girl Gang. She had me laughing so hard, and I loved that she knew who she was and didn’t care what anyone thought!

Book That Made You Cry:
None yet!

Book That Made You Happy:
Is it weird that I didn’t feel like any specific book made me feel happy? I feel like I’m always happy when I’m reading! I can’t think of a specific time. I feel like a lot of books I’ve read this year aren’t exactly super happy books haha

Favorite Book To Film Adaptation:
None so far!

Favorite Post You’ve Done This Year:
You Love Books, So You Must Want To Be An Author, Right? – Part One was my favorite post so far. I thought it was creative and an interesting read. I was curious if any other readers out there had the same thoughts as me!

Most Beautiful Book You’ve Bought This Year:

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The Astonishing Color of After (I didn’t buy it but I borrowed it!). What a beautiful tale of grief and coming to terms with the death of a loved one.

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet But Want To:

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The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw. I cannot WAIT to get into it! It’s coming with to Mexico! I am a sucker for a good witchy novel. I’m hoping this will become one of my favorite reads this year.

What Book Do You Need To Read By the End of the Year”
The first Game of Thrones book. I NEED to finish it. I’m about 100 pages in and struggling hard.

Book Review

Book Review – Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

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It’s been a minute since a book made me LOL like Undead Girl Gang. Seriously, the humor, witchyness and gorgeous cover made this one of my favorites of 2018 so far.

Mila’s friend Riley ends up dying in what everyone says is a suicide, but she doesn’t believe that for a second. Riley was a badass wiccan babe who would never do that. When Mila receives a grimoire in the mail with spells that can bring someone back from the dead, she decides to use her skills to bring Riley back and find out who killed her. However, she doesn’t plan on bringing back the two mean girls from her school as well.

Mila, Riley and the two mean girls end up forming a relationship I really didn’t expect. They end up trying to punish who they believe is the killer and realize that they aren’t as different as they thought.

This book was full of witty banter, girl gang missions and girls supporting girls. The mystery aspect was good as well — I had a SLIGHT inclination of who the killer was, but the author definitely throws you off that trail fast. I flew through this and really enjoyed it.

I loved that this wasn’t super gorey or full of zombies. It was tasteful, for the most part. Except there is definitely a huge TW for suicide.

All in all, this was definitely a solid four star read for me. I haven’t read a good YA book that talks about wicca like this one does, and the author did a great job with it. I’m going to add this to my 2018 favorites, not because it was the best read, but because it was so funny and THE COVER.

Have you read Undead Girl Gang? Did you love it? Can you recommend any other YA books with a witchy vibe?

Book Lifestyle · TBR

Books I’m Taking on My Honeymoon (and what I wish I was taking)

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Everyone kept telling me our wedding day would be a blur and man, they were right. I feel like it was gone in the blink of an eye. The weather was perfect (sunny and 75) and the night went absolutely perfect (besides running out of beer, but we fixed that problem!) and we could not be happier. Now, onto our honeymoon!

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We decided back in February that we wanted to go someplace sunny and warm and we ended up picking Riviera Maya in Mexico. We leave next weekend, but you can bet I’ve already been planning my TBR for the plane ride and the beach.

You may be thinking I wanted some “beachy, romancey and cute” summer reads but I’m just not into that lately (or ever?). So here’s a couple books I picked up from Barnes and Noble (WHICH, BY THE WAY, I had no idea you could buy online and pick up in store and still get the online price? What a steal. Has this been a thing for awhile?).

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Furyborn actually hasn’t been on my wish list for that long. When I first read the synopsis, I wasn’t sold. It seemed like every other Three Dark Crowns -esque book that happens to be a huge trope right now. But after reading a few reviews on here, I decided to give it a shot. I also think the author seems super cool (at least on Twitter). I shouldn’t pretend that I don’t like a good queen trope… I just like when it’s done well. Fingers crossed I like this one.

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Another YA book I’ve been lusting over is The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw. I do love a good witchy read, so I’m PRAYING this one will knock me off my feet (and into the sand, please). I’m getting some serious Salem vibes from this one, so pleaseeee don’t let me down! I’ve been to Salem many times and it’s one of my favorite places to visit. I’m not sure if this is based in Salem or a place like Salem, but I hope it does the town justice.

Now, books I WISH I had but unfortunately don’t have.

I never got on the Caraval train, but lately I see everyone reading Legendary and I’m feeling serious FOMO. Is it worth the hype? I’ve heard such mixed reviews and usually that’s a bad sign for me.

To Kill A Kingdom is a Little Mermaid retelling so OBVIOUSLY I wanted to bring it to Mexico. I wanted to grab it but unfortunately my local B&N didn’t have it. Was that a sign? Maybe. Because this one also has some serious mixed reviews.

Leave me a comment below if you’ve read any of these and let me know how you feel about them! I’m so, so excited for our trip and hope these reads don’t disappoint.

Book Tags

The Book Addiction Tag

I found this awesome book tag on Bibliobeth’s blog and since she tagged everyone who hasn’t done it, I thought I would give it a try! I’m always on the hunt for new tags, so please go ahead and tag me anytime! 🙂

What is the longest amount of time you can comfortably go without picking up a book?
I can honestly go a week if it’s a book I REALLY want. If it is one I’m pretty interested in but won’t die without? At least three weeks.

How many books do you carry on your person (or kindle) at any one time?
I always have one in my person. Typically 2-3 on the kindle.

Do you keep every book you buy/receive or are you happy to pass them on to make space for more?
Lately I’ve only been keeping books that I really like. Or if the cover is amazing. Typically I sell or donate them. I don’t have a lot of friends that read.

How long would you spend in a bookshop on a standard visit?
About an hour!

How much time per day do you actually spend reading?
Anywhere from 30 mins to two hours during the week, and up to 3-4 on a weekend day.

Where does the task ‘picking up a book’ appear on your daily to-do list?
In the evening after work, around 6ish

Approximately how often do you bring up books in conversation?
Hardly ever. No one I know reads as much as me! L

Is there a book you had to get your hands on against all odds i.e searching bookshops, online digging etc?
Not that I can think of

A book you struggled to finish but refused to DNF?
Red Queen

Have you ever had the privilege of converting someone into a reader (maybe via inspiration or incessant nagging)?
I wouldn’t say I’ve nagged anyone, but I think a few of my friends pick up a book now and then and think of me haha

What are 3 of your main book goals for 2018?

1. Reach 200 followers.
This probably won’t happen, but I’m trying!

2. Do three posts a week.
This could happen. I’m trying!!

3. Make more bookish friends.
Also trying. Haha!

Describe what books mean to you in five words.
Serenity
Happiness
Dreams
Love
Hope
I’m going to to tag A Court of Crowns and Quills and The Bookish Chick! hope you don’t mind! 🙂

Book Review

Book Review: A Well-Behaved Woman: A Novel of Alva Vanderbilt by Therese Ann Fowler

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“What is it that drives some men to such poor behavior? We accept their behavior because of what would happen if we didn’t”.

After I read Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, I knew I had to read more of Therese Fowler’s work. I have a huge fascination with the gilded age/jazz era, so I jump at the chance to read anything new about this dazzling time period. I went into this book knowing absolutely nothing about the Vanderbilt’s, and left with enough knowledge that I felt comfortable talking about Alva and her courageous acts against proper society.

The novel begins with Alva as a young girl. Her family had lost what money they had due to her father’s habits, and she was left to manage her sisters on her own.  Thankfully, her mother brought her daughters to Paris and made sure they were fit for society before she died. From a young age, Alva knew she had to marry into wealth – it wasn’t even a question that she must provide for her family. After realizing she wasn’t in love with any man she met, she settled on William Vanderbilt, thus marrying into what would be the richest family in 19th century America.

Her strong wit and character wasn’t apparent at first. She tried to make William as happy as she could, but she was never in love with him. She became a mother of three children, and found a love of architecture that would soon lead to many famous houses such as the Petit Chateau, the Marble House and eventually the Beacon Towers in New York.

Throughout the novel you are thrown into the many lavish parties and gatherings of this era, and you will soak up the drama that was just another normal day in rich society. I couldn’t get enough of the gossip between women – it is similar to the gossip of today, but with much, much more at stake. A woman’s reputation was EVERYTHING.

The novel takes a turn when a scandal happens between Alva and her husband. I won’t give too much away, but this is definitely the point where Alva digs her heels in and stands for what she believes in… and that is a woman’s right to respect (and divorce). This is the point where I started to really become engrossed with the novel. It was as if Alva finally realized that money would never equal happiness.

“She could not right the nation’s troubles. So she would drink julep and let the breeze cool her and eat her peas with a knife and honey if she pleased”.

Alva’s decisions caused her to become shunned by most of society – but fortunately her young daughter Consuela was spared. She did not want her to become another girl in a loveless marriage, which would be tough considering she was one of the richest heiresses in the country. The love between mother and daughter becomes very apparent at the end of the novel and was a joy to read.

I really loved this novel. It’s hard to come across books like this where the history of the main character isn’t overdone already. This will be one of my 2018 favorites for sure.

Thank you to Netgalley for an ARC of this book. This title comes out in October 2018.

Book Lifestyle

You Love Books, So You Must Want To Be An Author, Right? – Part One

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Books were my home as a kid. I wish I had half the time and energy to read as I did back then. I would take a stack of books out from the library weekly and finish them all, no questions asked. Summers were spent in my room or outside, reading anything and everything I could get my hands on. Now I’m lucky if I can read three a month. Adulting is the worst.

I recently had a realization that truly had me feeling down. I only know one adult in my life that reads regularly. I’m not kidding. ONE. This freaked me out a bit. I only have one person I can talk to about books, besides people in the book blog community. This actually makes me sad.

To get to the point of this post, I’ve had many, many people ask me if I planned on writing a book someday. I’m not sure if it’s because people who don’t read as often as me can’t grasp the fact that writing is a huge, daunting, endless, exhausting process? I mean, when I think of how many hours authors spend writing/editing, I think of how I can barely concentrate on something for 45 minutes and realize I would probably struggle HARD.

You read a lot. Like a lot more than anyone I know. Do you want to write a book or something?”

I always automatically say no — I don’t have the time for it and could never handle the criticism. However, a small part of me loves the author community and how people have gone from struggling to the New York Time’s Best Sellers list. I think it’s incredible. Authors are truly special people. The criticism though… I CRINGE often on Goodreads. I’m pretty sensitive when it comes to criticism, to the point that I’d rather not hear it.

It really had me thinking. DO I want to write a book? It would be awesome, but would of course take a ton of work. I love reading and getting involved in stories. I am sometimes so amazed by story lines that I cannot possibly imagine the time and energy that goes into creating them.

The hardest part for me would simply be starting. I’ve thought many times in my head “just pick up a pen Michelle, or just start typing!” but getting my thoughts out to write an actual BOOK? Yeah, right!

Part two of this will probably have to do with growing up a reader and being shamed/made fun of for being a book lover. It was a huge problem for me as a kid because I was constantly reading. I’d love to discuss it with fellow book lovers.

So, do people ask you if you want to become an author? Do you plan on writing but struggle to pick up a pen as I do? Are you currently writing your dream novel? Let’s discuss!

Book Review

Review: A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas

 

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Well, it’s been over a week since I’ve finished ACOFAS and I still don’t really know how I feel about it. I got into the first book, ACOTAR, reluctantly since I’ve never been into fantasy. Surprisingly, I loved everything about it. It actually sparked a new love for fantasy that I thought would NEVER happen. I especially loved Feysand in ACOMAF and ACOWAR. However, I think I’m just over it. Their relationship is starting to gross me out. LOL

After reading it and being like WTF where is the plot, I started reading reviews and understanding it a bit more. Believe me, there really is no plot, but I guess the point of it was to show you where the characters are right now after the war. I definitely get that they are all suffering in their own ways. It’s completely understandable. I just wish this was less about Feyre and more about everyone else. I still don’t get what’s up with Nesta and Elain. I really, REALLY hope the next book shows some growth in their characters.

I feel like this isn’t my favorite review for a book, but I honestly don’t even know what to say. I’m not used to novellas to be honest. I’m hopeful the next book will give us some answers.

Did you like this book, or were you just as confused as me?

Book Review

Book Review – Circe by Madeline Miller

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Once in awhile, a book comes along that I know I must have immediately. I’ve known about Circe by Madeline Miller for quite awhile. I even had the release date written in my work planner, that’s how excited I was for it! I could not wait to completely immerse myself in the world of the Titans/Olympians, especially with a book about a goddess witch! When the release date arrived, I realized I didn’t have the budget for it (see my post about book budgeting here).

When I finally picked Circe up, I was completely enamored with it. Not only is this book about learning to overcome your faults, it’s about being a strong woman, facing your fears, and the journey of motherhood.

The book starts out when Circe is young. She is definitely not the favorite of her mother OR father, and is often picked on by her siblings for being different. Her siblings all end up being extremely cruel, while Circe does have her moments, she is not even as close to as evil as her family.

The book revolved completely around Circe and her journey through immortality. She often faces the fact that many around her are mortal and won’t live forever. I loved the men she fell in love with — they were far from perfect, and Circe tells the stories of them in ways that made me believe she never completely gave her heart to anyone except for her son.

I truly enjoyed this book until the end. I loved how she worked with herbs and magic. There were parts that were slow, but overall I really loved getting to know Circe and watching her move through life. The stories of the gods were not fabricated or turned into mushy, sweet fairy tales — they were full of deceit, death and destruction, as they have been told for many, many years.

I gave this book five stars on Goodreads and I plan on reading The Song of Achilles very soon!

 

Book Review

Reading Game of Thrones AFTER Watching the Show and Why I Hate Re-reading

I had a bit of a late start to the Game of Thrones TV show. I started to watch when season five was already out, quickly becoming addicted and in desperate need of more Jon Snow. I’m not sure I’ve ever been more entranced by a show. Every character had major flaws (some more than others!) and the plot was full of layers and twists that you would never think of. After seven seasons, you could say I’m in for the long haul. After I get married in June I plan on taking a nap until next year when season eight comes out 😉

I picked up the first Game of Thrones novel a year ago and started it immediately. For whatever reason, I put it down and  picked up something else.

I recently realized why. If I’ve already seen the show/movie, I already know what happens, and I despise re-reading.

I remember seeing Gone Girl in theaters and hearing that the book was “so much better” than the movie. Of course it is, I thought to myself. They almost always are! So, like the book addict I am, I went and picked up the book afterwards. I read about ten pages and gave up. I don’t know what it is about reading books after seeing the movie. I hate knowing what’s going to happen!

I compare it to guessing the plot of a book before it happens. We’ve all read books where we can guess where it’s going to happen LONG before it does. It’s not our fault, we’re just really good at reading.

I also rarely, if ever, re-read books. When someone asks me what my favorite book is and how many times I’ve read it, I tend to not answer. I have books that I LIKE, definitely. But re-reading them? Ain’t nobody got time for that, especially if your TBR pile is 50+ books!

Despite not reading books where I already know the ending, I am loving Game of Thrones. There is so much more vivid description in the book, and many scenes that never made it into the show, or were changed. I’m loving being able to fully catch up on the tales of Westeros and learn things I missed when I watched the show. One thing I’ve learned from Goodreads reviews is that although the show follows the first book closely, it strays from the rest. So I’m looking forward to that.

Now, if this was the case with every book, maaaaaybe I could become a re-reader. No promises though.

Do you like to re-read? Do you prefer reading the book before seeing the movie? Does it not matter to you if you’ve already seen the movie?