Mini Reviews: Sheets & Ghosts

Found out a very important thing when I was at the library the other day… All the good graphic novels are in the kids section!!! I’ve been going to this library for my entire life (I still have my original library card with my barely legible childhood signature) and once I moved up to the YA and adult sections I kind of stopped going to the children’s section. But now that my brothers are old enough to be getting into chapter books, I’ve started to venture into the middle grade section more and more. For one, it’s super fun to reminisce over all of the books that I recognize over the years, but also I’ver realized that there are so many good books that I’ve wanted to read that are hidden over there!

The graphic novel section in the YA part of my library holds almost exclusively manga (which I’ve never really gotten into) so I was super excited when I went to get my brother a graphic novel from the kids section and I stumbled upon Sheets by Brenna Thummler and Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier! I read them both in one night and was surprised that they carried pretty similar themes so I’ve decided to group them together in this post to review!

So first off is Sheets by Brenna Thummler. This book follows a girl named Marjorie. She’s thirteen and is not only navigating the difficulties of school (boys and P.E. are stressful, definitely relatable) but she’s also running her family’s laundry business completely on her own. Now take in the fact that a ghost named Wendell is starting to cause problems behind the scenes of the store and a conniving “businessman” that’s trying to take the business out from under them this story dives a lot deeper than I ever expected it to.

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First off, I want to say that the artwork in this is stunning. The colors are absolutely gorgeous. I mean look at these!

 

And apart from that, the story is great. The parts with the rude customers hurt my heart but were so highly realistic (and this is coming from someone who works at a dry cleaners so it was very relatable). This book was about healing and growing. While both Marjorie and Wendell have experienced death in one way or another (Marjorie lost her mom and Wendell himself is dead) it was touching to see how they grew into themselves as the story progressed. This was incredibly different than I expected it to be from when I’ve heard people talk about it but I absolutely loved it all the same.

Now the second graphic novel I read was Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier. Raina is a favorite author of mine and I was really excited to finally be able to read this. Ghosts is about a girl named Catrina (Cat) and her sister, Maya. Maya has Cystic Fibrosis (CF) so their family is moving to a coastal town in order to try and see if the sea air will help her lungs. After moving, the sisters find out that there is more to the little coastal town than meets the eye. Spoiler alert: It’s ghosts 😉

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This book was also a lot deeper than I expected it to be and there were a few scenes that got me tearing up. It was a really touching story about a town that embraces those that have died and celebrates their ghosts as they come back. A lot of this story centered around Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and the town enjoying their time with those that have passed away.

I read a number of reviews that I found myself disagreeing with because in the end, I don’t think that this book was supposed to be a history lesson. It was a story in which two girls were trying to learn how to come to terms with the fact that one them is sick. Now CF is slowly becoming less and less of a fatal disease, but it is a lifelong illness that people have to deal with. No matter how much the technology improves, there’s still a chance that someone could die. I mean I closely followed Claire Wineland‘s journey on Youtube while she tried to get a lung transplant and then she ended up passing away from a stroke that was caused by a blood clot after having a successful transplant. The scene in Ghosts where Maya asks Cat if she would be scared of her ghost if she died tore me up inside. And that’s what this story is about. It’s about seeing the inevitability of death and understanding that we can be scared of it, but that doesn’t mean that we have to forget about or be saddened by the people we have lost. We can celebrate and cherish our loved ones for as long as we live.

And maybe this story could have done with the Dia de los Muertos aspects (I personally didn’t read into it as much as some reviewers did) but I think that having those allowed the characters to celebrate their heritage and traditions that not everyone gets to learn about.

I thought that this story was great and although it wasn’t my favorite of Raina’s (Smile still takes the cake) I did really enjoy this story!

I gave both of these books 5 stars and I highly recommend them both.

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Reintroducing Myself

Well hello everyone and happy Saturday!

I’ve realized that I have gotten a lot of new followers recently and I feel like I should reintroduce myself to all you new folks! Also just wanted to sneak this in here and say thank you so much to all of you who have decided to follow my blog. I started this blog in 2015 after I graduated from high school and finally started putting a real effort into it earlier this year and it’s really been a phenomenal addition to my life. Granted, I still feel like I’m talking to myself but every time I get a comment or a like it absolutely makes my day.

I go by Amelia on here because, if I’m being completely honest here, I was at one point so obsessed with Amelia Pond from Doctor Who that I needed to name something after her. And I’m not going to have children so my pen name was thus formed. In case you’re wondering what I look like, well here’s one of the decent selfies I’ve taken recently.

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And, well, to keep it real… Here’s what I look like 75% of the time:

This blog mainly focuses on books but I’m not one that can really follow a niche and I don’t feel like maintaining multiple blogs so you just kind of get whatever I feel like posting each day. I don’t really have a favorite genre, if a book sounds interesting to me I’ll give it a try. In real life I don’t really have a ton of people to talk to so blogging gives me a way to share something with the world and it’s just been a really nice way to feel productive.

Now I’ll share some fun facts with you:

    1. My favorite color is yellow, but I wear almost exclusively black and other dark colors which basically just means I’m covered in pet hair 100% of the time no matter how many times I lint roll my clothing.
    2. My favorite movies are Jurassic Park and The Princess Bride. I even have a Jurassic Park tattoo! I will probably also get a Princess Bride tattoo at some point, I want all the tattoos.
    3. I have dyed my hair far too many times. Over the years I’ve had ever natural hair color a person could have and it’s been every “crazy” color except orange and yellow. But I did want to try those. Right now, though I’m trying to just grow my hair out and heal it from all the bleach it’s dealt with in the past two years.
    4. In sixth grade I got extra credit for being able to spell supercalifragilisticexpialidocious in my band class. Truly a crowning achievement.
    5. As a freshman in college I took an entire class based around Star Wars and to this day I still haven’t watched an entire Star Wars movie from beginning to end. I will say, though, that one of the best research papers I’ve ever done was an argumentative essay in which I was trying to convince my readers that Ewoks are, in fact, evil.
    6. Halloween is my favorite holiday and fall is my favorite season. Give me all the spooks and coziness and I’m one happy camper.
    7. I don’t really have an official bucket list but if I did, the top five things on that list would be: hike the Appalachian Trail, see Machine Gun Kelly in concert, see Dear Evan Hansen, see the Northern Lights, and own a pair of Louboutins (which is just really extravagant but dang I want to rock a red bottom… lol I’m really not even that into fashion most days).
    8. I’m as obsessed with makeup as I am with books. My former therapist used to tell me all the time that I should try going to cosmetology school… That is still up in the air at this point but I’ve seriously considered it. I do really love playing with makeup. Red lipstick makes me feel like such a bad ass. Makeup is one of my biggest forms of self care!
    9. My favorite animals are cats and red pandas (I have four real cats and four stuffed red pandas… Truly living the dream).
    10. My dream is to live someplace with such good public transportation that I don’t have to drive. (AKA I want to live in London)
    11. I was a dancer for 12 years and now can barely do any physical activity thanks to chronic pain and exercise induced asthma 🙂
    12. My favorite number is 13, which is why I’m going to end this with 13 little tidbits
    13. These are my two favorite Youtube videos, I watch them every single time I feel sad. The Mitchell Robbins series by Gus Johnson makes me laugh until I cry every single time I watch it:

So there we have it. Just a fun little bit of info about me. Thank you all again for following and I hope you have a wonderful day!

Review: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

“Broken people don’t hide from their monsters. Broken people let themselves be eaten.”

When I say that this is the book that I have been waiting my whole life to read, I don’t say that lightly. Like there are some books that you read and you enjoy and you move on from and then there are books that open your mouth and crawl down your throat and into your soul… This book crawled into my soul and stuck its tendrils in every nook and cranny and I’m not sure if I could expel it if I tried.

I am…. Very emotional right now. Genuinely cannot stop thinking about this book. Wow. Wow. Wow.

So I read Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia this week. I had heard of this book a few times before now, but I never actually knew what it was about. I knew that it had been compared to both Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell and Radio Silence by Alice Oseman; both of which are books that I related to immensely. It was on the shelf at my library when I was there last weekend so I decided to finally check it out.

Here’s the blurb for the book on Goodreads:

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.

Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.

But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

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I started off with this book not really having any high expectations of the story. Of any sort of these fandom-centered books, Fangirl was still the one that I hold nearest and dearest to my heart. But after reading this, well, that’s all changed.

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I rated this 5/5 stars and I will make my claim here that I genuinely do not think that any book that I read for the rest of the year will top this one. This is- and I cannot stress this enough- my new favorite book.

So I’m going to do this review in two parts. An objective part, which I’ll do real quick first, and then my own personal review in the secondary part.

Eliza and Her Monsters hits on so many aspects of living life as someone who is very online. There are great storylines, good character development, an adorable first romance, intense backstory, this was a familiar story and yet so unique… The mental health representation is spot on and the fact that the author portrayed therapy visits and actually put a character on medication. *Chef’s kiss* For anyone that has grown up in a fandom, grown up loving books or comics or been part of an online community, I highly recommend. It weaves together both the good and bad parts of being online and really highlights the inner strength that it takes to be able to get up and move forward when you really, really don’t want to be around anymore.

This is also a great book that talks about passions and the choices that young people have to make in deciding whether to go on to further education, what to do for work, how to decide what we really want to do for our future. I think it is so important to see books where young people don’t follow the “traditional” path of going to college right out of high school. Not everyone needs to follow that path and it’s important to know that we have options.

On a personal note, this book struck a chord with me that no book ever has before. There were so many parallels within this story that coincided with events in my own life that on more than one occasion I had to set the book down and take a lap around the store that I work at because I was getting overly emotional. (Like I genuinely felt like I was reading my own story and it was the creepiest and most emotional thing I’ve ever felt).

I have never related to two characters more, never seen myself in a book the way that I saw myself in Eliza and Wallace. It tore me in two and then slowly glued me back together. I can’t even say that this is a book that I needed back in high school because genuinely, this is the book that I needed right now. I want to tell everyone to read this book but at the same time I want to keep it to myself because this story felt so personal.

Oh gosh, I’m getting emotional again. *deep breaths* Okay!

So there is a trigger warning for suicide in this book, and while I’m glad I didn’t know about that going into my initial reading, I also know that I probably would have saved myself from a less extreme panic attack when reading the scenes in which this trigger is relevant.

Again, 5/5 stars. Already bought my own copy of this and will probably be rereading before the end of the year.

If you want to pick up your own copy (which I highly urge you to do) here are some links for you:

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

Guilty Reader Book Tag

So Emer over at A Little Haze Book Blog posted this tag the other day (here’s a link to her post) and I immediately knew that I wanted to do this tag as well! It was originally made by ReadsLikeWildfire on YouTube and has since been making the rounds.

I think this is such a fun tag because it really shows how different people can be when it comes to reading habits!

Have you ever said you’ve read a book when you haven’t?

In school? Oh 100%, all the time. Almost every single book that was required of me to read in high school I never finished reading. I got really good at bullshitting my way through every single assignment in my English classes.

And in real life? Yes. Also yes. The main example of this that popped into my head was Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I say she’s one of my favorite authors and that I love her books but in truth I’ve never actually finished one.

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Have you ever borrowed a book and not returned it?

Yes…………

Okay but in my defense I borrowed this book with every intention of returning it. I swear I’m going to return it. I just need to suck it up and ask my professor where I can mail the copy to.

I borrowed a book from one of my professors and then ended up dropping out of that school and couldn’t go anywhere on the campus except the dining hall without panicking so I never went to his office again in order to return the book. And now I live almost three hours away from that school and I’m too chicken to email my professor and apologize for stealing the book and asking him how I can get it back to him.

Have you ever read a series out of order?

Not since I was a kid! At least not any that I can think of! But when I was younger I had this really great skill of finding a book that looked super interesting and then buying it without realizing it was a part of a series… Luckily so many middle grade series have enough introductory information at the beginning of each book that it was easy to get away with. The two that I for sure know I read out of order were the Gilda Joyce series by Jennifer Allison as well as the Gallagher Girl series by Ally Carter.

Also speaking of introductory information in books, the whole time I was writing that sentence in my mind all I could think of was Junie B. Jones (My name is Junie B. Jones, the B stands for Beatrice except I don’t like Beatrice. I just like B and that’s all.) Iconic introduction.

Have you ever spoiled a book for someone?

Yup. Never on purpose but if I really need to talk about a book to someone I’ll usually just ask a friend if they ever intend on reading the book or if they care about spoilers and then just rant to them about whatever I needed to. There’s a good chance I probably spoiled books for my sister while we were growing up as well but she also didn’t start enjoying reading until almost middle school and I talked a lot…

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And on the topic of spoiling books. Somehow in my lifetime I have been immensely lucky with avoiding spoilers, usually I have to seek out spoilers in order to find something out. One thing that I did get spoiled on was Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. My mom told me because she thought that I had already read the book and I still wonder what my reading experience would have been like had I not known of Dumbledore’s fate. Also was that a purposeful spoiler? Maybe… But like Harry Potter is old news at this point lol.

Have you ever dog eared a book?

Definitely! And ripped covers, cracked spines, dropped in water, spilled food on, cried on, written in, etc. etc. My books are well loved and while I used to hoard bookmarks, I genuinely can’t be bothered to keep them around anymore because I literally NEVER use them. Now I tend to just leave my book flipped open to the page I’m on if I’m reading a physical book or if I’m reading a hardcover I use the dust jacket as the bookmark. I try to take good care of my physical books but I’m a mess in every aspect of my life and if I’m being honest, pristine books feel unloved to me.

Have you ever told someone you don’t own a book when you do?

Probably… But only because I’m so bad at knowing what books I do and don’t own anymore. That’s what happens after multiple moves, a lot of decluttering, and a sister who likes to steal books. I have a very general knowledge of what I own but I’m very forgetful and also my e-book collection is something I hardly ever acknowledge so there’s a good chance I’ll forget any of the books that I have on my Kindle.

Have you ever skipped a chapter or a section in a book?

Yes. And I will continue doing so when it comes to things that give me extreme second-hand embarrassment or are triggering.

Have you ever bad mouthed a book you actually liked?

The one thing that immediately comes to mind is Twilight. Because honestly are you a true Twilight fan if you don’t also talk extreme shit about it?

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Other than that I don’t think I’ve ever actually bad mouthed books that I like. With books that I enjoyed that I later found out were really problematic then I voice that I was educated differently but if I genuinely enjoyed the books while I was ignorant to the problematic things then I won’t actively bad mouth it after that.

I guess I am quite the guilty reader… Haha, well this was fun. I will chat with you all again in my next post!

Review: Rebel Girls by Elizabeth Keenan

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I recently received an ARC of Rebel Girls by Elizabeth Keenan from NetGalley in order to review.

Before I get into my thoughts, here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

It’s 1992, and there’s a rumor spreading in Baton Rouge…

When it comes to being social, Athena Graves is far more comfortable creating a mixtape playlist than she is talking to cute boys—or anyone, for that matter. Plus her staunchly feminist views and love of punk rock aren’t exactly mainstream at St. Ann’s, her conservative Catholic high school.

Then a malicious rumor starts spreading through the halls…a rumor that her popular, pretty, pro-life sister had an abortion over the summer. A rumor that has the power to not only hurt Helen, but possibly see her expelled.

Despite their wildly contrasting views, Athena, Helen and their friends must find a way to convince the student body and the administration that it doesn’t matter what Helen did or didn’t do…even if their riot grrrl protests result in the expulsion of their entire rebel girl gang.

In this day and age, this book and the topics within it are just as important as they would have been back in 1992 when this book takes place. However, I found that the way this book was executed fell very short of any expectations I had of this book. I am very aware that I am not the target audience of this book. I’ve recently turned 23 and very much don’t fit in to the young adult age range anymore but I still feel like this book was bad. From my own context of reading this, I could understand why it might appeal to a younger audience however I personally could not find it in myself to appreciate any part of it.

I’m also going to preface this by saying that in my review I will not be talking about the actual debate of pro choice or pro life. Just the way that this book handles it.

I’ve decided to rate this book 1 star.

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***This review contains minor spoilers***

The feminist aspects of this book did not come across the way that I feel like they were intended to solely because the main character, Athena, did not seem to convey why she felt the need to believe the things that she did other than the fact that her Riot Grrl heroes felt that way. This can easily be explained away by her being a teenager because teenagers very easily blindly believe things (I mean I know I did!) but she has the ability to explain why the people she trusts feel the way that they do. So much of Athena’s inner dialogue was her saying sexist things and then backtracking because she “shouldn’t think like that”. There’s no real motivation to her beliefs, she’s still very much sucked into the popularity contests of high school and she falls on the “not like other girls” spectrum at her Catholic school.

The entire book dealt with issues that Athena’s sister, Helen, was encountering but was all told from Athena’s perspective I’m assuming because Helen didn’t have the same beliefs as Athena did so that’s why Athena was chosen to force feed us her thoughts. I really felt like that this book should have been from Helen’s perspective, even if she was pro life. I think that it could have been an interesting character arc for her to go from being strictly pro life to seeing the reasons why people might be pro choice and possibly even changing her beliefs.

I think all of the characters in this book were flat. They were all stereotypes that played into a dramatic high school story. The mean girls, the jocks, the cute boys, the outcasts, etc. It played at being diverse but things like the fact that Sean (Athena’s best friend) was a star football player but hid his love of comics really played into the “everyone must fit their stereotype” line. Sister Catherine was my favorite character in this whole book and she hardly played a big role at all which was really disappointing. I felt like she was also the most realistically portrayed. The guidance counselor character literally made me want to scream. I cannot believe that there was a character that demeaning and malicious written in to this book… Same with the lady that worked at the “fake abortion” clinic. I am well aware of how much fear mongering goes in to pro life campaigns but I can’t imagine why the pro life characters in this book needed to be so graphically rude. Or the locker scene, oh my dear lord the locker scene literally made me sick to my stomach with rage.

Before I can get too angry, like I’m trying really hard to keep my thoughts straight here… But I just think this book lacked empathy. Athena was one of the most unempathetic characters ever. I understand that she’s a teenager but if this book is supposed to center around her younger sister being bullied because of rumors surrounding an alleged abortion I just think it’s in poor taste that the first 100 pages of this book revolve around a crush. I felt like Helen was the only character who really “grew” throughout the book and I wish that she would have been the main character instead of Athena.

In the end, I feel like the message in this book had the potential to be something really good but I spent the entire book getting more and more frustrated over everything. The overall plot wasn’t even revealed until 100+ pages into the book because the first quarter was filled with fluff about crushes and typical school drama. This also had an incredible lack of empathy towards any character. There was so much cruelness from multiple characters that it physically hurt to read. And if that was the point to try and bring shock value into getting teenagers to believe in being pro choice, well, then I guess this book did that? I wish I could say that I wanted to recommend this but I can’t.

 

Middle Grade Monday: Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Happy Monday and welcome to a new series on Adventures With A Side Of Espresso!

Ever since I created my The Books That Shaped Me (1, 2, 3) posts I have wanted to reread and read so many middle grade books. So without further ado, welcome to the first ever Middle Grade Monday!! This is going to be a series published on random Mondays where I discuss either middle grade books that I have reread or new books that I have picked up. I’m really excited to do this!

And if you have no idea what middle grade is, well that’s the category of books that is geared towards kids aged 8-12!

So when I was in third grade, I picked up Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix from my elementary school library and it very quickly became my new favorite book. I read it once a year after that until I was finished with elementary school and recently picked up my own copy of it from a thrift store so I had to reread it. Margaret Peterson Haddix has so many unique books that I highly recommend checking out any of them if you’re interested in reading middle grade books.

In picking up this to reread I was really interested in seeing if this book held up. It was originally published in 1995 and I think that’s going to be my main purpose in rereading books.

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Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

Jessie lives with her family in the frontier village of Clifton, Indiana. When diphtheria strikes the village and the children of Clifton start dying, Jessie’s mother sends her on a dangerous mission to bring back help. But beyond the walls of Clifton, Jessie discovers a world even more alien and threatening than she could have imagined, and soon she finds her own life in jeopardy. Can she get help before the children of Clifton, and Jessie herself, run out of time?

Basically, Jessie has grown up for her entire life believing that she’s living in the 1800’s and when kids within her village begin getting sick, Jessie’s mom reveals to her that it’s actually 1996 and they are living in an historical tourist attraction. Now, put yourself into the shoes of a nine year old… Is this not a mind-blowing concept or what??

In terms of this holding up today, I think it does. There are some offhand comments about “Indians” but in looking at this as if the main character in the book was living in the 1800’s, well, it’s a good learning point to explain why viewpoints have changed since then. I found reading this to be stressful even as an adult and I already knew every twist and turn that this book took! And I wish that I could say that this book wouldn’t hold up because of the outrageous concept but like cults happen and other crazy stuff happens even now which still just blows my mind what people can get away with.

If you know of any kids that are into fast paced and stressful books, this is a dang good thriller. It’s 184 pages but it packs a punch, there isn’t a single dull moment in the entire thing. 5/5 stars!

Oh and then, as I was talking to my mom about this book the other day when we were forcing my brothers to pick out books to read at the library she told me that there’s a movie based around this sort of concept too. So catch me watching The Village pretty soon now because I really want to see a cinematic version of this. It still amazes me how much of an impact a book that I read 10+ years ago can have on me even today. I highly recommend.

 

 

August Favorites 2019

Books:

Usually I try and only put one book in my favorites each month just because I also do a wrap up post but there were three books that I loved so much that I really couldn’t choose. They’re also all from different genres so I might as well share them all!

You can check out my August wrap-up here, as well as my individual reviews for Graceling and The Right Swipe here and here.

Other Media:

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Lover… I mean this is no surprise. I’ve listened to this so many times. Had it on repeat in my car every day during my drive to and from work.

My unofficial official ranking of the songs as of right now is:

  1. Paper Rings
  2. London Boy
  3. Cruel Summer
  4. I Forgot That You Existed
  5. The Man
  6. Lover
  7. I Think He Knows
  8. Cornelia Street
  9. False God
  10. Afterglow
  11. Soon You’ll Get Better
  12. You Need To Calm Down
  13. ME!
  14. Miss Americana & The Heartbreak Prince
  15. Daylight
  16. It’s Nice To Have A Friend
  17. Death By A Thousand Cuts
  18. The Archer

Gus Johnson

Gus is my favorite YouTuber and has been for about a year now. He’s absolutely hilarious and is just so genuine and good. His Mitchell Robbins series is my go-to when I’m really sad, I physically cannot make it through one of those videos without crying from laughing so hard. With how stressed out I’ve been I’ve spent hours rewatching his videos and I can say I definitely didn’t regret that.

Make-Up/Skincare:

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I was shopping at Target with no list in mind, which is obviously never a good idea but it’s fine………….. Anyways, I was in the market for a new face mask so I decided to pick up this one. I am definitely still in the learning curve of mixing it (the clay comes in powder form so you have to mix it with water) but I was hooked the first time I used it. Honestly my skin had not been softer in months before trying it out. I was shocked! I’ve been trying to use face masks at least twice a week because I’ve been wearing makeup much more frequently and I’m glad I tried this one.

Also does anyone have any recommendations for good face masks? I’m looking for a nice peel off one for sure and maybe a good hydrating one.

Clothes/Accessories:

Fabletics leggings. Before I bought any from Fabletics I was obsessed with a pair that I have from Old Navy but they no longer sell the kind that I like so I had to move on to other brands to try and find replacements. The first few pairs I bought from Fabletics were patterned and I never wore them so I just figured I didn’t really like them… But then I bought solid colored ones and I’ve been wearing them constantly since then.

I definitely don’t like how hard it is to cancel a membership from the company once you’ve started one but I’ve just started setting calendar reminders on my phone to go skip my subscription charge each month.

Oh and along with the leggings I’ve gotten two tops and a bra and I really like those too! They fit nicely and are so comfortable!

Food/Drinks:

Chai tea ❤

This is my go-to warm drink from any coffee place and it’s been cold enough to order warm drinks again so I’ve been drinking a LOT of chai recently.

Pacific Chai is my favorite brand for instant chai mixes and I personally love the vanilla one.

Has tea been my favorite for like every single one of these posts? Whoops!

Other:

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I’ve been using this for a few months now to slowly clear out my closet and earn a little money back. Unfortunately though, I’ve recently learned how nice this is to find pieces that I really want so most of the money I’ve earned has just gone to purchase other stuff off of here.

I found a really cute Halloween sweatshirt a couple weeks ago and I also got a jacket that I had seen in Old Navy last year that I loved but couldn’t splurge on at the time.

This solar powered lantern

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It is tiny but mighty!! I used it during my camping trip to Itasca and it was awesome! It is also pretty affordable too which is exactly what I was going for when I was looking for supplies.

That about sums up what I loved this past month! I read a lot of good books, drank a lot of tea, and listened to a lot of great music. What did you love in August?

Book Review: Filter This by Sophie White

Hey everyone! Today I’m going to be reviewing my first ARC from my whole list of September releases.

The book in question is Filter This by Sophie White and here is the blurb from Goodreads:

Ali Jones is hell-bent on achieving her #lifegoals: 10,000 Instagram followers and a win at the upcoming Glossie Influencer Awards. So when she inadvertently leads people to believe she is sporting a baby bump and immediately gains thousands of followers, she realises that the Mummy Influencer wave could be her ticket to Insta-success, even if off-screen it feels like her life is falling apart with what’s happening to her beloved dad.

But then Tinder Sam, Ali’s one-night-stand, resurfaces and seems determined to take his new role as baby daddy seriously. And falling for Sam is definitely not part of Ali’s plan.

Meanwhile, Ireland’s biggest influencer (and Ali’s idol) Shelly Divine has it all … at least on paper. But beneath the immaculately curated feed, cracks are appearing. Shelly harbours a secret from her followers and, more importantly, her husband – but who will be the first to discover what she’s been hiding?

As the Glossies approach, what will it take for the women realise what’s truly important before they lose what matters most?

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So when I requested this I knew what the plot was going into it… But like I must have really not been paying that much attention because honestly if I had realized that this whole thing revolved around a faked pregnancy I probably would have passed on it. I feel very conflicted with my rating on this solely because I cannot understand how anyone could possibly be okay with faking a pregnancy for social media clout but I’ll go more into detail with that later in my review.

In the end, I’ve settled on 3/5 stars.

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I guess I’ll preface the whole review by saying that I in no way support the plot that the author put together. The faked pregnancy is a really bad take on faking something for social media, I think the worst part was the fact that the main character, Ali, actually let her one night stand believe that he had knocked her up. That is so incredibly manipulative and gross and I hated that part of this book more than I can put into words.  FAKING A PREGNANCY ISN’T CUTE. LYING TO THE MAN THAT THINKS HE KNOCKED YOU UP IS MANIPULATIVE AS HELL.

In other terms of things that I didn’t like about this plot:

  • Ali’s drinking problem. There are so many pieces of media in which heavy drinking is portrayed as much less of a problem than it is. Binge drinking is a really toxic behavior and it shouldn’t be played off as a typical young person thing in the way that it is.
  • This book isn’t going to be timeless. It’s full of modern pop culture references and does nothing to mask that fact. I know that social media isn’t going anywhere anytime soon but I feel like it’s hard for all of these books that focus in so much on what is going on *right now* to be relevant in a few years time.
  • There were many chances to go in depth about losing a parent early due to illness and also to postpartum depression and yet NEITHER of these plot points were ever discussed beyond surface level. Both Ali and Shelley (the character that has the secondary viewpoint of the book) had the opportunity to go on big sprawling character developing arcs and yet I really don’t think either changed by the end of the book.
  • And with that there’s supposed to be a sequel. In which, obviously, Ali and Shelley are most likely going to try and redeem themselves. I just feel like that’s an excuse to leave this book underdeveloped and lacking in substance. None of the main characters meant anything to me and in fact, I really didn’t find myself invested in Ali or Shelley as people either. Very flat and surface level for the entire book.

Now the things that I liked about this book were:

  • It was funny. Like I snorted about some of the things that happened. It was outrageous some of the things the women in this book do for a simple “like”.
  • If you really think about it, this book portrays an outrageous story about women who do outrageous things in order to maintain clout on the internet. I feel like a book like this would be one that could be dissected and compared to real life in order to show just how far people will go to be popular. I find social media to be so toxic at times and I feel like if you’re reading this book in the right mindset then it illustrates exactly that. Like this book was messy… I mean in the first few chapters Ali literally put together a moldy bowl of oats in order to have a perfect breakfast shot and then promptly ate a cheesy croissant instead. I just know there are people out there that do this kind of stuff and it makes my stomach churn at the thought of needing to cultivate such a perfect life.

So is this the next great book? Oh by no means. But if you’re looking for something quick and funny to read, this could be up your alley.

 

August Reading Wrap Up: 2019

August was a pretty good reading month! In general it was a very busy month and I’m surprised that I read as much as I did! Now that I’m back in school my reading has already slowed down but I’m hoping that I can pull out some decent posts and reviews for September.

If a book has ** next to it, that means the book was an ARC that I received from NetGalley or the publisher in exchange for my honest review 🙂

100 Days of Sunlight by Abbie Emmons**

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2/5 stars

You can read my full review here. It’s a shame such a beautiful cover was given to such a disappointing book. I had such high hopes but it really let me down.

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai**

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5/5 stars

Y’all… Alisha Rai announced her next book in this romance world a few weeks ago and I shrieked when I saw the tweet. I CAN’T WAIT. The Right Swipe was so good and so heartwarming and it just made me feel all the feels. Such a diverse cast of characters and a kick ass main female lead. I found this book incredibly relatable to my own views on love and relationships and I highly recommend picking it up!

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno

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5/5 stars

I was really pleasantly surprised by this book. It made me feel full and sentimental. It’s full of magical realism and family and friends and feelings. I highly recommend it. Great LGBT+ representation and while it surrounded a dark topic I felt that it was all handled well and the book was just beautiful in the end. So unique and engrossing.

(TW: Rape)

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

Bloodlust and Bonnets by Emily McGovern

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4/5 stars

This was available on NetGalley and it’s by the creator of one of my favorite webcomics (My Life as a Background Slytherin) so I had to get my hands on this. It was hilarious!! So satirical about romance tropes and plots and I found myself laughing out loud on numerous occasions through the whole course of reading.

The only reason I docked a star was just because the pacing and plot was not always easy to follow. I got confused by the characters multiple times and there were some cases where I had absolutely no idea what was going on. Not really sure if this was the intention or if that’s just a result of it all.

Still loved it though and this comes out on September 17 if you’re interested in checking it out for yourself!

Preorder links: Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

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5/5 stars

Working on collecting all of Sarah Dessen’s books and rereading them as I go. I actually changed my rating from the first time I had read this book to now. Originally I had rated it 3 stars because I didn’t like the main character. Now though, I could see the reasons why I was frustrated with the main character but I think Dessen wrote this book really well with how Macy dealt with grieving and healing.

I’m pretty sure these will always be my favorite YA contemporaries. This is a good story about learning how to be yourself and make decisions that are good for you and not just following what others want for you.

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

What You Did by Claire McGowan**

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3/5 stars

So I completely forgot that I had gotten approved for this on NetGalley and ended up borrowing it from Kindle Unlimited. At least I realized after the fact and submitted a review on NetGalley *face palm*.

Anyways, this was a really average domestic thriller. The characters were beyond frustrating so if you can’t look past the idiotic choices that people might make because they’re trying to preserve themselves then this might not be the book for you. There were two parallel timelines and also the perspective changed at seemingly random increments and those aspects seemed completely unnecessary. The overall plot started off really strong but went downhill to the point where I was kind of skimming to get to the end. It was really predictable but I say that about almost every thriller I read.

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

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5/5 stars

I did it. I found a good thriller (I’m referencing this post when I say this). Also I wanted to say that apparently I lied in that post because I was going through my Goodreads the other day in order to come up with recommendations for another post I’m working on and I rated a Gillian Flynn book five stars? I need to go reread that now to see what I was so hyped up about with that.

So this book was so gripping and while I figured out aspects of it over the course of the book there was one point that literally BLEW MY MIND and I flew through the rest of the book after that. I stayed up until almost midnight on a weeknight to finish this and while I highly regretted that at work the next morning it was so worth it.

If you’re looking for a book with a good twist, pick this one up and give it a try. This also had really great pacing and I never felt like it dragged which is an issue I’m having with so many thrillers I’ve read.

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

The Poison Garden by A.J. Banner**

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3/5 stars

This book was zooming straight for 2 stars until I got to the ending. This was another pretty standard domestic thriller. While I think that if you’re well versed with the genre you might not enjoy this as much, if you’re new to thrillers I think that you could enjoy this.

The Poison Garden comes out on October 22 and I’ll be posting a review around that date where I go in depth with my thoughts for this.

Preorder links: Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

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5/5 stars

This is still my absolute favorite book and it was quite an emotional reread. My best friend and I were actually together while I was reading this and she was rereading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and we basically both just sat there reading passages of our books back and forth to each other.

You can check out my post about my reread here.

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

The Queens of Animation by Nathalia Holt**

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4/5 stars

This book comes out in October and I got an ARC from NetGalley and honestly I was so excited when I saw that I was approved for it!! I absolutely love Disney and some of my favorite non-fiction books involve learning about women’s roles in big industries from the past.

My only issues with this came from confusion of the timeline but I’ll be posting a full discussion closer to the release date. If you’re interested in learning more about the history of women working in animation then I would highly recommend picking this up. I learned so many things and I was surprised at just how much work went into animation back in the day. It’s just amazing what went into those old Disney movies.

Preorder links: Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

Rebel Girls by Elizabeth Keenan**

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1/5 stars

This book made me want to chuck my computer out the window so much. I don’t want to say that I hated the book… But I kind of hated this book. This book could have been groundbreaking in the YA community because it completely surrounds the topic of abortion which is a really heavy topic as of late but this missed the mark on numerous occasions.

I’ll be posting an in depth review with spoilers in it once this book is released. And I will say that while I can see why people would like this, I just think that it pushed the wrong messages unknowingly. Oof, just thinking about this is getting me heated. Writing my full review is going to be tons of fun. I’ve been avoiding it because I don’t want to get angry again.

Preorder links: Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

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5/5 stars

I really needed this reread. Also this second time around I realized that I have a lot of issues with Alex? But also I relate to him a lot so I’m just leaving my rating at 5 stars because I don’t think his opinions and actions are outrageously bad for his age.

Here’s the link to my original review of this!

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

I also did a whole post where I did mini reviews of five poetry collections which you can find here. The five books featured in that post were the ones I’ve inserted the covers of below and all my thoughts and ratings about these are in my post which I’ll link again here.

 

 

And with that, I want to know what you read in August. Anything you loved? Anything you hated? What are you looking forward to reading in September?

Mini Reviews: 5 Modern Poetry Collections

In the past week I read a number of modern poetry collections. One in particular that I really wanted to review but since I read so many I decided to throw them all in this post and talk about them all at once with some mini reviews.

The Sweetest Kind of Poison by Katie Wismer

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5/5 stars

Coming from someone who has been in more than one toxic relationship this book hurt me, so much. It was beautifully composed and every single poem stood out to me in one way or another.

I applaud Katie for speaking from her truth and publishing this. Talking about stuff like this can be so tough but I personally find it incredibly healing to read things that I can relate to knowing that I am not alone in my situation.

If you have ever been in a toxic relationship and you are able to read about the situation then I highly recommend this collection.

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

Water Runs Red by Jenna Clare

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2/5 stars

This was a really creative collection, with the photography and everything it was very pretty but that was about all I enjoyed about it. I found the poetry itself to be quite pretentious and I just didn’t connect to a lot of it.

One of my biggest issues was that the devil was referred to throughout the entire thing as “she” and from my perspective this was borderline misogynistic? Just because then there was a lot of faith talk where God remained a “He” and was the savior. It made me uncomfortable. I get that this book was supposed to be about mostly friend breakups but it came across more as girl hate than it did being emotionally distraught over losing a friend. The entire thing just felt so bitter and as someone who is trying to learn better at moving on form things that have hurt me, I couldn’t connect to this.

I also wasn’t a fan of how it bounced from these friendships to seemingly random poems about things like the 2016 election and colonization and the references to Taylor Swift and other pop culture just felt unoriginal I guess.

I think that a lot of people would love this, though, so I would still recommend it. And if you have Kindle Unlimited you can read it for free.

Amazon // Book Depository

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

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I finally picked up this to read. It was really cheap on the Kindle so I decided to give it a chance. I can see why it became such a huge phenomenon after publication. There were many poems in this that I found to be really well composed and that definitely struck a chord with me, however, I think that there were many where that fell flat for me.

This really didn’t impress me but it didn’t have any major glaring issues. I feel like as an introduction to modern poetry you could enjoy this.

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

the witch doesn’t burn in this one by Amanda Lovelace

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4/5 stars

I really liked the way that this started off reading like a fairytale. I think that if that vibe had really continued through the whole thing then I could have rated this five stars but in the end it just felt a bit thrown together. It went from feeling like storytelling to just writing poems about modern stuff.

Also, if I’m going to be truly honest in my review here, it seems like Water Runs Red took a lot of inspiration from this. Like it really felt as if the two could be combined into one collection and I wouldn’t be able to differentiate between the two.

I’m somewhat interested in picking up Amanda’s other poetry collections but I don’t think that I’ll do it anytime soon unless I could get a hold of a free copy.

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

in the absence of the sun by Emily Curtis

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5/5 stars

It took me a while to decide on my rating for this one. It was very short and I flew through it in a matter of minutes. I found the poems to be incredibly relatable to situations that I’ve been through and wow it just gave me all those feelings that I also have when I am awake too long after the sun goes down.

I think this collection did a really good job of capturing those thoughts that race through your head after the rest of the world has fallen asleep. I just wish there would have been some more poems included.

Amazon // Book Depository

I think I’m learning that a lot of what goes into my ratings for poetry collections is my overall emotion once I’m done reading it. After this marathon of reading poetry I will definitely be taking a break and don’t intend on picking up another poetry book any time soon. I definitely think I burnt myself out!

And now that it is finally September I would like to wish you all a happy pre-Halloween. Hoping to get up my August wrap up and favorites this week as well as finish all of my homework without having too many crying spells. I hope September treats us all well.