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Books

Reading Jane Austen: The Beginning

I’ve got to admit something to you guys…

So I’ve been saying for YEARS now that Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors. And now I must admit that I have never actually read an entire book of hers. Yes, that’s right, I have never read an entire book of Jane Austen’s before. I’m honestly kind of embarrassed to actually be typing this out, like I went to Bath in England a couple years ago and cried when I realized I was walking where Jane Austen once walked and I bought multiple books of hers and about her whilst on that trip and STILL have never read an entire book!

I have gotten about halfway through Pride and Prejudice numerous times (like more times than I can recall at this point) and I’ve also read about half of Northanger Abbey. And I honestly really do feel embarrassed to say that. So that is why I have decided to challenge myself to read all of Jane Austen’s books and document that process on the blog, you know, just to hold myself accountable.

I pulled out my complete collection of her novels that I bought in London back in 2017. I have that really pretty set that’s been published too (picture inserted below) but those books (along with my copy of the book Jane Austen at Home) have been packed in a box someplace and I’m not sure if/when I’ll ever see those again! I’ll be reading and trying to annotate each book as I go. I think also instead of reading these books in the order that they’ve been put into this book I’ll be reading them as I see fit to read them. Which means I think I’ll begin with Lady Susan because I have honestly never heard of that before!

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So to make a long story short, I’m going to stop pretending to be the biggest Jane Austen fan of all time and actually get my butt in gear and read her books for real! Let’s hope I still love her as much at the end of this as I do right now!

Also if any of you have suggestions as to what order I should read her books in let me know!

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Books

Review: Whisper to Me

Whisper to Me by Nick Lake is about a girl who hears a voice and the 500 page apology email that she sends to this boy explaining why she is the way she is.

I was not a fan of this book at all. It’s over 500 pages long and I skimmed over half of it.

I give it 1/5 stars and do not recommend it to anyone.

I think the formatting of the book was really jumpy, I know it was supposed to mimic an email but to read it in book form was really confusing. I think it could have been improved if it were an actual back and forth email between Cassie and this boy instead of just one long email from Cassie trying to explain herself to this boy.

I didn’t get the whole gist of the relationship between Cassie and this boy but I was really not a fan of how it was written. I was really disappointed in the fact that the author portrayed Cassie as being “cured” when the boy was around. This is one of those YA tropes that I can’t stand! Guys are not the answer to mental health help.

Now if I was this boy, I would not be excited to read 500 pages of this story. There was a lot of this story that could have been cut out. A lot of details and side stories that I felt were unnecessary. The first 200 pages or so were decently written and I was interested in the story, but then it started to drag on and on and I got tired of reading the same things over and over again.

Overall, I think this book was poorly written and a poor representation of recovery from a mental illness. Lake doesn’t even properly label it a mental illness and Cassie takes her recovery into her own hands instead of consulting professionals. She hides what is going on with her and lies to multiple people about what she’s doing with her treatment.

Again, I don’t recommend this book at all.

Hope you all have a great Tuesday.

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Books In Medias Res

Toxic Relationships in YA

This topic goes deeper than the idea that a guy can fix all of a girl’s problems (although this is a topic that I could chat about on a different day). It is about the fact that there are multiple books out there that now illustrate controlling, toxic relationships as healthy and good.

When I was younger, I would idolize these types of relationships. I thought they were what everyone should want. But then I grew up and I learned about abuse and feminism and how what I idolized was destroying people on a daily basis.

Here’s a really poignant video from Whitney (aka whittynovels) about the topic. I highly recommend that you watch it before continuing on reading my post.

I’m not going to go in depth with what I think about the examples that she discussed because I really hope that you all watched the video because I feel like she did a really good job at expressing this topic.
I know someone who was in a severely toxic relationship and they didn’t even know that they were in a relationship that was abusive because it reflected so many other relationships they had seen and read about. It is not okay or romantic to be abused. Angst is not romance. Threats of nonconsensual behavior is not okay. The creepy sleep watching scene from Twilight? You guessed it: NOT OKAY.
The media normalizes what we see. It desensitizes us from violence and misbehavior because of how much we see certain things. We are sold problematic media until we think that this is normal.
Instead, we need to normalize healthy relationships and independence. We need to protect young men and women and illustrate behavior that is not controlling, not abusive. We need to discuss problems in these “romantic” books and support authors that write stories that are healthy. We need to stand up for feminist works and highlight healthy behaviors or highlight negative behaviors in a negative way. We need to stop highlighting negative behaviors as positive.
I am done idealizing relationships that are unhealthy. I want to idealize equality in relationships and I hope that y’all are with me. Have a great weekend everyone.
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Books

Review: Once and For All

Oh how excited I was to read this newest book by Sarah Dessen! Ever since she announced that a new book was on the way I have been waiting to get my hands on it! I was pumped to see it in my library the day it came out, usually books like this would have me on the waiting list until August! So as soon as I checked it out I was reading it and basically didn’t put it down until I was done! Sarah’s books are some of my favorite guilty pleasure reads and I enjoyed every minute of this one.

Once and For All is about Louna, the daughter of a wedding planner, who is very cynical about the idea of love.

Here’s my review:

4/5 stars

So overall I really enjoyed the book. It was a pretty typical read by Sarah Dessen and I have continually enjoyed all of her recent releases. I’m not as big of a fan as her older books.

Now I love my cheesy contemporary books so I could rave about this book all day. It was cute with an interesting story about Louna’s lost love. I think that it was highly predictable in the standard contemporary young adult novel way so if you’re not into that then I would pass on the book. I do feel like the characters in this novel fell a bit flat for me and I really wish I would’ve seen them more developed. William was a joy to have in the story and I loved that she had the LGBT+ representation. It also had me overjoyed that William was not so stereotypically gay as some authors make men in contemporary novels.

SPOILERS AHEAD:


I applaud Sarah for speaking about gun violence in this book. When I found out that Louna’s first boyfriend died in a school shooting I was shocked and my heart just dropped. It was not what I was expecting at all. Sarah is very open about her opinions about gun violence on her social media and she is a huge advocate to minimize violence so I was very happy that she brought some of this into her book. I wish that Louna would have been more of an advocate against violence or would’ve spoken more about this but I can understand from her story and personality that she was still grieving throughout the book.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants something fun and lovely to read for the summer. It was bright and healing and a perfect thirteenth novel for Sarah Dessen.

Happy Monday everyone, have a wonderful week!

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Books In Medias Res

Review: Gemina

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Just finished reading this gorgeous book the other day. It’s the sequel to the book Illuminae by the same authors. It follows Hanna and Nik, two new characters, as they try to protect their home. Here’s a link to the Goodreads page for a better description.

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Now I really enjoyed this book. It was super fast paced and addictive and I liked it a lot better than the first book. However, I did have some issues with it. Overall I would give it a 4/5 and I recommend this trilogy to anyone who enjoys scifi and survival stories.

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Side note: This book, like Illuminae, has super cool formatting with IM conversations and whatnot but the best part of this book? IT HAS JOURNAL ILLUSTRATIONS. Like give me journal entries and I will be so happy, give me illustrated journal entries and I will be the happiest girl on the face of the earth. And these illustrations are gorgeous too! My favorite parts of the book.

Anyways…

On to the spoilers!!! (And complaints)

This book was literally the same formatting as the first book. Girl doesn’t like boy, boy flirts, girl starts to fall for boy, boy and girl must save everyone and themselves, boy “dies”, they fall in love, THE END. I couldn’t get over the fact that it was the same story line. It was so physically painful!

Also every character was a stereotype…

Russian mob crime family

Overprotective single father

Spoiled rich girl

New boy that everyone loves who turns out to be someone else

There was no substance to the characters, it’s all stuff I’ve seen before and I honestly was really disappointed in the whole super stereotypical thug Russian family. Then there was the whole out of the blue “oh yeah, there’s actually a parallel universe” thing was just weird. Intriguing but so, so weird. I’m really hoping for more of an explanation in the third book to all the science stuff because if not I will be highly disappointed. So much is being left unexplained and just absurd. There are so many holes that need to be filled and so much science behind things that needs to be explained in order for me to better understand stuff. Like I understand that it’s fiction but come on! Make things sound plausible and not crazy.

This book was a highly emotional read and I really loved it, but I hope to see some improvement in book three.

So with that wonderful end to my review, I hope you all have a wonderful afternoon.

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Books

Reading David Mitchell

Last year, I read Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell at the suggestion of my boyfriend and I really enjoyed it! However, I liked the movie more. This year, I decided to read The Bone Clocks, also by David Mitchell.

Now that I’ve read two of his books, I’ve noticed a trend. I love the beginnings of the books, I loved the ends of the books, but somewhere in between I get hopelessly lost. Now with Cloud Atlas, it switched up narrators more often and I was definitely a fan of some sections more than others, so it was more of a trend throughout the book than just the beginning and the end. However with The Bone Clocks I ended up skimming a lot of the middle chunk because I was not hooked at all.

I don’t know if it’s just the style of writing that he uses for certain narrators or if it’s the stories themselves but I get so bored reading over half of his novels! I definitely wish it wasn’t like this because I really do enjoy the books in entirety. The stories are so thought provoking and interesting and I love finding out how all the stories connect in the end.

I’m not big on not finishing books, I usually stick it out to the end, and with these reading to the end is worth it because everything tends to pick up once all the middle is out of the way.

I guess this is my way of brining up hard to finish books. What is your criteria for not finishing a book? For me, I usually DNF a book by page 200, sometimes sooner if I just really don’t like the book. My reading tastes have changed pretty drastically in the past few years and I’m also a lot more selective with what I read. I DNF a lot more books than I used to and I’m quick to judge.

I’ll be honest with you all, I’m definitely a person that judges books by their covers. I’ve stopped reading a lot of contemporary because their covers make me cringe. I’m not a fan of mass market books, because of bad covers and I’m very very picky with YA books. I definitely have to be in the right mood to read certain genres, actually make that all genres. If I try to read a book when I’m not ready to read that genre I will not enjoy the book.

So what kinds of books do you guys enjoy reading? I’m a really wide reader, I like anything from contemporary to high fantasy, nonfiction to science fiction and just about everything in between. What keeps you reading a book if it’s not the best and do you guys DNF books at all?

I have a huge stack of books that I got for Christmas/bought myself (I just found out last week that there’s a Half Price Books about 20 minutes away from my house) and I’m super excited to read them! (I also have a box of books that I’m planning on selling to the store as soon as I have a chance to get back there).

Well, my experience with David Mitchell books has been quite interesting. I like the books, but at the same time I don’t. I keep reading them simply because I know there are good chunks that I know I’ll enjoy. Books are weird and I find it interesting that with these books being narrated by multiple characters I feel like that definitely has an influence, some of these narrators are awful! And their storylines aren’t that great either.

Hope you all have a great day.

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Books

The Distance From Me To You

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I purchased The Distance From Me To You by Marina Gessner a few weeks ago and read it in less than 24 hours.

It’s about a girl named McKenna who is planning on hiking the Appalachian Trail with her best friend before they go off to college. Unfortunately for McKenna, her best friend backs out on her last minute. Instead of canceling the trip, McKenna decides to hike the trail by herself. She heads out on her own and along the way meets Sam. Sam is a guy who has dropped out of school and run away from an abusive home life. They fall in love and lot’s of trials and tribulations happen (standard contemporary book stuff, you know?). The book is full of lots of obstacles and hiking and I really enjoyed it.

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This book was a really easy read. The story went by really quickly and the ending really made me want a sequel, I would love to read more about McKenna and Sam.

Lately I’ve been really into these “adventure” stories. It’s been so dreary and cold here that to read these types of books makes me a little less sad that it’s still winter and a little more excited about being able to go hiking this spring and summer.

Two criticisms that I had about the story are the sections regarding hiking, and the insta-love component. I would have appreciated more detail regarding the actual hike, more about the trail and the towns and what really goes into hiking the Appalachian Trail. I liked that the author included a lot at the beginning about all of the training that McKenna did but once she got on the trail it really seemed like she just hiked. There wasn’t a ton of detail regarding what she did when she wasn’t hiking or what the towns she stopped off in were like. The other aspect that I didn’t like, the insta-love, I really should have seen coming. The love was mentioned in the summary on the cover flap so I saw it coming and since it is a contemporary novel I figured it was going to be pretty insta-lovey, but it still bugs me whenever it happens.

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I rated this book 5/5 stars on Goodreads and recommend it to anyone who enjoys adventure stories. Or contemporary books. It was an easy read and had a great balance of light-hearted and serious tones and story lines. It wasn’t the perfect story by any means, but I still loved it.

Have any of you guys read this book? If so, what did you think about it?

Hope you all have a great day.

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Books

Wild by Nature

Have you guys ever heard of the website Goodreads?

If not, it’s this really awesome website where you can keep track of books you’ve read, books you want to read, quotes from books you like, all those kinds of things.

They also have this great section where you can sign up to win free books! I’ve entered probably 3o giveaways and won exactly two. It’s still fun though and totally worth it if you can actually get a book you’ve been eyeing for a while for free.

The first book that I won off of Goodreads is called Wild by Nature and it’s written by a woman named Sarah Marquis.

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The book chronicles her journey as she walks from Siberia to Australia by herself. Sarah is an explorer from Switzerland and she is so cool!!! (Seriously, check out her Instagram, @explorer_sarahmarquis) According to her website she was elected Adventurer of 2013 in Europe and was the National Geographic Adventurer Nominee of 2014.

I got her book in the mail a few weeks ago and ended up reading it pretty quickly. I had read an article about her right after she finished her last expedition in Australia so I was really interested in picking up this book and learning more about Sarah and her adventures.

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The day I finished her book I was home alone at my dad’s house on my first day of Thanksgiving break so I figured, why not have a book/breakfast photoshoot on the back porch?

Anyways, overall I was really entertained while reading this book and I thought it was really interesting. However, there were parts when I definitely feel like we needed backstory as to why things were happening the way they were or something would be said and I wouldn’t understand what had happened until 10 pages later when the background information was introduced. I feel like a lot of my “discomfort” while reading would probably be explained by the fact that Sarah is not a native English speaker.
I really would have liked more information into the background of what it takes to make a trip like this, I would’ve loved a chapter that was based completely around the logistics, all the gear, the plans, the timeframes, stuff like that.
I also feel like the maps at the beginning of each chapters, while helping to see the route she took, were kind of spoilers, they included information about what happened while she was walking when that information might not be shared for whole chapters. I felt like Sarah really talked about her journey really honestly and I appreciated it a lot, I just wish I could’ve known more about her experiences, I would’ve loved more detail.

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I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book (I gave it 4/5 stars), and while there were definitely parts of it that I would want to change to let me enjoy it even more, I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has ever dreamed of going on crazy hiking adventures.

“Let your soul touch the earth… go walking”

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Books

Reading List: September

 I’m officially all moved into college, Welcome Weekend is finished, and today I had my first class!

Here are the books that I’m planning on reading this month. As you can tell I’m not being very ambitious because I really have no idea what is in store for me in these next few weeks.

First up is Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella. I’ve heard amazing things about this book and as it is written by Sophie Kinsella I have a feeling that I’ll probably love it. This book is about a girl named Audrey who wears dark sunglasses all the time due to an anxiety disorder that she has developed. It follows her life as she tries to recover. As someone who has an anxiety disorder I’m very much looking forward to reading this book just to see how her anxiety is portrayed. I expect I’ll be posting a review of this on here when I’m finished with it so look out for that in the next two weeks.

I feel like this might be an overly ambitious TBR pick but I figured I’d give it a go anyways. I’ve had this book on my shelf for over a year now and I really just want to get going and read the series because I hear so many great things about it. I also really want to start watching the TV show but I’m forcing myself to read the books first. A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin is about a struggle for a kingdom. That’s about all I’m getting from the description. I feel like it would probably be best for me to go into this as blindly as possible which is what I’m planning on doing.

  

Lastly, for my physical books, I’m picking up the first Harry Potter book. I reread these books at least once every year and I usually do it over the summer but I had almost no time this summer and I stuck more with library books instead of books I owned so I’ll be rereading these. If  you don’t know what Harry Potter is, I’m sorry, you should go get them immediately.

I’m also planning on reading Hollow City by Ransom Riggs but that book is on my Kindle.

What books are you all planning to read this month?

Hope everyone had a nice long weekend! I’ll see you on Thursday.

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Books

Currently Reading

Amy and Roger's Epic Detour Cover

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson is one of my favorite summer reads. Since buying it I’ve read it at least once a year.

Basically, the concept behind the book is that Amy needs to move her mom’s car across the country but Amy is scared to drive. So Amy’s mom gets her friends son, Roger, to help with the driving. Once they begin their journey they decide that they want to take a detour, following their own route instead of taking the planned out route Amy’s mother gave them. There’s a lot of personal growth and it’s overall just a light book that I could read and reread all the time without getting sick of it.
Amy and Roger's Epic Detour Inside

One of the coolest parts of this book is that it takes on a scrapbooky feel. It includes pictures, and playlists, and other mementos from the road trip.

I’ve rated it five out of five stars for it’s unique design, engaging story, and the fun I felt while reading it.

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Morgan Matson is one of my favorite authors and I highly recommend picking up this book if you want to try out her books.

What is one of your favorite books to read during the summer?

I’ll see you all on Thursday with my next post.