Review: The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

As I have spent many months starting and not finishing books I finally picked one up that I read all the way through. Ever since I read A Fire Sparkling last year I have been super intrigued by spy stories. So when I was perusing the book section at Target a while back and I found The Alice Network by Kate Quinn I was so excited to read a story involving female spies once again.

The Alice Network

Synopsis:

In an enthralling new historical novel from national bestselling author Kate Quinn, two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an unconventional American socialite searching for her cousin in 1947—are brought together in a mesmerizing story of courage and redemption.
1947. In the chaotic aftermath of World War II, American college girl Charlie St. Clair is pregnant, unmarried, and on the verge of being thrown out of her very proper family. She’s also nursing a desperate hope that her beloved cousin Rose, who disappeared in Nazi-occupied France during the war, might still be alive. So when Charlie’s parents banish her to Europe to have her “little problem” taken care of, Charlie breaks free and heads to London, determined to find out what happened to the cousin she loves like a sister.
1915. A year into the Great War, Eve Gardiner burns to join the fight against the Germans and unexpectedly gets her chance when she’s recruited to work as a spy. Sent into enemy-occupied France, she’s trained by the mesmerizing Lili, code name Alice, the “queen of spies”, who manages a vast network of secret agents right under the enemy’s nose.
Thirty years later, haunted by the betrayal that ultimately tore apart the Alice Network, Eve spends her days drunk and secluded in her crumbling London house. Until a young American barges in uttering a name Eve hasn’t heard in decades, and launches them both on a mission to find the truth…no matter where it leads.

I ended up rating this 2/5 stars and I have to say that I feel quite bamboozled after reading this. I definitely went into the book expecting a great historical fiction but ended up leaving it feeling like I had read a women’s fiction novel that was masquerading as historical fiction. If I wasn’t so picky when it comes to historical fiction there’s a good chance that I would have enjoyed this more but it really did not live up to expectations.

I will say that I am definitely in the minority with my rating though. Overall it seems like people really enjoy this book and I can understand why. It’s emotional and does flow and keep the reader engaged and for people who don’t want heavy deeply rooted historical novels I would recommend.

Overall the plot is what kept me intrigued enough to keep reading. There was enough there that I wanted to learn about that I continued on even after I found myself disliking the characters. I wanted to see what the outcome was to Charlie’s cousin Rose and I wanted to see how the two stories from the two wars tied together. The story itself was quite repetitive and I felt like there were many chapters that didn’t add anything to the overall plot. I feel like it could have been tied up nicely with 100-200 fewer pages.

The thing that really kept me from enjoying this book more was the characters themselves. I really think you could have taken these two women from this story and put them into any other story with a similar plot and you could have gotten the same outcome. Of the two, I think that Eve was the stronger character. Unfortunately that’s really not saying much. It was unique to read about how she used her stutter to her advantage while working as a spy but I felt like this was a trait that was just handed to her to make her seem unique solely because of the way that Charlie was written. Had this story only been told from Eve’s point of view I might think differently.

When it came to Charlie as a character I couldn’t stand her. She was annoying and used her thinking as a “math major” as her only way to voicing her inner thoughts. Now the math major this was interesting but it could have been mentioned and never brought about again but it was constantly brought up. And all her inner thoughts were framed as equations. It was incredibly annoying and I felt like it did nothing for the plot nor Charlie as a character other than give her a way to stand apart from Eve. This is why I felt like the stutter was just given to Eve because other than those I really felt like the way the characters were written was indistinguishable. I knew who was talking in each section because of the plot but they themselves did not stand out to me. I felt like most of the other characters also were just thrown in to fit specific roles and were pretty flat.

I really don’t care to speak on how Charlie went about speaking about and handling her “Little Problem” as she dubbed her pregnancy but from the very beginning it outraged me how every other sentence she was calling herself a “whore” or “slut” because of the predicament that she had ended up in. No, the times were not kind to young, unmarried pregnant girls but there was no justification for the harshness and repetitiveness of this.

Overall the story tied up nicely and while I wasn’t a fan of the romance, it wasn’t necessarily forced but it played into a “pretty” ending so I understand why the author included it. This is another reason why I felt like it was a women’s fiction novel masquerading as historical fiction. The romance came out of left field (in my opinion) and I couldn’t help but sigh every time it progressed. It never felt quite right but in order to get some sort of happy ending I guess there had to be some romance, right?

I was really hoping for an intense and beautifully intertwined story about lost family and spies and in turn I got a boring romance with some spy subplot thrown in to line the edges. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, probably wouldn’t recommend this.

Now I am definitely interested to pick up The Huntress by the same author to see if I end up seeing the same things happen in that book because I know a few people that I have similar reading tastes to really enjoyed that one so I’m intrigued!

If you’ve read this book what did you think of it? And if you know of any books about female spies during World War II please send those recommendations my way!

Top Ten Tuesday: My Most Recent Purchases

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that was originally created by The Broke and the Bookish but was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is my ten most recent book purchases. I have actually held off quite a bit on buying books because I had some unexpected expenses come up and haven’t had as much “fun” money to use anymore. But! If I’m remembering my purchases correctly, these are all the books I’ve bought in the last 2-3 months.

Kindle Books:

Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

The Priory of the Orange Tree

This has been on my TBR for a while now and I was actually planning on preordering the paperback edition of it but managed to get a Kindle deal where it was only $1.99! If I love it enough I might still get the paperback edition.

This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

This Is How You Lose the Time War

I’ve heard so many rave reviews about this that I finally just got impulsive and bought it. I am actually reading this right now and so far I love it! So expect a review for this sometime soon!

The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)

I read the first two books in this trilogy years ago and adored them but I never got around to reading book three. I kept meaning to buy my own copies so that I could reread them but I kept putting it off. So this was also an impulse purchase but I’m so excited to reread these and finally finish the trilogy!

New Books I Bought:

Belle Révolte by Linsey Miller

Belle Révolte

I preordered this and it came early!!! I’m so excited to read this. Definitely one of my most anticipated books of the year.

The Sound of Stars by Alecia Dow

The Sound of Stars

This was also a preorder for me (comes out in February!) and I got approved for the ARC so hoping to get to this ASAP.

Beyond the Black Door by A.M. Strickland

Beyond the Black Door

Tarnished Are the Stars by Rosiee Thor

Tarnished Are the Stars

This short list basically just shows that I am out here supporting all the books with ace representation in them.

Books I Bought At the Thrift Store:

Into Thin Air by John Krakauer

Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster

I read Into the Wild a few years ago and saw this at the thrift store a few weeks ago when I was shopping with my sister so I’m looking forward to reading this!

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Victoria Schwab has talked about this on her social media a few times and since I saw it I decided to try it out!

I’ve also gotten a few books off of Kindle Unlimited recently and am hoping to do some sort of post based around KU reading at some point this year!

And with that, I’m off to try and write another post. Happy Tuesday, everyone! Hope you’re having a good start to your week!

 

Happy New Year: Blog Goals For 2020

Hi everyone!! Happy New Year!

I hope that the end of 2019 went well and that the holidays were peaceful. I ended up taking a lot longer of a break than I expected and I have to admit, it was really needed. Truth be told, I haven’t completed a book in a few weeks but in my typical fashion I am in the middle of at least seven. I spent December watching a lot of Netflix and a lot of Disney+. I started crocheting again and made a whole bunch of Christmas presents and am about 1/3 of the way done with my first sweater!

I’ve tried staying off social media more in the last few weeks and it was so nice. So now that it is the new year, I’ve decided to break my hiatus and make a comeback on the blog.

I have a few goals for this upcoming year in regards to the blog and I will probably be sharing a few personal goals at the end of this post as well.

Starting off, I would like to continue growing my follower count. I don’t really have a specific number in mind and I’m not going to stress about that but I feel a sense of joy and pride when I realize that people are reading what I’m saying and I really want to be able to continue to share my thoughts with more people.

Post at least once a week. I tried to be consistent, but personal things always seem to get in the way so I know that I can’t hold myself to a specific schedule. While I would love to try, I don’t think that’s going to be possible, at least not now. So, even if all I can get out is a weekly post and not a review or something like that, I just want to make sure I’m committing to creating content. A half goal with this is also to post more lifestyle themed things. While I absolutely love the book community and what I have fostered in my theme over the last year, this blog started off with a far bigger variety of posts than what it has now. I think that this, in part, was why I felt so burnt out and fell into that huge reading slump. I loved writing posts about hiking and I had so many ideas for posts centered around makeup that I never bothered writing because I just kept trying to focus on book posts. This definitely doesn’t mean I’m stepping away from book blogging (I think this blog will always be books at the center) but I do want to put it out there that I’m going to write a lot of different posts this year!

Find a way to review books in a way that makes sense to me and makes me happy to put out posts. Okay, so I was really proud of a lot of my posts from 2019. But at the same time, there are a lot of posts that I really wish I could have done differently. I’m not going to say that I hated any of the posts that I put out, but I think I need to rework the way that I write reviews. So that’s a big goal of mine. I started to change things up a little towards the end of the year and I’d like to continue on with honing in on a reviewing style that fits me.

 Add pictures. I used to be a photography fiend. For a long time I even wanted to be a photographer. But after high school I put my camera away and I haven’t really picked it up since. So a lot of my posts have been devoid of pictures and while I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing, I miss having pictures scattered in my posts. I miss being creative. I think it’ll be interesting what I come up with for this goal but I would like to focus more on creativity this year. So hopefully you guys will see some stuff with that in the near future!

Last goal for the blog, READ MY ARCS. I started off so gung ho when I got access to ARCs on NetGalley and now (especially because of my reading slump) I’ve fallen so behind on my ARCs. And so this year, my goal is to get caught up on my ARCs and limit how many I request until then.

I’m really excited to start off this year and get posting again. I have a few posts from last year that I was in the middle of writing that I want to get put up by the end of the month and then I’ll just see where the universe takes me.

In terms of personal goals, I want to focus on time management and cleanliness this year. I also want to foster healthy personal relationships and do a lot of hiking. I would also like to try and focus on my health and figure out all the issues that I have.

Spring semester starts in a little over a week and I’ll be taking a writing class and French. I’ve heard that French takes up a lot of time so we’ll see how well the time management goal of mine starts off right out of the gate.

Do you guys have any big goals for this year? I’m really trying to keep things simple so that I don’t get overwhelmed. I think this is going to be a year of change and I couldn’t be more excited.

Happy New Year, again! And I hope everyone finds some joy and peace this year ❤

 

Sunday Scaries: Things I Did This Week & Things I Still Need To Do

Another week gone and I feel like I was more productive in this past week than I have been in a while.

Some important things that happened:

I FINISHED MY FIRST SEMESTER BACK AT UNI!!!!!!!! Three classes down and now I have a whole month off!

I started rebranding my Etsy shop, hoping to be able to launch by January.

And last personal thing is that I finally scheduled myself a doctor’s appointment and got all my symptoms written down and tracked so woo hoo for that.

In terms of reading, I finished off one book:

The Luminous Dead!

The Luminous Dead

Here’s the link to my review.

Other blog posts I wrote this week were:

November Wrap-Up/Mini Reviews

The Liebster Award

WWW Wednesday – 12/4

Books I’ve Changed My Ratings For: 2019

Now for my plans for this upcoming week:

Finish making Christmas presents (I’ve made 3 hats and 2 pot holders so far… Which means I have 10 pot holders left to make AND I have to woodburn 4 spoons)

Publish at least 3 blog posts

Read at least 2 books

And last but not least… Clean my room

Random things I’ve been loving this week:

Supernatural! I’ve been rewatching Supernatural because my sister keeps threatening to spoil me. I stopped watching the show back in season 9 because she spoiled me on a character death that shook me and I literally couldn’t bring myself to watch the show again. But now that the show is ending, and I have somehow managed to go many, many years without being spoiled on anything but that one character death, I figured I might as well get caught up in time for the show to be done.

Adore You by Harry Styles

Being warm… Cozy clothes are so nice and the weather was surprisingly mild this past week but now it’s supposed to get really really cold and I’m going to be miss being somewhat warm.

And also my spotify wrap up which is always my fave thing to see

This post was kind of just thrown together but I wanted to start doing a weekly wrap up sort of post that summarized life and blog stuff so we’ll see how this evolves as time goes on!

Hope you all have a great week! I’ll chat with you soon 🙂

November Wrap-Up/Mini Reviews

I read a grand total of three books in November!! So I’m going to turn this post into more of one of my mini review posts than my typical wrap ups!

First book that I read was Bunny by Mona Awad

Bunny

Here’s the synopsis:

Samantha Heather Mackey couldn’t be more of an outsider in her small, highly selective MFA program at New England’s Warren University. A scholarship student who prefers the company of her dark imagination to that of most people, she is utterly repelled by the rest of her fiction writing cohort–a clique of unbearably twee rich girls who call each other “Bunny,” and seem to move and speak as one.

But everything changes when Samantha receives an invitation to the Bunnies’ fabled “Smut Salon,” and finds herself inexplicably drawn to their front door–ditching her only friend, Ava, in the process. As Samantha plunges deeper and deeper into the Bunnies’ sinister yet saccharine world, beginning to take part in the ritualistic off-campus “Workshop” where they conjure their monstrous creations, the edges of reality begin to blur. Soon, her friendships with Ava and the Bunnies will be brought into deadly collision.

The spellbinding new novel from one of our most fearless chroniclers of the female experience, Bunny is a down-the-rabbit-hole tale of loneliness and belonging, friendship and desire, and the fantastic and terrible power of the imagination.

This is probably the strangest book that I’ve read this year and it definitely did not disappoint. While reading this I could see how this book could quickly divide opinions, it is very strange both in the way it is written as well as in the plot. It started off a bit too slowly for my own taste and I almost put it down but ended up deciding to try and stick it out to see if it would turn around. And boy oh boy did it turn around.

The way this book dove into this cult like hive mind was fascinating. Animals within this book aside, I think that was my favorite part. The way it went so quickly from the main character thinking of herself as a singular person to referring to a whole group as the singular person. I don’t even know how to describe it, it was addictive and totally sucked me in. The ending of this book was confusing unfortunately and I wasn’t a huge fan. I found myself getting more bored the more confused I got and while, again, that middle section was stunning I couldn’t help but be disappointed by the rest of it.

I think that if you are interested in macabre stories then this could be up your alley. It is intriguing and a story that is definitely not soon forgotten. As they said in the synopsis, this book is all about the imagination running wild and I have to say that if you read this and let your own imagination just go for it, it’s an even better reading experience. I rated it 4/5 stars!

If you’re interested in picking up your own copy, here are some links:

Amazon (Affiliate Link) // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

The second book I read in November was My Favorite Half Night Stand by Christina Lauren

My Favorite Half-Night Stand

Here’s the synopsis:

Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single.

So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic.

But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine” and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship…but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.

This is my third Christina Lauren book and so far I have yet to absolutely fall in love with any of their books. I still have plans to read Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating at some point because quite a few people that I share reading tastes with say that is their favorite Christina Lauren book.

I think the only reason that I ever finish not great romance books is because of how easy and quick they are to read. I read this entire book in one go after work one day. This book wasn’t *bad* but I just felt nothing. I wasn’t invested in the characters and was torn on a lot of opinions in this. When it comes to romance, almost the entirety of my rating comes down to the chemistry between the main couple and how invested I am in the outcome of their story. I truly didn’t care what happened to Millie so in the end, I really didn’t care about the overall arc.

The story itself began quite intriguing and I loved the banter and friendship of the group but I didn’t really love how it seemed that Millie was written as a girl unlike other girls who can only be friends with guys. Like don’t get me wrong, I loved the friend group, but I wasn’t a huge fan of Millie. Yes, she was emotionally stunted but I think that her chapters held this a little bit too much and kept me from being invested in her development.

At the end of this I felt that everything tied up conveniently, which is usually what I love in romance, but it was just too convenient. And considering that the gala that was the main driving force for the plot of the book didn’t even occur in the end it just made me feel pretty meh.

There are also a lot of things that I really didn’t appreciate about the romance itself but I don’t really want to air that on here, like I am always one for a good, solid happy ending but coming from someone who was once in an extremely similar situation to this… Happy endings don’t normally happen. I was frustrated and emotional and really just didn’t like this book as a whole. I rated it 2/5 stars.

Since I tend to be in the minority in rating Christina Lauren books, you can check it out for yourself:

Amazon (Affiliate Link) // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

The final book of the month was The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware.

The Turn of the Key

Here’s the synopsis:

When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

This is the second Ruth Ware book I’ve read and once again, the atmosphere that she can create in a book is stunning. Unfortunately, I thought the plot was very basic and while there was a twist that I didn’t really see coming, most of this story was predictable and dare I say boring? I felt that the ending was far too abrupt and when I realized that I had hit the acknowledgments page I literally said, “wait, that was it?” It felt like there were too many loose ends and not enough closure and while I’m all for an open ended story, this wasn’t open ended in a way that made sense. Yes, things were concluded but I found myself wanting more.

I wasn’t a fan of any of the characters and I think that’s the problem that I have with the two Ruth Ware books I’ve read so far. I quite enjoy the atmosphere, but the characters fall flat which leaves me disappointed in the story as a whole. The technology aspect of the book was almost completely pointless which I was kind of sad about because I was hoping for an even more evil DCOM Smart House story but it was a pretty cut and dry thriller. When people pitched this as a thriller with technological themes I was pumped and let me say that if that’s what you think this book is, it’s not. The technology in this could be completely taken out and the story would be the exact same.

In the end, I also got a lot of Lock Every Door vibes from this book so I couldn’t help compare it to that, which is one of the few thrillers that I’ve absolutely loved, so I’m not sure if that also played a part into the lackluster feelings I had for The Turn of the Key but it could be. In the end, I enjoyed this more than The Death of Mrs. Westaway so I rated it 3/5 stars but at this time I don’t think I’ll be reaching for any more Ruth Ware books any time soon.

And now the links, in case you, unlike me, are a fan of Ruth Ware books:

Amazon (Affiliate Link) // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

And with that, I am finished with my wrap up for November!  Pretty lackluster but always happy to share my thoughts.

The Liebster Award

*It took me three tries to type the title of this post because my computer kept trying to correct it to Lobster Award

What is The Liebster Award?

This information is on The Global Aussie‘s page.

“The Liebster Award is an award that exists only on the internet and is given to bloggers by other bloggers. The earliest case of the award goes as far back as 2011. Liebster in German means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.”

Rules:

  • Say thank you to the person who has nominated you for the Award.
  • Answer the 11 questions the person has asked you
  • Nominate 11 people
  • Ask the people who you have nominated 11 questions

Thank you, Emer, for nominating me for this! I haven’t been very active at all recently and getting this notification just really made my day. Also if you aren’t already following Emer you really should! She’s one of my favorite people in the bookish community and I absolutely love her blog!!

I’m just going to answer the questions that Emer asked me in this post 🙂 Because the social aspect of blogging is making me quite anxious right now so that’s that. Plus I’m not sure if my brain could handle coming up with 11 whole questions!

What is your favourite all time music video? Share a link.

I swear this is like the impossible question!! This is for two reasons: 1. I, uh, don’t really watch music videos? And 2. No seriously, I think I’ve watched three music videos this year and they were all Taylor Swift ones….

One music video that I love is for NaNaNa by My Chemical Romance

My best friend from middle school introduced me to them and this was the first music video I ever watched, she just told me to look up NaNa by My Chemical Romance and all I could think was WTF until I got home and looked it up and found that the song is in fact called NaNa. I also vividly remember this being the exact moment when I realized that I wanted to dye my hair crazy colors. Shockingly I still haven’t gone bright red yet! I just enjoy how cinematic this video is!

Oh and Listen to the Man by George Ezra is a video I watched on repeat for a while.

Also a big, big fan of all Taylor Swift music videos.

AAAAAnd this ASL version of 7 Rings with Nyle DiMarco:

If you could spend a year living in another country where would you choose and why?

I just want to go back to London, yeah not a country but this is my answer so that’s that lol. Just give me a year in London and I will be so happy. Also, I won’t even lie when I say that one of the main reasons is the public transportation. The Tube is everything I could ask for in my daily commute and I would cry tears of joy if I didn’t have to drive on a daily basis. Other reasons are the museums, the food, the parks, the accessibility to live theatre, once again THE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION, the list could go on and on and on.

If you could switch places with any character (book, TV show, or film) for a day, who would you switch with and what would you do?

I feel like this is such a random one but I would love to trade places with April from Parks and Rec just so that I could be in the presence of Leslie Knope but I wouldn’t be Leslie so I could still just be incredibly pessimistic and somewhat lazy.

What is the best snack food in your opinion?

Anything cheesy!

Do you like to read the book before you watch its film adaptation?

So this one it actually depends. Which is a big change from what I used to think. If I’m not interested in reading the book I’ll watch the film first. I also enjoy watching plays or classics before reading them because then I find it easier to understand. Also if I think that I can manage reading a book before the film comes out then I will do so, but if I don’t think I can do it in a timely manner I will watch the film in order to reduce the possible spoilers.

What’s on your list of top three books that you have read so far in 2019?

*brain short circuits because I can only pick three books*

Without picking rereads, Eliza and Her Monsters is hands down the top book of the year. And ooh this is so hard! I think I’ll just throw Ninth House and Red, White, and Royal Blue in there as the other two! There are quite a few that are fighting for spots in my top books but I think I have a solid 10!

What are three things you love most about being a member of the online book community (blogs, book twitter, bookstagram, Goodreads etc.)?

The support and encouragement that I have found is one of the greatest things to have come out of this year of blogging. I have had this blog since 2015 and barely used it up until this year. The end of 2018 was the hardest time of my entire life and I genuinely didn’t think that I would be alive to see 2019 or beyond. So to say that I am grateful for the community that I have found here is an understatement. I am so utterly grateful for each and every person that reads my blog. Wow, okay, crying now. But seriously this is such a supportive community and I can go from posting every single day to taking an entire month off and no one bats an eye. I have felt so welcome and encouraged and I couldn’t ask for a better community to be a part of!

Seeing the creativity in others is another thing I love! I so enjoy seeing the post ideas that people come up with. I love seeing what people post on bookstagram and I’ve got to say that the book related memes on Twitter are top notch.

The last thing is the mutual love of books! Growing up I was always so much farther ahead of my peers when it came to reading. In kindergarten I even had my own reading group so that my teacher could push me. My love of books continued to grow but this wasn’t the same for everyone else. I could never gush about books as much as I wanted to and even though my school was quite academic, reading for fun wasn’t really top priority for other people like it was for me. Plus I had and still have very few friends IRL that I can talk to anyways! It wasn’t until I stumbled upon Booktube videos and then expanded into the rest of the online bookish community that I realized just how many people are out there that are so immersed into reading and books. My views have expanded immensely and I’ve learned about so many new books and authors and while at times it can be totally overwhelming I wouldn’t change it!

Do you have a bucket list? If yes, what are the top five items on your list? If not, what do you think would be in your top five?

I don’t have a specific written out bucket list but I do kind of just keep a running list of things I want to do in my lifetime.

Here are five things from that running list:

  • Visit every state park in Minnesota and every national park in the United States
  • Write (and publish) a book
  • Meet Josh Gates (and find Bigfoot with him)
  • See Machine Gun Kelly (or other artist that has music that has had a part in keeping me alive) in concert
  • Hike the Appalachian Trail

If they were making a film of your life who would you like to cast as yourself?

For whatever reason as soon as this question is asked I completely forget every actor that has ever existed except for Emma Watson? The only reason I have for this is because I would like to be Emma Watson.

Other than that, I genuinely have no idea.

What would you do if you were invisible for a day?

Rob a bank. Gotta pay off those debts!!

And then I’d probably just people watch without fear of them realizing I’m staring at them.

If you could pick someone to write and perform a song inspired by you, who would you pick?

I feel like Taylor Swift could do this justice. Or maybe Adele. Basically anyone who does a good job of singing the heartbreaky songs.

Well, I think I answered them all! Now it’s time to go take my finals and celebrate the end of my first semester back in school.

Thanks again, Emer, for nominating me for this!

Hope everyone has a happy Friday!

Review: The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling

Woah, y’all. I finally finished a book!! It’s been like an entire month and I still have no reading motivation but I did it!! Also my last class of the semester ends in just a few days so fingers crossed I’ll get some reading motivation back once I have a month where I don’t have homework deadlines looming in the background!

So, what book did I read? Well if you didn’t pay attention to the title of this post it was The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling.

The Luminous Dead

Here’s the synopsis:

A thrilling, atmospheric debut with the intensive drive of The Martian and Gravity and the creeping dread of Annihilation, in which a caver on a foreign planet finds herself on a terrifying psychological and emotional journey for survival.

When Gyre Price lied her way into this expedition, she thought she’d be mapping mineral deposits, and that her biggest problems would be cave collapses and gear malfunctions. She also thought that the fat paycheck—enough to get her off-planet and on the trail of her mother—meant she’d get a skilled surface team, monitoring her suit and environment, keeping her safe. Keeping her sane.

Instead, she got Em.

Em sees nothing wrong with controlling Gyre’s body with drugs or withholding critical information to “ensure the smooth operation” of her expedition. Em knows all about Gyre’s falsified credentials, and has no qualms using them as a leash—and a lash. And Em has secrets, too . . .

As Gyre descends, little inconsistencies—missing supplies, unexpected changes in the route, and, worst of all, shifts in Em’s motivations—drive her out of her depths. Lost and disoriented, Gyre finds her sense of control giving way to paranoia and anger. On her own in this mysterious, deadly place, surrounded by darkness and the unknown, Gyre must overcome more than just the dangerous terrain and the Tunneler which calls underground its home if she wants to make it out alive—she must confront the ghosts in her own head.

But how come she can’t shake the feeling she’s being followed?

Caves are one of my biggest fears, the darkness and sickening sense of claustrophobia that come with them send chills down my spine with just a thought. My mom and aunt can’t go a family gathering without talking about the time I said I’d be fine going past the point of no return in a cave tour and then ended up having a breakdown. (Sidenote: I was like 7 at the time and I got my sweatshirt hood caught on a railing so I thought someone was grabbing me, like YOU go through a spooky cave and think someone is grabbing you and come out of the experience unscathed!!!!) So anyways, when I saw this book I knew that if I wanted a horror book that could genuinely terrify me, well this is it.

The writing in this was so good, there was more than one scene in which I was left with goosebumps and the hairs on the back of my neck standing up because I was so spooked. This definitely played into my own fears and I found myself questioning every single thing I read which, to me, adds so much to the horror aspect. I think that if I would have had the attention span to read this in one sitting, I would have, but it ended up taking me about a month and a half to finish this which made it a little bit jarring each time I picked it up again. Despite the gaps between reading, once I did get back into reading it was easy to immerse myself back in the story. I feel like horror is one genre where if I can’t be fully immersed then I’m not going to fully enjoy it so I am happy to report that this is quite an immersive story.

With a cast of two characters I was really interested to see how this would play out and the way the relationship between Gyre and Em would develop from the beginning to the end. My emotions were all over the place and I’m not going to lie when I say that I would greatly enjoy some further addition to this story. There was definitely a conclusion but I feel like there is so much of this world left to explore that I would be down for any sort of epilogue that the author would like to give us. This aspect of the story, with Gyre and Em, was so complex and frustrating and yet I could see so fully the motivations of each character and I loved that. Each was so fully developed and the balance between heartbreaking, tender moments and sheer terror and stress and anger was so well done.

I feel like this book would appeal to those who aren’t normally fans of horror too. It’s thrilling and shocking and left me feeling like I should check over my own shoulder but for horror, I felt it was pretty tame. There isn’t anything overly gory and I feel like it’s more of a psychological horror that just burns nice and slowly until it gets you right at the end.

In the end, I rated it 4 stars because there were parts of this that left me feeling a bit dry. I highly recommend picking this up and I look forward to reading whatever Caitlin Starling comes up with next!

You can pick up your own copy of The Luminous Dead at these links:

Amazon (Affiliate Link) // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

WWW Wednesday – 12/4

I’ve decided that to help me get back into the swing of blogging I’d like to participate in more weekly type posts just to get me typing again 🙂

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam from Taking on a World of Words.

The three questions are:

1. What are you currently reading?
2. What did you recently finish reading?
3. What do you think you’ll read next?

So, what am I currently reading?

I’m one of those people where when I’m sad, instead of doing things like reading happy books or watching happy movies or listening to happy music to, I don’t know, make myself HAPPIER, I do the complete opposite. So I’m rereading The Fault In Our Stars because I like to torture myself 🙂

The Fault in Our Stars

What did I recently finish reading?

Oh, that’s funny, I like that this question assumes I can finish books… Wait. I did finish a book? And the review is coming out tomorrow?? WHAT??? AMELIA WHO ARE YOU? (Also I have been out of using my pen name for so long that I almost typed my real name twice while writing that sentence lol)

The Luminous Dead

Anyways, I just finished reading The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling while I was at work yesterday. It was v good, super spooky. Review will be published tomorrow!

And I guess this means I now have to answer:

What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m still in a really funky headspace. I ended a 13 year friendship the other day (albeit possibly only temporarily) and I’m taking it rather hard. School is almost done for the semester (two more tests and then a whole month off!!) and work is hopefully going to be slowing down soon so I’m hoping that I can find some happiness and motivation in reading soon. I have so many books that I want to read and after how great of a month I had in October, I can’t help but feel let down with myself and what I’ve managed to read. I finally returned the massive stack of library books that I had because I know I won’t get to them before they needed to be returned so now I’m just left with my ARCs and all the books I own… I guess also the library e-books too since I don’t have to worry about bringing those anywhere to read.

So the books I have in mind to read next are (because I am indecisive as heck and am always reading more than one book at a time anyways):

ARC: Epic Solitude by Katherine Keith

Epic Solitude: A Story of Survival and a Quest for Meaning in the Far North

 

Library e-book: Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

Darius the Great Is Not Okay

Book I Own: Beyond the Black Door by A.M. Strickland

Beyond the Black Door

Now watch me read none of these books by next week. Ha!

Hope it’s a wonderful Wednesday for you! Bye guys!!

 

 

Books I’ve Changed My Ratings For: 2019

With this year coming to a close, I’ve started to go back and look at all of the books that I’ve read so far this year. As of today, I’ve read 95 books which is more than I have in over two years so I’m loving that!! When I was looking back at books that I’ve read this year, I found myself changing my thoughts about some of the books on the list. Some were changed in my initial rating (rereads) and others I’ve looked back at now and realized I’ve probably rated them too highly for my own liking.

I’ll start off with the rereads that I changed my rating on:

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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This used to be my absolute favorite book. I have read it over five times and was the book that always felt like “home” when I read it. But this last time that I picked it up I found myself annoyed with the characters and shocked to find that I actually really didn’t like the love interest. So while I will always have incredibly fond memories of this book, I rounded my rating down to 3 stars.

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

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Sarah Dessen is one of my autobuy authors (not gonna touch the drama that recently occurred with a ten foot pole, y’all, I started drafting this post before that happened and don’t want to talk about it). Her books always give me warm and fuzzy feelings and I look forward to every book that she releases. I’ve wanted to reread the books of hers that I have for a while now and also read the ones that I don’t yet have. So I picked up The Truth About Forever a while back and ended up changing my rating from 4 (3?) stars up to 5 stars! My critique of the book originally had been about the thoughts and behavior of the main character but during my reread I realized that the qualms I had with the main character made a whole lot of sense in the context of the book. So up to five stars it was!

Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn

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This is the last reread of mine that I ended up changing the rating for. The first time I read this book I was in middle school (or maybe even late elementary school, I can’t remember when this book was released) my original rating was 3 stars and after this reread I rounded it down to 2 stars. This is one book that hasn’t aged very well. I disliked the characters a lot and it just didn’t sit well with me by the time I was done reading. Not a big fan of it after rereading! Mary Downing Hahn is a spooky middle grade master but this is definitely not one of her best books.

So now I’ll move on to the books I’ver read this year that were new to me that I have since changed my thoughts about.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

The Unhoneymooners

I’ve since read two more Christina Lauren books and didn’t enjoy either of them and I realized that although I really enjoyed the romance in this book, I had so many complaints about the rest of the book that my bubbly feelings about the other parts can’t really hold up to the 4 star rating I gave it. If I gave half star ratings it would be a 3.5 but I’ve decided to just round down to 3.

Radio Silence by Alice Oseman

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I think that I was caught up in the emotions when I first read this and I’m actually still trying to decide how I want to rate this. Right now I’m only going to be rounding down from a 5 to a 4 star but after reading Eliza and Her Monsters I just feel like Radio Silence will never stand up to that. I was definitely bored multiple times throughout reading Radio Silence and I felt like there wasn’t enough character development by the end of the book. It probably doesn’t help that I don’t actually remember what happened in this book…… YAY for memory problems!! But I’m just going to go with 4 stars for now.

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

fixherup

Well. I think that I was far too generous with this book by giving it 2 stars. Down to 1. fucking little sister tit weirdness bullshit. Can’t handle. Nope nope. Not worthy of a second star.

The Dead Girls Club by Damien Angelica Walters

deadgirlsclub

So I rated this immediately after finishing reading it and I have no idea why I rated it 4 stars. Within hours I was like “yeah no this is totally a 3 star book”. This book is still not out yet (comes out in December) and so I can’t talk about too much that happens because spoilers but in the end this was a pretty average thriller. I think the concept was interesting and I enjoyed seeing how everything fell together by the end of the book but I wasn’t overly impressed.

I’m not sure how many more books I’ll make it through this year. Every book I pick up I end up just setting it back down. Seasonal things are hitting me hard and I’m feeling really discouraged with a lot so I basically spend my time rewatching Supernatural and then sleeping.

My super tiny wrap-up/mini reviews for November will be up on Wednesday!

 

 

 

Changes In My Reading Life

So it’s Friday. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to skip out on the topic from this week’s Top Ten Tuesday. I really liked this topic (it’s about changes in your reading life!) and I felt it could be a good post for me to use to get back to writing blog posts. I’m also planning on writing about my favorite bookmarks soon because I had the whole thing planned out and then never got around to taking pictures so I do really want to share those with you too!

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

I started reading big books in kindergarten. I was still 6 when I picked up my first Harry Potter book and I guess you can say that the rest is history. I don’t remember a lot of the books that I read back then but I do know that I was a big fan of rereading books. I think that right there is one of the biggest things that’s changed. In elementary school, I would pick up the same books every single year. This included rereading Harry Potter (the entire series up to whatever book had just been released), and books like Love, Ruby Lavender and Running Out of Time.

Nowadays, I don’t reread a ton of books. At least not yearly, anyways. 15 of the books that I’ve read this year were rereads (two of which the books were completely new to me this year but since I’ve read them twice obviously I’m counting them). With the amount of new books that I hear about now I couldn’t imagine rereading the same books yearly like I used to. But back then I’d only find out about new books when I’d go to the library or the bookstore and even then it was mostly just if I went to the bookstore. I liked to check out the same books every time I went to the library because that’s just who I am lol.

Another change for me is that now I actually read e-books! I’m a huge fan of my Kindle and I also read a decent amount of e-books on my phone through the Libby app (my library has greatly stepped up their e-book selection and ease of checking them out and I LOVE it). When I got my first Kindle, I think I was in 7th or 8th grade and I don’t think I ever actually read books on it. I did, however, play a lot of Angry Birds. I think I also discovered fanfiction after getting my first Kindle? I can’t really remember that timeline though. I’m still trying to find this one fic that I was obsessed with but still no luck.

I don’t know why, but I used to feel like reading e-books wasn’t really reading books. I always reached for physical books instead of e-books. It was the same thing with audiobooks, but I also have come to realize that audiobooks really aren’t for me! I’m still a little jealous of people who can listen to audiobooks with no problems.

I still read plenty of physical books but I also frequently reach for e-books. I’m a big fan of getting books when they go on major sale ($1 or $2 books are my kryptonite). I also feel less gross when I spend too much time on my phone when I actually open my e-book apps instead of just scrolling through social media.

This next change I actually find kind of comedic. Back in the day if a book was written by a male author, or had a male main character, I probably wasn’t reading it. I want to say that John Green was the first male author that I ever read extensively from (oh and Lemony Snicket) and I’ll read books with any type of narrator now. I’m trying to reach for more diverse books and authors and I think that’s a really important change in my reading life.

The last really big change in my reading life is that I finally delved into reading adult books and actually seek out adult books instead of reading strictly YA. So, back before I started spending too much money on things (cough books… and makeup and just all the things) I would get all or most of my new books from the library. Now at my library, the YA and children’s sections are right up front but the nonfiction sections and adult section are allllllllll the way at the back of the library. And you know what the worst part is?? YOU HAVE TO WALK PAST THE LIBRARIANS AT THEIR DESK TO GET TO THEM. So obviously, anxious past me NEVER went to the sections in the back of the library.

When I finally did hit up the adult section, I was completely overwhelmed with how many new books I had to choose from. But slowly and surely I’ve been reading more and more adult books and finding that I enjoy a lot of them. Now that I’m 23 it’s getting harder to exclusively read YA books so branching out has been really great. It’s the same thing with nonfiction books. I read way more nonfiction books now than I ever have and I enjoy it immensely. Like I mentioned before, I’m working on reading more diversely and also trying to just read widely. I love most genres and storylines and I’m willing to pick up most books to try out!

I have seen myself change so much in recent years with my reading and I love being able to read things more critically but also still have that ability to fall in love with stories without seeing only bad. I love finding new authors and new books and discovering tropes that I never realized I loved. I think reading is such a different experience for everyone and it’s genuinely so interesting to see differing opinions and reviews. I am so thankful that I discovered this community and that it’s been such a welcoming and fun experience.

I’m very much looking forward to 2020 and new books and experiences. Happy Friday everyone!! Talk to you soon 🙂