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!

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 ❤

 

Sunshine Blogger Award

What a pleasant surprise!! Emer nominated me for the Sunshine Blogger Award which absolutely made my whole week (still makes me smile even though her post was a while ago… I have just been very behind on any and all posts). She is an absolute gem and if you aren’t following her already you should definitely check out her blog! Thank you, Emer, for the nomination 🙂

What is the Sunshine Blogger Award?

The Sunshine Blogger Award is given to those who are creative, positive and inspiring while spreading sunshine to the blogging community.

How does it work?

  • Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

Do you own more than one copy of any book? If yes then what book/s?

I have two copies of most of the books in the Harry Potter series. My paperback ones are incredibly beat up seeing as I’ve read them many, many times since I was 6 so I’ve been trying to get secondhand hardback copies to have ones I can read without fearing they’ll fall apart.

I also have a number of books in both physical format and in ebooks (A few Sarah J. Maas books that I bought to read when I traveled abroad, and also Fangirl).

And, uh, I also have 4(?) copies of Pride and Prejudice even though I still haven’t read it…….

Describe your perfect day.

April 25th

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But really, it would have to be a gloomy fall day. Where the morning starts off foggy and the sun never really comes out of the clouds. You can almost see your breath so all the cozy clothes and accessories are warranted. The ground is covered in soggy leaves and it just rains on and off. I get to aimlessly wander a bookstore and a museum with a nice drink (probably an iced coffee or some chai) and then go home to just sit in bed and read/stream a movie or show that I love.

What attracts you to a book? The cover? Blurb? Recommendation from others?

Cover and title, even though the title really means absolutely nothing to me in the end. I’ve started to just ignore blurbs altogether because I like being surprised by what I’m reading. I’ll read the blurb once to decide if I’m really interested in it or not but then that’s it. I am a sucker for a good cover!!

You are having a dinner party and can invite three famous people (either living or dead) to the party. Who do you invite?

David Tenant, Josh Gates, and Taylor Swift. The closest I have ever gotten to any of them is that my roommate from my London study abroad trip and I stood outside the stage door for a play David Tenant was in and we SAW HIM. IN THE FLESH. He was RIGHT THERE. RIGHT THERE PEOPLE.

Who is your favourite superhero?

Spiderman, probably. Honestly, I say this because I don’t follow the superhero stuff at all. I have seen very few superhero movies (like less than 10 and uh, one of them is Iron Man 3 but I have not seen the other Iron Man movies)… But I have seen almost all of the Spiderman movies and I love Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland.

Which would you prefer to win: an Oscar or a Grammy?

An Oscar. When I was a kid I actually really wanted to be an actress. I was the lead in two or three plays back in elementary school and I feel like if I hadn’t developed such crippling anxiety that I would have continued to pursue theatre. If I could become an actress, even now, I’d take the opportunity right away. Plus I don’t even think if I was a good singer that I would feel comfortable enough to sing in front of people.

What is the first book that you ever wrote a review for?

On this blog, it was Wild by Nature which I actually won in a Goodreads giveaway forever ago!! On Goodreads, though, I guess it was for this book called Girl in the Arena and all I said was “I can’t even put into words how disappointing this was” so I guess it was really bad lol.

Coca Cola or Pepsi?

Pepsi. Unless I’m getting takeout from McDonald’s because then Coca Cola all the way.

And funny story about Pepsi, when I was living with one of my former roommates we basically lived off of Pepsi products (it was a low point for both of us, caffeine and sugar fueled all our antics). So one day we went to the grocery store and they had a crazy sale on six-packs of the pop but they had limits for how many each person could get (I’m sure you can see where this is going). So we each bought the limit and then went out and ran the rest of our errands and then went back to the grocery store hours later and bought the limit again. I want to say it was like 6 packs per person? So we had like 24 6-packs of Pepsi and Mountain Dew…. This is a lil embarrassing now typing this out lol.

Are you an early bird or a night owl?

Night owl! Funnily enough I literally just wrote a post about this! I could probably become almost nocturnal if my work schedule let me.

What is your all time favourite quote from a book you loved?

“Stand at the top of a cliff and jump off and build your wings on the way down.”

From Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. This is the only classic that I read in high school that has absolutely stuck with me over the years. There were so many lines in this book that just made me think but I love this quote because it just fits with my horribly chaotic life. Still working on those wings.

What’s the last book you bought (eBook, audiobook or physical book)?

Uhhhh… So I bought 4 books while shopping with my sister the other day. Guts by Raina Telgemeier, The Alice Network by , Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell, and this book about the witches in the Harry Potter series for my sister as an incredibly late birthday/general Halloween present (because I am a GREAT sister).

So with that I am tagging:

Kathryn (K-Specks)

Dana

Nicole

Amanda

Lauren

My questions for y’all if you want to participate are:

  1. What was the book that made you fall in love with reading?
  2. If you had to choose a non-natural color for your hair, what would it be?
  3. What is your favorite holiday?
  4. Do you have any special books in your collection (ex: signed books, special editions, etc)?
  5. If you could get away with one crime, what would it be?
  6. What is a scent that always brings back a good memory?
  7. What is your favorite format to read books in (e-book, audio, hardcover, paperback)?
  8. What makes you laugh until you cry?
  9. If you were a cartoon character, what would your signature outfit be?
  10. Who is a person you admire and why?
  11. What’s the weirdest fun fact that you know?

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Titles With Numbers in Them

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.

Book titles with numbers in them??? I could do this post so many different ways!!! In the end though I decided to just go with counting from 1 to 10. Another idea that I had was titles with “one” or “twelve” in them because those were a really common theme in my books surprisingly!

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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So far, this is one of my favorite TJR books, I have two more to read before I can finally do a big post about all of her books… I’ve been working on this since June!

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

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This is the one book by Morgan Matson that I don’t reread on a regular basis. I just remember the first time I ever read it, just how much it hurt, and I’m genuinely nervous to read it again? Even though my reading tastes have changed so much and I’ve read much more painful books than this one in recent years.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

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I haven’t read this one yet, but it’s on my TBR now. The premise sounds really interesting and I’m starting to get back into a mood to read fantasy so I might pick this one up soonish.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

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Technically 400… But I’m counting it. This is my favorite classic!

The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

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I have almost no memory of this book anymore but at some point in time I did in fact read it.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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Yes… I did put three Taylor Jenkins Reid books on this list… Sue me.

Top 8 by Katie Finn

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Ha! I have two Morgan Matson books on here too. However, the Top 8 series is written under the pen name Katie Finn! It genuinely took me years to realize this! Top 8 was genuinely one of my favorite series for years, it’s written with texts and status updates along with the regular narrative which I loved. Books with odd formatting almost always interest me. They’re so much fun to read.

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

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This is one of the unmentioned books on my Fall TBR, I’ve heard so many people rave about it so I bought it the day it came out and I’m excited to pick it up.

The Tenth Girl by Sara Faring

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Also for a fun add-on…

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Reader Problems Tag

Decided to do another tag today! This was posted over on Thrice Read the other day and I decided I really wanted to do another tag so here we are! The original tag was posted by About To Read on Youtube back in 2014!

You have 20,000 books on your TBR. How in the world do you decide what to read next?

I usually panic and go over all of the books a million times until I pick a book randomly. Then go scroll through social media instead of reading. Then pick an e-book instead. Go back to social media. Read a chapter in one book, maybe read that book. Repeat in a variety of patterns and so on.

I’m really not good at picking books.

You’re halfway through a book and you’re just not loving it. Do you put it down or are you committed?

It depends on why I’m reading the book. If I’m reading it to review it, I force myself to get through it. I just feel like if I was provided a copy to review, I can at least give it the time to finish it. I might put it down temporarily though and come back to it in a few hours or days… Or weeks.

Most of the time I’ll just put the book down though for either a brief or extended period of time until I either feel like I can pick it up again or if I decide to pass it on.

The end of the year is coming and you’re behind on your reading challenge. Do you try to catch up? And if so, how?

This year I only challenged myself to read 12 books. So that would come out to one book a month. When I had chosen the goal, I really wasn’t sure if I was going to continue wanting to read as much as I was motivated to at the time. I think that the yearly reading challenge is fun to keep track of all the books that I’ve read but I will probably from here on out just set my goal to 12. So in case I have another bad year then I won’t feel guilty for not reading.

But to people who actually do use the challenge to actually try and beat a challenge, good on you!! And graphic novels are always a great way to catch up if you’re behind 😉

The covers of a series you love do not match. How do you cope?

Just accept it and move on. A lot of my series have mismatched covers. I have series that are hardcovers and paperbacks and even some series that I have some physical books and some e-books… Now that shows how ambivalent I am to the situation.

If the cover change makes the books uglier, I cry a little and curse the publishers but then just move on. I’m definitely not a person to care about the aesthetic of books on a shelf. I just want the books!

Everyone and their mothers love a book that you do not. Who do you bond with over your shared feelings?

I would probably just write a review on it? Rant a little bit? I usually keep this kind of stuff to myself. Sometimes I can talk to my best friend if she’s around when I’m thinking about the book but usually I just keep my thoughts to myself. I don’t exactly have anyone that I can go to to talk about stuff like this.

My roommates used to be great to rant to but I live with my family again and they don’t want to hear it.

You’re reading a book in public and you’re about to start crying. How do you deal?

If I can hide the fact that I’m crying, I’ll just cry. I’m really good at silently crying. But I tend to also just not cry if I’m in public no matter how sad I am? Like tears will well, but that’s about as far as it goes.

The sequel to a book you loved just came out but you’ve forgotten a lot of what happens. Are you going to reread it?

This is what happens with almost every single book with a sequel… I will get super hyped for the sequel and maybe even buy it and have every intention to reread the first one and then hop straight into the sequel…. And then it just sits there. Forever.

If I don’t wait until a series is fully out to read, I can guarantee there’s a good chance that I won’t finish it in a timely manner.

You do not want anyone borrow your books. How do you politely say no when someone asks?

No one borrows my books. I just tell people that my books have been stolen in the past and I don’t feel comfortable loaning them out. Which is the truth. I used to loan people books all the time! I used to love loaning people books! But then my ex stole about six or seven of my favorite books of all time and that was the end of that. Also I’ve never quite gotten over the time I loaned some books to my aunt and she gave them back covered in coffee stains (only I am allowed to physically ruin my books).

You have picked up and put down 5 books in the last month. How do you get over this reading slump?

Sit on social media and mindlessly scroll until I’m so mad at myself for doing that that I pick up a book I know I love and reread it. Works every time. Might take a few days or a week or something but it works.

There are so many books coming out that you are dying to read. How many do you end up buying?

Just the ones I know I’ll want to reread someday! If it’s a book that I think I’ll only read once, I’ll get it from the library. Actually most of the time I’ll try to get the books I want from the library before I buy them. It just kind of depends on how much money I have to spend on books. I’m actually pretty good at just waiting for books from the library.

Ater you purchase all of these books that you’ve been dying to read, how long do they sit on your shelves before you get to them?

I will usually pick up at least one book right away. Then it just depends on what I feel like reading because I’m definitely a mood reader. So if I’m in a contemporary mood and I bought a lot of fantasy, well they’ll sit there until I’m in a fantasy mood. Or vice versa. Or whatever.

So there we have it, the Reader Problems Tag. Let me know if you’ve done this one before, or if you decide to do it, comment the link to your post so I can read your answers!

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!