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Books Reviews

A Fantasy Duology That Finally Fulfilled the Enemies to Lovers Sized Hole in My Heart: The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen Review

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I mentioned a a few posts back in my review of Radiance by Grace Draven that I was working on a review of The Bridge Kingdom duology and here it finally is!

So I desperately want to love books that are marketed as “enemies-to-lovers” but until now I have yet to find any book that fulfills this trope to the extent that I always hope it will. Look, there’s nothing wrong with a book being considered “rivals to lovers” or even simply “we got off on the wrong foot to lovers” but when I say I want enemies to lovers, I mean enemies. I want my characters to be actively plotting how they’re going to kill each other before they finally realize that they actually don’t want to kill each other. Most of the time, enemies-to-lovers boils down to two characters who had some sort of miscommunication and once they finally talk to each other then they’re fine. Personally, I think that this trope fits in best in fantasy settings so when I was watching a video from Riley Marie about another trope I enjoy (video is hyperlinked through her name) and when she suggested The Bridge Kingdom duology I jumped at the chance to read it. And let me tell you, it was everything I was looking for in an enemies-to-lovers book. If you’re interested in hearing more of my thoughts on the books, keep reading!

The Bridge Kingdom Review

The Bridge Kingdom (The Bridge Kingdom, #1)
Image: Cover of The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen

Synopsis

A warrior princess trained in isolation, Lara is driven by two certainties. The first is that King Aren of the Bridge Kingdom is her enemy. And the second is that she’ll be the one to bring him to his knees.

The only route through a storm-ravaged world, the Bridge Kingdom enriches itself and deprives its rivals, including Lara’s homeland. So when she’s sent as a bride under the guise of peace, Lara is prepared to do whatever it takes to fracture its impenetrable defenses. And the defenses of its king.

Yet as she infiltrates her new home and gains a deeper understanding of the war to possess the bridge, Lara begins to question whether she’s the hero or the villain. And as her feelings for Aren transform from frosty hostility to fierce passion, Lara must choose which kingdom she’ll save… and which kingdom she’ll destroy.

This book was so much fun to read. I’ll admit that I thought the story was slightly outrageous at times but I’ve never read a fantasy romance before and I think that this might be a new favorite genre for me if I’m lucky enough to find more books like The Bridge Kingdom.

From the very beginning I was entranced by the plot, this book threw us almost straight into the action and while it wasn’t necessarily what I expected I was intrigued to see where the story went. Our main character, Lara, has trained for most of her life alongside a number of her sisters in order to one day potentially be chosen to wed the king of Ithicana, or the Bridge Kingdom. Ithicana is seen as a power hold because the bridge that crosses over it is an essential trade route and Lara has been trained to see this bridge as a way to save her homeland from ruin. For her entire life she has been told by her father and her mentors that Ithicana is a selfish kingdom that only cares about gaining riches for themselves and so when she becomes the daughter that will wed Ithicana’s king, Lara knows she will do anything in her power to destroy the Bridge Kingdom and save her home.

The Bridge Kingdom was a delightfully angsty slow burn romance. At times, I genuinely forgot that this was supposed to be a romance because of the way that Lara had been so thoroughly brainwashed by her father and mentors. There were so many moments where evidence showing her the opposite of what she was taught were right in front of her and yet Lara constantly fought against that. It was frustrating but so realistic to the power that being brainwashed can hold on someone. As I watched Lara and Aren dance around each other waiting for one of them to slip up but also both falling for each other I was delighted with their chemistry and the path the story took.

The angst in this duology is honestly next level. As the story went on I enjoyed reading Lara’s inner battle with her duty to her home kingdom, her personal mission, and her conflicting feelings regarding Aren and Ithicana. Aren trusted Lara long before she trusted him despite the fact that everyone close to him still warned against trusting her so much. Lara wants to take down Ithicana because ultimately she wants freedom and that’s the only way she sees a positive outcome for herself. She wants her home kingdom to be taken care of but after being trapped for so long by her father she wants to be free from it all. Seriously, so. Much. Angst. Basically, if you’re not into characters who are prone to the dramatic, this might not be the book for you!

One other thing that I wanted to mention that I really enjoyed about this duology is the setting. I’m used to reading fantasy books that take place in deciduous or coniferous forest biomes with mountains, etc. There are usually oceans and they do often sail in other books but I liked that this duology had such a large focus on water. Lara grew up in the middle of a desert and Ithicana is a tropical grouping of islands. Ithicana has to deal with a storm season that make water travel incredibly dangerous. On top of the storms the waters are also infested with sharks. The islands also have deadly snakes so honestly just loving the danger in these books.

The Bridge Kingdom hit every single mark in my dream enemies-to-lovers book and I rated it five stars.

You can add The Bridge Kingdom on Goodreads here.

And if you’re interested in getting your own copy you can find it at the following links:

Barnes & Noble // Bookshop // Book Depository // Amazon

The Traitor Queen Review

Heads up but this section will contain spoilers relating to the first book! If you haven’t read the first book feel free to skip down to the end of this post for my sign off and some extra links. Otherwise feel free to sign off here and I’ll talk to you in my next post!

The Traitor Queen (The Bridge Kingdom, #2)
Image: Cover of The Traitor Queen by Danielle L. Jensen

Synopsis

A queen now in exile as a traitor, Lara has watched Ithicana be conquered by her own father, helpless to do anything to stop the destruction. But when she learns her husband, Aren, has been captured in battle, Lara knows there is only one reason her father is keeping him alive: as bait for his traitorous daughter.

And it is bait she fully intends to take.

Risking her life to the Tempest Seas, Lara returns to Ithicana with a plan not only to free its king, but for liberating the Bridge Kingdom from her father’s clutches using his own weapons: the sisters whose lives she spared. But not only is the palace inescapable, there are more players in the game than Lara ever realized, enemies and allies switching sides in the fight for crowns, kingdoms, and bridges. But her greatest adversary of all might be the very man she’s trying to free – the husband she betrayed.

With everything she loves in jeopardy, Lara must decide who – and what – she is fighting for: her kingdom, her husband, or herself.

Review

I hopped into reading The Traitor Queen immediately upon finishing The Bridge Kingdom. If anything, these are great books to read back to back. The story is fast paced enough that you almost won’t realize that you’ve read about 700 pages by the end of them. The ending of the first book had me needing to find out what happened next so I devoured this book in about half the time it took me to read The Bridge Kingdom.

This book had so much action in it and I really enjoyed seeing how Lara’s sisters fit into the plot. Honestly all of the characters that we were introduced to in this book were integral to the plot and the way everything came together had me in shock more than once.

Now if The Bridge Kingdom was angsty, The Traitor Queen is on another level entirely. I definitely didn’t hate it but holy cow it was taxing to read at times. I just kept waiting for things to fall into place and stop having more things become something disastrously dramatic. Aren became a bit frustrating in this book because he had trusted Lara so readily in the first book and yet became so wishy-washy. I could understand his thoughts from the perspective of hating Lara but I also felt like he was heavily influenced by the people around him and at times it made me question his ability as a king. Obviously it’s important for him to be able to trust his companions but at the same time, he pushed them to trust Lara in the first book and I found it surprising that he took such a firm stance against her despite the fact that she tried to explain to him what happened.

Now Lara was dealing with the consequences of her actions from the first book and I could understand her feelings most of the time but I wished she had been stronger in her beliefs and her dedication to Ithicana. If this had been the case, I think that this book potentially could have been shorter and by the time I reached the actual ending I found myself thinking how much less taxing it would have been if this book were about 50 pages shorter. It seemed like Lara kept ending up in bad situations because she was in that same wishy-washy mindset as Aren and instead of dedicating herself fully to Ithicana from the beginning she kept getting in her own head. And don’t get me wrong, I loved this book, but again I warn you that if you aren’t a fan of angst or drama, this might not be the duology for you!

In the end, I gave this book 4 stars because it was a genuinely fun read. I think the main reason I ended up knocking off a star was because of the length and the heightened dramatics towards the end of the story. This was such a fun duology though and I can’t wait for the next book in this series to come out!

You can add The Traitor Queen on Goodreads here.

And if you’re interested in picking up this book you can find it at the following:

Barnes & Noble // Bookshop // Book Depository // Amazon

If you’ve read the first (or both) book(s), what did you think of them? Also, if you have any fantasy romance recommendations feel free to leave a comment!

And with that, I’m signing off for the day. If you want to connect with me elsewhere you can find me:

On Twitter: nihilisticactus

On Readerly: sideofadventure

On Goodreads, where you can add me as a friend or follow my reviews. My profile is linked here.

For review requests, etc: adventuresandespresso@gmail.com

And if you’re interested in supporting the blog financially, my Ko-fi is linked here.

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Books Reviews

I Understand Why Everyone Loves This Book Now: Review of Radiance by Grace Draven

This post contains affiliate links, if you make a purchase using that link I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

I am on such a romance kick right now, specifically fantasy romance. I’ve been struggling a lot mentally (thanks uni!) so diving into some books that give me all the warm and fuzzy feelings I could possibly want has helped immensely.

I’ve seen so many people talking about Radiance by Grace Draven recently so I checked it out from my library because I wasn’t sure how I’d end up feeling about it but let me tell you…. This was PHENOMENAL and I completely understand why everyone who talks about this book raves about it.

Radiance (Wraith Kings, #1)
Image: Cover of Radiance by Grace Draven

Synopsis

The Prince of no value
Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined.

The noblewoman of no importance
Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light.

Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart.

Review

Radiance is a friends-to-lovers romance following Idilko and Brishen, two individuals pledged to marry one another in a strategic political move for their respective kingdoms. They’re both close enough to the throne to warrant an arranged marriage, but far enough away that their feelings were never considered before being betrothed. This was such an intriguing start to a book, these two kingdoms are vastly different, one isn’t even inhabited by humans, and I couldn’t wait to see where it went. Ildiko is human and Brishen is from a race of human-like creatures called Kai. The Kai have gray skin, sharp teeth and claws, and large dark eyes that better suit them for their nocturnal existence. I thought that this aspect of the story brought so much humor to the plot. I loved how they were both disgusted with each other in the beginning in terms of appearance and the fact that their insulting descriptions quickly turned into terms of endearment was amazing. The humor that Draven laced throughout this book really brought it to a new level from what I expected it to be. I won’t spoil anything but there are a few scenes where Ildiko and Brishen tried foods from the others kingdoms and oh boy, I actually laughed out loud reading about Brishen trying this particular human food.

Something else that I thought Draven did well with this book was the honesty that she fostered between the couple. It was refreshing and downright adorable at times. I swooned on more than one occasion while reading because I couldn’t handle how sweet Brishen and Ildiko were together. Brishen was respectful and caring and he complemented Ildiko perfectly. With the honesty that they harbored the chemistry was evident from their first on page interaction. It was such a joy to watch their relationship develop. Friends-to-lovers is such a joy of a trope to read!

Radiance is the first book in a series, the first three books are currently out. I thought that this gave a great set up to the story. I could see it being read as a standalone, however, the epilogue immediately had me wanting to pick up book two (I’ve got about a two-month wait before I can get a copy from my library). The reason that I do say that it could be read as a standalone is because it gave me everything I would want in terms of a fantasy romance. It set up the relationship and had some conflict that did largely get resolved and with the exception of the epilogue there was a happy conclusion but I am very excited to get absorbed into this world some more. Draven has written a superb romance with this book and I recommend picking it up if you’re looking for an engrossing fantasy read with a sweet couple and a healthy dose of humor. A five star read for me.

Y’all, I think that I’m realizing how much more I enjoy fantasy romance compared to contemporary romance because I can’t get enough of these types of stories. Since the stories are romance centered, the fantasy elements sometimes take a backseat but I think that’s why I enjoy them so much. I love to get immersed into these fun plots where fantastical events occur but I don’t always have the brain power to read intense fantasy tomes. I have another review that I’m hoping to post soon for The Bridge Kingdom duology by Danielle L. Jensen. Same vibes and I loved them. And with that I’ve got to get back to studying!

You can add Radiance on Goodreads at this link.

Or if you’re interested in picking up your own copy you can find it at the following:

Amazon // Barnes & Noble // Audible

Other places you can find me:

Follow my reviews or add me as a friend on Goodreads here.

Twitter: nihilisticactus

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Books In Medias Res

Reading YA (AKA How I Used to Read YA vs. How I Read it Now)

This post was brought about by not only some discussion that I’ve seen on Twitter recently but also from an excerpt of a book I read recently. Basically I’m going to discuss how my reading has changed from ages 13-18 to now at age 23 in regards to the young adult genre.

When I was younger, reading was my escape. I mean since kindergarten I’ve loved reading but I think middle school is when I started branching out more than just reading the same few books every year from my elementary school library and repeatedly reading the Harry Potter series. For Christmas when I was 13 my grandma gifted me with two books Graceling by Kristin Cashore and Twilight by Stephanie Meyer. I devoured these books. I reread them almost immediately after reading them the first time and from there out I feel like everything changed.

Now fast forward to high school. My tight knit friend group from middle school split up as half of us went to one high school and half of us went to the other. I was very quickly getting worse with my mental health as I tried to navigate a new school, constant fights with my family, and my need to continue feeding into bad habits that were only made worse by Tumblr… Honestly, Tumblr could be an entire blog post on its own *eye roll*.

Anyways, so despite the fact that my friend group split up, we tried our best to stay close. There were three of us that managed to hang out consistently; my best friend, Panda (I’m going to refer to her by her nickname for the sake of this post), and myself. My best friend went to the newer high school in our town while Panda and I went to the older one. Panda and I were essentially inseparable, we hung out constantly, told each other everything (literally everything) and I truly thought I had found my person. So when our friendship fell apart, I was shattered. I won’t go into details but it was a mess and if I could go back and change what happened, I would in a heartbeat. And what makes that whole situation worse is that I was the floater, I didn’t have the set friend group, I hung onto Panda’s, so when we stopped talking I stopped having friends. Sure I had my best friend and people from my church but more often than not I wasn’t allowed to do anything but go to work and school so I rarely got to see my church friends.

So that’s where books come in. I was a loner, had crippling social anxiety, and took way too many AP classes for my own good. I didn’t do shit. I lived my life through the books I read, it was the only way to escape the life I was living. I didn’t date, no one liked me like that. I didn’t go to dances; I was scarred by freshman year homecoming (too much grinding) and worked both years over prom weekend. I didn’t even touch alcohol until I was 20. Books were an escape. I could read about all these people living lives I wanted to live (or didn’t… ex: The Hunger Games) and I could use them to create these epic daydreams about what my life could have been like.

Nowadays I read YA for fun with more of an objective viewpoint for the purpose of reviewing. I’ve slowly grown to enjoy reading adult novels more but I still have a heart for YA, especially because the market has grown so much since I was younger. It’s been a joy to see the way that YA has expanded and to read all the new stories that have been released. It’s even more exciting to read about upcoming stories and see just how creative authors are. So it kind of sucks when I read YA that disappoints me and here’s where my critique comes in with a slight “review” of an excerpt I read for the book The Best Laid Plan by Cameron Lund. I was highly skeptical about this book after reading the synopsis and so when I had the opportunity to read a 60 page excerpt I figured I might as well give it a chance.

The writing was good but the story itself feels like it could leave an incredibly negative impact on young readers. Essentially this book is about a girl who thinks she is the last virgin in her high school graduating class and that she needs to have sex before she graduates because “being a virgin in college is like having a disease”. Yes, that is an actual quote from the book! This book could have taken on a sex-positive tone in so many less obvious ways. Honestly I’m not even sure if I would call this sex-positive… It’s basically putting forth the notion that one has to have sex at a young age to be normal. Spoiler alert: you don’t have to have sex ever to be normal.

There were so many lines that just felt weird to me and all of the side characters either slut shamed or were misogynistic in their own special ways *another eye roll*. This also has one aspect of YA contemporary that has slowly but surely made me feel uncomfortable the older I’ve gotten. That aspect being that one of the love interests in this book is in college while the main character is in high school. I wrote about this more in depth in this blog post in case you wanted to read my thoughts on this (it’s really not all that positive). It pains me to read in the synopsis for Lund’s book that the main character doesn’t want to come across to this college boy as immature. Again, this puts forth really bad ideas. Let me just put this here IF YOU ARE IN HIGH SCHOOL AND A COLLEGE AGED PERSON TRIES TO GET WITH YOU STAY FAR FAR AWAY FROM THEM THEY ARE NOT GOOD NEWS. This guy isn’t even fresh out of high school, he’s 20… Even me, who was one of the oldest people in my grade had only freshly turned 19 by the time I went to college. I just don’t want any young person reading this book and thinking that they are less than for not having sex or even not wanting to have sex, there are so many reasons for not “getting laid” in high school and I don’t think this book was doing anything progressive by making losing your virginity some sort of game.

I think that teenagers are going to do whatever they want to do or can do. It’s also incredibly important to have books out there that talk about things like safe sex or things like that. Looking back at my teen self I feel like this book would have made me feel weird about my decision at the time that I wanted to wait until marriage, granted there was a very quick sentence that mentions reasons that people might stay a virgin… Yeah, one sentence, not much of an explanation or anything because they sped past that real quick *third eye roll*. Overall I think that YA has made many strides over the years with OWN Voices novels and being in general more expansive within every subgenre. So when something like this book comes up where it’s putting forth ideas that could be potentially harmful it just feels weird. And granted I only had access to the first 60 pages of Lund’s book but I don’t think much of anything could get me to love this book by the end of it but if anyone wants to say otherwise I would be willing to hear out your arguments for the book.

I’m grateful that I still feel like I can escape into YA and I’m also grateful that I can use my very small platform to review books that I read. It’s always interesting to read about teens and get a peek into other experiences and I don’t think that’s something I’ll ever get sick of.

This post is at a marathon length now so I’m going to sign off. Have a nice day everyone!

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About Me Books

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 🙂

Categories
About Me Books

The Books That Shaped Me: Part 3

I honestly thought that I would only be doing one post for this series but the more that I thought about all the books that have meant so much to me over the years, the more that I realized there were way more than could fit into one post.

Part 1 consisted of the books that I read throughout elementary school. Part 2 was all the books that I read throughout middle school. And now this post, Part 3, is going to showcase all the books that I read throughout high school. There could possibly be a Part 4 someday with books that I read in college (my first attempt at college anyways) but I’ll have to see, I might also lump a few of them into the end of this post because there really weren’t many that I read. Homework kinda got to me and I avoided reading so much!

So high school was when I discovered BookTube and Goodreads. I joined Goodreads in November of 2011 when I was a freshman.

Books by Sarah Dessen

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Her books are some of my favorite YA contemporary books and whenever I need something happy to read I pick up one of hers. I haven’t read all of her books yet but I’m working on it. She and Maureen Johnson are two of my absolute favorite authors and I will probably buy every single one of their publications from here on out.

The Top 8 series, which then turned into my love for Morgan Matson starting with Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour

I don’t even remember why I got the Top 8 series, I’m sure I had a gift card to Barnes and Noble, looked inside, liked the formatting and then bought all of them. But the Top 8 series were written under Matson’s pen name, Katie Finn. I’m not even sure when I found out that Finn was Matson but I remember being absolutely shocked because I had had books under both of her names for years before ever realizing.

Dystopian Books: Hunger Games, Delirium, Shatter Me, Divergent)

I would honestly be shocked by anyone who was into reading from around 2012-2014

Smile by Raina Telgemeier

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Her books introduced me to graphic novels! And boy did I reread Smile so many times, like I would be genuinely interested to see just how many times I checked it out from the library back then before I owned my own copy of it!

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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Oh good ole TFIOS. I don’t think I could make a post about books I read in high school without mentioning this gem. This was also the first ever signed book that I owned and I literally shrieked and danced around my kitchen when I saw that that’s what my grandma had managed to purchase.

The Possession of Cassie Quinn by Kathryn Knutson

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My sister bought this book at a local bookstore in the town that my grandparents live near. After she read it, I picked it up and I loved it. I’ve read both this book and her second book and I’m so glad that I liked them because I love having the opportunity to support a Minnesotan author.

It took me a really long time growing up to get into horror things. I mean, I used to be terrified by the show Ghost Hunters and either had to leave the room or put on headphones to block out the noise. I was scarred pretty early on in life by the movie Arachnaphobia and while I’m still terrified by spiders, other horror stuff doesn’t really scare me anymore. I love the spooky stuff.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

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This was one of the only classics that I was forced to read in high school that I genuinely enjoyed. The story sticks with me even to today and there are just so many quotes from this that make me feel all the feels.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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And this one is not on here for a good reason. I HATE this book, like it is one classic that I genuinely despise. I usually dislike classics for one reason or another (most of the time being that I have the hardest time reading them) but I actually have a deep seated hatred of Great Expectations. I’m now kind of fuming right now just thinking of it and almost want to write an entire blog post dedicated to my hatred of this book.

Quiet by Susan Cain

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I read this book so that I could write a paper about it in my tenth grade English class. I have absolutely no recollection what that paper was about but

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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One of the first books I’ve ever read where I saw myself. It hurt. It’s still absolutely everything to me.

Anna and the French Kiss/The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight/My Life Next Door

I also started to get really into YA contemporaries when I was in high school. I bought Anna and the French Kiss at a Borders Books store on the way back from New York one summer (does anyone else fondly think of Borders? I might like it too much because I don’t have any access to small book stores and I’ve never been a big fan of Barnes and Noble). I even saved the sticker from AatFS because I wanted to preserve the last Borders purchase I ever made.

Anyways, I very quickly fell in love with the contemporaries that I read. The idea of having an open ended happy ending just made my heart happy. I devoured happy endings as much as I could, breaking my own single little heart time and time again. I pretended that they taught me a lot about what I wanted in relationships and in guys.

So overall, my reading in high school was full of contemporaries, classics (forced reading), and dystopian. I definitely started to hone in on my favorites and began to read a bit more critically than I had in the past.

Now that I’ve written about a lot of the books that have shaped my reading and myself over the entire course of my life, I’ve started to think about a new series of posts. I would really like to start rereading some of the books featured on these posts and discuss them now. Why I loved them when I first read them, why I still love them today (or not love them depending), and if they still hold up today. I’ll preface it all by saying that I almost always fail with my post series though so we shall see how far this idea takes me.

What were some of your favorite books in your teenage years?

 

Categories
In Medias Res

Annotating Books

I have seen numerous videos of people talking about how they annotate books and I thought that this would be a really great post for my blog! I just really wanted to start a discussion about annotating books and why (or why not) you do!For a very long time I thought that annotating books was sacrilegious. I hated even dog earring pages and it physically pained me when my books got damaged!! I still cry a bit inside when my books get damaged and I still never dog ear pages but I’ve come very far with my ability to write in my books. Paper Towns by John Green was the first book I ever wrote in for fun and I’ve written in countless school books to use for papers and projects.The books that I’ve annotated most recently have been nonfiction books. I find it really helpful for keeping track of stuff in my self-help books when I highlight and take notes within the book. I used to try and journal outside of the book along with what was in the book but unless it’s a library book I’ve stopped doing that because I never reread my journals.Recently I decided to annotate my Throne of Glass series as I reread it because I want to do a review of the series at the end of it… I was going to do a post comparing that series to my all time favorite book Graceling by Kristin Cashore but have since decided that Graceling will get it’s own post because I have much to say about it! The reason I decided to go in big on annotating Throne of Glass is because I know that they’re books that I will never loan to anyone.The not loaning books out to people anymore is actually a big reason why I’ve decided that I’m going to start annotating books. I always feel anxious about writing in books because “what are other people going to think when they see this?” and honestly? Now I really don’t care. I’m going to annotate books that I know I’ll keep, or books that I really want to analyze and when/if I get rid of them then someone else gets to see what I thought was important in that book.I think that I put too much pressure on myself about keeping books in pristine condition. Books are not meant to just sit on a shelf and look pretty (though they do look really nice and pretty on shelves) in fact, my favorite books are the ones that are completely beat up and barely holding themselves together.Now that I’ve decided that it’s okay to annotate I also feel this pressure about annotating every book I read. So now I have to tell myself that it’s okay to not annotate a book if I don’t want to! I think a lot of my annotating is going to occur with books that I’ve already read. Once I have an entire set of hardcover Harry Potter books I want to annotate that entire series (going to save the paperback ones just as keepsakes).With a number of the videos that people have published talking about annotating books I find it interesting what they use as a system. I’ll include links to some of the videos that I’ve watched at the end of this post! From what I’ve seen, most people have pretty similar systems for what they decide to tab and I kind of liked that.This is the system that I’m using for the Throne of Glass series:For nonfiction books I really just highlight and write in the margins and then put a sticky tab in there. No differences in colors for those unless I run out of the tab that I used at the beginning of the book.I think I’ll use around the same type of system as with Throne of Glass for other books but I think I’ll change certain categories around depending on the book.Now I’d like to open it up to everyone reading this. What’s your opinion on annotating books? When you get rid of annotated books do you get anxious or laugh at the idea of someone reading your notes and trying to decipher what you saw in that book?If you take notes when you read, do you take notes in the book or out of it? Do you annotate your e-books? I never annotate e-books!! I used to highlight quotes but I almost never reread e-books and have just stopped annotating them at all.Here are the videos that I watched before deciding to make this post:

How I Annotate My Books by XCatherineReads:

How I Annotate My Books by BooksWithChloe:

How I Annotate Books by Little Book Owl:

I really like how she has multiple systems! Also props to her for being able to keep so many colors straight… I could never!! Which is why I have so few colors when I actually use the color system.

Annotating for a Lazy Reader by Paperbackdreams:

Honestly I appreciate the honesty in this one, I also watched her original video and it was quite similar to a lot of the other “each color represents a different thing” system but I also like her new “lazy” approach!There were also a few videos where people talked about annotating within vlogs they posted but I honestly can’t remember which ones those were.

Categories
Books In Medias Res

A Trope That Never Bothered Me Before

So I finally sat down to read Save the Date by Morgan Matson. I’m going to preface this post by saying that Morgan Matson is one of my all time favorite authors and I will read absolutely anything that she comes out with. I also used to be quite obsessed with her Top 8 series the she wrote under the alias Katie Finn.

Warning you now that this post will contain minor spoilers for Morgan Matson’s books.

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I got this picture off of Morgan Matson’s website in case any of you were wondering 🙂

I’ve read every single one of her books multiple times (except Second Chance Summer, because 1. It makes me sob and 2. I don’t have a physical copy of it) and until reading Save the Date I never realized that there was a common theme in her books that now really bugs me.

In almost every single one of these books, the main character is a high school student (I think every single one is said to be 17) and the love interest is in college. As I was reading STD (yes, I am going to refer to it as that for the rest of this post, sorry!!) I kind of figured that Jesse was going to be a scumbag, it just made sense that Charlie had to have her little crush shattered by the person she thought was her “dream guy”. It made me so uncomfortable that Jesse is a sophomore in college and he’s trying to have a casual hook-up relationship not only with his best friend’s sister but also a high schooler.

Matson’s main characters are all romanced and a few are even implied to have lost their virginities to these college boys. To me this just screams inappropriate. I get that a lot of these are very innocent, I mean apart from scumbag Jesse, the farthest Charlie goes with a guy is a kiss on the cheek from Bill at the end of STD. There’s also a whole lot of underage drinking and other shenanigans… Like in The Unexpected Everything Andie was almost caught drinking at the age of 14, yep FOURTEEN! And okay, maybe I did spend my entire high school career reading books and staying up too late scrolling through Tumblr and taking too many AP classes but I still feel like 14 is really young to be out partying.

When I first read Matson’s books I was in high school and I never thought anything of an age difference or even a lifestyle difference but now that I’m older and have gone off to college and just been in the “real world” for a while I can’t even begin to imagine wanting to date a high schooler. Now I do think it’s different when someone continues to date a younger boyfriend/girlfriend when they leave for college but I also don’t feel comfortable with people who do things like date a freshman when they’re a senior. And yes, most of the characters are just finishing up their first years of school (or in Clark’s case, not in school at all) but that’s a whole year of being an adult and they’re deciding to be with high schoolers.

And you know what, maybe I’m crazy in developing this dislike for the pairings that are developed in these books but I just feel like no one who has moved past high school should be dating someone who is still 17. I’m in no way condemning Matson’s books, but I also don’t want impressionable young girls to read these books and fall for the Jesse’s because it’s “cool” or “exciting” to be in love with a college guy. Trust me, young girls reading this, college guys aren’t that great… Honestly, most guys aren’t that great. Read your books and wait to find someone who actually cares about you!

On a similar note, I also have never found myself interested in books where college students fall for their professors. I just think it’s a storyline that doesn’t make sense. There’s a power difference there that makes me uncomfortable and I don’t really think that there needs to be as many stories involving this storyline as there are.

As I’m working through Morgan Matson’s books again this spring, as I tend to do, I have to wonder how many other odd tropes I’ve just looked over in books before. Like I mentioned in my Rereading Old Favorites post I have to take a step back from a good chunk of my old favorites just because there are so many issues in them now that I completely brushed over in the past.

I really do like Matson’s books but I do hope that girls don’t romanticize dating an older boy because of the couples that she creates. When I was first reading her books it never occurred to me that this could even be an issue, I didn’t know any older boys and honestly I know that not a single one would’ve looked my way anyways. But I know that there are other girls out there that would and still will catch the attention of older men and I genuinely worry. I know that high school relationships can be awkward but that doesn’t mean that we have to glorify dating older people because they’re “mature” and “experienced”.

All in all, I don’t want to just brush this off but at the same time I have to wonder just how influential these relationships might be… I mean, maybe I’m reading too much into things and it means nothing. But I just got that nagging thought after reading STD and had to sit down to write about it.

Do any of you have thoughts on this? Or know of other YA books that have this trope? I couldn’t think of any off the top of my head but I’m sure there are others out there.

 

Categories
Books

History Book TBR

So I’m a bit of a history junkie. I feel like a lot of people find this surprising about me or even strange but I am sort of obsessed with history! If I were to guess, it would probably be due to all my exposure to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books when I was growing up and playing pretend with my sister. I was always Mary and she was Laura and I think that plays such a huge role in why I love history so much. Another book that really threw me into that realm was this book called The Green Glass Sea which was about two girls who had parents that worked on Project Manhattan during World War II. Oh and I can’t forget about the influence that Oregon Trail must have played into this too! (I feel like not surprisingly but pioneer times and world war II are two of my favorite parts of history now).

Today I’m going to be sharing a bunch of the historical books that I have on my TBR list at the moment.

Trials of the Earth: The True Story of a Pioneer Woman by Mary Mann Hamilton

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Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

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The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel

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Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain

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The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan

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Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley

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The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Marta McDowell

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I feel like there are definitely other books that I could add to this list but I’m being too lazy to look them up. If you have any recommendations of historical nonfiction I’d love to hear them! I’m always looking for new books within this genre to read.

I’m actually currently reading Testament of Youth, I bought it two years ago while I was in London at one of the many museums that we went to and I figure since I’ve had it that long I really should be reading it now. Hopefully I’ll be making a post about that soon and if I do I’ll link it here.

Anyways, happy Monday everyone! I hope your week starts off well.

*This post contains affiliate links to Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Books Uncategorized

The Books That Shaped Me

At this point in my life, I have read too many books to count. Going to the library as a kid was one of my favorite outings and every year my uncle used to give me $50 to Barnes and Noble for Christmas. Though nowadays I struggle greatly to find my motivation to read I still love devouring books and when I find a good one it makes me so grateful.

I was going through my goodreads account looking at all the books I had there so that I could look some stuff up for another blog post and I couldn’t help but get slightly emotional over all of the books that I had listed on there that I read way back in elementary and middle school. Books played such a pivotal role in my childhood that I decided to round up a bunch of the books that really shaped me as a person and as a reader and share them with you. I feel like this post could get really long so I might end up sharing this in parts!

I’m basically just going to compile this list with just the names of the books/authors with some commentary when I see fit because I feel like if I were to add my commentary to every single one of these this post would be two miles long and no one would read it! However, if you are interested in more of my commentary on certain books or series just comment on this post and I can make singular posts about certain books/series if you want to know more!

Anyways, here are the books that shaped me!

The Harry Potter series

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Books written by Margaret Peterson Haddix

RunningOutofTime

Specifically Running Out of Time which to this day I maintain as being one of my all time favorite books. Which reminds me, I need to buy a new copy of this still as my last one was stolen from me… This story is just crazy and I highly recommend this book to anyone!

The Main Street series by Ann M. Martin

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Though in general Ann M. Martin’s books all were a really big childhood, her Main Street series was probably my favorite (and I’m honestly still trying to read them!) Her Babysitter’s Club series will always be a classic as well.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

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When I first read this series the books were still being released and I remember waiting for the last book and I was so excited when it finally showed up at my library and I could read it! It was the weirdest set of books I had ever read and I was genuinely extremely confused by the entire experience of reading this but I loved it!

American Girl books

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I think that these books had a really big influence into my love of history, as did a few others on this list. American Girl books and the dolls were huge in my life. The magazine was my first ever subscription and I have every single one of those saved in a box still! Kit was my favorite and to this day I still watch the movies if I can get my hands on them!

Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder

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Project Mulberry by Linda Sue Park

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I have to brag for a second when I mention this book. We actually read this book for a school thing (I can’t remember what it was called but everyone in my grade got this book for free and after we read it we had a big game of jeopardy) and I have to credit myself for winning grade-wide jeopardy for my class. All because I knew the name of the study of bugs! It’s entomology btw if any of you wanted to know. I will also say that I think that this book was one of the first times that I really stopped to think about how creatures that aren’t humans are treated and it made me really sad!

The Beacon Street Girls Series

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Somewhere out there, there is a website that is somehow related to this series that has my first ever attempts at blogging on it. I’m not even going to lie, as I’m writing this post I’m thinking about going to the library to check out books from this series. I loved these books so much growing up! I actually kind of regret getting rid of my collection of them!

Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton

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Bethany Hamilton, to this day, is one of my biggest heroes! Her faith, strength, and heart are so inspiring and I’m so glad that I discovered her when I did. In sixth grade I actually did an entire presentation as her after reading this book. She’s an amazing woman and I love following what she does!

Halfway to the Sky by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

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This (along with the next book on the list) have been huge in influencing my wanting to explore more. Halfway to the Sky actually inspired my want to hike the Appalachian Trail someday!

Skye’s the Limit by Megan Shull

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The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

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I read this book in sixth grade as well and actually read it for a small reading group. The reason this made it onto the list has more to do with my experience of reading it though instead of the story itself (though I do love the story and totally want to reread this!). I’ll try to tell the story quickly…

So back in first grade I got really excited about a book that I was reading for a reading group and ended up reading the whole thing in one night. The next day I said this to my teacher and it was like I had done something illegal! She yelled at me in front of my entire reading group telling me that I was horrible for not being able to follow directions and that I shouldn’t have read ahead and should never do it again. So I tried to never read ahead again (and I still think that this might be why I hated reading books for school more often than not).

Then in sixth grade, I ended up reading this entire book in one night because it was so entertaining I had to finish it! I revealed this to my reading group during our discussion and one of the girls actually told the teacher when she came around to talk to us… I was genuinely terrified when my group mate told her but my teacher almost immediately asked me what I thought of the ending and couldn’t help but discuss how much I had liked the book. The way she reacted compared to my first grade teacher actually shocked me and made me realize just how important it is to have good teachers who have fun/encourage their students to do stuff.

Every Soul A Star by Wendy Mass

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The Sisters Club by Megan McDonald

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Love, Ruby Lavender by Deborah Wiles

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This book kickstarted this weird obsession with anthropology that has always stuck in the back of my head. It’s the reason that I loved the show Bones so much and honestly has now inspired me in my newest collegiate pursuit. Weird how random things will end up influencing your entire life!

Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris

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And finally…

The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages

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I borrowed this from a friend in elementary school and have been hooked on learning about World War II ever since! This book, of all of these, probably jumpstarted my love of history more than anything and I credit this to my insanely crazy interest in the World Wars (especially the experience of those on the homefront) ever since.

So now that I’ve talked your ear off… I want to know, what books shaped you as a kid? What was your favorite book growing up? I’d love to read them!

 

*This post contains affiliate links

 

Categories
Lifestyle

June Favorites

Summer is whizzing by, I can’t believe it’s already July!

Here are some of the things that I loved in the month of June:

First off was the nonfiction section in my local library. I have spent a great deal of time perusing this section and have a massive stack of books that I need to read this summer. Most of the books that I’ve checked out were in the Christian section and I’m loving learning more about my faith!

Next favorite is my Sand Cloud towel. I have wanted a nice beach towel for a few years now and I finally got one that is instagram worthy. I bought the acid wash print and honestly look how nice it is! I’m so glad I got to contribute to #savethefishies.

Next up is my favorite new top that I got from Old Navy. It fits me so well and it’s really comfortable. I’ve been sorting through my closet slowly but surely and stocking up on basic pieces and I’m definitely a fan of this basic tee.

The day lilies have been in full bloom! I love flowers and my favorite part of spring and summer is seeing all the pretty flowers bloom in my front yard.

Red lipstick has been my go-to for years now and my most recent red lip purchase is this ColourPop and Hello Kitty collab. It’s the nicest liquid lipstick I have ever purchased, goes on smoothly and stays for hours!

My last favorite is this body mist that I got while I was in London. It is scented white grape with aloe and smells like my favorite lotion (which has been discontinued) so I had to get it! I have yet to look up if I can buy this online so I’m a little nervous about using it since I’m sure I’ll run out quickly. However, I love it so much it’s worth it to use it every day.

So that’s what I’ve been loving this month! What have you guys been into this past month?

Have a great week everyone!