It’s a Whole Spiel Edited by Katherine Locke and Laura Silverman Anthology Review

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Goodreads Review:

Get ready to fall in love, experience heartbreak, and discover the true meaning of identity in this poignant collection of short stories about Jewish teens, including entries by David Levithan, Nova Ren Suma, and more!

A Jewish boy falls in love with a fellow counselor at summer camp. A group of Jewish friends take the trip of a lifetime. A girl meets her new boyfriend’s family over Shabbat dinner. Two best friends put their friendship to the test over the course of a Friday night. A Jewish girl feels pressure to date the only Jewish boy in her grade. Hilarious pranks and disaster ensue at a crush’s Hanukkah party.

From stories of confronting their relationships with Judaism to rom-coms with a side of bagels and lox, It’s a Whole Spiel features one story after another that says yes, we are Jewish, but we are also queer, and disabled, and creative, and political, and adventurous, and anything we want to be. You will fall in love with this insightful, funny, and romantic Jewish anthology from a collection of diverse Jewish authors.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts:

I have a love-hate relationship with short-stories anthologies. On one hand it’s a great way to find new authors, get  more content from some of your favorite authors and read stories that all have a common theme. On the other hand, I’m not the biggest fan of short stories as there’s so little time for characters that are fleshed out and I so often finish the stories wishing there was more. That said when I read the PW announcement for this anthology nearly two years ago, I was ecstatic. Jewish rep that isn’t featured in a Holocaust book is so rare so to find out that an entire book with contemporaries stories that had Jewish characters was being published had me over the moon. While there were some stories that didn’t wow me as much as others, this anthology is so so important and I can’t wait for this to get into the hands of young Jewish teens. These stories feature all types of Jewish teens, demonstrating that there isn’t one single way to be Jewish. Below I have written mini reviews of each story along with my rating to give you a sense of what type of stories are featured in this glorious anthology.

Indoor Kids by Alex London

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

I’ve been meaning to read Alex London’s books for the longest of times, and this short story made me wanted to read his longer works even more. It was an adorable story about a Jewish boy who’s working at a summer camp, and falls for a fellow Jewish boy camp counselor. Both of the characters were such nerds and I could have easily read an entire book about them.

Two Truths and an Oy by Delilah Adler

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

This one was about a Orthodox Jewish girl who goes to an orientation weekend and has trouble fitting in. I really enjoyed this as it had a really nice writing style and I thought it was really interesting to see the MC struggle between staying true to herself and fitting in. I would’ve liked just a little more as the ending felt a little abrupt to me.

The Hold by David Levithan

My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

This was a pretty solid story about this boy’s first love. David Levithan has always been an author that I enjoy, so this was a pretty good read. The one thing that really hindered my enjoyment of the story was that it kind of read like non-fiction. There was just something about it that didn’t feel like a short story( which might be the case) and that missing element made me not enjoy the story as much as I would have liked to.

Aftershocks by Rachel Lynn Solomon

My Rating: 5/5 stars

Honestly at this point, Rachel Lynn Solomon could publish her grocery list and I’d read it. She’s such a talented writer who is able to craft characters like no other. This story was about a girl who’s going to her boyfriend’s house for Shabbat. I loved seeing her insecurities over being “not jewish enough” being expressed and loved seeing her work these insecurities with her boyfriend. Also the chemistry between the two of them was so great and I’m just really sad that this was only a short story.

Good Shabbos by Goldy Moldavsky

My Rating: 2/5 Stars

This one just wasn’t for me.  The writing was weird and the plot was lacklustre. I had no idea what was going on for most of the story, and I just had a lot of trouble getting into it.

Jewbacca by Lance Rubin

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

This was a really fun one! It was about a boy who’s technically Jewish  but doesn’t really know much about his faith, but lies to his new girlfriend about just how Jewish he is There was this part where he goes over to his girlfriend’s family’s house and has to explain the story of Hannukah and he just starts making up some bullshit story

EI Ai 328 by Dana Schwartz

My Rating: 1.5 /5 Stars

I could not for the life of me tell you what the point/message behind this story was. I feel like the character was at the exact same as she was when the story started and it just felt  very pointless. The writing style was fine and the character wasn’t horrible, but there was just no development in the story and it ended super abruptly

Some Days You’re the Sidekick; Some Days You’re the Superhero by Katherine Locke.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

This was a really nice read! It was written in the style of a fanfiction post which was pretty cool as the story was about fandoms. The MC’s sibling uses they/them pronouns which was really nice. Overall, it was a very fun read.  The one thing that made me enjoy not as much was the big reveal of why the MC and his old friend weren’t talking. It didn’t seem as much of a big deal as he made it out to be, and what he did didn’t really seem worthy of them not talking for a year.

He Who Revives the Dead by Elie Lichtschein

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

This was a nice read about a girl overcoming her fear of water during a Birthright trip. It wasn’t anything special or memorable, but it was still very enjoyable. I really liked the group dynamic and the writing was concise. There was just missing a little spark for me to truly fall in love with it.

Be Brave and All by Laura Silverman

My Rating: 4.5/ 5 Stars

I love Laura Silverman’s books and this story just further proved to me how good of an author she is. It was such a great read and was basically about this girl who sneaks out with this guy to go to a gun reform protest. I could have honestly read an entire book about them, and I left the story wishing there was more.

Neilah by Hannah Moskowitz

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

This was is  beautiful and lyrical and hit me right in the gut. This was about an anorexic girl who attends a Yom Kippur service with her girlfriend. The writing was so incredibly beautiful and though it was quite short, I really felt a connection to the main character. The writing style had a very minimalist feel to it, but was done in such a a masterful way that you were really able to feel the pain as though it was your own.

Find the River by Matthue Roth

My Rating: 2/5/5 Stars

This was another one that didn’t seem have to much point to it. There wasn’t anything special about the characters and the plot was pretty boring. Just overall very lacklustre and not that great.

Ajshara by Adi Alsaid

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

This one had a little magical realism in it which was really fun. This story follows a Mexican teen who is able to see ghosts and he’s on his gap year and it’s just about all the fun he gets to have. There was a little too much telling for my taste but other than it was a good read and it was a nice break from the pure contemporary stories.

Twelve Frames by Nova Ren Suma

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

This one had a really cool vibe to it. There was also a little magical realism as well, but it was a lot more subtle than the other ones. I don’t have much to say about this one because nothing really stuck out, but it was a still pretty decent read.

 

Have You Read Any Books Featuring Jewish Protagonists? Do You Want To Read It’s A Whole Spiel? Let Me Know In The Comments Down Below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What Makes Me Like ( or Dislike) a Book: Discussion Post

Every reader is different and what makes a great book for some, makes a horrible books for other. I’d thought it’d been fun to look at a couple of books that I’ve read in these past few months that I’ve loved and some books that I haven’t liked quite as much, to try to determine what exactly make me like or dislike a book.

Books I Have Loved So Far This Year.

1. A Spark of Light By Jodi Picoult

What Made Me Love The Book:

1. The way the story was told in reverse chronological order.

2. The way that Picoult managed me to feel sympathy for even the most despicable of characters.

3. How she took a topic that is extremely controversial and managed to discuss it with tact through the use of amazingly complex characters.

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

2. The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

What Made Me Love The Book:

1.The swoon worthy romance.

2. The amazing character development.

3. The little bits of humour and intense emotional moments that made the book 1000x stronger

Rating: 4/5 Stars

3. Emma Mills’ Books

What Made Me Love Her Books:

1.The on-point humour that all her protagonists have that cause me to laugh out loud multiple times

2. The amazing balance between family, friendship and romance.

3. The serious moments amongst the fluff that left me feeling numb.

Rating: 5/5 Stars

4. The Nightingale by Kristen HannahMy

What Made Me Love This Book:

1. The unique take on a time in history that has been done to death.

2. The amazing use of dual perspective.

3. All the feels that this book made me go through which escalated into a perfectly bitter-sweet ending.

My Rating:5/5 Stars

5. Solitaire by Alice Oseman

What Made Me Love The Book:

1. The authentic teenage voice of the main character.

2. The extremely on point pop culture references.

3. The melancholy vibe that made me feel so incredibly seen.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

In Conclusion: So based on these books, it seems that I really like to have my heart torn apart while reading and I need to have amazing complex characters. If there are touches of humour or humour, then that would make the book all the better.

Books That I Did Not Love So Far This Year

1. Pretending To Dance by Diane Chamberlain

What I Didn’t Like About The Book:

1. The buildup to the big reveal was extremely disappointing.

2. None of the character’s justifications for her actions made any sense.

My Rating; 2/5 Stars

2.The One And The Only by Emily Griffin

1. There was a disgusting romance between the main character and her best-friend’s recently widowed father.

2. The dialogue was super unnatural and there were an over abundance ellipses and italics.

Rating: 1/5 Stars

3.The Devil in The Flesh by Raymond Radiguet.

1. The main character was the most insufferable asshole I’ve ever had the displeasure of encountering.

2. It was sooo boring and even though it was only like 150 pages, it felt like it dragged on for 1000 pages.

My Rating: 1/5 Stars

4.The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

My Rating: 2/5 Stars

1. The pacing was really bad and the author focused on all the wrong things.

2. The world building was really lacklustre and were so many unanswered questions.

Conclusion: It seems like there are many things that make me dislike a book, but I think the biggest thing is if there is an insufferable character or just a lot of plot points that don’t make any sense.

What About You? What Makes You Like or Dislike a Book? Let Me Know in The Comments Down Below!

Just For Clicks By Kara McDowell Blog Tour ( Review + US Giveaway)

Goodreads Summary:

Mommy blogs are great . . . unless the blog happens to belong to your mom.

Twin sisters Claire & Poppy are accidental social media stars thanks to Mom going viral when they were babies. Now, as teens, they’re expected to contribute by building their own brand. Attending a NY fashion week and receiving fan mail is a blast. Fending off internet trolls and would-be kidnappers? Not so much. Poppy embraces it. Claire hates it. Will anybody accept her as “just Claire”? And what should Claire do about Mom’s old journals? The handwritten entries definitely don’t sound like Mom’s perfect blog persona. Worse, one of them divulges a secret that leaves Claire wondering what else in her life might be nothing but a sham . . .

About The Author:

Born in the mountains and raised in the desert, Kara McDowell spent her childhood swimming, boating, and making up stories in her head. As the middle of five children, Kara entertained her family on long road trips by reading short mystery stories out loud and forcing everyone to guess the conclusion. After graduating from Arizona State University with a BA in English Literature, Kara worked as a freelance writer. Now she writes young adult novels from her home in Arizona, where she lives with her husband and three young sons.

Find Kara Online:

Website/ Goodreads/ Twitter

Buy Just For Clicks:

Barnes & Nobles/ Amazon/ Book Depository

My Rating:4/5 Stars

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an

honest review.

February 11th

The Book Addict– Review

February 12th

The Candid Cover– Review & Favorite Quotes

February 13th

Irisheyz77– Review & Favorite Quotes

February 14th

The Book Return– Review

February 15th

Bookish_Kali– Review
The Clever Reader– Review & Favorite Quotes

My Thoughts:

The phenomenon of internet fame is one that I found fascinating and it’s a subject that I love seeing being discussed in books. It’s mind-boggling to me that there are people out there who are famous basically for just existing. Before Just For Clicks, I had a vague idea on how popular mommy bloggers were, but this book really shed light on a subject that I had never really thought about before. I absolutely loved seeing Claire’s struggle between wanting to make her mother and sister happy, and removing herself from the spotlight. The discussion about internet culture that occurred throughout the book was super fascinating and it made me think a lot about the role internet fame plays in our society. There’s always a danger for subject like these to sound preachy, but that wasn’t the case in this book which I really appreciated. I really liked how Kara McDowell showed both the ugly and glamorous parts of fame. One that thing I think could’ve been addressed a little more was the enormous amount of privilege that Claire had because of her fame. There were off-hand comments where she did acknowledge her privilege but it still rubbed me the wrong way.

No contemporary is truly complete without a swoon-worthy love interest, and Just For Clicks definitely delivered with Rafael. He was super sweet and caring and basically everything I could ask for in a love interest. It was so excruciating to have to read through so many near-kisses, wondering each time if this would be the time where one of them would finally reveal their GODAMN FEELINGS. Even if it was definitely frustrating, it made them getting together all the more satisfying. Claire and Rafael’s chemistry were to die for and I just wish there was less miscommunication drama and more swoon worthy moments.

I expected this book to be a pretty run of the mill contemporary, but McDowell hit me with some unexpected and heartbreaking plot moments. There was a point in the book that had me gasp aloud which like very rarely happens. At times I did find Claire’s reaction to this particular plot point to be a little stubborn but I did appreciated her development and her end reaction to it.

I really appreciate all the relationships in this book but I especially love the dynamic between Claire and Poppy. It felt very realistic to me and the author did a great job of depicting the love-hate relationship that so many siblings have. Things became especially complicated as the story progressed, and I love seeing how their relationship shifted throughout the novel. While I really did like their relationship, I would’ve appreciated a few more moments where we really get to see their sisterhood shine.

Giveaway (US Only)

Ends February 22nd 2019.

Have You Read Just For Clicks? Do You Want To? Let Me Know In The Comments Down Below

Down The The Tbr Hole #2

So I have a serious problem with adding books that I’m only mildly interested in just because I like the cover or everybody is talking about it. I really want my to be read shelf to be an accurate representation of the books I’m going to read so I want to pare down on the 3000+ titles. So I thought Down The Tbr Hole which was created by Lia over at LostinaStory, would be a perfect way to do so

The rules are simple:

  • Go to your goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 (or even more!) if youre feeling adventurous) books. Of course, if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

So let’s tackle my tbr!

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1. I Am J by Cris Beam

I’ve  heard really bad things about this book and like I don’t even think it’s #ownvoices so I don’t think I’m ever going to want to read it.

Verdict: Go

2. Size 12 Is Not Fat by Meg Cabot

I’ve really enjoyed everything I’ve read by Cabot and while I don’t know when I’ll read it since I don’t own a copy, I’m going to keep it since it sounds like a really great lighthearted book.

Verdict: Keep

3.The Princess Bride by William Golding

I know everybody loves the Princess Bride movie but I personally find it to be super overrated. Like it”s funny but it’s not the cult classic that everyone makes it out to be. So I don’t think I’d rlly enjoy the book either.

Verdict: Go

4. Blood Red Road by Moira Young

I tried to read this a couple of years ago but I couldn’t get pass the first 50 pages. It had this weirdly weird dialogue with no quotation marks and it just really bothered me. I don’t think I’m ever going to give this book a second chance.

Verdict: Go

5.Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

I’ve been dying to read this book for so long and I’ve just never gotten my hands on it. It sounds amazing like who wouldn’t want to read about a bookstore that’s open 24 hours a day? That’s the ultimate bookworm dream.

Verdict: Keep

6. Choker by Elizabeth Woods

I remember Ariel Bissett and Raeleen Lemay really loved this book ( I pretty much got all my book recs from them) but I just reread this synopsis and it really doesn’t seen like my thing. Like maybe if a book with a similiar concept came out now I would read it but it was published in 2011 so it’s probably super outdated.

Verdict: Go

7. Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony

This is a book that is told almost entirely through pictures which is just such a cool concept. I’m not sure where I’ll be able to find a copy but if I ever do I’ll be really excited to read it. It sounds like a beautiful book.

Verdict: Keep

8. Grafitti Moon by Cath Crowley

This doesn’t seem like something I’d really be into but someone whose opinion I trust a lot reviewed it on Goodreads and said she loved it so I think I’m going to keep it.

Verdict: Keep

9. A Wounded Name by Dot Huthinson.

I have absolutely no recollection of ever adding this book and I can’t imagine a time where a book like this would ever interest me. It’s a paranormal romance which is pretty much my least favorite genre. It’s a no for me.

Verdict: Go

10. Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

Seventh Grade Hannah may have loved this but I’m looking at the synopsis now and cringing so so much. It seems super predictable and not someting that I’d enjoy at all.

Verdict: Go

11. See You At Harry’s by Jo Knowles

This is another one where though I don’t know exactly when I read it, it’s still something I really want to read. It looks like heartfelt coming of age YA which is my favorite type of story.

Verdict: Keep

12. Article 5 by Kristen Simmons

This seems like a cliche dystopian with not much substance. Unless the concept is super unique and well executed, I’m pretty much done with dystopians.

Verdict: Go

13. Ageless by Jeanne M. Haskin.

I have actually no idea why I added it because it looks super bad and weird. Why did 2014 Hannah add so many random books?

Verdict: Go

14. Banquet of Lies by Michelle Diener

This book is set in regency London and is about spies. Umm yes please?!!!!

Verdict: Keep

15.The Iron Fey Volume 1( The Iron King+ The Iron Daughter) by Julie Kagwa.

I’ve never read a Kagwa book before and like even though she’s a prolific author and a lot of ppl seem to like her books, I’m just not a huge fantasy person. I’d love to be able to enjoy books about fae and the like but it just doesn’t click with me.

Verdict: Go

16. How To Save a Life by Sara Zarr

This seems like a really sweet and emotional contemporary and I’d definitely like to pick it up one day.

Verdict: Keep

17. In The Chat Room With God by Todd Hafer.

This is just a whole new level of weird….whyyyyyyyyy.

Verdict: Go

18. Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk

I’m not a huge fan of horror books or short story collections so I think I’m good.

Verdict: Go

19. Possession by Elana Johnson.

This sounds like yet another boring dystopian. The number of variations on the same plot that are out there is astounding.

Verdict: Go

20. Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S King

I have a lot-hate relationship with her books but I think this is one that I’d really enjoy. I’ve been wanting to read for 5+ years but have just never gotten around to it. One day, one day.

Verdict: Keep

Final Results:

Keep: 8

Go:12

Did I Get Rid of Any Books That You Loved? Kept Any Books That You Hated? Let Me Know In The Comments Down Below!

 

 

End of Year Book Survey 2018

So the year is quickly coming to a close which means another end of year book survey!!! This tag was created by the perptualpageturner   and I’ve been doing it for the past two years and it’s filled with some really great questions. So without further ado let’s get into the amazing books I read this year.

**2018 READING STATS**

 

Number Of Books You Read: 155
Number of Re-Reads: 15 Books
Genre You Read The Most From: Probably realistic fiction but I’m not sure.

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1. Best Book You Read In 2018?

It’s really hard to chose just one book it’s the one that I just keep coming back whenever I think about the question so I think Sadie by Courtney Summers. I mean all of her books are amazing but this one just blew me out of the water.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

About A Girl by Sarah Mccarry.  The cover was of two girls kissing and I was like “awesome, this is going to be gay af and I’m going to love it” And while it was very gay, it was also weird as fuck and I had no idea what was going on 99% of the time. I was really disappointed.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?  

More Than This by Patrick Ness. I had no idea what to expect going into it and only had like a really vague idea of what it was about. This book blew me out the water and I was really surprised by the awesome turn it took.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

I don’t really recommend books to people I know IRL because I know they won’t read it so let’s pass this one.

 5. Best series you started in 2018? Best Sequel of 2018? Best Series Ender of 2018?

Best Series: Scythe by Neal Shusterman. That series is fucking amazing and I need the third book ASAP

Best Sequel: Leah on The Offbeat by Becky Albertalli. This book is the perfect conclusion to the simonverse and I love everything about it.

Best Series Ender: Of Monsters and Men by Patrick Ness. This series ruined me and I loved it.

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2018?

Katherine Locke. The Balloonmakers duology is the best thing ever and I can’t wait to read whatever else she comes out with.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

Frankenstein was one the only classics that I read by choice this year and I loved it so much!! It was so fascinating and I could talk about it for hours.

 

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton. This book was so thrilling and there were so many twists and turns that had me reeling. It’s one of the most cleverly executed thrillers I’ve ever read.

 9. Book You Read In 2018 That You Would Be MOST Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Probably Bridge of Clay. A year that goes by without me reading Markus Zusak isn’t really a year at all.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2018?

probably Far From The Tree by Robin Benway. It’s really simple but I love it.

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11. Most memorable character of 2018?

Probably Sadie From Sadie by Courntey Summers. Everything that that girl went through hurt my soul and I just want to protect her at all cost.

 

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2018?

Bridge of Clay By Markus Zusak. Hands down. His writing will never cease to amaze me.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2018?

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.  Everybody needs to read this book. It’s so important and beautifully written and just such a relevant book for our current political climate.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2018 to finally read? 

Station Eleven by Emily St-John Mandel. I’ve heard about this book for years now and I never really understand what the hype was about. But when I read it , I finally understood. THis book is amazing and arguably the best postapocalyptic story I’ve ever read.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2018?

” “I’m Not anything if I’m not writing, Mr Hemingway.’

‘Ernest,’ he said.

‘Ernest,’ I repeated, thinking, in the end, the writing was the only thig that saved me, that kept me from being sucked down into the sludge pit of darkness and doubt. Wondering if any small bit of Ernest Hemingway might be the same way, if a writer as succesful as he was ever questioned his words, his worth, the cost of what it took to pour al lof yourself into  a book that people might just abandon, half-read, on a chair in a bus station, even with a whole long journey to pass.”

It’s from Beautiful Exiles by Meg Waite Clayton and this quote hit me so hard.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2018?

Shortest: Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseni

Longest: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman. That ending killed me and if the third book doesn’t come out soon I may not survive

 

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Matteo and Rufus from They Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera. Only Silvera could make me root for two people who just met and are going to die on the same die.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

The relationship between Grace, Maya and Joaquin. This book is chock full of beautiful relationships but the one between the three biological siblings was my absolute favorite.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2018 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Our Year Of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon. This book was amazing and somehow even better than her first one.

21. Best Book You Read In 2018 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure/Bookstagram, Etc.:

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. This is really not something that I’d usually read but everybody on twitter was talking about it so I gave in and it was so cute!!! It had me swooning the entire time.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2018?

I domn’t get fictional crushes.

23. Best 2018 debut you read?

Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough. This book was absolutely phenonemal.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

I feel like I’ve mentioned this book so many times but I’m obsessed. The Scythe Series by Neal Shusterman has amazing worldbuilding and I could highkey read an entire book entirely about the history of the world.

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Born a Crime: Stories From A South African Childhood by Trevor Noah. This book was fucking hilarious and had me in laughter induced tears multiple times.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2018?

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. This book was beautifully crafted and so bittersweet and the way the story progressed had me in tears multple times.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Beautiful Exiles by Meg Waite Clayton. This book about Hemmingway’s third wife was absolutely phenonemal and I just love books that make me learn about hidden parts of history.

 

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara had me in tears  throughout pretty much the entire book. This book wrecked me.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2018?

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Keirsten White. It’s one of the most unique retellings I’ve read and it was so interesting to compare it with the original source material.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Brief Chronicle of Another Stupid Heartbreak by Adi Alsaid. This book pissed me off and just I felt absolutely no sympathy for the main character and reading about her stupid decisions made me want to throw something.

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1. New favorite book blog/Bookstagram/Youtube channel you discovered in 2018?

I absolute love Elise’s blog.

2. Favorite post you wrote in 2018?

My discussion post on whether Holocaust Books are still important. It’s a post that was very personal and something I’ve been thinking about for quite some time.

3. Favorite bookish related photo you took in 2018:?

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Honestly I haven’t taken many bookish photos but I like this one of my ticket for when I went to see Love, Simon.

4. Best bookish event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events,  etc.)?

HCC Frenzy invited me to go see an early screening of Love, Simon and it was sooo much fun. Little did I know that this would become my favorite movie that I would watch over 50 times.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2018?

I hate to sound like a broken record but seeing Love, Simon.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

Finding the motivation to blog and readwhile I had other obligations. This summer I was working at a sumemr camp with no internet access for two months so I had to backlog a lot of blog posts which worked out in the end but during that time I barely read which really sucked.   But then with school I was just so overhwhelmed this semester that the amount of posts I came out with was really disapointing

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

For some reason my review of The Cruelty  keeps getting views and I have no idea why since it’s not that great of a review and I wrote it like two years ago.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

My post on what Love, Simon means to me.

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

I recently discovered that Overdrive is the best thing ever created and though I used to be not totally sold on ebooks, it’s not basically all I read. There are so many amazing books on there and I don’t have to go anywhere to get them and it’s free!!!

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

I set myself a goodreads goal to read 100 books which I surpassed by reading 153 books!!

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1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2018 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2019?

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult. As soon as it becomes avaliable at my library, I’m jumping on it.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2019 (non-debut)?

You Asked For Perfect by Laura Silverman. I’m so excited for this book. I absolutely loved Girl Out of Water and I think that this one is going to be even better.

3. 2019 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Again But Better by Christine Riccio. I’m usually super wary of Youtubers writing books but Christine seems super dedicated to her novel and it just looks really amazing. She’s a really funny person and I think her humor and overall tone would translate really well into a book.

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2019?

I hate to sound like a broken record but the third book in the scythe series is supposed to come out and I NEED IT NOW.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2019?

I just want to create as much quality content as I possibly can.

6. A 2019 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable):

A Place for Wolves by Kosoko Jackson. This book is fucking amazing and y’all need to read it when it comes out.

Have You Read Any of the Books I Mentioned? How Was Your Reading Year? Did You Do The End of Year Book Survey? Let Me Know in The Comments Down Below!

A Little Life by Hanya Yangihara

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Goodreads Summary:When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

This is not a happy book. Are there happy moments? Sure, and actually this book features some of the sweetest scenes I have ever seen but this is not a happy book.  This book is an investment both because of the sheer length and how much it will destroy you. I am not usually the type of person who will cry while reading a sad book but I was bawling not once but so many times that I started to lose count. There are so many trigger warnings so you absolutely have to be in the right frame of mind to read it. Trigger warnings for sexual abuse, physical abuse, cutting, suicide, pedophilia and probably a lot more that I’m forgetting. I had no idea what I was getting into when i started reading it so I read this book very slowly because there was only so much I could take before I broke. So don’t  take the decision of reading this book lightly because while it’s  an amazing book, it’s very intense and isn’t for everyone.

That being said, damn was this book phenomenal!  It felt like it was never going to end but when it finally did, I wanted more. Not everyone could have pulled a book like this off but Yanigahara managed do it.  You have to be a very good author to write a book with such disturbing content because most of the time it seems like the writer is using people’s suffering to their advantage. A Small Life wasn’t like that. Yes there was so many disturbing moments that made me want to barf but she managed to write it in a way that was tactful and heart wrenching.   Writing a book like this is a mark of a truly remarkable author and I can’t wait to read her other works.

This book starts when the characters are in their mid 20s and ends when they’re in their 50s so spans many decades which are the best time of books. I loved seeing the evolution of the characters and really liked how information was slowly revealed throughout this behemoth of a novel. I started off liking the characters a little bit but by the time I was done, I was so emotionally invested in their lives and they felt like dear friends. The way the characters were crafted was so amazing and while this book did primarily focus on one character, Jude, all the other characters were just as interesting. Another really interesting thing about this book is that for the most part it was just expository prose with very little dialogue which is usually something that throws me off in a book but it was done so well. The writing style was so simple and easy to read that it didn’t make the huge hunks of texts as intimidating as it usually would be.

This book is about so many things but I think one of the most important things is that it’s about relationships. And not just romantic ones. Friendships, relationships that aren’t bound by blood but are just as important.  Relationships that maybe aren’t the most traditional but are just as valid. They’re are so many different and unique relationships in this book and while some are downright disgusting, others are extremely beautiful. My favorite thing is when books have great characters and great relationships and  A Small Life did both amazingly.

The last thing that I really appreciated was the  fact that their was no easy solutions. The struggles that the main character, Jude,  went through throughout the book was consistent and while there were good periods, his struggles never went away. I found that to be very true to life and while it really hurt to see him suffer so much, I really liked the fact that he didn’t miracurously get better. It was very difficult to read at times because of how true to life it was but I think it’s important to write a story like this. This is not a happy book. There are no happy endings. But every page was worth the sufferring.

Have You Read A Small Life? What Did You Think Of It? Did You Cry as Much As I Did?

 

 

 

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp Book Review

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Goodreads Summary

10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity High School finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03 a.m. The auditorium doors won’t open.

10:05 a.m. Someone starts shooting.

Told from four different perspectives over the span of fifty-four harrowing minutes, terror reigns as one student’s calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

My Rating:3/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

When I first heard about This Is Where It Ends I was so excited: everyone was talking about it and singing its praise and it was on the NYT bestsellers list so I knew that I had to pick up. And I picked it up a year after it had been published and… I was disappointed. It was a BAD book but it wasn’t nearly as good as I expected it to be. I’ve read her other book as well and I wasn’t impressed with that one either so I definitely think that this an author who just isn’t for me.

One of the good things about this book was the diversity.  Nijkamp is at the forefront of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks moments and it really shows in all the characters that she  writes. There are two queer girl characters, one of them whom is Latina and then there’s a Latino character and all of these are main characters. So 3/4 of the perspectives are diverse which is really great!!  While I love books that feature queer girls, honestly the romance between the two of them was very unbelievable and I just couldn’t understand the chemistry that was supposed to make them in love.

I think my main problem with this book was the fact that it just wasn’t very intriguing. Like yeah it takes place over like a period of an hour or something like that but I was really bored while reading it. Like people were dying left and right and yet it didn’t feel like it at all? That may be due to the excessive amount of flashbacks that occurred throughout the book which were definitely  needed so the reader could better understand what was going on but it took us out of the book and made what was currently happening less impactful.  I think that the flashbacks could have been written better so the contrast between past and present could’ve been much more important.

Another thing that really bugged me was the fact that the shooter’s motives were never clear and while I definitely wouldn’t have wanted a killer perspective, I would’ve liked just an inkling as to why the shooter felt the need to do what he did.  Also this is probably just a personal preference but in this day and age, it really bugs me when books are written about school shootings and there’s no pertinent discussion. Obviously since this only takes place within a very short period of time it wouldn’t make sense but I’m just not that interested in books like these. They rely too heavily on the shock factor.

While it seems like I hated the book, I didn’t! It was just a very meh book that didn’t impress me as much as I thought it would. I still really liked the writing style, and it was a pretty interesting book. It just wasn’t my thing and wasn’t what I was looking in a book like this.

Have You Read This Is Where It Ends? Did You Like It? Let Me Know In The Comments Down Below!

 

I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios Book Review

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Goodreads Summary:If Skylar Evans were a typical Creek View girl, her future would involve a double-wide trailer, a baby on her hip, and the graveyard shift at Taco Bell. But after graduation, the only thing separating Skylar from art school is three months of summer…until Skylar’s mother loses her job, and Skylar realizes her dreams may be slipping out of reach.

Josh had a different escape route: the Marines. But after losing his leg in Afghanistan, he returns home, a shell of the cocksure boy he used to be.

What brings Skylar and Josh together is working at the Paradise—a quirky motel off California’s Highway 99. Despite their differences, their shared isolation turns into an unexpected friendship and, soon, something deeper.

Compelling and ultimately hopeful, this is a powerful examination of love, loss, and resilience.

My Rating:3/5 Stars

I’ll Meet You There is a touching story that deals with poverty, PTSD and love similar to Making Faces by Amy Harmon. While I was not the hugest fan of the romance and wasn’t completely sold on the chemistry between Skylar and Josh, I thought that the portrayal of poverty and PTSD was excellent.

So few books feature characters who are truly poor. There are definitely YA books who have characters that struggle with money but I’ve seen very few books accurately depict poverty so accurately.  It’s important to write about teenagers from all different types of backgrounds because I think that it creates a very interesting and unique plot because the majority of YA protagonists are comfortable and don’t need to worry about money. I also really loved how despite the fact that she was very poor, she kind of looked down on those people and couldn’t wait to escape her town and how throughout the book she realized how her looking down on the people in her town wasn’t okay. This was especially shown in her friendship with her best friend which was really well done and endearing.

The other great thing about this book was the depiction of PTSD. I honestly love reading about characters with PTSD because it’s such an important issue that is often ignored when people commemorate soldiers. Though the majority of the book was told in the perspective of skylar, there were chapters that were from Josh and they were like him talking to on his friends who died in combat and those chapters were so amazing. The way that his trauma was depicted was so on point and raw and it affected me so much. It was so well done and I applaud the author for her depiction! Josh was such an interesting character and I really loved seeing his journey throughout the novel.

I know it seems like I really enjoyed the book so you may wonder why my rating is only 3 stars? While I did really like this book, there was one reoccuring element that really annoyed me and made the book less enjoyable and that was the bigotry. There was a lot of homophobic slurs and people calling things “gay” and it was just so unnecessary. I don’t know why the author felt that these words were essential to the dialogue but it just ruined the story for me. Though it is called out, it’s called out in this very passive way and I just don’t see the point in it being there. Every time this would happen, I had to stop and reasses my enjoyment of the story because it just took me out of the novel which really sucks.There were no gay characters and bigotry wasn’t a plot point so it just so felt weird and unnecessary. I felt like I was reading a book from the early 2000s and it just made my enjoyment of the book decrease considerably.

Have You Read I’ll Meet You There? What Did You Think Of It? Let Me Know In The Comments Down Below!

 

 

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley Book Review

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Goodreads Summary:

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town’s most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept separate but equal.

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

Boldly realistic and emotionally compelling, Lies We Tell Ourselves is a brave and stunning novel about finding truth amid the lies, and finding your voice even when others are determined to silence it

My Rating: 2.5/ 5 Stars

This could’ve been a great book. it had all the elements of a book that I could fall in love with. Awesome characters? Check. Queer Black MC? Check. Interesting plot about  an important time period? Check. This would’ve have been easily one of my favorite reads of 2018 if not for one issue. Lies We Tell Ourselves is written by a white women and for a book about such an tumultuous time and important event not be ownvoices rings so wrongly to me. Had this book been published this year, the book community would be in an up-roar but unfortunately this book was published in 2014 where books like these were still considered revolutionary. We didn’t have books like The Hate U Give, Dear Martin or Tyler Johnson Was Here. #ownvoices books that are so powerful and successful and that have touched so many people lives. If I had read this book when it had come out I would have probably loved it but I’m more aware now and I just can’t condone it.

Am I saying that white authors can’t write black characters? Of course not. But there are certain issues that haven’t been written about by black authors so for white authors to pave the way is kind of disgusting.  To my knowledge, Talley was the first and quite possibly one of the only YA authors to write about integration in schools and it really sucks because if a black author ever wants to write about this, they’re going to be compared to Talley. If a black author had written this book, I probably would have loved it but when reading Lies We Tell Yourselves I felt like Talley was profiting off of the oppression of black individuals. To add to this this is also a book about a black queer teenager which I honestly can’t remember ever seeing in any other book so yet again Talley is overstepping her boundaries.  I also really hated how often the n word was used and like I know it’s supposed to be “authentic” but I could have done without that.

Putting that huge issue aside, I really enjoyed the character of Sarah and really enjoyed reading about her struggle in integrating into an all white high school. I felt that the white perspective of Linda was really uneeded and though I know that she supposedly learned about her mistakes, she never really saw the errors of her ways and merely saw Sarah as the exception. Also the romance in this was super unbelievable and there was no chemistry whatsoever.

Have You Read Lies We Tell Ourselves? What Did You Think of It? Let Me Know In The Comments Down Below!

 

How We Roll By Natasha Friend Book Review

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Goodreads Summary:

Quinn is a teen who loves her family, skateboarding, basketball, and her friends, but after she’s diagnosed with a condition called alopecia which causes her to lose all of her hair, her friends abandon her. Jake was once a star football player, but a freak accident—caused by his brother—he loses both of his legs. Quinn and Jake meet and find the confidence to believe in themselves again, and maybe even love.

My Rating:4/5 Stars

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This Is How We Roll is the type of book I would have fallen  heads over heels with when I was in grade seven. Even though I’m way older than the intended audience, I still really enjoyed it. Though the protagonists are on the younger side ( I think they may be in their freshman year). I still really loved them and thought that they were well developed.

My favorite part of this book was seeing how the characters evolved and grew more confident as the story progressed. I liked seeing Quinn dealing with her alopecia and moving to a new school and an incident back at her old school and I’ve never read a book with a character who has a condition like Quinn’s so it was a really interesting and unique perspective. I also enjoyed the family dynamic and how Quinn feels about being pushes to the back burner do the fact that her younger brother has autism. I can’t speak for the autism rep but from what I though it was depicted very tactfully and there was no problematic elements.

One of the thing that I found very refreshing was the new friends that Quinn made at her new school. They were very much described as being popular and I was really scared that this would cause a conflict later on where past events would repeat themselves but they didn’t and I’m really glad. While there are definitely popular kids that are complete assholes they’re not all evil and it was really nice to see them being depicted as positive friends for Quinn. They were not put down for being superficial and it was very refreshing from what is usually portrayed.

The key to a good fluffy contemporary that has any romantic element is a great love interest and Nick was a great one. I loved seeing their friendship develop and really  enjoyed seeing how they helped one another. It was very endearing and Nick was just such a sweet and loving character. I also really liked how the ending was sort of ambiguous which isn’t often seen in YA contemporaries so I really appreciated the open ending.