5 Stars…All the Stars!!

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ngfive-star-rating-black-clip-art-hi

little fires everywhereHow lucky I feel to have my first read of the year be such a fantastically amazing book?! Looks like Rachel and I both lucked out with our first reads both being 5-stars! Don’t forget to check out her review of her first read, if you haven’t already!

Now onto this book…it…was…incredible!! This book left me breathless by the end and it absolutely gutted me of all my feelings. This book is a beautiful look into the multi-layerness of motherhood, womanhood, teenage love and seeking out living our best lives. Celeste Ng has a way of writing beautifully lyrical words that not only transport you to a perfectly coiffed suburban neighborhood, but also stirs in you all of the emotions that the characters are feeling throughout the book. I loved this book and EVERYONE needs to read this!!

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Quick Take Catch Up: The Martian

The Martian by Andy Weir
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This wasn’t technically my last read of 2017, but I haven’t the martiangotten around to reviewing it yet…so for the purposes of this blog, it is my last book review from 2017!!

This was a book that I’ve been sort of on the fence when it came to reading the book. My fiance ended up getting it via audiobook for our Thanksgiving drive down to see his family. It took two holiday trips, however, to finish it and we surprisingly enjoyed it!

A huge reason why I’d been on the fence about this book was the review of it being overly “science-y”, which has always made science-fiction hard for me to engage with and enjoy. However, the audiobook version made all the “science-y” parts much more accessible. I feel like if I had just read the physical book, I wouldn’t have gotten the thriller aspect of the book and the audiobook definitely sets that tone really well. I do think that they could’ve picked a different narrator, but aside from that, it was an enjoyable “read”.

We ended up watching the movie over the Christmas holidays with his family and I was impressed to see how true they kept to the original source material. There were definitely a few elements that they changed, some of those changes I don’t fully understand, but overall…it was pretty close.

Yay for audiobooks when reading the physical book doesn’t totally appeal to me! 🙂

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Rachel’s Favorites of 2017!!

2017

2017…oof, what a year. Let’s just leave it at that, kay? Now to focus back on books! Many books have been read by us as a collective this year. Between the three of us, we have read…105 books!!! Here we are to share with you some of our favorites from this past year!! These are not in any specific order for any of us, just as a heads up!

  1. Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey: Though it took me a very long time to get through it, Sometimes a Great Notion is an amazing piece of American Literature! It was enjoyed all the more by starting it during my PNW vacation. If you love character-driven stories, ignore the seemingly boring summary and dive right in!
  2. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer: I definitely did not expect to enjoy this book as much as I did! Nonfiction isn’t usually my thing, but Krakauer does such a good job of laying out the story. Chris McCandless seems to be the deciding factor of who loves or hates this book, but I am 100% in the love it category.
  3. Schooled by Gordon Korman: This was probably a bigger surprise than Into the Wild! It was honestly the cutest story and I’m surprised it isn’t more popular. Schooled had an original concept and didn’t feel like a clichĂ© middle school story–definitely an enjoyable read!
  4. Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon: this is like a more modern day On the Road with more traveling stories and less drugs. I’m honestly shocked to find two nonfiction books in my top five…maybe that’s something to consider for the coming year!
  5. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: Make that three out of the five are nonfiction–wow, 2017 really was a bizarre year. Still, this book is like way super important for people to read in this day and age. It’s by no means an easy one, but I think I agree with Toni Morrison when she calls it “required reading”.

There you have it! What were some of your favorite reads from 2017? 

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Survival is Insufficient

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandelfive-star-rating-black-clip-art-hi

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“I stood looking over my damaged home and tried to forget the sweetness of life on Earth.”

I’m telling you; if you want to kick off the new year in that bright-eyed, optimistic, hope-against-all-hope mindset, read this book. It’s easy to see the past year as one giant burning heap of garbage, but books like this help remind me of all that we have to be grateful for. Apparently a book about the end of the world is just what the doctor ordered.

“Jeevan found himself thinking about how human the city is, how human everything is. We bemoaned the impersonality of the modern world, but that was a lie, it seemed to him; it had never been impersonal at all. There had always been a massive delicate infrastructure of people, all of them working unnoticed around us, and when people stop going to work, the entire operation grinds to a halt. No one delivers fuel to the gas stations or the airports. Cars are stranded. Airplanes cannot fly. Trucks remain at their points of origin. Food never reaches the cities; grocery stores close. Businesses are locked and then looted. No one comes to work at the power plants or the substations, no one removes fallen trees from electrical lines. Jeevan was standing by the window when the lights went out.” Continue reading

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Christina’s Favorites of 2017!!

2017

2017…oof, what a year. Let’s just leave it at that, kay? Now to focus back on books! Many books have been read by us as a collective this year. Between the three of us, we have read…105 books!!! Here we are to share with you some of our favorites from this past year!! These are not in any specific order for any of us, just as a heads up!

Christina 

  1. I’m going to cheat a little with my first book and go with the Six of Crows duology. These were the first two books that I read this past year and I was so glad that I finally got around to this duology!! This was a fantastic duology filled with a fast-paced plot, incredibly dynamic characters and a fascinatingly immersive world. I loved it!!
  2. My second pick is going to be none other than Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. Another one of the first books that I’ve read this year and this is definitely the book that has had the most last impact. A debut author and I am hoping to definitely see more from Yaa Gyasi. This was a most beautiful multigenerational book following two Ghanian sisters. This book explored blackness in such a unique way through the most beautiful storytelling.
  3. My third book is in similar vein with my second book, and that is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas…another beautiful book written by a debut author!! This was a moving YA book inspired by the “Black Lives Matter” movement. This was a difficult book to read as it tells the BLM story from the perspective of a young black girl, which just makes it even more heartbreaking. This is such an important book and I believe that EVERYONE should read this book…and ASAP.
  4. My fourth pick came to me at quite the surprise when I read it earlier in the year. And that is Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare. Now, Cassandra Clare’s books have been my longtime guilty pleasure reads, as they are slightly ridiculous and just pack full of YA tropes. However, her newest trilogy (The Dark Artifices) is beyond anything that I had expected to read from Cassandra Clare. It is evident that her writing and storytelling have become so much more sophisticated and I believe Cassandra Clare to be a YA author that believes in not sugar-coating books for a younger audience. She used this book as an opportunity to address some real world issues and I applaud her for doing so.
  5. My fifth and final pick for this list is going to be none other than Turtles All The Way Down by John Green. As someone with OCD, I have always appreciated John Green’s openness and his candor about his own experiences with OCD. It has always given me something to relate to and connect with in media, since I have not seen OCD represented either accurately or respectively. What this meant for this book was a most painful, heartbreaking and accurate portrayal of OCD. This was a difficult book for me to read, but I am so glad that it exists in the world and I am incredibly grateful to John Green for being continuously open and raising awareness on this issue.

Quick Takes: The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
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Listen; Neil Gaiman could write a book discussing different  procedures used in making primitive ceramics and I would eat it all up. This man can do no wrong and I freakin love him for it. He’s the kind of author you can turn to when you want the assurance of a good read.

The Graveyard Book is no different. It is fun, creative, and engaging from start to finish. It even has some Romanian representation (holla) that doesn’t even involve vampires or gypsies! I’ll take it. Fun fact: Miss Lupescu’s nickname for Bod–Nimeni–is Romanian for Nobody. And her last name hints at wolf (Lupu).  Though her heritage was never specified, well, now you know.

The only reason I’m not giving it a higher rating is because at times I wished I was reading the same story at an adult-level complexity. There is room for growth in this tale, and I would have loved it more had it not been for the childhood flavor of some parts of the story. Still, a good read from a great author!

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Christmas Quick Takes

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I don’t know about y’all, but every time December rolls around I use it as an excuse to pull out as many Christmas-y reads as I can physically fit into the month. I love the general theme of hope, faith and love in Christmas stories! That means the majority of my reads from this past month were pretty Christmas-y, so I thought I’d do one post with quick take reviews of my reads from the past month. I’ve read two other books that I will review later on! 🙂

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares (#1) by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan three-star-rating-black-hi

d & l book of daresThis was the first book that I picked up this month because I was seeing it circulate everywhere as this cute and light Christmas contemporary. Plus, I ended up getting it on my Kindle for like $1.99. This is a story following Dash & Lily as they fall in love via passing back and forth this red Moleskin notebook with dares and clues for each of them. As expected, this was super light, super fluffy and quite cute. My biggest hang up was actually the portrayal of the character, Dash. My main criticism of him is actually similar to most people’s criticisms’ of John Greens’ characters in that I found Dash to be absolutely unlike any teenage boy I’ve ever met. He has a love for the Oxford English Dictionary, so uses and throws around big words in his everyday vernacular, which I just find slightly difficult to believe and relate to. Overall, it was cute, had loads of family elements and a sweet love story to carry me through.

What Light by Jay Asher four-star-rating-black-hi

This book was the biggest surprise of the month! I had been wanting to pick this up and I finally got around to it this month, definitely not expecting to like it as much as I did. The Books Jay Asherbook follows Sierra and her family who run a Christmas tree farm. They spend the year in their home in Oregon and then every holiday season, travel down to California to sells Christmas trees. While there, Sierra meets Caleb who is surrounded by a dark and dangerous past that everyone warns her against. This was a beautiful book about redemption, forgiving oneself and acceptance (self and of others). This book got me surprisingly emotional and I cried through the last quarter of the book. While this was a heavier read, it was still quite light and easy to get through. I appreciated that this book was a slightly different take on most Christmas stories that I have read.

Comfort & Joy by Kristin Hannah ijss5

comfort & joyThis book was, by far, the biggest disappointment maybe of the year? I know that’s kind of a harsh statement, but it was definitely pretty bad. I picked this up because I have heard fantastic reviews about Kristin Hannah, particularly with her Nightingale book. This also sounded like the perfect Christmas read set in my current home state of Washington. But alas, it was pretty terrible. It was just a weird book full of magical realism elements that I was definitely not expecting. The only reason why I gave it two-stars was because it was set in Washington and in the area where my fiance grew up, which added an extra fun element for me as I read. Everything else was pretty awful. I am still going to give Kristin Hannah a chance, as I am still excited to read Nightingale.

The Twelve Days of Dash & Lily (#2) by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan ijss5

Alas, another disappointment…le sigh. I’m especially disappointed since I enjoyed the first book so much earlier this month. It was a cute, light and fun Christmas story, while dash & lily iithis one felt like it was trying to be something that it definitely was not. This book follows Dash & Lily, as Dash tries to reignite the Christmas love and light in Lily as she experiences a lot of change and turmoil in her life. What ended up happening was a weird dismantling of the characters that I came to love from the first book and just an inability to take this book seriously. This is a great example of a perfectly good book and story that should’ve just been left alone. Le sigh…

All in all, I think I had a pretty good reading month 🙂 Christmas reads always make me happy and help me to enjoy the holidays even more!! 😀 I hope you all have enjoyed your holidays, got a lot of reading done and got a lot of books!! 🙂

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