Category Archives: Christina

TOME Topple, Round 5 TBR!!

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Hello everybody!!

I am here to participate in the TOME Topple, yet again!! Now, I tried participating last time and I failed miserably. Le sigh. I had a lot going on, so attempting to read multiple 500+ pages books was just definitely not a good idea. This time around, I’m definitely feeling way more motivated!! 🙂

Here are some details about the read-a-thon:

  • Duration: November 17-30th
  • Parameters: Read tomes – books that are 500+ pages
  • Challenges:
    • Read more than 1 tome
    • Read a graphic novel (still over 500 pages)
    • Read a tome that is part of a series
    • Buddy read a tome
    • Read an adult novel

Now…with all that in mind, I aim to read…3 tomes!! Ambitious? Maybe? We’ll see! Here is what I will be aiming to read over the next two weeks!

  1. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice & Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (audiobook)
  2. The Ask & the Answer (#2) by Patrick Ness (Note: I do have to read the first one still, so we’ll actually see if this happens)
  3. Full Metal Alchemist (Vol 2) by Hiromu Arakawa

With these three books, I am hoping to complete 3 challenges: read more than 1 tome, read a graphic novel and read a tome that is part of a series! 🙂

Now…will I actually make it through these books? We’ll see! I’m pretty hopeful seeing as how one is an audiobook and one is a graphic novel, so I’m really only reading one full physical tome, haha!! But, with the Thanksgiving holiday and needing to read the first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy first, we’ll have to see…haha!!

If any of you are participation, let me know in the comments! I’d love some community love and cheering one another on as we conquer our tomes! 🙂

Happy reading all!!

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Quick Take: Every Heart A Doorway

Every Heart A Doorway (#1) by Seanan McGuire
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every heart a doorwayThis was a definitely highly anticipated read of mine as I have heard nothing but rave reviews among the bookish community. I thought it would be a great thing to read during the Spook-A-Thon, but alas, I didn’t finish it in time to count.

All I knew about this book was that it’s about the children who have gone into fantastical worlds and have come back into our reality. The kids are sent to a children’s home in order to help them “acclimate” back into our reality as no one in their original lives believe their adventures. What I didn’t realize about this book was that it ended up being a murder mystery, which definitely made it the perfect read for October.

Overall, I quite enjoyed it! It was super creepy and eerie, way creepier than I expected the book to be. I was super intrigued with the storyline and I thought it such a creative twist on your typical portal fantasy story. What I loved most about this book was the extremely diverse representation of LGBTQA+ characters. I loved seeing a protagonist who identified as an asexual and that wasn’t the only thing that defined her character. It was definitely her most salient identity, but it wasn’t the only thing that we focused on.

I am definitely intrigued to the rest of the books in this series. I am particularly interested because of the way that this book ended! Slight cliffhanger…or…was it? I don’t know! If you’re looking for a spookier, eerie read, then this is the book for you!!

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Spook-A-Thon 2017!!

I participated in yet another read-a-thon in October, the Spook-A-Thon, which took place from October 16th-22nd. I recognize that we are well past that, but…not only did I want to share my reading experience, but I also thought that this would be a great concise way to share a few of my recent reads.

This was a great read-a-thon and I had a lot of fun with it! 🙂 The read-a-thon consisted of 5 different challenges:
1. A thriller
2. A book with orange on the cover
3. Spooky setting
4. Spooky word in the title
5. A book based on a childhood fear

My TBR for the Spook-A-Thon based on the above challenges was:

  • The Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson
  • Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
  • A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
  • Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

I ended up completing 3 of the 4 books that I had on my original TBR, which I really think was pretty good!! I’ve had a streak of bad reading luck when it has come to read-a-thons this year, so this was a great change of pace! The only book I ended up not completing was “Every Heart a Doorway”, which I ended up completing later in the month.

I’m going to go ahead and get into two mini-reviews for the books that I’ve read! I will not be doing a mini-review of “The Wolves of Winter” by Tyrell Johnson, as it was an ARC so you’ll be getting a full review next month!

Continue reading

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Dear John Green…

Turtles All The Way Down by John Greenfive-star-rating-black-clip-art-hi

I wanted to do something really special for this review as this was a special book for me. So, I decided to write this review in the form a thank-you letter to John Green. I hope you all enjoy! 

Dear John Green, 

35504431Let me begin by introducing myself! 🙂 My name is Christina and I have been a longtime fan of both your books, your VlogBrothers YouTube channel and your “Dear Hank & John” podcast. I have always appreciated your candor and your willingness to be vulnerable with your own mental health journey.

I, myself, have been diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder, depression, PTSD and…Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). In my work with my previous therapist, my OCD really is the foundation of my mental health struggles, as this was something that I could trace back to my childhood. I’ve always been an anxious individual and it wasn’t until I started working with a therapist that I realized my anxiety really stems from my obsessive thought spirals. Thankfully, I have gotten to a point where I have graduated from therapy and have been living my life using the coping skills that I learned in therapy.

When I heard that this book was coming out…I can’t begin to tell you, I was filled with both anxiety and excitement. Anxiety, because (to be quite honest), I was nervous about how the character with OCD was going to be portrayed in this book. Excitement, because I hardly ever see OCD represented accurately or respectfully in books.

Now…I’ve read the book and you’re probably where I fall on the scale of anxiety to excitement. Honestly, I don’t think I actually fell anywhere on the scale. This book wrecked me emotionally. I couldn’t even properly cry because the amount of emotions I was experiencing was quite overwhelming. In the beginning of the book, when we were getting acquainted with Aza’s thought spirals and how her OCD manifested, I had to keep putting the book down because it just hit me square in my heart. It felt like someone transplanted my own thought spirals and put them in book form, and I had a really hard time reading through it – which to me, showed how accurate the thought spirals felt to me. This tends to be the part of OCD that is overlooked in books – the “O”, the “obsessive” thoughts. It’s paralyzing. It’s invalidating. It’s hurtful. And it really doesn’t feel like my thoughts.

The relationship between Aza and Daisy also really hit too close to home. Particularly when we start to see how Aza’s OCD impacts Daisy…this has always been my own lifelong fear. I know I’ve lost friendships due to my mental health disabilities. And this is, quite frankly, the hardest part of carrying my mental health disabilities. It is the constant fear that I am a burden to those that I deeply care about around me. In the deepest parts of my OCD and anxiety, I know that I cannot think of my impact on others because I am already so deep in my own thought spiral well. It feels so isolating. It literally makes me feel crazy.

The last thing that I would like to say…is thank you. Thank you, John Green. Thank you for writing this book that is gritty, painful, ugly and hard. Thank you for not shying away from how ugly and hard mental health disabilities can be. But, thank you for also showing the hope that exists at the end of the dark tunnel of mental health disabilities. More and more books targeted to a younger audience need to read like this one. They need to be honest and they need to provide hope, because hope always exists. Even when we can’t see it ourselves.

So, thank you, John Green. I cannot express in words how thankful I am for this book and how much this book has impacted my soul.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Christina Choi

 

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Quick Take: Girl in the Blue Coat

Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
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I have been on an audiobook binge recently and this was my most recent listen! 🙂 I 29910523definitely enjoyed this and surprisingly enough, this was a great read for October! This story follows a young Dutch girl named Hanneke during the German occupation in WWII. Hanneke trades goods on the black market for people who are willing to pay. In the midst of one of her black market trading with one of her regular customers, she gets asked to do another favor. A favor that is incredibly risky. A favor that could cost Hanneke her life. Her customer had been hiding a young Jewish girl who has gone missing. At first, Hanneke is hesitant to help her as she understands the implications of the task at hand. However, as more and more pieces of the puzzle come together, Hanneke realizes that there is more to the story than expected.

This story was wonderful and beautifully haunting. The narration was done wonderfully! The story ended up feeling more like a mystery, which is what made it an excellent read for October. It was eerie, haunting and heartbreaking. This story touched on family, friendships, betrayal, love and war…and how all of these things are impacted by war. The biggest take-away for me was reading about the way war changes people and what it makes people do.

Anytime I read a story set during this time, it’s always heartbreaking and I’m always amazed by the different POV’s that these stories could be told from. I am always amazed and grateful for the diversity of stories during this time, but also the different angles that these stories take.

This was heartbreaking, eerie and beautiful. I highly recommend it and I highly recommend listening to this on audiobook. The audiobook definitely adds another element to the story making it even more heartbreaking and beautiful.

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Quick Take: Three Dark Crowns

Three Dark Crowns (#1) by Kendare Blake
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23207027Let me start this review by saying how defeating it feels to pick up a book that you’ve been anticipating for a long time, finally get to it, and then you just feel oh so let down. Unfortunately, this is what happened with me and “Three Dark Crowns” by Kendare Blake. Le sigh…

This book has all the makings of a book that I would normally really, really enjoy!!
1. The sisters each with different magical abilities – an elemental, a naturalist and a poisoner.
2. A fight to the death for the crown.
3. Badass female protagonists.
4. Heavy political intrigue.

Literally, these are all the elements that an author needs to include to draw me in! Unfortunately, this not only didn’t live up to the hype for me, but I just found it so painfully slow. It wasn’t even that the world-building was taking too long or the political story line was too dense…I just found it boring for the first 75% of the book!

The book switches between the three sisters POV’s and occasional pans over to some key side characters, as well. I do find the different communities very interesting and the world set up was fantastic, but I found that the character development of each sister was so lacking. I don’t know if it’s because we’re not really supposed to feel connected to any of them…but you would think that if the three sisters are supposed to duke it out for the throne, you’d want to build each one up to gain a following, right?

Not only were the sisters’ development not really present, we focused so heavily on the side characters, most of which I didn’t like anyways! I definitely enjoyed reading from Jules’ perspective and she is definitely my current favorite character. Everyone else either felt so bland or were just so deplorable that I couldn’t relate.

The last 25% definitely picked up pretty quickly, which also meant that (to me) the climax built too quickly and then wrapped up too quickly. I really wished that she expanded the last 25% as that was what I was wanting the entire book.

This is a 4-book series and I am going to give the second book a try because of the last 25% of the book. It definitely sets up with way more potential for the rest of the books to be better and more action-packed, which was what I was hoping for with this first one.

I am definitely disappointed…but I will give the second book a chance with a lot of high hopes, but if the second book doesn’t capture my attention…there’s a good chance that I won’t finish this series. Le sigh…I have had such a great reading run and then to come up to this was just so defeating!! 😥

If any of you have read this and completely disagree with me, please let me know in the comments! 🙂 I’d love to chat more about the book and maybe what I was missing when I read this first one, but it definitely wasn’t for me!

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Quick Take: The Upside of Unrequited

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
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My boyfriend has been on a major audiobook kick, so I was kind of jonesing for an the upside of unrequitedaudiobook myself. Enter “The Upside of Unrequited”! I got this through my library and after sampling the book, I thought that this would be a great book to pick up after the slight book hangover that “Our Dark Duet” gave me. And if you’re wondering why it gave me such a book hangover, check out my most recent series review that I did!

Anyways! On to the book! I loved Becky Albertalli’s first book, “Simon and the Homo-Sapiens Agenda”, so I had been meaning to get to this next book of hers! This book follows Molly, who is a serial monogamous “crusher”. She has had 26 crushes. And 0 boyfriends. Molly’s twin sister, Cassie, keeps pushing her by telling her to “woman up” and make something of these crushes already. A new girl enters Cassie’s world bringing a cute hipster-boy, that may seem to dig her back? An interesting problem presents itself to Molly, however, in the form of Molly’s coworker (Reid) who Molly couldn’t possibly fall for, right?

Overall I really enjoyed this book! I think the reading of this audiobook was super fun. I think the narrator did a great job conveying all of the different characters and she really won me over. This book is super cute and sweet! Not only is this a sweet book about first love, but also a book about sisterhood and family. I loved the diverse representation in this book, as well! 🙂 If you’re looking for a sweet book, consider picking this one up! 🙂

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