Review: The Stormlight Archive

Hey Readers,

So here’s the deal, I say that this is going to be a review, and I’m going to try and make it one, but I can’t promise it won’t also be a little fan-girlish okay? Okay, now that we have that out of the way, lets dig in!

The Stormlight Archive

I started this series in late July and I could not put it down until I finished in October, and I loved it from the minute that I started it. The Stormlight Archive was my first series from Brandon Sanderson and I promise you it won’t be the last. This is an amazing epic adult fantasy series that has its own magic system, intense and developed political dynamics, complete worlds, and characters that grow throughout each book. On top of all that, it’s told from multiple points of view. I know, it’s overwhelming, But that’s what I’m here for, let’s talk about each of those things.

The Magical System: I don’t want to go too much into detail about the magic system in The Stormlight Archive, because I feel like the discovery of exactly how the magic system works is done as a plot device, and is one of the exciting things about reading the books. But I will say that the magic system is something completely different than I have read in a fantasy novel, and I have a bit of experience with those. (It’s my favorite genre.) It is an elemental based magic system, but not just in the traditional sense of water, air, earth, and fire. It goes deeper then that and it is genius. Also – when you start The Way of Kings and you start reading about spren and you’re like “what is he talking about? Spren?” don’t give up, I promise – it’s worth it.

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The Political System: For all of you Game of Thrones fans out there – while you’re waiting for the next book to come out… come to the light side and read The Way of Kings and I promise you it will be better (I said what I said). The Stormlight Archive series doesn’t have the gritty, gruesome to be gruesome, feel that Game of Thrones has, however, what it does have is death, blood, war, and vengeance done in a way that isn’t overwhelming and without what feels sometimes like gratuitous violence that will bog you down. Throughout the three current novels in The Stormlight Archives we learn more and more about the political intrigue, and because it’s told through multiple viewpoints, we get to learn how each of our characters play a part in the political sphere, and how their choices affect the world around them. I know some people don’t love the nitty gritty details of a worlds political system, but with these novels, the politics never feel overwhelming or that they are taking over the narrative. Instead, it blends in and is helpful to the telling of the story and overall feel of how it unfolds.

The World Building: I know I said I have only read one series by Brandon Sanderson but Sanderson is a master at world-building. I mean, he spent ten years researching and developing the world of Roshar for this series, and it paid off. I honestly don’t know of a series where I felt like I got so much beautiful information about the world. We are set in the world of Roshar and Sanderson gives us the most intricate descriptions of everything in this world. Everything from how the weather works, the creatures, history, mythology, religion, magic, the races, the different cultures, and more. Pretty much anything you can think of, Sanderson describes it. Because of this attention to detail, you really believe in this world.

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The Character Development: I have so much to say about all of the characters we learned about in The Stormlight Archive and I can’t say anything without getting a little spoiler-y so I won’t, (you’re welcome) but honestly these characters were EVERYTHING. In each of the books, our focus is on one particular character’s backstory, which we learn about through flashbacks that give us more depth into each character. However, don’t let that fool you, we see multiple characters perspectives in each of the books. The book’s parts, interludes, and chapters are broken up and let you know which character’s perspective you’re viewing the story through at any given moment and that is helpful. Sanderson writes the best characters, characters that drive you crazy, that make you laugh, make you cry for, basically, you’re going to be feeling all the feelings. I can’t tell you how many times I scream-ranted or literally yelled at the books, or the people around me about what was happening in the story at that moment (I’m a very passionate reader). Sanderson will capture your heart with these characters and then rip it out, and it will be worth every minute.

Audiobook Version: I also jumped between reading Oathbringer and listening to the audiobook on Audible. The narrators were Michael Kramer and Kate Reading and they were amazing. Definitely worth the listen if you have long commutes or you want to read the book but carrying around 1000+ pages is difficult!

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Overall Thoughts: 

These books have been my favorite reads of the year, and honestly most likely my favorite fantasy series I have ever read. I want and need everyone to read them. I have heard that some people found it slow going in the beginning when first learning about the different things that happen, but for me, I was hooked right from the Prologue. So if you find that you were finding it slow, give it about 100 pages (in a 1000 page book it’s not that much, trust me), and I’m sure it will pick up from there.

My favorite part of these books was the way that Sanderson built up the tension throughout them, between the politics, war, and emotions of the characters and watching all of their stories converge. Not just from The Way of Kings into Words of Radiance into Oathbringer, because throughout the three books the build-up was intense and the outcome was AMAZING, but also just in the individual books themselves. I always felt like there was so much tension and that we didn’t have enough book left to wrap everything up and then Sanderson did it, every time, with a BANG. Each ending left me desperate to get my hands on the next book, and the wait for the fourth one might just kill me (you may think this is me being dramatic, I disagree).

This series is for anyone who loves fantasy, or anyone who is willing and ready to give an epic fantasy a try, The Stormlight Archives is the perfect series full of everything you could ever want in a fantasy novel, it will grab your attention and run away with it. Read it, and then come find me here or on Instagram and tell me all your thoughts. I can’t wait to hear them.

Life before death.

Strength before weakness.

Journey before Destination.

My Ratings:

The Way of Kings: 5/5 Stars

Words of Radiance: 5/5 Stars

Oathbringer: 5/5 Stars

– Hannah

Dream Cast: The Eye of the World

Hey Readers!

I am working on a re-read of The Wheel of Time series with my friend Hannah (check her out on instagram: @booknerdnative) and we are wicked excited for the series that is going to be coming out on Amazon based on the first book: The Eye of the World. The last few day’s we have been discussing our dream cast for the show and I thought it would be fun to post mine here (minus spoilers of course)!

The Eye of the World is the start of this story that is set in an epic world where magic exists but only women can use it safely. We follow five of our main characters, Rand al’Thor, Perrin Aybara, Matrim Cauthon, Egwene al’Vere, and Nynaeve al’Meara who are on a dangerous journey led by Moiraine Sedai and Lan Mandragoran her warder. These five are thought to be important because Moiraine believes one of them might be the reincarnation of an incredibly powerful individual, who prophecies say will either save humanity or destroy it.

I am about half way through in my re-read of The Eye of the World, so I’m going to focus on the characters that I have been introduced to so far:

images.jpeg  Rand al’Thor – Richard Madden

My casting for our lead role, Rand al’Thor is Richard Madden, you know him from Game of Thrones (Robb Stark) and the prince in Disney’s live action Cinderella. Rand al’Thor is a red headed farm boy from the Two Rivers who ultimately becomes the heart and soul of this story.

jZS8nz1V_400x400.jpg  Perrin Aybara – Noah Centineo 

So Perrin Aybara is one of my favorite characters in this whole story, he’s quiet, soft spoken, thoughtful, and I imagine him to have the ability to give the most adorable puppy dog eyes at you. So with that in mind, there is no one who could play Perrin better than Noah Centineo. You know Noah as Peter “whoa whoa whoa” Kavinsky from Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Jamey from Sierra Burgess is a Loser.

rami_malek_a_p.jpg  Matrim Cauthon – Rami Malek 

Matrim Cauthon is the last of our Two Rivers boys and the more rambunctious, trouble maker of our three leading male characters. Rami Malek has that boyish charm and the look that I imagine Mat to have. Rami Malek has starred in Mr. Robot but I think his ability to show the passion, sensitivity, and vulnerability as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody is what speaks to me in his ability to play Matrim.

chloe-grace-moretz-vanity-fair-sundance-2018-film-festival-0.jpg  Egwene al’Vere – Chloe Grace Moretz 

For our fourth lead character (and first female lead) I think Chloe Grace Moretz has the chops to play Egwene al’Vere. A young woman from the Two Rivers who grew up with our other four leads, she is strong and yet innocent and a little naive when she starts out on their journey. I think the combination of Moretz’s look of innocence and her steely resolve (think Hit Girl in Kick-Ass) that makes her the perfect Egwene.

zendaya-Glamours-2017-Women-of-The-Year-Awards-billboard-1548.jpg Nynaeve al’Meara – Zendaya

Nynaeve is my favorite, bad ass, take no shit (especially from men), female character in this story. She is what I think of when I think of strength and the power of women in this world. She is a young woman who knows what she believes in and is willing to fight for it, and those that she loves. Zendaya, Spider-Man: Homecoming and The Greatest Showman, has that fiery spirit that would bring Nynaeve to life.

2017-08-02_121657_janet_montgomery_gallery_5.jpg  Moiraine Sedai – Jennifer Montgomery

So British actress Jennifer Montgomery not only looks perfect to play one of our mysterious, brave, strong female leads – Moiraine Sedai – but she has the acting skills to do it as well. She was on the tv shows Merlin and the movie Black Swan, and she’s currently in the show Salem playing Mary Sibly – a powerful witch. I honestly think we don’t need to look further than Montgomery to cast the perfect Moiraine.

Unknown-3.jpeg  al’Lan Mandragoran – Daniel Henney

Okay – so here I need you to take some liberties with me. Lan is never *described* as being of asian decent BUT my brain has always pictured him either being Asian or Native American. Henney currently stars in Criminal Minds as Matt Simmons, an FBI agent, and he was the voice of kind and smart Tadashi in Big Hero 6. Henney has that build that I think would be perfect for Lan, as well as that soft side that only a few of our characters will get to see. Also, he’s a snack.

44-1-1080x675.png  Min Farshaw – Lana Candor

With her casting of Lara Jean in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before we know that Lana can play the sweet innocent girl next door, but what I’m intrigued by is her casting as the katana-wielding bad-ass Saya in Syfy’s new show Deadly Class based on Rick Remender and Wes Craig’s comic book series.

These next two – I don’t think I need to explain myself. It’s just … obviously.

Unknown-1.jpeg  Elyas Machera – Jeff Bridges

Unknown.jpeg  Thom Merrilin – Sam Elliot

With all of that said, I think our five lead actors and actresses should be unknown teenage actors/actresses who can jump start their careers by doing a show based on a book series with 14 books that they can grow with. They can grow as the characters and as actors with Amazon and The Wheel of Time series.

Who would you love to see as actors on The Wheel of Time series from Amazon?

– Hannah

Review – Next Year in Havana

I picked up Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton after Reese Witherspoon announced in as her July book pick for the Reese’s Book Club. Not only was this the first book I read for Reese’s Book Club but it was also my first read by Chanel Cleeton and I was not disappointed by either.

We follow two women, Elisa Perez living in Havana before the rebellion until her family’s exile in 1958 and her granddaughter Marisol, visiting Cuba for the first time in 2017. And through Elisa and Marisol we get to experience Cuba. Cleeton’s writing is so atmospheric that if I closed my eyes, I could picture Cuba, the sights, the sounds and smells. Through these characters and their experiences we also learn about the people of Cuba as a whole – those who left Cuba with their belongings on their backs, passing along memories to their descendants and those who stayed behind with hopes of change that would not happen.

One of the things that I loved about this novel, was the way that Cleeton addressed Marisol’s view of herself as a Cuban-American. How she was concerned that she wouldn’t be welcome in Cuba, that she wasn’t “Cuban” enough. It was particularly clear in the way that Cleeton described Marisol feeling both at home while still feeling like an outsider in a country that meant so much to her and to her family.

“You speak as though politics is its own separate entity,’ he says. ‘As though it isn’t in the air around us, as though ever single part of us isn’t political. How can you dismiss something that is so fundamental to the integrity of who we are as a people, as a country? How can you dismiss something that directly affects the lives of so many?”

I didn’t know very much about Cuba before I read this book. I knew some basic information but the depth of Cuba: the politics, the way Cuban’s live, the history, etc – was all new to me. The politics of Cuba come up a lot in this book as the undercurrent of the story, it pushes it forward.  Not just the politics of the government, but also the politics of the social classes. How each social class viewed the rebellion, who agreed and who disagreed, and the the politics of why. And not just that, but how those who stayed in Cuba viewed those who left and vice versa.

One of my favorite things about the genre of historical fiction is that you can learn about history in a way that is almost hands on. With characters like those of Chanel Cleeton’s in Next Year in Havana, they help the reader view the situation through their own eyes in a way that a history book doesn’t. It allows you to experience it instead of just getting the facts. Chanel Cleeton describes this book as a “book of my heart”, stating that her family also escaped Cuba and that she credits their stories with some of the bases for this book. The fact that her family lived through these experiences only adds to that feeling.

Ultimately I loved this book, and I am really looking forward to more of Chanel Cleeton’s writing, especially to hear Beatriz’s story in When We Left Cuba in 2019.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

– Hannah

Review: The Wedding Date

Alexa and Drew are strangers and after finding themselves stuck in an elevator together, and hitting it off, Drew convinces Alexa to accompany him as his plus one to his ex-girlfriends wedding. It’s the stuff of a rom-com dream. As what was supposed to be fake relationship turns into a one night stand turns to weekend trips to see each other, Alexa and Drew have to decide what exactly they mean to each other.

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This romance novel was a breath of fresh air when it comes to romances. The characters are equally relatable, both are charming and both have their flaws which keeps the story moving. They have their own inside joke about sandwiches which pops up multiple times during the story which makes their relationship seem all the more realistic and relatable. And there are even some quirky friends that add even more flavor to the story.

There is a lot of sex in the book, but it is not off putting at all. It doesn’t seem over done and it isn’t raunchy or distasteful. It flows well with the story, especially since Drew and Alexa’s relationship started being based solely on physical attraction.

Now what did I really love about the book? Well Jasmine Guillory wrote a female character that I find is uncharacteristic towards the normal rom-com heroine. She is a larger African-American woman, who is consistently unapologetically herself. She is down to earth, she knows her worth, she is strong and confident in who she is and in her own skin, and she LOVES to eat. There was so much talk of food and eating in this book it was amazing. I don’t know how many times in a romance or rom-com I’ve heard the leading lady talking about how she forgot to eat that day, or that all she had was a salad. It was nice to be seeing something different embracing that body positive and food positive lifestyle.

Guillory also looks at and highlights interracial relationships and what race can mean when it comes to dating. Alexa is much more aware of situations that can be difficult for her due to her experiences and as she communicates about those situations to Drew, he learns more about his own privilege, and another reason why I love this book – he doesn’t question her experience. There was a scene when she told him that she had experienced racism at the hands of someone he knew, he didn’t question her experience at all, took her side immediately and then did what he needed to do to make sure she didn’t experience that again. Basically, he reacted exactly the way any white person should react when a person of color is explaining the racism that they face on a day-to-day basis.

I gave this book 4 stars. I really enjoyed this book, it was the perfect read when I was in the mood for something quick, fast paced, relatively light, and delicious. If that is what you are looking for – look no further. The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory is just what you need.

– Hannah

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February Wrap Up

So I know I’m late with this February Wrap Up as we are already 4 days into March BUT better late than never right? …Right?

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(Thank you Walter.)

February was a short month and I didn’t get as much reading done as I had wanted to. I had wanted to read quite a bit of fantasy, thanks to the Fantasy in February challenge that I was participating in. All, except for one of my books, were fantasy books and I really enjoyed them for the most part but I really fell in love with the first trilogy I read so I ended up deciding to take my time with it so I could really enjoy it. This however, did have an impact on the amount of books I was able to get through, but I wouldn’t go back and read them faster if I had the option to, so I’m okay with it.

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(This was my February TBR list.)

The Unread Shelf Project

So I’m doing a really good job about reading only books on my Unread Shelf list. I have not reread any books and I’m doing a really good job sticking to my TBR lists. In February I ended up being able to get through seven more books from my Unread Shelf.

Y’all… I CAN’T STOP BUYING BOOKS.

I know. I know. January I was on a complete book buying ban and that went TERRIBLY. So February I was like, I can make it through one month without buying a book. That can’t be too hard. I mean, get yourself together and have a little self control.

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(Justin literally can’t even with me right now.)

I’m not even going to lie to myself anymore about being on a book buying ban. Is it worth it to deprive myself of all the books that are practically begging to be on my shelves? I don’t think so. And it certainly isn’t worth buying the books and then feeling guilty for having so utterly failed in my book buying ban. SO I’M GIVING UP. I mean, if buying books is my vice, it could be so much worse. I could have worse vices and we all need one so…

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(My friend Gwen sent me this, and if it’s not accurate to my life, I don’t know what is.)

My Blog

February was a really good month for me and my blog. I got up three reviews and I made a post about my favorite literary bad boys for Valentines Day. So I am really pleased with how February went. But since nothing is perfect, I know I could improve for March, so my goals for March are to:

  1. Post one review a week, hopefully going up on Sundays.
  2. Try and get a post up that isn’t a review but still having to do with books at least twice.

I’m feeling confident March will be a good month to succeed with those goals. I have a pretty awesome TBR which I’m super excited to get through.

Books I Read

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Out of the nine books on my February TBR I got through six of them, which for a short month I am pretty pleased with. I also read my IRL BookClubs pick of Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King, which if you read my review (found here) you’ll know I wasn’t super impressed by it which I was disappointed about. Other than that book though I really enjoyed the books that I read in February and it was awesome being able to get back into reading fantasy, a genre I always love but sometimes forget to read since their is always so many classics and contemporary fiction that I want to get to as well.

  • A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab – 5 ⭐️’s
  • A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab – 5 ⭐️’s
  • A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab – 5 ⭐️’s
  • The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert – 3 ⭐️’s
  • Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve – 3 ⭐️’s
  • The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden – 4 ⭐️’s
  • Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King – 2 ⭐️’s

Next Month

In March I don’t have any specific challenge that I am participating in but I do have a pretty awesome TBR planned. A couple of the books on my list are The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah and An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. My book club’s pick this month is The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn. So I know March is going to be a good month and I can’t wait.

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How was your February? Did you participate in Fantasy in February as well? I want to hear all about your month so let me know in the comments below!

– Hannah

Review: Sleeping Beauties

Synopsis from Goodreads: “In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place… The men of our world are abandoned, left to their increasingly primal devices. One woman, however, the mysterious Evie, is immune to the blessing or curse of the sleeping disease. Is Evie a medical anomaly to be studied? Or is she a demon who must be slain? Set in a small Appalachian town whose primary employer is a women’s prison, Sleeping Beauties is a wildly provocative, gloriously absorbing father/son collaboration between Stephen King and Owen King.”

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This was my IRL book clubs first book pick. It did not go over so well. Out of the six of us only two, myself included, actually finished the book. Nobody else was able to get into it and part of this I blame on the deadly pacing at the beginning of the book.  The beginning of the book drags as we get introduced to the characters, and while the book seems to pick up steam once the Aurora virus gets started, it doesn’t keep the pace for the rest of the novel. There were plenty of times that I felt like I needed the pick up of caffeine in order to stay awake for this just like the woman of Dooling WV.

The book starts not in the middle of the Aurora Virus, which this mysterious sleeping disease starts to be called, but right before it. That is one of my favorite parts of the book, I liked the dissent from the normal world as we know it and the swift dissent into chaos as the women slowly start to fall asleep. Now, don’t feel too bad if you start to forget who the characters are, there are over 70 characters and the book starts off with a character list. And for all of these characters I think the one who got the least credit was the fox, the last character listed. A talking fox who had more emotion than our female protagonist, Evie Black.

While I was very intrigued by the idea I wasn’t quite happy with the outcome. I don’t know if that’s just me, I don’t always like Stephen King’s endings to his novels, they always seem to let me down, I always imagine the book ending differently than it did. I spent most of the book asking if what had been happening in the previous pages were actually important to the rest of the book, and I’m still not sure that half of it did, and if any of it actually meant anything.

Am I the only one who doesn’t love Stephen Kings endings? Am I the crazy one?

– Hannah

 

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Review: My Absolute Darling

This debut novel by Gabriel Tallent, My Absolute Darling, is an excellent but unsettling novel of extreme child abuse. It is heart breaking and devastating to read but it captivates you and makes it hard to stop, even when you feel like you can’t take anymore. The novel has a pretty even pace as you move through it, but as you get closer to the end, the pace quickens, making it almost impossible to put down.

Turtle, whose real name is Julia, although only her teacher and principal call her that, lives with her father Martin, a sociopath who believes that the world is due for an ecological disaster any day. In the house she shares with him she suffers severe and traumatic emotional, physical, and sexual abuse at the hands of her father. The way that Tallent details the abuse is difficult to read, in the very first scene of the book Martin is calling her a “little bitch”, and it only gets worse from there.

As the novel progresses, Turtle starts to realize that she needs to escape. This urge to escape is only heightened when she meets two high school boys, and develops a crush on one of them, Jacob. The boys instantly take a liking to Turtle, and the way that they talk makes her dizzy.  The boys also bring some light hearted scenes to the novel which helps break up the otherwise disturbing content of the novel.

The language that Tallent uses to convey these violent scenes of horrific abuse that Turtle undergoes at the hand of her father is uncomfortable to say the least. He explores Turtle’s case of Stockholm syndrome in a way that makes you feel for Turtle, but never have pity on her. She is a 14 year old who faced with the violence that she is subjected to is strong and brave, and even finds herself able to provide moments of tenderness when it is needed. He is really able to convey why a victim of abuse sometimes chooses to stay with their abuser, even if they know on some level that it’s wrong.

I gave this novel five stars. The writing is beautiful and lush, all of the characters are full and well rounded, and the story is dark and captivating. There are going to be people who don’t like the way that Tallent described Turtle and her relationship to her father, almost as one who likes her abuse, “In the waiting she by turns wants and does not want it. His touch brings her skin to life, and she holds it all within the private theatre of her mind, where anything is permitted, their two shadows cast across the sheet and knit together.” Tallent makes it clear that it is abuse, but also wants it known that the characters love each other, although not neccesarily a love that should be celebrated. Martin’s love for Turtle is a possessive love, denying Turtle her individuality. Turtle’s a complex mix of a daughter’s love for her father and a 14 year old girl suffering from Stockholm syndrome.

I had a hard time walking away from this novel, as I turned the page I was hoping for more but at the same time, I don’t think I could have taken anymore. I am very excited to see what Gabriel Tallent does next.

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– Hannah

 

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January Wrap Up

I am so thankful January is over. January was the month from hell, and I’m pretty sure it was actually 458,603,837 days long. Every time I thought January was close to ending there were still like 10 more days until the actual end of the month. Let’s just say I am SO ready to start fresh in February.

I wanted to use today to reflect on how my January went in terms of my goals. How did I do in accomplishing them? Do I want to change any of them? Do I have any new goals? Basically, what worked and what didn’t. So without further ado…

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(Nothing motivates me more than this song.)

The Unread Shelf Project

I did a pretty good job with some of my goals this month for January, but for some of them I fell off the wagon. And by “I fell off the wagon,” I mean I threw myself off the wagon and let it leave without me. I may or may not be referring to my book buying ban and how well it didn’t go. (I am 100% talking about how badly I did with my book buying ban.)

All of the books that I read this month were books on my unread shelf. So I did a really good job being able to cross those off my list. I read seven books this month, six physical books and one book on my kindle. So in the sense of working through my unread books that were already on my shelf, I did AWESOME. The key word unfortunately is already.

Confession time: I bought a lot of books this month. I bought books when I went to Maine to visit a friend from college, I bought more books from my local bookstore, I went to Barnes and Noble twice leaving with books and I ordered some off of Amazon. So yeah, I threw myself off that wagon pretty hard. I know I don’t want to keep adding to the books on my Unread Shelf because then I won’t be able to accomplish my large goal for that, which is to get to 100 or less unread books on my shelf. I also know, I LOVE to buy books. There is no where I love being more than at the bookstore (except maybe Disney World), and there is nothing I hate more than leaving the bookstore without buying any books. So, how do I fix this going forward?

I think I am going to try and get back on the book buying ban, but keep it to smaller time frames. I thought I was a moderator, someone who can only do something in moderation, but apparently I’m an abstainer. I need to completely abstain from something otherwise it becomes an extremely slippery slope. So for February, I’m going to try and not buy any books, and reevaluate how that goes at the end of February. Wish me luck.

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(Thanks Lando)

My Blog

For my first month of blogging ever I’m feeling pretty good. I know there are things that I’m looking to improve for next month, like making sure I get my review’s up. I read seven books in January and I was terrible about getting my reviews up. I need to start setting time aside after I finish a book to write my review. So that is my plan for next month. I mean look at all these good books I read this month!

 

Books I Read

I am very proud of the amount of books I read this month. I read seven books in total this month and I don’t remember the last time I read so many books in one month. And as a bonus, there was only one that I didn’t enjoy as much as I wanted to enjoy it. So it was a great month not only for amount of books read but quality of the books I read too. I even had a couple 5 star reads which was exciting!

  • The World According to Star Wars by Cass R. Sunstein -⭐️⭐️
  • The Power by Naomi Alderman -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (and so far definitely number one on my list for 2018 favorites)
  • Strange Weather by Joe Hill -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • Red Clocks by Leni Zumas -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • The Immortalists -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
  • My Absolute Darling -⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I do have some reviews that I’m working on for The Immortalists, and My Absolute Darling which will hopefully be coming in the next week so keep a look out!

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Next Month!

I am SO excited for February. I’m participating in a fun challenge started by Alisa over at @worldswithinpages (on Instagram) and here is her blog, called Fantasy in February. Where the goal is to read strictly fantasy. I am really excited for this because I love fantasy but I always get sucked up into classics and contemporary fiction. I’ve gotten some really good recommendations and I can’t wait to get started. Join us or follow along with the hashtag #fantasyinfebruary on Instagram!

I also started an IRL book club with some of my friends at work and our first book is Sleeping Beauties by Steven King and Owen King which I am the most excited to read.

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What books did you read in January? Was your January like mine or did you have a great January! Tell me about your month in the comments below!

– Hannah

10 Tips and Tricks to Read More

The first thing that I hear when I talk about my reading goals is “I don’t have the time to read” and a fairy dies every time. Okay… I’m being a little bit dramatic. Maybe. But, it’s true. A lot of people, myself included, are living such busy lives. For some, every minute is carefully planned out. For myself, and I’m sure there are others like me, every day is spent desperately trying to plan my day and constantly being stressed out about how much I need to do in any given day and yet still I only have 24 hours in a day. 24 hours generally never seems like enough time.

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(Seriously, 24 hours in a day isn’t enough time.)

I find that reading is one of the best ways for myself to find some peace, and to relax during the day – so finding time to read is imperative for me. Because it is so important to me, I’ve been able to find ways to find more time during the day to read and I wanted to share my list of tips and tricks with you:

  1. Always carry a book with you – I always have my current read with me, generally a physical copy in my purse. Not only that though, I also carry with me my Kindle, just in case I finish my current read or if I’m not particularly feeling up to reading my current read, for whatever reason.
  2. Read multiple books at a time – This one is *almost* the same as number 1. I find that if I’m reading multiple books at a time, I don’t get so discouraged when I’m not in the mood for something. It gives me more options to choose from depending on how I’m feeling that day.
  3. Put your phone down – Seriously, it seems hard, but once you get in the habit of not having your phone on you, you’ll realize how much time you actually spend on your phone. At the end of the year I was reflecting about how much time I spend on my phone staring at my Facebook feed like a zombie. I ended up deactivating my Facebook and deleted the app from my phone (deactivating Facebook did not deactivate my messenger, which was nice as I do use that as a means to communicate with some of my friends) and I realized one weekend that I had set my phone down when I got home at 6pm and didn’t pick it up again until I set my alarm when I went to bed at 10. It. Was. Amazing.
  4. Give up books that you don’t enjoy – This is a interesting idea. People feel very strongly about whether you should finish a book whether you like it or not. I used to fall under that camp, but then after forcing myself to read some really awful books that I hated I was so discouraged I had a hard time picking up a new book. Now that I only read books that I’m really enjoying, I am reading so much more.
  5. Set a goal – Try setting a goal to keep you motivated to read more. Make sure though, that you keep your goal reasonable. If you only read one or two books last year, don’t set a goal to read 100 books this year, you’ll only get discouraged if you read 10 (even though that would have felt like an accomplishment if thats what you had set your goal too).
  6. Join a book club – Find a book club to join. Your local bookstores, libraries, the Oprah Bookclub, Reese Witherspoon’s book club, (to name a few ideas), or even start your own with some of your friends. Reading books with friends or other people can be one of the most enjoyable ways to read a book, it gives you the option to rant or rave about which ever book you are currently reading to people who will understand and/or commiserate.
  7. Find a reading challenge – Try to participate in a reading challenge. There are tons of really fun ones out there that can get you reading something you wouldn’t have picked out on your own. My favorites are the challenges that don’t tell you what book to read but give you a prompt and you can pick the book you want to read that will fit that prompt.
  8. Share what you’ve read – Get a Goodreads account, start a blog, or a bookstagram. Posting about what you’re reading or what you’ve read can help you find other people to talk about that book with, get recommendations, and possibly make new friends in the process.
  9. Take notes – I’m a big supporter in writing in your books (I’m actually working on a more detailed post in regards to that). Keeping notes, or keeping track of favorite passages, will help you understand the authors message more clearly.
  10. Read – Simply, read. You will never read more if you don’t just start reading. Once you get into the habit of finding time to read, you will find yourself reading more.

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(Has anyone seen this episode of The Twilight Zone? Heartbreaking.)

Do you have any tips or tricks to finding more time to read? Did I miss anything? Let me know!

– Hannah

Best of 2017

Today is the last day of 2017 and I don’t know about you guys, but this has probably been one of the worst years in my life. I am more than ready to close the door on 2017 and walk into 2018. I’ve already dubbed 2018 the year in which Hannah makes her mental illness her priority, so things can only go up from here. So, in honor of probably one of the worst years of my life, I’m going to share the top five books that I read this year (in no particular order).

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Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence. Constance Chatterly unhappy and married to an invalid, finds refuge in the arms of their game keeper, Mellors. Together they learn how to find peace and fulfillment in their lives. – I’m not sure if you can tell, but this book is well read and well loved. This is one of my favorites of all time, I read it over and over and constantly fall in love with this story.

“We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.” – D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterly’s Lover

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Le Cirque des Rêves arrives without word or warning, a beautiful circus only open at night. Within its tents, there is a fierce competition between two talented magicians Marco and Celia. Unbeknownst to the two magicians, the competition is a duel that ends only with the other participants death. As the two fall in love, the fate of each of them, the circus, and all of their friends hang in the balance. – I got swept away in this story, and when it was over I was upset there wasn’t more of it. I felt like I was a part of the magic of the circus while I was reading it, I fell in love with every one of the characters, my heart breaking and rejoicing with them.

“I am tired of trying to hold things together that cannot be held. Trying to control what cannot be controlled. I am tired of denying myself what I want for fear of breaking things I cannot fix. They will break no matter what we do.” – Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood. In the midst of an economic collapse, Stan and Charmaine believe that the gated community of Consilience may be the answer to their prayers. As troubling events start to occur, a darker side of this community starts to emerge. – I love everything I’ve ever read by Margaret Atwood, and while this novel isn’t as dark as either The Handmaid’s Tale or the MaddAddam trilogy it does have a lot to say about the human heart and what it is to be free.

“The past is so much safer, because whatever’s in it has already happened. It can’t be changed; so, in a way, there’s nothing to dread.” – Margaret Atwood, The Heart Goes Last

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore. The life of Jesus was written out in the Bible but you might not have heard the whole story. Here is where Biff comes in, Jesus’s childhood best friend. He is here to tell us the true story of Jesus that we haven’t yet heard. – This book was by far the most humorous one I read this year. I was laughing out loud at work, causing multiple coworkers to ask inquisitively what exactly I was reading. I had to stop and reread passages over again purely because I had been laughing so hard when I read it the first time I didn’t want to miss anything. In a year like 2017 this was definitely my favorite read by far.

“It’s wildly irritating to have invented something as revolutionary as sarcasm, only to have it abused by amateurs.” – Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

I, Lucifer by Glen Duncan. The Devil has just been offered a hell of a deal, reentry back into Heaven if he can live a well behaved life in a human body on earth. In almost stream of conscious-like prose, instead of teaching us what it is like to be the Devil, he ends up learning a bit of what its like to be us. – This book was recommended to me by one of my best friends and I ended up loving it just as much as he thought I would. The way the novel is written takes a while to get used to, it doesn’t have much structure to it, most of it is just stream of conscious thinking, but once you get used to it, I, Lucifer was quite the enjoyable ride.

“(I invented rock and roll. You wouldn’t believe the things I’ve invented. Anal sex, obviously. Smoking. Astrology. Money … Let’s save time: Everything in the world that distracts you from thinking about God. Which … pretty much … is everything in the world, isn’t it? Gosh.)” – Glen Duncan, I, Lucifer

So there you have it, my top five favorite reads of 2017. What was in your list? What are you looking forward to reading most in 2018?

– Hannah