Monthly Wrap-Up

Monthly Reading Wrap-Up: June 2019

It was another month with 16 books! I couldn’t believe it when I counted at the end. I don’t count during the month at all. That’s not the point. It’s nice to get through so many of the summer books I’ve been interested in though.

Would anyone be interested in a post about how I read so fast? I know some of it is purely some people are faster readers than others (which isn’t a bad thing at all — some people read 20+ books a month and that blows my mind). But, I do have some tips for choosing reading and how it helps you get further during the day.

Anywho, here is what I read this month:

  • The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson –
  • The Black Witch (The Black Witch Chronicles #1) by Laurie Forest
  • Normal People by Sally Rooney
  • Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren
  • Dark Shores (Dark Shores #1) by Danielle L. Jensen (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreryrou (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly (RTC – ☆☆☆☆☆)
  • Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1) by Kerri Maniscalco (RTC – ☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • The Vanishing Throne (The Falconer #2) by Elizabeth May (RTC – ☆☆☆ 1/2)
  • The Bridge Kingdom (The Bridge Kingdom #1) by Danielle L. Jensen (RTC – ☆☆☆☆☆)
  • The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson & The Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan (RTC – ☆☆☆☆☆)
  • Age of Swords (The Legends of the First Empire #2) by Michael J. Sullivan (RTC – ☆☆☆☆☆)
  • Beartown (Beartown #1) by Fredrik Backman (RTC – ☆☆☆☆☆)
  • Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2) by William Ritter (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • Air Awakens (Air Awakens #1) by Elise Kova (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)
  • The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson & The Olympians #2) by Rick Riordan (RTC – ☆☆☆☆)

Number of 5 stars: Five

Number of 4 stars: Seven

I would call that a good reading month having that many highly rated books! My favorite this month was WITHOUT A DOUBT AND EVERYONE SHOULD READ IT: THE BRIDGE KINGDOM.

My not so favorite this month would be Normal People.

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Book Review

Book Review: Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆  
Audience: World War II Historical Ficiton
Length: 502 pages
Author: Martha Hall Kelly
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: April 5th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Inspired by the life of a real World War II heroine, this debut novel reveals a story of love, redemption, and secrets that were hidden for decades.

New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.

The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten. 

WHAT A BOOK.

WOW. This is the one of the best historical fictions about World War 2 that I have ever read. This was utterly amazing. Made me want to cry, throw things, and feel all sorts of emotions. I barely recognized how long the book actually was, it kept me interested and involved the entire time.

We had Catherine, an older woman in NY who falls in love with a man that has a life back in Paris. She spends her wars years hoping that Paul is okay and raising money and items for all those she can. I loved her personality and hope she held onto, until she didn’t. UGH. I hoped for a more complete ending for her, but I also understood. This wasn’t a book for happy endings, but enduring til the end.

Kaisa destroyed me from one end of this book to the other. She was the subject of horrid trials at Ravensbruck. Her story line caused me to struggle the most. I hadn’t heard much history from the women’s concentration camp and I loved the focus this author put on it. I learned so much and yet again had to cope with how awful humanity can be. Watching Kaisa encounter trial after trial brought out so many emotions.

I can hardly talk about Herta, but I’m also glad she was in the book. It was an interesting perspective to have someone who was pro-German during the time period. She made me so angry, but having this unique take compared to the two others balanced the entire story.

These three characters (that were based off of people actually involved in the war) was outstanding and well thought out. I couldn’t put this book down.

Note: this book does not hold back on describing what happened. Please read at your own caution.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction about WW2
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: some kisses, an almost fade-to-black scene
  • Violence: whips, guns, death by animal mauling, starvation
  • Trigger warnings: rape, sexual assault, mention of self harm, self-harming (by cutting), attempted suicide, child abuse, PTSD, surgical experimentation, loss of loved ones

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Book Review

Book Review: Dark Shores (Dark Shores #1) by Danielle L. Jensen

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: Young Adult Fantasy
Length: 368 pages
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Publisher: Tor Teen
Release Date: May 7th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In a world divided by meddlesome gods and treacherous oceans, only the Maarin possess the knowledge to cross the Endless Seas. But they have one mandate: East must never meet West.

A PIRATE WITH A WILL OF IRON

Teriana is the second mate of the Quincense and heir to the Maarin Triumvirate. Her people are born of the seas and the keepers of its secrets, but when her closest friend is forced into an unwanted betrothal, Teriana breaks her people’s mandate so her friend might escape—a choice with devastating consequences. 

A SOLDIER WITH A SECRET

Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh, the notorious legion that has led the Celendor Empire to conquer the entire East. The legion is his family, but even they don’t know the truth he’s been hiding since childhood. It’s a secret he’ll do anything to protect, no matter how much it costs him – and the world. 

A DANGEROUS QUEST

When an Empire senator discovers the existence of the Dark Shores, he captures Teriana’s crew and threatens to reveal Marcus’s secret unless they sail in pursuit of conquest, forcing the two into an unlikely—and unwilling—alliance. They unite for the sake of their families, but both must decide how far they are willing to go, and how much they are willing to sacrifice.

THIS SERIES WILL ONLY GET BETTER.

The author hosted an Instagram read-a-long on her page and I took advantage of reading it during the last month. She posted questions each week and responded to so many of us. It made me really have a lot of appreciation for her as a fan.

Dark Shores is filled with allllll things Roman. A lot of the way the governments are set-up, the world-building and more were drawn from this ancient civilization. It was AWESOME. I am fascinated by all things Roman and loved how this played out. There were wicked senators, ship sailing, gods fighting each other, conquering and a dash of romance.

I am obsessed with Marcus. He was my favorite POV and I wish the book was focused more on him. I love him + his soldiers. They were some of my favorite side characters. I found them funny, endearing and thought they all needed a hug. And I wouldn’t mind giving them said hug.

Teriana was fine, she’s one of my reasons for lowering to four stars. I found her a bit annoying/whiny at times and wasn’t as interested in her chapters. There was lots of talk but she never pulled out any tricks, so I’m curious where that goes during book two. I did enjoy Marcus and Teriana together though. I like the relationship and am waiting for all heck to break loose when things start to spiral.

This had great world-building and I found that it was a lot more creative of a book plot overall than I have read in a hot minute. I couldn’t easily guess what was happening next and that’s always a good sign of a great fantasy. My only other issue with it was that it was a little slow at times. I found myself wanting to scan ahead to dive into the next scene.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: shoot used quite a bit
  • Romance: kiss, a fade to black love scene
  • Violence: ship wreck, torture, hangings, murder involving dismemberment

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BOTM

Book of the Month YA: July Picks (& What I Chose!)

It’s July!

And that means new BOTM YA Picks! Here’s what was chosen in July and what I picked. At the bottom you’ll find a link for sign-up if you’re interested!


Fantasy:

Wicked Fox (Gumiho #1) by Kat Cho (Debut!)

A fresh and addictive fantasy-romance set in modern-day Seoul.

Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.

But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process.

Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to humans. He’s drawn to her anyway. 

With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s.


Contemporary Fiction:

Past Perfect Life by Elizabeth Eulberg

Small-town Wisconsin high school senior Allison Smith loves her life the way it is-spending quality time with her widowed father and her tight-knit circle of friends, including best friend Marian and maybe-more-than-friends Neil. Sure she is stressed out about college applications . . . who wouldn’t be? In a few short months, everything’s going to change, big time.
But when Ally files her applications, they send up a red flag . . . because she’s not Allison Smith. And Ally’s-make that Amanda’s-ordinary life is suddenly blown apart. Was everything before a lie? Who will she be after? And what will she do as now comes crashing down around her?


Romance:

Symptoms of a Heartbreak by Sona Charaipotra

The youngest doctor in America, an Indian-American teen makes her rounds―and falls head over heels―in the contemporary romantic comedy Symptoms of a Heartbreak.

Fresh from med school, sixteen-year-old medical prodigy Saira arrives for her first day at her new job: treating children with cancer. She’s always had to balance family and friendships with her celebrity as the Girl Genius―but she’s never had to prove herself to skeptical adult co-workers while adjusting to real life-and-death stakes. And working in the same hospital as her mother certainly isn’t making things any easier.

But life gets complicated when Saira finds herself falling in love with a patient: a cute teen boy who’s been diagnosed with cancer. And when she risks her brand new career to try to improve his chances, it could cost her everything.

It turns out “heartbreak” is the one thing she still doesn’t know how to treat.

In her solo debut, Sona Charaipotra brings us a compelling #ownvoices protagonist who’s not afraid to chase what she wants. Symptoms of a Heartbreak goes from romantic comedy highs to tearjerker lows and is the ultimate cure-all for young adult readers needing an infusion of something heartfelt.


Magical Realism:

All of Us With Wings by Michelle Ruiz Keil (Debut!)

Michelle Ruiz Keil’s YA fantasy debut about love, found family, and healing is an ode to post-punk San Francisco through the eyes of a Mexican-American girl.

Seventeen-year-old Xochi is alone in San Francisco, running from her painful past: the mother who abandoned her, the man who betrayed her. Then one day, she meets Pallas, a precocious twelve-year-old who lives with her rock-star family in one of the city’s storybook Victorians. Xochi accepts a position as Pallas’s live-in governess and quickly finds her place in their household, which is relaxed and happy despite the band’s larger-than-life fame.

But on the night of the Vernal Equinox, as a concert afterparty rages in the house below, Xochi and Pallas accidentally summon a pair of ancient creatures devoted to avenging the wrongs of Xochi’s adolescence. She would do anything to preserve her new life, but with the creatures determined to exact vengeance on those who’ve hurt her, no one is safe—not the family she’s chosen, nor the one she left behind.


Magical Realism:

The Boy and Girl Who Broke the World by Amy Reed

Billy Sloat and Lydia Lemon don’t have much in common, unless you count growing up on the same (wrong) side of the tracks, the lack of a mother, and a persistent loneliness that has inspired creative coping mechanisms.

When the lives of these two loners are thrust together, Lydia’s cynicism is met with Billy’s sincere optimism, and both begin to question their own outlook on life. On top of that, weird happenings including an impossible tornado and an all-consuming fog are cropping up around them—maybe even because of them. And as the two grow closer and confront bigger truths about their pasts, they must also deal with such inconveniences as a narcissistic rock star, a war between unicorns and dragons, and eventually, of course, the apocalypse.

My pick for July was: Wicked Fox! As someone OBSESSED with fantasy this book sounds so up my alley. I love that it has Korean mythology and think that is going to be so refreshing and new in the YA world. There appears to be some romance too, and we all know I love anything with a good romance. I am stoked to get to this debut novel and can’t wait to share my review with you!

If you’re interested in any of these books or signing up in general, please click the link below!

Book of the Month YA

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Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Childhood Favorites

It’s that time again! I feel like Top Ten Tuesday always comes so fast. I’m excited for this weeks topic and it was fun to remember and look back on all of the books I used to read growing up!

There were a lot of options to choose from, but these were some of my favorites:


Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery


The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket


The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister


A Dog Called Kitty by Bill Wallace


The Boxcar Children Series by Gertrude Chandler Warner


Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder


A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon


Amelia Bedelia Series by Peggy Parish


Corduroy by Don Freeman

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Book Review

Book Review: Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: New Adult Contemporary Romance
Length: 432 pages
Author: Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: April 10th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The story of the heart can never be unwritten.

Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.

But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother…only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.

Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.

HEART-WRENCHING.

I liked this book, but it was not my favorite by Christina Lauren.

This was so quick to fly through. I really enjoy love stories that flip back and forth in time. The hype and anticipation that builds waiting to find out what really happened that one night that ruined it all. YES. It makes the book fly by and this was no different.

Even as soon as Elliot and Macy saw each other it was like whoa, that’s my lobster (Friends fans anyone?). The fact that they both immediately realized their attraction and childhood love was still there ripped my heart out. WHY DID YOU LEAVE FOR 11 YEARS. Seriously, all of the emotions.

These characters were flawed and layered in so many ways. It made this romance stand out and brought the entire story to life. I thought Elliot and Macy were well thought out, and even the side characters added just the right touch.

The reason for their initial issues was a little eh. I didn’t love it and it kind of made me mad because it was a bit cliche. I’m glad they were actually able to communicate (FINALLY) and solve the issues from that night. So many things went wrong and it pulled at all of the heart strings watching young love be dashed.

I looooove Elliot. He was so sweet. He refused to give up on his first love and I’m impressed he held out this long to only be waiting for maybe a chance moment of running into Macy. He was continually thoughtful and endearing and I couldn’t get enough of him.

This book had a bit too much casual discussions of sex, and descriptions of sex for me. It’s a total personal opinion so don’t be deterred if you don’t mind this level of detail! I know we all have our own comfort level.

Overall audience notes:

  • Adult contemporary romance
  • Language: some strong language
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, mentions of masturbation, casual sex, some detailed love scenes
  • Trigger warnings: loss of a loved one

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Book Review

Book Review: Normal People by Sally Rooney

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary Fiction
Length: 268 pages
Author: Sally Rooney
Publisher: Hogarth
Release Date: August 28th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Connell Waldron is one of the most popular boys in his small-town high school–he is a star of the football team and an excellent student, and he is never wanting for attention from girls. The one thing he doesn’t have is money. Marianne Sheridan, a classmate of Connell’s, has the opposite problem. Marianne is plain-looking, odd, and stubborn, and while her family is quite well off, she has no friends to speak of. There is, however, a deep and undeniable connection between the two teenagers, one that develops into a secret relationship.

Everything changes when both Connell and Marianne are accepted to Trinity College. Suddenly Marianne is well liked and elegant, holding court with her intellectual friends, while Connell hangs at the sidelines, not quite as fluent in the language of the elite. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle each other, falling in and out of romance but never straying far from where they started. And as Marianne experiments with an increasingly dangerous string of boyfriends, Connell must decide how far he is willing to go to save his oldest friend.

Sally Rooney brings her brilliant psychological acuity and perfectly spare prose to a novel that explores the subtleties of class, the electricity of first love, and the inescapable challenges of family and friendships. Normal People is a book that you will read in one sitting, and then immediately jump up to share with your friends.

INTERESTING.

This won’t be a long review. I don’t think I really connected with this book so when I got to the last page and realized that was the end, I was so confused. How is that the end? I needed way more.

It was an interesting set-up having no quotations. At times I struggled with it, but as I got further into the book I think it really made sense for this story. It conveyed its own emotional pull in the background.

There was a lot of sadness in this book and it was hard for me to keep reading, yet at the same time, I kept flipping pages, curious to what happens next. Normal People is a depressing love story. It was deep with learning about belonging somewhere and acceptance of who someone is. I didn’t love the big miscommunications because it hurt that much more when they realized they had both made mistakes.

Some of the side characters were eh and misplaced in the story. I’m not sure they were wholly necessary as they felt thrown in to add more dimension.

At times, things were a bit to sexual (for my personal preferences) and I would skim by those. I was cheering so much for Marianne and Connell to figure things out. And I think this review is so hard to write because I’m still not sure if that happened. They both helped each other get to better places, but was everything as it should be? That will be for you to decide.

I’m a sucker for fully explained and happy endings. This is where my differences lay within the story.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary fiction
  • Language: a bit of strong language
  • Romance: kisses, detailed sex scenes, a lot of casual sex
  • Violence: domestic, physical
  • Trigger warnings: sexual assault, mentions of past domestic abuse, domestic abuse, bullying, suicide ideation, suicide, depression, drug use

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