Looking Back: All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

My reading life has slowed a bit lately. With the stress of moving and other life stresses I just haven’t always found the time. I am slowly getting back to it, but I have also found myself looking back. Looking back at the books I’ve read, especially those that have meant something to me. As I try to get back into blogging and reading I feel like I want to take the time to discuss some of those books, maybe even reread them, just to remember what they mean, share with whoever wants to read my words, and maybe even talk about any differences in feelings.

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Lately, I’ve been really thinking about All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. The movie coming out this week on Netflix has definitely put it back on my radar, but so have people re-posting their reviews and talking about their thoughts. Unfortunately, I have not had the time to reread this book, but I have been going down the rabbit hole of research and even pulled up my past review from 2016 to kind of remind myself what hit me with this book.

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The truth is, I adored the book. I was gutted by the book. I do not think I can read that book again because I don’t think I can do that to my feelings again.

Before I go on, I should note that if you struggle with the topics of grief, suicide, or mental illness in any way…don’t read the book. Don’t watch the movie. Don’t read what I have to say or what anyone else has to say about it. You know yourself best. Only you know what you can and cannot handle. Another note, there will be spoilers. The book has been out for awhile, the movie is out soon, it is what it is. I don’t think I can talk about it at this point without spoilers.

If you don’t fully remember the book, the story follows Finch and Violet. Finch is struggling with what he calls black-outs and wants to die, to put it plainly. He is more than likely bipolar but is not officially diagnosed and is dealing with it on his own. Violet is deep in grief and depression as she lost her sister in a car accident not that long ago. The grief has consumed her life. Violet and Finch meet on the clock tower, and so begins their involvement in each other’s lives. They fall in love, they try to help one another, but…as you know…you can’t fix someone. You can only do so much. Life’s twists and turns have lead Finch back into his black outs and, eventually, to his death. My summary is a bit blunt, but it’s the basics of what I remember since typically my reviews are all about how a book makes me feel.

This book has been both highly praised and highly criticized, and I can see where everyone is coming from. But here is what I remember from reading it, and why I remember feeling it so hard…

  • This book dealt with a grief that is all consuming. Violet is coming to terms with everything, and dealing with how life goes on while everything has changed. I have read so much about grieving for those you have lost, but I think this was the first time that I had read something that showed the reality of everyone moving forward while you feel stuck. I finally felt like there was a new aspect of grief I could relate to, and I felt it hard with Violet. I have seen reviewers criticize this all consuming grief, and that makes me so sad…because it is how it can feel sometimes. I think this was my BIGGEST takeaway from the book and the reason that I fell for it so hard.
  • This book deal with mental illnesses, specifically someone who is undiagnosed with bi-polar disorder. At the time this hit me hard. Someone very close to me had been showing a lot of the same symptoms as Finch and it kind of freaked me out, but also glued me to the pages. This is one of the first times I had really read about someone who is working through this, and someone that isn’t getting help for it. It opened my eyes to a whole new world of mental illnesses and I think it helped me be more understanding with those in my life who were struggling. I know that not everyone agrees with how the mental illness aspect was handled, but I think that every single person is different and every illness, disorder, etc is different for every individual. It isn’t cut and dry. So you can think this portrayal is not accurate, but maybe to someone it is. I still think about Finch, and I still think about my feelings when I was reading it and try to use those feelings to be even more understanding to those that are struggling. I think this book was important in the way that it helped me see something I was overlooking.
  • This book also showed that not everyone understands and not everyone is helpful. I know that mental health awareness has come a long way since this book was published, but it still has a long way to go. There are always going to be people who aren’t accepting, who aren’t helpful, even though they are in the position to be some of the most helpful and influential people. While I feel like there had to have been someone in Finch’s life to help him out, I think that showing that it isn’t always the case was an interesting choice on the author’s part. I don’t think it’s right that people are so stand-offish when it comes to these situations, but I think it’s probably smart to know that it’s not always acceptance. It’s tough to see that, but it’s the reality for some people. Reality is harsh, but maybe this reality could help someone seek out help in different areas of their life.
  • This book showed that no matter what, you can’t fix someone. Again, this is tough to see especially given the relationship that Violent and Finch have. He shows her how great life can be, but in return she can’t seem to do the same for him. No matter what she does he constantly gets beaten down and back into his black-outs. One person doesn’t make that go away, one person can’t change everything. It’s such a harsh reality, but I think it’s important. I think that if Violet had saved Finch in any way then this book would have been received very differently and would have been a whole different kind of problematic. I think that maybe Violet could have fought harder to get him help, but who actually knows. I am a firm believer in showing tough realities. I think that while everyone should see that there is hope and good things ahead they also need to know that it’s work to get there. One person isn’t the magic solution. So while I wish in my heart this story had ended differently, I also know that this wasn’t that kind of story and we were meant to see the harsh realities and what happens when someone kills themselves even with someone in their life rooting for them.

So, after reading that you’re probably wondering why I still love this book and why I speak so highly of it. I like books that make me feel the deepest of emotions. If an author can make me sob from my gut, they’ve done their job. If they can make me laugh to point of tears and sore abs, they are amazing. This book had me gutted. This book opened my eyes to things right in front of my face in my own life and I honestly wish I had read it sooner.

I get why people say it’s problematic. I know we want those dealing with suicide to see hope, and I think there is still hope in this book. I think that we can see why Finch ended up going down the path that he did. I think we saw what people in his life did and didn’t do that pushed him towards that end. And I think that is INCREDIBLY important for everyone to be aware of and to think about.

I think that if you struggle with the topic of suicide, mental illness, any of those things…you shouldn’t read this book or any book that deals with these topics. And if you read this book then you should take everything with a grain of salt. This is just one interpretation, accurate or inaccurate. Use this book as an opportunity to look further into the topic, to dive deeper into what you can do to help those that are struggling. Use it as a learning opportunity and take what lessons you can from it.

I think this book is an excellent discussion starter. I think we can learn and grow from the wide variety of reactions to this book, and I think we can use it as way to inspire change in how mental health is handled in this world. I mean, while you can’t save someone you can still make a difference in their lives. And you can inspire others to do the same.

If you have read this book I gotta know, what did you think about it? What did you take from it? I want to use this as a positive way to start a discussion. I want a discussion to bring any awareness that can be brought, and I want to learn from others.

And please note, if you want to watch the movie please remember it’s not a romantic comedy. Netflix released a trailer that made it seem fun and cutesy, but it’s not. I don’t even want to link the trailer because it frustrates me a lot.

emily

New to my Goodreads (4)

I know I’m not the only one who LOVES to know what other people are reading or excited about. I think there’s something about that fresh excitement of adding something to those TBR lists that’s almost contagious. I have seen bloggers around do something like this, and I thought I might want to join in. I did a post similar to this a few months back, and I want to keep it as a random feature on the blog.

Not going to lie, I have been dying to write since my last post and just couldn’t think of what to do. How silly is that when I love doing this feature!? But for real, I got so much amazing love and support after my last post and I think I was overwhelmed. I mean, my blog views were higher than they have EVER been! People were commenting on my post as well as on my social media with so much love, so many fun memories, and honestly…it helped me so much. This year has been pretty difficult as far as working through the feelings of grief has been concerned. I don’t know if at 30 I’m being reminded of things my dad is missing or something like that, but it’s been harder. So thank you…thank you for all the love and support. It meant the world.

And so of course, coming back is difficult because I’m trying to decide just what I want to be blogging about. Obviously books, but sometimes I feel like there is something else that I’m missing out on here. But for now, I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and adding whatever tickles my fancy.

But today…oh many today I am sharing with you some books I have recently added to my TBR. I have added a lot…so honestly, this is just a small sample of what I have added. There are just so many books getting hyped up lately and I want to be in on it.

So, here are just a few of the many books I have recently added to my Goodreads TBR:

36524503._sy475_The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

This book sounds like it should have that spooky, creepy sort of setting that I would really enjoy. A book about zombies? A book about the family that takes care of the graveyard, aka makes sure the zombies stay dead? This book sounds incredibly interesting, and very fitting for this time of year (whoo Halloween!). I’m not one that reads spooky books in October just because I feel like I can read spooky books whenever I want. This one struck me as interesting though, and I’m excited to give it a shot.

39679076House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

I am all about retellings, and this creepy retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses sounds right up my ally. Again, I don’t tend to read a lot of “spooky” books, but the praise for this book is so high that I feel like I can’t miss out. The setting sounds eerie, the death suffered sound incredibly terrifying and tragic…I’m interested in how this all plays out. Will someone hold my hand as I read it? Fun fact…this book is currently sitting in my TBR cart as the library hold just came in. I think this will be my next read and EEK! I am so nervous/excited.

42121526Rebel by Marie Lu

Yes, I just added this now. WHY DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS!? WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME!? WHO AM I SUPPOSED TO DIRECT THIS ANGER AT BECAUSE OMG I NEED THIS BOOK SO BAD! I was in LOVE with the Legend series, and have been dying for just a little bit more. THIS IS THE LITTLE BIT MORE I WANT GUYS! I’m so ready to be back in this world, to see Eden, Day, June…I am so ready for this book! And yet, maybe I’m not. OH MY GOSH THIS IS THE FINAL BOOK!

46227940Of Curses and Kisses by Sandhya Menon

First of all, love this author. I haven’t read all of her books yet, but what I have read I have adored. Second, contemporary retelling of Beauty and the Beast!? Yes please! I haven’t read a book set in a boarding school in forever, so that makes me all the more intrigued. I am really excited for all that this book promises to bring. Also, that cover is so awesome. I wasn’t sure how I was feeling about covers that are drawn up like this (not sure what word is best used to describe it, cartoon feels wrong…help me out), but I’ve really started to like it!

40024139Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin

I have heard so much hype about this book and I am so curious. I’m not 100% sure how I feel about the topic. I grew up in a household where we were very active in our church (and I am so thankful for it) and had actually talked about witchcraft and people who believe they are witches. I am so curious to see how the two things mix and the outcome of it. I really just am excited to get sucked into a new series. It’ been awhile since I’ve been really into one and I am hoping this one could bring me a new one. I’ve missed it.

43263520._sy475_The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Ok, so I actually am starting this one right now since I just got it from the library and am super intrigued. I’m so nervous because while I love a good female empowerment book I do think it can get taken over the top (just a topic for another time) and I don’t want that. I want it to be believable. I want it to feel real and to actually make me feel empowered. This book has come highly praised by some people who I seem to get lots of book titles from. The females, in this book, are sent out to the woods for their “Grace Year” in which they release all their “Magic,” but no one really talks about what goes on during that year and typically the females come back having seen things. Like I said, intrigued. Full disclosure, I have started this book and am 100 pages in and SO HOOKED! At first, I was mildly interested, but man…by 100 pages I am fully invested and really ticked that my reading time has been so limited lately.

18966819Golden Son by Pierce Brown

Hi, my name is Emily and I slept on this series for far too long. I read the first one about a month ago and LOVED it. I don’t know if it’s something I want to binge, but oh man…I definitely need to read the next book soon. I really enjoyed the setting and the feel of the entire book. It read like the dystopian that I have been craving for a while, and set in space!? Yes please! I am both excited and terrified for what is about to come next!

44291755Gravemaidens by Kelly Coon

I can’t even say what it is about this book that intrigues me. I feel like this book will throw the reader into a brand new world with so much to discover. I just expect this environment that I would fall in love with. I am so intrigued by the plot and how the three maidens work within the story. Just so much interest in this book.

36373564._sy475_The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker

I feel called to this book just based on the setting alone. I mean, the plot sounds like something I can get behind and all of that, so that’s great…but the setting! I absolutely have loved reading books set in Alaska. That state is almost foreign to me, and I just cannot believe the things that people who live up there may deal with (I mean, full days of darkness is just the start…). I have heard nothing but fantastic things about this book, and then the setting just kind of seals the deal for me. I definitely need to read this one.

43453524Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby

A few things you should know about me if you don’t already…I am forever drawn to books on grief and I am also forever drawn to WWII books. I have not read many WWII books set in the US, so that is something new. This book sounds beautiful, heartbreaking, and eye-opening. It’s told from the perspective of a ghost, which kind of reminds me of The Book Thief as it was told by Death. I just feel like this book calls to me, and I am dying to get my hands on it. I know many children were orphaned during this time, and I don’t know a lot about that situation. I think this book will teach me a little bit more, while also breaking my heart (and who doesn’t enjoy getting their heart broken while reading?).

I could keep going, but I suppose I can save some of the other ones for another time. These were selected because they have excited me the most over the past week or two. I am so excited about reading lately, and that’s a feeling I have missed so much. So much to look forward to!

So tell me…is there anything new on your TBR that you are excited about?

Also, if there is anything on this list that you have read let me know! I want to know what I should prioritize!

emily

New to my Goodreads (3)

I know I’m not the only one who LOVES to know what other people are reading or excited about. I think there’s something about that fresh excitement of adding something to those TBR lists that’s almost contagious. I have seen bloggers around do something like this, and I thought I might want to join in. I did a post similar to this a few months back, and I want to keep it as a random feature on the blog.

Oh. My. Goodness. I have added SO much to my Goodreads and I honestly didn’t even know where to start with these books. I eventually just went to what was the most recent additions and went from there. I just have so many books I want to read, which is weird when you think of just how little I’ve been blogging. But let’s get to the real reason that you’re here.

Open up Goodreads or get that notebook out. Here are some of the most recent additions to my Goodreads TBR:

43575115._sy475_The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

I was a HUGE fan of The Night Circus and have really been dying to know what she will do next. This one sounds just as fantastic and a little trippy. Those that have read it say it’s a love letter to stories and books, and that is definitely something I need. And that cover…THAT COVER IS BEAUTIFUL!

36408450._sy475_I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest

A warm, fuzzy type romance about a ballet dancer!? Sign me up. I was told that this gave some Center Stage feels, and if you know me then you know I absolutely adore Center Stage. I just need a book that makes me feel happy, and this sounds like it will do the trick!

42972032The Map from Here to There by Emery Lord

NEW EMERY LORD!? THE SEQUEL TO THE START OF ME AND YOU!? I am 100% sold and I just really need this book. If you haven’t read anything by Emery Lord I highly recommend you do so! One of my favorite YA contemporary authors.

36249638How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

To be totally honest, I am not sure what it is that is drawing me to this book. I have seen a lot of high praise for this author and book. So many people saying they were swept away at the beginning and I am craving that feeling. A story about finding joy even in the darkest places…I could definitely use that. I have recently added this one and Things You Save in a Fire by her because something is just pulling me to her work.

41398025The Farm by Joanne Ramos

So I have seen this book pop up every so often, but then about a month ago I was on a weekend up north (yes, I live in a place where we just go up North for a weekend away) and my sister-in-law was reading this. She seemed pretty into it and handed it to me after finishing it so I could give it a whirl. Women are basically paid to be surrogates, but while they are pregnant they belong to The Farm. Very intrigued by this one.

38355098Dry by Nel Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

Ok, so I’m reading this one now and LOVING it. This book focuses on a drought in California and what happens when they no longer receive any relief from anyone for it. The character’s worlds are thrown into utter chaos because there is no more water coming. Super interesting. Makes you super thirsty while you’re reading it and really helps you remember to bring water along with you wherever you go. Also serves a great reminder to conserve water.

40864797._sy475_How the Light Gets In by Katy Upperman

Oh look, a book that centers around death and grief and has made Emily’s TBR. Shocker. But for real, this book sounds fantastic. This story follows Callie as she is in the thick of grieving for her sister. Grades are plummeting, she quits swimming, all things that can happen as you are dealing with something as tragic as loss. I am so curious what happens to Callie as she is at her aunt’s. From what I gather this not only becomes a book on grief, but it also becomes a bit of a mystery (as well as a romance). Very interested in this one.

36478784._sy475_The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

I feel like so many people have been ranting and raving about this one and I WANT IN! This book follows two people who share a flat, but one works the days and the other works nights so they never see each other and have never met. They share a flat, A BED, and they have never met! I can’t even imagine not having ever met the person you live with. This sounds like a romantic comedy that I need in my life!

29236380._sy475_Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

So I recently read How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow and I loved her realness. I loved that she wasn’t shy of the dirty details that no one ever wants to talk about. I had heard people talk about this book, but I wasn’t really sure if I was interested because it sounded intense and I wasn’t sure how someone would tell that story. Well, now I am really intrigued. I know that she will not hide from the facts of self-harm and what is going on in the main character’s life, and I honestly just feel like this could be a very important read.

38580144The Last Word by Samanta Hastings

I randomly stumbled upon this one because of a quiz that was going around on Twitter and I am sold. Set in the 1860’s, this story follows a young woman who is on a quest to find out just how her favorite serialized novel will end as the author was killed before it was finished. She enlists the help of her father’s young business partner and they set off trying to find out just how this story ended. I had NEVER heard of this one until today and now I am kind of excited to get my hands on it and give it a go.

If you want to see what else I’ve been adding, head on over to my Goodreads page and check it out! And then you can laugh at how much reading I gotta get done in order to even kind of catch up on that TBR.

What books have you recently added to your lists? 

emily

Let’s talk How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow

Before starting this post off I just want to let you know that this could get a bit heavy. If you struggle with grief in any sort of way and don’t think you can handle this post then please stop reading. We all grieve differently and I don’t want to hurt anyone as they are working through things.

I am the type of person that yearns for books on grief. I am always drawn to them in an instant even though I know they will break my heart. How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow was no different.

40755416Here is what happens when your mother dies.

It’s the brightest day of summer and it’s dark outside. It’s dark in your house, dark in your room, and dark in your heart. You feel like the darkness is going to split you apart.

That’s how it feels for Tiger. It’s always been Tiger and her mother against the world. Then, on a day like any other, Tiger’s mother dies. And now it’s Tiger, alone.

Here is how you learn to make friends with the dark.

Add to your Goodreads | About the Author

Initial reactions upon finishing:

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This book left me feeling all kinds of things. I felt that gut wrenching pain of loss, I felt the occasional smile, I felt the amount of love that is within the book…it was a bit of a roller coaster. And while I found myself sobbing quite a bit and my husband threatened to take it away because it was making me sad, I am so glad I read it.

The portrayal of grief was huge for me. The author showed the nitty gritty, the stuff that everyone is scared to talk about. Tiger went through the phases of grief without them needing to be labeled, because honestly the phases of grief don’t move that way. Throughout the book Tiger constantly described the initial stages of it all sinking in as feeling like wet cement, and I don’t think there is a more accurate description. You just feel heavy; heavy, but still moving slowly…one step at a time. I honestly don’t remember a time in my life that I have felt so heavy as I have when I have been hip deep in the darkest moments of grieving. Grief truly is the Big Suck, and it is always with you. This book really was a solid glimpse for those that maybe don’t understand it as well because they don’t have that personal experience. If you are ever wondering what a friend or family member may be feeling after the death of a loved one, this book will give you a good description of what they may be feeling.

While I related so well to the grief, I still found it to be a different journey. I lost a parent, just like Tiger, but I still had my other parent. I still had a place to live and a family to call my own. Once Tiger loses her mother that’s it. She’s alone. She’s put in foster care and into the system that so many people get bounced around in. To see her not only navigate her grief, but to also navigate through foster care and feeling like she had no one…that was tough. I found it incredibly eye opening as well. I know very little about the foster care system, minus what I might see on TV or in books. I really felt like the author took this to heart, knew that so many don’t really know what goes on in those homes, and put us through this journey with Tiger. It was a journey of heartbreak. It was a journey of pain. It was a journey that really had Tiger finding herself, just not always in the best of ways. It really had me thinking about my life and what I can do for others that don’t necessarily have a place to call home or people to call family.

This book, to me, is so important. It shows the darkness of grief, of the foster care system, of what may happen to a vulnerable young woman after everything is taken from her in just one evening. There aren’t enough books that paint the ugly in grief, but this one did. Grief is an ugly thing guys. And I really get tired of people glamorizing it, of characters that seem to just get over it throughout the book…because that’s not how it happens. Tiger’s journey with grief was real to me. So real that I had to take breaks, because occasionally the hurt was too much (which is really sucky when you think of all the people in real life that don’t have the option to take a break from that heavy feeling.).

Now, if you know me pretty well you must be asking yourself why I do this to myself. Why do I read books about grief, books that bring back all those ugly emotions?

Well first, there is nothing like the feeling when an author can get your feelings going just by something they wrote. There is something about that and I just can’t seem to walk away from books that are going to have me ugly crying.

But honestly…the biggest reason is because sometimes I need to remember that I’m not alone. My dad has been dead for 17 years. I’m not over it. I’ll never be over it. Some days it’s just a little easier to put one foot in front of the other, and then there are days that even getting out of bed is tough. Grief is here to stay, and sometimes, as silly as it sounds, I feel like I’m the only one that has dealt with it. I am so wrong, and I know that. But when I was 13, right after my dad passed, I couldn’t find books like this. I couldn’t find a way to relate, a way to make sense, and a way to fully deal with it. These books help me continue to process, even years later. And it helps me to know that there are books for those youths who are just starting their journey with grief.

Grief is the longest journey I never wanted to be on. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. But here I am, feeling all those feels, and just working through the days that I feel like I can’t breathe. As the years have gone on it has gotten better. I don’t miss my dad any less, but I’m not constantly being punched in the gut by missing him. The constant hole is there, but it doesn’t hurt in the same way that it used to (most days).

Reading about grief has been a HUGE thing for me. It has helped me process so much and I think it has helped me get to the point I am at today. If you are ever looking for other books, books that I found helped me in some way or another as far as tacking the feelings of grief, then you should definitely check these out:

And if you are grieving, having a hard time, no matter how long it’s been or how fresh the wounds are…do not be afraid to reach out. I know it may seem like you are alone in this journey, but you are not. I may not be able to relate 100% to how you are feeling, but I am on this grief journey too…different stages, but I’m here. And I am an excellent listener.

This post has really gotten away from me, so if you’re still with me AWESOME! If you aren’t, I totally understand.

Basically…if you want a fairly accurate representation of grief, read How to Make Friends with the Dark. Just be sure you have some tissues nearby and take some breaks when it feels too heavy. And if you have read it, let me know. I would love to hear your thoughts!

emily

It’s Summer Reading Time!

tumblr_inline_mnn9bpytqm1rlpk9cIt’s JUNE! And because it’s June and the sun is FINALLY shining and the temps are feeling good my brain is drifting…drifting off to those lazy days of summer where all I have to do is sit outside with a book in my hand. It is very difficult some days to work in an office during the summer. So today I’m sitting here thinking about sunshine, cool drinks, and ALL the summer reading.

What is it about reading in the summer? I seriously look forward to summer reading all the time even though I work a year-round job. It’s not THAT different than reading in the spring, but somehow it feels different. Is it because of all the summer reading programs I did as a kid? Is it because when I was in school the summers were the time that I could read all the things? I have no clue…but today, my brain is stuck on summer mode. And of course, that means I am thinking of my summer reading goal.

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My goal for reading this summer isn’t like most people’s. In fact, I don’t know if I have ever actually seen anyone pick this as their summer reading goal. But here it is…here is what I plan to do this summer:

This summer I will only read books I own!

Yea, pick your jaws up off of the floor now and listen to me. I love libraries. I do. I get distracted by libraries. I may own 19435887248015 unread but I always get distracted at the library. I was just at the library the other day to pick up a movie and I had to force myself to not even drift close to the books because I knew that I would pick one up.

So…I have all these books. Which ones am I planning to read this summer? Well…here’s what I’m hoping to tackle after I finish the Darker Shade of Magic trilogy which, guys, I am halfway through!!!!:

37703550Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

35604686The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

32926258The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman

38355098Dry by Neal Shusterman

35297469Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

23398763Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

40755416How to Make Friends With the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow

32033642The Rattled Bones by S.M. Parker

41398025The Farm by Joanne Ramos

reid_9781524798628_jkt_all_r1.inddDaisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I also really want to try to get some more fantasy in, but these books are just so in my face right now (because I want to read them all) that I can’t pick. I am thinking I should finish the Throne of Glass series but I also want to reread the Grisha series. Oof, the fantasy part is tough guys. Not sure where to go with that one.

Will I get to all these books this summer? Probably not. Will I get distracted by other books I own? More than likely. But I definitely want to get these read this summer and to have this be the summer of reading books I own.

Have you read any of these books? What should I prioritize?

Clearly I need to blog more because I have so many more questions but…what are your summer reading plans? Please share them with me because I am always just so curious.

emily

New to my Goodreads (2)

I know I’m not the only one who LOVES to know what other people are reading or excited about. I think there’s something about that fresh excitement of adding something to those TBR lists that’s almost contagious. I have seen bloggers around do something like this, and I thought I might want to join in. I did a post similar to this a few months back, and I want to keep it as a random feature on the blog.

Get those Goodreads accounts open, and be ready to add a few books to your list. Here are the last 10 books that I have added to my Goodreads (with a little snippet as to why I added them):

41147279Again, But Better by Christine Riccio

This book is described as a book about second chances, bravery, and discovering yourself. Seems like a book that most people should read, right? I think this could make for a really good, cute, fun story that I could relate to in some ways. Also, I really like that cover (bad book nerd, I know). I don’t watch any Booktube but I’m really excited to see someone who is well known in that world get her book out there!

32926258The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman

It has been SO long since I have read a book set in the depression era, and the fact that this one follows a traveling circus, with all its highs and lows…I’m intrigued.  I hadn’t even heard of this book until the other day when I received it as a gift, but I have been wanting to read other books by this author. This book sounds like it has a strong female character working through some tough situations in life. I know that the circus is a tough thing for people to read about and I know they are known to be very dark and horrible places. I am so interested to see just how that is portrayed. This book sounds emotional, raw, and somehow like a book that is right up my alley. 

40899464The Thing We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

I love a book that goes between the past and the present. I really love seeing how those in the present learn from the past, and how the past can influence people. This book follows the story of a young woman in 1942 as she comes to terms with just how severe the Nazi occupation will be along the Polish border. I am not totally sure about how it goes from past to present, but I am intrigued by the little bit of Alina’s story they shared in the synopsis and want to see how the author pulls it off.

40753481Lost Roses by Martha Hall Kelly

Lilac Girls was one of my favorite books of 2018, so I knew that the second Martha Hall Kelly released a new book I would be ALL for it. This book is almost a prequel and follows Caroline’s mother, Eliza, in WWI. I can’t wait to see meet Eliza and to get back into the world that Kelly has written. Seriously, if you haven’t read Lilac Girls…you need to!

30075662Aurora Rising by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman

I, like so many others, fell DEEP into the Illuminae series. I read each one in about a day and could not believe the emotional journey that the authors put me through. So naturally, I see that they are doing something new and I immediately have grabby hands. While I could flail about and tell you just how pumped I am for this one, I’ll leave you with this line that’s at the end of the synopsis: They’re not the heroes we deserve. They’re just the ones we could find. Nobody panic.

42245770The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

Sarah Dessen has been a favorite author of mine for a very long time. I remember reading and rereading her books in high school and always hoping to find something new. This book hits a few notes for me as it involves a main character who has lost her mother at age 10, which is very close to the age that I lost my dad. I really cling to books about grief and grieving because I think it continues to normalize it for me, and I really think that Dessen will again make me feel all the feels.

43263680Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

Ok if we are going to be perfectly honest here I definitely added this because I love Leigh Bardugo. I LOVED the Grisha series, LOVED Six of Crows, and I need more of her writing in my life. This book focuses on a high school dropout who is also somehow involved in Yale’s underground occult? I don’t know but I know that I am curious and her writing is so good that I just need it.

35398627Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

One of my goals is to read more diversely. I try my hardest to do so, but a lot of times I just don’t hear about certain books and then I’m missing out. This book sounds like one I need to read, like one we all need to read. My knowledge on leaving everything behind because of danger back home is so small. I moved from one state to another with my husband and a plan, nothing at all like what Jude goes through. I think I need to read this to help myself understand just a little bit more about the journey that so many lives take. Also, it’s written in verse? Heck yes!

warrior of the wild 3-6Warrior of the Wild by Tricia Levenseller

A Viking inspired book!? YES PLEASE! I will take ALL the Vikings inspired books and need more of them in my life. I know that my co-blogger, Arika, has read this one and after her review I am totally on board with this one. The main character’s trial is sabotaged and she is sent into the woods to fight her way back and kill the god that claims tributes from the village. Definitely sounds like an Emily book! I am hoping for a strong female kicking butt in this one.

39727081The Quiet You Carry by Nikki Barthelmess

As I said before, I am trying to read more about what I do not know, and I don’t know a whole lot about being placed in the foster care system. The synopsis for this book broke my heart a little bit, and after reading it I just want to know that the main character is going to grow from her experiences and be ok (or as ok as she can be). Victoria is placed into foster care at the age of 17 after all her father has done to her, and this book sounds like it follows her as she deals with what happened to her and what might currently be happening to her sister. It sounds incredibly dark and heartbreaking, but it sounds like something important to read.

My fear whenever writing this is that I don’t tell you just why I want to read these books. The main factor is that the synopsis sticks with me. If I read a synopsis for a book that promises adventure or breaks my heart I’m definitely going to want to add it to my ever-growing TBR.

So tell me…what have you recently added to your TBR?

emily

Emily here, with a confession…

How many of you have heard of the tabletop game Warhammer 40,000?

Ok, so it’s a little more popular than that question implies, but I guess I don’t know how many of you reading my blog know what it is. This game has become a big deal in my life, meaning my husband plays it and I hear talk of it all the time. It involves making models, painting them, creating an army to play other people, yadda yadda yadda.

[Leo (the husband) Edit: Warhammer 40,000 is a table top miniatures game set in the 41st millennium.  Known for being exceptionally “Grim Dark”, it has it’s roots in being a over -the-top satire of the worst characteristics of humanity.  The video below will give some context.]

Basically, it’s really not my thing.

But then I heard there were books…

There are so many books by so many authors. Good books, and not so good books. My husband has gotten really into reading them because the plot to each story is crazy and they help him build some background to the game he is playing. He obviously knows that I enjoy reading, so he has started to recommend certain authors and storylines to follow. At first, I rolled my eyes. I mean, do I really want to get into Warhammer in the slightest? Nope. Keeping my distance sounded pretty nice. But he kept pushing it. He started making deals with me, like “you read this Warhammer book and I’ll read another one of your favorite books.” Finally…I caved. I can only listen to him bother me about it for so long. This was obviously for the benefit of our marriage. Who knows what would happen if I kept ignoring him for so long.

So I read his first choice book for me, and then I read another…

Yep, you guessed it…I like reading Warhammer books.  [Leo Edit: It’s almost like I know you…]

Those who know me well are probably rolling their eyes, and those who don’t know me well are probably confused. As a game, Warhammer is interesting, but not something I want to be involved in. I love that it challenges people to be creative and gets people to physically leave their house to game with other people, but I don’t like that it’s an incredibly expensive hobby [Leo Edit: Cost is relative. I could be into fishing, motorcycles, vintage airplane collecting…] that many tend to obsess over. I tend to get a negative taste in my mouth for any hobby turned obsession, but I have seen it happen a lot with Warhammer.

So, why read the books if you aren’t super into the game? I’ll tell you why:

  • SPACE OPERA: Sci-fi is tricky for me. I feel like sci-fi gets too bogged down by details or overly cheesy. Space operas have been the only way for me to get into sci-fi. They are easier for me to follow, and the cheesiness bothers me less. The Warhammer books that I have read fit right in there. Sure, sometimes they get cheesy or bogged down by details, but the few that I have read have been simple for me to navigate through. They have fit into my ideal space opera so far, and I love it.
  • CHARACTERS: There are so many characters from different backgrounds. I love that there is some element of diversity within the universe, and I think the wide range of characters gives the story a level of interest that not a lot of space operas pull off. Also, can we talk about how gender is like a non-issue for the most part? Men and women can both be badass and it doesn’t matter if they are a man or a woman. I absolutely love that.
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Commissar Severina Raine, from the book Honourbound
  • ACTION: The books that I have read have been filled to the brim with action. The action is exciting and keeps me invested in the story. We aren’t talking the random fights that sometimes feel like they come because the author needed more, they are important fights. They are multiple, big, plot enhancing fights throughout the entire story. These fights have kept me actively engaged in the world, and have made it so easy to get totally lost in the story and dying to know what comes next.
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[Leo Edit: This is from the trailer for Death of Hope, a fan film made by ONE GUY.]
  • A STORY YOU CAN PUT DOWN AND COME BACK TO LATER. I love that I can put the series down for a little bit and come back weeks or even months later. It’s not always an overly complicated story, and it’s something that I have felt is not difficult to pick right back up. It helps that with any questions I have I can ask my husband, but the internet is also an excellent source when it comes to these books. The Warhammer community is rather large, which is cool but also kind of scary.

The book series is written by a variety of authors, which is great because then you get a wide range of perspectives. However, this doesn’t mean that each book is the same. Some authors, as my husband has found out, are more difficult to read through than others. Not to say that all the stories are terrible, but we all know sometimes certain works are more difficult for us to read through than others. My husband knows me well and has been good about recommending what to read. Thankfully he was around to add some of his own thoughts to help anyone wanting to get into this world…

Thoughts from Leo

Since I got my wife into it she asked if I would also add my thoughts.  If you’re looking at where to start it may be a little overwhelming…

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Horus Heresy Tree

… but I recommend starting (roughly) at the beginning, 10,000 years before the setting of the game.  Horus Rising by Dan Abnett (Guardians of the Galaxy, Doctor Who, and so much more), False Gods by Graham McNeill (one of the best authors for Black Library, if he wrote it it’s good), and Galaxy in Flames by Ben Counter (can’t say much of him; this book is good, but I hated the next book he writes) are the introductory trilogy to the Horus Heresy.  Read these and you will know if you will enjoy yourself.  Following the trilogy the series splinters. Flight of the Eisenstein directly continues the story, Fulgrim takes place during the first three books but is from other characters’ perspective, and the following books begin to introduce new characters and settings.  There are a few good recommended reading orders online, and I will add my recommendations, but for the most part don’t stress it.  Like the Marvel Cinematic Universe the books are related, but you don’t necessarily need to read every one to understand what is happening.

So anyway, what do I like?

Descent of Angels introduces the Dark Angels and Lion El’Johnson. Young boys join a knightly order to rid their haunted world of terrible beasts, falling into a web of secrets along the way.

A Thousand Sons begins the tragic tale of Magnus the Red and his legion.  Maybe magic isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, maybe the pursuit of knowledge and doing what you think is right is all that matters.  Should be followed up with Prospero Burns.

Aaron Dembski-Bowden, my favorite Black Library author, writes the prologue book The First Heretic I’ve never read an author that does a better job of writing from the antagonist’s perspective than he does.

My portion is getting long, but there are a couple more things I want to add.  While I’ve recommended starting with the three books that begin the Horus Heresy, there’s no reason to limit yourself to that period.  In the 40k setting you can read about the dying race known as Aeldari in the Path of the Eldar, get your Firefly fix with the Rogue Trader Omnibus, or find out what these badasses are all about in Sisters of Battle Omnibus-d6pa2y1-3e475b58-4db3-4b90-9f17-27c675e1c8d6

Two more things and I am done, I swear.  Despite what my wife says the hobby itself is amazing.  Building and painting has been a great stress relief for me, and though 40k may be a little “much” for you (or maybe not, if you’re an awesome person like me!) if you enjoy table top stuff Games Workshop does have games like Necromunda, Kill Team, or Blackstone Fortress.  Lastly (I hate that I feel like have to, but people can be assholes) a disclaimer.  Warhammer 40k is the pinnacle of nerdom, and because of that socially malformed neck beards do come with the territory.  If you come across rude content or behavior online understand it is not representative of the community.  Overall we are very inclusive (and admittedly at times socially awkward) group of people.

A few more words from Emily:

This has been kind of fun to get into. It has given me a way to get interested in his hobby without having to be fully into the gaming aspect. I am not one to sit and paint models, plan out how I want things to go, etc. I like that we have this connection. I also like that I am able to enjoy these books. I will say, I highly recommend getting the audiobooks if you are able. The narration is great and has helped me get even more invested in the story.

JUST A HEADS UP: This series does get a graphic and dark. There is some violence against others, there are incredibly dark and evil acts, and there is gore. If you are at all sensitive to any of that I would recommend you not read the series.

So, I gotta ask…who else has read these books or gotten into the Warhammer 40,000 world somehow?

emily [and Leo, the husband]

New to my Goodreads

I know I’m not the only one who LOVES to know what other people are reading or excited about. I think there’s something about that fresh excitement of adding something to those TBR lists that’s almost contagious. I have seen bloggers around do something like this, and I thought I might want to join in.

So…here are the last 10 books that I added to my Goodreads that I am seriously looking forward to:

40367270Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte

A thief and an upstanding citizen reluctantly join forces to find out who killed the queens? I mean…this has Emily written all over it. I love a good murder mystery and this one seems like it will fit the bill. And it’s currently a standalone!? Nice! This one releases February 26th!

40597067The City of Veils by S Usher Evans

Ok, first off I LOVE S. Usher Evans and all that she does! The fact that I haven’t read more of her books is an embarrassment on my part because seriously, she is so good. A royal vigilante!? Yes please! This book releases April 16th!

25526296Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

A friend of my mine recommended this book to me and I greatly trust her judgment. Parallel worlds, home for wayward children, kinda dark? I am all in for this one. Also, can we talk about how pretty that cover is? This one has been out since 2016 and apparently I’ve been sleeping on it.

26032887The Wicked King by Holly Black

I read The Cruel Prince last month and very much enjoyed it. I got sucked into this world of fae and I have to know what happens next. The drama, the twists and turns…I need more! I don’t even know how to describe my need for this book without spoilers, but trust me…I need it.

37561550The Au Pair by Emma Rous

I have been getting more into mysteries over the last couple of years. I think I try to read a couple every year. I’m always curious to see just how the author will throw me for a loop. This book, about a family that has definitely gone through some stuff, seems like it will be just perfect. I honestly can’t wait to get lost in this one.

39863269Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry

I have never read anything by this author, but I have heard good things. This book seems like it mixes a contemporary book with some magical realism, which I am all for. This book just recently came out, and I am hoping I can get my hands on it soon!

38101643The Ravens Tale by Cat Winters

A book about young Edgar Allen Poe!? Yes please! I read quite a bit of him back in the day, and I think the premise of this book sounds fantastic. I can’t wait to dive into this world and see the authors take on this man. I have never read anything by Cat Winters, so I guess I better start somewhere right? This book comes out April 16th.

WHTF_JKT_2p.inddWe Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

A story inspired by ancient Arabia? I am totally on board with this one. It sounds like it has some fantasy elements that I love, and it’s sent in a world that I need more of in my life. I am definitely excited to get my hands on this one! This book comes out May 14th!

36430989Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

This book is described as a Chinese inspired Game of Thrones. Count me in! While I struggled with the Game of Thrones books (so many) I definitely enjoyed the show and general outline of the story. I think that this book and this author could really pull it off and I am so excited for it! This book comes out April 2nd.

32949202Dark of the West by Joanna Hathaway

This book is described as Code Name Verity meets The Winner’s Curse. I may still need to finish The Winner’s Curse series, but I LOVE Code Name Verity and I really enjoyed the beginning of the series for The Winner’s Curse. So basically, I feel like if those two things are smacked together I will really like the outcome. I am pretty excited to read this one. This is released February 5th!

Anyone have any 2019 releases that they are really looking forward to? Or, better yet, has anyone read any of these books? I would love to hear your thoughts!

emily

My Fear of Finishing Throne of Glass

I have a confession to make…a book nerd confession that I’m sure others can relate to in some way so I’m hoping this is a safe space to confess this.

I am afraid to finish the Throne of Glass series.

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I have read the first six (I’m including the prequel book) and I am scared to finish the last two books.

You may be wondering why I feel this way, but first you need a little history between me and this book series.

I started this book series in 2014. I had just packed up my entire life with my husband and moved to a different state. I was struggling to find a job (I think I had finally settled into retail at this point) and just wasn’t happy in general. This move has taken YEARS to adjust to, if I’m being honest, but it was particularly hard when I was poor, working a crappy job, and only knew my husband (and we literally didn’t have enough money to do anything but sit at home).

At this point in my life I needed an escape: enter the brain of Sarah J Maas.

I picked up the first Throne of Glass book on a whim. It sounded like something that would help me take a temporary break from the sadness of my current situation, and it did just that. I fell in love with the first book and immediately jumped to the second one. I was lucky enough to start this series right before book 3 came out, so within that first year of living in this new place I had devoured the first three books and was hooked. This book series gave me an escape, it gave me something to be excited about, it honestly helped me to start caring about things again.

Throughout the years I have still read these books and supported the author. I have read other books by her and have been a constant fan, but now…we’re coming to the end. And I am terrified.

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So, you might be asking yourself why. Why is someone who has been through all of this with her books suddenly be scared to finish this series?

Well, first off, there seems to be a lot of drama surrounding her books. I know people have brought up some problematic things about the series which I have seen and can acknowledge, but I’m also the type that needs to read it so that they can see exactly what it is. I have also seen many people bringing others down for reading this book series, and that in itself kind of scares me. In general, people either love or hate this series and I seem to be easily influenced by others sometimes. I really just need to not let it get to me. I do want to know how it ends. 

Secondly, there’s the ending. WHAT KIND OF ENDING WILL THERE BE!? Will it be happy or sad? Will everyone I love die a horrible and tragic death, or will the frolic through the meadow off into the sunset? I personally don’t know what kind of ending I want or even need from this series. After all the emotions it has given me over the years I wouldn’t be shocked if they all died in the end, but I don’t think that’s what I want. And honestly, series enders can make or break it all. I like the Hunger Games series a little less because I absolutely HATED the ending to it. Just hated it. I enjoyed Divergent and then THAT ENDING (that I told myself I liked initially but I really don’t think I did). How will this book end????

Third, WHAT DO I HAVE ONCE IT’S OVER? I have been a part of this series for a very long time. What do I do with my life when I no longer have a Throne of Glass book to look forward to? How will I cope with what happens to my favorites if I don’t have the promise of another book? What do I do with my life when this is no longer a part of it?

And lastly, and probably the most realistic of all of my fears, is the fear that the book will let me down. This isn’t just because of the ending, but mostly because of fear of the author jamming all kinds of things in at the last minute. Too many times I have finished a series where, during the last book, they just jam all kinds of craziness in there, some of which does not even seem to matter to the plot in general. I’m not about throwing in last minute relationships, last minute details that don’t pertain to the plot, etc. Sometimes it’s like an author gets to the end and tries to change what the series is. I don’t know the best way to explain this really. I think it’s obvious that as the series goes on the author’s writing experience changes. I totally get that. But sometimes I feel like they don’t always stick to what the the core of the story is. I don’t know. Stories evolve, I get it. But those last minute details that don’t really move the plot along they come across as a way to fill a hole. I’m definitely scared that this book won’t live up to what I remembered and loved from book 1 to present. That is probably my biggest fear.

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Yes, I will read Kingdom of Ash. I hope that I can read it soon, but man…I have some fear.

Can you relate to this struggle? Are there book series that you haven’t finished because you are scared to do so? 

emily

What Would You Miss?

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I just finished a book. 

This is nothing shocking. I’ve been killing it with reading this year, it’s just the blogging aspect that has been slacking a bit but I’m working on that.

I just finished a book that’s been sitting on my shelf for YEARS that I was dying to read but kept putting off.

The book…Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

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This book is set in a dystopian US in which the world has fallen. Humanity as we know it is no longer a thing, and people are doing whatever they can to survive. I don’t want to give too much away, but the book really focuses less on the HUGE dramatic events that sometimes take place (people banding together to fight evil, etc) and focuses more on how humanity has changed and what is necessary for survival. I loved that the author took that turn with this kind of story, and I think that’s what kept me so invested. She told this story in such a beautiful and haunting way, in a way that I could actually see it happening. This lead me to ask myself a simple question…

If the world as I knew it changed, if all that I knew was no more, what would I miss?

“No more Internet. No more social media, no more scrolling through litanies of dreams and nervous hopes and photographs of lunches, cries for help and expressions of contentment and relationship-status updates with heart icons whole or broken, plans to meet up later, pleas, complaints, desires, pictures of babies dressed as bears or peppers for Halloween. No more reading and commenting on the lives of others, and in so doing, feeling slightly less alone in the room. No more avatars.”

A world without internet, a world without fresh fruit easily accessible, a world without electricity and running water…what would I miss the most?

I think I would miss social media, but not for the reasons some people would. I think I could give up some aspects of it no problem, but the fact that it is a way that I can connect with friends and family all over the world…I can’t imagine a world where I can’t contact them instantly. I can’t comprehend a world where I can’t know what is going on in their lives even though we are far apart. I can’t imagine being alive in a time where distance doesn’t kill everything. That would be hard to give up.

I would miss food as we know it. I would miss ice cream (just demolished some today because football nearly killed me it was so bad). I would miss the access to fresh fruits and vegetables. I remember one character talking about eating his last orange, and I just cannot comprehend that. To suddenly no longer have that, it would be tough.

I would miss those basic human needs that we all have. I have a home, I have running water and electricity, I have clothes on my back. Sure, I would probably be able to have a home, and I would have clothes, but everything else would be difficult to adjust to.  I drink water constantly. I shower almost every day. I use a washer and dryer. While I know that this isn’t something everyone has and some things that they survive without, to go from having that to not having it would be difficult.

I would miss modern transportation. We can literally fly to the other side of the world in a day. In this world, after humans are knocked down a bit, that doesn’t exist. Planes don’t take off, cars don’t go…it’s a lot of walking and lot of horses. Suddenly it’s not as easy to get places. Working 15-20 miles away from my home would not be doable because it would take me longer to get there. I feel like my world would become smaller, and I just can’t picture that.

There are so many other things I think I would miss…sporting events, concerts, reading until all hours of the night because I could turn on a light, modern medicine…so many things about my world that would change. This book had me thinking about how grateful I am about all of the things that I have.

On top of thinking about all of this, the book was really well written with so many moments that made me feel sadness, grief, and even (sometimes) happiness.

I am so sad that I sat on this book for so long. I regret sitting on it and I am so glad I finally took the time to dive in. It’s definitely a book that has changed my thinking in life.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

And if you haven’t read this book…PUT IT ON YOUR LIST NOW! You won’t regret it.

Question: What’s something you would miss at the end of the world?

emily