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

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

Hello 2018

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Hi everyone! Yes. I still do this. I am still alive and still making doing my best to get through it all, but man…has this year been a weird one. 2017 is ending, and honestly…not that sad. There were a few good things that did happen, but I have definitely struggled on so many levels.

The year has ended with a stream of “not for me” books. I kept to my genres, I thought. I kept to my strong suits, I thought. And though the books weren’t at all bad, they just were falling flat for me.

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And then I picked up the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and fell in love. I fell in love with the characters, the island…everything. It shocked me that after a string of bad book that books written in letter form was what got me back in my groove. It wasn’t fantasy, which has always been my go to. It was historical fiction. It wasn’t young adult, which I seemed to stick in a lot over the past few years. It was adult. What. Was. Happening.

Then I thought back to the past year – heck, the past few months- and thought about what books have really been sticking with me. The Names They Gave Us. The Nightingale. The Alice Network. With Malice. All of these books had branched out of my “comfort zone.” I was starting to really read in a wide variety of genres. This is something that I have obviously not been paying attention to.

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I kept trying to return to what I thought was my reading home, but my reading home has been evolving and changing.

Now, with this in mind, I am ready to tackle some reading goals for 2018.

Obviously I still love fantasy, but I think I may be a little more picky. I think it may be the same with YA books. I have a list of ones that I am dying to try, but it’s not what it once was. I am adding in classics. I am adding in Adult fiction. I am adding in books that a year or two ago I probably wouldn’t have really thought too hard about.

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I am still a mood reader, so making a firm TBR is not really something I can do. But I am going to try to read more of what my mind wants and not try to overthink it. So…what am I going to do in 2018…

  • Slow down on the netgalley requests. I have a few eArcs to read that I am excited for, but after that I am taking a break so that I can kind feel of out where I’m at.
  • Read a classic a month. Some lovely ladies and I have come up with some choices so that we can read them together. Not all classics work for everyone, so it will be so awesome to have others to help me power through if I am feeling it’s not 100% for me (because I still want to read them and feel that I can learn more from them).
  • Have my husband make a few selection. I don’t think he ever reads these posts so maybe he will never see this (haha I am sure this is the one he will read). Whenever he has made a selection for me it has been a bit out of what I would typically select, but not so far as to be something that he knows I would absolutely hate. He knows me better than anyone, even better than myself. I think having him select a few for me to read this year would be fun.
  • MORE READALONGS! I would love to do more readalongs with you guys. So here’s to hoping that Arika and I can get some ideas going. Reading is always so fun in groups.
  • Read for fun. Don’t overthink it, just grab the book and go. I seriously debated Guernsey for so long. I picked it up and then put it down more times than I can count, and I really regret that. I put off a book that has become pretty near and dear to my heart. It could have changed my reading habits for the better these past few months. But you live and learn.

2017 was a year of pretty great reading. I didn’t read anything that I found to be absolutely terrible (though there were some things I disliked). I enjoyed most things and could always find some positives in all the negatives. I am not unhappy with how it went at all. But 2018…2018 is going to be a great year of reading.

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emily

On Being in a Reading Rut

Hey all! It feels like FOREVER since I have written anything. The end of the summer flew by, and between being out of town and mentally drained I really haven’t done much of anything.

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And when I say I haven’t done much of anything I seriously mean it. I have hardly read, which gives me very little to talk about with you guys (and it makes me so sad and feel a but like a failure but that is 100% on me and I need to be ok with it).

So, what’s been happening in my reading life? I mean I have read so many amazing books this year and I am nearly finished with my Goodreads goal. If you look at it on paper everything seems solid, but for some reason I just can’t sit down and read.

I have been trying to figure out just what it is and how to fix it, which is easier said than done.

Firstly, I think I am at a reading crossroads. Maybe crossroads isn’t the right word, but I am finding myself branching out more and more. The past couple years I have been solely YA fantasy, and I still love YA fantasy. But the more I read the more I notice that I want more. I want more history, more real world stories. I want to be able to relate to things, and sometimes YA just doesn’t cut it for me. On top of that I am on series overload. So much of what I was reading was a part of a series that is still ongoing. And while I love the stories and the worlds I just find myself feeling bogged down and fully committed to them, which has really left me struggling to start books I have been dying to read.

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Secondly, I think I am overwhelmed. I have found so many books that are across so many genres that I feel like I need to read. I see books friends are reading and feel that I have to read them so that we have even more to talk about. There are books that people say you just need to read, and I feel like yes I absolutely need to read them. Because of all of this my tbr just keeps growing and growing which means I find myself staring at stacks of books and not even knowing where to start.

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Lastly, I think I am trying too many things at once. I keep adding these books to my TBR and then I immediately try to get my hands on them. I know that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I keep doing it even while I am trying to read something else. It’s to the point that I can’t focus on one thing and keep trying something new. Bouncing around is exhausting, and I think it has really pushed me further into the reading rut.

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So what am I going to do? I am returning all of my library books. I was about 100 pages into one and loving it, but got busy and haven’t sat down to read it since Wednesday. Now that is something that I should be doing if I love it so much right? It’s a pretty obvious sign that it’s just not working for me right now (even though I love it so much). I can check them out again once I am in the mood for it. This will help me really focus in on the books that I have. So for the rest of the month, and maybe even into next month, I will be reading just what I own. I have a few arcs I can work through as well as many books I have really been wanting to read here in my house. I need to focus on one and at a time. I need to not worry about how fast I run. I need to worry about reading what I want and not what I think is expected.

After a tough summer of reading I am so ready to cozy up with some good books this fall, which also means I will hopefully have more to share with you soon! Here’s to some good books ahead!

Question: What do you do when you are in a reading rut?

emily

Why We Need More Books like A Monster Calls

8621462The monster showed up after midnight. As they do.

But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming…

This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.

It wants the truth

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There are no words for me to say that could accurately review this book. It is incredible. The writing is amazing, the pictures that are added in are great, and the content is so heartbreaking and NEEDS to be heard. I can tell you all of these things until I am blue in the face, or…I could tell you why we need more books like this one in the world (and hope that I do it justice, but I am so scared that I won’t be able to).

Sometimes the subjects of books can be the hardest thing to read. They can be graphic, they can show situations you don’t want to imagine, and they can hit too close to home. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness definitely hit too close to home, but it was this feeling that had me power through this book.

I needed this book, and there are so many others in the world that need this book (possible spoilers ahead, but I swear I will try to keep them out of here).

In this book Conor is dealing with life with a sick parent. His mother is fighting cancer. A boy is taking care of his mother and trying to grapple with the idea that this could be it. Just process that for one minute. A child is taking care of his parent who is more than likely dying. No child should ever have to do this, but he did. And so many other kids in the world today are probably going through a situation similar.

Not only did this book show Conor taking care of his mother, but it showed him facing the demons that all children with a sick and/or dying parent face. The sympathetic smiles, the teachers that let you get away with anything because you are going through a lot, the friends who are kind of there but not there, the feeling of being invisible, the anger…all of these situations and emotions are portrayed in this story; all very real, all I have dealt with. And if I have dealt with these things myself, what are the chances that there are many other people who have dealt with or are dealing with this in their lives right now? Pretty high.

I found that this book was something I could relate to, and something I needed when I was 13 and dealing with my dad being so sick. This book described the feelings that I had, the motions that I went through, and the anger that I felt. It also gave me the most accurate definition of the truth, and had me realize that back then I also had those truthful feelings. I know that not everyone loves reading about something that hits this close to home, but I am one of those people that needs these books to relate. I need these books to help me see that my grieving is ok, that my feelings are ok, and that I am not totally and completely alone. I can’t be the only person that has had this thought.

This book is also an excellent way for someone who does not quite understand the situation or the grief. This is the perfect way for someone that feels like an outsider looking in to find a way to communicate to whoever it is that is going through this situation. Honestly, I have yet to find a book that handles this better. And I am not saying that you should read this book to feel bad for them. No one wants you to feel sorry for them, especially in this situation. They want someone to listen, to attempt to relate without saying they relate, and to be able to kind of get it.

It is so rare for me to find a book about grief, about handling cancer in the family, that I feel just really hits home. This book shook me to the core. It had my body aching with grief, and it was a great way for me to deal with some of the depression and sadness that I have been feeling lately. I connected with this book, and I am so sad that it took me so long to find. This book will forever be a favorite of mine.

emily

The Start of a New Journey

So, if any of you remember a few weeks back I said there would be some big news coming your way! I mostly hinted at it on twitter, and I honestly don’t remember who was paying attention and who wasn’t but oh well. Now you all get to hear my big news. So, drumroll please…….

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I HAVE A NEW CO-BLOGGER!!!!!

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I am so incredibly excited to have someone else to share this blogging adventure with, and I am even more excited that it is one of my best friends from college! I have been pushing books on her for forever (because I love HP, I really do…but sometimes you gotta discover new things and not solely reread HP). So she will be joining me here on Midwestern Book Nerd. We will be combining on a lot of posts as well as having our own posts here and there, with so much more that we are still hammering out. And now…I will let her introduce herself to you! Hope you all are as excited as I am!


Hey everyone! My name is Arika and I am the new Co-Blogger here on MidwesternBookNerd. I am so excited to start blogging here with Emily. Emily and I have been good friends since college and have always shared an interest in books, movies, music and all sorts of awesome things. She is the main reason I wanted to start blogging in the first place and I am ecstatic that she has invited me to share this experience with her!

While I love talking about books mostly, I hope to expand my horizons on this blog. Some of the genres of books I enjoy to read are Young Adult, dystopian, historical fiction, and fantasy. The books I really get into are the kick-butt heroines who find a way to use their brains and strengths to beat the heinous villains. (Though sometimes I wish that some of those villains become good but it doesn’t usually happen.) I do enjoy a good romantic interest in those books as well. 🙂 Other than books, I do enjoy talking about movies or tv shows, especially if these shows are based off a good series that I read. (And I am a huge Minnesota sports fan…whether that be the Vikings, Twins or Wild, I cheer loud for all of them.) Lastly I really enjoy cooking and baking as well. I have started collecting cookbooks and enjoy finding new recipes to make at home!

I can only hope that this blog will open up a new journey for me where I can meet new people, enjoy some open discussions, and of course bring a smile to someone’s face! If you want to read a little more about me…visit the about me page. 

I Grew Up Potter, Did You?

This is a post that I wrote for My Trending Stories (you can find the original here!) I was really excited to share my reasons for being the Harry Potter nerd that I am, because it gets a little more personal than just a general feeling. Feel free to share your thoughts about how you grew up Potter (or any other series) in the comments!

As readers we are always able to look back fondly at a book or series that we felt we grew up with. It could range from the picture books you read as a kid (Berenstain Bears for the win!) or the first chapter books that you remember getting lost in (Little House books!). Whatever that book or series may be, you hold a special place for it. As an adult you may collect it, and eventually hope to pass that love down to the children in your life (your own children, nieces, nephews, etc). While I was a very avid reader as a child, knocking out the Little House books at a pretty young age, I can honestly say that I grew up Harry Potter.

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Shocking right? What “millennial” (blech, I hate that word but I am technically classified as one) hasn’t said that they grew up Potter and that Harry Potter was life, but it’s the truth. I grew up Potter and I am not ashamed.

When we say we grew up with this series I think that we all mean it a little differently. Some started reading it the day it came out in 1997. Now, let me tell you, my parents would not have let their 8 year old read Harry Potter. They were unsure about it and I don’t blame them. There was a lot of talk about the magic and what it would do to children, and I don’t think they were wrong at all to wait. I don’t think I was quite ready then. Thanks for being a bit strict about it mom and dad, I wasn’t fully prepared for Harry Potter.

Others who say that they have grown up Harry Potter refer to the movies. As a child who did get into this series around the same time as the release of the 1st movie I must say, I get it. I didn’t start reading it because of the movie, but I can see the appeal. How many times do we see a TV show or movie and decide we want to look further into it? I do this all the time. But no, this is not how my journey with Harry Potter started.

I started reading Harry Potter in 2000, right before Goblet of Fire came out. I remember it well. My dad had finally said we could maybe read it, if my mom read it first and approved (and that’s how my mom got suckered into the series). This became the rule of the house. My mom always had to read the book before we did so that she could make sure it was appropriate for us (eventually I think she just started using that rule so that she got the book first…). I was pretty excited. I remember starting this series because this was also the year that I stopped being home-schooled and started public school. I was definitely nervous and not fully sure I wanted to start this new part of my life, but I started to feel like I was doing the same thing as Harry (minus being at Hogwarts) and looked on this as a new adventure.

The more I read the more I found that I could relate to this young boy. I started to match up to him in ages as the books started taking a little bit longer to release. I found an escape when I was still trying to figure things out. I found friends, and honestly felt a little more comfortable with being out in this new experience because of Harry. Even though Harry is fighting for the school and against Voldemort he also experienced a lot of the same adolescence that I was going through.

And then…came The Order of the Phoenix.

Now, at this point we knew without a shadow of a doubt that we wanted to continue on with this series. Because we were so sure of this we pre-ordered books from that point on. There was no way we would be able to wait on the library hold list. WE NEEDED THE BOOKS RIGHT AWAY! You know the feeling.

The Order of the Phoenix is the first book I remembered crying in. I started to relate to something way more than I had ever even imagined that I would; the loss of a loved one. This book has been out for 13 years now, do I still need to hide who died here? I mean you have either seen the movies or read the books right? Well…the death of Sirius hit me hard. At this point in my life I was getting close to the 1 year anniversary of my dad’s death. I think that was the moment that I found I related to Harry the most as he watched his beloved guardian die. Now, let me get this straight…my dad was not killed by a death eater. His death was due to cancer, but even so…I understood. I understood the hurt and the pain and the need to try to make it better even though there’s no way to really do that. I could relate and I felt a little less alone.

In 2003 I really felt like I understood Harry. And in 2003 I become 150% more invested in reading his adventures in bringing good to the world and defeating Lord Voldemort.

2007, the year the last book was released…well, that was the year I graduated high school. I read as Harry and his friends fought for their lives, and then I watched as their lives started all over. At that same time I felt like my life was starting all over. I wasn’t necessarily going to the college that I had intended to at that point, but it was still a whole new world. I felt like I ended an era with Harry.

Obviously there were still the movies at that point, which I deeply enjoyed, but I grew up Potter. I grew up with the books. Harry Potter was there for a lot of tough situations in my life, and I am so happy for that.

So naturally, I have been like a kid at Christmas lately. Seeing new books by JK Rowling, a play, a new movie series to look forward to. I am so excited to get to be treated to this world again; a world that gave me temporary relief from the real world when I needed it most.

I grew up Potter! Did you?

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How do you handle it when…

Books tackle every single real life issue that I can think of. Sometimes certain issues are covered more than others (and some of us get upset about that, which I get) but typically it brushes on something. These issues are things we may have strong opinions or feelings about and sometimes reading about them fill us with various emotions.

So my question…

How do you handle reading a book that tackles a topic that you are very much against?

Maybe the writing is really good. Maybe it’s a story that you have thus far gotten lost in, a world that you feel connected to. Maybe the characters are so relatable that you just feel so in love with how everything is going.

And then, the issue presents itself. Yes, you have been completely and totally into the story, super invested, and yet…that issue sticks out like a sore thumb.

For example (since I am not going to throw out the book I am reading because spoilers)…you are reading this awesome book. Everything just clicks and you feel like this is the perfect book for you to be reading at this exact moment. And then you come across an issue such as creationism or evolution, and they are very pro the one that you are against. Or maybe there’s an abortion issue and the text is very pro-choice or pro-life and you are not. (again, not giving you my personal opinions on things because this is not meant to start a debate)

How do you handle this? Do you brush it off and hope the issue doesn’t play a huge role in the story? Do you stick with the book no matter what, or do you set it down and never really try again? Does this change your opinion of the book, characters, and author?

This is not meant to start a debate about any particular issue. I think we all have our own opinions and typically an internet debate does nothing more than anger someone and cause unnecessary drama. I just want to know how you approach this situation in your reading. It has happened to me multiple times and I just never really know how to respond. Sometimes I put it down, other times I stick with it and find that my feelings have changed.

How do you handle this? I would love to hear your thoughts! 🙂

How Do You Beat the Winter Blues?

I think I am struggling a bit. It’s a struggle I think we all go through at some point, but there is a struggle. I am definitely one that struggles with seasonal depression, and some days it’s just rough. When there is word that a winter storm is coming (guess who is in a winter storm warning tomorrow?) or anything like that my mood seems to sink. I always wonder why I live so far north, and shudder to think there are people who live further north than I do (hooooooowwwww do you do that!?).

Ok, the point of this post is not for you to pity me. I am not looking for sympathy or anything like that. This is how life goes for me sometimes, and I try my best to take it in stride because there really isn’t much else for me to do. I know I will be ok. I know the sun will shine eventually (it’s winter in WI, so you can’t really assume the sun will come out tomorrow). I figure that I can find people in this community that can relate to this, so I have a question for you all…

What do you do to help yourself out during those times when you feel mentally exhausted and defeated?

I really seemed to struggle with this over the weekend. Not really knowing what to do to kind of ease my mind and move forward. Typically I get lost in a book or give myself some time to marathon something on Netflix for a few hours. Maybe I just give myself time to hang out on the Internet. It really varies, but this weekend nothing stuck.

Here is what I tried yesterday: reading (but I couldn’t make a decision at all. I was torn between Unravel Me, Prisoner of Night and Fog, An Ember in the Ashes, The Darkest Minds, and Miss Peregrine. Which do you think is the best to get temporarily lost in?), Internet (nothing held my interest at all), Netflix (I have recently gotten into Jane the Virgin, which was good to get temporarily lost in. I also am in the middle of a rewatch of Parks and Rec. This did help me relax a bit).

So I guess my main question here is…what do you do to get yourself out of this kind of funk? Any specific suggestions?

Scared of the Hype…Help me out!

We all know those books. Those books that EVERYONE is talking about. Those books that people are saying everyone should read because they are just so good. Basically the books that have people doing this when they are talking about how great it is:

It’s just a lot to take in. Now before I continue, let me make one thing clear…I love freaking out over books. I love talking about them and trying to get everyone I know to read my favorite. I love that people get excited about books and want everyone to read them. I love the excitement. I love the hype. But…at the same time the hype is terrifying. I could easily blame this on being a Minnesota sports fan. Most of us know that we can’t fully succumb the the hype (as I sit here drinking that purple kool aid yet refusing to fully get on the hype train GO VIKES!). I am always waiting for the other shoe to drop. ALWAYS. So when people go on and on about these hyped books I start thinking about how awesome it would be to read it and join the hype train. And then I start getting a bit of anxiety. Mostly I worry about not liking it as much as EVERYONE ELSE seems to just love it. Honestly, that is my biggest concern. I don’t necessarily want to be the odd man out. Because of this there are many books/series that are just sitting on my TBR that I just haven’t gotten to yet because of fear. So today I am going to throw out the names of 3 books/series that have so much hype that they both terrify and excite me. Because I know that this fear is making it so that I miss out on some awesome books.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater. The love you all have for this series is amazing, but also scary. The amount of people I have had to suggest this series is ridiculous. And I have read the first chapter. I have started the audiobook many times. But then I stopped. I stopped because of the fear of not liking it as much as the book world seems to love it. I love that everyone loves it. But that fact also scares me from ever trying it. Is it about time I ignore my fear and dive into this one? 

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. I have hardly hear a bad thing about this book, minus the fact that it toys with your emotions and breaks your heart into a million pieces. The format of this book is definitely interesting to me. But what if I don’t like this one? I feel like I would be in the minority, and I would much rather be spreading the love like everyone else. Should I just tell myself to stop thinking and just give in? 

Something Strange and Deadly by Susand Dennard. This book has definitely been talked about a lot lately with me and book loving friends because I know there was a read-along going on. Reading the synopsis it sounds like something I could really like. It sounds like something I could definitely get lost in. But ohhhh man do people talk highly of this book, this series, and this author. I had the ebook checked out for awhile but just never opened it up. Is it time I just give in? I mean at least ALL the books are out for this series.

Ok, so help me out. Should I just dive into these books and ignore my fears of being all alone in the possibility of disliking them? I would love to hear if you have read any of these and why you think I should pick them up. Fangirl away. We all do it. I mean, in the long run…that’s the entire point of my blog. To discuss books and love on them and try to get others to read them.

What are some hyped books that you are a little bit scared of?