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:

emsttrspicgifs-doctor-who-93789giphygiphy-1

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

Let’s talk about…The City of Veils by S. Usher Evans

This year has been an excellent reading year for me. While I’m only averaging about 2-4 books per month, I am finding that I am loving a majority of what I’m reading and getting more out of it. It’s been hard for me to find the balance, but it’s also been really fun.

Today I’m talking about an upcoming release from an author who has become one of my favorites. I’ve read one of her series and ADORED it and really need to get my hands on more. She has a new book coming out, and guys…it’s a good one. Here’s a little more about The City of Veils by S. Usher Evans

40597067For the past three years, Brynna has been patrolling the streets of Forcadel as a masked vigilante, protecting the innocent and beating up bad guys. Her current target is Lord Beswick, a slumlord businessman who keeps the townsfolk in a vicious poverty cycle. But one fateful evening, she’s captured by Felix, the captain of the king’s guard, and told a shocking truth: her father and brother are dead, and she needs to hang up her mask and become queen. 

Before long, she negotiates a deal with Felix: attend to her royal duties during the day and continue her vigilante mission to take out Lord Beswick at night – at least until her coronation. But the politics of Forcadel are as volatile as the streets, and Brynna isn’t sure whom she can trust in the castle. With two royals dead in less than a month, she must use all her wits to make sure she isn’t the third.

Add to your Goodreads | About the Author | Buy this Book

I received an eARC of this book in exchange for a review from the author. This does not sway my thoughts or opinions of this book.

Initial reaction upon finishing:

giphy-1tumblr_mnw45mlbcd1s82qxyo3_500giphy-2

If there was ever a book that screamed “that’s an Emily book,” then this is it. It has everything that I love in my fantasy books. A vigilante who is actually a royal in disguise, murder mystery, plot twists, an awesome female character that grows on you the more you read, development of the characters…it had everything. I loved running around on the streets of Forcadel with Brynna while also trying to figure out who murdered the royals. I was hooked from the start.

Here are some reasons I definitely think you should read it:

  • MASKED VIGILANTE. Ok, let’s be real…there are a lot of masked vigilante tales in the world right? That do-gooder who has a double life, ruler by day and good guy (or bad guy I guess) by night. Sometimes you wonder if it’s something that the author can pull off with a unique twist. Thank goodness S. Usher Evans did just that! She made this world and this tale come real in front of my eyes, and while I can find some similarities to other stories that are like this one I also found that she made it her own. I love the idea of the Veil being the vigilante, and I really love the origin of why she became The Veil. It just all came together to form an unforgettable and unique story.
  • STRONG FEMALE CHARACTER. Ok, I’m going to get real here…I didn’t initially love Brynna. I started to feel like she was a bit entitled and just trying to be rebellious for the sake of being rebellious. Her resentment for having to take over kind of turned me off and I wasn’t sure how this was going to change. Brynna grew before my eyes. She didn’t always think things through, but then she learned from the consequences. By the end I found her to be incredibly strong and someone that I wouldn’t mine becoming. She became relatabe by learning through her mistakes and growing from it. She started to develop relationships with others instead of being a loner. She became someone that I really liked and I definitely need to see what she has up her sleeve next.
  • PLOT TWISTS AND TURNS. This comes down to S Usher Evans taking a unique spin to a storyline that could become very basic. She created a believable environment and then kind of drove me crazy by making things not happen the way I wanted them to (I mean…I had really hoped after all we have been through things would go my way..). The characters I thought I could trust did crazy things and I ended the book in shock. There are few authors that cause me to abandon my better judgment on characters, but Evans is one of them. And then I fall for it and shake my fist at her. I fell for the trap again! This book is filled with subtle and not so subtle twists and turns, and when you think you know better you find that you really don’t.

I absolutely loved this book. I think it set up the series really well and gave me those elements of fantasy that I have been craving lately. When looking through other reviews on Goodreads I saw someone call this Throne of Glass meets Robin Hood, which I can totally see! The reasons for Brynna’s vigilante ways are very much in the realm of Robin Hood, but her methods definitely fall more into the way of Caelena in Throne of Glass. My love for both Throne of Glass and Robin Hood are quite large, so the fact that I fell in love with Forcadel and what Brynna is doing is no shock.

I always worry that I don’t do books I love justice. I worry I flail too much and that by the end you are just rolling your eyes at me because I’m just shouting random things in excitement. But note, if you love fantasy…if you like a good vigilante story…then you DEFINITELY need to check this book out.

The City of Veils comes out on April 16th. Please join me in flailing about this book and supporting this author!

emily

Let’s talk about…You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn

What’s the last book you’ve read in a day? The last book that made you want to forget all of your to-do lists and just read? I imagine this has happened once in your life, at least. I imagine that you have started a book and struggled to put it down.

The last book that caused this reaction in me? You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn.

36146624Annie Mathers is America’s sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her Gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things. 

But unfortunately for Clay, if he can’t convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That’s what happens when your bad boy image turns into bad boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents’ tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay’s label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen. 

Swayed by Clay’s undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can’t help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there’s one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it’s a high-profile relationship. She had a front row seat to her parents’ volatile marriage and isn’t interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head over heels inducing tenor, isn’t worth the risk. 

Add to your Goodreads  |  About the Author  |  Buy this book

I received an advanced copy of this book in a giveaway. This in no way sways my thoughts or opinions.

If I could describe the book in a few gifs: giphygiphy-1msy

This book had it all…charm, swoons, drama, and a plot that was pretty believable considering the lives that these two characters were leading. It had songs that I would love to have in existence, and references to country artists that I need to learn more about. It was honestly a country music education for myself (which I’m sure Annie would be so proud of). I fell in love with this book more and more with each page turn. I loved each and every character, I loved their journey in life, and I love how real it got. This isn’t something that’s just, for lack of a better word, fluffy. This has those elements of a contemporary romance that we love with the real hardships people go through in life. It brushed on grief, addiction, and just the idea that we all want to find a place that we fit in. I couldn’t get enough of it.

So, my top 3 reasons that you should read this book:

  1. STRONG CHARACTERS. My goodness, even at her weakest Annie was strong. In a way, I could relate to her grief. Well, mostly I can relate that I have worked through some form of grief since the loss of my dad. I cannot imagine living in her situation, and the fact that she still pursued music is so strong. To me, these characters were realistic because they struggled. The way they faced their issues, one way or another, made them strong to me.
  2. MUSIC. I loved that this entire book revolved around music, and not at all in a cheesy way. You saw how life experiences created a song, you felt the emotion in the lyrics. This book, and those lyrics just hit me in a way not all books can. It made the emotions of the book even more real to me as a reader, and it made the book that much more important to me.
  3. PLOT. This sounds super broad I know, but hear me out…this book had a little bit of everything I wanted. There were plot twists, there were budding relationships, there were friendships, there was drama. I laughed, I cried, I cheered for them in their darkest moments, and I yelled at them as they were making stupid decisions. I felt like I was totally and completely in the story from the beginning, and I didn’t want it to end. It was the perfect story for me to fall head over heels in love with, and I am already planning on when I can read it again.

If you are looking for a book that makes you feel all the feels, that has you cheering for the characters to find themselves and succeed, that has you craving some good music, and that gives you all the swoons…then this is the book for you. I loved this book so much, and I just hope that my words can help you understand just how much I love it.

This book comes out on April 2nd. You should DEFINITELY get your hands on it!

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.
hkc8xpglp5b21
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.
tumblr_p1pibfqbpb1r9n999o1_500
[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…

843px-english_horus_heresy_spoiler_free_tree
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]

Why I Read Holocaust Stories

45177492_10213231431201974_1761456776324055040_n

I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times I have started to type things about this book and then immediately deleted them. I’m hitting that point where I just don’t know if my words will do this book justice. And while that fear is very real, I realize that I can’t keep going on just not talking about this book. Why? Because this book moved me. It made me smile, it shocked me, it made me cry. It was an incredibly important book and it really bothers me that more people aren’t talking about it.

So, I am about to do my best to tell you reasons that you should read The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe.

31145052Based on the experience of real-life Auschwitz prisoner Dita Kraus, this is the incredible story of a girl who risked her life to keep the magic of books alive during the Holocaust.
Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious volumes the prisoners have managed to sneak past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the librarian of Auschwitz. 

Out of one of the darkest chapters of human history comes this extraordinary story of courage and hope.

This book was picked up kind of on a whim. When I was on vacation my friend kept talking about it, and then my sister in law had also started gushing about it (and she hadn’t even had the chance to finish it yet). So I filed it away to remember to grab it if I saw it at some point. Well let me tell you, I was so excited when it was sitting on the shelves at the library. I snatched it up immediately, determined that this was my next read (even if it meant my current read took a pause).

There was not a single second that I was disappointed in prioritizing this book. This book took me through a wide range of emotions as I read Dita’s story. I cheered in her happy moments, I cried in her gut-wrenching moments, and I continued to question just how humans could treat someone so poorly just because of their race, because of their culture, because of who they are.

I find that I read a lot of books about WWII, especially those surrounding people that suffered through the Holocaust. Sometimes I sit back and ask myself why…why would I willingly let myself read these tragedies, crying over the treatment of these people and the deaths? I asked myself these questions after I finished The Librarian of Auschwitz, and I think this book gave me all my reasons.

  1. To see the story of bravery in a dark time. I honestly don’t know how those imprisoned in concentration camps found the courage to keep going every single day. They were treated like they were worse than dirt. They were beaten, starved, experimented on. They were torn down and apart nearly every waking minute of the day. Their living situations were so awful that many died just from being sick from sleeping where they did. How…how does one gather the courage to face each day? Dita showed me that courage. She showed the struggle of wanting to give up. She showed me that it was worth it. That fighting through each and every moment, that fighting to survive, was worth it. She touched lives just by doing her job as the librarian, something that should be so simple. I read these stories to see bravery in the darkest of times.
  2. To see that people survived and have lived a good life. I think in just about every Holocaust story that I have read they have talked about the survivors, whether that be the main character or not. To see that someone can go through hell and come out to live a life is inspiring. I have only read about what they went through, and I know that’s just a small look into the terrible days and nights, but to know that some little bit of humanity survived the terror…it’s amazing. I know that the lives of survivors hasn’t been easy. I can’t imagine what they have had to overcome, but to know that so many have overcome that and have gone on to do good things…that helps me to see the good coming out of the bad.
  3. To be reminded of the past. I think it’s so important that we learn from the past, personally and as a society. I mean, if we don’t look to the mistakes and choices of the past are we really able to grow? When I read stories coming out of the Holocaust I think about what we as a society can do to ensure that something like this never happens. It’s a big thing to think of, especially today when we see so much that we question and don’t agree with. Reading books such as this one help us to see the terror that a nation caused because they don’t like someone’s race, culture, lifestyles, etc. It reminds us that it’s not ok (not that we should need the reminder, but I think it kind of amps the knowledge of what’s right and wrong up).
  4. To see good overcome evil in a real way. There’s so much evil in the world. So much. And sometimes reading the news, seeing everything play out…it just becomes overwhelming. I find it hard to maintain that hope that good will overcome some days. Books like these, stories like Dita’s, are reminders of how good overcame one of the worst evils. It’s a reminder that good WILL overcome, but we just need to do something before it goes as far as it did during WWII.

Dita’s story reminded me of the reasons I read stories of the Holocaust, both of survival and of those that went down with a fight. Dita’s story reminded me that one single person can make a difference to the lives of those around you. She reminded me that to be strong doesn’t mean you don’t break a little. She reminded me that courage can be a small act (even though her small act was a pretty big deal while in Auschwitz).

If you need a story of hope in the darkest places, read this book. If you want to see a girl risk her life to preserve books and the stories and lessons they hold, read this book. You will smile, you will cry…it’s a roller coaster but so worth it (though I do recommend not reading in public, unless you’re ok with the ugly cry in public).

Do you read WWII books? Why do you read them?

emily

What Would You Miss?

514cef51be3e5a8037b053120d71fab9

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.

42339729_10212965256507773_1075772016386113536_n

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

Let’s talk about…Over Raging Tides by Jennifer Ellision

35900323The pirate crew of the Lady Luck lives by many rules, but chief among them is this: they do not allow men on board. 

That’s a rule that quartermaster Grace Porter is willing to break when a shipwrecked young nobleman offers her information of an omniscient map, stolen from his warship by an enemy vessel. Until now, the map was only the stuff of legend… but with its help, Grace may finally be able to hunt down the Mordgris, the sea monsters who stole her mother away from her.
Unfortunately, some members of her crew have other plans…
To find the map and face the Mordgris, Grace will have to confront her past, put the Luck between warring nations, and uncover treachery aboard the ship. And ultimately, her revenge and the destruction of the Mordgris will come at a hefty price: the betrayal of her crew.
Grace promised them they wouldn’t regret this.
She just isn’t sure that she won’t.

Add this book to GoodreadsAbout the Author  | Buy this book

Immediate reactions upon finishing:

This was such a fun read! I haven’t really read a lot of pirate books, so I was pretty excited to dive into this world of female pirates as they kick butt across the seas. I found this book super to be really quick to get in to and was filled with an adventure that I had definitely wanted to read.

Here are my top 3 reasons to read this book.

  1. AWESOME main character! I absolutely loved Grace. She was brave, strong, and just slightly imperfect. Sometimes she hesitated when I felt that I would also hesitate. She didn’t see everything that was going on in front of her, but she continued on anyway. She fought for what she believed in and was willing to do anything to get the people that she loved most back to her. I feel like she is a main character than any reader could look up to.
  2. Lady Pirates on an adventure! It’s pretty awesome to read a book about kick butt women taking on the seas. Nothing like laughing at the myth that women on a ship are bad luck and instead filling a ship with all women. There was adventure and surprises while on board the Luck as one would expect, and they kept me continuing on with the story. This book had some of the typical pirate story points, but I don’t think I could ever get sick of that. I love a good pirate story (even if I mostly watch movies and shows about pirates). This book made me need more pirate books!
  3. A nice break from reality! I have had a lot going on lately, and I found this story to be fun and exactly what I needed to take a temporary vacation from what was going on. I could definitely feel myself on the ship with the pirates and could see the story playing out. I felt that it helped me relax more, and I think that’s definitely a possibility for anyone that might pick up this book.

If you are look for a quick, fun, lady pirate adventure book then look no further! It could be a nice distraction, and I definitely think you need to meet Grace!

emily

Let’s talk about…Kids of Appetite by David Arnold

I must be on a roll this year. I have actually drafted blog posts (that I haven’t actually published yet, but hey…drafted). I have been longing to read (I have just given up on watching whatever my husband is right now as we hunker down to both save money and avoid the cold and have been diving into my current reads). I actually finished a book and…I loved every minute of it.

This book has my heart. It had me laughing, crying, and cheering alongside the characters as they worked to overcome obstacles. It made me feel every single feel. It made me ache and made me excited at the same time. The book…Kids of Appetite by David Arnold.

33516292Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell.
It begins with the death of Vic’s father.
It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle.
The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it.
But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between.
This is a story about:
1. A coded mission to scatter ashes across New Jersey.
2. The momentous nature of the Palisades in winter.
3. One dormant submarine.
4. Two songs about flowers.
5. Being cool in the traditional sense.
6. Sunsets & ice cream & orchards & graveyards.
7. Simultaneous extreme opposites.
8. A narrow escape from a war-torn country.
9. A story collector.
10. How to listen to someone who does not talk.
11. Falling in love with a painting.
12. Falling in love with a song.
13. Falling in love.

Add to your Goodreads | Buy this book | About the Author

NOTE: I am very nervous that I will not accurately be able to get all of my feelings out coherently. I also worry that my words just won’t be enough to convey how much love I have for this book. So note, I wanted to hug this book over and over again after I finished it. It has moved onto my favorite shelf. I am so excited to be new to the David Arnold fan club.

6605829

The journey begins in a police station as Vic and Mad are giving statements about the murder of Mad’s uncle. Throughout the story we not only listen to the statements that they give, but we go back to the events of the past 8 days and uncover what happens and just who the Kids of Appetite are. I loved the setup of this book. I think it was great that it bounced back and forth so that you would only get a little information about the past before jumping in to the police station. It left you trying to fill in some blanks as far as if these two were guilty, or if their friends were. I felt that these police station scenes really helped set the tone of who Vic and Mad are, and what they are to each other. Though I rolled my eyes a little bit at the way that they talk (I just don’t know a single teenager with that kind of vocabulary), I found myself fully invested in their story and what was going to happen to them.

So…what are some amazing things about this book?

  1. The writing! I absolutely loved the writing. There are so many quotes that had me feeling all of the feels (and sobbing like a baby). I have finally, 16 years after experiencing it myself, found a description of what it feels like to find out a family member has cancer and what it’s like to watch them fight the battle that can end so quickly. Some of my favorite quotes…
  2. I found something I could relate to in each character. Vic lost his father to cancer and is watching his mother move forward from her intense grieving period in life. She is dating and just not who he remembers. I can relate to his struggles as he battles grief and the guilt that not everything is as clear as it once was. Baz and Zuz are refugees, and though I am not a refugee myself I have worked with a handful. Hearing the story of how they came to America in the book really hit me because it’s so much like what some of the students I have worked have gone through to get here. I have felt lost and alone and unsure where to go next, like many of these kids.
  3. I loved watching their relationships grow and deepen. As each character finds out more about the other you can see their relationships change, but for the better. They continue to gain and deeper understanding of each other, and see the things each person has gone through that no one that age should ever see. These terrible events brought them together and created a bond that I haven’t ever really known with anyone. Honestly, this story was about how your friends can become family.
  4. I loved all the characters. I honestly can’t pick a favorite one. Each one broughy their own selves to the story, and their backgrounds helped continue to move the plot along. They started off a bit unsure, and throughout the story they grew and matured. They weren’t perfect. They disagreed, argued, and had to have some space from one another. They made assumptions that they shouldn’t have made. But in the end, they made their relationships with each other the most important part, and there’s something to value in that.

Kids of Appetite was an emotional journey that really reminded me of a more modern take on Mad’s favorite book, The Outsiders. Parents were pretty much nonexistent and they were forced to grow up further than what their ages imply. From start to finish, I was totally hooked. I found myself really caring for the characters, to the point where I would comment on things out loud.

i-love-it

I am honestly so thankful I found this book and glad that it was my first book of 2018. I cannot wait to read David Arnold’s other book, because if it’s anything like this one…well, then I will need to redo my favorites bookshelf.

emily

Let’s Talk About…Geekerella by Ashley Poston

30201136Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad’s old costume), Elle’s determined to win…unless her stepsisters get there first.
Teen actor Darien Freeman used to live for cons—before he was famous. Now they’re nothing but autographs and awkward meet-and-greets. Playing Carmindor is all he’s ever wanted, but Starfield fandom has written him off as just another dumb heartthrob. As ExcelsiCon draws near, Darien feels more and more like a fake—until he meets a girl who shows him otherwise. But when she disappears at midnight, will he ever be able to find her again?
Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.

Add to Goodreads | About the Author | Buy this book

Initial thoughts after finishing:

tumblr_mw19dlczsl1sgebu3o1_250tumblr_mvxnhxp2mt1sj1qeho1_r1_400tumblr_nj06bybqb11smcbm7o1_250giphy2

Oh. My. Gosh. This book was completely and totally adorable in every single way. I am a huge sucker for Cinderella stories, and this one did not disappoint. Ashley Poston did an excellent job of bringing it into a world that a lot of us really understand and can relate to. I ate up every single word and found myself flying through this book (and regretting flying through this book because then it’s over and I have nothing left).  So, what are some of my takeaways….

  • Cinderella retelling! Yes, I know that retellings of this particular story can get old, but I don’t think this one falls into that category. I think that this one felt fresh, modern, and one that we can all kind of relate to. These days it common to be a part of a fandom if you are online. I can’t say I am 100% in one, but I know many people that are. This fact alone brings this Cinderella story into a world that we all kind of understand. Yes, it is a BIT far fetched for you to be the Cinderella in this story, texting the new lead of a reboot and falling in love with him, but we can dream right?
  • Elle and Darien! Ok, so it’s a good thing that I like the Cinderella and Prince Charming of the story right? Obviously they fit the stereotypical roles, but something about these two are different. Elle is something that I can relate to. She seems to be comfortable with who she is online, but who she is in person she is a little unsure of. She is a bit shy and really just figuring herself out. Darien is the movie star, the guy that everyone is in love with (and after this book I think I could join that group). He shows us that there is more to a person than what meets the eye. He is criticized for being the pretty boy, in it for the money…but in the end he is just as nerdy as Elle and wanting to do this reboot justice.
  • Swoons! I got VERY invested in the romance of this book. I loved how it started as texts from strangers. They got to bond over whatever they were talking about and not how they look or anything like that. It was almost a way for them to get to know each other on a deeper level before even seeing if there was a physical attraction (no worries, there was). I love how this book progressed from there, and gave me many moments to scream about why they weren’t together yet and nothing romantic had happened yet. It really built and kind of had me in tears in the end (ok, I was in tears. I am such a sucker for Cinderella stories guys!).
  • Friendships! Elle develops a friendship with a young woman named Sage, often referred to in negative ways because of the way she dresses. In reality, Sage is a force to be reckoned with. She takes what is hers without really thinking about the consequences. She is brutally honest, but in the best sort of way. And she would do anything, ANYTHING, for a friend. She proves that time and time again with Elle.  She gives Elle a friend when there isn’t anyone else to turn to. She gives her a family that she hasn’t had in years. Sage became one of my favorite characters.

Bonus: Pop culture references galore, Cal because someone I could tolerate, Evil stepmother was pure evil, OMG I CRIED A LITTLE GUYS!

I am so happy with how this book turned out. I was hooked from the beginning and seriously believe that I would have finished it in a day if I didn’t need to work. I found myself completely lost in this world and wanting to be a part of the Starfield fandom. I was sold on every aspect of this Cinderella story, even though we all know some of the parts won’t really happen. This was such a cute retelling of a classic fairy tale. I highly recommend you scroll right on up and buy this book. Seriously. You do not want to miss out. It comes out tomorrow (April 4th!)

QUESTION: What are some of your favorite retellings?

Why you should read The Madion War Trilogy

I’ve done it. I have said goodbye to my first series of 2017.

gross-sobbing

Is that not one of the hardest things to do? On one hand you are SO excited to get your hands on this final book, to see what will happen with your favorite characters, and to find out just how the plot of the story will be resolved (Is it resolved? Does the author have more planned than this? ARE YOU SURE IT’S OVER? All questions that we ask ourselves). Next to that excitement you have some sadness. When you are holding that final book in your hands you realize that this is it. After this book there is nothing else that will transport you back to this world without doing a reread. You will never read this book, or any addition to the series, for the first time…again. It’s a bittersweet moment, which makes it hard to crack down and read it right away. But you must carry on and find out how the story will be concluded. I have had that experience once so far this year.

31703687

I held in my hand the final book of the Madion War Trilogy by S. Usher Evans, and I debated what I should do. Obviously I talked myself into starting it, maybe taking my time, but then…then I destroyed it and the novella that follows it.

My feelings after I finished this series, you may ask?

It’s hard to talk about the final book of a series. There is so much you want to talk about without giving away plot points. You don’t want to even hint that there is a huge plot twist because then people are anticipating it and maybe it’s not as big as you had thought. So instead of telling you all about The Union (which I loved and will definitely be leaving reviews for online because PERFECT CONCLUSION THAT HAD ME FEELING ALL THE FEELS AND I DIED A LITTLE AND FINISHED WITH A SMILE ON MY FACE) I am going to tell you that you have to pick up this series. Because seriously, you do. Why?

  • Characters.
    • I adored Theo and Galian. They are both such different characters that you know just NEED TO BE TOGETHER. They are stubborn, headstrong, and so much like a person you could walk up to on the street it’s insane. The strength shown by these two, and others, is immense. The situations that they are put through are unlike anything I would wish on anyone, and they handle it with class. Is it hard? Yes. Do they struggle? Yes. This makes them even more perfect. They are 100% real in my eyes because they aren’t perfect and they deal with their struggles right on the page for you to see. If you want a series with characters that feel real, pick this one up.
  • An interesting plot that doesn’t let up.
    • Political tension is something that we can all understand, and this book does it in a way that makes sense. While reading you can almost feel the plot twisting and changing, and I was constantly on the lookout for what could happen next. It never lulled or got to the point where I was bored with it, and if it ever slowed down I sat on the edge of my seat…waiting for the other shoe to drop. Throughout the three books you get action, romance, political tension, and none of it gets overwhelming. It’s well done and you definitely need this in your life. If you want a series with a plot that doesn’t quit, pick this one up.
  • Situations the reader can relate to.
    • Political tension, as I mentioned, is something we can all understand. There are times where I felt like the plot was TOO real and I had to stop for a minute, but that’s the beauty of this book. Though there are situations that I see daily I also see different ways to deal with it. It may seem real, but it’s not the same as what is happening. The main characters are also perfectly flawed, and they deal with things in ways that I understood. I totally got when they shoved their feelings down to deal with whatever needed to be done. I got it, and I felt what they felt. If you want a book series with relatable situations, pick this one up.
  • FEELS.
    • Do I even need to mention this? If you want a book series with some intense feels, pick this one up. First you have all the feelings of the action. You may find yourself feeling appalled at what is happening in the war between countries. You may find yourself choosing sides or suddenly not knowing what is best. Then you have the romance. This is a romance that had me in tears. A romance that was so intense it kind of hurt when things weren’t working out. A romance that also contained a friendship, which is huge in my book. If you want an intense case of feels, pick up this series.
  • The perfect conclusion.
    • How many of you have read a trilogy all the way through and were left unsatisfied with the ending? Maybe you felt like things were left unanswered or that the author just magically fixed things in ways that don’t make sense. I have definitely been there, but this trilogy does not fall to this tragedy. The ending is absolute perfection. Tension is built, HUGE things happen in the plot that make you want to scream at the characters (and I did just that, no worries), the characters grow even more, and you find yourself both prepared and not prepared for all the ways it could end (oh, there were countless thing that could have happened). I think that The Union wrapped everything up so well, and even though I would love to know what the characters are up to after the end of the book I am also satisfied. There is nothing left to add to this particular part of their story, and I think that is absolutely perfect.

Now, I could go on and on about why you need this series, but it would just end up being flailing and squealing because I found this trilogy to be perfect (and the author is pretty awesome as well). So please, RUSH off to purchase this series. The final book, The Union, comes out on February 14th!

31213909

And make sure to pre-order the novella as well (but read it last!). This is a must! The Prince and the Heiress comes out on April 26th. It is so worth the wait, I promise!

31684195

And being that she is an indie author, you should definitely consider purchasing the books right from her (and then you can hold it, and pet it, and smell it, and love it). Go here to order a copy of these books and others written by S. Usher Evans. I am in definite need of more of her work

QUESTION: Have you read this trilogy (or any other of her books)? Would love to know your thoughts!

emily