Down the TBR Hole #5

Down the TBR Hole

Good hello, friends!

Here we are with round number five! I haven’t done this in quite a bit with the last one being posted in December! So I’m going in with 10 books today that I want to organize through! I have been reading a bUNCh of my physical books so far in 2020, and I’m really here for it!

Down The TBR Hole was originally created by Lost In A Story.

It works like this:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
  • Order on ascending date added.
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or should it go?

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Kicking us off with book number one is Little Deaths by Emma Flint. I was going through times of adding so… so many books to my Goodreads shelf because why not, amiright? So I added this in hopes of it being on my radar as a mystery/thriller that I would hopefully enjoy. I quite frankly do not care for the synopsis of this book so… Verdict: GO

33413920._SY475_Moving right along is A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf which is literally what it sounds like. It’s a nonfiction biography of these great novelists. Considering the fact that I still think it would be extremely valuable to read and learn more about these writers, I’m going to keep it on the backburner I’m not sure when exactly I’ll get around to it, but I may request it from my library and go from there. Verdict: GO

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Next is Among the Red Stars by Gwen C. Katz. Not going to lie, from just the over alone, I thought this was going to be a graphic novel. When I looked at it again and saw that, nope, it’s a full fledged YA WWII historical fiction, I thought again as to what I should do with it. What sells me still is the fact that it’s based on a true story, and a lot of the reviews seem to love it. I’ll probably read the historical accounts of this first, then dive into the YA adaptation of them.Verdict: KEEP

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Okay… I added I Wrote This For You in 2017, along with many of the titles mentioned in a ton of these early Down the TBR posts. What I vividly remember is being in the honeymoon phase of a relationship at the time, and thinking “uGh Yes lOVe ME soME LOve,” whereas now… it’s not the same. I think angsty me should’ve read this. But I’m not too sure how slightly more adult me 3 years later feels about it. Verdict: GO (maybe revisit)

33574161THERE IS NO DOUBT in my mind that Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstances will be read by me in the next year (June 2020-June 2021, not by the end of this yearya silly goose). I have been so curious as to what this book is all about after reading the synopsis over and over again. With the fantastic and magical elements, and it almost cusping the YA/adult genre, I think this will be something that catches me by surprise. Verdict: KEEP

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If I’m going to be blatantly honest, I have no idea as to why I Capture the Castle is marked as Want To Read. I don’t remember adding this to my TBR shelf, and quite frankly the title, setting, characters, etc., really does not add up to much for me. It’s really made for Jane Austen fans and since I cannot consider myself a fan of her works to read a novel set in a time like this, Verdict: GO

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Alright y’all gon laugh at me for this one – I haven’t started The Diviners series by Libba Bray. And the series just had it’s final book released! Book one was published in 2012, so it wasn’t necessarily at the peak of my reading experience. This series will definitely be part of my Late to the Party series because oh my gosh I STAY LATE. I also think I’ll enjoy this WAY more now as a new-adult (lol) as opposed to being a scared little 13 year old. Verdict: KEEP

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OKAY! This next one, I completely forgot I added to my Goodreads list, but completely makes sense and it’s Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho, translated by Margaret Jull Costa. If y’all know me AT ALL, then you know that The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is one of my favorites that I’ve read throughout the years, and reread! It was such an incredible experience to read one of his works while I was in high school, and I have no doubt in my mind that his work will continue to be one that I love! A story about love and philosophy in Brazil? Sign me tf up!! Verdict: KEEP

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Number nine on today’s rabbit hole is All That is Solid Melts into Air by Darragh McKeon. Again, another book that I added that I honestly had NO clue as to what this would be about, but I heard about it once and was all for it apparently? The genre? Oh, you’ll never guess… another historical fiction. Really.. I don’t know what my deal was with historical fictions! And the fact of the matter remains, I don’t read them very often even though they’re extremely intriguing. This one is from the perspective of Soviet Russia through Chernobyl and though it seems really interesting, I don’t see myself picking it up anytime soon. Verdict: GO

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The final book on today’s dive down my TBR is Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke! I have a feeling I’m realllyyyyy going to like this book. Set at a “college” setting (considering she does a high school completion program and moves forward – not conventional college experience, but I LOVE THAT) with elements of Freud explaining life’s struggles, I have a feeling I’ll really enjoy this more than I expect to. Though it is for the YA demographic, I think *nEw AdUlt* readers will enjoy it too. So, let’s hope I’m right. Verdict: KEEP

WOW.. another 10 books, and I’ve only gotten rid of five of them. I think a ton of these books are definitely intriguing but I just don’t see myself realistically picking them up sooner rather than later. And quite frankly, all of these books are ones that I don’t physically own! 2020 has been a year of reading primarily my physical books, so these books will be pushed to the back-burner yet again. But I think it’s good to be organizing the un-owned books behind-the-scenes if you will before I get to them.

If you think my verdicts were off, and I should get rid of more books, let me know!

Until next time ~

xo,
Mel

Mini Magical Readathon Wrap Up

Good hello, friends!

Today, I’m bringing you my mini magical readathon wrap-up! I read 3 books last week, and though this is just a portion of the books I read this month, I wanted to write mini-reviews for the mini-readathon. This readathon took place from June 22-28 and consisted of a super chill, low commitment, make-your-own-adventure kind of readathon! I posted my TBR here and I’d like to think I was fairly ambitious but I sort of did it?  I was keeping a high focus on the physical books I had to read this month, which is why there were 3 physical books, and 2 digital!

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G over at BookRoast has also posted an announcement video as to the future of these Magical readathons and I know she’s doing everything she can to make sure that her channel is a safe space for all. I want to assure everyone that my channel, blog, Instagram and Twitter are all safe spaces, and to call me in and have a conversation if I ever do/say anything otherwise! While I participate in these readathons, in no way am I supporting the author who created a world that was inclusive and welcoming. I think the magic of the world is something that needs to be celebrated, and the culture of its world is incredible – even though the author may not be.

After this post, I won’t be speaking about the HP series/world because I don’t want to drive anyone to reading/watching/purchasing anything that would send the author royalties. But as a final mention ~ here are some mini-reviews from the mini magical readathon!

okay so technically, I did read a few more books than was on my TBR. 

42442934._SY475_.jpgQueen of Coin and Whispers by Helen Corcoran

This was such an incredible novel, but also one that I’m fairly conflicted on. It’s definitely a 3.5 star rating, but a higher 3.5. The romance is really fun and well developed. I’m a sucker for the forbidden romance trope, and though the concept of it was there, it wasn’t executed at the same extent to which I would’ve loved to have seen. Also, if you like political intrigue, then this book will definitely surprise you with how Lia’s queendom is portrayed! She is someone extremely inspiring and that was really nice for a change – I’ve been reading too many extreme and ruthless leaders, and she’s a lot more strategic, so I appreciated that. A great book that ended up a bit backlisted for me in terms of my arcs, but great.

38480225._SY475_Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (Legacy of Orisha #1)

Can you believe it?? This book came out in March of 2018. I bought said book in March of 2018. And here we are, June of 2020, THREE MONTHS AND TWO YEARS LATER finally picking it up! I read this in two sittings and the audiobook was I think one of the best ways to go with it! I found that with the beginning especially, hearing names, cities, and words pronounced correctly was extremely beneficial for my immersion into the story, and I actually ended up writing an entire blog post on JUST this book as part of the “Late to the Party” series that I’ve started here on my blog. There are so many things to talk about this book, but go check out my full review here! I gave this an initial 3.5 star rating, but bumped it up to a 4 star rating!

Now onto the books that were solely for the readathon!

21414439Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (Witchlands #1)

WOW! Reading this a second time around was a different kind of experience. I bumped this up from a 4 star rating, to a 4.5, I knOW I know! When I wrote my Goodreads review, I paid special attention to not reading my review from the first time around. And surprisingly, I picked out some other things that I didn’t the first time around! Safi and Merrik’s relationship, their ball scene, them yelling at each other was *chefs kiss,* seeing how the relationship between Safi and Iseult grows is incredible because of the incredible bond they have, and Aeduan is SUCH a great character to add to add to the conflict and build to the complexity of the plot. The world itself is REALLY vast and almost a bit too complicated at times for my little brain to understand, but upon a second read, I was able to appreciate it so much more. You’ll see in my July TBR that Windwitch will be on there, and I’m really excited to dive into the story headfirst and learn more!

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Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff (Nevernight Chronicles #2)

SO – I’m adding this as progress because I at least STARTED Godsgrave. I have to give it to Jay for that recap at the beginning of the book. I missed how witty the footnotes are, which are definitely a reason I love the footnotes because it’s as if Jay went in and as he was rereading his book, added these footnotes as his personal comments. HI BIG WARNING for the very detailed smut scene at the start of the book… literally the first 20 pages. But again, very purposeful, we know what our girl Mia is doing!!1!! I’m ending the readathon with 40 pages of this read, and honestly, I’m not mad at that. I’m just happy to see Mia and Mr. Kindly again, I’m really excited to see how Mia does things following book one, and I just want to keep reading it!!

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Baby You’re the Greatest by Lionel Shriver

This… was odd. I’m not including this in my Goodreads goal as a book I’ve read considering it’s 33 pages long but I just did not like this at all. Based on a true story as to the UK decision on ending life support for a severely disabled child, this is written from the perspective of the husband whose wife is fiercely fighting for their sons life while he is on the opposite end of the conversation. You would think that with giving yourself 33 pages that you’d get something actually profound… but no. You get something KIND OF GROSS in how different the husband/wife duo is and how gross it all feels and just… it left me feeling icky. Would not recommend in ANY circumstance. Gave this a 1 star.

Which means that the last two books on this weeks TBR pile are The Proposal and Library of the Unwritten, two books that I’m SO looking forward to getting to that I’m literally just going to push them into the first week of July! Normally, I don’t want to roll over books – I’d rather just unhaul them since I didn’t prioritize them enough. But these are two extremely anticipated books that I can’t LET GO OF just because I didn’t make it this month! So I’m bending my Spin the TBR rules, in the same fashion that Codie does, to get to these two amazing books!

Let me know what you think of these books! I still count this as a success because I read five three incredible books and started a fourth! I have a lot of confidence that I’ll be able to read the rest of the books I was meaning to in the next few days before the month ends!

Until next time,

xo
Mel

Late to the Party – Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Good hello, friends!

If you remember, I did this post for the first time a bit ago for The Cruel Prince! Since then, I’ve read many, many books that I have been SO late to the party – but this one won’t be a surprise for many of you if you follow me on Instagram or are subscribed on YouTube!

It’s Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemibook one in the Legacy of Orisha series.

After owning the book for two years after its release, putting it on COUNTLESS TBRs, and an attempt to reading it in August of last year during orientation week (lol who did I think I was fooling?), I finally read it this past weekend in 2 days! My dear friend Gizelle over at TheAdventuresofGiz (Instagram and YouTube), LOVES this book and has been yelling at me to read it for over a year now. She is the co-host of the Topping the TBR Book Club (Instagram) and for the month of July, the reads were Children of Blood and Bone and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe! BUT this weekend especially was a mini weekend readathon that they were doing and I chose to finally pick up COBAB, and needless to say it was an EXPERIENCE.

I gave Children of Blood and Bone an initial 3.5-3.75 star rating, but I think I’m going to bump it to a 4 star rating!

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Since magic had disappeared from the world, life changed in inexplicable ways. There’s almost a race war that goes into this world after magic is gone with the death of many Maji, Zélie without a mother, and world of lost hope. Adeyemi does a great job of creating a world very similar to ours – and surprisingly still extremely relatable. This can be thoroughly seen through how Zélie is treated for her hair, how at the very beginning, Mama Agba does everything she can to train everyone while keeping it all a secret, and how harshly they get treated by the Admiral and his men. But this is only one aspect of the story. Adeyemi does write in her authors note that this book reflects the brutality of unarmed Black men, women and children being shot by the police.

“…if just one person could read it and have their hearts or minds changed, then I would’ve done something meaningful against a problem that often feels so much bigger than myself” (526).

It is absolutely incredible as to how the writing in this truly does reflect our times, and how angry and emboldened Zélie is for this matter. BUT, I do think that reading this two years after its publication and with the idea of peace and strategy in my mind as a reader NOW, I wanted Zélie to be a little less headstrong and a little more analytical. She ends up acting on emotion far too often for my liking, making her much more vulnerable to being weak and taken advantage of – and that’s the last thing I wanted for her. She literally is doing SO much to bring back magic, strength and hope, that I want to root for her, but she acts too emotionally, I get a little disappointed.

But at the same time, I love her for both her strength and her vulnerability. There’s a moment where Adeyemi really WRITES her breaking down and the “strong Black woman” trope is taken down for a second. This, if you didn’t know, is particularly popular in media now and it places more attention on Black women as only seen when they are strong, or when they are angry. To categorize Zélie, amongst other Black female characters, in just this binary is utterly repulsive – so the fact that she is seen even in her weakness, is extremely important.

Then comes in her brother, Tzain. This man is the most one dimensional character I think I’ve ever read from. He’s the equally headstrong brother who literally doesn’t change his mind about anything! There were so many scenes where I just wanted him to stOp talking and just listen and be more observant, but he also kind of came in clutch.

Next up is Amari and Inan! I think they added a really interesting character dynamic to the mix! With their “duties” being to the crown over anything else. So having them be from two different socioeconomic standings and creating a divide that later ends up resulting in a partnership was done really well. I loved Amari’s character and the growth we see from her, but the “Little Prince” really made me angry at times. I think he’s a fairly unlikable character, and I didn’t love him so much, but I liked his growth.

The final things I want to mention are the romance, atmosphere and the length of this book. The romanceS, yes, there are two, develop at such an odd time in the book. It’s as if in the last 30%, you want me to really believe that after 70% of them despising each other its ~* magic whOosh LovE *~ ?? EH IDK the insta-love threw me off BUT BUT BUT it was really nice to see Zélie so happy for how destroyed she feels for a good chunk of the book. AND OKAY THE SHEER LENGTH – scenes could’ve been cut, we could’ve moved forward, but we didn’t and thus, the book was 525 pages. Finally, the atmosphere of this book was just incredible. It was originally pitched to me as for fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender for its elemental magic – but all thing’s considered, I feel like there were scenes where I was *WATCHING* ATLA and I was definitely reminded of the Secret Tunnel episode at some point during their adventure.

Overall, the amount of heart that goes into this novel is really the peak of it’s glory. I would still recommend this book full heartedly. Though the overall plot had some points that were missing for me, and how much I liked the characters fluctuated, I still really enjoyed the complexity of this novel and am really looking forward to Children of Virtue and Vengeance!

What do you think of COBAB? Do you agree with a lot of my thoughts? Disagree? Let’s chat! 

Until then,

xo
Mel

Life Update: Hiatus? Secret Bookish Project? Let’s Chat!

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Hello again honeybees! I rarely do small check in posts, but this might be the new norm here because I feel like my personality hasn’t been standing out in my posts lately. Speaking of the new normal:

A lot of us feel helpless in combating racism in our life, and especially in America where the Black Lives Matter movement is (rightfully) making waves. Here’s a link to petitions, places to donate, education tools, and more that I highly encourage you to look at and share with friends. Signing petitions is free and very quick, so please consider taking a second to sign a few before you continue reading (or feel free to just sign petitions all day and not read this, that’s cool with me).

To be perfectly clear, I support Black Lives Matter and as imperfect of an ally/accomplice as I am, I will continue educating myself…

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Want to Read by the End of 2020

Good hello, friends!

As inspired by one of my favorite blogs to follow (and friends who is super supportive of mine), Holly at Nut Free Nerd does these Top Ten Tuesdays and I love reading them!

So in the fashion of the Mid Year Book Freakout Tag, there are so many books I have yet to read this year that I’m dying to get to but also know that in general, I just HAVE to read by the end of the year! Last year, I did an entire video on the books I need to read before the year ends and you can check that out here, though I’m not sure how great I did with those LOL.

And to add onto the stress of keeping myself accountable, I also did a Series I Need to Finish by the End of 2020 video that you can check out here that I’ve actually made SO much progress on since uploading!

That being said though – there are 10 books that I am absolutely ITCHING to get to this year, some of which you’ll see in my Mid Year Book Freakout tag on my channel soon!

43263680Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo [Alex Stern #1]

Heyhey!! A book that makes me NERVOUS to pick up! I have no clue where I’m going to land on my thoughts with this book so its really one of those things that I’ll have to just start… and pray for the best LOL. I am really excited to pick it up, I just don’t want to be disappointed by someone who I call one of my favorite authors, ya know?

 

9361589The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

There’s no real reason I haven’t picked this up… except for the fact that I’m scared it’ll sway how I feel about the Caraval series. But I don’t think anything can really beat how I feel about the magic of that book. It’s also a standalone which is really refreshing for books in this genre! Plus, I want to start with this book by Erin and dive into the rest of hers sometime soon! I’ve heard incredible things about her writing.

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Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor [Strange the Dreamer #2]

GOD okay I just want this book read. I need to reread Strange the Dreamer for sure because although I have a reading vlog where I talk about this briefly, I really don’t remember a lot of the plot of this and I need to make better notes about it, and consequently the sequel. I just want this read to say it’s another thing I’ve done and finished, but also to see what I really think of the duology as a whole.


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The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang [The Poppy War #1]

This is a series I know I’m going to absolutely love. I just feel it in my bones that it’s going to be a five-star read for me. That being said, I’ve owned it since its release in 2018… it’s been two and a half years… and I still haven’t read it. The third book is nearly out and the reviews of this book are so incredibly high. It’s one I’ve been looking forward to but just haven’t gotten to but I WILL by the end of the year.

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Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi [Legacy of Orisha #1]

Okay guys.. this is getting excessive. I’ve had this on so many lists to read for literally the last two years. LIKE LITERALLY SO MANY LISTS. It was on my must reads for 2019, in my series videos, and it’s a book I did pick up… but I got 20 pages in and then stopped. I’m terribleeeee. I think the size has been the most daunting thing, but I know if I just get my act together and pick it up, all will be fine. I hope… Watch this end up being a favorite of the year LOL.

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In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

I’ve owned this book for the past couple of years, and it’s a book that my bestfriend from high school recommended to me. Being that it’s a nonfiction/true crime novel, it’s extremely different from anything I’ve read before. And because of that I’ve been wanting to pick it up more and more each week. I think I’m going to try and get this to fit into my TBR for July!

 

NOW, some of these next books are new releases for the second half of the year that I absolutely will be reading, and I’m so so incredibly excited for them.

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Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

This book has been described as Black queer girls overthrowing the patriarchy and if that doesn’t sell you, I don’t know what will. I’m SO incredibly excited for this novel to release and I have it preordered and I’m JUST SO HERE FOR IT. Plus it’s a Cinderella story retelling, and I’m so so ready for it. This book releases on July 7th, and I’ve already pre-ordered it with my order for #BlackPublishingPower campaign!

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The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert

Another incredible book AHH! I actually just got an arc of this and I’m so ridiculously excited! The political aspects that go into this are incredible and I think it really will be a hit this year considering it is an election year, and quite frankly one of the most important the US has seen in quite some time. I think it will truly urge younger generations to be empowered to vote and older generations to remember why they do. SO excited for this. This book comes out July 7th!

46223352Now That I’ve Found You by Kristina Forest

This is, I think, one of the most interesting concepts for a contemporary YA novel I’ve heard of in a bit. It kind of gives me The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo vibes, and y’all know that’s one of my favorite books I’ve read in a while. So I think the celebrity aspect of this and the romance will be something undeniably sweet, and I am very much so ready for it. This book comes out August 25!

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Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch [Love & Gelato #3]

And FINALLY, number 10 is Love & Olives. I am such a huge fan of these novels. The first book, Love & Gelato, takes place in Italy. The second, Love & Luck, takes place in Ireland. And finally, book three takes place in Greece. When I tell you my heart was SO happy when I found this out, it is NO lie! My dad’s side of the family grew up in Greece for quite some time, and so there is so much Greek influence in my life already. So I am really excited to explore my favorite country, and hopefully my favorite cities again soon.

 

2020 Not So Favorites of the Year So Far

Good hello, friends!

In the same fashion as the last post, I did the Mid-Year Book freakout tag on my blog last year (which you can check outhere), and uploaded the MYBFT on my channel, but I wanted to chat a bit more about my not-so-faves of the year.

LUCKILY, there are only three on this list, which means that I’ve had a pretty SOLID(?!) reading year so far! But unfortunately, these books were completely disappointing, and I have since unhauled 2 of the 3.

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Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan [Something Dark and Holy #1]

Coming in hot at book number one is Wicked Saints. This book was not fun at all to read. I was really excited because it was pitched for fans of the Grishaverse, but this fell SOOO flat. I understand being inspired by the world, but this just felt like bad fan-fiction because that’s what it was. It was worked on Tumblr, and somehow made its way into a complete physical novel. Granted, I will give her credit where credit is due for making this happen, but I just did not think this was good at all. 2/5 stars

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The Wicked King by Holly Black [The Folk of the Air #2]

I was so upset when I finally got to TWK. After really enjoying TCP (with an entire Late to the Party post here), you guys know I was SO hyped to see the consequences we would get out of book two. And although I can say I still enjoyed it, I did not enjoy this NEARLY as much as I did when reading book one. I was upset to see the change in character from Jude, and to see Cardan almost tossed aside, and stylistically, this book just wasn’t it for me. I was confused as to some of the choices that Holly made, and overall, just was not as satisfied with TWK as I was with TCP. 3/5 stars

42595554Foul is Fair by Hannah Capin [Foul is Fair #1]

Sold as an INTENSE revenge plot line and a Macbeth retelling… this was whack. The writing style was kind of all over the place in the sense that you’re almost having to be reminded that you’re being told a story, and you’re never fully immersed into these characters and the revenge plot. I didn’t think our main character, Jade, was very interesting and I wasn’t ever convinced as to why she should be someone who can manipulate others in the way that she really wants to. This just was not diabolical enough for what it was sold for. 2.5/5 stars

That is it for the not-so-favorites! I’m glad these aren’t books that I absolutely wanted to throw against a wall (that was so intense and graphic – I’m so sorry), but they just weren’t up to par either!

Cheers to the second half of the year and finding more books that will probably disappoint me LOL.

Until next time,

xo
Mel

2020 Favorites of the Year So-Far

Good hello, friends!

As you may or may not have seen, but I recently uploaded my Mid-Year Book Freakout Tag on my channel here!

Last year, I did something different on my channel where I talked about my favorites of the year, and not so favorites of the year, and instead did the MYBFT on my blog here. Because I do really like both formats, I thought I would continue the trend and talk all about my favorite books of 2020 thus far! If it wasn’t obvious enough, these are all of my favorite five star ratings!

26114463Nevernight by Jay Kristoff [Nevernight Chronicles #1]

First on the list has to go to my first five-star read of the year and that is Nevernight by Jay Kristoff. When I was reading this book, little did I know it was going to absolutely take my heart by STORM. I absolutely devoured this to the point where reading it from the Libby app was not enough, and I had to own a physical copy right away. I absolutely loved Nevernight, and you can legitimately see me crying at the end of this in an OWLs reading vlog here. Shout out to you, Jay – you made me CRY LIKE AN ABSOLUTE INFANT.

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Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

A pandemic book during a pandemic just hits different. Station Eleven was incredible. I have an entire review and reading vlog about this book alone, and I knew it was going to be hard hitting from just the first few chapters. Kirsten’s perspective is one of my absolute favorites, and I cannot believe I had waited so long to read this book. But I do think that my reading experience will be something I cherish forever and will be extremely unique to others’ reading experiences as well.

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A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer [Cursebreakers #1]

Yet another Beauty and the Beast retelling that absolutely swept me away! I was so incredibly surprised by this novel! I didn’t think it was possible for me to enjoy a retelling of this story in the same way that I did with A Court of Thorns and Roses – like y’all know that is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE books and series. So for me to be fine with this comparison… whew. I think Harper’s character brings a lot of balance, but tbh Grey is the star and I love that he got his own spin in book two.

43822024The Toll by Neal Shusterman [Arc of a Scythe #3]

This wouldn’t be a favorites post if I didn’t talk about Scythe at least once. But I am going to focus the most on the final installment in the series, The Toll. This finale really does bring the story home in such a great way. Though I am a huge Rowan stan and was upset in his lack of presence in book three, I love Citra’s character more and seeing her thrive makes me so happy. Along with that, I think the Thunderhead is IMMACULATE as an AI system and shows the world who’s boss. Check out my full blog post here, and my YouTube review here.

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Heartstopper by Alice Oseman [Volume 3]

Now this is one that took me by surprise, but I absolutely stand behind til the end of my days. Heartstopper literally is one of the sweetest graphic novel series that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, and I’m so glad I was able to consume three volumes back to back. However, I have to say that volume three is my favorite because of the risks it takes! It’s probably the most incredible reading experience I could’ve had, and though I don’t personally identify within the LGBT+ community as I am a straight, cis-woman, Oseman does a great job of bringing you in and having you understand what it means to love in a very scary world. Absolutely ADORED this.

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Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

FINALLY, I get my hands on another Acevedo authored and narrated book. Am I upset it’s taken me this long? Yes. Am I so glad that I’ve read this and absolutely adored it? Also yes. Though I love the story, I have to say it’s Acevedo’s performance that really takes the cake here. With her background as a slam poet, it is no surprise that her audiobooks will pack an ABSOLUTE PUNCH. Being that it is a novel-in-verse, the power and emotion can really be transferred no matter how you consume the novel. And I continue to look forward to more books by her in the future.

So those are my favorite five-star reads of the year! Though I do have other 5-star ratings, I don’t think they will amount to the five-star-ness of these ones. Each of these books has had such an emotional impact on me, has made my heart absolutely swell, and continues to surprise me every time I think about them. They’re all books that I don’t need refreshers on because I keep thinking about them and the impact they had on my life today.

Let me know – what have some of your favorites of 2020 been so far? Are there any on my list that are similar to yours?

Until next time,

xo
Mel

Series Review | Arc of a Scythe by Neal Shusterman

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Good hello, friends!

As you may or may not know, when I read Scythe for the NEWTs, I was not expecting to find an all-time favorite book, with an all-time favorite read the following year. I did not expect to be so invested in the social commentary of this novel, nor did I think this was going to be something that, again while in the middle of a pandemic, would get me invested in my thoughts. I do think reading about a utopian dystopian universe in a time like now really changes the game! If you couldn’t tell already, I love this series and I’m so excited to talk about all three. 

I have also uploaded a video where I talk more about my overall thoughts and connections to the political messages behind all three so check that out here

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Bear in mind that there may be some spoilers as this is a series review, so if you have not read the Arc of a Scythe series, I would suggest avoiding anything after book one. 

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Meet Book 1: Scythe

In a world where there is no hunger, no strife, no death, there has to be a way to control for the population. This is where Scythes come in, trained as apprentices and chosen for the Scythedom as they master the “art” of taking a life. Rowan and Citra are two of the newest candidates for Scythedom under the guidance of Scythe Michael Faraday and Scythe Marie Curie. 

An unexpected bond is formed between these two as we get to see them go through their training under their mentors, and I think this is easily the foundation for something so incredible. Especially now that I have finished the series and am moving forward in the sense that I have seen the extent to their companionship, it truly is incredible to see just how Neal develops their characters into exactly what they need to be with their own motivations. 

Based on their mentors, both from the beginning and the end, Scythe sets up the perfect character development, while expanding the conflict and offering great juxtapositions within the Scythedom as a whole. Seen through the different journal entries, we, as readers, are allowed to see the inner workings of these characters who continuously are at battle with themselves. Although the story is plot-driven, there is so much more when discussing the questions of morality in life and death, and it truly is the cornerstone of a series that, in many ways, reflects our current society.

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Meet Book 2: Thunderhead

Following the events of Scythe, we see Rowan who has fallen from good graces as Scythe Lucifer, and Citra who is now known as Scythe Anastasia after their trials. If you were to characterize anything as betrayal, I promise you it is not between Citra and Rowan. 

In book two, we really start to see a growing shift in focus while keeping the story true to its initial elements. We meet Grayson Tolliver and find a greater importance with the Tonists as a whole in this society. We also meet Munira Atrushi, a librarian at the Library of Alexandria where all of the Scythe’s journals, amongst many other writings are held. But equally important, I think, is the insight we get on the Thunderhead.  Neal does a great job of making the time jumps, and character jumps nearly flawless in that you are able to start caring about these secondary characters while keeping your ties to the original cast of the first book close to heart. 

These secondary characters play such a huge role in how the rest of the story develops. Their interactions in the world continue to remind readers of the conflict of good and evil, and of seeking and having a purpose as determined by this overseeing “body.” This book is also the epitome of me asking “Can people who are SUPPOSED TO BE DEAD, ya know… STAY DEAD?”

I hate Goddard. That is all on that matter.

Finally, I think my favorite part really is seeing Citra’s transformation as Scythe Anastasia. She embodies everything that Marie could have ever taught her, while allowing her to make her own decisions in such a beautiful and harmonious way. And to shake the Thunderhead to its core by Faraday and Munira, and me continuing to hate Goddard for everything he continues to do, is the most EPIC transition into The Toll.

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Meet Book 3: The Toll

THE FINALE OF THE SERIES. The Thunderhead has officially marked everyone as unsavory, has determined that he’ll only talk to Grayson, and that the Tonists will be rising in priority for the story. 

We still hate Goddard throughout this book, let me just put this out there n o w. tysm.

We get to meet more incredible additions to the cast, being that Captain Jerico and Scythe Possuelo have found Rowan and Citra, and become such meaningful characters that continue the discussion of morality and hope in a world that seemingly has lost it. The Thunderhead continues to grow and change, becoming more and more self-aware with a plan that is going to change the world. The years continue to jump around in the beginning, which does make it a bit more difficult to understand, however once you’re kind of past that difficult section timeline wise, the stories unfolding really starts to pick up. 

Neal Shusterman really keeps you on your toes in this one, more so than books one and two. We get insight on the Thunderhead in a way that I did not realize was possible as it starts to hint to different plans that it has and its involvement in the world. Neal really makes you miss different characters in the stories throughout the parts. For example, when we’re clearly invested in Grayson as The Toll and his story, we are left to wonder what is going on with Rowan, or what is Scythe Anastasia learning with her new friends and allies, and vice versa! 

And I love that I could not predict anything throughout this book. I was able to piece things together JUST before it was mentioned, but the way your attention is grabbed continues to be something that I applaud! And without giving too much away, the ending of this trilogy is QUITE open, but it gives me a sense of peace at heart. 

OVERALL

I would recommend this series to absolutely everyone. I gave every book a 5/5 stars and was so undoubtedly committed to each character, storyline, and plot point. I think the only thing I would really ask for is maybe a novella set 20 years later to see just what my favorite characters are up to, what they’ve accomplished, and what our AI system has done since then. 

If you are a fan of The Maze Runner, 1984, or the Illuminae Files, I think you’re really going to enjoy the Arc of a Scythe trilogy. The way the Thunderhead behaves I think is very characteristic of these other dystopian novels, and it has a great “Big Brother” vibe that is not too overwhelming. 

I really enjoy the fact that although there is great power in companionship, romance is not exactly at the top of everyone’s mind. This was very artfully created, and was very purposeful in every move. 

I really have found an all-time favorite series of mine, and I really hope that more people continue to read this, appreciate the social commentary, and fall in love with this story the same way I have. 

Until next time,
Mel

 

 

The Transfer Experience #6 – Upper Division English Classes

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Good hello, friends! This second semester of my junior year has been ridiculously busy with being in season, having a new class of sorority sisters, and being full-time. I actually got this idea while I was in my upper division Shakespeare class as my professor was discussing how Shakespeare likes to take prior stories and make them new, and how that is something that an AP English Literature teacher would not tell you in the 3 weeks you learn Macbeth.

With English being my minor, I definitely don’t have the same experience as English majors, but this has been quite the ride in comparison to lower division classes from my community college. Aside from having taken AP Language and Composition and AP Literature in high school, the comparison to the experiences in community college and then into a four-year university are very different.

To start off, all of the English classes I’ve taken in college include:

  • Junior College: College Reading and Comprehension [Eng 102], Communications and Critical Thinking [Eng 103], American Literature I [Eng 207] and II [Eng 208]
  • 4-Year: Studies in the American Novel, Graphic Novels, Major Authors: Marie de France and Major Authors: J.R.R. Tolkien, Shakespeare, and British Literature I [only lower division]

Lower Division Courses

If I’m going to be completely honest, I do not have the SLIGHTEST memory of the work I had done in English 102 but I have the files to prove that I did take the class and clearly my brain was there – but it’s because this was an online class that I didn’t really feel any connection with. It was something I needed to take for my Gen-ed requirements and honestly I was kind of over it the entire time.

My English 103 class however was an honors section class and has SUCH a strong memory in my mind. Our professor continued to change what I thought of the literature we read and she really forced me to think in a greater way. I remember there was a day where she was LITERALLY actively editing my paper and TEARING IT APART. In that moment, I learned I was a terrible writer and had so much to improve on. She gave me hope for my potential and that though my ideas are there, I have a hard time articulating them on page when trying to analyze a work, keeping in mind that this was my freshman year of college after 2 years of AP classes.

Upper Division Courses

Moving forward to Studies in the American novel during my junior year of college. My final paper had 4 versions of it, each improving and developing more than I could have imagined. The passion behind the work was definitely what carried so much of my efforts and it showed. This professor told me that I NEED to attach this to Graduate school applications, and when I tell you she had me BAFFLED… I was in complete shock. I never thought I could have a professor tell me this and truly praise my work in that way.

Aside from the experience in that upper-division class, I have to say that Graphic Novels and Shakespeare, who were taught by the same professor, were SO INTERESTING in learning about media in a new way. My Graphic Novels course made me challenge the way I thought about our modern day heroes, and at the end of the class, I got to do an entire presentation about James Buchanan Barnes, my favorite hero next to Captain America. I just… WOW. Where else can you say that it is a possibility?! Shakespeare was a whole other experience, but I have an entire video that you can watch here!

BUT WHEN I TELL YOU that I’ve had the most fun in my Tolkien class… it really does not get better from there. From reading all of the lore-stories, to understanding the language, to moving into The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, along with their movies, and ending with our own creative projects that emphasize what we know from Tolkien’s essence into our own interpretations of it.

Overall

I’m so incredibly thankful for the experience I was able to have and continue to have! There is SO much that I think as an avid reader, Bookstagrammer, BookTuber, and (continuously improving) Blogger, my upper division classes have really emphasized a lot of my writing and reading styles. I learned how to define my annotations for school purposes versus enjoyment purposes, what it meant to write a review versus being critical when analyzing a book. I’m really excited to continue this learning adventure!

Until next time,
Mel

xx

 

 

#BlackOutTuesday

Good hello, friends.

It seems wrong of me to want to post anything else on my blog, Instagram, or YouTube channel without first addressing the state of our world today.

I have seen so much hatred in this world in my 21 years of life. I have lived through countless of protests, I have learned the history, and yet we continue to see the oppressors reign over the oppressed.

I refuse to stay silent. 

As someone who can be white-passing, I acknowledge the privilege I have. I know that though my struggle as an Armenian-American woman are present, they will not match the struggle of the Black community. I cannot speak for others, nor will I, but at this very moment in time, the all encompassing struggle of the Black community is one that needs to be fought for by ALL, regardless of race, the color of your skin, you gender, your sexual orientation, or other defining factors.

DO NOT FORGET THEIR NAMES

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and countless others.

At this time, I urge all readers and friends alike to get educated. Acknowledge the privilege you have to use a platform to spread awareness. Acknowledge the privilege you have to be able to disconnect if you choose to. However, I refuse to disconnect. I refuse to turn away from these injustices, and I will continue to sign every petition I can. I will watch the videos of the protests and pray for the safety of those braver than I could be. I pray for those who are risking their lives to make a change, knowing that this fight against murder is going to be revolutionary.

I know that with the passion this world has for unity and sheer greatness, there is nothing that will stop the force of young minds combined with old. Creating a new understanding is what we’re striving for.

I urge you to be ready to vote in November if you reside in the United States. I urge you to encourage your peers to vote and be the voice. I urge you to learn more about the ways you can help, while not being at a protest. Continue to read and listen. Continue the desire to understand, for we will never learn the meaning of unity until that understanding is an all encompassing factor in our society.

I am grateful to see friends stand in solidarity. I will continue to stand in solidarity. And I will continue to fight until the oppressed are no longer the oppressed.

No justice. No peace.

https://blacklivesmatter.carrd.co/

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https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/#petitions

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https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/#donate

https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/#resources