January 2019 Wrap Up – I read 8 books!

Goooooood hello, everyone! WHEW –  what a month. I have had such an incredible time reading, learning and growing this month! For it being the first month of the year, I’m really proud of all of the progress I’ve made so far, really establishing my blog a bit more, becoming a more active reader, and overall improving my life!

Let’s review:
On my TBR this month were some chunky and hefty books! Along with a general TBR, I had posted about my Winter Biannual Bibliothon TBR (you can find that post here). Out of the books on my TBR of 9 books, I read 4 of them, but read 4 more books that weren’t originally on my TBR. I’m realizing that I’m definitely becoming more of a mood reader, so I think for the future, I’ll be setting MUCH looser goals for my reading that month.

The books I did read this month were pretty good! With an overall 3.7 rating for the month, which is much better than what it has been as of recent, I gave 3 books a 5-star rating, 4 books a 4-star rating, and one book a 3-star rating. You can find full reviews on my Goodreads account here!

20698530To start off, I listened to P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han (TABILB #2). In terms of the little love triangle, we meet John Ambrose McClaren, and he’s a total sweetheart, but in the end my heart is still with Peter K. I’m sure book 3 will make me think I’m a crazy person, but as of right now, #TeamPeter all the way. It definitely gave me Twilight: New Moon vibes with which “team” to pick, and although that was fun, I really appreciate the fact that it wasn’t the main focus of the story. (4/5 stars)

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Next up, I read Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows #2). Honestly, it was a phenomenal read. Let’s gush about the fact that the SIX OF CROWS AND GRISHAVERSE WORLD IS COMING TO NETFLIX!! This is such a huge milestone and I’m so incredibly excited to see what this world looks like on screen! As for the novel itself, I was completely in my emotions, and I absolutely loved every second of it. (5/5 stars)

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As part of the Biannual Bibliothon, I changed one of books I picked for challenges so I could read Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief (PJ & The Olympians). This was definitely a read to see if this book stood the test of time, and oh man, did it ever. Not only was the nostalgia a factor in my enjoyment, but the overall atmosphere and character growth is so well done, and so perfect for the age range. (5/5 stars)

34810320Reading at the same time I was reading Percy Jackson, I was listening to Sadie by Courney Summers. This book blew me away in how it was crafted. Told in a dual perspective of real-time, and podcast, with the effects and the full cast of characters, this is probably one of the most interesting audiobooks to have listened, though the Illuminae trilogy still stays my all time favorite audiobook. However, I did feel as though the story did drag on at times, and I was really let down with the ending. Though I’m sure it was intentional, it felt very anticlimactic and I lost focus. (4/5 stars)

32620332.jpgContinuing with the BiBib books, I read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid… AND LEMME TELL YOU SOMETHIN. This book lands in my all time favorites list. There are so many fantastic elements in this novel that I can’t begin to encompass my overall joy and love for it. So much so, that I finished reading it on a flight and broke down into tears (the guy next to me did look at me funny, in case you were wondering). I really adore Evelyn Hugo, and Jenkins did such a fantastic job creating her that you would be shocked to hear that Hugo isn’t a real person, and this isn’t a real biography. (5/5 stars)

13455782.jpgMoving forward with the last book I read for the BiBib, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (Shatter Me #1) is book number six of the month! This was my lowest rating of the month because of two things. One, it just didn’t live up to the hype. The story felt more like a prequel because of the way the world building was done. And two, the pacing felt so off! I felt like I was constantly missing something, and that really wasn’t a good mood to continue the story with. Also, superheroes? I didn’t see that as part of the plot and entire idea of it. (3.5/5 stars)

13623150Attached to Shatter Me is the novella, Destroy Me (Shatter Me #1.5), which I enjoyed quite a bit more than I thought I was going to especially with the fact that Shatter Me was so underwhelming. Although with this, I do have some fears for the future of the series. Seeing things from Warner’s point of view was really interesting, and very valuable to the story, but I’m really apprehensive about what Unravel Me is going to be about. (4/5 stars)

10194157.jpgAnnnnd finally, the last book I read in January was Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (Grishaverse #1). I definitely think I enjoyed this SO much more this time around than I did my first read! I was able to appreciate the Grisha and their rankings so much more. I stay loving the Darkling as the antagonist because I love how much he challenges Alina’s morale. And, I’m not going to lie, I don’t hate Mal as much as I thought I was going to. I really appreciate his character and the kind of grounding he is for Alina. (4.5/5)

Hope you guys enjoyed this wrap up! I can’t wait for all the reads in February!

xo, Mel

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Winter Biannual Bibliothon – Day 7 !

Welcome to the final blog challenge! If you couldn’t tell, I did not keep up with the blog posts at all primarily because of the fact that I flew out to see my best friend, and I’ll be out here for the next nine days! I’m having such a fantastic time already, but ONTO THE FINAL DAY OF THE BIBLIOTHON!

Today’s prompt is hosted by Megan over at Under The Book Cover! She did the Winter Bookish Tag and I’m so excited to participate!

Walking in a bookish wonderland –  Name a character you want to walk through the snow with.  I would most definitely want to walk through the snow with Evelyn Hugo because she would be able to tell me so many stories, and I would completely entranced by the story and leave the fact that I was cold completely out the door!  

Do you wanna build a snowman? – Pick three white books or white spined books you would use to build a snowman with. The Shades of Magic series :))))

Baby it’s cold outside – Winter gets pretty chilly, so name a big book you would like to snuggle up by the fire with. Give me Children of Blood and Bone! I want to read this book so bad and I cannot imagine anything better! 

The fire is slowly dying – Oh no! Your fire is slowly burning out! Name a book you wouldn’t mind throwing into the fires to keep it going. The Magonia and Aerie duology by Maria Dahvana Headley. SO bad. 

Underneath the mistletoe – Name a character you wouldn’t mind getting caught under the mistletoe with. Hehehehehehe…  give me Nikolai or give me DEATh.

What’s this? What book would you hope to find wrapped up as a gift? CAN SOMEONE PLEASE GIFT ME THE AVATAR COMICS? tysm

A Weasley family Christmas – What bookish family would you want to spend the winter season with? The question sets up the answer,  of course with the Weasley’s! But if not with the Weasley’s it would be with the crew from Six of Crows 100% because they would have SO many wild gifts for each other.

Freeze! – What characters would you want to have on your team for a snowball fight? Azriel would most definitely be someone to have on my team, but also Aang 🙂

Hot Butterbeer – What fictional hot drink would you like to keep you warm while you read? My favorite chai tea latte, OR English Breakfast black tea with a splash of French Vanilla creamer.

I realllly hope you guys enjoyed the Winter round of the Bibliothon because although I didn’t finish reading all of the books on my TBR due to plane flights, crazy days, and school taking over, I had such a fun time participating in the blog challenges! Definitely going to participate in the Summer round and I cannot wait to see what’s next!

xo, Mel

 

Winter Biannual Bibliothon Challenge – Day 4!

Good . hello, everyone! We’ve made it to the just-past-half way point of the Biannual Bibliothon!  I’m not going to lie,  I need to pick up my reading pace if I want to finish Evelyn Hugo and complete two more books!

Today’s blog challenge is hosted by Hannah over at SprinkledWithWords

Clickbait Your Favourite Books! Choose 3-5 of your favourite books, and write totally clickbaity titles!

Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan – A 12 year old demi-god,  a pen that turns into a sword, a quest, a destiny, and his uncle’s lightening bolt. To say he learns a lot about the world around him is an understatement.

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch – Like Mammia Mia, but in Italy,  Lina learns about her mother and travels to understand the experiences and love she found that led up to her parents story.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber – Welcome to Caraval, dare trust anyone you meet?  Find your sister, win your prize, and move on. But remember, the game doesn’t end until Legend declares it so.

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne – When your co-executive assistant is your rival and nemesis,  it’s hard to think you’d ever like the guy, let alone love him. But maybe it’s just another one the games we play.

SUCH a fun challenge and really made me get into character for some of them! Now,  off to reading I goooo ~!

xo, Melanie

Winter Biannual Bibliothon Blog Challenge – Day 3 & Readathon Update!

Good hello, everyone! Here’s to continuing on with day 3 for the Biannual Bibliothon! For these blog/Instagram challenges, I won’t be participating in every single one just based on the fact that I want to be reading for most of it! I provide more updates on Instagram and Goodreads is where you can see me finish books live!

So far,  I’ve finished the book that completes the challenge for Read a book that got you into reading and that is Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1). Originally for this challenge, I had A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas but I quickly realized that as much as I adore this series, I really wanted to read Percy Jackson because it’s quicker and I’ve been meaning to reread the series for forever now.

ANYWAY – it’s time for the blog challenge hosted by Becky over at Coffee, Cocktails and Books (challenge post)! She hosted a SUPER fun Mad-Libs edition, and here were the words I chose, based on my current reads for the readathon :

  1. Book character –  Evelyn Hugo
  2. Magical artifact – the Minotaur’s horn
  3. Large number – 5,672
  4. Magical creature – centaur
  5. Book character (same as #1) – Evelyn Hugo
  6. Magical land you DO NOT want to visit – The Underworld
  7. Period of time – 1830s
  8. Relaxing activity or hobby – lounging in a spa
  9. Villain or least favorite character – Tamlin
  10. Competitive activity – underwater basket weaving
  11. Kind gesture – kisses

And here’s what it looks like plugged into the story –

The 2019 Winter Biannual Bibliothon was in full swing, but you were craving just a bit more adventure. As you settle in to pick up your current read, Evelyn Hugo barges into your room, surprising you. You’re told that Evelyn Hugo’s land is in trouble and you’re needed to aid in finding the Minotaur horn, the only item that will restore peace and that you’re the only person that can help.

Ecstatic to finally be the chosen one, you agree to help Evelyn Hugo on this quest! As you begin to travel to their land, you find out that others have tried and failed to retrieve this magical artifact and that you are the last hope. You also find out that because no one has succeeded in this quest, no one knows what you’re up against. There are rumors that you need to defeat 5,672 centaurs.

Excited, yet nervous, you and Evelyn Hugo locate the wise elven protector of the land to learn as much as you can about this artifact and how to retrieve it. The elf informs you the artifact is located in the deepest part of the Underworld, to your dismay. You and Evelyn Hugo venture for the 1830s to make it to this new land.

Along your journey, you spent your free hours training to master lounging in a spa, hoping this new skill will give you an advantage against your unknown foe. Shortly after arriving at this dangerous land, you finally are face to face with your nemesis, Tamlin.

Though you’ve been training, coming face to face with your foe begins to strike you with fear. Your companion encourages you to be strong and reminds you that you’ve been preparing for this. When you go to use your new skill, you learn that Tamlin is a master. Nervous, you use the only maneuver you have left. You challenge them to underwater basket weaving. Taken aback by this tactic, they hesitate before reluctantly accepting your challenge. Filled with new confidence, you quickly defeat them!

Begrudgingly, Tamlin awards you the magical artifact, vowing revenge.

You and Evelyn Hugo return to their home land, where you are greeted with cheers and applause. You’re thanked repeatedly for returning the artifact and saving the land. Evelyn Hugo even shows their gratitude by giving you kisses.

The next thing you know, you are back home with your book in hand. For a moment, you think you made up the whole thing, but then you see the glint of the magical artifact out of the corner of your eye. When you look over, nothing is there, yet you know your adventure was real. With a smile growing, your turn back to your book, already ready for another adventure.

*I’m not entering the giveaway however, because I already own a copy of Girls of Paper and Fire – but thank you so much for hosting such a fun blog challenge!

xo, Mel

Winter Biannual Bibliothon Blog Challenge – Day 1

Good hello, everyone, and welcome to the Biannual Bibliothon Blog Challenge Day 1, hosted by trufflereads.com ! Today’s challenge is : Winter Storm Fun – Name 3 book characters, 2 types of food/drink and 1 song you’d want to have to survive being in a car with, in the middle of nowhere during a snow storm.

NOW,  I’ve been thinking long and hard about my favorite book characters, foods/drinks and songs. The first thing I thought of was Marshall and Ted in How I Met Your Mother on the road trip, being stuck with the one song of “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by the Proclaimers (video). Please watch that and understand my enjoyment of the show.

The three book characters I’d take are probably going to be Wylan (Six of Crows),  Cassian (A Court of Thorns and Roses), and Simon (The Mortal Instruments) because the three of them have SUCH personalities that it would be just so ridiculously fun to spend time with,  but all three of them are also such softies that I can just imagine them going through random emotional spells.

The two types of food/drink we’d have are most definitely going to be NOTHING liquid because I can’t trust Cass or Simon to take care of that,  assuming that we were driving prior to getting stuck –  solids only. I feel like some beef jerky and excessive amounts of chips would satisfy the boys.

Finally, the one song I’d want to survive with would be selected by Cass, and if you’ve read ACTOAR, you’ll know why it would be “One Kiss” by Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa. I can really SEE Cass owning this song, Simon swooning while thinking of his love, and Wylan blushing terribly. They’d get sick of it the same way Marshall and Ted do with “500 Miles,” then create a dance routine, then get sick of it,  and finally split the vocals, the beat, and the backup vocals by the end of it.

Happy Day 1 of the Winter Biannual Bibliothon!  xo, Mel

 

January 2019 – Goals, TBR’s, and the Winter Biannual Bibliothon

Good hello, everyone! It’s been quite sometime since I’ve posted on this here blog! I’m definitely more active on my Instagram (@thebookishmel), so check that out if you haven’t already!

One of my goals for 2019 is to get a little more serious about writing for my blog because my writing and reviewing are two things I want to really improve upon. I definitely think I’m capable of posting at least once a week for the entirety of the year! 52 weeks of perseverance and absolute excitement in all the bookish ways!

As for my January reading goals, I’m looking and feeling pretty ambitious! In last month’s OwlCrate box, The Magical Monthly Reading Planner has been my best friend for planning my reading. In my general January TBR are:

• Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (Six of Crows #2)

• Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (Legacy of Orïsha #1)

• Shadow and Bone,  Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo [reread] (Grishaverse #1-3)

• King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo (Nikolai Duology #1)

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

However, in January is the Winter round of the Biannual Bibliothon which goes from January 12th – 18th! The challenges and my picks are:

1. Read the Group Book – Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

2. Read one of the hosts’ 5 star reads – The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

3. Read a book that got you into reading – A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas [reread] (ACOTAR #1)

4. Read an adult genre – The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

5. Combine your favorite genre with your least favorite format or the opposite

6. Read a book with a cover you don’t like – Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (Shatter Me #1)

7. Read a book by an author you’ve never read before –  Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

I’m not going to lie, being overly ambitious has helped with me pushing myself to really keep reading to reach my goals! I’m clearly not going to be participating in every challenge, but I’m still going to try and read as many books as possible within the week, and I’ll post my recap at the end of the week! I’ll also be participating the BiBib blog challenges as well, and as the prompts are being posted each day leading up to the readathon, I’m getting more and more excited to get to reading and to posting here!

See y’all soon~! xo, Mel

 

 

 

 

Review – Such Good Work: A Novel

Such Good Work: A Novel by Johannes Lichtman
[Published February 5, 2019 by Simon and Schuster]

Disclaimer: Approved Digital Review Copy by Edelweiss+,
all thoughts and opinions are my own.

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

A timely and provocative debut novel that Rivka Galchen calls “wisely comic and tremendously moving,” about a creative writing teacher whose efforts to stay sober land him in Malmö, Sweden, where drugs are scarce but the refugee crisis forces a very different kind of reckoning.

YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT TO DO GOOD

Jonas Anderson wants a fresh start.

He’s made plenty of bad decisions in his life, and at age twenty-eight he’s been fired from yet another teaching position after assigning homework like, Visit a stranger’s funeral and write about it. But, he’s sure a move to Sweden, the country of his mother’s birth, will be just the thing to kick-start a new and improved—and newly sober—Jonas.

When he arrives in Malmo in 2015, the city is struggling with the influx of tens of thousands of Middle Eastern refugees. Driven by an existential need to “do good,” Jonas begins volunteering with an organization that teaches Swedish to young migrants. The connections he makes there, and one student in particular, might send him down the right path toward fulfillment—if he could just get out of his own way.

Such Good Work is a darkly comic novel, brought to life with funny, wry observations and searing questions about our modern world, told with equal measures of grace and wit.

Since receiving the arc, the Goodreads synopsis has been updated, and after having read it and the novel, I do have to say I appreciate the newer one primarily because of its final statements. However, in the first, I liked the closing statement of “Such Good Work begs you to consider the person you are, as well as the person you hope to be,” to help encompass exactly what this novel wants you to heed.

This novel has taken me three months (Sept 3, 2018 – Nov 30, 2018) to read and its mostly because Jonas isn’t a love-able character and I really didn’t want to keep reading into his mind.

The first part before he gets to Sweden takes you through the mind of an addict. Jonas, the main character, is a teacher and recovering addict who traces back and forth through the present and the past. Although the writing style isn’t my favorite and the topic is difficult to go through, you really are able to see the complexity of everyday struggles.

Once in Malmö, we’re given a full description of why we should feel threatened and have our guards up as Jonas is there, but I had an overarching feeling that amongst the chaos, he’d find himself.

“Right back where I started but having accomplished one more day of life. There was no great excitement, but there was contentment. I rarely felt the need to escape my life or myself. It was the first time I could remember feeling this way.”

When he started seeing the refugees arriving, he wanted to help not out of the goodness of his heart, but for the gratification he’d receive. I’m not too sure if I’m supposed to like him or not because as of right now, I don’t. It’s really difficult to sympathize with him at times because he sits and tries so hard, and you want to acknowledge the fact that he’s done so well with his addiction. But the fact of the matter is that he’s still not fully there yet. He definitely understands that he’s doing that, and when looking at others and discussing immigration and refugee policy, he’s still very fond of how Sweden tries to help, and I think we can start to see a shift in his character at this point.

It’s really interesting to see how different cultures come into contact with one another, and especially interesting to see how American culture is depicted. I had a laugh when it talked about Trump’s presidency campaign and I like that it doesn’t feel historically written, it’s very much so in the present even if it’s within the last 5 years. Really well done in that respect!

Jonas clearly wants to do more than just a basic aid, he wants to really dig deep into their minds but he keeps being shut down and I think with good reason. He’s trying too hard to fix something when he hasn’t even fully fixed himself. Jonas even says:

“I wanted to correct the world. But I was angry with myself for feeling the need to be right more strongly than I felt empathy for the victims of the attacks. I longed for drugs.”

Coming back to LA, there’s a sense of peace that’s flooded over Jonas and I genuinely appreciated the calm that he’s finally received.

Overall, this story was a 3.5-4/5 star read. It was a struggle to get through and to really understand just what it is that Jonas is going through. But he has his growth and readers can really tell just what he has been going through since the beginning of this journey.