Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Of My Most Recent 5 Star Reads

Happy Tuesday!

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It is time to revisit the weekly meme, Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week, we’ll be sharing 10 of our most recent 5-star reads.  Since I just started actively reading Goodreads about 6 months ago, and rarely sat down to give books a star rating before that, I’ll just be listing my very most recent 5-star reads (with one exception, but we’re getting there).  I’ll be starting with the most recent and moving backward in time.

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  1. Pretty Girl-13 (Liz Coley) – I really enjoyed this book; a review is coming so I don’t want to give too much detail right now.  Ultimately, this is about self-acceptance and the way we choose to confront our issues, and I thought it was really fantastic.
  2. Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About It (Kate Harding) – I have reviewed this book already on this blog (here), but again, I really appreciated that this book gave me some vocabulary to illustrate the points I’ve been trying to make over the years.
  3. Steadfast [Spellcaster #2] (Claudia Gray) – As you can see, this is the 2nd book in a trilogy, so I won’t go too far into detail.  I loved the whole trilogy, but this book was such a great “book 2 of 3,” which can be difficult to do, and I really loved how the bonds between people were explored in this book in particular.  (The third was amazing in this regard too, but a very few points were shaven off for the ending, which wasn’t what I was expecting.)
  4. Necessary Lies (Diane Chamberlain) – I have also reviewed this book (here), but I just loved the realistic way that the story was told, and the questions I had to ponder while reading.  I really enjoyed this one.
  5. The Vault of Dreamers (Caragh M. O’Brien) – Sometimes I’m still surprised that I gave this book 5 stars.  It’s not that it isn’t good, but I am often still hard-pressed to explain WHY I love this book so much.  I think it caught me at the right time, and provoked me to think about concepts I never really had before.5StarReads2
  6. The Wednesday Group (Sylvia True) – I really liked this book as well, and it is the first that I reviewed on my BookTube channel (here), meaning it was a long and somewhat awkward video, haha.  But I really enjoyed this; it is ultimately about addiction, love, lies, and self-discovery, and I thought it was really well done (but with a kind of open ending – fair warning if you aren’t into that kind of thing).
  7. Sloth  [Sinful Secrets #1] (Ella James) –  I really enjoyed this.  It has its sex-heavy parts, but I thought the plot was also really engaging.  I liked it even if it was a bit unbelievable, and am really happy that I read it.  There is a lot to spoil, so I don’t want to say much about the plot, AND I just heard that this is the first in a series, so I need to see if the next book is out!
  8. Red Rising Trilogy (Pierce Brown) – Technically, I read the last book in this trilogy pretty recently, but I decided to wrap all of these together toward the end since I’ve also reviewed this series in this blog (here), and I gave all 3 book a 5-star rating.
  9. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead (Brene Brown) – I really love this book; it put into words so many of my feelings, and helped me to see the power that lies in vulnerability.  I think back to this book in so many aspects of my life, and am so happy that I decided to pick it up when I did.
  10. Fangirl (Rainbow Rowell) – This is a pretty popular book, so I won’t say too much, but I really related to the main character, and was invested in all of them (so much so that I wanted a little more from a few of them).  I really like the way the story unfolded, and all of the feelings I had while reading it.

Well y’all, those were my most recent 5-star reads!  Let me know if you’ve read any of these, or any of your thoughts.  I really enjoy the conversations I get to have on my TTT posts (and others’), so let me know what you think!  I will catch you all in the nest post!

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Quarterly Reading Challenge Check-In (+PopSugar Reading Challenge 2016)

Hello friends!

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I am very excited to announce that I will be taking on yet another reading challenge for 2016!  I haven’t mentioned it here, but the first challenge I entered this year was the Goodreads Challenge.  This is very loose; you only set a goal for a number of books to read for the year.  This year, I set a goal of 75 books, and I’m excited to see if I can get there by the end of the year!

Next, I joined the Mount TBR Challenge, which I introduced in my first ever post on this blog.  Go ahead and click that link to check it out if you’re interested.  This challenge is dedicated to reducing your TBR pile.  You select a “level” which corresponds to a number of books that you will read from the pile.  I chose the Mount Vancouver level, meaning I have committed to reading 36 of my unread books.  The main catch is that you must be reading books that you owned before January 1, 2016.  As you buy books, your TBR pile continues to grow, but only the ones from before 2016 count.

NOW I am throwing my hat into the 2016 PopSugar Reading Challenge.  If you don’t know what that is, click that link for more information, but it’s a challenge that consists of 40 prompts (resulting in 41 books, as 1 prompt includes 2 books).  Everyone decides to do this challenge differently.  Some people are strict about reading a book for each prompt.  Some find books that hit as many prompts as possible and finish that way.  I am choosing a middle path, and have decided that of all of the books that I read, no more than 5 can count for multiple prompts, and even those can only count for 2 each.  This means that I will be reading a total of 36 books connected to this challenge.  I did this to challenge myself a bit outside of my comfort zone, but also to put some structure to my Mount TBR Challenge.  I don’t typically enjoy adhering to a pre-determined TBR list, but the main reason I haven’t read many books in my TBR is that I can’t decided which one to pick up.  Now I have fit as many TBR books to these prompts as possible, and I should knock out 16 of my pledged 36 with this challenge.  I will put the prompts and my completions so far at the end of this blog post so you can see it if you’d like!

Quarterly, I will be checking in to let you all know where I am with my challenges.  Even though I started most of these challenges later into 2016, I am going to be pulling from all books I’ve read in 2016, even if I read them before I joined the challenge.  All right; let’s see how I’m doing!

Quarter 1 of 2016:
Goodreads Challenge – 22/75 books read (This is great; I’m on track to complete this goal!)
Mount TBR Challenge – 6/36 books read (I am a little off-track here, but there is plenty of time left, and PopSugar should help with this a bit.)
PopSugar Reading Challenge – 7/40 prompts completed (I am slightly off here too, but I feel like this challenge is going to consume me until it’s done, so I think I’ll be making some progress soon.)

So it looks like things are going well so far!  I’m a bit off track with everything but Goodreads, but I’m not worried at this point.  These challenges are fun, but I refuse to live my life reading only to meet a goal.  If I feel these are too overbearing at any point, I’ll stop because reading should be enjoyable, but I am really excited about these, so I think I’ll be ok.

Anyway, this is getting pretty long so I will cut this here (but don’t forget to check out my PopSugar completions below)!  Also, let me know what’s going on with you all!  Are you participating in any reading challenges this year?  If so, how are you doing?  Any other thoughts?  Let me know in the comments; I look forward to it!  Byyeeee!

PopSugar Reading Challenge Completed Prompts

A book based on a fairy tale
A National Book Award Winner
A YA bestseller
A book you haven’t read since high school
A book set in your home state
A book translated to English
A romance set in the future
A book set in Europe – Anna and the French Kiss (Stephanie Perkins)
A book that’s under 150 pages
A New York Times bestseller
A book that’s becoming a movie this year
A book recommended by someone you just met
A self-improvement book
A book you can finish in a day
A book written by a celebrity
A political memoir
A book that’s at least 100 years older than you
A book that’s more than 600 pages
A book from Oprah’s Book Club
A science-fiction novel – Morning Star (Pierce Brown)
A book recommended by a family member
A graphic novel – The Wicked and the Divine: The Faust Act (Gillen, McKelvie, Wilson, Cowles)
A book that is published in 2016 – The Rule of Mirrors (Caragh M. O’Brien)
A book with a protagonist who has your occupation
A book that takes place during Summer – Savor the Moment (Nora Roberts)
A book and its prequel
A murder mystery
A book written by a comedian
A dystopian novel
A book with a blue cover – Made You Up (Francesca Zappia)
A book of poetry
The first book you see in a bookstore
A classic from the 20th century
A book from the library
An autobiography
A book about a road trip
A book about a culture you’re unfamiliar with
A satirical book
A book that takes place on an island
A book that’s guaranteed to bring you joy – Vision in White (Nora Roberts)

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books I Really Love But Feel Like I Haven’t Talked About Enough/In A While

Hello everyone!

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Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and here is my latest offering!  This week the topic is “10 Books That I Haven’t Talked About Enough/In A While.”  I had a really good time thinking of these books; many of which I read in high school (shout-out to my English teachers for assigning some really fantastic books).  I will go ahead and get into my list; I hope you enjoy!

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  1. The Crucible (Arthur Miller) – I read this play in high school (school assignment), and I really loved it.  It is so well-thought out/written, and it made my mind go in so many different directions as a high school student.  I plan to re-read this book this year, and I’m sure I’ll love it just as much as I did back then.
  2. She’s Come Undone (Wally Lamb) – This is another book that I read during my high school years, and I immediately related to the main character in a way that hadn’t happened in a long time.  I still think about this book from time to time, and wouldn’t mind re-reading it sometime soon.
  3. Sloth (Ella James) – I recently read this book (in the last 6ish months), and I enjoyed it so much!  I haven’t spoken much about it, mainly because there is a lot to be spoiled, but I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a someone dark and intense adult fiction book.  Warning:  There is a lot of sex in this book, but I also enjoyed the overall story and think there is a lot to take from the book in general.
  4. The Other Boleyn Girl (Philippa Gregory) – I don’t really consider myself someone who reads a lot of historical fiction, but I stumbled upon this book in college, right before it became a movie (which I also thoroughly enjoyed).  Philippa Gregory made these characters come to life (again) and reignited a long-lost interest in British royalty.  I could not put this book down.
  5. The Coldest Winter Ever (Sister Souljah) – I also read this book in high school (although definitely not for school), and it was a very popular book when it came out (and I still hear people talking about it today).  It is very adult, but so interesting.  I think teachers pried a few copies of this book out of people’s hands while I was in school.

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  6. The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (Ernest E. Gaines) – I read this when I was in 7th or 8th grade, and although I believe it is written for a slightly older audience, it is still accessible to that age range.  This book was written from the perspective of a woman who lived a long life – long enough that she was a slave, yet also remembered the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.  I remember finding it remarkable, and have read it several times since then.
  7. Linden Hills (Gloria Naylor) – This was another book I was assigned to read in high school, and has stuck with me for all of these years.  The story drew me in, and although the metaphors and other literary devices were strong and painted a huge picture, the story itself was also brilliantly compelling.  I’d like to read this one again as an adult to see what my thoughts are now.
  8. Snow Falling on Cedars (David Guterson) – It turns out that I read a lot of good literature in high school, because this was another assignment.  I really liked this book; it is focused on a culture/time period that I hadn’t known much about before reading this book, and I just really enjoyed the way that the story was told.
  9. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden) – I feel like most people have heard of or read this book, but I don’t talk about it often, so I definitely wanted to bring it up here.  I read this during my later college years, and enjoyed being immersed in a culture that I was not familiar with, and learning while reading an engrossing story.
  10. Sharp Objects (Gillian Flynn) – This is one of my favorite books of all time, and I don’t talk about it nearly often enough.  I feel like Gone Girl gets a lot of Gillian Flynn’s shine (I haven’t read it yet – I know, I know), but this was such a good story.  I related in the strangest way, and I just really liked the journey that this book took me on.

Well, those are 10 books that I don’t talk about nearly enough.  Let me know what you think in the comments, and share a book or two that you don’t talk about enough.  I’m always looking for the recommendations!

Thanks y’all!  I will see you all in the next one…

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books on My Spring TBR

Hello all!

TTT

It’s that time again, so let’s get started!  Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, so head over there for more lists and to participate!  I missed last week, so I’m excited to be back in the mix.

This week’s topic is: Books on My Spring TBR.  So if you know me, you know that I don’t really make TBR lists, especially monthly, because I like to read what I’m in the mood for and I know I will ignore my TBR most of the time.  However, there are books that I’d like to get to this year, and a season also seems like a reasonably long time to set a TBR for.  Most of these books will count toward my Mount TBR Challenge because of my “read 5 before buying 1” policy (which is only moderately working), but there is at least one book coming out this spring that I’d like to get my hands on.  Let’s get into the list…

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1)  The Leftovers – Tom Perrotta [I have read another book by Tom Perrotta, and I LOVED it (I may re-read it soon).  I bought this soon after, yet never read it.  And now it’s a TV show, I think.  I doubt I’m going to get into the show, but I do want to read the book; I’ve heard good things.]
2)  Wildflowers – Lyah Beth Leflore  [This is one of my books that I’ve owned since my early college years and just haven’t read yet.  I should have gotten rid of it a long time ago, but I’m going to try to read it again.  If I can’t get through it this time, I’m afraid it’s headed for an unhaul.]
3)  Subliminal – Leonard Mlodinow  [I’ve been excited about this book since I got it YEARS ago, and I think it’s finally time to crack it open.  This is a non-fiction read.]
4)  Their Eyes Were Watching God – Zora Neale Hurston  [This will be a re-read for me. It’s been awhile since I’ve read it, and I feel like it’s time to pay this one some attention again.]
5)  Lady Midnight – Cassandra Clare  [I just got this book a few days ago;  I didn’t realize how HUGE it is!  But I’m all in for the Shadowhunter stories, so I’ll get to this one soon.]
6) The Now Effect – Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D  [I like to clear my mind and set goals in the spring, rather than the beginning of the year.  This way I have a chance to set my bearings in a new year and get an idea as to what goals will benefit me most in the rest of the year.  Living mindfully is something that I have been wanting to pay more attention to for quite some time, so this book will be perfectly timed.  This is non-fiction.]
7)  Days of Blood and Starlight – Laini Taylor  [I read Daughter of Smoke and Bone in January, and I want to finish this trilogy this year, and this will give me time to purchase and read the last book well before the end of the year.]
8)  The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood  [This is another re-read, but it’s one of my favorite books and I haven’t read it in years, so I think it’s time!]
9)  Saga, Vol.1 – Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples [I have started this graphic novel, and like it so far, so I want to finish it to determine if I’m going to continue with the series over the course of the year.]
10)  Three Wishes -Liane Moriarty  [I have started this on my Kindle, and since most of my unread books are on there, I need to start knocking that pile down as well…]
Anywho, I hope that you all enjoyed this list, and if you have thoughts on any of this, let me know in the comments.  Thanks all!  🙂

Weightless: A Review

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Salutations, my good people.

I am here with yet another book review.  This review is for Weightless  by Sarah Bannan.  This was another BookOutlet purchase; I felt drawn to the story even though the summary was a little vague/generic.  I really enjoyed reading it; it was something different that surpassed those early expectations.

Weightless is the story of a girl named Carolyn Lessing, who moves to Adamsville (read: small town), Alabama from New Jersey right before her junior year of high school.  She is instantly envied and loved, and just a little bit hated (see again: envied).  She is nice, talented and smart, and everyone wants to be her friend.  She is immediately popular, and then she starts dating.  She begins dating a senior, the ex-boyfriend of one of her classmates, and… things go from there.

The synopsis for this book is vague, as is my description, but because there is SO much in this book that you have to read for yourself.  Ultimately, this is a book about bullying, but it’s also a book about small town life (especially in the South), and a book about mental health, and a book about hindsight being 20/20.  It is written from the perspective of “we,” and the reader never finds out who “we” refers to, but probably because it can be any of us.  There is a quote on the back of the book:  “Weightless is an unflinching study of the slow cruelty of the crowd.” (Anne Enright, Man Booker Prize-Winning author of The Gathering)  It stuck out to me before I read the book, and is even more startling afterward.

The characters are realistic, if not brutally so, which Sarah Bannan managed even writing from the “we” perspective.  I had some pretty strong feelings about them, and they ranged from disgust to affection to disappointment and beyond.

I will admit that it took me a little while to get into this book.  It actually pulled me in quickly, but the writing style, a kind of plural stream-of-consciousness, threw me off a bit, and I got stuck in that style for a little while.  However, as I kept reading, the pages kept flying and I was in the middle of the book before I knew it.  It is a book that definitely gathers steam before you’ve even realized it, and by the end I was in love with how the story was told.  There are also little tidbits in the book presented via different forms of media, which lend some insight to what is going on.

I think the best part about the book is that it tells a complete story while still trusting the reader to put together their own version of the events that make it up, and that seems particularly masterful.  This was Sarah Bannan’s debut novel, and I can’t wait for what she comes up with next!  I gave this book 4 stars, and I will definitely read it again sometime.  I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA “issue” books that are more than just that, and who appreciates a slow burn, yet high intensity read.

Well, that’s all that I have about this for now!  Please discuss in the comments if you’ve read this book (or want to), and I will catch up with you all in my next post.

Toodles!

 

Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About It – Thoughts and A Review

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Hello internet!

First things first, a disclaimer:  As you can see from the title of this post, today’s book review covers rape culture, specifically in America.  I want to be clear in case that is a trigger for anyone reading this.  I won’t be talking about rape in detail in this review, but it’s hard to not mention when talking about this book.

I gave this book 5 stars.

This book, Asking For It:  The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About It, bravely written by Kate Harding, is a book that I would argue that everyone needs to read and give some serious thought.  The book does exactly what the subtitle suggests – dives into much of the origin and rise of rape culture, and provides some suggestions about ways to recognize/battle the pernicious myths that surround rape, especially in the USA (where the book focuses its attention).

I will say that as someone already interested in and appalled by rape culture (and other by-products of rampant and pervasive misogyny), this book didn’t tell me too much that I didn’t already know.  Each chapter could have been expanded into a book, and Harding even mentions that most topics are covered on a surface level, mainly because her book is a starting point.  It is an introduction and a discussion, and a great one, at that.  I didn’t learn a whole lot of new concepts, but I was able to examine some familiar concepts from angles I hadn’t previously encountered, and gained a lot of new vocabulary with which to express myself when I find myself in debates, full of self-righteousness and passion, but grasping to find an anchor to steady my stance.  This book provides many such anchors, and while is a very worthwhile read, it can seem a little too heavy at times.

Although I had heard of many of the concepts/facts/myths/trials discussed in the book, I found a new and more profound disgust for the way that we think about and treat rape in this country.  The information in this book made me question humanity, privilege, worth, and so much more.  My one critique of the book is more an indictment of society than of the author:  although she attempts to throw in ways that we can combat rape culture and successes that have been made on that front, there are relatively few things to mention that can push away the darkness that this book can invoke at times.

As bogged down as I felt reading this book sometimes, I still declare that everyone should.  Because part of the problem with rape culture is that we are in the middle of it and it is sometimes hard to see what is always all around you.  The spread of knowledge/awareness is at the heart of battling this unfortunate phenomenon.  As a way to spread information, this book is invaluable, especially because there are many for whom this book may be a complete paradigm shift, and there is no shame in that as long as you remain open-minded and mentally able to shift.

All-in-all, I think everyone, from the completely unaware to the fully woke can appreciate this book, and it is written in a way that makes it accessible and relatable.  Often times, the words come off as though Harding is conversing with a friend rather than laying out heartbreaking information.  That, actually, is the highlight of this book – it feels like a conversation rather than a sermon.  However, I will admit that if you find yourself butting up against one of the topics in the book, Harding’s tone makes it clear that you should try harder to understand and “get it,” because you are heartless/ignorant if you don’t.

This is my first non-fiction review (as though I’ve done so many anyway, lol), and I hope that I sparked your interest in this book, even a little.  Do yourself and the world a favor, and read it.

Here’s to advocating for something better…

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books to Read If You Are In The Mood For NonFiction

TTTHello all!

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, and here is my latest offering!  This week the topic is “10 Books to Read If You Are In the Mood For [X].” I chose to replace X with NonFiction.  I’m going to make it quick this week; I may review a few of these in the future:

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1)  The Soul of a Citizen – Paul Rogat Loeb
This is about the spirit of people who choose to join movements that are bigger than themselves.  The author has interviewed many people who are a part of social movements to discover their motivations, and what they have in common. I’m about halfway through it., and I’m really enjoying it so far, especially since I aspire to this kind of career.

2)  I am Jennie – Jennie Ketcham
This is a moving and very interesting story of how a girl became a very famous porn star, and what it took to get out of that business when she was ready.  I really enjoyed reading this book, and I think that the topic is for everyone, if only to humanize those engaged in sex work, whether or not you agree with the choice to do so (for those for whom it is a choice).

3)  Asking For It – Kate Harding (I keep mentioning this book, and it’s worth it!)
I have a review for this book coming VERY soon, but briefly – it is about the pervasive nature of rape culture and what we can do to combat it.  I have SO MANY thoughts after reading this book, and I can’t wait to post my review to share this book with anyone who will listen!

4)  The New Jim Crow – Michelle Alexander
Amazing book!  I’m not completely done with this one, but it is about how mass incarceration is our new Jim Crow system in America.  It’s powerful and hard-hitting, and I love it so far, even as it horribly disturbs me.  I already recommend it to any- and everybody. Seriously.

5)  Our Kids – Robert Putnam
I haven’t cracked this one open yet, but I have seen the author lecture about it, so I threw it onto this list.  It’s about the difference in how kids are raised and educated based on zip code (and other factors), and how despicable and irresponsible that is of us to allow to happen.  I think the primary audience for this book are people who aren’t very aware of the differences, but it can also be helpful in giving more information to anyone wanting vocabulary to voice their thoughts.

6)  On Leadership – Harvard Business Review
Harvard Business Review puts out collections of articles they have released, all “on” different topics: Leadership, Management, Strategy, etc.  I own On Leadership and On Management.  I like them both, but have read more articles in Leadership than Management right now.  If you’re interested in different ways to be a leader/enhance your leadership style, this is a good one to pick up.

7)  The Gift of Fear – Gavin deBecker
I haven’t completed this book either, but it is on my list.  However, it struck me from its first chapters and has stayed with me for years. Maybe even a decade at this point.  I lost the book in a move, and just haven’t replaced it, but I will!  It’s all about how fear is a gift that has evolved over time, and is typically the result of your brain piecing together elements of a situation before you realize it, and how to recognize that true, gripping fear – and to listen to it.

8)  Juice Fasting and Detoxification – Steve Meyorwitz
If you are interested in the benefits of juice fasting and detoxification, this book is pretty short and gives great information in an interesting, yet concise way.  I read it cover to cover, and it’s great for just understanding what to put into your body, even if you don’t choose to juice.

9)  Me, My Hair, and I – Elizabeth Benedict
This is a book of 27 essays by 27 women, all on the concept of hair.  It spans ages, cultures, and continents, and is SO GOOD!  I’m making my way through this book slowly, reading an essay or two (or three!) at a time.  I’m not in a rush, as I’m always full of thoughts after each essay.

10)  Pimps Up, Ho’s Down: Hip Hop’s Hold on Young Black Women– T. Denean Sharpley-Whiting
I’m not completely done with this, but it is one of my MANY nonfiction books about hip hop.  I should say – this isn’t a book that advocates for the eradication of hip hop culture, but just to decrease the misogyny and make it a bit more inclusive.  I love that take, and I’m sure I will review this one when I’m done with it!

Got suggestions for me?  Leave them in the comments!  See you all next time…