July TBR 2020 + Camp NaNo Plans

Hello everyone! If you missed my last post, I talked about how June was my best reading month ever in terms of quantity. I read 19 whole books!! So, for July, I decided to slow things down and take my time with reading!

I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month, and I really want to focus my time on writing. So, that means I will most likely be doing much less reading. But I’m okay with that! I also want to allow room for picking up whatever I want, instead of limiting myself to the TBR I pick. Also, I am planning on participating in The Reading Rush, though I’m going to make my TBR up as I go, so no official one this year!

So, I have chosen three books (though I’ll probably read more), which makes this probably my shortest TBR ever on this blog. One is a TBR jar pick, one is a libby loan, and the last one is an ARC.

So, without further ado, let’s get into it!

The Great Gatsby Graphic Novel illustrated by K. Woodman-Maynard

I got approved for this ARC very recently and I requested it on a whim- I have been wanting to dive into the world of graphic novels, but I didn’t know where to start. I figured going with a book that I already love would help ease me into them.

I definitely want to pick up more, though (Heartstopper is on my list for sure), so please recommend me some of your favorites- contemporary preferred.

Sociable by Rebecca Harrington

This was my TBR jar pick for the month, and in all honesty, I have no clue what it’s about. I’m assuming it’s about social media in some way, but aside from that, I do not know too much. I did take a quick glance at the reviews for this one, and they weren’t too great, so I am worried about reading it. Hopefully it will be something I at least somewhat enjoy, though!

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Finally, we have a book that I am BEYOND EXCITED to read! I have the audiobook on Libby, and I have been waiting for July to start so I could read it! I read and loved Beloved by Toni Morrison last year, and it completely blew me away. I have heard even more amazing things about this one, so my expectations are very high. I love Morrison’s writing, so I am sure I will love it!

Camp NaNo Plans

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I am participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month! Last month, I hosted a writing challenge where I set a goal to write for one hour every single day. I got to about the 50% mark of my novel, which is so incredible to me!! This is probably the most I’ve ever written for any novel I started.

For July’s camp, my goal is only set to 15k words, mainly because I know that I won’t write every single day the way I did in June. But, my more ‘lowkey goal’ is to finish the first draft of the book. That would be an amazing achievement on my part, though I do not know if I will be able to do it!

Anyway, if you want to add me on the NaNo website, my username is @jessicacwrites :)

My novel is a YA contemporary about an overachieving girl who wants to go to Columbia University. When she gets differed, she has to find a way to make her application stand out more- so she joins the track and field team!

That is a very basic summary, but it also involves some (mild) hate to love, a ballerina best friend, and MI representation!

Here’s an aesthetic board I created:

If you want to see more updates from me about it, I will be posting on Instagram and Twitter, so be sure to follow me there, too!

What are your plans for July? Are you going to do a lot of reading? Or maybe you’re participating in Camp NaNo, too? Let me know in the comments :)

My Biggest Wrap Up EVER! // June 2020

On average, I’d say I read between 8-10 books. During quarantine, this has gone up quite a bit, and I’ve been able to read around 12 books per month. I don’t know what happened in June, but I read NINETEEN books (and had one DNF). That is more than I have ever read in a single month before.

I’m not going to go into too much detail about all of these, but here they are!

Currently Reading

  • Where Dreams Descend by Janella Angeles: Okay, as you all know, most of my wrap-up’s include the book I’m currently reading when I have plans to finish it before the month ends (I still have one day left to finish it, and I think I will!!). I will update you all on my rating after I read it, but I will also have a review up for it in August :)

5 Stars

  • Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody: I read the majority of this in May, so I don’t know if it reallyyyy counts, but I’m counting it anyway. This was really good for helping me with the structure of my novel, and I highly recommend it for all writers!!
  • Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson: Jacqueline Woodson is one of those authors you absolutely need to read. This was a short book, but it contained so much inside of it. We get to see the lives of different family members through short vignettes, and I really enjoyed it.
  • Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo: Elizabeth Acevedo is forever going to be a favorite author of mine, so there should be no surprise that I gave this one 5 stars!
  • Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane: I have been loving adult contemporary novels recently, and this one was no exception. If you like books that focus on families and characters (rather than plot), you will most likely enjoy this!
  • Beach Read by Emily Henry: I know that this has been getting a lot of hype (and some mixed reviews), but I personally loved it. I thought it was so fun and light-hearted. Plus, I could relate to the characters in terms of having an interest in writing!
  • Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo: I knew I would give this one five stars after really enjoying Six of Crows! I personally loved this one even more because I was much more familiar with the characters and the story.
  • All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson: I picked this one up on a whim after seeing so much hype for it. It was a beautiful memoir, and I can not wait to buy a copy for myself.
  • You Should See Me in A Crown by Leah Johnson: This is quite possibly one of my new favorite books of all time. It was such a great book, and I don’t even know how to describe it in words. Please check it out!
  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng: I really adored this story. I love Celeste Ng and she is now a new favorite author of mine! I probably liked Little Fires Everywhere a little bit more, but both were equally incredible!
  • Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon: This book was SO MUCH FUN. I loved everything about it, and I will talk even more about it in a blog post next week, so stay tuned for that 👀

4 Stars

  • The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta: This was another very beautiful book. It is the story of a boy figuring out his identity and sexuality- I listened to the audiobook and highly recommend it. The cover is also one of the most gorgeous ones I’ve seen.
  • Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi: This is a non-fiction book about the history of racism in America. There was so much that it taught me, which I never would have learned otherwise. It is such an important read, and I think everyone should pick up.
  • King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender: I don’t read a lot of middle grade, but whenever I do, it always blows me away by how good it is! This one was no exception. It explores grief, racism, and sexuality.
  • Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams: This was such an incredible read. It’s very different from other books I’ve read, in that the voice of the main character is so unique and fresh. She’s not afraid to say what’s on her mind, but she’s also self-destructive and hits some low points. I will be thinking about this one for a long time.

3 Stars

  • Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson: This was a solid story, but not my favorite of the three Jacqueline Woodson books I’ve read. It was a good read, and I enjoyed it!
  • Letters to the Lost by McKayla Debonis: McKayla is coming out with a new poetry collection, and you all need to read it! Her collections are always so personal and raw, but I love them all because of this! You can really relate to her words.

2 Stars

  • You Are Not Your Thoughts by Frances Trussell: This was a nonfiction guide to mindfulness and meditation, but it just felt way too basic for me. The first few pages were really good, but then the rest kept repeating itself and it felt more like the author was spouting cliche philosophy. I wanted more from it.
  • The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abi Waxman: I was SO excited about this book. It’s about a girl who works in a bookstore, loves to-do lists and routines, and loves to read. Hello- that’s basically me. Unfortunately, there were just too many flaws with the structure of this book. It’s pitched as a romance, but the romance was so cringeworthy- there was absolutely no chemistry between the characters. I would have preferred to learn more about the newly discovered family of Nina, but that fell short, too. Just not for me, unfortunately.

DNF

  • Cursed by Thomas Wheeler: I started the audiobook for this and I was so lost the entire time. I got up to 30%, but I honestly couldn’t get into it at all.

How was your reading in June? Did you read any new favorites? Let me know in the comments :)

Quarterly Favorites #2 April-June 2020

Hello everyone! Today I am back with the second installment of my Quarterly Favorites series! If you haven’t seen the first one, feel free to do so before reading this one.

If I’m being honest, it was a bit hard to come up with some favorites this time around. I feel like I haven’t really been doing or trying anything new because of Covid-19. But, I did still want to share this post, despite it being a bit shorter than the last one!

Movies & TV Shows:

  • All American: This show is about a Black teen football player at Crenshaw High, Spencer, who gets asked to join the team at Beverly Hills. His whole life gets turned around and now he has to navigate a new world with new friends. I am currently on the second season but I ADORED the first season, and I am so excited to finish it.
  • The Morning Show: This is an Apple TV original show produced by Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell (and staring Jennifer Aniston). I recently got a new laptop, and it came with a subscription to Apple TV. I have heard a lot about this show, and now I finally had the chance to watch it. It was PHENOMENAL and I can’t wait for the next season! It is a must watch- so gripping, so intense. I finished it in a matter of days.
  • Just Mercy: I haven’t been watching a lot of movies recently, but I saw that this one had become available for free online (and it still is for the rest of June, I believe!!), so I watched it. It was such a good movie.
  • 13th: I’m sure you’ve seen many people talking about this documentary lately, with all of the discussion of the BLM movement. It is so important, and it really does help to educate on modern racism.

Blog Posts I Loved:

  • Emme talked about her bad reading habits, all of which I am guilty of, too. It is good to know that I’m not the only one who does these, but I also liked reading this to see what things I should work on changing.
  • Caitlin tried guessing the synopses of different 2020 releases, and this was such a fun post. I had so much fun reading it and trying to guess along with her!
  • Kristin tier-ranked all of the YA novels she’s read, and I love watching tier-ranking videos on Booktube, so it was cool to see it translated to blogging. She’s also done a post ranking her favorite books, which I definitely want to do for myself, too!
  • Holly has written a few reviews in the form of letters recently, but my favorite is her review of The Starless Sea! She summed up my feelings so well. These are such unique reviews, and I really love reading them.
  • Tiffany hosts a book club with Alexandra, and I highly recommend checking it out! I am going to continue to join them during the months that I can, but the discussion in the Facebook group afterwards was so interesting!
  • Sofii shared a list of 30 LGBTQ+ book releases of 2020 in honor of pride month! I definitely found some new books to add to my TBR, so please check out this list!
  • Chloe talked about going without her phone during isolation, and it was so eye-opening! While you guys are reading this, I’m actually taking a week off of social media (any of my posts or Tweets have been pre-scheduled!). It is so important to unplug and spend time offline sometimes.
  • Marie wrote about a topic that was being discussed on Twitter recently, which is the way book bloggers are treated in relation to other ‘book influencers.’ It’s no secret that bloggers are often overlooked and undervalued, despite being basically the foundation of book promotion. This was a really interesting read, and I agreed with everything written!

My Posts I Loved:

  • I shared a list of books by Black authors that I want to read, and I want to re-share this post, in case you missed it. Do not stop supporting the BLM movement, and continue to read diversely every single month!
  • My testing book recipes post was so much fun to make, and I definitely want to do it again in the future! Let me know if you guys would be interested in that.

Other:

  • Cork-boards: I recently bought some cork-boards to hang up in my room, and I absolutely love the way they look. Mostly, I love that I can change out the pictures I hang on them anytime I want, so I can constantly create new vision boards for myself. I like to use them for inspiration!
  • Save the Cat! Writes a Novel: This book helped me out SO MUCH when I started outlining a new WIP this month. I am definitely going to be using it for a long time. If you are a writer, I highly recommend giving this method a try if you struggle with plot and structure.
  • Elta MD Sunscreen: I wear sunscreen everyday on my face. But now, especially that it is getting super sunny and hot, it is even more important. This is my favorite facial sunscreen ever, and it has been a life changer, honestly. It’s a bit on the pricier side, but it was recommended by my dermatologist, and I really do love it.
  • Watermelon Wonder Kombucha: I’ve always loved kombucha, and I’ve had this one a few times before. But recently, I have been drinking it so often. It is incredible and I never want to drink any other flavor.
  • Apple Watch: I got an Apple watch during this quarter of the year as well, and it was such a great purchase. I think it’s only worth buying if you are into fitness. Personally, I only use it to track my runs and workouts. It does have some other good features, but I don’t really use them much. As far as fitness tracking, I do think it works really well, and I love it!

What are some of your favorites from the past three months? Leave a comment letting me know :)

Mid Year Book Freak Out Tag 2020

It’s June, and that means we are halfway through the year!!! 2020 has been one interesting year, to say the least, but there is still a whole half left. I have no idea what the rest of this year will bring, but I am excited to talk about the books I’ve read so far with you all. As of when I am writing this post, I have read 61 books, which means I have completed my Goodreads challenge (of 52 books)! I was not planning on reading so many books this quickly, but with coronavirus, I have had a lot more time on my plate.

Despite this being a pretty bleak year in terms of current events, it has been a really great reading year for me! I have read some really great books so far, and I can’t wait to see what others I’ll read!

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2020.

This was SO hard to answer because, like I said, this has been a really great reading year for me! It’s hard to choose just one because I’ve read some really incredible books, so here are my top 3:

  • Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power
  • Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

I have no idea how I am going to make a top 10 list at the end of the year considering I already have so many great options!

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020

Oops, I have multiple answers for this one, too (🙈). My number one choice has to be Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo- I just read this one a couple of weeks ago, too, and it instantly became a favorite! I loved it much more than Six of Crows because I was more invested in the character’s lives (though SoC was amazing, too).

I also finally read the Diviners series this year (excluding King of Crows, still waiting on it from the library), and Lair of Dreams was definitely my favorite of all of them so far!

3. New release you haven’t read yet but want to

Again, I have so many answers for this question! How do people just pick one??? I’ve been fortunate to have been able to read many of my most anticipated releases already, but one book I am very excited about is Writers and Lovers by Lily King. It is one that I haven’t seen super hyped up by the book community, but I have definitely seen some really good reviews for it!

I also really want to get my hands on Harley in the Sky by Akemi Dawn Bowman! She is one of my favorite authors, so of course I want to read her latest release!

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab: I haven’t read all of Schwab’s books- in fact, I’ve only read the first two books in the Shades of Magic series. But, the early buzz for this book makes me SO THRILLED about it. The synopsis was so intriguing to me, and it sort of gives me The Starless Sea vibes, and if it gives me even a hint of the feeling I got while reading that one, I’m sure I’ll love it.

5. Biggest disappointment

I thought this was going to be a hard question, but then I remembered Nutshell by Ian McEwan. I had such high expectations for it (and it was even on my 5-star predictions post), but I ended up giving the book a solid 2 stars. It just didn’t appeal to me, and I’m not sure if it was just the odd way of storytelling that I didn’t like or maybe this author’s works just aren’t for me. Either way, it was disappointing because I have seen such high praise for it.

6. Biggest surprise

I wrote a whole review for this book, but it was definitely one of the biggest surprises for me. That book is The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. In all honesty, I wasn’t expecting to really enjoy it, much less LOVE it.

Check out the review because my thoughts are much better explained there!

7. Favorite new author (Debut or new to you)

This has to go to Celeste Ng. I have now read both Little Fires Everywhere and Everything I Never Told You and they were SO. GOOD. I will definitely be reading more by her in the future!

8. Newest fictional crush

I don’t really ever have fictional crushes if I’m being honest, but if I had to choose one, then it would probably be Kaz Brekker from SoC/CK. I just love a good broody, morally grey character. Would I actually want to date someone like him? No. But I just loved reading about him.

9. Newest favorite character

Stevie Bell from the Truly Devious trilogy! I read the first book last year, but I enjoyed getting to know her even more throughout the rest of the series. I think she is super cool and I would totally be friends with her.

10. A book that made you cry

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo had me bursting into tears at almost every chapter. This book was gut-wrenching.

Also, All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson had me sobbing, and How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow definitely made me cry.

11. A book that made you happy

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo was such a cute read and it was filled with so many funny scenes. I thoroughly enjoyed it!!

12. The most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

Hands down, Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo. I mean, come ON! It is probably the most beautiful book I own if I’m being honest. The book without it’s dust jacket is absolutely stunning. I can’t get enough of it.

I also recently purchased Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman, and that cover is so dreamy.

13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year

Ah this question makes me feel SO GUILTY. I started off the year with about 100 unread books on my shelves, and I’ve gotten it down to 75ish. Which I think is alright, but definitely not as far along as I wanted to be by this point. I am hoping to get this down to 50 by the end of the year. Some books I am hoping to read are…

  • Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  • Wild Beauty by Anna-Marie McLemore
  • Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
  • I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman
  • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
  • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

How has your reading been in 2020 so far? Have you found any new favorite books? Please leave a comment letting me know!

See you all soon!

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power / ARC Review

Wilder Girls by Rory Power was one of my favorite reads of 2019. I devoured that book because it had such gorgeous writing and the atmosphere was everything I ever dreamed of. Of course, when I heard that Rory was coming out with another book, it instantly made it onto my most anticipated release of the year list!

I was beyond grateful when my lovely friend Olivia (Stories for Coffee) sent me her ARC copy.

This book did not disappoint!

Burn Our Bodies Down

Goodreads Synopsis:
Ever since Margot was born, it’s been just her and her mother. No answers to Margot’s questions about what came before. No history to hold on to. No relative to speak of. Just the two of them, stuck in their run-down apartment, struggling to get along.

But that’s not enough for Margot. She wants family. She wants a past. And she just found the key she needs to get it: A photograph, pointing her to a town called Phalene. Pointing her home. Only, when Margot gets there, it’s not what she bargained for.

Margot’s mother left for a reason. But was it to hide her past? Or was it to protect Margot from what’s still there?

The only thing Margot knows for sure is there’s poison in their family tree, and their roots are dug so deeply into Phalene that now that she’s there, she might never escape.

TW: verbal and physical abuse, death, murder, and possibly more.

Review:

After reading Wilder Girls last year, I knew that Rory was not about to give us a quick and easy read. I was very well prepared for a rollercoaster of a story, and that is exactly what you get from Burn Our Bodies Down!

When this book opens up, you have no idea what road you are going to go on. All we know of our main character, Margot, and her current life is that her mother is very toxic and abusive, and Margot is willing to do anything to get out of that situation. She is desperate for love and a family.

So, when she finds a connection to her grandmother buried deep within her mother’s belongings from her past, Margot jumps at the chance to escape the years of neglect and torment she’s suffered.

But, when she gets to Phalene, she is thrown into much more than she ever expected.

Burn Our Bodies Down Review

I think what appealed most to me about this book was just how eerie it was the entire time. I truly felt like I was watching a horror movie. It is full of suspense and plot twists. It was paced perfectly- the chapters are short and quick, but the prose was still incredible, and the tone of the story was very somber.

But more than that, it was such a tragic story, too. Margot was a really well-developed character with so many different sides to her. We can see how her upbringing has affected her, through the constant battle she has inside of her mind. Both her mother and her grandmother also have such interesting and intricate histories, and I really enjoyed learning about the complicated lives of the Nielsen family.

I will admit, for the first half of this book, I wasn’t sure if I was going to give it 5 stars or 2. The reader has no idea what is going on throughout the majority of the book; we are completely out of the loop just as Margot is. At first, this was frustrating to me because I was worried that we would get the same unresolved ending as Wilder Girls (and while I loved that about her debut novel, I did not want to get the same ending in this one).

Luckily, we got the perfect ending for this story! I realized that the beauty of this book is that you are not supposed to understand what’s happening— And that’s okay. All will be revealed eventually.

This novel was truly a work of art, and I could go on about it for days.

If you are looking for a dark, twisted, but beautiful story, this one is for you!

let's chat

If you want to read this book, be sure to preorder it! It comes out on July 7th, and trust me, you don’t want to skip out on this one!!

Have you read Rory Power’s ‘Wilder Girls’ (or maybe this one)?

Jessica

Mid-Year Check In- Book Haul + Goals Review

Hello friends! I hope you are all doing well :) Can you believe we are halfway through the year? Honestly, it’s a bit scary to think that we still have another 6 months of 2020 left, considering all that has happened this year already. Hopefully things will only go up from here!

Today I wanted to take a look at the reading and blogging goals I set for myself for this year, and check in on where I am! I also thought I would do a mid-year haul, since I do not purchase nearly as many books as I used to, so I do not really share hauls anymore.

Let’s get on with the goals!

Blogging Goals:

  • Post at least once a week (but aim for 2)-

I have successfully uploaded two posts every single week this year (except for the first week of June when I only uploaded one), every Tuesday and Thursday! This is major for me because blogging was always so inconsistent for me, and I never followed a super strict schedule. However, assigning designated posting days has helped me out so much, and I’m so glad I did it!

  • Write one book review per month– ✅

Another success in the books! I have posted at least one review every month so far this year because I planned out all of my posts ahead of time, which has helped ensure that I get them up! I usually slack on posting reviews because they take me the longest time to write. I wanted to change that this year because I find reviews so helpful, and I love writing them!

  • Utilize Pinterest more– ❌

My first fail. I wanted to start using Pinterest this year as a way to generate more readers. But, quite honestly, I feel like it is just more effort than it’s worth for me. I love Pinterest, and I create boards all of the time, but I don’t think it’s something that is necessary for me at this time with my blog. In the future, I might try to incorporate it more, but this goal will probably remain unsuccessful for the duration of the year.

  • Hit 1000 followers– ✅

I can’t believe I actually hit 1000 followers on here!! I am so so grateful to every single one of you who has ever read one of my posts and enjoyed it enough to follow my blog. I created this blog because I wanted an outlet for myself to write and express myself, and I never thought it would get this far. Thank you <3

Reading Goals:

  • Read 52 books-

As of when I am posting this, I have surpassed my reading challenge of 52 books and I am at 56!! Last year I read over 100 books, so I knew reaching 52 would not be hard. However, I wanted to put less pressure on myself to constantly read more and more. I probably wouldn’t have hit 52 already if it weren’t for quarantine being a thing since March and thus having much more free time on my hands. But, I am so happy with how much I’ve been reading, no matter the reason!

  • Read 1 ARC a month-

Surprisingly, I’ve been reading quite a few of my ARCs this year, and even many prior to their release date (what was once a rare occurrence for me).

  • Read 1 e-book a month-

If you’ve read any of my TBR posts this year (or follow me on Instagram), you know that I pick one e-book from my TBR jar to read every single month! So far, I have read all of the ones I’ve picked, woohoo! I am awful at actually getting to my e-books, so I am glad that I can say I have actually gotten through quite a few of them this year.

  • Get my owned TBR to under 50 books-

At the start of the year, I had about 100 books on my owned TBR shelf on Goodreads (meaning I own the book but have not read it yet). I wanted to prioritize books I already have instead of borrowing or buying new ones.

As of now, I have gotten it down to about 75 books. This is not ideal at all, but I think that I will be able to get this down even more before the end of the year. Hopefully.

  • Buy under 10 books-

It is June and I have technically been successful with this, but I already purchased 9 books, which means I can’t buy anymore for the remainder of the year. Can I do it? Honestly, I do not have a lot of faith in myself. In all fairness, this number would have been lower had it not been for quarantine (I was only at 4), but the longer I was stuck at home, the more I needed something to cheer me up- which meant I was doing some online book shopping. I know, terrible excuse, but it happened and it’s too late to change that now!!

Haul:

This haul is only the books that I myself purchased. It does not include any books that were sent to me by publishers, gifted to me, or won in a giveaway!

  • Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid*
  • The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin*
  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
  • Picking Cotton by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton*
  • Nutshell by Ian McEwan*
  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  • A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
  • Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo*
  • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
*Books I’ve already read

How are you doing with your resolutions so far? I think it’s important to take a look at your goals periodically and make sure you are on the right track!

I think for the most part, I will be overall successful at the end of the year, if things go as planned!

My First Ever Reading Journal // Review

I am a big journal-person, as many of you know. I have a bullet journal, a writer’s notebook, a daily journal, and more!

Most recently, I was sent a reading journal by Kunitsa Co., and I was so excited to start using it! I’ve never really used a reading journal before- I always tracked my reads on Goodreads and just in a spread in my bullet journal. I’ve also tried keeping a notebook where I write down notes for book reviews, but I don’t use it frequently.

What I like about this journal is that all of the pages are pre-made, so I do not have to worry about creating a new spread every month. Plus, everything is in one place, instead of scattered between all of my various notebooks.

Now, let’s take a look inside!

Features:

First, between each section of the journal, there are different quotes about reading (mainly by famous authors), and they are such a treat to read. I think this is a great addition to the journal because it makes it easier to find each section that you may need.

As far as the actual spreads in it, it contains…

  • Daily Reading Tracker: This functions as your typical “habit tracker” if you are familiar with the spread in bullet journals! Basically, you can just color in a square for every day that you read!
  • Reading Challenge: There are 3 reading challenge pages where you can keep track of your progress and fill up the page by increments of 10%! I definitely want to take advantage of this when I set my reading challenge next year.
  • Books to Read: This is fairly obvious, but you can track what books you want to read (you can keep track of books you own but haven’t read yet, or maybe books you want to buy so you have a list next time you go shopping).
  • Books Finished: Here, you can track the title, author, and date you finished the book! My only wish is that it had a section for star ratings, as that is something I like to quickly refer to.
  • Favorite Books: Another self-explanatory one!
  • Did Not Finish (DNFs): In this section, you can jot down a couple of words/sentences about why you did not finish the book, which I think is very helpful!
  • Books Lent Out: If you are someone who lends out your books to others frequently, this is such a useful spread to have! I do not really ever lend out books (mostly because none of my friends are big readers), but if I ever do, this will be something I use.
  • Books Borrowed: I like this page because you can keep track of books you’ve borrowed from friends or from the library! I think this will be a really good spread for me to keep track of all of my loans, as well as what date they are due so that I do not forget!
  • Reviews: Finally, there are 50 blank pages specifically for writing reviews! On the left hand side of the page, you can write down the title, author, choose if you listened to the audiobook or read it physically, write down the date you started/finished it, and even write down some more details such as the genre, number of pages, whether it was recommended to you by someone, etc. It also has specific questions that you can answer about the book (which is super helpful if you are new to reviewing and do not know what to write). The right side is blank for you to write any of your own thoughts or quotes you liked!

In addition, it has a spot to write the start and end date for when you started using the journal, so you can get one for each year, every 50 books you read, every six months, etc. This is such a great way to keep track of your reading not just this year, but for many years to come!

There is also an index page, a small introduction, and some inspiration/sample pages at the end!

Quality:

As far as the overall quality, I would say this is a really solid journal. The pages feel thicker than your average book, and they are so smooth. The cover is covered in cloth, and the journal itself feels very sturdy. I definitely think this journal can withstand a year or more of use, so do not worry about that at all!

It also has two bookmarks, which are standard quality.

All in all, I really have no complaints about this journal! It is small, lightweight, and easily portable for those who read on long commutes or travels. It is aesthetically pleasing, and the pages are all designed with thought and care. The quality is great- I will definitely be using this product and I highly recommend you check it out if you are looking for a reading journal (or if you are looking for a gift to send to a bookworm friend!).

If you want to purchase this journal for yourself, you can do so by clicking here. You can also check out the company’s Instagram page if you want to keep up with any new journal releases they might have!

Do you use a reading journal? If so, what kind?

Books by Black Authors I Want to Read

Hello everyone. As you may have noticed, I did not share a post last Thursday. A lot was going on in the world, and I wanted to pause my previously scheduled content so that I could instead focus my efforts on spreading awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement, educate myself on the history of racism as well as modern racism, and boost the voices of Black creators.

Today, I wanted to share a list of some books that have both been on my TBR already and some that I just recently added due to all of the lists that have been shared online. I recognize that my reading has not been as diverse as it should have been, and I am going to make an active effort to correct that, not only this month, but for the rest of my life—and I highly encourage you do the same!

I also want to note that while social media may look like it is going “back to normal,” the fight is not yet done. We must continue to actively fight against racial injustice. Continue to educate yourself so you can become a better ally, have difficult conversations with your family members, donate, sign petitions, and support Black owned business on the regularly. Diversify your life, your online feeds, your media, etc.

Here is a link to a comprehensive document with many helpful resources:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-0KC83vYfVQ-2freQveH43PWxuab2uWDEGolzrNoIks/mobilebasic

Without further ado, here are the books I hope to read in the near future written by Black authors!

(Somehow, all of these are contemporaries, but that’s just because it’s what I prefer reading, so I’m sorry that I do not have any other genres on this list)

YA Fiction

  • Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera: I recently came across this novel after seeing it mentioned on Twitter. I have seen amazing reviews for it, and I am excited to read it. In this story, the main character interns for her favorite author (who is a feminist icon) after coming out to her family and not knowing whether she’ll ever talk to them again.
  • The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta: I have been looking for more novels written in verse recently, as these books are always some of my favorites and yet I do not read them often enough. When asking for recommendations, someone had recommended this one! It has incredible ratings on Goodreads, so I am sure it will live up to all of my expectations!
  • Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson: I have now read two books by Jacqueline Woodson, and she is easily becoming a favorite author of mine! I checked out the audiobook of this novel next, so I am hoping to get to it later this week! I have no doubt that it will be incredible.
  • Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender: I own one book by Kacen Callender, though it is a fantasy (and I have not yet read it). This is a contemporary novel about a transgender teenager who is being bullied anonymously. I have heard that it is a really powerful novel, so I would love to read it soon!
  • You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson: If you’ve been in the bookish online world recently, I’m sure you’ve heard of this book. It just came out last week and had sold out on Amazon!

Adult Fiction

  • Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert: I read the first book in this series, and I was head-over-heels in love with both the characters and the story. On top of that, the writing was so swoon-worthy, so I know that I will adore this next book, too. Plus, my good friend Olivia read this one just this past week, and she gave it 5-stars! I trust her opinion on her favorite reads, so I am looking forward to picking this one up once it is released!
  • The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett: I actually just purchased this book last week, and I cannot wait to have it in my hands! This is another that has been raved about so much recently, and I am very excited to read it for myself.
  • The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon: This is another romance novel which actually comes out the same day this post is going up (so definitely check it out if you’re interested!). This book sounds like everything I love- live Tweeting, girl pact to swear off men, and a girl who develops apps (women in STEM? phenomenal.).
  • Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid: This novel has been talked about for months now, and it has been on my TBR for quite a while. Every time I see the cover, it catches my attention. The book is about a Black woman working as a babysitter for a white family who gets accused of kidnapping the child. I’m sure that this book will be incredibly eye-opening.
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison: Last year, I picked up Toni Morrison’s “Beloved” for my literature class, and I absolutely loved it. The writing style was so unique and beautiful, and I can’t believe I haven’t yet picked up more books by Morrison. The Bluest Eye is one of her most popular titles, so it is one I am probably going to pick up next- though I want to read all of her books eventually.

Nonfiction

  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: This book explains the history of racism in America through a letter written to the author’s son. It is part-memoir/part-historical nonfiction! It has been one that was talked about on tons of different lists of Anti-racist reads recently, and I am definitely interested in it.
  • The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle’s the Master’s House by Audre Lorde: Audre Lorde is a popular name in terms of poetry about race, feminism, and sexuality. I am very interested in reading her work now that I have learned more about her. I think starting with a collection of essays will be most beneficial to me before diving into her poetry because it will give me a sense of how she thinks!
  • Eloquent Rage by Brittney Cooper: I believe this book is another collection of essays, which is a genre of nonfiction I have not explored much of, but I am definitely interested in. This book focuses on feminism, specifically from a Black woman’s perspective!
  • How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi: As I am trying to become more educated on the history of racism, I am also trying to learn how to be a better ally, and how I can actively fight racial injustices. This book focuses on exactly that. It is not enough to be “not racist,” but rather be antiracist!
  • How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones: The finally book on this list is another memoir! I heard that it is beautifully written, and the author is also a poet, so I definitely want to check out his other works as well.

If you have any other recommendations for books by Black authors, please leave them down below! Also, let me know if you have read any of these and what you thought of them!

Again, please remember to continue this momentum- sign petitions, donate, read diverse books all year round, support Black creators, etc.

June TBR 2020

Hello everyone. I was not sure if I should continue to let this post go up today, as I had scheduled it over a week ago. However, I have not yet spoken up about the current events on this platform (though I am trying to be as vocal as possible on social media), and I think it is so so important to use my voice for good.

First, please do not be silent about the issues that the Black community is facing right now. Especially if you are white. Stand up for these injustices in any way you can. Please. Also, boost the voices of Black people right now. Do not speak over them. Share their stories. Let their voices be heard.

If you can, please donate. Any amount that you can spare will go a very long way.

If you can’t donate money at this time, sign petitions, share links on social media, attend protests. 

In addition, educate yourself. Educate your family. Do not stop at social media. Bring your activism to your life offline. Call out your friends, stand up to cops who are interrogating innocent Black people.

Here are some resources for you to utilize:

Master Twitter Thread of Petitions to Sign and Places to Donate

Ways You Can Help

More Ways You Can Help and Educate Yourself

Protestor Safety

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This month, I am participating in the Olympic Games Read-a-thon as part of cabin 7- with my godly parent being Apollo! There are NINE challenges, but I am only going to pick 6 books for my TBR right now- the rest I am allowing myself to decide as I go!

Main Challenges

Listen to an audiobook: N/A

This one I am leaving open because I have tons of options for it, so I’ll just see what I’m in the mood for once I get to it!

Read a book you know will make you happy: Today Tonight Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon

This book is described as a romantic comedy and if that’s not something that will make me happy, I don’t know what will! It follows two high school teens who are rivals but are forced to team up for a final senior game. Sounds like enemies to lovers if you ask me- and I am HERE for it! I received an ARC from the publisher a while back, and I am very excited to be reading it.

Predict a 5 star read: Everything I Never Told You by Celest Ng

This book was one of the books I included on my “5 Star Predictions” post, so it was only fitting that I include it here. Also, I just read Little Fires Everywhere last month (also by Celeste Ng), and now I am even more excited to read this one! I have really high expectations for it, so I’m hoping it does not let me down!

Read a book that starts with the letter ‘A’: Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

This is an audiobook I am borrowing from my library via the Libby app! I will definitely be reading it this month since I have limited time to read it. I’ve heard really great things about it, and I am definitely looking forward to reading it!

Complete a prompt for Artemis (because they are twin gods!): N/A

For this one, I am also not choosing a book yet, but the prompt I am picking to honor Artemis is “read a book while the moon is up.”

Advanced Challenges

Read a book under 200 pages: You Are Not Your Thoughts by Frances Trussell

This is my e-book pick for the month from my TBR jar! It is only around 100 pages, which is great because that means I’ll be able to get through it quickly. It is a book about mindfullness, which is something I definitely am interested in reading about, as someone who practices meditation frequently.

Read an anticipated release: Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

This is one of the releases of 2020 that I am SUPER excited about (except, of course, Midnight Sun). It came out last month, and I just got my copy in the mail a little over a week ago. I have been holding off on reading it so that I could include it here. Elizabeth Acevedo is one of my all-time favorite authors, and I am so happy to have another book by her in my hands.

Read the next book in a series: Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

I am ECSTATIC about finally getting to read this book. I really enjoyed SoC, but I feel like I will love this one even more now that I know the characters better! I have the e-book on Libby as well, so I will most likely be getting to this one early in the month before I have to return it.

Read a book published within the last 5 years: N/A

This is another challenge that I have plenty of options for, so we will see where the month takes me! I have a few backlist ARCs I want to get to, so those are definitely an option. We’ll just have to wait and find out what I decide on!

let's chat

What’s on your TBR for June? Are any of these books on your TBR? Or have you read any of these yet? Let me know in the comments :)

Jessica

May 2020 Wrap-up

May is always one of my favorite months- it finally starts getting warm out, school is over, and I am usually most motivated to read this time of year!

I read so much more than I expected to this month, and I found some new favorite reads, too! I’m so excited to tell you about them :)

Before We Go Extinct

Currently Reading:

  • Before We Go Extinct by Karen Rivers: This is the last book that was on my May TBR, and I am about a quarter of the way through! It is a pretty short read, so I will definitely be able to finish it before the end of the month (plus, this post is going up with a few days to spare).

5 Stars:

  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng: This book was PHENOMENAL. I am definitely dipping more into adult books this year and each time they really surprise me in the best way possible! Also, the Hulu adaptation of this was just as beautiful and I definitely recommend it.
  • Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power: This was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and Queen Rory did not disappoint! I will be sharing a full review soon, so be on the lookout for that!

4 Stars:

  • Twilight by Stephenie Meyer: Right after the Midnight Sun announcement was made, I decided I wanted to re-read the entire Twilight Saga because I haven’t done so since my first ever read when I was like 11 years old! This first book just brought back so many feels for me- it was so nostalgic and I enjoyed revisiting this story! These books are not perfect by any means (not even close), but it was nice to just read an old favorite!
  • Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer: Surprisingly, Breaking Dawn was one of my favorite books in the series this time around! I used to think Eclipse was my favorite, but during this re-read, I found Jacob to be even more annoying than I remembered (team Edward forever).

 

3 Stars:

  • New Moon by Stephenie Meyer: This book was alright, but nothing too special. Again, there was too much Jacob for my liking.
  • Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer: This is probably now my least favorite of the 4 books. Jacob was just so pushy and no one ever taught him consent. I’m definitely ready to read Midnight Sun now, though, and see inside Edward’s mind!
  • Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams: This was a horror/thriller novel that was on my TBR for a really long time. There were some parts of it that were interesting, but overall I did not love this story.
  • The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins: I was not planning on reading this book this month, but I was able to get the audiobook, so I figured, why not? I enjoyed it. There were lots of interesting elements to it, especially in terms of the history of the hunger games and how it has evolved. However, I just didn’t care for the characters, and obviously I don’t like Snow, so having to read a whole book about him just wasn’t worth it in my opinion.

2 Stars:

  • Nutshell by Ian McEwan: In case you missed it, I shared a post where I predicted some 5-star reads, and this book was one of them. Unfortunately, I really did not enjoy it. I found it to be too slow-moving and it wasn’t capturing my attention. I’m disappointed because I know many people LOVE this author, so I may have to give him another chance one day!
  • Professed by Nicola Rendell: This was my e-book pick from my TBR jar for the month, and unfortunately it was just…not good. It is a romance that follows a professor/student relationship and it was just very cheesy, and there was no development between the characters!

truly madly deadly

1 Star:

  • Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne: Guys… I finally read my first one star book of the year. I am so sad because my reading year has been pretty good so far. I decided to finally read this one because it has been on my shelves for years. I bought it in like 2014, and I think I read like 1/2 of it before DNF’ing, but I couldn’t for the life of me remember anything about it or why I DNF’d, which is why I never got rid of it. This time around, I read the entire book, and it was just one big mess, if I’m being honest. I will definitely be unhauling this one- it’s about time!

let's chat

Please feel free to share your thoughts on any of these books if you’ve read them- whether your opinion was the same as mine or not!

I hope you all had a great reading month, too, and I’m looking forward to my June reads!

Jessica