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!

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

Testing Recipes From Books!

Quarantine has been causing me to work on so many different hobbies that I never felt I had the time for. One of those is baking!

I’ve always enjoyed baking- it’s so relaxing, and testing out different recipes is so much fun. So, I had the idea to test recipes from different books I’ve read before! This is not an original idea, and I’ve seen many people try it before, but I wanted to do it myself, too!

For this post, I test three different recipes: one from To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, one from P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han, and one from With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo!

I may do more of these in the future, so if you know of any books with recipes in them, please leave a comment letting me know!

Recipe 1: Strawberry Milk

testing recipes

The first recipe I tested was strawberry milk from Elizabeth Acevedo’s book! The recipes in this novel are used to separate the different sections of the story, and they are used more for humor/as an element of the story, not as a functional recipe. Because of this, I had to figure out what I was doing on my own a bit and tweak the instructions.

For example, the recipe said to use as many strawberries as you can find, but I was only making a batch for myself, so I had no idea how many strawberries I should use. I decided to go with four (though, if I were doing this again, I would probably use 6 for one person).

The recipe also wasn’t clear about how much sugar to use (it just said to taste), so I ended up using maybe two teaspoons, which was not enough at all. I had to keep adding little by little until I felt like I was getting the right consistency!

In the end, my syrup was not liquid enough, and it wasn’t mixing well with my oat milk. So, I poured it into my blender and blended the syrup w/ the milk. The consistency was so much better after I did this (the first picture is before blending & the second is after), and as far as taste, it was pretty good! It wasn’t as strong as I would have liked the strawberry taste to be, but again, I think that is because I didn’t use enough strawberries!

Rating: 7/10

Recipe 2: Snickerdoodle Cookies

So, this was actually my first time baking snickerdoodle cookies (despite being one of my favorite types of cookie). At first, my dough was really sticky, and so I had to add much more flour to it, but then it came out to be perfect.

The recipe said it would make about 48 cookies (which is A LOT), but I only made about 20 because I made them really big (accidentally). If I had made smaller balls of dough, there probably would have been closer to 40, but I hadn’t realized just how big they would grow- this was all my fault oops!

But, when I took them out of the oven, they looked amazing. They tasted amazing, too. My family devoured them within two days! I definitely recommend keeping them sealed up or else they will harden pretty quickly. They were still really good, but just not as soft as the first day we ate them!

This is the recipe I’m most likely to make again!

Rating: 9/10

Recipe 3: Brownies

I will say, this was a pretty standard brownie recipe. I’ve made brownies hundreds of times, so I knew what to expect when it came to making them! The one thing I did change was instead of adding walnuts (which my sister doesn’t like), I just added chocolate chips for that extra-chocolatey taste!

They definitely came out good and I have no complaints, but like I said, it was a standard recipe. They were a bit more on the chewy side instead of fudgey, but if you prefer chewy, then this is perfect for you!

Rating: 7/10

let's chat

Do you like to bake? What are some of your favorite treats to make?

Leave me a comment letting me know, and maybe I’ll try making it, too!

Jessica

My Favorite Series

I have always preferred standalone novels over series, and I don’t think that will ever change. But, of course, that doesn’t mean that every so often I won’t pick up a series and fall in love with it. Even when looking at my favorite series, they are only 3-4 books long! Anything longer than that really intimidates me, if I’m being honest!

Today, I’m going to share my five favorite series with you all!

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

This is one of a couple of books that got me back into reading in middle school. I was always a reader growing up, but around 6th and 7th grade, I got swept up in what was considered “cool” or not, so I wasn’t reading as much.

In 8th grade, I picked up this book because I knew the movie was going to be coming out soon, and I fell in love! I recently did a re-read of the entire series as well, and it is still a favorite of mine. Actually, the day this blog post goes up is the day of the release of A Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. I probably won’t be getting to it for a while, but I am excited to read it!

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy by Jenny Han

This series came to me my freshman year of high school. I remember asking for it for Christmas, probably after seeing it in a magazine or online somewhere. I fell in love immediately, and I was soon able to read the second book!

This series followed me all the way up until now (with the movies coming out), but it really was the series I needed to read in my early teen years. I have such fond memories of it, and it will always have a place in my heart.

The Diviners by Libba Bray

This is a series I actually just read recently, but I love all of the characters in it so much. This is the only series on this list that I haven’t completed yet, but I feel like that’s okay because the final book just came out a few months ago and I’m still waiting for my hold to come in from the library.

I really fell in love with these characters and the setting that Libba Bray put this story in. It was such a delight to read about, and I can not wait to finally get to the last book! I just honestly can’t believe I put off this series for so long.

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

This series surprised me in many ways. I really wasn’t expecting to love it, as I don’t tend to enjoy YA mysteries as much as Adult ones. BUT, I really, really ended up loving it! The main character, Stevie, was so interesting, and the murder we learn about was fascinating.

I honestly did not know where the story was headed for the majority of it. It completely pulled me in and left me surprised! I think it was very well thought out, and I hope I’ll be able to find another mystery like it one day.

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

When I first read book one of this trilogy, I fell in love. I wasn’t a big fantasy reader then (nor am I now, but I’m definitely more versed in it), so I was shocked to find a book that I enjoyed so much in this genre.

I will admit, the last book in the series was my least favorite, but I still really enjoyed the overall atmosphere of all of the stories. They were all just so magical and fun! I didn’t want my time in the world to ever end!

let's chat

There are plenty of other series that will probably make this list one day, but I tried to limit this to series that I’ve completed (or basically completed).

So, tell me what some of your favorite series are so that I can add some more to my TBR :)

Jessica

Top 7 Books With Mental Health Representation

May is mental health awareness month, and this is a topic that is so important to me. In the past, I have helped run (and participated in) a mental health book bingo, I have done many posts dedicated to this topic, and I constantly look for new books to read with MI rep. I am someone who has dealt with anxiety and OCD my entire life, so it is definitely something I relate to, and I think good representation in books is extremely necessary.

Today, I wanted to share with you my top 7 favorite books with good* mental health representation (sorry, I couldn’t narrow it down to 5).

*Everyone experiences MI differently, so what may be an accurate representation for me might not be the same experience you’ve had. Please be kind and keep an open mind.

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

First off, I highly recommend listening to the audiobook of this one because it is incredible! This book has the BEST anxiety/OCD rep I have ever seen. I truly mean that. When I first read it, I was in so much awe of how well crafted the main character, Aza’s, thought spirals were. They so accurately depicted what I was feeling. I will say this one doesn’t have the best plot ever, but if you are looking for good representation, that is exactly what you’ll get.

It is very difficult to read, though, so please keep that in mind!

TW: anxiety, OCD, thought spirals/panic attacks

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

I just recently finished reading this entire series, and let me just say- it is SO GOOD. What I love about the representation in this one is that the main character, Stevie, has anxiety and takes medication for it. We don’t often get books where MI is normalized, let alone have medication be normalized. I really appreciate that this book did that, and I think this is so important to see in YA novels.

TW: panic attacks, murder

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

This book is so beautiful. I adore Akemi Dawn Bowman’s writing, and Starfish was such a  great novel. This one does such a great job of representing anxiety. Kiko, our main character, is so well-written and throughout the novel, her character really develops. I love seeing how Kiko progresses and overcomes her anxiety (obviously it never fully goes away, but she learns how to live with it).

TW: rape, sexual assault, abusive parent

You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman

I think oftentimes, books don’t really show just how much school affects teenager’s mental health. We all know that school can really cause stress and anxiety, but this never get represented. When I read this book, I felt so seen. I think it’s so important to acknowledge just how much pressure there is on students because adults often neglect it.

Four Weeks, Five People by Jennifer Yu

This book was actually recommended to me by Emma from Emmmabooks, and I had never heard of it prior to her suggestion. I’m so glad I picked it up, though, because it was incredible! I talked about it more in-depth in a post I did where I read 5 books with OCD/Anxiety Rep!

TW: depression, OCD, anorexia, suicide/self harm, narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, panic attacks

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

This one is one I’ve talked about many times, but it was the first book I read with OCD representation, and it was the first time I felt seen in a book. I related to the main character so much, and this book has stuck in my mind for years. I definitely give this book credit for bringing me out of a bad place, so it means so much to me. It also has a really good twist at the end, so if you want a shocking book, I recommend it a lot!

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

This book is very dark and it deals with very difficult themes. It made me cry. A lot. But I think it is so important. This book follows a main character who was in a treatment facility after struggling with depression and PTSD, I believe (I may be wrong about this, I can’t really remember so please let me know). It was really well-written, and I think it is worth reading!

TW: suicide, self-harm, alcohol abuse, sexual assault, rape, PTSD

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If you are looking for even more recommendations, Marie recently shared her top 5, so I highly recommend checking her post out!

Also, if you have any recommendations of your own, please share them with me- I want to find more novels to add to my list!

Jessica

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin // Review

Hello everyone! I found another favorite book and I am so excited to share it with you all!!

Today I am going to be talking about The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. I have seen many people talking about, but I haven’t really seen a lot of reviews for it, so I thought I would share my own because I can’t stop thinking about this book.

Goodreads Synopsis:
It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.

The prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.

A sweeping novel of remarkable ambition and depth, The Immortalists probes the line between destiny and choice, reality and illusion, this world and the next. It is a deeply moving testament to the power of story, the nature of belief, and the unrelenting pull of familial bonds.

The Immortalists

My Review:

I went into this book with pretty low expectations, if I’m being honest. I thought that it was going to be a fantasy book that I wasn’t going to enjoy because it would be too confusing and too slow.

Boy was I wrong! This book pulled me in, and I enjoyed every second of my reading experience.

First off, this is a story that is very character driven, which I didn’t expect- I thought it was mostly going to be focused on the plot, but it wasn’t. Each character was so unique, despite the similarity of them being siblings. They each had different personalities, interests, and drives, which I enjoyed reading about. I am a HUGE sucker for character driven novels, so I was pleased with how the story was written. It is split up into four parts, one for each character, and we get to see each of their stories and where their lives went. Given this, it is not a book for everyone. If you are someone who is looking for a fast-paced, action-packed plot, you won’t be getting that.

BUT, there were still so many plot twists and elements that kept me on my toes. There is a really good plot, and the book focuses on many important themes and questions. The story’s entire premise is centered around the question of whether you should live life by taking risks or by playing it safe.

Next, the prose was absolutely beautiful. The writing really sucked me in and kept me in the world- the book is set in NYC from the mid 1960s to the early 2000s, and the atmosphere that the book setup was incredible. I felt like I was really there- I could picture the world and every room that the author had described. The writing was also so poetic. I was sad to have ended the book when I did because I wanted to keep reading that incredible writing.

The main thing I have to say is that I left this book with so many new lessons learned and thoughts to ponder. Each character’s story taught me something new and really made me question my own life and how I was choosing to live. What would I do if I knew the date of my death? It is such a simple premise, one that we’ve heard a thousand times, but Chloe Benjamin executed it well with this story and made it a unique reading experience for me.

While there were some parts that were a bit predictable, and at times I felt the story was starting to drag a bit, this book definitely made its way onto my favorites list because I can not stop thinking about it.

I honestly think everyone should give this one a read!

Rating: 5/5 stars

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Have you read this one? If you have, what were your thoughts? I feel like this one is super underrated, even though I do remember it getting some initial hype. I, for one, will definitely be recommending it for a long time!

Jessica

May TBR 2020

Happy May! I’m really excited for this month because I will have tons of time to work on my goals and hobbies now that school is over, and it will (hopefully) be warm outside soon, so I can spend time in the sun!

This month, I also decided that I wanted to read the shortest books on my TBR! For this, I chose 4 physical books and one e-book: all of them are under 300 pages. Plus, I added one more book to the list that I just knew I wanted to get to this month.

e-book:

professed

Professed by Nicola Rendell: So as some of you may know, I pick an e-book from my TBR jar every month, and this month I got super lucky because I happened to choose one that fit in so well with the rest of my theme because it is super short- it is only 252 pages! I have seen some pretty bad reviews of it, though, so I’m a little bit worried to read it.

 

physical:

Nutshell by Ian McEwan: (208 pages) This is a book I just got recently, and I talked about it in my 5-star predictions post. All I know is that this is a thriller that involves murder. I don’t want to know more going into it because I feel like that would be best for this one.

Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams: (248 pages) Clearly there is a big mystery/thriller theme happening in this TBR because this one is also a thriller. This is a YA novel, and YA thrillers are definitely hit or miss for me, but I do hope it is good!

Before We Go Extinct by Karen Rivers: (256 pages) I have absolutely no idea what this one is about but I bought it on BookOutlet one day to get my total to $35 for free shipping hahaha (that is something I no longer do- it is such a bad habit). Anyway, I like the cover, and maybe I’ll find a new favorite read.

Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne: (262 pages) This book is one of the oldest on my TBR- I bought it in middle school maybe ??? Which is way too long to have owned a book and not read it considering I’m a rising college junior. I remember I started it a couple of times but for some reason just never finished it. It wasn’t because I wasn’t enjoying it, but simply because other books were my priority. I am finally going to actually work my way through this one (and if I still can’t finish it, it’s getting unhauled).

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power: This is the extra book that is on my TBR this month because I have been dying to finally read this. I have nothing but high hopes for this one, and it is definitely going to get read early in the month!

let's chat

Have you read any of these books? Let me know what your thoughts of them were if you have, and tell me what are some books you want to read in May!

Jessica