Books I’m Bringing to College – Junior Year Edition!

I can’t believe it’s already time for me to write this post! This is now my third year of sharing what books I’m bringing to college with me, but it’s a little different this year. Freshman and sophomore year, I had YOU choose what books I brought through a series of Twitter polls.

This year, I am not doing that, only because I completely forgot that I had done this in the past, and I already chose which books I’m bringing with me. I hope you can forgive me for that, though (🙈).

Alright, let’s look at the books!

The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett: This is one of my most recent book purchases, and it is one I am really looking forward to reading. So many people have been talking about this book, which makes me really interested in it. I’ve also heard amazing things about The Mothers by this author, so if I enjoy this one, I will be adding the other to my TBR for sure!

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo: I want to finally pick this one up in the very near future, so of course I am bringing it with me to school. I actually bought it while I was at school last year, so I had it with me for a long time, but never got around to it. This year, I really plan to.

An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard: I am not a big adult fantasy reader, but this is a book I remember hearing Merphy Napier talk about a lot in the past, and the way she described it made me really interested. That was a year or two ago, though, and I still haven’t read it.

Broken Things by Lauren Oliver: This is another book that I have had on my TBR for quite a while, so I want to get to it ASAP. I also own Before I Fall, which I also want to read sometime soon. Hopefully I really enjoy this one!

Something Like Gravity by Amber Smith: This cover is gorgeous. I’ve heard great things about this book. I’ve talked about it quite a lot, so we’re just going to move on. But I am really excited to read it!

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson: I have been wanting to explore the world of YA mysteries for a while now, especially after reading the Truly Devious series this year. Many of my friends have really enjoyed this one, so I want to give it a shot! I’m not letting my expectations get too high, though, as I am a bit picky about this genre.

A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti: I’ve talked about this book a lot quite recently, as I really want to read it, and I have heard amazing things about it. I know it will be a more hard-hitting story, which are usually some of my favorite books.

The House by Christina Lauren: Did you know Christina Lauren wrote a thriller many years back before they started mainly writing romance? Truthfully, when I bought this book, it was before I even knew who Christina Lauren were, and it took me many months before I made the connection. I think it will be very interesting to see their writing in a different genre.

*New* Five Star Predictions + Update! (#4)

I can’t believe I’m already doing my fourth ‘five star predictions post.’ I might finally be getting better at this, but I don’t want to jinx myself with this next set!

Anyway, I’m going to quickly go over the books from my last predictions post, and then share 5 more predictions!

Previous Predictions:

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power: This was absolutely without a doubt a 5 star read for me. I have an entire review post up for this one if you want to check it out, but it really did exceed my expectations. Beautiful. Phenomenal. Amazing.

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo: Another 5 star read! Woohoo! I’m already doing better than my first predictions post (oops). I really knew I would love this one because Six of Crows was such a great read, and the only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars was because I wanted to better know the characters. I definitely got that from this second book!

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: The first one I got wrong. I gave this book 3 stars only. I just wasn’t a big fan of it, and it was a huge disappointment to me because I know so many people loved it.

Nutshell by Ian McEwan: Another loss here. This one was just not a good book to me at all. I was so bored by it, and I did not enjoy the story. I gave it 2 stars, and I don’t want to talk more about it, but it just wasn’t for me!

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng: Luckily, we’re ending on a positive note! I gave this one five stars, which doesn’t surprise me at all. I absolutely loved Little Fires Everywhere, and I knew that Celeste Ng would not disappoint with this one.

I got 3/5! Not too bad, if I say so myself. Should I aim for 4/5 in the next round?

New Predictions:

A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti: I have been wanting to read this book for far too long, and I’m very embarrassed that I have not yet read it (especially since I have an ARC 😭). I have heard nothing but amazing things about this one, though, and it is supposed to be about a heavier topic. If you know me, you know that I love hard-hitting contemporaries, so I am looking forward to it.

Something Like Gravity by Amber Smith: Full disclosure- this book is on here solely because of the cover. In all honesty, I don’t know what it’s about at all. BUT, I have heard some great things about it, and every time I see it on my bookshelf, I feel drawn to it. I’ve been scared to pick it up because of this reason, though, so this is my way of forcing myself to finally pick it up.

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo: I have now read all of Leigh’s published works (not including her novellas) except for this book! I am SO excited for it, especially considering that I have given all of her books high ratings. Plus, dark academia is totally my vibe, and I’ve been wanting to read more of it.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green: This book has such a high rating on Goodreads, and everyone I know who’s read it has LOVED it. I am very excited to pick it up, especially because I know it has to do with social media. That is a topic I have been increasingly interested in reading because I have really been seeing how social media affects me personally. I think it will be both an enjoyable and thought-provoking read!

You Have a Match by Emma Lord: Last year, I read Emma Lord’s ‘Tweet Cute,’ and I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of her next release! I absolutely loved her debut book, and I have such a good feeling about this one. I just know it will be such a cute, swoon-worthy read, and sometimes you just need one of those!

Please let me know if you’ve read any of these and what your thoughts were! I’m really hoping that at least 3 of these are 5-star reads, but obviously I hope all 5 of them are.

I can not wait to get into these soon, and hopefully give you all another update in a couple of months!

What are some of your 5 star predictions?

Folklore Book Tag

I have not stopped listening to Folklore since it came out. And listen. I was never a huge TS fan. I’ve always enjoyed her music, but I wouldn’t consider myself part of the fandom or anything. Then, Lover came out, and so many people on my Twitter timeline were talking about it. Naturally, I listened to it, and I fell in love with so many of the songs.

But, folklore??? This is a whole new level of perfection, and I think it may be one of my favorite albums of all time (and definitely Taylor’s best). I’m in it now. I’m part of the fandom, okay? Y’all converted me.

I know this post is a little late, but I had other posts to get up first, so I apologize. But it’s never too late to gush about these songs, so it’s fine.

I was tagged by Ruby, who is such a light! Thank you so much for the tag 🥰 And thank you to Isla, who created it!! I am in love with it and all of the questions!

The Rules:

  • Link to the original creator: Ilsa A Whisper Of Ink
  • Tag at least 3 people. 
  • Declare the rules and list of prompts in your post
  • Thank whoever tagged you and link to their post.

The Questions:

*I tried picking books that I don’t talk about too often for this tag, too!

the 1 // a book with an ending that left you speechless

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid: Wow, this book was phenomenal! I just talked about it in my July wrap-up, but it truly was amazing. The entire book left me speechless, to be quite honest. I had no idea where the story was going, and it really took me by surprise in the best way possible. I’m not going to go into details because you absolutely should pick it up for yourself! And you can read it along with the Unfriendly Black Hotties Book Club because it’s their August pick!

cardigan // a book that makes you feel happy and sad all at once

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid: This book is definitely a favorite of mine, and I will be re-visiting it soon. It tells lots of great stories and is filled with adventure.

But the entire book is really sad throughout, which is why this is the perfect answer to this question! I’m sure you’ve heard lots about this book before, but if you haven’t read it yet, you definitely should!

the last great american dynasty // a book with a fascinating and well-told story

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson: I don’t talk about this series enough to be honest! But it was so interesting, and the whole thing left me wanting more. It is crafted really well, and I think it is one of the best YA mysteries out there.

The entire series was great, too, which is hard to find in books! I usually end up really disliking at least one book, but that was not the case at all here. Each one really added to the story and it wrapped up nicely.

exile // a book you wish you hadn’t read

Sociable by Rebecca Harrington: There are a lot of books I could have chosen for this one, so I’m just going with my latest 1 star read.

This was an ARC I received quite a while ago, but I just finally read it last month (oops). I could have saved some time by not reading it, I can say that for sure.

my tears ricochet // a book that made you cry uncontrollably 

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman: This is a book about a girl dealing with the grief of losing her sister, and if that isn’t enough to make you cry, I don’t know what will.

I was honestly in tears for the majority of the book. The writing was also so beautiful, and I really love this author.

mirrorball // a book that feels like it was written just for you

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern: I know I said I was trying to pick books that I don’t talk about a lot for this tag, but I just couldn’t not mention this book! The entire time I was reading this book, I really felt like I was in a trance. I adored every single thing about it, and the whole book is really an ode to storytelling. It made me fall in love with writing even more.

seven // a childhood book that makes you feel nostalgic

Judy Moody Books by Megan McDonald: I thought about my answer to this one for a while because I have a lot of childhood favorites (The Magic Treehouse, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Junie B. Jones, A Series of Unfortunate Events, etc.).

But my official pick is the Judy Moody series! I loved so many of these books, and I can picture a few of them on my shelves so clearly. It just warms my heart when I think about these books (and yes, I’ve seen the movie). The two pictured above are definitely my favorites!

august // a book that reminds you of summer

The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls by Jessica Spotswood: I read this book a few years ago, and I adored it! It has ‘summer’ in the title, so obviously it is the perfect choice!

It was fun to follow the lives of four siblings because not many books do that. I need to pick up more by Jessica Spotswood because this book was a really great read!

this is me trying // a book that deals with loneliness & sadness 

How to Make Friends with the Dark by Kathleen Glasgow: This book was so heartbreaking but beautiful. I listened to the audiobook, and the whole time I was so immersed in this story.

It is definitely a book about loneliness and grief and friendship and pain. Also, the cover is really stunning.

Illicit affairs // a book that gave you a book hangover

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas: This book was just SO. GOOD. I think I might have even loved it more than THUG, which is hard to believe! I read it fairly soon after it came out I believe, and I still think about it to this day!

I don’t know how Angie will top either of her two books, but I know she will, which is incredible to me.

invisible string // a book that came into your life at the exact right time

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone: I read this book when I was about 14 I think, and it really changed my world. It was the first time I saw myself represented in a book (OCD), and I related to the main character so much. I also think it’s what got me into poetry, and I will forever be thankful for that because poetry changed my life for the better. This book holds such a special place in my heart!

mad woman // a book with a female character you adore

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson: I LOVE LIZ LIGHTY SO MUCH AND I ALWAYS WILL. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

epiphany// a book that was haunting

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware: This was a phenomenal read and it really had a haunting vibe to it! It takes place in a smart house, and the twists and turns make it a super chilling read- which is one of my favorite types of stories! It was a really well done retelling of a classic, too!

betty // a book couple that fills you with yearning

The Diviners by Libba Bray: There were many couples in this series that I adored, but I’m going to point out one specifically that made my heart soar!

Mini spoiler- Proceed at your own risk!I completely loved Memphis and Theta together!! They made me so happy, and it was just so wholesome. I was so glad that Theta had found someone who cared for her so much, especially after the toxic/abusive relationship she had left.

peace // a book character you’d die for because you love them so much

The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett: The main characters in this book, Theodora & Huck, completely stole my heart! They were both such amazing characters. I say this every time I talk about Jenn Bennett, but she really does write the best characters. They are so well fleshed out, and I feel like I really know them!

hoax // a book that you thought you were going to love but didn’t

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman: This book was a huge disappointment for me because I was expecting to love it, but it fell so flat 😭 I was hoping for a relatable main character plus a fun romance, and this was just…not that at all. There was no character development, and the romance was lacking completely.

I tag anyone who loves Folklore and wants to do this tag! It was such a fun one :)

Let me know what you thought of my answers & tell me what your favorite song (or songs, I know it’s hard to choose) is from the album!

The Stuck at Home Book Tag

It’s been… a long time since I’ve done any sort of official tag post (aside from the Mid Year Freakout). I love doing tags, though, I really do. They are so much fun and I get to talk about things that I normally don’t talk about!

Today, I wanted to do the stuck at home book tag, even though I’m a little late (BUT it’s the perfect opportunity to remind you to please continue to practice social distancing, wear a mask, wash your hands, etc.! This virus isn’t over yet!) because I was tagged to do it by Juli from Kozy Words! I am so excited— and thank you Juli!!

The Rules

  • Thank the person who nominated you
  • Answer all the questions down below
  • Link back to the creator: Ellyn @ Allonsythornraxx
  • Nominate 5+ bloggers you’d like to know more about, to do this tag

The Questions

What are you currently reading?

This is definitely not going to be accurate by the time this post goes up, but I’m currently reading The King of Crows by Libba Bray—meaning I’m FINALLY finishing The Diviners series!! I’m not very far into it as of now, but I am really excited to see how this story ends. I have been waiting months for my hold to come in from Libby, and now that I have it, I am going to devour it!

What’s your favorite “can’t leave the house” activity?

At the beginning of self-isolation, my favorite activity was hiking and baking. I was going on hikes pretty much daily. My dad, sister, and I would explore all of the parks and trails near us that we’ve never been to (we just moved here a little less than a year ago), and it was such a great experience. I was getting more fresh air than ever before, and I was feeling my best. Unfortunately, it is now usually too hot to go during the day, and no one in my family would wake up early enough to go with me in the mornings. So, now I mainly go on runs around my neighborhood or at the nearest track by me.

I also love baking, but that’s something that I’ve been doing less of once again. I think I just got bored of it after a while (oops 🙈) because I was making the same few recipes. I have to try out something new soon. Speaking of baking, I did a whole post where I tried different recipes from books, so check it out!

A book you’ve been meaning to read forever?

Umm… my entire TBR. There are honestly too many to name, so I’m not even going to try.

An intimidating book on your TBR?

Right now, I’m most intimidated by A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab. I want to finish this series before the summer ends, but I keep putting it off. The book is just so long. Plus, I read the first two as audiobooks, so having to read the final one physically is worrying me a little bit.

I also have an entire post that just went up on Tuesday about books that I am intimidated by, so check that out, too!

Top 3 priority books on your TBR?

  • The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett
  • Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
  • A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti

Recommend a short book!

I can’t recommend just one because I’ve read quite a few that I LOVED recently, so here’s another list:

  • All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson
  • Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
  • The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Recommend a long book!

This book isn’t really that long (498 pages), but I don’t read a lot of tomes. I’m going to recommend The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern because it’s one of my favorite (if not #1 favorite) books of all time.

Something you’d love to do while stuck at home?

I would love to start working more on my undergraduate honors thesis for school. I want to start the planning, researching, and early development of it because it would get me ahead once classes start in the Fall! I’ve already done a bit of outlining and research, but my goal for August is to do even more.

What do you plan on reading next?

Next on my TBR as of now is Sociable by Rebecca Harrington!

The Tags

I don’t like tagging people anymore but if you want to do this post, consider yourself tagged!

Are any of these answers the same as yours? Let me know! And tell me how you feel about any of the books I mentioned :)

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!

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.

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

The Starless Sea- Playlist

Hello everyone! Today is a bit of a different post, but it’s one that I have been wanting to make for a really long time. I’m someone who loves making playlists for different moods, seasons, etc., but I never made one for a book. I thought it would so much fun to make a playlist with songs that remind me of a specific book, and for that, I chose The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern.

The Starless Sea

 

It’s such an atmospheric book, and I wanted to find the perfect whimsical music to go along with it while you read it (or any other book with beautiful prose).

I also chose a specific order to put all of the songs in to make some sense with the story, but overall these songs all go so well with it in my opinion.

 

Here is the link to the Spotify playlist I made, if you want to listen to all of these songs.

starless sea playliststarless sea playlist

let's chat

I know that this post is very different from my usual content, but I thought it would be really fun! Let me know what you think of it.

Would you guys be interested in seeing more of these? If so, which book(s) should I do next?

Jessica

New 5 Star Predictions! (#3)

I recently did a post where I went over the results of my previous 5-star predictions!

Now that I have read all of the books on my previous lists, I thought it was time to make a new one. I also think I know my tastes better now than I did in the past, so hopefully these will be more accurate!

Let’s just get to my five predictions!

Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

I read and ADORED Wilder Girls, Rory’s debut, and her next release is one of my most anticipated releases of the year. My amazing friend Liv, who you may know as Stories for Coffee, gifted me her ARC of the book, and I am actually planning on starting it very soon.

If it is anything like her first book, I have no doubt in my mind that I will love it!

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

I read Six of Crows for the very first time this month! I loved it so, so much, and I totally understand what all of the hype is for. I already placed a hold for this one on Libby, and I am not-so-patiently waiting for it to come in!!

I think that especially now that I care for the characters so much, I will enjoy the story even more than the last one. Plus, all of Leigh’s books get progressively better, so I have high expectations!

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

This is one that I have heard nothing but good things about. I got it really recently because the owner of a local independent bookstore recommended it a couple of times to me.

She said that the twist at the end of this is really good, and that completely sold me! A good twist can bump a 3-star book up to a 5-star one in my opinion, if it is done well and catches me off guard!

Nutshell by Ian McEwan

I bought this one at the same time as the previous one on the recommendation of the bookstore owner. I asked her for recommendations of psychological books that have a good twist. She said this one is excellent, and from the reviews I’ve read, everyone seems to agree.

All I know is that it is about a murder, and I am here for it!!

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

Finally, we have a gorgeous book that I have been dying to read. This one is also about a murder, but I’m mostly interested in it for the secrets and mysteries of a family. I heard that the way the story is told combined with the writing style is excellent. I love books with beautiful, unique prose, so that is what I am counting on in this one!

let's chat

Please tell me what your thoughts were if you’ve read any of these books! I am aiming for at least 3/5 correct- meaning that I give three of them 5 stars. I am going to try to get to these soon so that the next predictions update will come sooner than the last one!

Do you think I made the right predictions?

Jessica