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

Sunshine Blogger Award #2

Hello and welcome to another post!

Today I am happy to announce that I was nominated for another Sunshine Blogger Award by Evelyn Reads! Thank you so much :)

The Rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you & link back to their blog
  • Answer their questions
  • Nominate 11 more people & give them 11 new questions

What book, if any, would you most love to see a prequel of?

This is such a fun question, but it was so hard to answer! I think I would love to read a prequel to The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. I think it would be so fun to read about the very beginning of the Starless Sea, from a different perspective (even though the history does get talked about a bit).

What makes you want to read a book?

I’m going to answer this from the perspective of going into a bookstore or library without knowing what I want to buy. Initially, I’m drawn to a book by its cover. Then, I check out the author- if it’s someone I’ve heard of or read before, I’m more likely to pick it up (assuming I enjoyed their previous work).

Next, the description and genre are obviously important to me. I look for tropes and characteristics I like, which I wrote a blog post about. If a book has one of these things, I’m almost guaranteed to read it at some point!

A book you can’t stop raving about?

Any book by Jenn Bennett, Daisy Jones and the Six, and The Starless Sea.

Which fictional character do you most admire?

Oo, this is another really great question. For this one, I’m going to have to go with Emoni from With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo. She is a single teenage mom raising her daughter almost while still in high school who also finds a way to go after her passions. It’s incredible!

summer bird blue

What’s your favorite lesser-known, or talked about, book?

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman. I feel like no one talks about this book, even though Starfish by the same author was really hyped for a while. Personally, I enjoyed Summer Bird Blue even more, and I think more people should read it!

Who is the most under-rated author you have read?

Jenn Bennett doesn’t get the credit she deserves, PERIOD. But some others include Tamara Ireland Stone and Zack Smedley!

What books lived up to the hype? Which didn’t?

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, Illuminae, and The Diviners definitely lived up to the hype.

Unfortunately, some that didn’t work for me were Emergency Contact, The Cruel Prince, and Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda. These books weren’t bad, just not as good as I was expecting.

What is one book that helped you through rough times?

There are so, so many, but definitely Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone, Turtles All the Way Down by John Green, and the To All the Boys trilogy by Jenny Han!

Book outside of your comfort zone that surprised you or changed your perspective?

This one was hard to find an answer for, but I decided on Beloved by Toni Morrison. I read this one for an English class last semester, and the writing style was so incredible to me. This is a historical fiction novel about slavery. The story was so eye-opening, and it really broadened my horizons. I definitely hope to read more by Morrison soon.

Who is an auto-buy author for you?

Erin Morgenstern, Rory Power, Angie Thomas, and Jenn Bennett!

Favorite hobby outside of reading?

I love to run and work out, bake, and write!

My Tags & Questions:

I am not going to nominate 11 people because I never have enough people to tag, but here are my nominees:

Sophie | Kelly | Kim |

  1. What is your next 5-star prediction?
  2. Do you prefer stand-alones or series?
  3. Who is an author you want to give a second try to?
  4. Most disappointing read this year?
  5. Where do you typically read?
  6. Are you a morning or night reader?
  7. Favorite reading drinks/snacks?
  8. How long have you been blogging?
  9. What is a book you wish you could read for the first time again?
  10. What author would you love to meet?
  11. What is your favorite friendship or friend group from a book?

let's chat

Tags are so much fun to do! I hope you enjoyed reading this one :)

Are any of your answers similar to mine? Let me know down in the comments.

Jessica

Five Star Predictions: The Results

In April of 2018 (almost 2 whole years ago), I wrote my first 5-star predictions post. Since then, I have uploaded a second one. I decided it was finally time to look back on those predictions, as I have now read all of the books, and see if I was right!

My reading tastes have changed a lot, so I’m actually very nervous to see how I did (and I honestly don’t think I did great at all).

Let’s start with the very first one I did.

My Predictions:

My Ratings:

✏️ Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli: 3 stars

  • Not off to a great start here. Unfortunately, this one fell a little flat for me. I think the hype around it made me want to love it so much, but it just didn’t do much for me. It was a really important book, and the movie was phenomenal, but as far as enjoyment, it was just okay.

✏️ From a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan: 4 stars

  • Close, but not quite a 5 star read for me. I think the story was really beautiful, but I found myself skimming some of the long descriptions and getting a little bored throughout. The ending was PHENOMENAL, though, and I’m very happy I read it!

✏️ By Your Side by Kasie West: 3.5 stars

  • I am really not doing great here, oops. I enjoyed this one, and I know I’ll pick up more by Kasie West in the future, but it definitely wasn’t enough to give it a 5-star rating.

✏️ We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han: 3 stars

  • I predicted I would enjoy this one because I loved the first two books in the trilogy. Unfortunately, this one ended up being my least favorite. The characters just felt very different to me in this book, and I couldn’t connect with them anymore.

✏️ Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett: 5 stars

  • Finally!!! A 5 star!! Jenn Bennett is incredible and I’ve raved about this book enough. You all get it already.

✏️ Beholding Bee by Kimberly Fusco: 2 stars

  • This book was completely not what I expected it to be AT ALL. I just wasn’t the right audience for this book, and I felt very confused and thrown off by the whole thing. It really wasn’t my thing.

How Did I Do?

I only got 1/6 right from the first post… yikes. The books weren’t bad, just not god-tier level for me, unfortunately.

Maybe post number two will be better…

My Predictions:

My Ratings:

✏️ The Diviners by Libba Bray: 5 stars

  • This time we are starting off on the right foot! The Diviners was incredible and everything I needed! I’m happy to say this was an incredible read.

✏️ Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham: 3 stars

  • This one wasn’t a 5 for me, but it wasn’t a bad story. It just didn’t feel like anything special to me. I still love Lauren Graham so much, though!

✏️ A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab: 4.5 stars

  • This one didn’t exactly get a 5 from me, but it was so close! I REALLY enjoyed it, and I can’t wait to finish the series.

✏️ If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio: 5 stars

  • Ladies and gentlemen, we have another winner! This was a phenomenal book, and I’m just mad it took me so long to get to.

✏️ Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman: 5 stars

  • And we’re ending it off with another 5-star read!! I loved Summer Bird Blue by Akemi, so I knew I would love anything else she wrote. I am excited to read her 2020 release, Harley in the Sky, very soon.

How Did I Do?

I obviously knew my tastes a little better this time around. I got 3/5 correct, which isn’t bad!

My total, though, is 4/11, which is embarrassing. I will say, however, that I read a majority of these books more recently, and my tastes have changed a lot over those 2 years, and I’ve become a much more critical reader.

I feel like now that I know what I like and don’t like, I would be better at predicting this.

let's chat

Do you want to see a new predictions post? I have so many books on my TBR that I think could be contenders for this!

What are some of your 5-star predictions?

Jessica

Signed Book Collection: Updated

A few years back, I uploaded a post where I showed you all my signed book collection. Since then, my collection has at least tripled in size. This is not something I am making to brag, but I just love seeing what books others get signed because it shows that the books are important to them or have more meaning to them.

So, here’s my collection!

signed books

First up, I have books that I got at signings. These were mainly from Bookcon over the last couple of years, but also from individual signings that I attended. I am so grateful to have been able to meet these authors, it was truly such an honor.

  • The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern: This is my baby and I love it with my whole heart.
  • A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
  • With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
  • The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo: I only got WTFOH signed in person, and I asked Elizabeth to sign a sticker for me to put inside of my copy of TPX.
  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han: Meeting Jenny Han was like a dream come true. It was an amazing experience and she was so sweet.
  • P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han: Still regret not buying all 3 books to have her sign, but I had to save space since I was traveling to and from Bookcon!
  • A Work in Progress by Connor Franta: My friend and I waited from like 5 a.m. for this signing in high school and it was such a memorable experience!
  • The Last Summer of the Garrett Girls by Jessica Spotswood
  • Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callendar

signed books

Next up are the books that I purchased or received already signed! I have not met any of these authors, unfortunately, but I am still so grateful to own these books.

  • Deposing Nathan by Zack Smedley: I actually won this book from Zack himself in a Twitter giveaway! He is so nice and I really loved this book!
  • Save the Date by Morgan Matson
  • Turtles All the Way Down by John Green: This is another one of my all-time favorite books; definitely a prized possession of mine.
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: I got the physical copy for Christmas and IT WAS SIGNED!
  • Bright we Burn by Kiersten White
  • Dive Smack by Demetra Brodsky
  • Furyborn by Claire Legrand
  • Losing Hope by Colleen Hoover
  • Point of Retreat by Colleen Hoover: Fun fact- both of my CoHo books are signed to “Ashley” because I won them in a Twitter giveaway and they were signed to the user!

signed books

Finally, we have my poetry collections. Some are from poets I’ve met, others were sent to me/purchased signed! As you can see, the majority of them are by Amanda Lovelace because I have attended multiple of her signings in the past!

  • Pillow Thoughts by Courtney Peppernell
  • The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One by Amanda Lovelace
  • The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace (x’s 3): I have the hardcover, the paperback, and the self-published version
  • Temporary Storms by McKayla Debonis: She is a really good friend of mine now but this was her first collection!!
  • Bright Minds, Empty Souls by Jennae Cecelia
  • What We Buried by Caitlyn Siehl: I desperately need to do a re-read of this book because it was so beautiful! I had the chance to meet Caitlyn and she was the nicest human ever.
  • Morning Air, Morning Light by Regan Smith
  • The Universe of Us by Lang Leav

let's chat

There we have it: all of my signed books! Again, I am truly so thankful that I have been able to acquire so many of these, and I cherish them every single day.

What is your favorite signed book you have, or what is one you are dying to own?

Jessica