Lists, Uncategorized

Our Most Anticipated New Releases of 2020

Nicole:

 

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The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

JK Rowling has forever made me weary of wanting more from my favorites, but I’m still cautiously excited for this. It’s set sixty-four years before the start of the first book, and I’m just very curious how this will end up despite its ugly cover.

Release Date: May 19, 2020

 

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All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace

A book all about sirens and magic and pirates has my name all over it. The princess of this island has to control soul magic in order to rule, but something goes wrong and she has to run.

Release Date: February 4, 2020

 

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All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban

This is basically The Breakfast Club but with murder and you gotta figure out what who is doing it. I am cautious about this one even though I love the thought of it. What I personally will do is see a couple reviews before picking it up. Just to see if the mystery is worth it.

Publication Date: March 17, 2020

 

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Set Fire to the Gods by Sara Raasch and Kristen Simmons

This book is all about gladiators and getting revenge on the gods. It sounds so unique to me, and I can not wait for it to come out.

Publication Date: August 4, 2020

 

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The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

A West-African inspired fantasy that focuses a lot on blood and warriors. There is a blood ritual where if you have red blood you can join the village, but our protagonist, Deka, finds she has gold blood. So, Deka now has a choice: stay and suffer her fate or go with this mysterious woman who is training an army to overrule the emperor. To me this sounds really cool, and I love that the army is full of only girls.

Publication Date: May 26, 2020

 

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Star Daughter by Shveta Thakrar

Sheetal is the daughter of a star and a mortal. Her human dad gets hurt, and she needs her moms help. But her mom is in the sky now, obviously she’s a star, and now Sheetal has to go on this quest which somehow ends up with her in a competition. This kind of reminds me of Kiranmala series, but then also uniquely its own.

Publication Date: August 11, 2020

 

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Incendiary by Zoraida Cordova

I am Renata Convida.
I have lived a hundred stolen lives.
Now I live my own.

Just those three sentences make me excited about this new series. But if you need to know more it’s all about magic and spies and romance and rebellion. The full summary is a lot for me to sum up here, but those keywords are all I need to be interested.

Publication Date: April 28, 2020

 

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When We Were Magic by Sarah Gailey

The cover first drew me to this book, and the word magic in title. But the best part is this isn’t simply a contemporary. It’s actually about teen witches. And on prom night, a boy ends up dead. So they try to fix things but not everything goes as plan.

Publication Date: March 3, 2020

 

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Witches of Ash and Ruin by E Latimer

Another witch book. Honestly, I feel so blessed. And this witch is bisexual and has OCD, and the summary implies a f/f enemies to lovers trope with a witch from another coven. If that’s not enough, a serial killer kills one of the witches in their town and they have to stop them. Everything about this book is wanting to become one of my favorites, and I’m going to be so disappointed if I don’t like it.

Publication Date: March 3, 2020

 

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Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

First of all, gorgeous cover. Second of all, another witches book, or more accurately in this case, brujos. Yadriel is having trouble with his traditional Latinx family accepting his gender, and he wants to prove himself. He attempts to set from the ghost of his murdered cousin, but instead summons the ghost of the school’s bad boy.

Publication Date: June 9, 2020

 

 

 

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A Song Below Water by Bethany C Morrow

In this world, Sirens are hunted. Tavia has to deal both with being a Siren and being Black. And during a traffic stop, Tavia accidentally uses her voice. This sounds very unique since a lot of fantasy has prejudice, but never acknowledge real world racism. So I’m very curious how this will turn out.

Publication Date: June 2, 2020

 

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The State of Us by Shaun David Hutchinson

A love story between the son’s of the Democratic and Republican parties while on the presidential campaign trail. I know people will likely compare this to Red, White, and Royal Blue, but I hope they will still give this a chance. Hutchinson is a good writer, and I want to know how he will deal with all the politics involved.

Publication Date: June 2, 2020

 

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Sia Martinez and the Moonlight Beginning of Everything by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland

Sia thinks her mother was deported three years ago. But one night, aliens come with her mother with them. This sounds completely out there, and I have to read it.

Publication Date: August 4, 2020

 

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Mary Underwater by Shannon Doleski

Mary’s abusive father is back home from prison. Desperate to escape, she plans to build a submarine to sail across Chesapeake Bay. This Middle Grade sounds like it’ll break my heart, and for some reason I am here for it.

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

 

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Ghost Squad by Claribel A Ortega

This middle grade fantasy was supposed to come out last year, but then was pushed back.  Basically, Lucely and Syd accidentally set evil ghosts on their town, and then have to fix it with the help of Lucely and their cat, Chunk.

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

 

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Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron

Maya’s father goes missing, and she discovers her father was actually the keeper of the keys between our world and The Dark. To find him, Maya has to unlock her powers.

Publication Date: May 5, 2020

 

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The Chaos Curse by Sayantani Dasgupta

The third book to the Kiranmala series is coming out, and even though I still haven’t read the second book I know I’m going to love both of them.

Publication Date: March 3, 2020

 

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Paola Santiago and the River of Tears by Tehlor Kay Majia

A Rick Riordan Presents book so you know I have to read it. I remember when this book was announced forever ago, and I’m so excited it’s finally coming out. It tackles the myth of La Llorona with a protagonist who loves space and science.

Publication Date: August 2020

 

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Eva Evergreen Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe

If Eva doesn’t earn the rank of Novice Witch by the time she’s thirteen, she’ll lose her magic. Eva’s determined not to have that happen, but the problem is, she doesn’t have a lot of magic. 2020 is apparently the year of witches, and I, for one, am very excited for it.

Publication Date: August 4, 2020

 

Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

A Rick Riordan Presents book all about Navajo gods.

Publication Date: January 14, 2020

 

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You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

I loved An Anonymous Girl by this duo, so I want to read their other books. This is a thriller, and I don’t like to read summaries of thrillers because sometimes that spoils the whole book. So I have no idea what it’s about.

Publication Date: March 3, 2020

 

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Last Girls by Demetra Brodsky

Three sisters live in a compound training to survive the end of the world, but then it turns out that there is a threat in the compound. I love when scary movies have the victims know how to survive/fight, so I imagine it’ll be the same for books.

Publication Date: May 5, 2020

 

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The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

Two girls with rival Henna businesses fall in love. I think this author first tried to do DvPit or something for this book, and I’ve been following her ever since.

Publication Date: May 12, 2020

 

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Beach Read by Emily Henry

Two writers have writer’s block. They decide to switch genres: literary and romance. And then, you know, fall in love. I’ve become a lot more appreciative of romances over the last couple years, and even the plot of this book makes me smile.

Publication Date: May 19, 2020

 

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Infinity Son by Adam Silvera

I’ve always been interested in Silvera’s books, but so far they’ve seemed too sad for me. But this is his first fantasy and I want to check it out. I know it is gay, has a magical war, and somehow involves phoenixes which I’m very interested in.

Publication Date: January 14, 2020

 

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Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Set in Mexico in the 1950’s, a socialite receives a letter from her cousin begging for help. I’ve read Certain Dark Things from Moreno-Garcia before, and everything from the setting to the cover draws my interest.

Publication Date: June 30, 2020

 

Isis:

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Darius the Great Deserves Better by Adib Khorram

Darius the Great Is Not Okay was such a good book that dealt with a beautiful Persian family and mental illness and sexuality. I’m so excited to revisit these characters and see what wonders the author has in store. Judging by the cover, I’m guessing the sexuality part will be explored more in depth. I can’t wait!

Publication Date: August 25th, 2020

 

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A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green

I was pleasantly surprised by An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. Hank Green is a fantastic writer and a lovely person. I’m so excited to read this sequel, and pretty much everything else he writes.

Publication Date: July 7th, 2020

(If I manage to read at least one of these two books, it will be a miracle).

 

 

 

Lists, Uncategorized

Reading Plans for 2020

Nicole:

In 2019, I ended up reading 13 books. And I DNFed two of those. For me, that’s the worst year of reading since high school along time ago. So I came up with a plan that involved me reading more in generally, and specifically from my own bookshelves. Because for whatever reason I buy books and then do everything but read them. I get worried that I won’t have anymore books which is ridiculous because I always buy more books. So, what I did was pull out 12 books, and I will have to read one of them each month of 2020. I was originally going to assign each book a month, but knowing me, that much planning is sure to make certain I don’t read any of them. So here is my list of books that I am definitely going to read this year.

 

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Dancing Jax by Robin Jarvis

I think this book is about a magical book or something, but I could be wrong. I bought this simply because of the cover, and again picked it for this list for that same reason. 

 

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The Beautiful by Renée Ahdieh

A vampire murder mystery is all I need to know for me to be dying to get to this book.

 

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Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary by Brandon Mull

I have so many series on my shelves that I always want to read, but don’t because I haven’t finished others. So, this is the fourth book of this series about a magical secret sanctuary. I really need to finish this because as it is I don’t remember much about what happened.

 

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Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Again a book I don’t know anything about, but it’s been recommended to me multiple times. Plus, my mom got me this for Christmas, and she would be upset if I don’t read it soon.

 

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The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

Another middle grade fantasy because I’m currently writing one. This is about another magical book, and its very popular. I don’t know anything else.

 

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Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray

Again with continuing series I’ve started. I really loved The Diviners, and I’ve heard it only gets better. And I’m a sucker for groups of people with different powers.

 

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Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

I thought maybe I should add a classic to my list, and this one has been on my bookshelf the longest. I think this is about a black woman’s journey in the 1930’s.

 

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On The Come Up by Angie Thomas

I have high expectations since The Hate U Give was so good. I think this book about a sixteen year old girl wanting to be a rapper will be really fun.

 

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Follow Her Home by Steph Cha

This is a thriller about a girl with a love of mysteries trying to be a detective in the real world. Every October I tell myself to pick it up, and every year I ignore myself.

 

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Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea

I started reading this last year and got distracted. It’s about a girl from a small village in Mexico. All the men have gone to the USA to make money, and while they are gone, a group of bandidos move in and begin terrorizing everyone. She decides to head to America herself to find people to help them.

 

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I Know You Know by Gilly Macmillan

A thriller about a murder that somehow involves a podcast. Sometimes I hate writing these because it doesn’t take much for me to want to read books, and I feel a little ridiculous saying yes a murder podcast and a real murder was enough to get me to buy this book.

 

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The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

This is another middle grade fantasy that I think also involves ghosts. And Rick Riordan says its great.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Recommendations, Lists, Uncategorized

Our Favorite Books of 2019

Isis:

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Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

This book blew my mind. It was amazing. The enemies to lovers romance was so well done. The alternate universe in which the US had a female president and her son is openly bisexual made my gay heart very happy. It was my favorite read of the year.

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Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell

I loved this. Rainbow Rowell is so good at friends to lovers romance and this one didn’t disappoint. I loved the fall themes because fall is my favorite season. And I loved the rep of the pansexual/bisexual main character.

 

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My Brother’s Husband vol 2 by Gengoroh Tagame

A great ending to this beautiful manga. It was bittersweet but I really enjoyed it.

 

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The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

Such an incredible graphic novel. I loved that it was told like a fairy tale. It was so beautiful and poetic and became an instant favorite.

 

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An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

I loved this book so much. I wasn’t expecting it cause it’s about giant robots and I am not into that at all but I was very much into this book. It had a lot of great themes and awesome characters.

 

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Trail by Cheryl Strayed

This book made me cry but it was a good, healing cry. I connected a lot with Cheryl’s struggle in dealing with her mom’s death

 

Nicole:

 

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I think this was my first read of 2019, and I truly thought I was starting off the year good. This is such an emotional and funny and extremely well written. Everyone needs to read this book.

 

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An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen

This book completely swept me away. I had no idea what was going on, but I was completely hooked on every word.

 

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The Lost Hero and The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

I love every book by Rick Riordan, and these books were great for making me feel better about not reading a lot this year.

 

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Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

This book made me cry, but it was so good I forgive it. It’s all about depression which is a hard subject for me, but its dealt with amazingly. One of the few books I’ve read that shows good therapy rep.

 

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Personal

on doing nothing because your brain sucks

Have you ever wanted to do so many things that you do nothing at all because you’re so overwhelmed with life in general?

I’m bipolar. Sometimes I believe my diagnosis is real, but most of the time I don’t buy it. But that’s not the point. I used to do things with my life. I used to read a ton of books, one after another. I used to review them on this blog, every week or so. I used to write a lot too. I wrote fiction. So much fiction. I had book ideas, and I worked on them, and then I had completed books that I shared with my friends and family, feeling like an accomplished writer. I used to paint. I used to paint because I needed ANOTHER creative outlet. I had so much in me just spilling out in so many different ways.

But now, at 26, I spent my afternoon (where I have way too much time to waste and have absolutely nothing to fill it with) lying in bed, crying as I watched Dean and Castiel compilation videos that highlight their more profound bond. I have time now. Time that I didn’t have when I was younger and had both work and college filling up every minute of my days. I have time to think, but thinking leads to anxiety–or worse–hating myself and my life and my choices and everything that I am. I hate my free time. I hate it so much.

This isn’t to say I want to fill up my time with things. That isn’t it. When I have a million things to do, I get so stressed that I end up lying in my bed…crying. So, the end result is the same no matter what.

I want to have free time. I want to do nothing. But I wish I wanted to do things. I wish I wanted to be creative again. I wish I could sit and read a book. Even a small book, or a graphic novel, or something–from start to finish. I can start a book, that’s easy. I’ve started so many books this year, but I can’t remember the last time I finished one.

All it takes is one thing. One trigger. And I can’t read the book anymore. It takes very little for me to put down a book and never pick it up again. And when it comes to writing it’s even worse. I can’t write any of the fiction books I’ve planned to write. I just can’t. The only reason I’m writing this now is because I got really tired of crying in my bed and I just wanted to organize my thoughts.

I don’t really know if I’m making any sense. All I know is that whatever is blocking my creativity, or that part of me that liked being in my brain, I fucking hate it. I hate being so scared to be with my own thoughts that all I ever want to do is watch The Office on Netflix for the hundredth time, and I’m low-balling it with that number. Even at work, I’m listening to The Office on my cell phone because otherwise I’ll have to be in my head, where there isn’t anything good. Nothing good lives in my brain. Absolutely nothing. So I’d rather numb myself.

I just want to hear from people who are going through the same thing. I want to know I’m not the only one out there who can’t do the things I could do because my brain fucking sucks. I want to know that I won’t live the rest of my life numbing myself with bits of comfort here and there.

Okay. Back to crying in my bed.

Book Recommendations, Book Reviews, Uncategorized

The Shallows by Matt Goldman

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The only reason to tie a dead man to his deck by a fishing stinger through his jaw is if you have something to say.

The Shallows by Matt Goldman follows private detective Nils Shapiro as he solves a gruesome murder that gets more complicated the deeper he digs into it. This is actually the third, and newest, book in the series following Shapiro, which I didn’t know when I picked it up. Needless to say, since I didn’t immediately return it, you don’t have to read this series in order. Like in any criminal show each book is a different case, so no real need to read one to three.

Nils is a good detective. His reasoning isn’t hard to follow at all. He’s kind of an asshole, and thinks he is more complicated than he actually is, but he isn’t a bad main character at all. Girls throw themselves at him which gets a little ridiculous but it’s easy to ignore.

The mystery was nice. I guessed some of the answers, and was surprised by others. What more can you want? And really what more can I say? The mystery could be really obvious to others. It’s something very subjective.

I was surprised by how political this book got. A lot of the characters are Jewish and the law firm the victim worked at his very, very right wing while Shapiro is liberal. I liked the commentary though I know if most conservatives would be offended.

I think I would check out the first two books. It looks like the second is many people’s favorite so I’m particularly interested in that one. 

4 stars

Book Reviews, Personal, Uncategorized

Nicole’s Reading Round Up

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Sooo, hi! I’m back (hopefully). The last time I posted anything was at the end of February. As the one half of this blog that tried to update on a twice a week schedule, that was very different, and, understandably, it’s been reflected in our stats. Still sad though because we were really getting (kind of) popular.

Why did I disappear? Well life. And a reading slump. And laziness. And stress. We also opened up for accepting review requests last year (I think), and, boy, that was a mistake. We quickly got overwhelmed, and really neither of us deal with that well. So, yeah, we aren’t doing that anymore. Sorry.

But hopefully I’m back for good with a nice schedule because I do really miss making posts. I feel like a lot of the books I did read during my impromptu break feels too far from my mind to make individual posts, but I also feel like I can’t move on without acknowledging them in some way. Hence this post. Consider it a lighting round of reviews. Hope you enjoy!

 

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“If you don’t make the decision to love, every day, it’s an easy thing to forget.”

The Last by  Hanna Jameson is an interesting mix of murder mystery and post-apocalyptic novel. When Jon is away in Switzerland for a conference, a nuclear bomb hits Washington. He’s stuck in his hotel with strangers at the end of the world with no idea how his wife and children are doing, and then he discovers the body of a dead little girl. As a historian, he compulsively writes about the events for future generations while also becoming obsessed with finding out if the murderer is still in their midst.

I love how this book was written. It was refreshing, a nice break from the regular narratives of novels. The characters were interesting, and I was very invested in the beginning. I was convinced it would be one of my favorite novels of the year. But around the middle/ending, the story lost it’s way. I think the author had many ideas of where to go and instead of picking one, she tried to stuff all of them into the book. It didn’t work. Overall, I found this book disappointing, but I can’t forget how great the beginning was. 

3 stars

 

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“You must forge your own path for it to mean anything.”

“Life is only precious because it ends, kid.”

Oh, Rick Riordan, you always make me feel better when I’m down. I’m always torn between ripping through these books because they are so good, and saving them for when I am really stressed and sad. 

This is the spin off series to the original Percy Jackson series, and yes, you must read those books first. These books bring in a new enemy, new heroes, new friendships, and new jokes. I am loving it. I think I like it more than the first series which I think is an unpopular opinion but oh well. I can see Riordan’s writing improve in this, and it’s simply a magical adventure everyone should read.

5 stars

5 stars

 

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And that’s how you go on. You lay laughter over the dark parts. The more dark parts, the more you have to laugh. With defiance, with abandon, with hysteria, any way you can.

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor is a young adult fantasy about a librarian, a magical world with a name that disappeared, and blue monsters. It’s weird but entertaining and really beautifully written.

I’ve heard so much about Laini Taylor’s writing, but this is the first time I’ve read from her. Everyone made me feel intimidated by her which made me put off reading her, thinking that it would be a little complicated to understand. But that’s not true. Taylor’s writing style simply gave me writer envy. I spend the book in awe of her writing, but also wondering if I could ever write so beautifully. 

The story itself is unlike anything I’ve ever read, yet, still boiled down to a simple love story. I have to admit that did disappoint me a little. I did like it, and I might read the sequel in the future. It’s not a need though which I always thinks says a lot about a book.

3 stars

 

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I doubt there is a loss in the universe more profound than a daughter losing her mother.

The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth is a thriller surrounding the seeming suicide of Lucy’s mother-in-law Diana. It switches from Lucy’s POV of the present to Diana’s of the past as the mystery unfolds.

I liked the characters more than I usually do in thrillers. I especially liked Diana, and I feel like her POV made the novel. The mystery itself was a little lackluster, but the relationships shown was very good. The commentary of the concept of a mother-in-law, and what is expected of women was great as well.

4 stars

 

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I’m lonely but I’m not alone. My body works, my brain works, I’m alive. It’s a good life. I have to make a conscious effort to remember that. To choose to be happy every day. If I didn’t, I think my own pain would’ve killed me a long time ago.

Shadow Me by Tahereh Mafi is technically book 4.5 in the Shatter Me series. It’s a novella following Kenji through the final chapters of Restore MeThe whole series in general is mainly about Juliette, a girl who’s touch kills, set in a dystopian world.

Kenji is really one of the reasons I love this series so getting into his head was amazing. Mafi did not disappoint my little fangirl heart. However, with my reader/writer brain I realize this novella was kind of pointless. Yeah it clarified a couple things, and made me more interested in the next book. But it wasn’t needed at all, no like, in my opinion, the other novellas in this series are, and I think that’s the point of novellas.

5 stars

Personal

I went on a road trip to Point Pleasant, WV because of fanfiction

In 2012, I read a lengthy Supernatural Dean/Castiel fanfiction entitled Point Pleasant by chainedtoacomet. And then I read it two more times.

In 2013, that fanfiction became a novel by the same name, but now by the author Jen Archer Wood. I befriended Jen. She lived in the UK while I lived in the US, so we were mostly pen pals, but our friendship was strong for a while. And I loved her story so much.

Point Pleasant is the story of two friends who share a camaraderie for spooky things. As kids, they run into the Mothman in their hometown of Point Pleasant. This brings them even closer together. But as adults, they grow apart. Ben realizes too late that he’s in love with Nicholas, and when he spills his heart out, he gets rejected. Ben leaves Point Pleasant behind for thirteen years, but he returns because the Mothman has made a reappearance. Now Ben is a famous horror novelist, and Nicholas is the town sheriff. Here, the story takes off. And boy, it’s a good one.

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first cover of the novel. it has now been changed, but i prefer this one.

I have read this book at least 8 times now. Maybe more. It was hard to keep track after the 5th time. Since the story is set in the fall, in October actually, that’s usually when I tend to pick it back up. It’s kind of a tradition of mine.

This year, I decided to drive with Nicole 15+ hours from Texas to West Virginia to visit the town. This is something I’ve wanted to do ever since I first read the fanfiction about 7 years ago. And you might think it’s crazy to do all this because of a story, but it’s the only place I’ve wanted to visit for years. I wrote a post a few months ago about how much fanfiction has influenced my life, if you’d like to check that out. I take my fanfiction very seriously.

It always felt impossible to make the trip, even though it’s only a few states away. But I’m happy to say I finally did it.

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i was embarrassed to take this picture because it was in the corner of a heavily trafficked intersection but i got the shot
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here i am posing with the beautiful mothman statue
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we stayed at the lowe hotel, which is both historic and haunted and has really comfy beds
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we had mothman pizza, which was delicious
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we drank mothman rootbeer and mothman cookies
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i visited the mason country sheriff’s department at night so that i would not get arrested. sadly, though, i did not get to meet the sheriff, who i’m assuming is very cool
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point pleasant at night. so beautiful
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i don’t understand why the mothman statue has such a nice butt he’s a moth for god’s sake
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i didn’t want to leave him

In conclusion, I want to live in Point Pleasant. No, but in all honesty, Point Pleasant was such a beautiful town rich in history and wonderful residents that are proud of their little town with a pop. of about 4,000. I’ll never forget this trip. I was sad to leave, but I know I’ll return. There’s still so much to experience in Point Pleasant.

*Explaining to the town residents why I drove so long to visit their town was a bit awkward because how do I explain fanfiction to older people? Anyway, my love for this town goes far beyond fanfiction or even the Mothman. I just love it.*

Buy the book here!