Book Tag, Uncategorized

A-Z Book Tag

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A: Author you’ve read the most books from

Isis: Benjamin Alire Saenz. Anyone who knows me knows he’s my favorite. 

Nicole: Ursula Vernon. I’ve read nine of her books.

B: Best sequel ever

Isis: Prince’s Gambit by C. S. Pacat for sure. 

Nicole: The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan

C: Currently reading

Isis: A Boy Worth Knowing Jennifer Cosgrove

Nicole: The Belgrave Legacy by Zara Hoffman and Rise of the Evening Star by Brandon Mull

D: Drink of choice while reading

Isis: Tea. Usually chai or milk tea are my favorites.

Nicole: I love Dr. Pepper. 

E: E-reader or physical book

Isis: I love physical books but I prefer ebooks for night reading. So, both. 

Nicole: Physical book. I tend to get too distracted with ebooks.

F: Favourite fictional character

Isis: Dante Quintana. No one will ever steal his spot. 

Nicole: Harry Potter. I loved him for so long it’s hard not to say his name.

G: Glad you gave it a chance

Isis: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. I don’t usually read romance so I’m glad I read that one. 

Nicole: Serpentine by Cindy Pon. I was unsure of going so fantasy with the main character being a half monster, but I’m glad I did.

H: Hidden gem book

Isis: In Perfect Light by Benjamin Alire Saenz. Everyone should read it. 
Nicole: The Assassin’s Curse duology by Cassandra Rose Clarke. That’s two books, but very worth it.

I: Important moment in reading life

Isis: When I read A Separate Peace and fell in love with reading. Also, first time I shipped two book characters.
Nicole: On the Equality of the Sexes by Judith Murray was the first review I did on this blog.

J: Just finished

Isis: Collecting Secrets by PE Kavanagh.
Nicole: Saga volume 2 by Brian K. Vaughan.

K: Kinds of books you won’t read

Isis: High fantasy. Although at times I’ll make exceptions. 

Nicole: Erotic, Romance. There are others but there is always exceptions.

L: Longest book you’ve read

Isis: Maybe Order of the Phoenix, but I’m not sure. 

Nicole: Order of the Phoenix.

M: Major book hangover

Isis: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel gave me a big book hangover. I love that book. 

Nicole: The Outliers by Kimberly McCreight. All I wanted was the sequel. 

N: Number of bookshelves

Isis: Just one that was custom made. 

Nicole: Three. Two medium ones, and one short one.

O: One book read multiple times

Isis: Point Pleasant by Jen Archer Woods.

Nicole: Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling.

P: Perfect place to read

Isis: My bed.

Nicole: My bed.

Q: Quote that inspires you

Isis: “So it goes.” -Kurt Vonnegut

Nicole: “To be careful with people and with words was a rare and beautiful thing.” 
― Benjamin Alire Sáenz

R: Reading regret

Isis: Edge of Darkness by Travis McBee. It was the worst. 

Nicole: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. I don’t know why I finished it.

S: Series I started and need to finish

Isis: I want to finish the duology of This Savage Song, which is Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab. 

Nicole: The original Percy Jackson series. I think I have the last two to go through.

T: Three all-time favorites


  • At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson
  • Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen
  • Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz


  • Roll of Thunder, Hear of Cry by Mildred. D. Taylor
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  • Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Saenz

U: Unapologetic fangirl moment

Isis: Meeting Benjamin Alire Saenz, David Levithan, and Adam Silvera all on the same day. It was the best. 

Nicole: When I meet authors I usually can’t talk. Does that count?

V: Very excited for release

Isis: Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi. Give me all the Warner!

Nicole: A Blade so Black by L.L. McKinney

W: Worst bookish habit

Isis: Wanting to read too many books at once, getting overwhelmed, and not reading anything. 

Nicole: Starting and stopping a million books because I get distracted. It results in nothing being done.

X: X Marks the Spot – start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book

Isis: Fat Angie by E. E. Charlton-Trujillo
Nicole: White Cat by Holly Black

Y: Your latest book purchase

Isis: A beautiful B&N edition of Jane Eyre

Nicole: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

Z: ZZZ snatcher book – last book that kept you up way late

Isis: Autoboyography by Christina Lauren. So worth the lack of sleep. 

Nicole: Iron Cast by Destiny Soria

Author Interview, Uncategorized

Author Interview: Michelle Balge

A Way Out: A Memoir of Conquering Depression and Social Anxiety by Michelle Balge was published yesterday. A Way Out, as the title suggests, is a memoir detailing Balge’s experience with depression and social anxiety. Since her teenage years Balge has dealt with these issues while growing up to become a sociology graduate, web design student, mental health advocate, and animal welfare activist. We were lucky enough to ask her a couple of questions.

What made you decide to write this memoir?

I wrote this memoir in the hopes that it can help those experiencing or who have experienced mental illness, as well as those who have loved ones with their own challenges. I truly want to be able to make a difference and have others understand that they’re not alone.

Who do you hope to reach with this book?

I hope to reach not only those that I mentioned in the previous question, but also those who are just interested in learning more about mental health and illness. There is such a stigma to this topic, that reading from the point of view of someone who experienced it firsthand can perhaps give better insight into what it’s like. I’ve made it as honest as I possibly can, to the point of sharing my most embarrassing stories and darkest thoughts. Although there is dark content, I’ve mixed humour into the book to provide some relief for those who worry it may be too intense.

Do you think this book will be helpful to those in middle of their own depression? Or would it be very triggering?

I think that everyone will be different, which is why at the beginning of the book there’s a content warning stating that there are parts that could be triggering for some people. I think it’s up to the individual person to tell if it’s something they’re in the right place for, or if it may be a bit too much to handle. It could very well be triggering for a person one day, but be the hope they were looking for the next.

What was your writing process like? 

I wrote whenever I had the urge to, which meant my writing ranged from thousands of words a day, to only a couple hundred a week. When trying to force myself to write, the words didn’t come out the way I wanted them to. While writing the darkest parts of my memoir, I had to listen to certain songs on repeat that I would listen to while I was depressed. It would bring my mind back as close as I could to how it used to feel while depressed, but once the music stopped, I could return to the present time. For the hopeful parts of the book, I listened to upbeat music to put the inspiration I felt into the book.

Can you tell us more about being a Mental Health Advocate? What does that entail?

As a mental health advocate, I was the president of a mental health club at my previous university and co-organized many mental health events. For the last few years I’ve been giving talks to students, the community, and professionals, sharing my personal story. In the last few months I’ve had 3 talks, each one a different experience because of the audience. Also, just with everyday conversations, I do my best to talk openly about mental health and illness. I share what I know with friends, family, people online, and now with my book I can reach people around the world.

What do you have to say about the stigma surrounding therapy and medications?

I believe that therapy and medication can be so important for your mental health. If you have a mild or moderate illness it may be better to try therapy and other methods of help before medication, but everyone’s different. Therapy can range from one-on-one talks about your life, to group therapy learning about CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). I personally found that group therapy with a focus on CBT for social anxiety was a huge help. Medication has also been a huge help for me. There’s nothing wrong with needing medication, therapy, or both. People need to know that it’s often a combination of things that will help their health improve.

Do you think you will write more books in the future?

I’m not sure if I’ll ever write another memoir, but I would love to write children’s books with a focus on mental health. One of my other big passions is animals, so all the characters would be animals to show people that they have feelings and can actually experience mental illnesses too.

So there you have it! If you want to learn more about what people dealing with these issues are dealing with, or if you want a little hope for yourself, I think this book will be very helpful for you. You can find it here on Goodreads or on Barnes and Noble. Michelle’s website is here.


Book Reviews

Collecting Secrets by PE Kavanagh – Book Review

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Collecting Secrets follows Camille, a young woman who lost her parents to a terrible accident. Her freshman year at Princeton, she meets Jenna King and her entire, charming family. Camille and Jenna become friends almost instantly, and soon Camille becomes part of the family. Among the family is Jackson King, the beautiful guy who becomes Camille’s best friend.

The story is told in present day with flashbacks to different times during the span of a decade. Usually, I don’t enjoy flashbacks, but this book did it so well I didn’t mind them at all. The flashbacks were helpful in letting me see a different side of Camille and Jackson, and understand their strong connection. I loved their friendship over those ten years. I thought they were so sweet together, and I was rooting for them.

The romance took some time to get use to. I’m not used to reading steamy scenes, and there were quite a lot of steamy scenes one after the other, so I found myself skimming those parts. Thankfully, there was a great balance between plot and romance, so I was able to enjoy other aspects of the book. I also really liked the inclusion of the King family. They had an interesting dynamic, and I wanted even more of them.

The plot was interesting. I don’t want to get into it too much, but there is a mystery and secrets that keep coming out, and it all made for a very satisfying conclusion. I would recommend this book to anyone into heavy romances that are born in friendship.

3 stars


Hope Nation Launch Party

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Hope Nation: YA Authors Share Personal Moments of Inspiration edited by Rose Brock and written by a load of different authors that will be published on February 27, 2018. Today at the South Irving Library they held a launch party with Rose Brock, Angie Thomas, Julie Murphy, and Ally Carter.

We haven’t been to many events involving books. A lot doesn’t happen here. So when we heard about this launch we knew we had to be there. I bought Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give and Isis bought a copy of Hope Nation. A lot of people showed up. I mean, a lot. They had to open up a back room in order to fit everyone. They had cupcakes, cookies, strawberries, and lemonade out for everybody who wanted some. 

Brock, Thomas, Murphy, and Carter were so nice. They started about what hope means to them and talked about their stories in the anthology. It got quite personal, and I think every one of them cried a little during it. Then they opened up to a couple questions which got a little political, and a lot liberal. Which is refreshing living in Texas let me tell ya.

We were lucky enough to get pretty close to the front of the line when the signing started. It went by pretty quick. Each of them were really nice like I said before, and we even got to get a picture with Angie and Julie. We actually had the same creative writing teacher as Julie at TCC, and we got to tell her that. She thought it was cool, and told us that was where she met her husband.

The day was really fun, and we’re excited for the upcoming book event at the North Texas Teen Book Festival in April.

Book Reviews

Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman – Book Review


Knit One, Girl Two is a sweet short story where two Jewish girls fall in love. Just from that premise, I knew I had to read it.

Clara has a sock club where she dyes yarn and sells it to anyone interested over a period of six months. One day, she gets inspired by the artwork of Danielle, a beautiful woman who is all-too charming. They decide to work together to make this yarn inspired by the artwork. Romance ensues.

I loved the simplicity of this story, as well it’s uniqueness. The tragedy in the story was something I rarely ever see. I was expecting a death in the family, or something similar, but that didn’t happen. And I was so relieved.

The cat, The Phantom, is also the best cat I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. He’s such a sweetheart, and I adored him. Overall, this was definitely a feel-good story, and I think everyone should read it.

4 stars

Book Reviews

Saga volumes 1-4 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples – Book Review

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The first volume of this amazing story starts off with a pretty ordinary premise that turns into something extraordinary. Alana and Marko are two star-crossed lovers from two opposing worlds at war. Alana is from Landfall, and Marko from Landfall’s moon, Wreath. On top of that, the two had a baby named Hazel, and her very existence throws everyone off. They want to kill all of them, so both their home worlds call for help to stop them. The villains who go after Alana and Marko are just as interesting.

I’ve been a huge fan of these comics for a while, and I really love the direction it’s been heading. But in order to talk about that, we must start at the beginning. There will be spoilers ahead.

Prince Robot IV is among the villains, and his story was the most fascinating to me. He’s from Landfall’s ally planet The Robot Kingdom, and he’s a prince who’s been at war for years, finally returning home to his princess to build a family. Except, now he has to go after Alana and Marko, and he’s not too happy about that. There are two freelancers after them as well, The Will, and The Stalk. But as it turns out, getting to Marko and Alana ends with more disasters than victories.

Hazel’s babysitter, Izabel, is one of my favorite characters. She’s so down to earth, and so helpful to everyone, but she doesn’t get enough credit. Even though The Stalk was pretty cool, I think that if Prince Robot IV hadn’t killed her at the beginning, she would have captured Alana and Marko. So, yeah, maybe he killed her unjustly, but it worked out in the end. Also, my poor Robot doesn’t get to come home to his wife and baby. Give him a break.

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In the second volume, we learn a little bit more about Marko’s childhood. He saw war first hand as a kid, and he was taught to hate people from Landfall. Of course, things changed along the way. We also get to meet Marko’s parents, who are fierce people that are really not trustworthy of Alana. I liked Barr, despite him butting heads with Alana at first. I was really sad to hear he was dying, but I was glad he built a relationship with Alana before passing.

We finally get to meet Gwendolyn here as she finds The Will. She wants to get to Marko–her ex-fiance–to get back the translation rings that belonged to her family. The Will is too worried about saving a Slave Girl, which makes Gwendolyn jump on board. They finally get Sophie out of Sextilion and to safety. But just as they’re about to reach Alana and Marko’s rocket ship, they get shot at by this weird planet that’s an actual living thing, which nearly kills my dear Lying Cat.

I loved the way this ended with Prince Robot IV going to Quietus, the planet he knew Alana and Marko were hiding simply by reading Alana’s favorite novel. He’s truly good at his job, because they had all been there for a while. Anyway, my favorite thing to see was Sophie finally safe. That poor girl didn’t deserve what was happening to her. It was so sad to see Barr die, though. I don’t think he deserved to go so soon.

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The third volume shows Marko in a different light. He shows signs of depression as he deals with his father’s passing. The press is a big part of this volume. I have to admit, I wasn’t a big fan of this storyline. Sure, the tabloids want a story, but I just didn’t care about how they got it. I did like the insight into Alana’s past. The reporters go to Alana’s old house to interview her dad, but instead we find a young woman who married him and calls herself Alana’s mom. It’s obvious why Alana left to join the military.

I thought the whole meeting Mr. Heist was very realistic. The guy was drunk, in his underwear, and he threw up on Hazel. What a way to portray authors. But honestly, is that such a lie? Anyway, I was glad to see that he did live up to Alana’s expectations. And that his romance novel did really have a message hidden, which Alana and Marko understood. I think Mr. Heist was an incredible character, and I loved his relationship with Klara.

The entire exchange between Prince Robot IV and Mr. Heist made me uncomfortable. Obviously tensions were high, but I kept waited for something terrible to happen. And then what happens? Robot wants to die. Yeah, and he shoots Mr. Heist, but mostly, he just wants to die.

The whole thing with The Will hallucinating was totally trippy. For a second, I really thought The Stalk could somehow talk to him from beyond the grave. But no, apparently he was being drugged from the food on the planet. Sophie ended up stabbing The Will due to the same reason, and Gwendolyn panicked because it turns out she had feelings for him all along. In fact, Gwendolyn threw caution to the wind as she found her way to Quietus, killed Mr. Heist, all in search for Marko to save The Will. The worst thing, though, is that Robot gets hit, falls injured, and is rebooted to something he isn’t.

Marko and Alana and Hazel all survive the encounter with Gwendolyn, which is more than we can say for pretty much everyone else. And I loved that the end of the volume shows Hazel all grown up now. It kind of closes that chapter of their lives.

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Volume four is where all things go to hell. Alana starts working for the Open Circuit, and she gets into drugs. Meanwhile, Marko spends time with some girl who is totally flirting with him, and he seems oblivious to it all. To make matters worse, Prince Robot IV is totally off his rockers lost in Sextilion, until he realizes his wife is dead and his baby is missing. I mean, things just couldn’t get any worse for all of them.

I know this volume has a lot of important storylines, but it is just so depressing. I hate seeing Alana high off her mind, and Marko with that Ginny girl, and Robot mourning his wife and looking for his baby. I didn’t appreciate any of that. I loved seeing Gwendolyn and Sophie working together, trying to help The Will.

I hate that Dengo dude that kidnapped Robot’s baby. He’s completely heartless. I get that he has a sad story, but that doesn’t give him the right to kill everyone on his path. However, the ending of this volume brings a lot of hope. Robot and Marko are together, and they’re on the hunt for Dengo to save both of their families. That’s the perfect ending.

So far, the series has not disappointed. I recommend it to absolutely everyone.


5 stars

Book Reviews

A Hundred Thousand Words by Nyrae Dawn – Book Review

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Maybe you’re not just one thing. Do we really have to be just one thing? Do you really have to know right now?

This was a sweet and quick read. It follows Toby, an English major living in San Francisco. He’s had a crush on his lifelong best friend’s older brother, Levi. Except, he’s always thought Levi is straight. Until the day he finds him at a gay bar and Levi tells him he’s bi. This opens up a lot of interesting situations for both Toby and Levi. They start off as friends, which is new for them, despite having known each other for over a decade. The romance that blossoms between them is sweet, and I appreciated that.

I really loved the inner struggles Toby faced throughout the book. He loved writing and reading, but he had a hard time speaking his thoughts. He didn’t want to let anyone in for fear of losing them. Toby’s mom walked out on him and his dad when he was a young boy, and his dad has battled a depression ever since. All along, Toby has been trapped in his head, in his safe space, until Levi showed up in his life. But Toby’s growth went further than his development alongside Levi. It had a lot to do with self-reflection, and his father, and realizing that not having all the answers is okay.

I would have loved to see more of Toby and Chris’s friendship. They had a strong bond, but they rarely spent time together in the book. I really wanted to see what their friendship was all about. That’s the only part that sort of let me down.

Overall, this book was a pleasure to read. I breezed through it. I felt a sort of calmness while reading it because it was lovely. The characters were interesting, and mostly all of them were kind, wholesome people. I really enjoyed that. It was refreshing.

4 stars