Book Reviews

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren – Book Review

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“I learned a very important thing that day: my mom would never try to change for a man, and I wouldn’t, either.”


Hazel is an eccentric woman who has no filter, and usually gets into pretty interesting and messy situations. Hazel was a lot of fun. I learned to love her right away, and I was always rooting for her happiness. Years after college, Hazel runs into Josh, a guy she used to like but knew would never date. They quickly strike up a quirky friendship and set each other up on terrible dates. It’s pretty obvious where this is going, but I didn’t find it predictable. It was a really enjoyable read.

I loved Hazel’s relationship with her mom. She was such a cool person, and it was clear how much she had influenced Hazel’s confidence. I loved Hazel’s relationship with Emily and David as well. There was so much love in this book. I liked how Emily and Josh jokingly fought to be Hazel’s best friend. It was adorable, especially because of how much Hazel enjoyed it. I thought Josh was great, too. He was so sweet, and I wanted nothing but good things for him.

The romance was nice, but it didn’t sweep me off my feet. There were never any moments where I felt giddy or thrilled. I was just content throughout the whole thing. The book was great, but it wasn’t anything special. I love Christina Lauren’s writing style. These women are incredibly talented, and they work well together. I still hold Autoboyography to sort of a gold standard. However, Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating was really lovely. Pick it up if you’re into friends to lovers romances!

3,5 stars

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Personal

I’m In Love…with Fanfiction

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I stumbled into fanfiction when I was around 15. It was kind of an accident. Twilight was the most popular thing at the time, and of course I was obsessed with it. One thing led to another, and I started writing a fifth Twilight novel — starring me and all of my friends. I thought I was so clever. I thought I was the only person who could ever have come up with something so ingenious. For a while, I was convinced that my book would be published and the world would get even more Twilight goodness from me.

Of course, it didn’t take long for me to find the wonderful site fanfiction.net. There, I discovered hundreds, if not thousands, of stories continuing with the Twilight story that I loved so much. I started a few of them, and I was shocked by how good they were. Immediately, I was bummed out about how insignificant my story was compared to them. But I kept writing. I finished my Twilight fanfiction, entitled Sunlight (see how clever I was?) and it ended up being over 500 pages of pure nonsense.

It didn’t take long for me to grow out of that. Twilight was old news, and I had just discovered what was to become my brand new obsession: Supernatural. Now, I know this show isn’t very popular. Sure, it has a big fandom, but odds are, you’ve probably never seen a single episode of the show. It’s perfectly understandable. The show is on it’s 14th season, with plans for a 15th. No one has time for that. I actually gave up on the show around its 8th season. However, my love for Dean and Castiel knows no bounds.

Supernatural came into my life at a very crucial time. I was fresh out of high school, starting college with a very open-mind. I had just stumbled into many LGBT+ books that had me obsessed with learning about the topic. I thought of myself as the biggest ally. And when I read my first Dean and Castiel fic, I knew I had found something amazing. I was hooked on the spot, and I never looked back. Dean and Castiel encompassed all that I loved. Dean was often a closeted bi boy, while Castiel often struggled with his religion and sexuality. I connected with those things so much, and I didn’t even know why. (It took me a while to realize how gay I was, but don’t worry, I got there eventually).

It’s been over a decade since I’ve discovered fanfiction. Now, at 25, I wonder if I’ll ever give it up. Chances are I’ll read fanfiction for the rest of my life. Maybe it won’t always be about Dean and Castiel. Maybe it’ll be about some other crappy show with a couple that isn’t queer-baited. Maybe it’ll be about characters from a book. Who knows? For now, though, Dean and Castiel is all I care about. I have written many fics about them. And through them, I have improved my writing skills. There’s still a lot for me to learn, but I owe so much to my fics.

I am currently in the middle of reading a +400k fic. It is all I can think about. In fact, it’s what inspired this post. I had a brief moment today when it all came back to me. And I thought about all the things I love now because of fanfiction. I found the show The Office thanks to an angsty fic, and it is now my favorite show in the world. I found Bob Dylan thanks to another one, and Elvis Presley, and Alt-J, and Dead Man’s Bones. I learned about The Mothman, who is by far my favorite cryptic ever. I learned so much about angels, too. I found countless favorite songs through thoughtful playlists made by the many authors who write fics. So much of who I am as a person was shaped by fanfiction.

The best part is, I know fanfiction will be there for me when I need a pick-me-up. Every time I struggle getting back into reading, I know fanfiction is a good place to start. The stories are there, written so carefully for anyone to read. And they’re all free and easily accessible. Fanfiction is such a positive thing in my life, even when the fics tear my heart apart, like the one I’m currently reading. I love reading them. I love finding a new favorite, and then re-reading it so many times that I can almost memorize it. I love writing them, and getting those lovely comments from readers who are just as excited about the story as I am. I love knowing that my fanfiction has made others just as happy as it has made me.

For someone who struggles with feelings and dating and all things romance, nothing makes me happier than seeing my favorite couple get together. Again, and again, and again. In every scenario imaginable. In every alternate universe. In a coffee shop, or a pet store, or a concert, or a wedding. It doesn’t matter where you put them, they will fall in love, and they will get a happily ever after. And it never gets old.

This is sort of my love letter to fanfiction. I love it. I love getting lost in it. I love the community around it. It’s my happy place.

If you love fanfiction, let me know what kind you like to read!

Book Reviews

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed – Book Review

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The death of my mother was the thing that made me believe the most deeply in my safety. Nothing bad could happen to me, I thought. The worst thing already had.


For years, I feared this book. I was first introduced to Cheryl Strayed in my college Creative Nonfiction class a few years back. I read her essay The Love of My Life and it gutted me. You see, I had that class one month after my mom passed away. Just like Cheryl Strayed, I was 22 when terminal cancer viciously stole my mom away from my life. Reading her essay brought me to tears, but it also opened a gateway for me to express my mixed emotions about losing my mom, who had also been the love of my life, as well as someone who had deeply wounded me at the age of 5 by leaving me with my grandparents while she moved thousands of miles away. Her essay was magnificent. It was raw and it was beautiful and it was exactly what I needed to read.

I feared that if I read this book, in which Cheryl Strayed goes on an incredible journey to try to face her demons after her mother’s death, I would feel lost. I thought that I would feel tremendously inferior to her because I haven’t done anything significant since my mom died. I graduated college, sure, but I’ve mostly just been battling my mental illnesses ever since that fateful day I saw her die. Reading Wild was difficult. It was impossible to read it without comparing her experience to mine. I kept asking myself: Did I do enough for my mom while she was alive? Because I avoided her during her last few months alive. I lived in denial. And Cheryl Strayed stuck around through the most difficult times. I knew deep down that this wasn’t the book’s intention. I shouldn’t be doing this. But it was practically impossible.

So I read, and I cried, and I wanted nothing more than to turn back time so I could be a better daughter for my dying mom. I know I should really talk about the book. This book isn’t just about Cheryl’s mom dying. It’s about Cheryl’s outstanding strength as she hiked over a thousand miles across the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s about her determination through the hardest of times. It’s about the wonderful and terrible people she encountered along the way. It’s about letting go and moving on. That is the beauty of this book. Certain aspects will touch people in different ways. I think there’s something here for everyone. If not a lesson, at least you’ll be entertained by the adventure.

 

What if I forgave myself?


I loved the way it was written, with the small flashbacks to her life before the PCT. I loved how it was all woven so creatively together. I felt like I was right there with her, every step of the way. I’m glad I was able to pick this up, even though it made me relive things I didn’t want to dig up. But I think it was good in the end. It was worth it.

4 stars

Book Reviews

The Outsider by Stephen King – Book Review

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“Time had passed. And time probably did heal all wounds. But God, some of them healed so slowly.”


I have to be honest. I was hesitant about picking up this book. The summary made it sound just like your average mystery story. I’m not really into mysteries, so I kept putting this one off. But I’m glad I gave it a chance. It might not have blown me away, but it did keep me very entertained.

This book follows the investigation of the brutal murder of a young boy in a small town where everybody knows everybody. The main suspect, seen by many witnesses in the town, is a well-known coach named Terry that’s always surrounded by young boys. All clues point to him being guilty. All except his solid alibi that proves he was miles away during the time of the murder. All that leaves is the impossibility that this man was in two places at once. Here begins the mystery.

I was very intrigued by the premise. I’ve been really into true crime lately, and that’s what this book felt like: a supernatural true crime story. And it was really interesting. I wasn’t sure who, or what, the killer was, and I just wanted some justice for that poor boy. I was sad, though not surprised, when my favorite character was killed. It’s just like Stephen King to do that. But anyway, I enjoyed this book nonetheless.

Although it felt a little too long, I’d recommend this book. It kept me hooked from start to finish. I loved the characters, the plot, and the satisfying ending.

3,5 stars

Lists, Uncategorized

Most Anticipated Books of 2019

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A new year means a ton new books being published. So we whipped up a list of books we are most excited for. And tell us what books are coming out that you need to read! Are they the same as ours? Or are we in desperate need of hearing about more books? Tell us in the comments below.

Isis:

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99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne
Expected publication: January 29th
She wrote The Hating Game which I loved, so I’m super excited about this book. I have no idea what it’s about, but I don’t care.

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Shadow Me by Tahereh Mafi
Expected publication: March 5th 
I need more Shatter Me books and this one is from Kenji’s POV so I’m sure it won’t disappoint. 
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Defy Me by Tahereh Mafi

Expected publication: April 2nd
I just need more Warner in my life. 
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Again, But Better by Christine Riccio

Expected publication: May 7th
I’ve been following Christine’s channel on YouTube for a long time. I’m so excited to read her first novel. I’m sure it’ll be great.
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Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell
Expected publication: 2019
While I didn’t love Carry On, I’m always up for good m/m romance.
Nicole:
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An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
Expected publication: January 8th
All I know is this is a thriller focused on women doing a psychology study which is kind of what what of my own books is about so I am all in. Isis was able to get me a couple of this already and I’m excited to pick it up.
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The Girl King by Mimi Yu
Expected publication: January 8th
I saw this cover on Twitter one day, and that’s all I need to want to read it.
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The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi
Expected publication: January 15th
Historical Paris with magic? Sign me up! I don’t think I’ve ever read Chokshi’s work before, and I’m excited to pick this one up because I’ve never seen a bad review about any of her books.
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Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
Expected publication: January 15th
I need to read everything Rick Riordan Presents puts out so obviously I have to read this one.
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On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
Expected publication: February 5th
This one is about a young girl hoping to become a rapper. I think it’ll be really interesting since I don’t think I’ve ever read a book about a rapper.
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The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf
Expected publication: February 5th
A girl suffering from OCD must find her mother during the race riots of 1969 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I have no doubt this will be an amazing debut. Just look at that cover.
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Game of Stars by Sayantani Dasgupta
Expected publication: February 26th
The first book was in my favorites of 2018 so of course I’m looking forward to it’s sequel.
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Internment by Samira Ahmed
Expected publication: March 19th
This one is about a possible near future where Muslims are forced into concentration camps. I don’t think this will be a fun read but a necessary one.
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You Owe Me A Murder by Eileen Cook
Expected publication: March 5th
I’ve been getting more into thrillers and this one sounds insane. It’s about two girls murdering for each other.
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The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad
Expected publication: May 14th
I saw this cover and knew I needed to read it. All I know is it is a YA fantasy, and I don’t need to know more.
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Wilder Girls by Rory Power
Expected publication: July 9th
A feminist Lord of the Flies with the most beautiful cover I’ve ever seen? I’m so excited for this debut.
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The Escape Room by Megan Goldin
Expected publication: August 6th
A corporate team has to do team building in an escape room and dark secrets come out. I’m so excited for this.
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Daddy by Robyn Harding
Expected publication: August 20th
Sugar daddies and murder sounds like it will be a wild ride that I can’t wait to get on.
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Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega
Expected publication: 2019
This is described as Coco meets Stranger Things so I would have wanted it anyway. But I discovered Ortega on Twitter through PitMad when she was talking about her 80s punk witch book and I knew she was someone I needed to follow because she was going to be a new favorite author whenever she gets published. I’m so excited it’s finally happening!
Book Recommendations, Book Tag, Lists, Uncategorized

Our Favorite Books of 2018

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Usually I would have had this up on the last day of December but I’ve been sick so it’s a little behind. But here are our favorite books that we have read in the past year!

 

Isis:

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Autoboyography by Christina Lauren 

This books started me off on a really positive note for the year. I read it while I was struggling with my mental health and it helped me get out of the hole where I felt I was buried. It’s such a good book about sexuality and religion and how the two can coexist. 

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The Long Walk by Stephen King 

When I finished this book I wanted to cry. I didn’t know what to do because I instantly missed it. This book made me so upset but also so happy. I loved so many of the characters and I felt so attached to their lives and their stories. I’ll never forget this book. 

 

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Turtles All The Way Down by John Green 

I related so much with the characters in this book. This is one of my favorite John Green books. I loved the representation of a character with anxiety and OCD. It was quite a ride. 

 

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Restore Me (Shatter Me #4) by Tahereh Mafi

I was really happy with the continuation of the Shatter Me series. It wasn’t perfect at all, but I got to read it alongside my friends and discuss it and that made it so much better. Also, any book with Warner is an awesome book. 

 

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The Hating Game by Sally Thorne 

This is one of the best rom-com books I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. It made me love the enemies to lovers scenario and it’s something I still can’t move on from. I loved the characters and the way they fell in love in the most unconventional ways. 

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Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram 

This book was so touching and so heart-warming. I loved the representation of depression and Iranian and Persian culture. It was such a sweet book overall. I wanted to keep reading it even after it was over. 

 

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A Sucky Love Story: Overcoming Unhappily Ever After by Brittani Louise Taylor

 This was a really great book. It was insane from start to finish but I couldn’t get enough of it. Brittani’s love story is quite sucky, but she did overcome some of the worst things a person could go through. 

 

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Riding With Brighton by Haven Francis 

I loved this coming of age story. It’s also a coming out story. The characters were lovely and so was the romance. It was one of those feel good stories that I know will always be there when I need a pick me up. 

 

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Fence Vol. 1 by C.S. Pacat 

This was an amazing start of this series. It totally blew me away. I loved the setting, the characters, and their stories. I can sense a very nice romantic build up between the main characters and it’s awesome. I can’t wait to continue with the series. 

 

Nicole:

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The Assassin’s Curse duology by Cassandra Rose Clark

These two belong together since really they should have been one book. These were my first two reads last year, and I love them so much. The pirates and the magic are everything I love about fantasy. And it has one of my favorite romances of all time.

 

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The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani Dasgupta 

This is the perfect start to a new middle grade fantasy series. It was so fast and funny and simply had everything that I love in a book with the added greatness of Indian rep that I hadn’t seen before.

 

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The Clocktaur War duology by T. Kingfisher

Again I have to put these two together since they should have been one book. This series made me laugh, made me cry, and made me stay up way too late in suspense. It’s one of those books I wish I could erase just so I can read it again for the first time. The lovely characters are some of my favorites of all time, and the romance was so sweet and realistic.

 

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The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

I did not expect much when I first picked up this book. So to have it as one of my favorites of the year is amazing to me. But this is such a hidden gem of a book about being true to yourself and your friends. With the best romance. I almost wrote fanfiction about this book when I finished it simply because I was not ready to leave the characters just yet.

 

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Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson

My absolute favorite book of the year also happens to have the best cover. Witches, zombies, female friendship, and fat rep? There was nothing that could make me dislike this book, but Anderson knocked it out of the park. Everyone needs to read this book.

Book Reviews

A Sucky Love Story: Overcoming Unhappily Ever After by Brittani Louise Taylor – Book Review

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An incredibly shocking cautionary tale. I can’t believe everything this girl had to go through. I’ve been following Brittani Louise Taylor since I found her on YouTube around 2009. She made Twilight parodies with Shane Dawson, and I was hooked.

I’ve always liked Brittani. She has always given off good vibes, and I think she’s a genuine person. I used to follow her vlogs and sketches. When I found out she was engaged and pregnant, I was very surprised. A while passed, and I stopped watching her videos. When I heard about this book, I was even more surprised. Brittani was a big part of my teenage years, so of course I had to read her book. I just wish it wasn’t on this topic.

This book follows Brittani’s love life through the span of a couple of years. She found love on Tinder, and it sent her life on a complete spiral. I could easily relate because, just like her, I went on Tinder in the hopes of finding someone I could have a real connection with. I think this book is just another bit of proof that Tinder is definitely not the right place to find a partner.

I have to say, everything in this book was shocking. Some of it was crude, but the honesty swept me away. There were many things I didn’t like, or agree with, but I respected Brittani for being so genuine in her writing. I am no one to judge her decisions and the ways she expressed herself about certain people. I loved the way she wrote the book. At first, she stayed far away from cusswords, but by the end, she was cussing like a sailor and she was not apologetic about it. I loved it. She evolved along with the story. I was able to experience everything in the same way she did.

To say the least, this story is insane. There are twists and turns that you wouldn’t see coming. At least, I didn’t. It’s incredible that she had to live through all of this. I teared up a few times. My mom was a victim of domestic abuse, so it always gets to me when reading about the topic. I really felt for Brittani. But again, I respected her so much for everything she did. She is a survivor. She got out, even when all she could feel was fear. I felt that fear, too, while reading this.

I recommend this story to anyone wanting to read about a strong woman overcoming one of the worst situations imaginable. However, if you are sensitive to domestic violence and abuse, you might want to stay away from this. I was extremely angry all the time reading this. So, just be wary of that before going into it.

5 stars