What I Read In April

April was the most demanding month of my life. Between classes and papers and finals and meetings and work and trips and friends, the month completely flew by. That being said, I’m so happy with past me for reading 5 books! My semester/freshman year ends tomorrow (internal screaming), so here’s to some much needed time off with ALL the books!

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J.Maas (4/5 Stars)- This was my second time reading ACOTAR, as I was anticipating the release of A Court of Wings and Ruin, the final book in the trilogy (I know that there are more books coming out in the ACOTAR world, but I’m considering the first three books about Feyre a trilogy). While I enjoyed my reread, I was not as enchanted with ACOTAR this time around, especially knowing what happens in the second book. However, I was reminded of Feyre’s strength, and I also noticed more of the Beauty and the Beast elements this time around. I posted a reread review of ACOTAR a few weeks ago as well.

Wires and Nerve, Volume #1 by Marissa Meyer (4/5 stars)- As a fan of The Lunar Chronicles, I was so excited to get my hands on the series’ first graphic novel. I loved seeing the characters the way Marissa Meyer envisioned them, and I enjoyed having Iko as the main protagonist. I always wanted her point of view in the original four books (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter) to begin with. However, I wish Wires and Nerve had taken place after Stars Above, the TLC novella bind-up, instead of taking place before the final novella in the book. I’m also a bit disappointed about the next volume not coming until 2018.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (5/5 stars)- Between Angie Thomas rocking the New York Times Best Sellers List since The Hate U Give’s release in February and all the hype surrounding this book in the YA community, I was so excited to get my hands on this 2017 release. If there’s one thing (there were many things, don’t worry) that stood out to me while reading THUG, it is its contemporary relevance. THUG is based on the Black Lives Matter Movement, as our main protagonist Starr witnesses her childhood best friend die at the hands of a police officer. I haven’t rated a book 5 out of 5 stars in a while, and I have a full review of THUG up on the blog.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas (4.5/5 Stars)– In addition to rereading ACOTAR, I reread A Court of Mist and Fury this month in anticipation of ACOWAR. I enjoyed my reread of ACOMAF a lot more than ACOTAR, as I loved being reunited with the Court of Dreams and Velaris. My biggest issue with this read was most of the romantic elements set in the novel, which I discuss in my reread review of ACOMAF.

South of Sunshine by Dana Elmendorf (3/5 stars)South of Sunshine follows Kaycee, a high school senior living in Sunshine, Tennessee. Kaycee does her best to hide that fact that she is a lesbian in her small, Christian town, until Bren shows up and turns Sunshine and Kaycee upside. I really enjoyed the setting of this book, and it made sad that Kaycee felt that she couldn’t be herself around her friends and family. However, I felt a big disconnect with this book , as I did not enjoy the writing style and often grew frustrated with the characters.

Favorite Book: The Hate U Give. THERE ARE HARRY POTTER AND HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL REFERENCES PEOPLE!!!

What books did you read in April? Share in the comments below!

A Court of Mist and Fury Reread Review

Happy A Court of Wings and Ruin Release Day!!With Sarah J.Maas’s A Court of Wings and Ruin’s finally out, I knew I had to reread A Court of Thorns and Roses and A Court of Mist and Fury before starting the last book in this trilogy. ACOMAF was one of my favorite reads of 2016, again hailing Sarah J.Maas as the queen of fantasy. While I really enjoyed my reread, I wasn’t completely memorized by ACOMAF this time around. Without going into spoilery detail, I was not too enchanted by the romance in this novel, as I was more focused on the characters’ backstories, action, and world-building. Despite my dislike for the romantic elements, I cannot wait to get my hands on ACOWAR once my semester is over! I preordered the book from Barnes & Noble and completed the preorder promotion for a map of the ACOTAR world!

**Warning:This review contains ACOMAF spoilers. **

What I Liked :

  • Learning more about the Court of Dreams My favorite part of ACOMAF are the members of the Court of Dreams– Rhysand, Cassian, Azriel, Mor, and Amren. While I don’t mind Feyre as the main narrator, I enjoy reading about the members of the Court of Dreams so much more. They all add their own character to the story, and I love the humor and Cassian and Mor often bring. I laughed out when Mor hopes that Feyre isn’t dead when she checks in on her at the cabin.
  • The world-building I loved going to the Summer Court and meeting Tarquin and his court. I have a feeling Tarquin will definitely make an appearance or two in ACOWAR, as the Summer Court and Spring Court are allies. I also fell in love with the city of Velaris. I love the contrast between the darkness that comes with being labeled as the Night Court and the rainbow and color that is Velaris. I was screaming during the battle over the city.
  • The ending The court’s trip to Hybern comes shortly after the Rhysand and Feyre are mates/let’s have sex and celebrate scenes, so I was looking for more action as the pages dwindled.  AND SARAH J. MAAS COMPLETELY DELIVERED. Between the appearance of Jurian, the arrival of the Spring Court and Feyre’s sisters, and all the drama and tension in that scene, I was again having all the fangirl feels.
  • Remembering scenes that I had forget about- I think by just focusing on the ending of the novel and thinking about what’s to come in ACOWAR, I forgot a lot of the plot details and scenes in the novel. For example, I forgot about the mortal queens’ involvement with the Book and Lucien’s hunt for Feyre.

What I Disliked:

  • The emphasis on the romance– Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Feyre and Rhysand as a couple and I understand that their bond is a key element to the novel’s plot. However, I hated how almost every scene had to have some sort of detail about their feelings and how hot one looked with their Illyrian wings. I just felt like it took away from the novel’s action and suspense.
  • The sex scenes– In my opinion, the sex scenes in ACOTAR and ACOMAF place the series into the new adult genre instead of the young adult genre. Personally, I do not enjoy the sex scenes because I find them a bit unnecessary and a bit too detailed. I understand Feyre and Rhysand have these deep feelings for each other, but I don’t need to know about what Rhysand wants to do his mate laying on the kitchen table.

What are you most looking forward to in ACOWAR? Let me know in the comments below!!

Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Summary: Sixteen-year old Starr Carter leads two lives: the one in her poor, black neighborhood and the one at her predominantly white high school. Starr does her best to balance both worlds, until she witnesses her childhood best friend, Khalil, die at the hands of a police officer.  Contrary to the officer’s belief, Khalil was unarmed and innocent. Starr deals with the aftermath of Khalil’s death head on, as he quickly becomes a national headline and Starr’s community looks for answers. Starr must decide how she’ll prove to her friends, community and the nation that Khalil wasn’t the thug the police and media are trying to make him out as.

Star Rating: 5/5 Stars

Cover Lust?: Yes! This cover is just so clean and I love the way Starr’s poster stands out in person

My Thoughts:

I admit, I was a little nervous to pick up The Hate U Give because of all of the hype it was receiving. Angie Thomas’s debut novel has been #1 on the New York Times Bestsellers list for weeks,and so many bloggers and Booktubers are raving about it. I was afraid that I would end up not liking the book. However, within the first three chapters of The Hate U Give, I just fell into it.  When I’m completely memorized by a book in the very beginning, I know there’s a 99.99% chance that I’m going to absolutely love it and I did.

I was enchanted with many of the characters, especially Starr. She’s the side we rarely get in these horrific situations. I love how this book portrays what we don’t see in the media: what actually happened.While it was heartbreaking, I greatly appreciated Thomas for writing Starr’s breakdowns throughout the book. The tears don’t stop right after Khalil dies; they continue throughout the period after his death. Starr didn’t magically stop feeling sad and suddenly become this martyr. She struggles to prove that her friend wasn’t a thug. He was a human, he was her Harry Potter-loving best friend.

Sidenote: I loved the Harry Potter storyline in this book. Starr, Khalil, and Natasha were their own trio. I mean c’mon, “tighter than the inside of Voldemort’s nose”?? That’s genius! I also enjoyed how Seven and Starr find comfort in the series. One of my favorite moments was when Starr’s dad offered to watch Harry Potter with her, even though he didn’t understand why no one ever thought to just shot Voldemort.

The Carters soon became one of my favorite families in the YA world. They have such a strong family dynamic and each brought their own character to the story. Beside his humor, Starr’s dad was one of my favorite characters in THUG because of his love for his family. He refuses to be defined by his past and just wants a better life for his kids.. Also,can Starr’s mom be my honorary aunt or something?? She was just so extremely caring and gave Starr such great advice and support. One of my favorite quotes in the novel comes from Lisa, telling Starr, “Brave doesn’t mean you’re not scared, Starr. It means you go on even though you’re scared”. I also loved Starr’s relationship with Seven and Sekani, as they go from giving each other wedgies to standing up for one another.

From the  #BlackLivesMatter movement to Starr’s use of social media, I love the contemporary relevance in this book. It feels like 2017. In relation to the political climate that is the #BlackLivesMatter movement, I like how Starr and Thomas make it a point that not all cops are bad, which is additionally exemplified through her Uncle Carlos. They want to call attention to police officers who are in the wrong and don’t take responsibility for their actions.

It was so heartbreaking and frustrating that Starr’s story wasn’t taken seriously in the eyes of the jury and other individuals. In relation to social media, I love how Starr’s Tumblr and Twitter reflect her activism. I even love how during her fight with Hailey, someone shouts “World Star”. While it was a small detail, the fight would be something that was posted to the“World Star” Twitter account. It made it feel like something similar could have happened in any high school or college.

Overall, I loved The Hate U Give because I learned something. I learned about Tupac and Thug Life (by the way, Angie Thomas is a genius for coming up with the anagram, THUG!!!). I learned to not make conceptions about people based on their race, their class, their habits. I learned that it is important to stand up for what you believe in. To stand up for the truth and the people you love.

Have you read The Hate U Give? Share your thoughts and feels in the comments!

How to Read for Fun in College

Between classes, clubs, and coursework, college is a super busy time. As an English major, I’m constantly reading for my classes, and I do my best to read for fun. If you’re trying to improve your reading game while at school, here are some tips for lowering your TBR pile!

Read before going to bed

Instead of scrolling through Instagram or watching one more episode of Gilmore Girls (I’m definitely guilty of this with Friends) before going to bed, try reading instead . By not staring at a bright light and focusing on the pages, you’ll feel relaxed and hopefully you’ll fall asleep easier. Unless you’re reading Crooked Kingdom and are way too invested in those characters. I think I cried myself to sleep after staying up until 1 AM on that emotion-filled journey.

Always carry a book on you

Always having a book on you is perfect for that half hour between classes or waiting for your next club meeting to start. If you’re not meeting a friend for lunch, pull out a book if you’re talented enough to not get crumbs or spills on the pages.

Use Goodreads as a motivation tool

Goodreads allows you to keep track of your TBR pile and keeps you up to date on the latest bookish news. The website has a ton of other features, such as giveaways, interaction with readers and authors, and setting reading goals.

Don’t stress out about reading or not reading

Reading for fun should be relaxing,not stressful. Don’t be worried about far along you should be in your reading goal. Don’t push yourself to keep when you have a paper to write or an exam to study for. While it’s hard to stop reading at times, my schoolwork is always my number one priority, even if it means not picking up A Court of Wings and Ruin the day it comes out.

Read books that you have a lot of interest in

Keep books at school that you are genuinely interested in reading. By doing so, you’ll be even more excited and motivated to read. Save books that you want to read purely for the hype or that you randomly picked up for breaks. If you start reading a book and aren’t liking it, put it down! You’ll have more time to pick up a book that you’ll actually enjoy.

What are some of your tips for reading during the school year? Share in the comments below!

Ron Chernow Talk

2017 continues to be another year of Hamilton for me! Last week, Ron Chernow gave a forum discussion at my school. Ron Chernow is the author of a Alexander Hamilton, aka the 800 page (!!!) biography that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to write his hit-musical about the founding father. I actually bought the book right after seeing Hamilton back in January, but I’ve only read a few sections that mainly focus on his relationship with Eliza. I’m really enjoying it so far  because the book reads more like a narrative than a history lesson.

Over 800 people came to the discussion, and it was so cool to see that many people interested in Hamilton in one space. Chernow began his talk by discussing some key points about Alexander’s life. As seen in the musical, he joked that Hamilton loved to talk, which helped him a lot as Washington’s right hand man and later Secretary of the Treasury. He also explained how Burr and Hamilton came to their famous duel. Despite what the show depicts, it wasn’t just the election of 1800 that caused them to duel (side note: the Drunk History episode does a fantastic job making this point as well and features Lin as our narrator!).

 

Chernow soon transitioned to talking about Hamilton: An American Musical and how he became involved in the project. He admitted that he was a bit skeptical of Lin’s idea at first, but Lin’s passion and determination won him over. When he recalled the first time Lin sang “Alexander Hamilton” to him, Chernow sang the entire song on stage! It was so genuine and funny, I just couldn’t stop smiling! He also shared some behind the scenes information about the show.I knew that the characters’ type of singing had something to do with their age, for example, Jefferson sings jazz while the rest of the characters have moved on to rap. However  I never knew that the characters’ appearance above their neck was purposely modern-looking, while their outfits were inspired by eighteenth and nineteenth century wear.

Toward the end of the discussion, Chernow answered questions from the audience. Many of the history teachers in the crowd thanked Chernow for making history fun again. They said that Hamilton has  inspired to students to learn more about Alexander Hamilton’s time in history, as well as easily incorporating the musical into their lesson plans. My hands-down favorite questions came at the end by two children, who asked what Chernow’s  favorite song was (“Satisfied”) and if he would sign their books (yes). Overall, it was so exciting to have Ron Chernow at my school and hope to attend more Hamilton-esque events in the future.

Review: Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Summary: Before she became the Queen of Hearts, all Cath wanted to do was open the best bakery in Wonderland.In Cath’s parents’ opinion, their daughter should be more concerned about her impending engagement to the King than baking lemon tarts. Cath dreads receiving the King’s proposal at a royal ball, until she meets Jest, the handsome court joker. With Jest by her side, Cath is more than ready to open her bakery, even it its means losing her way to the throne. However, Cath forgets that this is Wonderland after all, and Wonderland has its own plans for Cath’s future.

Star Rating: 4.75/5 Stars. I really loved this book, however, I disliked some parts and couldn’t give it a full 5 stars.

Cover Lust?: Yes! The cover art and its typography is stunning, but what makes this books even more aesthetically pleasing is that IT IS ABSOLUTELY BEAUTIFUL NAKED!

My Thoughts: When I picked up Heartless, I was a craving a fun, fantasy read and this book more than satisfied my desire. Marissa Meyer created her own Wonderland, along with reflecting Lewis Carroll’s original tale. There was croquet with hedgehogs and flamingos, mad tea parties, three creepy sisters in a well, talking animals, and so much other whimsy!

I really enjoyed Cath as the main character because of her determination. I adored how baking was her true passion, and  learning how to make lemon tarts is on my priority list. I loved her friendship with Mary Ann (yay positive female friendships!). However, the one problem that I had with Cath was her agonizing over the King and Jest. While there was some action and excitement in between, I needed more of a conclusion sooner. Along with Cath, I loved Jest so much. He was so mysterious and lovely and brought his own magic and whimsy to the story. I wasn’t a huge fan of his bestie, Hatta. From the moment Hatta met Cath, I suspected that he had something behind his back.

I knew going into this novel that it was a Queen of Hearts retelling, but I admit, I rooted for an ending where Cath didn’t become the Queen of Hearts. When Cath re-enters Hearts toward the end, I was somewhat convinced that Marissa Meyer would deliver an alternate ending. However, I did enjoy Cath’s transformation and seeing the title of the book come to life. As a fan of Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles series, Cath’s story reminded me of Levana’s transformation in Fairest.  I look forward to Meyer’s future books, and I really hope she keeps writing about fairytales!

Have you read Heartless? Share your thoughts and feels in the comments below!

Spring 2017 TBR

Happy Spring! There are some great book releases coming out this spring, so I’m excited to get a head start on those and some pre-2017 books this season.

Heartless by Marissa Meyer– As a huge fan of Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles series, I’m actually surprised that I haven’t read Heartless yet. While Heartless isn’t a fairytale retelling, it’s a backstory about the Queen of Hearts. All Catherine wants to do is open a bakery in Wonderland, but her parents’ plan for their daughter involves a marriage to the King. I’m really excited for all of the baking in this book!

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon– Not only am I happy that the two main characters in When Dimple Met Rishi are Indian-American (yay diversity!), but I’m also super excited with the fact that this being promoted as a YA romantic comedy. We obviously have a lot of romance in YA, but not romantic comedy!! When Dimple Met Rishi follows two teens, Dimple and Rishi, who meet at a summer program for web developers. What makes Dimple and Rishi’s story different from others is that they aren’t just fellow camp-mates; they’re each other’s arranged spouse. When Dimple Met Rishi comes out on May 30.

A Court of Wings and Ruin (ACOTAR #3) by Sarah J.Maas– The conclusion to the A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy, A Court of Wings and Ruin, is sure to break me! I’m so ready to be reunited with the Night Court and find out how Feyre’s story ends. Since ACOTAR was a Beauty and the Beast retelling and A Court of Mist and Fury was inspired by the story of Hades and Persephone, I’m excited to see what Sarah J. Maas has in store when this book comes out on May 2.

A Psalm for Lost Girls by Katie Bayerl– Contemporary meets mystery meets religion in Katie Bayerl’s debut novel, A Psalm for Lost Girls. A March 2017 release, the book follows the aftermath of Tess da Costa’s death, whose town believed that Tess was a miracle-producing saint. When the town petitions for Tess’s official sainthood, her twin sister, Callie, refuses to join in on the cause. All she wants to do is prove that Tess was more than a saint; she was Callie’s sister and best friend. When Ana, a girl who has been missing for six months, is found alive at Tess’s shrine, Callie is more than ready to uncover Tess’s real identity.

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V. E. Schwab– I finally started reading Victoria Schwab’s books this year and I’m absolutely obsessed! I read This Savage Song and Vicious, and I can’t wait to dive into this book about magic and parallel universes and so much more. Once this school semester ends, I plan on diving into A Darker Shade of Magic and marathoning the Shades of Magic trilogy. 

What are books are you excited to read this spring? Comment below!

What I Want to Reread in 2017

I’m always so focused on my growing TBR pile that I feel like I don’t have time to go back and reread. While i constantly look to Harry Potter and Fangirl for my rereading needs, I’m hoping to expand outside my ‘comfort zone’ and re-pick up these books before the end of 2017!
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell– I absolutely loved Carry On when it first came out and I’m still obsessed. Frankly, I love all of Rainbow Rowell’s books and I’d read her grocery list if I could (she often tweets about cake from Whole Foods, so I think my wish is already semi-complete). I can’t wait to dive back into the world of Simon Snow and Baz and magic and romance and everything else! Since I own two copies of the book already, one signed, you could say that I’m more than prepared for this reread. And you better believe I’m buying the gorgeous paperback edition when it comes out in May!

A Court of Thorns & Roses and A Court of Mist & Fury by Sarah J.Maas– I would love to reread A Court of Thorns and Roses and A Court of Mist and Fury before the conclusion to this series, A Court of Wings and Ruin, comes out on May 2. I plan on rereading these alongside Kristin of Super Space Chick, Cristina of Girl in the Pages, and Alexa Loves Books’ACOTAR Series Reread event. Like me, these bloggers know how everyone is super-busy trying to manage their TBR piles. That being said, this reread event has a relaxed reading schedule and what makes it extra-exciting is that Kristina, Cristina, and Alexa will be hosting giveaways in their wrap-up posts for each novel!

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon– With the film adaptation coming out on May 19th,I want to refresh my memory of Everything, Everything before seeing the movie. Since the book is on the shorter side, I should have no problem giving this a quick reread. Everything, Everything follows a girl and her allergy to the outside world, the latter becoming more problematic when she falls in love with the boy next door. If you plan on reading the book before the movie, I recommend not watching the trailer, as in true 2017 movie trailer fashion, the trailer gives away most of the book’s plot.

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner– I picked up this book in 2015 and I enjoyed it, but I really was not into the sci-fi aspect of the novel. This book is often hyped as ‘Titanic in space’, as two protagonists come from two different economic backgrounds and are the only ones to survive when their luxury spaceship liner crashes. Since I’ve picked up more sci-fi since then and love Kaufman’s The Illuminae Files, I really want to give These Broken Stars another go. Its gorgeous cover is also giving me motivation to reread.

If you could reread any book in 2017, what would it be? Share your answers and comments below!