Harry-Potter-20

Hi friends!

It’s been a while! I promise I haven’t completely fallen off the map; I’ve been making videos and reading and such, but I have to admit, I haven’t had the itch to write in quite a while. Today, however, I’m inspired by the Twittersphere because it happens to be twenty years since J. K. Rowling first publishing the Philosopher’s Stone, the first book in the Harry Potter series. #HarryPotter20 has been trending all morning, and I have to say, I’ve been a bit weepy thinking about the world’s love for this particular Wizarding World.

Call it sentimental silliness (even though I just read the books for the first time as an adult), or call it inspiration, but I’ve decided to reread the books (again) with Pottermore’s new book club, the Wizarding World Book Club (@wwbookclub on Twitter). Weekly discussions exist on Twitter—which, correct me if I’m wrong, but I think they center on different themes and further CHAPTER chats—as well as published articles delving into the different topics and character studies. All this to say, I’m extremely excited to continue to learn from this lovely series, especially alongside true Potterheads.

Reading about the boy who lived for the first time—as an adult—was one of the most magical experiences of my life. J. K. Rowling taught me that my childhood could live also, and while I grieve the fact that my eleven-year-old self didn’t adventure with Hermione and the gang, I like to think I found her in these pages: a wildly hopeful kid with Hogwarts-sized dreams and a ravenpuff heart. Happy twentieth birthday. Here’s to you, Wizarding World, for shining a light in the dark. I like to think this good-over-evil story is just a taste of what’s to come. xx

24-hour-readathon

Where I’ll be reading today. 🙂 It’s very cozy with the light streaming in.

I’m joining in (last minute, of course) with thousands of readers today for Dewey’s Read-a-thon! I won’t be able to read all day, but I do have quite a few books I want to finish before May 1st (and the Do-a-thon!).

I’m treating today as a “wrap-up day” for all the books I’ve either (1) been reading forever and can’t seem to finish or (2) put down at the beginning of the month and neglected to pick back up. Strangely, I’ve been enjoying all of the books on this list; life has just been in the way a lot lately.

Other things I need to do today:

  • Edit several pages of a manuscript before deadline day.
  • Walk the pup.
  • Meal prep/buy groceries.
  • Clean the house, including mountains of laundry.
  • Scope out some children’s books at the library to read to the third-grade class next week.

The good news is that I can listen to my audiobook while I fold said mountain of laundry!

On my TBR today:

  • The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater
  • The Books of Magic by Neil Gaiman (graphic novel)
  • Monstress by Marjorie Liu (graphic novel)
  • How People Change by Paul David Tripp and Timothy S. Lane
  • American Gods by Neil Gaiman (audiobook)

Mini challenge (#1):

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Raleigh, NC
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? The Dream Thieves
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Banana, berry, and spinach smoothie!
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I’m a full-time book editor and have way too much to read/edit. 🙂
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? I didn’t participate last time, but I’m looking forward to finally finishing book #2 in the Raven Cycle. I love it, but it’s just taking me forever. 

definitions-of-indefinable-things-book-review

While I’m so grateful to have received this book from the publisher, I’m sad to say it wasn’t for me. I can see how this book would be a favorite for younger (snarky?) readers, and the writing was decent, but I just couldn’t stomach the YA cliches, bad attitudes/angst, pretentiousness, and other frustrating elements.

I really REALLY wanted to love this book, and I do think fans of John Green or “witty” romance will potentially enjoy this book. I did like, for the most part, how the author portrayed depression and how it can take many shapes in our lives and in the lives of people we love. The letter at the very end of the book was probably my favorite part of the novel for this reason; the main character defines depression for herself and likens the experience to walking a tightrope. If the whole book had been written with this level of vulnerability and humble insight, I may have enjoyed it more.

The main reason I disliked this book was because the main character, Reggie, is one of the most frustrating characters, and not in a Holden Caulfield/endearing kind of way. She hates everything and everyone (and says it multiple times; the author doesn’t even show us this. She tells us). She is mean to everyone she comes in contact with (without reason), which somehow spurs on the romance?

Which leads me to the boy, “Snake.” I really didn’t like the romance. Snake continues to pursue her even though she tells him she hates him and insults him pretty much every time she sees him. I also felt that Snake was way too pushy about their relationship. He literally grabs her at one point and she asks him to let her go, and he doesn’t? I guess it was supposed to be a cute, quirky part of their relationship, their banter and “I don’t give a shit” attitudes about the “uselessness of our condition,” but to be honest, it didn’t come across on the page for me. Maybe it did for other readers, and again, maybe high school readers will feel differently about this book. I just personally didn’t find it funny or endearing, and I didn’t connect with the characters at all. I wanted to stop reading, but a few reviewers mentioned that it got better as the book went on.

At one point, Snake literally told Reggie, “You were wrecked before you met me . . . it suits you though.” Which, in my opinion, felt a bit off. I wouldn’t say it’s romanticizing mental illness in any way, but I definitely got the sense that Snake and Reggie held this superior attitude because of their illness. I don’t know. Maybe I’m hyper sensitive to it, but I didn’t enjoy this book.

I agree with other reviewers that I think people will like or maybe even love this book, and I’m sure people will be able to relate to it, so it isn’t really a one star for me. I also think the author is a talented writer; the characters just weren’t for me.

the-hate-u-give-angie-thomas

Like many other reviewers, I am astounded by this book. I don’t think the right words will come, but I’m going to try.

This book deserves all the hype it received. It was like a sucker punch to the heart in the best way. But it hurts, because it exposes everything.

I’m sure The Hate U Give wasn’t written so white people like me could better understand what it’s like for a black girl like Starr to live her life and experience the injustice she experienced. It was written so people like her—whose representation in media is always lacking—could see themselves in this main character and feel known and empowered.

Even so, I gained so much from learning about Starr’s perspective, and I’m so thankful for the author’s truthful, raw portrayal. This truly is why we need diverse books—but even more so, why we need #OwnVoices books.

This story made me laugh, cry, smile, and feel sick to my stomach. There were moments I happily turned pages to learn about Starr and her family, her boyfriend, her struggles and grief, and then there were moments when I was practically ripping through pages, at the edge of my seat to see what would happen next. It was a character-driven and plot-driven book. The best kind.

The Hate U Give is electrifying. It’s compassionate, complex, powerful, mournful, and fed up. It doesn’t sugar coat the truth. I don’t think I could ever forget about Khalil, even though we barely got to know him directly as the reader. I’m thankful for Angie, who, like Starr, shines a light in the darkness.

Hi, friends!

I haven’t shared my thoughts on what I’ve been reading lately because, quite frankly, I haven’t been reading a lot. I’ve been reading a ton for my job, and I think that’s part of the problem. I edit stories all day (and sometimes night) long—and by the end of the day, my eyes are usually killing me and the last thing I want to do is read.

But lately, I haven’t exactly been in a reading slump. In fact, I desperately want to read so many of the books on my shelves; I just don’t have the time or eye muscle strength (that’s a thing, right?).

But I’m coming out of the fog. My schedule is getting back to normal a bit, which means I’m reaching for a book more often than not. The only problem is that I’ve been juggling so many incredible books, I don’t know which one I should pick up!

Here’s what I’m currently reading:

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

the-hate-u-give

Most YA lovers know that this book is all over the place right now, which makes my heart so happy. Angie Thomas is changing the world, y’all, and I’m so thrilled to be able to watch it happen from Twitter. The Hate U Give is about a sixteen-year-old girl named Starr who happens to be the only witness to the fatal shooting of her best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. This book is incredibly relevant right now and captures the heart of the Black Lives Matter movement. I am only about sixty to seventy pages in, and I can already tell it’s going to be a favorite of mine. It’s already a best seller and (!!!) has a movie deal in the works.

Moloka’i by Alan Brennert

moloka'i

Moloka’i is a heart-wrenching tale of a young girl named Rachel who is separated from her family and taken to a quarantined leprosy settlement on the island of Moloka’i. I started reading this with a few other bookish friends but couldn’t, unfortunately, keep up. I’m still really enjoying it, even though I’m only about 140 pages in. It shocked me how deeply emotional I am while reading this book. I knew it would be horrifying and painful to read about, but I didn’t anticipate how connected I would feel to the main character and her family. There’s something so unsettling about the whole thing, and I find myself having to skip over some gruesome scenes because the writing is so realistic. I’m excited to continue with this book, but I definitely have to be in the right mood to pick it up. I find myself wanting to read more about the history of Moloka’i and the history of leprosy.

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

dream-thieves

I read Raven Boys last month and was OBSESSED. It seriously had everything I could ever want in a YA book . . . a bit of fantasy/magical realism, a slow-burning love story, friendship, weird family secrets, adventure/mystery, murder, and so much more. I’ve been told that Dream Thieves is even better, and I just can’t wait. I’m not very far into it (maybe seventy pages?) but I know I’m going to breeze through it once I let myself GO for it. I love Gansey so much and I really, really can’t wait to see what happens. This book/series is about a girl named Blue who grows up with a family of women psychics. Her life “strangely” collides (that’s all i’m going to say to avoid spoilers) with a group of boys from a local all-boys private school, and they’re known as the Raven Boys. All you know going into the book is that Blue has been told her whole life that she will be the reason her true love dies . . . and she’s very close to falling in love. That’s all I needed to know to be hooked.

Monstress by Sana Takeda—and other graphic novels

monstress

My friend Paul recently let me borrow several of his favorite graphic novels to help me dip my toes in the world of comics and graphic novels. I have to say, I’m thankful for the nudge; it’s intimidating to get into graphic novels when you don’t know where to start! A lot of the ones he gave me are older—from the nineties—but a few are newer, such as Paper Girls, volume one, by Brian K. Vaughan, which I already finished and loved. I honestly don’t know anything about any of these graphic novels, especially Monstress, but I’m excited to get into them, and I trust my friend’s judgment. They were expertly curated based on my interests, so hopefully they’ll be fantastic. 😉 Neil Gaiman blurbed Monstress, writing that it was “remarkable: a beautifully told story of magic and fear,” so, I mean, I’m here for it.

Yes Please! by Amy Poehler

yes-please-audiobook

I’m listening to this funny, touching, and empowering book on Audible. It’s the perfect audiobook—it grips you and keeps you entertained without getting too heavy or too caught up in descriptions, which can be hard to focus on when listening to an audiobook. This is a book of personal essays about Amy’s professional and personal life, and it’s full of her perfect humor throughout. I’m convinced the audiobook has to be better than physically reading the book, because not only does Amy narrate her own book, but some parts are narrated by other beloved characters, including her BFF Seth Meyers. She’s just so hilarious. I love all of her reflections on Parks & Rec, funny little anecdotes about her childhood, and her thoughts on women in the workplace, motherhood, childbirth, and getting started in comedy.

Rising Strong by Brené Brown

rising-strong

I’m also listening to Rising Strong on Audible, which is also narrated by the author. I am LOVING this book so far. I read Daring Greatly and want to read all of her other books ASAP. My friends and I are reading this together, and it’s all about vulnerability, strength, and the reckoning, rumble, and rising moments of life. She’s taught me so much already about how I view vulnerability, empathy, and sharing the wounds before they become scars, which is something we’re taught by society to run from in life. Brené has the best anecdotes, like Amy Poehler, except Brené’s really stay with me for a long, long time. Pretty much everything about her research spills out into my every day life, and I have those explosive “a ha!” moments every single chapter. I’m almost done with this, book, but I strangely don’t want it to end.

There are a few others on my TBR that I’d like to get to sooner rather than later, but these are the books I’ve actually started/almost finished. What are you reading? Are you juggling a million books, too?