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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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?

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I didn’t know what read-a-thons were until I got into BookTube, but since I’ve learned of the existence of low-key (or overly ambitious) weekly Internet goals with different reading challenges, I’ve fallen in love with the whole concept.

THE JOYS OF READ-A-THONS

Read-a-thons, in case you’re unaware, are themed (or broad and casual) “events” hosted by one or more bookish people to “marathon” reading: to focus on intentional reading, whether it be reading as many books as you can, tackling your TBR at full speed, or reading certain genres or about a certain subject matter for a set amount of days (usually five to seven). Sometimes there are challenges or rules; sometimes there are none.

The best part about read-a-thons is the community, HANDS. DOWN. Reading alongside other people who are also making reading a priority for the week, even in the midst of chaos or busy schedules, is extremely motivating. There are sometimes Twitter sprints (designated chunks of time where readers put away all distractions to read together), video challenges or Twitter discussions, giveaways, and the like. I love read-a-thons because it pushes me to read more than I normally would in a given week or short period of time. Do I ever complete all the read-a-thon goals? Rarely. But my goodness does it enrich my reading experiences.

Read-a-thons are active. You just do it.

WHAT IF WE APPLIED INTENTIONAL “MARATHONING” TO OUR LIVES OUTSIDE OF BOOKS?

I started thinking: What if we got excited for marathons centered on intentional living? What if we set aside a week to focus on not just books (*gasp*), but our ambitions and our goals?

I love the bookish community because it’s all about books. But I also love getting to know the people in the bookish community and all of their real-life desires, fears, motivations, and ambitions. It’s why I love to watch vlogs: I love pulling aside the curtain to see the book lover and the mother, daughter, student, activist, entrepreneur, writer, and creative individual.

I think part of the reason why bookish people love to meet IRL is because we get to see beyond the books. We get to see what makes the other tick. We get to see dreams and passions beyond our shared passion for reading.

DO-A-THON: INTENTIONAL LIVING FOR ONE WEEK (May 1 – 7, 2017)

I love reading goals as much as the next bookish person, and I’m not willing to give that up for anyone. Reading goals already produce joy and growth in my life. But there are so many areas of my life that I neglect or put off because—as with a growing TBR pile—it’s intimidating or I need the motivation.

So, I want to propose something different. I want to host a week-long DO-A-THON to #GetShitDone and #GetInspired. But not just the boring-but-necessary things, like cleaning out my closet KonMari Style (though I desperately need to do this, and the DO-A-THON would be the perfect motivation).

I want to devote a week of my time to doing the things I always say I’m going to do or want to do.

I want to zero in on a creative project.

I want to finally produce those new marketing materials I’ve been putting off for my business.

I want to volunteer in my community.

I want to read to kids at an early literacy program.

I want to start a garden, start composting, organize my sewing room, LEARN TO SEW, learn to hula hoop, and send more post cards.

Listen. This isn’t bucket-list-athon (though it absolutely can be about those bucket list items). Sometimes to create space in our lives, we need to do the things that aren’t fun but necessary. The reality is, I need to clean out my closet and wash my car. But I also need to do some soul work. Maybe it’s the accountability and intentional goal to ask a stranger to coffee or go without makeup for one week. Maybe it’s finally focusing on starting your Etsy shop, or redesigning your invoices, or taking a break from social media, or figuring out an easier way to sort through your mail.

Maybe a part of your DO-A-THON is actually a book-related goal! Maybe you want to read a certain number of books like other read-a-thons, or maybe you want to finally take the plunge and start a BookTube or book blog.

CHALLENGES FOR THE DO-A-THON

The DO-A-THON is meant to be broad, because we all have different tasks, dreams, goals, fears to overcome, and desires. However, to choose intentional goals, the following may serve as a great guide for you:

  • Do one thing that scares you or do something that challenges the story you tell yourself.
  • Complete a project (creative or otherwise) that you’ve been putting off.
  • Do something that involves someone else or do something for someone else.
  • Learn something new.
  • Do something to foster a calm or welcoming environment.

That’s it. The challenges, again, are not meant to be rules; they’re meant to be helpful guides.

If you’re interested in joining me for #DoAThonLife (May 1 – 7, 2017), use the hashtag to share some ideas of what you might do (or what others might do) to foster a creative, more abundant space for intentional living. And follow @DoAThonLife on Twitter for more updates!

Hi all!

I wanted to share some exciting news. I’m joining the team* at The Reading List, an editorial agency created by Lindsey Alexander and her partner, Salvatore Borriello. I met Lindsey through the Editorial Freelancers Association a while back and was delighted to meet her when I moved back to Raleigh, NC. I’m honored to work alongside all of these incredible editors; I know I will learn so much from their work experience and skills.

I’ve also started my first course through the University of Chicago Graham School toward earning my Editing certificate—something I’ve wanted to pursue for a long time. Cheers to new editorial adventures!

* I am a freelancer for The Reading List, not a full-time employee. I’m still living that entrepreneur life! 🙂

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