Aside

Book Review| Uprooted by Naomi Novi

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Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

I received this book from my OTSP Secret Sister, though I’ve been meaning to read it for a while now. It’s always caught my eye when I walked into a bookstore, but I can be choosy when it comes to my fantasy books. I always heard great things about it, though, and now I know why. It took me a few days to really get into, but once school ended, I was really able to give myself to the book completely.


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The Woods: Novik uses The Woods in the common archetypal way: they’re the source of evil, a place where people go in but don’t come back out. Within literature, forests are places of the unknown. Nobody knows the origins of Novik’s Woods, or why the woods are magical. Woods are usually a place of transformation, which is a recurring theme between many different characters.
The “unknown” part of this can also be attributed to The Dragon, since the townsfolk know little to nothing about it.

Agnieszka: Taken by The Dragon, we soon find out she’s actually a witch, but she finds the spells The Dragon tries to teach her just don’t fit well with her. She’s your typical “main character” of our time; she isn’t beautiful or pretty, she’s constantly dirty; she doesn’t find herself “special”; she defies The Dragon often and can be pretty temperamental. However, being our main character, she easily fits into The Hero archetype, specifically that of The Initiate.

The Dragon: A powerful magician whose job is to protect many towns and provinces, his dislike for Agnieszka is immediate. He is constantly demeaning her; he scowls at her dirty clothes, yells at her when she can’t figure out a spell (and yells when she does), and he finds comfort in the orderly way magic is – until Agnieszka shows him otherwise. The best archetype I could find for him was the Evil Figure with the Ultimately Good Heart. We are introduced to The Dragon as a thief of young women, but the more we read, the more we learn about him.

Kasia: The ignored “chosen” girl, Kasia is constantly spoken about in high regards. Agnieszka finds her to be almost perfect; Kasia is braver, prettier, more talented, smarter – the list goes on. SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER However, she’s captured by The Wood and is possessed by the evil within it. Before being taken by The Wood, she would fit more into the Platonic Ideal archetype. In fact, for most of the story she would. The only time she would fit into another archetype, The Creature of Nightmare, is when she’s possessed. The character who embodies the Creature of Nightmare throughout the book would be Queen Hannah/ The Wood-Queen.


final-thoughts

Uprooted was an enchanting novel filled with fascinating, complex characters, each one completely different from the next. The writing alone was spellbinding; each sentence pulled me deeper and deeper into the world Novik created. While there were a few city names I found difficult to pronounce, Novik kept the general world knowledge as a need-to-know basis. No map was needed, nor was a glossary. I did end up reading over the words used for spells rather than trying to sound them out; I know I would just butcher them, so I didn’t even bother.

If you’re a fan of fantasy, books that aren’t parts of trilogies, books with a hint of romance, complex characters and storylines that keep you questioning until the very end, I would highly recommend Uprooted.

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Aside

Book Review| Me Before You – JoJo Moyes


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Published: Dec. 31, 2012
Genres: Fiction, Chick Lit
369 pages
Goodreads Rating:  4.30
My Rating: 5.0

Lou Clark knows lots of things. She knows how many footsteps there are between the bus stop and home. She knows she likes working in The Buttered Bun tea shop and she knows she might not love her boyfriend Patrick.
What Lou doesn’t know is she’s about to lose her job or that knowing what’s coming is what keeps her sane.
Will Traynor knows his motorcycle accident took away his desire to live. He knows everything feels very small and rather joyless now and he knows exactly how he’s going to put a stop to that.
What Will doesn’t know is that Lou is about to burst into his world in a riot of colour. And neither of them knows they’re going to change the other for all time.

I really only picked this up because the movie was coming out and I’d enjoyed other JoJo Moyes books in the past. Once I saw the trailer for the movie, I was a little put off. I still have yet to see the movie, but Emilia Clarke’s acting in the minute-long trailer just seemed very over the top.

I needed a good romantic book to help get me through the beginning of my husband being away due to his military career. I was completely unprepared for how much I would love this book.

WARNING: SOME SPOILERS MAY BE AHEAD

what i liked

Louisa’s Family Dynamic

Louisa’s family is very typical of a lot of families. There is a lot of love, and some repressed anger. There are secrets and intense moments of truth. Louisa’s parents, as much as they want to support her, need her to support them. It says a lot that somebody living in the United States can relate to the Clark family’s financial problems; we all know how one bad economy can affect the world.

This family was very authentic in everything they did. From the parents choosing a favorite child (even if they won’t admit it), to Louisa and Treena’s constant back-and-forth, this was one of the few literary families that didn’t feel too happy, too sad, or too melodramatic.

The Traynor Family (or,more specifically, Mrs. Traynor)
If there is anybody misunderstood in this book, I think it’s Mrs. Traynor. She loves her son the way most mothers love their sons; completely, if not a little too much. There is a constant feel of tension between the two, as if she has babied him all his life and he resents her for it. I picture the two of them at his college graduation, and she’s licking her thumb to wipe a smudge of dirt off of him or to tame a cowlick.

She is used to being the matriach, the person in charge of the family.With Will taking that power from her, I think she felt very lost. For the first time in a long time, she has no control over what is going on with her family. I think that’s why she was harsh and cold towards Louisa.

Will & Louisa

I mean, obviously. Their relationship was absolutely amazing. Starting off with an awkward meeting and continuing on until Louisa decides she is done dealing with Will’s nonsense. I think I really connected with this relationship because it wasn’t an immediate attraction. It took most of the book for the two of them to realize their feelings for each other. The wole wedding scene was so frustrating for me because all I wanted was for them to kiss and reveal their feelings. Unfortunately they were both too afraid and unsure of the other that nothing happened.

did like

The Ending

This isn’t entirely true. I liked the way the book ends. I think it’s great because it isn’t a typical happy ending. The thing I didn’t like was how quick it ended. I wish that there had been more time between the island scene and the Switzerland scene. It felt like so much was left unsaid between them and, as somebody who loves to talk and talk and talk about their feelings, it killed me.

Louisa’s Reaction on the Island

My god, girl. First, how the hell are you going to leave a man who can’t walk ON A BEACH with a lot of SAND?! IN FRONT OF PEOPLE. I get being hurt and upset and whatever, but poor, poor Will. Or, as my Spanish I class taught me, p-p-p-pobre Cenicienta. I have never felt such sadness for a character before. He depends on Louisa for so much, and he knows how much this will hurt her, but he can’t lie to her or lead her on. He knows his mind and he knows his heart. All I can picture is this poor man confined to a wheelchair, watching the woman he loves walk away from him as he tries to talk to her about this. He’s calling out for her and she’s just ignoring him. It’s not as if he can run to her, scoop her into his arms and tell her how wrong he was.

I completely understand the hurt and pain Louisa is feeling here, but my empathy lies more with Will at this point.

The Beginning

It’s not that I didn’t like the beginning so much as it just didn’t suck me in. Until Will became a larger part of the story, I felt like I was slowly trudging along. I’m not exactly sure why I could not get into it at first. Maybe it was just the whole angry, despondent feel of the book after Louisa lost her job and can’t find a new one. I am very glad I pushed through the beginning because this book literally brought tears to my eyes. final thoughts

Concerning the Controversy

I am not in any way shape or form trying to say how people should feel. When the movie first came out, a lot of people were angry and called it something along the lines of, “suicide porn.” People were angry because they felt the book and the movie showed that handicapped people were better off just killing themselves. I don’t think that was what JoJo Moyes was trying to convey at all.

As somebody who has dealt with depression and anxiety for years, I have come to realize that you can’t save everyone. Sometimes people are beyond help, some people don’t want help, and sometimes people don’t realize help is out there. To me, Will did not want the kind of help Louisa and his family wanted to give him. I am a huge proponent of assisted suicide. If a person is in their right state of mind, is in pain or is terminally ill, who are we to deny them the dignity of death before they lose themselves?

All in all, I loved this book. I might give it a 4.5 rather than the full 5, but it’s still a book I would recommend.

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Graphic Novel Review| The Wicked + The Divine

 

• Published: Nov. 1, 2014
• Genres: Graphic Novel, Comics, Fantasy
• 144 Pages per Volume
• Goodreads Rating: 3.92
• My Rating: 5.00

Volume One:
Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critical tongue-attractors like Young Avengers and PHONOGRAM reunite to create a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever.

Volume Two:
The second volume of the award-winning urban fantasy series where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. Following the tragic and unjust death of Lucifer, it takes a revelation from Inanna to draw Laura back into the worlds of Gods and Superstardom to try and discover the truth behind a conspiracy to subvert divinity

Working at a bookstore is the worst form of torture. My To-Be-Read list never shrinks; for every one book I finish, three take its spot. It’s especially difficult trying not to buy everything I see. Thankfully, the On The Same Page Secret Sister project helps. Now, whenever I see a book that looks interesting, I put it on my wishlist and keep my hands away from it in hopes that my Secret Sister will send it to me.

In my first box for this round, my Secret Sister sent me the first volume in this series, as well as Sex Criminals. I enjoyed both graphic novels, but The Wicked + the Divine has so many of the things I love: mythology, sassy characters, fighting, foul language and a mystery.

what i liked

The Pantheon
The 12 gods of the Pantheon don’t stick to one mythos. Of the twelve, no one religion reigns. There are gods from Norse, Irish, and Greeks myths, and gods from Egyptian, Mesopotamian and Japanese myths. From what I gathered in the story, any of the gods can be part of the Pantheon – it just depends on whose turn it is. In the beginning of Volume One, we see the previous Pantheon 90 years ago, but aren’t given many clues on who is who.

Their interactions with each other are interesting as well. I would love to see how “Jehovah” interacts with Lucifer. Are the Gods who are enemies in myth also enemies in this life, or do they realize how short their two-year existence is and simply move on from their past? It’s interesting that certain gods can be a three-person god (like the Morrigan and  Urðr), but they manifest differently per god.

The Artwork
I am picky, and I am stubborn. If I don’t like the artwork in a G.N., I usually don’t pick it up. On the other hand, if I’m invested in the story and they switch artists, I’ll keep reading. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the artwork at first. The more the story progressed, the more I began to love the artwork. Each character is distinctly different, with their own facial expressions and quirks. This may sound like a small expectation, but I’ve found with many graphic novels that artists have a hard time giving characters their own looks. (See: The Walking Dead).

did like

The Backgrounds
If there’s anything I love, it’s a story with a good amount of backstory. With the first two volumes of tW+tD, we don’t get a lot of backstory for the gods before they were turned, or even for the last time the pantheon was on earth. I’m sure most of that will be revealed in the next few volumes.

 

final thoughts

I am completely obsessed with this series. I can’t wait to read the next volumes in this series. Have you read The Wicked + the Divine? Did you love it or hate it? What are your opinions on the gods? Let me know in the comments!

Aside

Top Ten Books To Read If You Like Historical Fiction

I have been slacking so much with these and I am so sorry! I promise to be a better blogger. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by the lovelies at The Broke & the Bookish, is all about book suggestions! I picked suggestions based on a genre because I read a lot of different books. I do have a few genres I generally don’t pick up, like romance and mystery, but I enjoy reading a wide variety of books. I picked historical fiction for the theme today because it’s one of my favorite genres and it can host so many different books. So here are my ten suggestions if you enjoy historical fic!

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books 6-10

Have you read any of these? Do you have any favorite historical books you think should be on this list? Let me know in the comments below!

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Top Ten Tuesdays| Characters Who Need Books of Their Own

I know it’s no longer Tuesday, but I really want to start doing these prompts as a way to keep up with the blog. At around 2:00 AM last night, I decided to write out what I was going to say in this post so I would actually do it. I even made a little banner! Go me and my productivity! So, without further ado,  here are my Top 10 characters who deserve books of their own.

WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW

1. Eo from Red Rising Trilogy
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Married to the main character Darrow, Eo is the light of his life. Darrow often talks about how much he loves her, and how wonderful she is. He is quick to point out her (small) flaws, like her stubbornness and her rebellious attitude. Unfortunately, Eo is killed within the first 10 chapters of Red Rising. Her death is what starts Darrow on his campaign against the Golds, and is the driving force that keeps him focused on his goal throughout the books. This is Pierce Brown’s breakout novel, so I can forgive him for making the “character dying as a ploy” thing, but I wish we would have more insight on this extremely important character. We know she’s beautiful and fun and all the things a dream girl should be, but we don’t really get to know her. Without knowing her, can we really care about why Darrow does what he does? As the reader, we are able to see the atrocities the Golds commit against the lower colors, and that seems enough of a reason for Darrow to stand against them. It isn’t, though. Darrow is continuously pushed into his role when anyone brings up Eo and what she would have wanted. Considering just how vital she is to the story, I would have loved to get to know this character so much more than just knowing she was pretty.

2. Felicity from the Gemma Doyle Trilogy
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When I first read A Great and Terrible Beauty, I hated Felicity. Absolutely despised her. By the time I finished The Sweet Far Thing, all I wanted to do was hold her and stroke her hair and tell her everything was going to be okay. She is one of the most tragic characters I have ever come across while reading YA. She was molested by her father at a very young age and then watches as her best friend Pippa is left in a magical-death world. It’s no wonder why she is such an angry girl throughout the series. At the end of A Sweet Far Thing, we learn that Felicity and Pippa were more than just friends. Not only did she lose her best friend, she lost the only person who understood her. She does travel to France at the end of the series, so we can assume she lives a happy life. I think the rest of her story would be a wonderful LGBT book.

3. Kartik, also from Gemma Doyle Trilogy

With a PoC (person of color), I think it’s hard for white authors to write about them and their culture without being racist or offensive in some way (see: Memoirs of a Geisha). I think, if Libba Bray could pull it off, it would be a wonderful insight into Indian culture. Seeing Kartik and his work with the Rakshana, as well as their inner workings, would be great to see. He is such a wonderful character too. I loved watching all of these characters mature, but Kartik was one I adored. He needs to be protected at all costs.

4. Grant from The Language of Flowers
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The main character, Victoria, had such a heartbreaking story. I feel like Grant’s is just as bad, if not worse. His mother deteriorates at a young age, forcing Grant to grow up early. Not only does he have to take care of himself, he also has to take care of his mother. While Victoria’s story focuses on the foster care system, Grant’s story would probably focus on child abuse.

 5. Prim from The Hunger Games
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Prim’s experiences throughout all three books would be vastly different compared to Katniss’ or even Peeta’s. We could see the aftermath of the 74th Hunger Games, and how the families of the tributes cope while watching their loved ones subjected to these horrors. We could see Prim worried about her mother, or her mother step up to take care of her with more fervor than ever before. We would see Prim learning how to help people from her mom, helping those within Districts 12 and 13 and could showcase her relationships with other characters we know and love. Prim deserves a book of her own as a tribute to her.

6. Peeta from The Hunger Games
Poor dear sweet Peeta. The first two Hunger Game books might not be different than Katniss’ point of view so much, but Mockingjay would be absolutely insane. His point of view inside the Capital while his entire being is changing would be devastating, and aren’t those the best kinds of books? He’s obviously the more romantic of the two, so we would get a lot more of him pining for Katniss at first. Once his memories start to get “hijacked,” we would see such an intense difference in his thinking. I think it would be similar to Flowers for Algernon in the difference he would go through.

7. Mortain from His Fair Assassin series
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The God of Death is an extremely huge part of the universe of these books. We do get more of him in Mortal Heart, but I would love to have a book strictly in his point of view. I would have liked to get his perspective with the goings on of the convent, and especially his story regarding Arduinna and Amourna.

8. Nehemia from Throne of Glass
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My queen. Nehemia is one of my favorite characters ever. She is a perfect example of great writing. She was a wonderful princess and would have been an amazing queen, but her love for her people was too great. She could be manipulative at times, harsh and cold towards Celaena, but seeing everything through her point of view would be interesting to say the least.

Evanelle from Garden Spells/ First Frost
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She’s the oldest character in the two-book series, and I would love to hear about her childhood and young adult life. Growing up with Claire’s grandmother must have been an absolute nightmare! I want to hear about her life with her husband. I want to hear about the trouble she got in with her “gift giving.” I want more about this wonderful side-character we only get glimpses of!

 10. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series
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First, do you know how much more we (simple muggles) would understand from Hermione’s point of view? Her parents are dentists. She was a teen in the ’90’s! Did she listen to Nirvana or Madonna or N*Sync? Did she have any close muggle friends during these “witchy” years? Did she ever felt left out after the summer break, when she wanted to talk about the new Slip-n-Slide she got or her tamagotchi pet? How many snap bracelets did she have? Harry wanted to escape from the muggle world, where he’s only ever been abused and unwanted. Hermione had the great muggle experience with two loving parents. I do realize most of this is steeped in U.S. culture, but I don’t know anything about British culture. I’m sure they had a show similar to Rugrats or Rocko’s Modern Life that she must have watched. I’m a bookworm too, but that doesn’t mean all my free time goes to reading. I just feel like Hermione’s point of view would be so different in the best of ways.

Book Reivew| His Fair Assassin Books 1-3 by Robin LaFevers

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“One heart cannot serve two masters.”

I had been in a very long, long, looooonnnggg YA book-rut after reading Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series. I have a TBR bookshelf with just about 78 books, but I keep buying more books. One day, I decided to take a look at my shelf and saw that I had Grave Mercy. I won it in a Goodreads Giveaway and just never bothered to read it. It had a 3.94 rating on Goodreads so I decided to give it a try. I finished this 549-page book in two days and immediately grabbed the next two from my library.

Synopsis for Grave Mercy via Goodreads:

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

I want to talk a little about all three books, but only posted the first book’s description to give you all a little information about it. Not only are they historical fiction, they are also full adventure books. With the girls following the God of Death, there is a fantasy element.

Each book follows a new character: Grave Mercy focuses on Ismae, Dark Triumph focuses on Sybella and Mortal Heart focuses on Annith. All three characters are present in the three books, so their stories don’t end at the end of their books. Instead of getting an epilogue at the end of the books, the stories continue in the next book. LaFevers writes with a gift of continuation; so many series are unreliable in the consistency of the story telling. Thankfully, His Fair Assassin is not plagued with this.

How I felt through the series (in .gif form)!

Grave Mercy:

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Poor Ismae and her past with abusive men.

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Isval 😀 😀 😀


Dark Triumph:

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Beast aka my big giant baby ugh ugh ugh

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Sybellaaaaaaaaa

Mortal Heart:

thats my baby

Annith sticking up for herself through the entire book!

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Annith x Balthazaar = <33333

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So many parts of the book had me like

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Weeping. So much weeping


I am a romantic, so any stories with well-written romances make me swoon. All of the romances in the His Fair Assassin series are beautifully different and very well-written. I think I was most satisfied with Dark Triumph‘s romance than the other two, but only because I felt absolutely awful for Sybella. She was the character I was rooting for the most, and felt she truly deserved a chance at a happy ending. Ismae and Annith’s romances were great in their own ways, and I loved both of them as well. Annith’s was the most surprising (cue Jim Carrey’s reaction) but each of them were plausible. I can’t stand books where two characters are in love within the first two chapters. LaFever makes sure her characters have a friendship of some kind before any romance evolves, which makes these more realistic than some of the YA I’ve tried reading.

Some parts of the books were slow. LaFevers does make note that these books are historical fiction, so much of the series is set in the 1490s during a war. This leads the characters, some of whom are royalty or nobles, to have a very large hand in the fate of the kingdom. I found these parts the least interesting to read, but that’s just my opinion. I ended up skimming through those passages to get back to the parts I cared about the most (aka my OTPs).

I give the whole series a very solid 4 stars out of 5.

four star

Have you read this series? Did you enjoy it as much as I did??

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Pet Peeves of the Bookish Community

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I’m not the most active person in most social media sites. I have a queue set up on tumblr, I haven’t written on here in months, and I maybe go on Twitter once a week. With starting college, I’ve barely found time to read anything other than textbooks. But, even with a small part in the bookish community, I recognize that ours is not a toxic-free environment. So, listed below in no particular order, are my top 3 pet peeves.

1) Name Bashing
Let’s get one thing clear: Can some names be super annoying? Yes. Can we make fun of character’s names because they’re just so ridiculous? Of course. My issue isn’t with the fictional name bashing. It’s the bashing of author’s names that gets me. I was on tumblr earlier today and somebody (we’ll call them D) had answered a question regarding his opinion on Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park, and in his reply he said he couldn’t, “take somebody with the name Rainbow seriously.” … Really? Maybe that isn’t her given name, but I have an aunt named Rainbow. She has a sister named Echo. I would hope that adults would be mature enough to realize, “Well that’s a different name, but I won’t judge their work ethic/life by just their name.” Maybe Rowell changed her name as a marketing thing. I don’t know. I just found that really shitty.

2) Genre Bashing
This is a big one. I’m 23, so I can still get away with reading YA without people giving me condescending looks. But if you’re 50 years old and you enjoy Harry Potter or Anna and the French Kiss, then you should be able to read it without worry of somebody judging you. At least you’re reading! Honestly, it takes a lot for me to want to read any YA anymore. After the whole Twilight boom where everything turned into a Paranormal-Triangle-Romance, I couldn’t find anything good to read. Instead, I started reading “adult” literature. That doesn’t make me better than anyone who prefers Young Adult. It doesn’t make me worse than people who like Classics. If Young Adult isn’t your thing, cool man. But don’t make other people feel bad because it’s theirs.

3) “The book is always better than the movie.”
Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. Did you know that Mean Girls is based on a self-help book? If you look up Legally Blonde on Goodreads (because yes, it’s also a book), it’ll probably take you about two seconds to find a two-star review, and more than one of those reviews say how much better the movie is. The Notebook. Yeah. I said it. The motherfucking Notebook. I can’t stand this new thing of romanticizing your “first love”, and The Notebook romanticized the shit out of it. If my 16-year-old boyfriend came back into my life 18 years later, I’d probably slap him for being so mentally abusive (since kids have no fucking clue what they’re actually doing to each other) and then tell him to go fuck off. First loves? Okay, maybe. But first loves who only had one damn summer together?! And who had been apart for more than ten. fucking. years?! No. At that point, y’all need to move on. All I’m saying is this: Some movies, especially now, have the visual effects that books lack. And some authors are just bad writers when compared to others.

That’s all I’ve got for the night, folks. Maybe I’ll pick this thing up more, since my reading goal is about 25 books less than last year, and it looks like I’ll be working in a bookstore again (YAY!) but we’ll see.