Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Take It From Me by Jamie Beck (9/20/22)

Take It from Me by Jamie Beck
Expected Release: September 20, 2022

Recommended: yep
For a book about a person writing a book, for some free therapy, for two characters who blend beautifully well, for a nuanced look at mental illness (Specifically one that’s usually played for laughs, dismissed, feared, etc)

Summary

Wendy Moore hides her collection of pilfered bric-a-brac from everyone, including her husband. He thinks she licked her kleptomania in therapy more than a decade ago. Therapy did help, as did focusing her attention on motherhood. But now Wendy’s gardening and furniture-refinishing hobbies fill up only so much of the day, leaving the recent empty nester lonely and anxious—a combination likely to trigger her little problem. She needs a project, fast. Luckily, Harper Ross—a single, childless younger woman in desperate need of highlights—just moved in next door.

The only thing Harper wants to change is the writer’s block toppling her confidence and career. Then a muse comes knocking. Sensing fodder for a new antagonist, Harper plays along with Wendy’s “helpful” advice while keeping her career a secret so Wendy keeps talking. Sure, she’s torn about profiting off her neighbor’s goodwill—especially when Wendy’s matchmaking actually pans out—but Harper’s novel is practically writing itself.

Just as a real friendship begins to cement, their deceptions come to light, threatening Wendy’s and Harper’s futures and forcing them to reconcile who they are with who they want to be. Easier said than done. 

Thoughts

If you read the blurb for this and worried that the character with kleptomania would be the all-too-common rep of a quirky mental illness that gets her into awkward shoplifting situations, etc: you are happily incorrect in that fear. I feel like it’s important to start with this, because the book itself even acknowledges how often that’s done in books, movies, and other media. The author in the book learns a lesson about it, and that allows readers to as well (if they need to). I really appreciated that it felt like a truly nuanced look at how it affects people who have it as well as those they love and are around them.

Continue reading “ARC Review: Take It From Me by Jamie Beck (9/20/22)”
Posted in Reviews

Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (Mortal Instruments Book 1)

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
Recommended: sure
For people who read and enjoyed it when younger, for people who haven’t read much paranormal ya fantasy yet but enjoy it, for people who are under 23 years old and/or remember vividly what it’s like to be fifteen

Summary

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know… 

Thoughts

When I first read this series years ago as a much younger me, it was easily my favorite new series and style and author, et cetera. Now… not so much. I still enjoyed it, but boy is it a bit shaded for me now. Here’s why.

Due to knowing how some key elements of the plot resolve, there are moments in this first book that were both better and worse to me for knowing how the play out. Some were reassuring, and some were unimpressive. I’ll get into spoiler talk below, but overall the re-read experience was kind of win-lose with how it impacted key scenes.

Continue reading “Review: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (Mortal Instruments Book 1)”
Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Happyish by Jeanette Escudero (9/20/22)

Happyish by Jeanette Escudero
Expected Release Date: September 20, 2022
Recommended: yep
For a story with “last day to live” vibes, for a lot of character reflection, for lovely settings and journeys that’ll make your feet itch to wander

Summary

It was supposed to be a good day.

On the one-year anniversary of her divorce, Alex Martinez is getting closure—and margaritas with her two best friends. But just before the celebratory meetup, Alex is clobbered by life once again. Damping the cheer is the diagnosis of a brain tumor she can’t pronounce, a procedure she’d rather postpone, and the prospect of what to say to an already heartbroken mother. Not that Alex plans to tell her anything anytime soon.

Going from blissful to blindsided in one afternoon, Alex has other plans: to be impulsive and embark on an adventure she’ll never forget. Expected destinations: the Grand Canyon, Puerto Rico, and zip-lining through Costa Rica. Unexpected companion: a hiker named David who’s found a woman after his own heart. But no matter how enriching the journey, how long can Alex keep running?

It’s time to accept past griefs, reconnect with her mother, and find her way back to happy. For Alex, whatever the future holds, maybe everything she really needs to face is right where she left it. 

Thoughts

Key point to jump straight to because there’s one big, obvious question when the blurb and point of the book is about a woman learning she has a brain tumor: the ending was unexpected, but in a good way. I felt like I learned a lot about myself through the way the ending was handled, and that was an interesting (and maybe humbling) experience in itself. I won’t say exactly what happens, just that it was done well and added to the rest of the story building up to that critical moment.

Continue reading “ARC Review: Happyish by Jeanette Escudero (9/20/22)”
Posted in Chatty

Word Origins: from fact to compliment with “handsome”

Hey y’all! As I was feeling appreciative of my lovely boyfriend, I was thinking to myself how handsome he is and then started getting distracted thinking about how weird a word that is to mean attractive. And it’s usually in a masculine way these days, but I’ve definitely read older books where it was for women and was mostly a compliment as far as I could tell. And yet the word itself by rights sounds more like an action or request to give an item to another person. So what happened here??

Origins of “handsome”

When did it first get used?
1400s

What does it mean?
modern day meaning of attractive, usually for men or strong featured women

originally, though… it meant easy to handle or readily at hand. So my instinct was right: it did have more to do with being given something or an object being held!

and then in 1580s it started to track with the meaning of an attractive or pleasing thing (or person)

and then in 1680s to extend the 1580s meaning to items to mean generous more broadly, as in “I’ll reward you handsomely”

And you know when it finally started to mean heavily that something was “agreeable to the eye” as they used to phrase it? Not until 1848!!

Continue reading “Word Origins: from fact to compliment with “handsome””
Posted in Chatty

Why I try to keep an open mind about authors

A month or so ago, I started a book that I’d seen a few times and thought sounded like one I might enjoy. Not long after, I ended up abandoning the book because of how unlikable the characters were to me. With a plot that was focused on redemption, I was lost without being able to cheer on and support the character. I put it aside and thought, “well that was a waste.”

Around the same time, I requested an ARC on NetGalley for a book about a woman whose life is turned upside down so she tries to live to the fullest while coming to terms with recent changes. I finished that one recently in just a few days and really enjoyed it the whole way through, already planning out how I would write the review and what moments in the story I wanted to focus on.

So color me surprised when I turned to the last page and the author’s bio mentioned their previous book, which you might have guessed already is the one I had abandoned a month before! Maybe it was subconscious that I had recognized the author’s name on one book after seeing the other when looking through titles.

The book I disliked was the author’s debut, so maybe their style had shifted a bit in the time between books that let me enjoy it. Or maybe I would have liked the first one more if I had been able to get past the character issues I was seeing at the start. Who knows? But I took this as a reminder to myself not to write off an author just from one book, because another they have might completely resonate with me.

This is your reminder too, if you need one. 🙂

Posted in Book Talk

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Loved So Much I Bought a Physical Copy (or two…)

Hey y’all! Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish question idea that was originally created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, from way back in June 2010! Since January 2018, Top Ten Tuesday has been hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Thanks for taking it over! The idea is to make a list of ten books or bookish things on different topics each week. Check out her site for details on how to join and what the upcoming prompts are. 😊 You can also see all the posts from other bloggers linked on each weekly post on their main site.

Today’s prompt is books that I bought because I loved them so much (prompt recommended by Alecia @ The Staircase Reader). This is one that I can only join because of recent changes in my life, namely having space to HAVE a library of my own of shelves and shelves of books. It’s such a luxury, and it’s basically all I need to be happy in my home.

The books that have moved me most enough to buy a copy tend to be nonfiction or graphic novels (or sometimes both!). This is partly because nonfiction tends to have a lot of information that I like to quickly thumb through and refer to or dip back into on re-reads, and graphic novels or heavily illustrated books are nicer to have a physical copy of to enjoy the art. With that in mind… here’s my list!

The Books

Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Loved So Much I Bought a Physical Copy (or two…)”
Posted in Reviews

Review: Nothing But The Truth by Holly James

Nothing But the Truth by Holly James

Recommended: yes!!
for chick lit Liar Liar, for a story about honesty with yourself and others, for a 100% feel good journey with some laughs as well

Summary

It’s the eve of Hollywood publicist Lucy Green’s thirtieth birthday, a day she hopes will bring the promotion she deserves and a proposal from her boyfriend. But he stands her up for a date, not for the first time, leaving Lucy alone at the bar—or at least, alone with the handsome bartender on the other side of the counter—so she makes a rueful wish over her cocktail for a perfect birthday. But when Lucy’s wish is granted in the most unexpected way, things go terribly awry, as things often do when wishes come true….

When Lucy wakes up on her big day, she can’t seem to force herself to go through her rigorous fitness and beauty routines—things she usually tells herself she likes. She has no desire to eat only a spoonful of yogurt for breakfast and she simply can’t bear to put on the uncomfortable shapewear needed for the power outfit she had planned for work.

When Lucy arrives at the office, she realizes that not only can she no longer lie to herself, she can’t lie to anyone else, either. Not her clients, not her boyfriend, not her creep of a boss. Now that she can’t hide how she feels, Lucy must confront all the injustices—small and large—she’s faced on a daily basis at work, in her relationship, and in every other aspect of her life…and the truth is going to come out in a big way.

Thoughts

WHY DIDN’T ANYONE BILL THIS BOOK AS A CHICK-LIT VERSION OF LIAR LIAR??? I was already excited to read it but when I realized about 15% in that it was a “can’t tell a lie because of a birthday wish” story I was practically vibrating with delight! Add in the finding yourself and feminist angles and wow this book was fab, y’all. I don’t think there’s a single thing in this book that I disliked, and thinking that is so startling that I actually bumped the rating because if there’s nothing I would change then it’s ABSOLUTELY five stars, right?

Alright. Let’s take my excitement down a notch and lay out precisely why I chugged through this in under a day and loved every minute of it.

Continue reading “Review: Nothing But The Truth by Holly James”
Posted in Book Talk

September 2022 TBR: A Very Gentle Month

Hey y’all! This month’s TBR is very very short, because that’s just where I’m at. It’s totally possible that I’ll read more than these, but I’m not looking ahead too much. Anyway, here are the 4 books I’m planning on reading/finishing.

September’s Books

The North Wind by Alexandria Warwick –
I splurged on a gorgeous physical copy and have been slowly making my way through

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo –
Continuing my buddy read with Nicole 😊

Take It From Me by Jamie Beck –
an ARC I’m really excited about ^.^

City of Bones by Clarissa Clare –
a re-read I’m looking forward to as I just picked up a new set of the series at a library book sale. I’m not sure I’ll ever get my old set back, so I’m delighted to have a new one of this series I really enjoyed.

So that’s it for this month, very gentle. I’m feeling like some slower paced books, and/or ones I’m familiar with and can sink into a bit.

Posted in Reviews

Review: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa

The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa
Recommended: sure
For an actiony vampire story, for a deadly post apocalyptic plague world, for common tropes combined in a compelling way

Summary

WHAT IF HAVING A CHANCE TO SAVE HUMANITY MEANT BECOMING WHAT YOU HATE AND FEAR MOST?

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a walled-in city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten. Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them—the vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself dies…and becomes one of the monsters.

Forced to flee her city, Allie must pass for human as she joins a ragged group of pilgrims seeking a legend—Eden, a place that might have a cure for the disease that killed off most of civilization and created the rabids, bloodthirsty creatures who threaten human and vampire alike. But hiding her identity is nearly impossible as she comes to know and admire her companions…and starts to fall for a human. Soon Allie will have to decide what—and who—is worth dying for…again.

Thoughts

This is a book I added to my to-read list something like ten years ago, when I was still in high school. So when I came back to this book as a challenge to read one of the oldest books on my tbr, I was kind of wary of what high school age me had decided sounded like a great vampire book. But I gave it a go.

AND YOU KNOW WHAT? IT WAS PRETTY GOOD! I wouldn’t say it blew me out of the water, but it combined common elements of the tropes in uncommon ways to make a fairly unique and genuinely compelling story. I think bold is a good word for this, because the character faces a lot of genuinely shit moments and hard decisions and they often do not end happily. There’s a lot of pain, and you just have to live with it and move on. I think that’s pretty rare.

Continue reading “Review: The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa”
Posted in Book Talk

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’d Recommend for Classroom Reading

Hey y’all! Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish question idea that was originally created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, from way back in June 2010! Since January 2018, Top Ten Tuesday has been hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Thanks for taking it over! The idea is to make a list of ten books or bookish things on different topics each week. Check out her site for details on how to join and what the upcoming prompts are. 😊 You can also see all the posts from other bloggers linked on each weekly post on their main site.

This week’s prompt is a freebie that can be school themed. As a teacher in the past with a lot of friends who still teach, I’m often thinking about what books I’d recommend to them to use with their students or have in the classroom for any free reading time. I’m going to try to list books for multiple classes, because “English class” is such an easy obvious one and there can be so much more range!!

The Books

The classrooms

History: Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

I don’t know about y’all, but I had never heard about the Wilhelm Gustloff, but this book is a piece of history where you know the ending and the stories to get there are so bittersweet because of it.

Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’d Recommend for Classroom Reading”