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Witches! Ghosts! Curses!: How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather

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A good ghost story leaves you spooked, reconsidering a nighttime bathroom trip in the dark. A good drama has you gripping your seat and turning page after page–maybe skipping that bathroom break again. As I read my way through Adriana Mather’s How to Hang a Witch, I felt the pleasant mingling of both–and I really needed to pee.

A descendant of influential player to the Salem Witch Trials Cotton Mather, the author uses her family history, personal experience from a trip to Salem, Massachusetts, and the greater culture of high school bullying as the bases for her novel.

With her father in a coma, Samantha Mather–also of relation to Cotton–and her stepmother move to Sam’s grandmother’s house in Salem. Before even sitting down in her homeroom on the first day of school, Sam finds herself shunned and scorned by her peers. For years, she’s believed she was cursed, with a string of bad luck affecting those who dare to get close to her, but these suspicions and experiences come to a head for her when townspeople of Salem begin dying. Sam soon finds herself as the prime suspect, named both a murderer–and a witch.

The novel dives into the world of high school and being an outsider, with a thrilling tinge of ghost story and witchcraft added into the pot. Mather does a fantastic job of making both Sam and the reader second guess the people around her. Throughout the novel, I found myself carefully eyeing a number of characters after certain suspect circumstances arose, wondering, Who had betrayed Sam? Who was the real murderer? It often feels like I can guess the answer to a whodunit early in most novels (an experience I had while reading In a Dark, Dark Wood several months ago), but with How to Hang a Witch, I was almost surprised by the reveal, guessing the answer only at the last minute.

Even after the true antagonist is revealed, the story doesn’t slow down, with a spectacular fight sequence I never expected from the description on the book jacket. In fact, it felt like much of the book wasn’t what I expected and managed to exceed my original assumptions. While I was excited at the prospect of the novel, the inclusion of a ghost in the plot made me suspicious; for the most part, paranormal romances have gotten stale in the young adult genre, and I was anticipating getting stuck with that kind of mess. Mather, however, manages to keep the novel interesting without dipping far into the trope of will they/won’t they between teenage girl and (insert monster of your choice here).

To be honest, my only remote complaints would be the occasional simplicity of the writing style, with an abundance of “I ____” sentences that at times made reading feel abrupt and interrupted; and the boy-girl-boy love triangle, a trope that, much like girl/monster romance, wore me out by the end of the first Twilight novel when I read it many moons ago. For a long time I’ve been of the firm belief that there can be excitement, drama, and even romance without the need for a love triangle. However, Mather’s was nicely wrapped up and well-handled overall, so I have no interest in holding it against her.

This was a novel I found myself eagerly awaiting when I learned about it because I just had to give its premise a chance, and it’s one that did not disappoint. Adriana Mather handled her story well enough that I look forward to more ghost stories in my young adult reads, as well as seeing what else she has in store for us in the future.

January 23, 2017

Top 8 Books Read in 2016

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I’ve been watching Criminal Minds the past few weeks, and I couldn’t help but laugh at Garcia’s mention of her “Top 8” in one episode, so I thought this year’s reading recap could be a little throwback to that era of my life.

Here’s a summary of my top 8 favorite books of 2016.

It by Stephen King. / I have a sneaking suspicion that any time I read a Stephen King novel, it’s going to end up on my end of the year list. There alway’s so much character detail to his stories, and they’re often the only ones that have the potential to scare me, not because the monsters are terrifying, but because the people are. This book has its problems that I’m not going to rehash because, especially with the new adaptation coming up (!!!), they’re easy to find talk of all over the internet. But this was by far one of my favorites of 2016, even if it took me a whole month to get through it.

Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy. / I am so glad that I kept a list of all the books I’ve read this year, otherwise Dumplin’ might have gotten lost in the fray. I read this book way back in January, and I remember spending the better part of a day on an air mattress in the living room gobbling it up. Dolly Parton? Beauty pageants? Talking about body image? Yes, please! Julie Murphy’s novel was so entertaining and emotional. I very much look forward to reading more of her work soon.

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner. / Ugh, Jeff. *collapses* This one had me up at two a.m. and sobbing, which of course I both loved and hated. It’s such a well-written book about fascinating teenagers living in a place I have almost no knowledge about. Honestly, the most I really know about Tennessee is how much I want to go to Dollywood (see above). The strain in the character’s relationships and the struggles they each dealt with, separately and together, were so heartbreaking at times, but it’s a book I absolutely can’t help but love. The Serpent King definitely earned its own review earlier this year, so be sure to check that out to get the full gist of just how much you should read this.

The Raven Cycle Series by Maggie Stiefvater. / THIS. SERIES. It’s so good that I’m counting all four books as one entry here, okay? It’s not often that I read urban fantasy–for some reason everything recommended to me is more high fantasy end of the spectrum–but at the suggestion of a couple of friends, and probably 85% of Tumblr, I picked up this series when I found the first two books at Barnes & Noble and had some cash to burn. It about killed me when I realized that the series was so damn good that I couldn’t wait to buy the last novel, but I didn’t want to get it in hardcover and have my set mismatched. Enter our old standby, the library. I read the final novel, The Raven King, in about two days, loving the way that everyone’s stories came together in the end, even if it totally ripped out my heart, as per usual with the YA genre.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. / Towards the end of the year I started reading a number of nonfiction essay/memoir genre books, and I think this is the one that really kicked it off. Two essays in and I became a total convert to Roxane. She’s got such humor and honesty to what she writes without feeling like a comedian–it’s more of a wry, everyday humor that your best friend might use, and that made this an enjoyable book for me. In fact, I began following Roxane on Twitter as I was reading, and after a couple of clicks through her website I found out she’ll be talking at Mount Holyoke in February. You can be sure I’ll be attending!

The Martian by Andy Weir. / This was my first book of the year, but still one of my favorites. I really don’t read enough science fiction, but when it’s coupled with such sarcasm as Mark Watney’s narration, I truly love it. As with many cases, I saw the movie first, and the veracity of the adaptation was pleasantly surprising given Hollywood’s track record. Considering Watney is the only character on an entire planet through much of the novel, Andy Weir does a great job giving him such a vibrant personality. I’m sure you’ve heard from others, but this novel truly had me laughing out loud as I read it. I’m thankful to have started the year with such a strong book.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. / Along with The Art of Asking, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic quickly found its way onto my list of “books to reread when I need a kick in the pants.” I’m already thinking about when I’ll read it again, putting sticky notes next to the passages I like the best and want to find easily in the future. I feel like this book was especially poignant for me because it came from the perspective of a writer, just as I read it from the perspective of one. It’s not impossible to apply to other types of work, but being on the same wave as Gilbert probably helped. There was also a balance between being grounded and being mystical in its approaches to creative endeavors that struck a chord with me.

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King. / I impulse bought this book at one of my favorite local bookshops this year, and I cannot tell you how glad I am to have chosen it. The story is thoughtful and heartbreaking, and it’s one of my favorite contemporary YA novels I’ve read in a long time. I said in my full review that A.S. King’s writing style isn’t your typical YA fare, lending the novel a literary tinge, and I stand by that. I can’t wait to reading more of her novels in the future.

What were some of your favorite books to read in 2016?

January 2, 2017

Reviewed: The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

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the serpent king by jeff zentner

I received Jeff Zentner’s The Serpent King way back in March in my first OwlCrate, and it piqued my interest not only because it was a contemporary YA, which I’m a big fan of, but because it didn’t sound like a book I would have picked up of my own accord. That’s a great thing about book subscription boxes: You get surprised with something new to read that you might not have had the chance to enjoy otherwise, and I can honestly say that I did enjoy this book, even if there was a point when I had to stop reading and just sob for a while.

From the description, I thought the book was going to focus almost solely on Dill Early, the son of a pastor who was already getting a lot of side eye from many people in town for his, shall we say, enthusiastic inclusion of snakes in spreading God’s word and has now fallen from grace. But in fact we get such a great distribution of story between Dill and his best friends, Travis and Lydia. I felt like I got to know each character well enough to form an opinion of each and get a good idea of who they were, what they were going through, and how they relied on one another to get through it all. Each character is so different from the other, yet they connect with each other through being outcasts and Zentner does a great job of making them diverse but still believable in their friendship, flaws and all.

My personal favorite was Travis, who has an amazing fondness for high fantasy novels and no shame about it. Each character is relatively likable, though, which I enjoyed because sometimes it can be emotionally draining to read a novel about a character you don’t even like but are still kind of supposed to root for. In general, I rooted for all of them, even if they did things that would piss me off–much like a real person.

I do wish Lydia had been forced to deal with more aside from the most devastating part of the book, because while Travis and Dill had their own personal troubles at home, Lydia seemed to coast through life without too many bumps in her road. Which is not to say that she has it easy, but she has a much easier time of life than the boys, and it was almost tiresome reading about how well everything was going for her.

Overall, though, I liked all of these characters. All I wanted was for all of them to be happy and to stay friends forever, despite their looming graduation date. While Dill and Travis plan to stay in town, Lydia looks forward to life in New York with her fashionable, wealthy roommates. Of course, things don’t go as planned, but I can tell you that it truly was a shocking twist that threw a wrench in the plans. I did not see it coming until maybe a page before, and, well, I don’t want to say too much but I cried. #noshame

To be honest, it can feel a little standard for YA–there’s some romance, some teen angst, plus it’s a contemporary–but I still loved it (but I’m particularly fond of contemporary YA, so I may be biased). However, I don’t think that makes it bad, and it does have its standout points: alternating POV narration, which I don’t think we see often in YA and “hard-hitting” topics, which can sometimes be overlooked for the more common romance arc.

I’m so glad I got this in my first OwlCrate; it gives me so much faith in the next time I decide to order one.

Are you interested in The Serpent King at all? Have you already read it? Tell me your thoughts!

July 11, 2016

Reviewed: Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King

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glory o'brien's history of the future by a.s. king
I bought this, I think, two months ago now, and as I was struggling through my reading slump the last few weeks, I picked it off my shelf on a whim, much like how I bought it in the first place. I had no idea if it could help get me out, and maybe it didn’t pull as strongly as my On Writing reread has, at least not at first, but the striking cover was enough to get me try when I was beginning to feel desperate.

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future (oh my gosh, that title alone) is the story of recently-graduated Glory O’Brien and the arrival of her psychic powers. What she sees for the future is both confusing and terrifying, and oftentimes the question arises of whether or not they are even real.

This book turned out to be so much more than I anticipated. I was expecting a rather straightforward novel about a teenage girl who’s clairvoyant and the adventures and struggles that ensue, but the novel is a sad and scary, sweet and beautiful work that maintains its YA entertainment value while also touching on a literary tone with the perfect level of abstract mixed in. I was slow diving into it, though I consider that more a result of the slump than the actual novel, because once I managed to sit and read it, I didn’t want to stop, which I think we can all agree is a good sign. I was even reading it in the car, disappointed when I had to digest my food after breakfast out this morning before continuing on with the book because I knew I’d get carsick if I tried.

And here I am, writing a review of it at most an hour after finishing because I had to share. I just had to share.

A.S. King’s story of Glory and her struggle to understand the mother she no longer has, the best friend she’s not sure she wants, and the dad who’s not quite  the same anymore is an impressive story of a single week that feels like so much more. We learn about who Glory is and becomes, and we see her starting to discover her own potential through her visions. She’s not a weak character, per se, when the novel starts, but her personality isn’t one I would call strong, either; she keeps to herself and, for the most part, that’s how she likes it. However, as she goes on through the week, we see her emotions grow and she becomes more sure of them, following the repeated mantra of the novel: Free yourself. Have the courage. She starts asking questions and taking action, and I could not be more happy for her.

Given Glory’s visions and the horrifying future she sees, you would think the novel might struggle to end on a positive note, but I had hope that one was there as I finished. So much changes for Glory and her dad by the end of the book, and I can’t help but see at least some brightness to their future, whatever it may hold.

July 2, 2016

Reviewed: How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran

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how to build a girl by caitlin moran
Firstly, I’d just like to share that I picked up this book for about four dollars from, and after a few orders, I cannot recommend the site highly enough. If you’re looking for a fix on some new books, I suggest checking them out first. (And I am totally not getting paid to say that; I genuinely spent about $80 there in one month because they have such good deals.)

All right, onward to the review.

Caitlin Moran’s How to Build a Girl is about Johanna Morrigan, big-time nerd in a small-time English town. After reaching new heights of embarassment on local television, Johanna decides to reinvent herself into Lady Sex Adventurer/music writer Dolly Wilde. (Side note: Love the name.) I guess that probably could have clued me into just how much of a focus there was going to be on Johanna’s sexuality within the novel, but I guess I was just naive going into it.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and its depiction of Johanna trying to achieve a certain level of cool,” much like I’ve been attempting for the past twelve or so years. It was captivating to see how she developed, how she interacted with those around her, but how she also still maintained her innate self, whether she meant to or not. To be quite honest, the only parts I found boring were the repeated discussions of her masturbating, not because I think it’s wrong or anything, but because they were so frequent and didn’t feel as though they added much to the story most of the time, especially when that’s the opening scene. Even as I started reading, I had to wonder if that was meant more for shock value than substance, and I still haven’t settled one way or the other on it, so maybe it’s a bit of both, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The problem is if it is for shock, it goes away quickly with so many mentions.

Nonetheless, Johanna’s Adventures, both in and out of bed, make for a wonderful story. At times she can be slow on the uptake in situations, allowing herself to be manipulated or belittled by those (often men) around her. In the end, however, she shows so much development that I kind of ended up liking her. Compared to Eilis, in my previous review of Brooklyn, Johanna is a vastly more interesting and well-developed protagonist to follow. It felt like things were actually happening, and not just to her but at times because of her. She took action. Sometimes it was the wrong action, but sometimes not.

I’d give a big ol’ recommendation to this one if you like weird girls and music and coming of age stories. (I, for one, love all of these things, so maybe I’m a bit of a sucker.) Just make sure you’re not afraid of a little lot of sex talk.

May 30, 2016

Reviewed: Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

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Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
My interest was piqued as soon as I saw the trailer for this on TV weeks ago: Saoirse Ronan? Yes. Ireland (sort of)? Double yes. 1950s setting? Take my money. Unfortunately, I haven’t managed to see the movie yet, but I did get a copy from my library after a few weeks on hold, so I dove right in.

Brooklyn is the story of Eilis Lacey, a young Irish girl who lives with her mother and sister in Enniscorthy. With the influence of her sister and Father Flood, a Catholic priest visiting from Brooklyn, she eventually moves across the sea to the East Coast American city. Hijinks ensue! (Okay, not so much.) As you would expect, especially in a time without the internet or even easy access to long-distance phone calls, Eilis grows homesick, but she soon finds a place for herself in the city, getting a job, going to school, and finding a boyfriend.

It’s funny because it all sounds really promising, and as a piece of writing, I did enjoy it. However, it often felt like not much was actually happening, and when anything did come up, my biggest gripe with the book would make itself obvious: Eilis. I just could not get behind Eilis. If she were a real person, I would find her kind of pathetic. She starts out the novel letting herself do what people expect of her, and she doesn’t end the book much better. My favorite moments were when she would say something sharp to the other women she was living with, but unfortunately those were too few for me to be rooting for her. I just don’t think I would want to be friends with her in real life, and if I was, I’d constantly be telling her to stand up for herself and tell people how she feels. She kept so much of her thoughts inside that it was hard to feel sympathetic when she was unhappy. She’s the kind of character I just want to give a good hard shake.

But enough of my ranting about her, because the book did have a redeeming quality in its prose. The story itself is beautifully written–“In the morning, she was not sure that she had slept as much as lived a set of vivid dreams, letting them linger so that she would not have to open her eyes and see the room.”–even if, as I said, it often felt like nothing was really happening throughout much of the story. It felt as if we are simply given a period of years in Eilis’ life to examine and time moves forward. There’s very little conflict, and when there is something that might prove to bring some excitement to the story, little comes of it. Eilis makes the easier, more comfortable choice (sometimes I agreed with it; sometimes I didn’t), and life goes on for her. See, my beef with her is so big I couldn’t stay away for long.

I’m certainly not going to say don’t read this book. I have a hard time suggesting others not even give an attempt at a novel because people have such different tastes; just because it was such a mixed bag for me doesn’t mean that you won’t love it. But I am saying that this book didn’t do much for me, and I’m glad I got it from the library rather than buying myself a copy.

May 2, 2016

Thoughts on My First Owlcrate

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Owlcrate March 2016

Last week, my first Owlcrate arrived, just in time for my birthday. I’d been eyeing the boxes since January, but I ended up deciding not to get the February box (and kicking myself for it after seeing The Love that Split the World in it because it sounds amazing and looks beautiful). I was determined to get it this month, so I gave Dan a not-so-subtle hint that I wanted it for my birthday, and being the wonderful person he is, he got it for me.

If I’m being honest, I have to say I got spoiled a few days before mine arrived, and for once I wasn’t even trying to find spoilers. I was just browsing the bookstagram tag and someone had posted what they got inside. I was a little let down because my birthday and Christmas are the only times of the year that I like surprises, but no worries! I was still excited for it to arrive.

Now let’s take a look inside, shall we?

Owlcrate March 2016: Opened!

Out of Print Banned Books Socks / Guys, I’ve been browsing Out of Print for years hoping to order something and it’s never really happened for some reason. I guess I could never quite justify the purchase to myself (which is completely silly but whatever). So I was already excited to be getting something from them, but socks?! Who doesn’t love socks? Weird people, that’s who. But I’d like to think even those people have to admit that these banned books socks are great.

Bookworm Boutique Pinback Buttons / Another thing that I absolutely adore because I’m kind of a slight button addict, along with the fact that Bookworm Boutique is another shop I’ve had my eye on for a while.

642 Tiny Things to Write About / I’ve flipped through this a few times, and I’m really intrigued. I’ve seen a few of the other versions of these books and was interested, so this was a bit of good luck because I love writing prompts. I’m hoping this will help keep me inspired and

Quill Pen / Okay, it’s not a real quill, but I assume that would be pretty expensive and hard to ship, anyway. I haven’t tried writing with it yet, but I do like the fine-point tip on it. I’m very particular about my pens, so I’m hoping I’ll enjoy this one. Sara mentioned on Instagram that she likes the way its writes, so I’m feeling good about it.

And lastly,

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner / I don’t know if this is a book I would have picked up on my own–I might have grabbed a copy from the library if I found it, but it wouldn’t have jumped out at me or anything. It seems like it’s up my alley, though; I think I read contemporary YA more than just about anything else, so it’s a safe bet that I’ll enjoy this one.

Overall, I’m pleased with my first Owlcrate experience. The items are excellent quality, and they’re all things I’d be interested in anyway, but might not have been able to justify buying on their own. Even if I don’t go ahead with April’s box, I’m quite confident that there are more of these in my future.

Have you gotten an Owlcrate before? How’s your experience been?

March 30, 2016

Reviewed: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

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03.02.2016 / go set a watchman by harper lee
I first read To Kill a Mockingbird in eleventh grade; it was one of the few books I did read for class that year, to be honest, and it’s one of the few school books I’ve read repeatedly since then. I fell in love with the characters–children and adults alike–and the story of a childhood I could relate to, if only vaguely. So you can imagine the excitement mingled with skepticism and fear that washed over me when I first began to hear that a sequel was being released.

I had to wonder, Will it be any good? Why is it being published now? What are the motives? How will this change things? If the reviews were to be believed, it would change things a lot, but I don’t think my reaction was as strong as a lot of the reviewers’ I read beforehand. In fact, I straight up enjoyed the hell out of this book.

A summary, in case you don’t already know the premise: Go Set a Watchman follows Jean Louise (Scout) Finch about twenty years after the events of TKAM. She’s returned to Maycomb for her yearly two week visit with her family, and while she’s there this time around, the changes start becoming more pronounced, and she starts to feel like her world as she knew it all those years before is crashing down around her.

From here on out, there might be spoilers, so proceed with caution if that’s not your kind of thing.

The biggest beef the reviews I read had with the book were the way the Atticus Finch we all know and adore is racist. And he is. But he’s no different from the Atticus we knew and loved before; it’s only that now we know him even more thoroughly. He was not as fully rounded a character as we have now with both novels. He is still just as staunchly committed to justice and fairness as the law sees it, but now we learn that that’s just it. His justice is squarely within the law as it is. He does believe that African-Americans surrounding him in the south are infantile and unprepared to live the lifestyle of the white Americans. It’s heartbreaking, but I also found it fascinating.

It was striking how, despite having been written first, this novel felt like a response to TKAM and the adoration that was heaped upon Atticus. It felt very much like Harper Lee trying to show people that Atticus, while a great man, was still not a perfect man. And I think when Jean Louise’s world finally explodes, when she finally learns this secret about Atticus and confronts him, it greatly encapsulates the reactions that so many readers would have upon this same realization.

Part of me almost (almost) hates to say it, but I really did like this book. Do I love it as much as To Kill a Mockingbird? No, because I do still want to cling to that perfect image of Atticus. But do I appreciate this more nuanced look to his character and being able to experience it through (with) Jean Louise? Yes. So much. And I am so glad that I took the step to read it, despite my misgivings.

Have you read GSAW? Are you avoiding it?
Share your thoughts either way, please!

March 2, 2016

The Books of Summer Reading 2015

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Summer Reading 2015
After seeing both Sara and Kristin post their summer reading lists recently, I thought it might be fun to make one of my own to share–so thanks, ladies, for the inspiration!

While I don’t get summers off anymore–ah, to be young and free again–I’m still looking forward to lounging around in my free time, reading on the porch if it’s not too hot and on the couch if it is. In fact, I have “hammock” on my grand wish list so I have yet another place to relax and read during the nice weather. So despite it not being that traditional summer of freedom and endless time and possibilities anymore, I still intend on getting as much reading out of the season as I can.

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

I’ve got some mixed feelings on Amanda Palmer, but overall, I don’t actively dislike her, and while she’s said/done some things that have made me raise an eyebrow, she’s also said/done some things I’ve found really great, and I’m hoping this book turns out to be one of them.

My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff

This is one of those books that has been on my Amazon wish list for about a year, and I’ve picked it up at the bookstore a few times without going through with the commitment, though I’m not sure why. However, I’m now happy to report that my library has a copy, so I get to dive into this look into publishing, Salinger fan mail, and Rakoff’s own personal evolution.

The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling

I know, I know: How have I not read this yet? I have no answer for that other than that sometimes it takes me a while to get excited about something new yet different. When it came out, I was intrigued, but also a little wary simply because it’s, well, not Harry Potter, so I’ve let myself take my time until I was genuinely interested, rather than reading it simply because it was something new by JK Rowling. Thankfully, I think this summer I’m finally ready.

Soulless by Gail Carriger

After reading the Finishing School series (thank you, NovelTea Book Club!), I’ve been dying to get into the Parasol Protectorate series, and not only because they’re related. I actually tried to find this on my last trip to Barnes & Noble (you know, the one with all the great books I did end up getting), but they only had like the third and fourth books or so, which didn’t do me much good, so I plan to put some energy into finding a copy this summer to dig into.

Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon

To be honest, I’m not a huge Sonic Youth fan, in the sense that I enjoy listening to them, but I don’t go out of my way to do so. I think I have one or two songs of theirs on my iPod, and one is from the Juno soundtrack, so I don’t know if it really counts. Still, I think Kim Gordon as a person is thoroughly fascinating, and memoirs by just about any female artist are interesting to me. Needless to say, I’ve got this one on hold at the library (and I’m gonna need it; there are at least three people ahead of me).

My ultimate goal is to borrow most of these from the library, but we’ll see how that works out by the end of August. I’ll also almost definitely read other books along the way, but these are the ones that are at the top of my to read list for the next couple of months.

What books are you looking forward to reading this summer and why? Have you read any of the above yet? What did you think?



June 17, 2015

Reviewed: We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

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06.07.15 / we all looked up by tommy wallach
I picked up We All Looked Up the same day I got All the Rage and, boy, was that a successful Barnes & Noble trip if there ever was one.

Tommy Wallach’s We All Looked Up is a countdown to the end of the world. An asteroid is making its way towards Earth with only two months to go, and what better way to examine this situation than through the eyes of a group of barely connected teenagers finding themselves as part of the same karass.

This book surprised me in a number of ways, some good, some bad-good (i.e., absolutely heart shattering): the way it managed depth within in so many characters in only so many pages, the way it made me cry, the way it made me scared of things other than the asteroid hurtling towards my own home planet. While at times it felt like it was trying a little too hard to be cool or relevant–references to Pitch Perfect and Radiohead–those moments were few and far between among the depth of this novel.

I think what I really liked about this novel was that it was pre-apocalyptic, as opposed to the post-apocalyptic dystopian trend that’s been so popular as of late (not that I dislike it; I enjoy a good dystopian as much as the next person). It was great to get a look at not only the before but a before that we as readers will know. I may not be a teenager anymore, but I have an understanding of the world that Andy, Anita, Eliza, and Peter are living through, and I couldn’t help being awed and inspired by the way they chose to spend their last two months on this floating rock. When the whole system is crumbling around them, they find ways to both go on and help others, help each other, and help themselves.

Lastly, while the book wasn’t as down and depressing as you might expect given the topic, it was still serious, with just the right balance of tension and comedy, both in the characters and the plot. Nothing about this book felt one dimensional or shallow to me, and I appreciate the effort Wallach put into this novel to make it as enjoyable and effective as it turned out to be.


June 10, 2015