Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Top 5 Wednesday: Banned Books I've Read

Luckily I've never had to worry about someone telling me that I couldn't read something. I feel sorry for the people that are so afraid of ideas that they seek to limit what books people can read, especially their children. To be honest, if I were a child and told something was banned, that would make me much more likely to want to read it.

Looking over The ALA's Frequently Challenge Books of 2014 List I realized that I had read more of them than I thought. From that list and some others available through that website, I thought I'd share my top 5 banned books that I've read, in no particular order.

I was surprised to see this on the list for one of the reasons that was given for the challenge. I understand the nudity, the sexually explicit content, but the challenge reason that threw me was anti-family. Anyone who has read this knows that this is so far from anti-family as to be hilarious. Marko and Alana are fleeing their homeworlds because of their family, so that they can raise their daughter in peace.

Another family that is lovingly rendered. The illustrations were very pretty and I think it is a useful story to tell children if they happen to have questions about different types of families. According to the challenges listed against this book, it is supposed to be promoting the homosexual agenda. Well then, every book about a "typical" family is propaganda for that sort of dynamic. Who cares? It is a children's storybook that the kids will like because, wait for it, it has cute animals and it's easy to read.

Okay, yes, the series does get darker as it goes on, but that is because life gets darker. Harry admittedly has a few more difficulties than the average teenager. If you take his challenges though, and boil them down to their base meaning, he isn't so different, so unrelateable, that people reading his legacy won't find something in it that will guide them through their troubles. 

I haven't the foggiest idea why this book is on the Top 100 Banned/Challenged List 2000-2009, but I do remember liking it a whole lot when I was a teenager. This was back when I first started getting into books with a fantasy element, in this case werewolves. It was a suitable entry into the genre: not too fantastical (language, setting, etc.), not too much to get used to. It was a girl's story of growing up different and that, at the time, was what I needed the most.

I remember this being one of the few summer reading assignments that I actually enjoyed in high school. It showed me that there was power in standing up and you have to stand up for what you believe to be right, even in the face of the consequences.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Monday, September 28, 2015

No Review Today, But!

Normally I'd publish a review today and I had been intending on reviewing Username: Evie, but I've been a bit busy preparing for a trip into the city tomorrow and it's for a very exciting day!

Tomorrow I'll be going into NYC and attending the launch event for Ransom Riggs's new book Library of Souls, the final book in the Peculiar Children series!

It'll be only my second author event ever; my first was R.A. Salvatore at a comic convention many years ago.

I'll be trying my best to take pictures of the event as well as throughout the day. My husband and I have to be in the city super early to guarantee wristbands for the event and will have plenty of time to kill before it starts, so who knows what we'll see and do?

Friday, September 25, 2015

TAG: Unpopular Opinions Tag

Time for another TAG post and I thought that this week I'd tackle the Unpopular Opinions Tag (originally created by The Book Archer on Youtube. It is funny every time I see it on Booktube, so I wanted to take a crack at it. Regulatory heads up: These are my opinions, which you may or may not agree with. I am sorry if you are offended, but again, these are just my opinions. :)

1. What is a popular book or series that you didn't like?

I tried reading this because I saw that a lot of people were enjoying it and it was a movie series that had actually progressed beyond the first movie. I thought it couldn't hurt to give it a try.

I was very, very wrong.

I got a copy from the library and tried to read it because it sounded like such a great story, but the writing put me off straight away and I couldn't finish the first book.

2. A popular book or series that everyone else seems to hate but you liked.

This one is sort of hit or miss, as the people that have read it often seem to either really like it or really hate it. My answer is The Twilight Series by Stephanie Meyer. I can admit that there are some flaws with the series, but overall I really enjoyed the series.

3. Name a love triangle where you didn't love the person that the MC ended up with.

I have two answers for this.

I have not yet finished this series, so perhaps things will change, but at the end of Throne of Glass, I see Celaena ending up with Chaol which didn't sit right with me. Here you have Dorian, offering up everything he has and is, and she doesn't think it'll be a good idea. Granted she has some good reasons, but since when has love ever been sane?

I do not like Hermione ending up with Ron. I couldn't see how these would really end well. It felt very forced, like Hermione had to end up with one of the other two in the Golden Trio. I don't think she should have ended up with either of them and I don't have someone better for her, but I don't think Ron was it.

4. A popular genre that you don't often reach for.

I don't like reading non-fiction much at all, especially biographies. There are a few exceptions, but not many. I also don't care for fiction books that focus on religion. They tend to rub me the wrong way and I just have no interest in them.

5. A popular character that you didn't like.

For this question I chose Greg Gaines from Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. I couldn't stand him during the course of this book. I didn't think that there was any substance to his character. I didn't find him relateable, I couldn't feel sorry for him, whether it was because his love interest was dying or his best friend was growing away from him.

When the secondary character is by far the most interesting thing going in the story, I think there's a problem with your narrative, especially since it was told in the first person.

6. A popular author that you can't seem to get into.

I thought that I would like Libba Bray's books, but it seems like the idea of the plot is more appealing than the execution of them. I've tried to read her books and the only one that I could get through was A Great and Terrible Beauty, but even that was a bit hard going. I might continue with that series, but The Diviners was the one that got me to thinking that maybe Libba Bray just isn't my cup of tea.

7. A popular trope you are tired of seeing.

I am beyond sick of instalove. It doesn't make sense! Instant attraction, that's fine, it happens and I can see that, but love is complicated and takes time. You cannot profess your undying love for someone after less than a week!

8. Name a series that you don't have an interest in reading.

50 Shades of Grey. I tried to start the first one, but I have no interest in completing it. The writing was terrible, over the top, and I can't see any way for it to be redeemed.

9. Name a tv series or movie that you enjoyed more than the book.

The movie eliminated a lot of the excess that the book had. The boring bits for the most part were kept out of the film and the characters were redeemed. Some plot lines were twisted, but I think they ended up in good places.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Top 5 Wednesday: Title Fonts on Covers

This was a grand idea for a Top 5 and I'm glad to take part in it. While reading the actual text of a book it is better to have the words in a uniform text. On the cover, however, liberties can be taken and the title made into something beautiful, something treacherous, anything the designer wishes.

This week my choices are not in a particular order as, while I have favorites, I can't really place them one over the other.

I like how the letters in this font look like they were made with rough brush strokes. The wobbliness of the letters hints at a darkness within the story which is delicious in the anticipation.

These letters remind me of the text that I see most often on old engravings. The letter C reminds me of a music note, though I couldn't say which one. The bits on the letters S look like stars, appropriate since Cress lives on a satellite.

This font looks like it could be on a balance board. It is at the point where a stroke one way and it would be an elegant script; one stroke the other way and it would be ragged, like you'd expect the cloak of Death to be.

I liked this font straight away because I think that it is the kind of font that would do well on an old time advertisement for a travelling show, such as the ones that the rival families in the story operate. With a change in color, perhaps a little gold embellishment, this font on an ad might draw in anybody. As it stands though, blood red, it calls to mind the feud between the Palomas and the Corbeaus that might just cost them their lives.

Just going by the description of the story, I love its potential even more. The font goes from thick and bold to thin and barely there. It seems like it might connect with the strength of the family within the story that has lost their golden the child, the one upon whom they had pinned all their hopes.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Owlcrate September Box Review: Leading Ladies

At first I wasn't sure that I'd be getting this month's box due to a current situation, but I'm so glad that I was able to. There were some great things in it this month. The theme of the month was Leading Ladies.

Here's the box, newly opened and holding all this month's surprises! On the flip side is a list of everything in the box, which I never read if I can help it until everything's been unpacked.

The first thing out of the box is this cool tote bag from Whoviandrea. It's fairly sizable too, which is good because I'm always carrying multiple books around. Check out more of her merchandise on the website, or her Twitter feed.

I have started the Divergent series and like it so far, though I do happen to know the ending of the series. :( This bag is perfect for a member of any faction, particularly Dauntless (*cough*Erudite here*cough*).

I love to collect Pop figures, but I don't have any keychain ones yet. Happy surprise then that there was one in this box and it is one of my favorite heroines. All hail the Mother of Dragons.

Okay, this wasn't exactly a goodie. It's a postcard ad for a pet subscription service, much like Owlcrate but for your pet. I had to include it here though because it's Hermione and Crookshanks for crying out loud!

Here's a necklace from Crystal Compass. It's a gold arrow reminiscent of Katniss from The Hunger Games. This is a cool necklace; my only problem is that the chain is rather short so I won't be able to wear it unless I get some extenders. The Etsy shop has some nice items, so I'd recommend taking a look at those as well.

A lovely photograph print was next and I love it. It reminds me of a Doctor Who poster I have in the same style. Hermione is one of the greatest leading ladies of recent memory, if not of all time, and to see her portrayed so beautifully was a pleasure.

And the part, finally, that I was most excited to receive! I had no idea that this would be the book included, naturally, as that's sort of the point. It was, however, a box that I was very much looking forward to reading and even had in my Barnes & Noble cart, intending to purchase it today. Good thing I didn't!

The second photo shows a special sticker and a letter from the author written especially for Owlcrate subscribers. I love getting these little things from the author because it feels like we're connecting with them somehow.

I'd recommend signing up to receive this monthly box if I were you. The theme changes every month and, while it is a bit of a gamble as everything's a surprise, it's little things like that that make life worth living. There's always a brand new book in there and I've not gotten one yet that has disappointed.

Keep a sharp eye on Owlcrate as these boxes tend to sell out fairly quickly.

Until October, everyone!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Review: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

If you could read my mind, you wouldn't be smiling.

Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can't turn off. 

Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn't help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she'd be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam's weekly visits to her psychiatrist.

Caroline introduces Sam to Poet's Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more "normal" than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.

Rating: 5 stars


Samantha: It might be difficult at first to know whether or not you're supposed to like Samantha. Sure she's the main character, but she's part of the "mean girl" clique at school. Usually we're led to believe that these girls are vain, shallow, and cruel to anyone that is not part of their group. While this may be true in the beginning for some of her friends, Samantha is actually a decent person, albeit one with a dark secret: she suffers from an obsessive disorder that makes life next to unbearable.

I found her to be a ridiculously strong character. High school is difficult enough, but with a disorder like this and all the trouble that comes with it, she somehow manages to keep it a secret from her friends. Looking back on it, of course keeping a secret like this is terrible and her friends aren't worth if it they'd treat her badly because of it, but for someone in high school, image can be everything, so I understand how she felt regarding the situation.

The Poet's Corner: these characters were all unique in their difficulties, but all brought together by their love of writing. In high school I would have given anything to have the comraderie they seem to share.


This is sort of a difficult area because there wasn't a clear villain, exactly, though there were some "characters" that added to the difficulty of Samantha's journey.

Mean Girls: these are the friends that Samantha has grown up with and fits in with the best, despite some of them being horrible people. They were a little cliche in their meanness, I'll admit. Samantha herself states that she doesn't agree fully with their bullying of other classmates, but she goes along with it out of peer pressure. I can't remember coming across someone in real life that was like Samantha in this instance. The bullies that I dealt with were jerks through and through, but in the story, at least there is hope for some of the girls. Even if they wouldn't turn out like this in real life, at least in fiction we can hope for the best and see it begin to come true.

OCD: I am not very familiar with OCD as a realistic disease, so I am not sure to what degree what Samantha suffered is real. It was, however, presented in a overpowering and ever present way that made me believe, for the course of the book, that I could understand how Samantha was feeling, if only for a little bit.


Imagery wasn't a part of the novel that I really noticed as anything extraordinary, perhaps because it took place in the real world and it was an everyday sort of place, unlike if it were a fantasy novel. I knew, or at least could hazard a guess, what the place looked like without having to have it painted out for me.


I found the writing to be fairly streamlined. It was a fairly quick read. The prose was catchy enough to be interesting without too much going on, and it left off in good places at the end of chapters so that I wanted to continue.


There was a fairly big surprise for Samantha toward the end that, while devastating, I was at least starting to guess midway through the book. It was an interesting choice for the author to make. In the course of the story I found it plausible, though a bit sad as the person involved in this revelation was a character that I had really felt happy with.


There are times when this novel can feel a bit dark because of the panic and terror that Samantha feels, but it is well worth the emotional journey that she and you as the reader will undertake.

Music Recommendation

Lindsey Stirling's Shatter Me made me think of Samantha's situation: being the perfect girl, trying to hide the darkness that she felt eating away at her.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Friday, September 18, 2015

TAG: Inside Out

For my first TAG video on this blog, I thought that I would do the Inside Out Tag as originally created by Kristina Horner.

1. Joy: what book brings you the most joy?

I love this series and have since the moment I picked up the first volume. I loved reading about the adventures that the students at Hogwarts had and learning more and more about this strange world hidden within our own.

2. Disgust: which book grossed you out the most?

Don't get me wrong, I love this series and I want to read more of it. That said, when the main character gets a psychic impression from everything he eats and is a law enforcement officer, you know things are going to go badly (especially with that boss of his!).

There are some very bloody and gory parts of the series which make me a little queasy, but I keep going because the story is well worth the gross out.

3. Fear: what book scared you the most?

I didn't actually like this book a whole lot. It was okay in terms of writing, plot, etc. That being said, a B horror movie is still going to creep me out if I'm reading it at 1:00 AM and no one else is awake. It had the cheap thrills that come with an overdone horror movie plot, but those thrills definitely had me waiting a bit before turning out the lights.

4. Sadness: which book made you cry the hardest?

I don't usually cry when reading. There might be parts that make me really sad, such as all the deaths that occur in the last Harry Potter novel, but actual crying?

I did, however, when I read the story of Andrew Brawley. It hit me so hard, reading about this kid that lives in a hospital, unknown to staff or anyone really, after the rest of his family dies. The reasons behind this situation made me bawl even harder.

5. Anger: which book pissed you off?

I didn't expect this book to be great literature, but Lara Jean, the main character, spiraled downward so much from where she was at the end of the previous book that I was ashamed of her. She was a somewhat strong young woman and now that she had a "real" boyfriend she acts like the cliche highschooler. She became so annoying that it was a small miracle I finished the book. Just because she got a boyfriend was no reason for her to act like such a dimwit!

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Top 5 Wednesday: Top Books with Mental Health/Illness

I was a bit worried at first when I saw that this was the topic for the next Top 5 Wednesday. I'd never really thought about mental illness in the books I'd read before, but when I took a look at my Read shelf on Goodreads, I realized that I'd read more than I thought on this topic. These books aren't all relating to one type of mental illness either, which is interesting in that you get the scope of the illness in the individual situation, but you can also examine the similarities of suffering that these characters deal with.

Here, then, is my countdown list for Top 5 Wednesday: Books with Mental Health/Illness.

5. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

This book at first glance might not seem like it is about mental health, but I think that you will discover as you read it that it definitely has those elements. There's the emotional damage that a girl stuck in her house her entire life goes through, to say nothing of the mother, which tiptoes the line into spoiler territory, so I won't say much here. Suffice it to say, there are definite hints, and then outright declarations regarding mental health here.

What I liked about this book is that it isn't too heavy handed when talking about the issues faced by the characters. You are guided into their story and feel like you understand the pain their going through so well. It's a great read and I strongly encourage you to pick it up.

4. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

The thing that I find frustrating about books that deal with eating disorders is that it oftentimes feels like the author is portraying it as a disease that is easy to escape from. The recovery of the character is too easy to attain and that doesn't reflect reality. The thing I find special about this book is that you can see just how wrong this disease, anorexia, can go and that it often involves dancing with ghosts before you can recover, if recovery is even possible because, let's face it, not everyone can recover from their eating disorder.

3. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

You may or may not think that this is about mental illness. At first I wasn't sure either, but upon reflection, I think that is, at least in part. There is strong evidence throughout the book, and possibly mentioned outright, that the main character is a form of high function autistic. Autism is not itself a mental disorder, but the OCD that Don has is a mental disorder aside from his autism, if he is indeed. I can't remember whether it is discovered that he actually is, or if we're just supposed to think so.

What I found interesting about this book is that, since you are seeing things from Don's point of view, none of what he does seems to be weird or out of the ordinary. I think it gives a good perspective of what the world looks like through the eyes of someone you is dealing with this sort of thing.

2. Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

In my Goodreads review of this book, I said that I liked how we were able to see the daily struggle of Audrey without the novel being too heavy handed and I stand by that. The reader isn't bogged down with information that, while tantalizing, isn't needed (i.e. what exactly happened to make Audrey this way).

1. Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

This was the most powerful book that I've read about mental health/illness in at least the last year. In this book we see the other side of OCD, wherein Samantha suffers from obsessive thoughts that she can't stop thinking, where normally one might see her only obsessively counting or repeating a task. There are tastes of that here, but it isn't the main thing.

It is a totally immersive experience that I think everyone should read.  It will draw your emotions to the surface and wrench them like a towel between two hands. I was worn out after reading this book, but that experience is something that I don't always experience when reading and am thoroughly pleased when I have.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Review: Empath by S. Usher Evans

Review: Empath by S. Usher Evans

Lauren Dailey is in break-up hell.

Stuck between moving on and letting go, she puts on a brave face while crying herself to sleep at night. But when a mysterious voice promises escape from her sadness, she is suddenly transported to a new world. And in this place, the slightest touch pulls her out of her tortured emotions into the mind of another - an empath.

The villagers - sweet Aerona and her mischievous twins, wise Siors, and hunky Cefin - welcome her and the blessings her empath powers bring. But this world is not without its dangers. The Anghenfil, a fire-breathing monster, has haunted the village for decades, and has a taste for empaths. And that mysterious voice promising escape from sadness? It's sounding more like a whisper tinged with smoke and embers.

Can Lauren keep the monsters in the mountain and in her head at bay? Or will she succumb to the darkness like the empath before her...

Rating: 3 stars

I received a e-copy of the book from the author as part of a giveaway and I promised a review once I was finished.

Please be aware, there will be SPOILERS or at least POTENTIAL SPOILERS. You have been warned.

The premise of the novel was interesting; dimension traveling usually is. I am also a fan of a character receiving powers and learning how to use them, as you learn something about their character during the process.

While reading this book, and shortly thereafter, however, I found myself feeling unsatisfied with how things went.


Lauren Dailey: At the beginning, the main character is recovering from something that most people have gone through at least once in their lives: a painful breakup. It has been four months since she decided to end things with her boyfriend because she didn't see a future with him. He didn't want to get married, she did. It's a simple situation, except that she's feeling the pain of this breakup rather more heavily than a lot of people would. What you don't find out until the end is that she suffers from depression.

There are hints through the novel, granted, but while reading them I didn't connect it with her illness because she didn't, which leads me to one of the aggravating things about Lauren: she doesn't see what is right in front of her. She refuses to listen to her instincts, especially once she's in this new world. There were moments when I found myself wanting to shout at her for being so simple.

Cefin: I somewhat like Cefin, the love interest in this new world, perhaps a bit more than the MC. After saving Lauren from a "cave in", he entrusts her into the care of his aunt and continues to keep an eye on her, despite her stubborness in returning to the dangerous cave where she was found, home to the Anghenfil, the dragon featured on the cover.

Cefin is good looking, well built, and not overloaded with many other characteristics. He is loyal to his family, somewhat through guilt over an incident involving the death of his father and uncle years previous to Lauren's arrival. He has depth in this guilt and in his devotion to protecting the village from the Anghenfil. However, after the love story plays out, I came to realize that he wasn't the hero of the story that Lauren needed or would typically have received in a fairy tale.


The main antagonist of this story is the Anghenfil, a dragon that lures women from our world and proceeds to suck out their unhappiness, leaving them as empty shells. The description and the way that "he" was able to infiltrate Lauren's mind made him exceptionally creepy. How can you defend yourself against the enemy when he can get into your head and twist your thoughts?

I liked this villain because he was easily identifiable and you could picture it as this looming threat, but you didn't realize how awful he could be until you saw how he dug his claws into Lauren through subtle manipulation and very nearly got what he wanted from her.

The secondary antagonists, the king and the scholar, were somewhat underwhelming. There wasn't enough time to consider them truly evil, although their actions made it seem like the reader was to take it on the word of the author that these were bad dudes. I would have appreciated a bit more fleshing out of these characters other than brief hints about their disreputable behavior and treatment of the last empath.

Trope: Insta Love

This is one of the most annoying tropes that I read in fiction and unfortunately I found it here. I cannot think of a situation where insta love has worked out. Either it isn't believable and you're left wondering how this relationship worked out at all, or it isn't believable and it ends, which you'e actually quite thankful for.

In this instance, Lauren and Cefin fall in love within a fortnight of her appearance in this world and the only thing keeping them apart is her empathic power which causes her to feel and experience thoughts and memories with whomever she is touching. As soon as Lauren discovers a way to make her powers go away, they instantly leap into bed. I understand desire and looking back maybe this act was a symptom or side affect of Lauren's illness, but it was so frustrating because I can't see real people acting like this.

Cefin seemed to genuinely care for Lauren, if not love her as much as he professed. I think that, had Lauren become a permanent fixture in this world, then the relationship could have developed to the point where it was meaningful. As it was, it was not that kind of relationship and I was happy to see at the end that Lauren realized that it wasn't true love. That showed development on her part and was part of her admittance that she wasn't perfect and that she was, in fact, suffering from unacknowledged depression.


The imagery in Empath was good. I really got a sense of Lauren's surroundings once she woke up in the fantasy world, especially the mountains. If I ever wanted to climb a mountain before, I have quickly been stripped of the notion that any of it is easy.


Like I said earlier, the premise of this novel was good. I was excited to read it and to be fair I did finish it fairly quickly because I wanted to know what happened to the characters and where the plot was going.

I thought that the pacing was what took some of the enjoyment out of the story for me, though. It tended to drag in some points, usually when Lauren was pondering whether her bad feeling about the situation at hand was really all that bad, deciding it was, and choosing the wrong course of action anyway.


There are two ways to look at this ending.

1. I am happy that Lauren learned to stand up for herself and she acknowledged her problems, eventually. She is getting the help she needs and unconsciously denied herself for so long. That is great, A+. However!

2. It was a dream. A coma dream. Really? My first thought upon realizing this was that it had a very Wizard of Oz feel to it. I can't stand this, though, when a book, a movie, a tv show, ends and you find out that none of it was actually real. It is annoying because you invest so much in these characters, in the perils they find themselves in, and then it feels like you have the rug pulled out from under you.


There were some hiccups, such as pacing and a somewhat frustrating main character, but she did redeem herself a little in the end and I did want to find out what happened to the characters.

Music Recommendation

Thinking about Lauren reminded me of a song from my teen years, Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely by the Backstreet Boys. It was heavy with sadness and regret and I thought that she experienced both of those things within the course of her story.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Monthly Recommendations: Books Set in School

First, I want to thank Aria Mia. I saw her video (linked here) and it led me to this wonderful new Goodreads group. Trina from Between Chapters and Kayla Rayne have put together the group Monthly Recommendations where there is a theme and you can suggest as many or as few titles as you like for the month.

Second, here is my list, in no particular order, for this month's theme: Books Set in School

Anna is happy in Atlanta. She has a loyal best friend and a crush on her coworker at the movie theater, who is just starting to return her affection. So she's less than thrilled when her father decides to send her to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins is a good, light read, perfect for easing yourself back into reading if, perhaps, you've recently finished a book that was heavy on the feels (I'm looking at you, Throne of Glass). There are two more books in the "series", Lola and the Boy Next Door & Isla and the Happily Ever After. Each book is set in a major city and are loosely connected with returning characters that you'll be sure to smile at.

Harry Potter thinks he is an ordinary boy. He lives with his Uncle Vernon, Aunt Petunia and cousin Dudley, who are mean to him and make him sleep in a cupboard under the stairs. (Dudley, however, has two bedrooms, one to sleep in and one for all his toys and games.) Then Harry starts receiving mysterious letters and his life is changed forever. He is whisked away by a beetle-eyed giant of a man and enrolled at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The reason: Harry Potter is a wizard!

Aria probably said it best when she said that you should just assume any recommendation list will somehow be tied to Harry Potter. She is right, it is a lovely series, and each book leads you deeper and deeper into the wizarding world. It almost makes going to school worth it if the school could be like Hogwarts.

At seventeen, overachieving Lane finds himself at Latham House, a sanatorium for teens suffering from an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Part hospital and part boarding school, Latham is a place of endless rules and confusing rituals, where it's easier to fail breakfast than it is to flunk French.

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider is an amazing books that takes places at, of course, a school, but a very special one: every student here is suffering from a drug resistant strain of tuberculosis that has no known cure. I wasn't sure when I first read this whether it would be too depressing to get through, but I think that it shows very well how much teenagers can go through and still come out as themselves. A lot of people might not think that teens are capable of much, but what they go through in this book, all while attending a secluded high school, speaks volumes to their stubborn spirit.

It is Chu's first day of school. Chu is nervous.

He hopes the other boys and girls will be nice. Will they like him?

What will happen at school today?

Will Chu do what Chu does best?

As a mother of a young child, I do spend my fair share of time reading picture books. This is a good one that I found when my son was starting preschool. I read it to him again at the start of this school year. It is Chu's First Day of School by Neil Gaiman. Not only do I get to enjoy one of my favorite authors, but I get to see charming illustrations set to a story that helps kids feel better about their first day of school.

That is all that I have for you during this, my first monthly recommendations list. I hope you enjoyed it. Please let me know if you've read any of these books, what you think of my recommendations, or any old thing relating to books.

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Things About Booktubing/Blogging

It's time for another fabulous Wednesday with a Top 5 post! These themes were created by gingerreadslainey. You can view the group over on Goodreads, or you can visit her channel over on Youtube

Below are my choices for this Wednesday. It was a little harder than usual because there are so many things to choose from and I found it difficult both to choose five and how to express my feelings about them coherently. I think I've done a good job; please let me know what you think in the comments and maybe even tell me one of your favorite things about Booktubing or blogging.

5. Recommendations

This is how I find most of the new books that I will read. It is awesome to see everyone speaking so enthusiastically about the book they've read, whether it was a good book or a bad book. It's also a great way to get to know different Booktubers. You find what they like, get a feel for it, and then you might even be able to recommend something back.

4. Readathons

The encouragement that I see and experience during a readathon is epic. So many people coming together to read as much as possible in a preset amount of time is so much fun! Sometimes I get a little down when I can't read as much as someone else, but that gives me a goal for next time. I've got room to improve, if I choose to look at it that way, and even if I don't, it isn't a big deal.

3. #RQWN

I love being on Twitter and playing Random Question With Nori. There are dozens of other people, if not hundreds, that join in. Talking about books, about our interests, if a lot of fun and usually blows up my Twitter feed for an hour or two.

2. Tag videos

If I'm ever having a bad day, I know that watching a tag video will help, at least a little bit. They are like playing board games with your friends, except it's more singular during these videos. It also introduces me to new stories because of the types of questions usually asked. I can find new genres through these videos, books I never would have thought to try before.

1. Making new friends

It is extremely difficult for me to talk to or interact with people in the real world, mostly because I do not live in an area where there are others that share my interests. By seeing these videos and interacting with Booktubers, by writing my own blog posts, I can find others that like the things I like, people that want to talk about what I want to talk about. The community is very supportive and tops the list of things I like about Booktubing/blogging.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Top 5 Wednesday: Fictional Cities

I'm ready to kick off my new blog, recently moved from LiveJournal, with a favorite post of mine, Top 5 Wednesday. This week took a bit of thinking as I don't register the cities my books take place in as something that goes towards whether or not I enjoy the novel. Here, then, are my choices:

5. King's Landing (A Song of Ice and Fire)

I bet if this city were cleaned up it would be a fantastic place to visit because of all the culture and the history that went on. However, as it stands, being anywhere near there is probably hazardous to your health, especially if your last name happens to be Stark. I also like that it's near the sea because I've always been fascinated by sea travel and would love the ability to set off at a moment's notice on a pirate's adventure.  

4. Ank-Morpork (Discworld series)

Who wouldn't want to visit a city made famous by Sir Terry Pratchett? You might meet Susan or Death or any number of awe inspiring people. Let's face it, it is also the city where, if you want to round up an expedition to see the elephants, you'll find the most willing (aka craziest) volunteers.

3. Death City, Nevada (Soul Eater)

This is the city featured in Soul Eater (manga). It is definitely not a city for the weak at heart. It is home to the Death Weapon Meister Academy and thus will provide endless excitement. Whether there's a witch running rampant or Black Star trying to prove himself again, each day will be sure to be unlike any other.

2. Hobbiton (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings)

That's a city, right? I love Hobbiton because it sounds like it would be a really welcoming place. The Hobbits are friendly with everyone and I bet they have the best food in all of Middle Earth. The weather is almost always fair, the landscape is gorgeous, and, at least prior to the events of LOTR, you didn't have to worry about being attacked or invaded. That sense of contentment would be wonderful.

1. Hogsmeade (Harry Potter series)

An entirely wizarding village? Sign me up! I'm not sure what country this would be in, Scotland maybe, but if they were selling tickets I'd be buying one straight away. The joke shop, the candy store, the only thing missing is a bookstore, unless I missed one from the novels?

All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.