1 Year and 100 Followers!

If you could hear the victory screech emitting from my lungs right now your ear’s ears would be moderately assaulted. How’s that for imagery?

I first created this blog well over a year ago, but didn’t make my first post until one year ago today. At first, I felt strange about posting my thoughts on the internet for anyone to read. But as I posted more and more frequently, I have realized that there is an entire community of book lovers who think the same way I do. I am the only avid reader in my social circle, so finding people to discuss my bookish thoughts with has been so incredible! (And my TBR list has grown exponentially…)  I never expected to hit the 100 (129!) follower mark, but I’m so excited that I did!

Thank you to everyone who has decided to join me on this crazy blogging journey of mine, you have all inspired me to no end! I love reading all your posts and comments, and I am so grateful to you all for sticking with me. Cheers to another year!

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Title: A Discovery of Witches8667848
Author: Deborah Harkness
Pages: 579
Year: 2011
Publisher: Viking Penguin
Rating: 4/5

Goodreads Synopsis: Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.

Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.

I finally finished this book over the weekend, and I am still reeling over how much I loved it! I think this will easily be one of my favorite books of the year, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequels! After so many mediocre reads, it’s nice to come across something I really like every once in a while! I did dock a point for unnecessary/bizarre details, which I will get into in a minute. But all in all I thought this was really well-written, and flowed seamlessly. For lack of a better word, I was “spellbound” for the duration of this book!

I found the characters to be strong and interesting, they each had distinctive personalities and character flaws. Since this is the first book in the trilogy, you get a solid base understanding of the main and supporting characters knowing that a deeper relationship with them will come in future books.

Speaking of flaws, I found Diana Bishop to be somewhat emotionally unstable and immature for someone with a doctorate degree. Although, Matthew is definitely the more unstable of the two. Matthew, a thousand year old vampire, is a territorial and controlling SOB with trust issues and a taste for blood. I guess if I had been alive for a millennium I would have trust issues too, but you’d think he would have mellowed out over the years. His relationship with Diana was a bit “insta-lovey” for my taste, but only because the author reiterates over and over that it’s only been a few weeks since they met. If it wasn’t pointed out, I probably wouldn’t have noticed. Although, relationships seem to happen pretty quickly in this book, seeing that we are also meeting the parents and getting married after only a few weeks. Here’s an actual summary of the actual marriage:

Diana: Hey, I just met you and I love you.
Matthew: …I’m going to London for a bit. Also, I’m withholding valuable information from you because reasons.
Diana: Bye! I’m going to wallow in self-pity and depression until you get back.
Matthew: Hey, I’m back and I love you too! And now we’re married.
Diana/Me: Wait… What?

The insta-marriage is only one example of the strange particulars that went down in this book; some, more charming and relevant than others.

Most of the reviews I read said that the beginning of this book was boring, but I didn’t find it to be that way. I was drawn in from the first pages as Harkness set the stage for what was to come. However, I will say that it could have been edited down. I found some of the supporting characters, plot points, and descriptions to be unnecessary and irrelevant to the plot. They could have easily been taken out without being detrimental to the story. Not only this, but there were a lot of different plot lines going on, which made it very confusing as to which plot was the main, central plot. Some of these plots seemed very problematic to our characters in the beginning, and were pretty much abandoned as our characters moved from place to place. Hopefully, they will all tie together in the next two books.

Criticisms aside, I did love reading this book. I’m excited to see where Elizabethan England takes Diana and Matthew in book two!

13 Reasons Why You Should Watch Thirteen Reasons Why

Warning: This post contains spoilers for the Netflix show, Thirteen Reasons Why. This post discusses suicide, rape, and other sensitive material. If you, or someone you know, is contemplating suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

On March 31st, Netflix released Thirteen Reasons Why, a series based off of the 2007 novel of the same name by Jay Asher. It follows Clay Jenson, a junior in high school who finds a box of cassette tapes on his doorstep one day. The seven double-sided tapes tell the story of why his friend, classmate, and crush, Hannah Baker, took her own life two weeks prior. She narrates each tape and dedicates each side to one person, detailing how and why each person is one of the thirteen reasons why she made her decision.

Suicide has always been, and will always be, a very difficult and delicate subject. The impact of that kind of decision always ripples out further than we could ever imagine. I think Thirteen Reasons Why is important because it shows those ripples. It shows the classmates, the teachers, the coworkers, the families, the friends, and the strangers that affected, and were affected by, Hannah’s decision. More importantly, it shows the internal ripples inside a person contemplating that decision. It shows that ripples can become waves, and waves can become a tsunami; what may not seem like anything to you is a big deal to someone else.

And even if you are, or if you’ve ever known someone considering, affected by, or related to someone who has made or considered this kind of decision, you’ve been changed forever by the fact that a decision like this even exists. The fact that suicide has been presented as an option, a solution to a problem, a way out… affects everyone that comes into contact with it. And when you hear about it, even if it’s just on the news, it serves as a reminder. A reminder to hug your loved ones a little tighter, to say things you didn’t have the courage to say, and to live a little more than you did before; because in the wake of darkness, you want to create light.

  1. Thirteen Reasons Why reminds us that our words can be weapons, regardless of our intention. We don’t have control over whether someone recognizes that weapon as a toy. That those words can say more than you mean, leave a bigger impact than you meant to, stay with someone for longer than you realize.
  2. It reminds us that sometimes, there is no “next time.” Something that we should have done, or will do tomorrow, always has the potential to turn into something we can never do.
  3. It reminds us that all actions have consequences. Everything you do, everything you say, will affect someone else. Your world isn’t made up of just you, it’s made up of every interaction you will ever have. That’s why they call it the butterfly effect, because even the smallest, most insignificant thing can have an impact.
  4. It reminds us to be quiet. To listen to the whispers that are meant as screams, because you never know how much courage it took to say anything at all.
  5. It reminds us to be loud. To ask for help, over and over again, because someone will hear you. It’s okay to need help fighting your battles. You are not alone.
  6. It reminds us to take responsibility. For our words, for our actions, for ourselves and the impact we can have on others. Those impacts that are not only in the future, but the ones we are making right now.
  7. It reminds us to love, in every way, because love is louder than anything else. As Clay mentions in the series, you can’t love someone back to life. But you can try. Sometimes the tiniest light in a dark room can make all the difference. Life isn’t about the should haves, it’s about the did’s.
  8. It shows that cruelty is a cycle, that someone’s internal struggles can manifest in their other relationships, or in their behavior. That it’s important not to judge people based on their behavior or decisions, because you don’t know what demons they’re fighting.
  9. It shows that sometimes the sickest people can live the most normal lives. We see this over and over again in murder trials and rape cases, where the aggressor is depicted as a kind, smart, generous, and promising young individual from a good family in an upscale community. Someone who has never exhibited aggressive behavior previously… But sometimes the scariest monsters are the ones that hide in your own backyard, and it’s easy to be fooled by the games they play.
  10. It shows the aftermath of sexual assault, and the results of victim blaming. As a society, we are still conditioned to question the victim, to insinuate that they “asked for it,” to treat them as guilty until proven innocent; when in reality we should be questioning the accused. We should not be educating young women on how not to be raped, we should be educating young men not to rape.
  11. It shows the impact of schoolyard bullying, and how quickly it can escalate without intervention.
  12. It creates awareness of behaviors that lead to suicide, addiction, and school shootings. It reminds us that we need to take action against those behaviors and take measures to prevent them.
  13. It shows the best, and most accurate, depiction of today’s teens on television. The diversity of the cast, the crude language they use, the drugs, alcohol, sex, and mean girl culture; all accurate to what teens deal with every day. It’s important for parents and teachers to realize what their kids are dealing with, to remain present and involved, and to pay attention to changes in their behavior.

    Just as it is the responsibility of books and shows like Thirteen Reasons Why to depict a subject like this honestly, it’s our responsibility to receive it respectfully. Watch. Listen. Let the ripples hit you, if only so you can know what they feel like. And one day you may be better equipped to help someone who feels like they’re drowning.


That being said, please do not watch this show if you are considering suicide, or have considered it in the past. This show contains very graphic depictions of suicide, rape, and abuse that may trigger those thoughts and behaviors. Please do not push yourself if you know you cannot handle those scenes, your mental health is more important. Click here for a complete list of triggers and which episodes/scenes to avoid if you choose to watch this series.

 

My Unpopular Book Opinions

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend! Normally, I would bring you a new review post on the latest book I’ve read, but I’m still working on actually reading it. I picked an unusually long book this time, and I’ve never been able to read two books at once!

You can look for my Discovery of Witches review (hopefully) by next Monday! In the meantime, I thought I would do a quick book tag!

The Unpopular Opinions Book Tag was created by TheBookArcher. You can watch the original video here!


1. A Popular Book or series that you didn’t like.

I wanted to love Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, I really did. It was a book that was so hyped up for me and I was so excited to read it, but it just fell flat. I couldn’t get invested in any of the characters because I just didn’t like them. The protagonist was the weakest link for me, Juliette was constantly complaining and feigning weakness throughout the novel and I got so sick of it. Supposedly she “came into her own” at the end of the book, but I must have read a different book than everyone else did. The one redeeming factor of this book was the writing style, which I thought was really unique.


2. A Popular Book or series that every one else seems to hate but you love.

I can’t think of an unpopular book that I love, but I can think of an unpopular character…

Everyone I know absolutely hates Sansa Stark from Game of Thrones, but she has one of my favorite story lines of the whole series. I think her story is so tragic, but she is the best example of female strength. Characters like Dany, Arya, and Cersei are so obvious for this trait, but Sansa has floated under the radar for so long. She has endured so much, physically and mentally, and I love how resilient her character is. She has made some mistakes in the past, but I attribute that to ignorance and immaturity. She was a baby when the series started, but she has grown up so much since then.  I can’t wait to see where the next season takes her!

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3. A Love Triangle where the main character ended up with the person you did NOT want them to end up with (warn people for spoilers) OR an OTP that you don’t like.

I didn’t want Katniss from The Hunger Games to end up with anyone. I thought she was such a strong character on her own, she didn’t need a man to validate her. I think that just because she wasn’t a motherly, touchy-feely girl type that Suzanne Collins felt like she needed to make Katniss a little more human and relatable. I just thought that detail was so unnecessary.

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4. A popular book Genre that you hardly reach for.

Horror, because (1) I read before bed most of the time, so I can’t read something that will scare me to death because then I will never sleep. (2) I just can’t stand gory content. “Better out than in” does not apply here.


5. A popular or beloved character that you do not like.

I did not like Tris from the Divergent series. I can understand why so many people do like her, but she just wasn’t my favorite. I found her to be reckless, stiff, and having little regard for the people around her. She was constantly trying to martyr herself, and would put her friends and family in danger in order to do so.

Just the fact that Veronica Roth found it necessary to indulge this martyrdom in the end just put me off the entire series. As I have said before, there really wasn’t any good reason for her to die except to shock the readers.

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

I can’t get into Nicholas Sparks’ books. I just feel like once you’ve read one, you’ve read all of them. I’m fine with just watching the movies instead… #Notsorry


7. A popular book trope that you’re tired of seeing. (examples “lost princess”, corrupt ruler, love triangles, etc.)

CACKLING. I did an entire post about this. Read it here! 

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8. A popular book / series that you have no interest in reading.

Twilight, The Raven Cycle, Red Rising. I just don’t have any interest in these, despite their popularity. I have read the Kindle samples, so at least I did my research.

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9. The saying goes “The book is always better than the movie”, but what movie or T.V. show adaptation do you prefer more than the book?

I prefer Game of Thrones to A Song of Ice and Fire for many reasons.

  • The show is much easier to follow than the books.
  • The show eliminates unnecessary characters and details I don’t care about like chapter long descriptions of food or someone’s earlobe.
  • The series isn’t even finished.
    • Me. 18089770
  • The show does take some liberties and has eliminated or changed some of my favorite story lines and characters (Lady Stoneheart), but they make sense given the time and money they have to produce it. It’s still my favorite show on television.

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The Last Girl by Joe Hart

Title: The Last Girl27419654
Author: Joe Hart
Pages: 386
Year: 2016
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Rating: 3/5

Goodreads Synopsis: A mysterious worldwide epidemic reduces the birthrate of female infants from 50 percent to less than 1 percent. Medical science and governments around the world scramble in an effort to solve the problem, but twenty-five years later there is no cure, and an entire generation grows up with a population of fewer than a thousand women.

Zoey and some of the surviving young women are housed in a scientific research compound dedicated to determining the cause. For two decades, she’s been isolated from her family, treated as a test subject, and locked away—told only that the virus has wiped out the rest of the world’s population.

Captivity is the only life Zoey has ever known, and escaping her heavily armed captors is no easy task, but she’s determined to leave before she is subjected to the next round of tests…a program that no other woman has ever returned from. Even if she’s successful, Zoey has no idea what she’ll encounter in the strange new world beyond the facility’s walls. Winning her freedom will take brutality she never imagined she possessed, as well as all her strength and cunning—but Zoey is ready for war.

Is it just me, or is it a common dystopian trend of there being a shortage of females? In this instance, women are a commodity and are locked up in a prison-like environment until the magical age of 21, when they are “released into the wild.” Oh. OKAY. Yeah, totally believable. Lock me up in a prison, treat me like an animal, punish me in the most sadistic and cruel ways possible for minor infractions, and when I’m 21 I get to go back to my parents and live in a Utopian paradise? Dream come true! Somehow, being raised in government facility has incapacitated the surviving girls’ ability to smell bullshit.

Anyway.

Joe Hart finds a way to dump as much information about his world as he can in a short amount of time. No, not “A” way, ALL of the ways. We have “reading about it in the textbook” dumps, “teacher explains it to a student” dumps, “main character explains it to supporting character” dumps, “main character internal dialogue” dumps, “flashback” dumps… You name it, Hart used it to dump. And this dumping does not just take place in the beginning of the book, but throughout the book. Seriously. 75% of the way through, and we’re still dumping. Just sell an encyclopedia as a companion and save yourself some time.

What gets me about this is that he includes news quotes and interviews right in the beginning that chronicle what’s happening in his world. Why not just use that to set the stage and give some more background? Was that not satisfactory enough for your need to dump? And what is the significance of an owl named zipper? Is his purpose to dump?!

From all of this dumping, I have learned that women are slowly becoming extinct. The government, clearly ruled by Donald Trump (because this happens in 2017), rounds up all the women and forces them into government research facilities.  The women are stripped of their identities, brainwashed about the world they live in, and lied to about an “Induction Ceremony” that takes place when they turn 21 years old. Somehow, this is a believable story.

What ACTUALLY happens when they turn 21 is that they are old enough to experiment on, and are forced to procreate in order for scientists to figure out why there aren’t any more female children being born. Naturally, both mother and baby are killed when said baby is male. Naturally. Because the sex of a child is not determined by the father.

Zoey, our protagonist, has lived in the facility since she was a baby and has no knowledge of the outside world except for what she has been told. She doesn’t have a last name, and she doesn’t know/remember her parents. She is one of six women left in the facility (hence the title “the Last Girl.”) Zoey lives in fear and submission among her fellow women, and she is constantly watched and belittled by the people who are supposedly “protecting” her.

Some questions I have about this:

  • If women are slowly becoming extinct, what is the purpose of raising them like cattle to be experimented on?
  • Why are we treating women like crap if they are slowly becoming extinct? What is the purpose of stripping them of their names, dignity, etc.? Wouldn’t they be more likely to cooperate if you treated them well?
  • Why aren’t the men being experimented on? Again, the sperm determines the sex of the child. Why are we only exploring one half of the equation??
  • Why even wait until the girls are 21? There is an explanation for this, but it’s lame.
  • If women are slowly becoming extinct…. why are we killing them when they don’t produce female children? Women are capable of having more than one child! Please chill with your Henry XII complex.
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*Daughters

I did enjoy reading this book once I became vaguely interested in the fate of the characters, which is why I gave it 3 stars. But the questions I have, the amount of dumping, and the overkill of the story line just overwhelmed me.