Tag Archives: reading

April Reading Wrap-Up and Reviews

I read significantly more than I normally do in April, due to social distancing requirements, working part time instead of full time, and books being a huge source of escape and stress relief. I also did a lot more re-reading than average, as I joined a book club via Zoom where I’m re-reading the Harry Potter series with a group of friends. I’m glad to have found a new favorite for 2020 as well this month; let’s get into the stats and reviews.

Total books read: 14

#readmyowndamnbooks: 6

Audiobooks: 3

ebooks: 1

The Office by Andy GreeneThe Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-GarciaWow, No Thank You. by Samantha IrbyWayward Son by Rainbow RowellThe Duchess Deal by Tessa DarePassage by Connie WillisThe Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade ThompsonThe City We Became by N.K. JemisinUnspoken by Sarah Rees BrennanBlink by Malcolm Gladwell

Passage by Connie Willis (5 stars) – This is not a perfect book. It’s too long, it meanders, and it builds suspense for way too long before the reveals happen. But it’s an amazing book, and I laughed and cried intermittently throughout the last 200-300 pages. Even though it takes awhile to get there, its conclusions are absolutely beautiful and perfect.

So this book kicked off a bit of a rant about longer (500+) page books, and how lately I’ve been let down by several of them that I felt could have been edited down more. Even though I was enjoying Connie Willis’s writing style the way I normally do with her books, I felt that the plot kept getting stagnant and that the reveals were few and far between in this 800-page tome. But then, in the last 300 or so pages of the book, I was completely blown away by the poignancy, creativity, and boldness of the plot choices, and I ended up alternately laughing and crying throughout the book’s last sections. And because of that, even though I do think it has flaws, I absolutely couldn’t give Passage anything less than 5 stars. If you haven’t read Connie Willis yet, you need to. I might not start off with Passage if you haven’t read her before (maybe start with To Say Nothing of the Dog or Crosstalk) but she’s an author I wish I saw more people reading on here. Oh, and as for what this book is about: it’s about scientists researching near-death experiences while dealing with a variety of inescapable side characters and inexplicable findings, and it’s fantastic.

The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin (4 stars) – N.K. Jemisin is one of my absolute favorite authors, and I loved the concept of The City We Became, which involves cities designating human avatars to defend them from a nebulous, alien Enemy that wants to keep the cities from self-actualizing into dimension-spanning cultural centers. And even though I still found Jemisin’s writing to be excellent, I really struggled with the plot structure and pacing of this book. In The City We Became, we’re introduced to six fascinating characters: the avatars of each of the five boroughs of New York, and of New York itself, but unfortunately it felt like it took almost half the book just for the introductions to occur. I really liked all of the interplay between the characters once they started meeting up, which set up a lot of interesting character dynamics, but then I ended up frustrated with the pacing towards the end of the book as well, particularly a short and anticlimactic climax. So this was a four star book for me, and I’m hoping that the awesome setup leads to an even better sequel.

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (4 stars) – a unique historical fantasy full of romance and drama from a new-to-me author that I’ve been meaning to read for awhile. I really enjoyed the high society shenanigans going on in The Beautiful Ones, and it’s a book that’s as entertaining as it is well-written. Moreno-Garcia uses really beautiful metaphors that evoke gorgeous imagery, and the plot was very tightly written, with no extraneous actions or pages. Very glad I picked this one up; I was inspired to finally read it as I found myself in a very specific mood where all I wanted to read was fantasy and/or historical romance, and this was a great combination of the two.

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell (4 stars) – I’d read a lot of meh reviews of Wayward Son, the sequel to Harry Potter homage and YA favorite Carry On, so my expectations were pretty low going into it. I ended up really enjoying it, however; I understand that some readers might be frustrated at the slower pace and sparser plotting, but I really enjoyed road tripping along with the characters I grew to love in Carry On. At its heart, it’s a sweet story about love and friendship that deals with life after traumatic events, and the fact that the plot was secondary to the character development really didn’t bother me. I liked the introduction of a new human character enamored with the magical world, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what Rowell does with the final book in the trilogy, Any Way the Wind Blows.

The Office: An Oral History by Andy Greene (4 stars) – A well-done full-cast audiobook production, I listened to The Office while stress-cleaning my apartment, and it brought me back to when I first discovered the show in college and had its posters adorning my dorm room walls. I really enjoyed hearing behind-the-scenes stories and tidbits, although I could have skipped the parts about the British version of the show (sorry, British version fans–I just never loved it the way I do the American version). If you’re a fan like me, I think you’ll enjoy this one.

Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan (3.5 stars) – a fun, quick YA Gothic from the author of one of my favorite books of all time (In Other Lands). I enjoyed this one, although I could tell it was one of the author’s earlier books; some characters felt at times like prototypes for characters in In Other Lands, particularly smart, snarky aspiring journalist protagonist Kami, who reminded me a lot of In Other Lands‘ Elliott, albeit much less prickly. I do plan on continuing with the trilogy, as I started to love all of the characters the more I read.

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare (3.5 stars) – This is the first book in Tessa Dare’s Girl Meets Duke series; I read the third book The Wallflower Wager last month and enjoyed it enough to want to continue with the series, albeit out of order. The Duchess Deal was still an enjoyable read, but I liked it slightly less than book 3; the titular duke was a bit too angsty and emotionally distant, and I was consequently a bit less invested in the romance. I did like determined protagonist Emma, a seamstress who finds herself the recipient of a surprise marriage proposal when all she’s trying to do is get paid for the wedding dress she designed, and I do plan to continue on to books 2 and 4 in the series.

Wow, No Thank You by Samantha Irby (3.5 stars) – another sometimes funny, sometimes impactful essay collection from Samantha Irby; I previously read her collection We Are Never Meeting in Real Life. I enjoyed this collection but wasn’t blown away; at times her writing style can start to feel repetitive. I listened to this one on audiobook.

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell (3 stars) – Blink was my second foray into Gladwell; I had picked up Outliers a few years back and found it very interesting. I did enjoy learning about all of the studies cited in Blink, but I did find it somewhat repetitive and not always as engaging or conclusive as I wanted it to be. I do want to pick up a more recent Gladwell to see if I enjoy it a bit more, and because I do think that his books are accessible and provide good information.

The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade Thompson (3 stars) – a horror novella about a girl whose blood creates doppelgängers every time she’s injured, and then her doubles always inevitably try to kill her. It was an interesting concept, but didn’t blow me away.

Re-reads:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingCarry On by Rainbow RowellHarry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling (5 stars)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (4 stars)

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (4 stars)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling (4 stars)

May TBR (Lots of Readathons!) and Musings

For the past few months, with everything going on in the world, I’ve been finding it more helpful to mood-read rather than to set TBRs. Reading has been an incredible source of stress relief, particularly as it’s been a cold and rainy spring, and leaving my apartment to walk or hike in a non-crowded area isn’t always possible. And I’d like to continue to focus on reading as a source of distraction as we shift into May and uncertainty regarding when and if regulations will start to relax in different parts of the country.

For the past month or so, I’ve been working part-time; I work in the healthcare field, and where I work we’re still seeing emergent and urgent patients but not routine ones, so the majority of our staff has been furloughed temporarily. I’m lucky to still have a job, even if it’s only part-time, and eventually, once social distancing recommendations start to relax, things will become extremely busy as we build our patient schedules back up. For that reason, May is a bit nebulous, and I’m not really sure what to expect: I might be working relatively little the first two weeks and working overtime the next two, but I might not. I was thinking that having some structure and plans for my reading life might help counterbalance the uncertainty in my professional life; I could be wrong, and relapse into mood-reading again, but I think that some readathons sound great right about now.

So, what readathons are happening in May?

First of all, there’s the Medievalathon, hosted by Holly Hearts Books, which is structured similarly to the O.W.L.s readathon I participated in in April, where you read books that count toward specific tasks, and those tasks translate into imaginary attributes. With Medievalathon, you’re reading to outfit yourself with Middle Ages garb, weaponry, and an animal companion, as well as challenging yourself to read as many books as possible to attain a higher rank, up to Emperor/Empress. For me, this type of readathon works as sort of a fun aside to my reading; I rarely would pick up a book purposely to fulfill a prompt, but I enjoy seeing how books I’ve read fit into the categories as my reading progresses throughout the month.

Then there’s Tome Topple, hosted by Sam at Thoughts on Tomes,  one of my favorite readathons to participate in, where your goal is to read books over 500 pages long over the course of 2 weeks. I think, like with the last round of Tome Topple that I participated in in Feb, I’d like to aim to read one YA tome (Kingsbane by Claire Legrand) and one adult tome (Possession by A. S. Byatt), although it’s possible I may also try to read Aurora Burning by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman (in which I’d also probably re-read Aurora Rising, the first book in that series, which does not count for the readathon. We’ll see.)

Kingsbane (Empirium, #2)Possession (Definitely)

Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle #1)Aurora Burning (The Aurora Cycle #2) (maybe)

I tend to have good success with Tome Topple; it’s a great motivator for me to pick up some of my more giant books that might otherwise seem intimidating. Tome Topple lasts from May 9-22.

I’m also planning on participating in Bout of Books, a week-long readathon that always tends to boost my reading productivity. I won’t be setting a specific TBR for that one until closer to its start date.

Grab button for Bout of Books

The Bout of Books readathon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly Rubidoux Apple. It’s a weeklong readathon that begins 12:01am Monday, May 11th and runs through Sunday, May 17th in YOUR time zone. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are daily challenges, Twitter chats, and exclusive Instagram challenges, but they’re all completely optional. For Bout of Books 28 information and updates, visit the Bout of Books blog. – From the Bout of Books team

And then I’m also setting a challenge for myself that’s not exactly a specific readathon: I want to try to read as many of my Book of the Month books as possible in May. It’s not because I’m necessarily overwhelmed at being behind on my picks, but just because there are a lot of them that I’m extremely excited about and am kicking myself for not having read yet. I’m definitely planning to read Normal People by Sally Rooney and Beach Read by Emily Henry, but I’ll probably try to pick up a few more as well, depending on how the month is going.

Normal PeopleBeach Read (Definitely)

Gods of Jade and ShadowQueenieTrick Mirror: Reflections on Self-DelusionWriters & Lovers (maybe)

 

I hope that everyone is doing okay, and staying safe, and I’m sending good thoughts to you all. Let me know in the comments if any of you are joining in on all of the May readathons.

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon Recap and Wrap-Up!

That’s a wrap on another round of Dewey’s, which came at a perfect time this year with some much-needed reading and bookish community. I wasn’t really sure how productive my readathon would be this year, because with everything going on in the world my ability to focus hasn’t been quite up to par, but I’m really glad that I decided to participate regardless. It wasn’t my most productive readathon, but I still really enjoyed challenging myself to read more than I normally would, and checking in on social media throughout the day to see what other readers were doing.

I woke up earlier than usual for the readathon (around 7:30 a.m.) so that I actually started reading right on time when the readathon started for me at 8 a.m. I read the entirety of a horror novella (The Murders of Molly Southbourne) in bed, then attempted to start a new book but was having trouble with indecisiveness. I read the first few pages of several books, then got started reading a YA Gothic fantasy book (Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan) but soon felt that I needed a bit of a break, so I  got up, had a bagel, and did some social media stuff, like checking the Dewey’s blog and posting my TBR and reading plans on my blog. Then, because for the first time in what feels like forever it was supposed to be 55-60 degrees and sunny out, I headed out for a long walk by the waterfront (staying as far away from others as possible, of course!).

Because it was earlier in the day, things weren’t as crowded at first, and it felt so good just to be out in the sun by the water. I took a few book photos, and then started noticing more and more people around, so I walked in a weird loop by some closed restaurants and banquet halls by the water and noticed that one restaurant had some tables and chairs out that were completely empty, since it was sort of off the normal walking trails. Since no one was around, I found it to be a perfect reading spot, and started reading Beach Read by Emily Henry, while unbeknownst to me becoming gradually more and more sunburned. I wandered a bit more through emptier parts of the city before heading back to my apartment in the late afternoon.

After snacking on some delicious tabbouleh that I had made the day before, I again started to feel indecisive about what I wanted to read. Even though I was liking both of the books I’d started earlier (Beach Read more so than Unspoken), I wasn’t quite in the mood for either one. Instead, I decided to make it my goal to finish The City We Became, a book I’d started earlier in April and wanted to finish before the end of the month, and I hunkered down with that book for several hours.

And then indecisiveness hit again after I finished The City We Became, and I picked up The Prisoner of Azkaban for a nice easy re-read (I’m currently in a book club via Zoom with several friends from high school, and we’re re-reading the Harry Potter books in order) only to discover that my extremely old copy was missing about 100 pages from the middle of the book. (I still have no idea where they went.) Slightly discouraged and getting tired, I ended up reading a bit more of Unspoken before I finally went to bed.

Closing Survey:

  1. How would you assess your reading overall?

During the readathon, I managed to finish reading 2 books:

The Murders of Molly Southbourne by Tade ThompsonThe City We Became by N.K. Jemisin

I started and finished The Murders of Molly Southborne by Tade Thompson (117 pages) and finished reading The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin, which I’d started reading earlier in the month (262 pages).

I also started reading 2 others:

Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy, #1)Beach Read

Unspoken: The Lynburn Legacy Book 1 by Sarah Rees Brennan (70 pages) and Beach Read by Emily Henry (30 pages).

In total, I read 479 pages during the readathon, which is less than I normally tend to read, but still very respectable!

2. Did you have a strategy, and if so, did you stick to it?

My strategy was to get some sunshine and to read as much as I wanted, so I’d say that was pretty successful.

3. What was your favorite snack?

I had some delicious tabbouleh I’d made for snacking, and I also had a chai latte.

 

Did anyone else participate in Dewey’s this round?

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon: TBR and Opening Survey!

 

Normally I really look forward to Dewey’s 24-hour readathon as a great way to take a break from the busyness of work and obligations, but it feels a little bit different this time around. With social distancing still in effect, I’ve been reading much more than I normally do, and the concept of staying inside and reading all day doesn’t have quite the same allure that it normally does. I was weighing participating at all, but came to the conclusion that I still really do want to partake in Dewey’s this round, but that it might look a little different for me than it normally does: I’d love to spend a lot of time outside if possible; I want to focus on the social aspect of the readathon, encouraging and chatting with other readers; and my actual reading during the readathon may take a hit if I decide I need a bit more social interaction via Facetime.

My TBR for this round of Dewey’s is a little all over the place; I have no idea what I’m in the mood to read or how much reading I’ll be getting done, but these are some possibilities, including current reads I’d like to make progress on and new books to start:

The City We Became (Great Cities #1)Blink: The Power of Thinking Without ThinkingBeach ReadChosen Ones (The Chosen Ones, #1)

13 Ways of Looking at a Fat GirlThe Murders of Molly Southbourne (Molly Southbourne, #1)Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3)Aurora Rising (The Aurora Cycle #1)

 

Opening survey:

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

Buffalo, NY!

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

I’m intrigued by Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth, and I’m hoping to possibly finish The City We Became by N. K. Jemisin.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Last night, I made tabbouleh in preparation for the readathon!

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I love the community feel of the readathon, and I think it’s something we could all use right now.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today?

Read outside! Normally I’m a bit of a hermit during the readathon, but I’m in desperate need of some sunshine.

2019: My Reading Year in Review and Stats

We’re a quarter of the way into 2020, which means it’s the perfect time for my 2019 reading wrap-up. I always like to organize a recap of my reading year with some statistics, lists, and final thoughts, and I didn’t want to let a little lateness stop me. Looking back on my reading helps me to better plan reading goals and plans for the future, and if nothing else I also just find it interesting to see how my reading breaks down in different categories.

So here are some stats/fun facts:

Total books read: 103

Total pages read: 32,900

Average rating: 3.9 stars

Shortest book read: Emergency Skin by N. K. Jemisin (33 pages)

Longest book read: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas (re-read) (699 pages)

Average book length: 319 pages

Most popular book (based on Goodreads data): Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris (re-read)

Least popular book (based on Goodreads data): Bloodlust & Bonnets by Emily McGovern

 

Top 10 books of 2019:

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

How Long ‘Til Black Future Month? by N. K. Jemisin

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Deathless by Catherynne M. Valente

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

The Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit

Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews

 

And now for some charts breaking down my reading:

 

Adult vs. YA:

Author breakdown by gender:

Format:

 

Genre:

 

Release year:

 

Longest Reads (new to me)
Children of Blood and Bone 525 pages
Aurora Rising 470 pages
Rage 460 pages
Ninth House 458 pages
Gideon the Ninth 448 pages

March Reading Wrap-Up/Discussion

First of all, I really hope that everyone is safe and healthy, and I’m sending all of you bookish friends a lot of love. I know that this month has been difficult and scary, and I always want this corner of the bookish internet to be a place for us to celebrate our love of reading, in both good times and bad.

It would be a lie to say that everything going on hasn’t affected my reading life the way that it’s affected everything else; of course it has. I’m currently working part time; I work in the healthcare field, so it’s an essential service, but routine visits are being postponed at this time. Despite the fact that I’m working less, I’m not necessarily reading more–I’m doing more work outside of work than I usually do, talking and Facetiming with friends and family more, and I’m also finding it harder to concentrate. I think I DNF’d at least 3 books this month either because they couldn’t hold my attention, were too dark, or I didn’t think I’d rate them highly enough to be worth continuing; I’m finding that my DNF threshold is very low right now, because I only want to read books that are a good distraction and are easy to follow.

What has been working for me genre-wise has been romance, contemporary YA, and fantasy; almost all of my books from this month (and probably for next month too, since I’ve got several going right now) fit into those categories. Familiar authors are also comforting; I was grateful that Alisha Rai and Sarah J. Maas had new releases or ARCs that I was able to dive into. I was able to finish six books this month and I rated all of those 4 stars or above; I’m very grateful to have found some very good and comforting reads in the last few weeks. I hope that you all have too.

Stats:

Books finished: 6

ARCs: 2

Audiobooks: 2

What Shines from It by Sara RauchSolitaire by Alice OsemanHouse of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. MaasGirl Gone Viral by Alisha RaiThey Both Die at the End by Adam SilveraThe Wallflower Wager by Tessa Dare

Reviews:

What Shines From It by Sara Rauch (4.5 stars) – A fantastic short story collection focusing on fractured or fracturing relationships and incredibly human characters. The stories are thoughtful and beautifully written, and they stayed with me long after I finished reading them; check out my full review here. I received an ARC of What Shines From It from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai (4.5 stars) – I absolutely loved this contemporary romance featuring strong friendships and family bonds, discussion of mental health issues, and two sweet main characters. Check out my full review here; I received an eARC of Girl Gone Viral from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas (4 stars) – It’s hard to review a book that I was anticipating for so long. I’m a huge fan of Maas’s A Court of Thorns and Roses series, but I could never get into her YA series, Throne of Glass, but from what I know of both series Crescent City does retread some familiar ground, particularly in regard to characterization. It’s also definitely too long, which I wouldn’t have minded if it was also a bit better, but there were also things I did really enjoy about it. I might do a long, spoilery review involving a pro/con list later on, but essentially, I felt it was a fun read with some characters that I really loved, a beautiful female friendship at its heart, and hints of intrigue to come.

Solitaire by Alice Oseman (4 stars) – A well-written, character-focused contemporary YA from the author of Radio Silence, which I loved. This is Oseman’s first novel, but doesn’t read like it–it has both humor and emotional depth, but it’s the characters that really shine.

The Wallflower Wager by Tessa Dare (4 stars) – Historical romance is still a new-to-me genre, but what everyone I talk to seems to agree on is that Tessa Dare is a must-read author. With The Wallflower Wager, I understood why–this book is fun but also packs emotional punches, and it’s light without ever feeling inconsequential. It’s the perfect book to pick up if you need assurances that a happy ending is around the corner.

They Both Died at the End by Adam Silvera (4 stars) – YA contemporary, with a twist: a service called DeathCast calls you just after midnight on the day you’re going to die, and although there’s nothing you can do about it, you’re then able to live out your last day to the fullest. In the case of protagonists Rufus and Mateo, they decide to use the Last Friend app, which matches you with another person fated to die so that the two of you can spend your day together. It’s a well-written book, poignant without being overly sappy, and features a really lovely relationship that’s totally believable despite its day-long time frame.

 

What books worked best for you this month? Are there certain authors or genres you find yourself drawn to lately? And how are you guys doing with everything? Let me know in the comments.

Feb Reading Wrap-Up!

 

Feb was a solid reading month for me, but not a standout one. I found some books I enjoyed and learned from, as well as some really fun reads, and participated in two readathons (Tome Topple and the Contemporaryathon), but I also had a few disappointments. I think I also set myself up for failure a little bit considering I read my NEW FAVORITE BOOK OF ALL TIME, Bunny by Mona Awad, in January, which of course was a tough act to follow.

Stats:

Books finished: 8

#readmyowndamnbooks: 6

ebooks: 2

The Last Book Party by Karen DukessThe Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri WilsonSerpent & Dove by Shelby MahurinJuliet Takes a Breath by Gabby RiveraWicked Wonderland by Eva ChaseWrathful Wonderland by Eva ChaseOctavia's Brood by Adrienne Maree BrownMiddlegame by Seanan McGuire

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire (4 stars) – I just finished Middlegame, and I…have some thoughts. Here’s the thing: I was really hoping that this book would blow me away, and it didn’t, and even though I overall enjoyed it, I just kept wanting more weirdness, more alchemy, more fantasy, more explanation and exploration of the genuinely awesome concepts at work in this book, and also less time spent with the main characters as children with little forward motion. Middlegame is fantastically creative, following twins created to become the living embodiments of math and language and, through fantastical alchemy, harness the power to shape the world for their creator. It’s a long book, but I think it spends time in the wrong places, and for that reason it’s a 4 star and not a favorite for me. I’d still recommend it, and I remain a huge Seanan McGuire fan, but I wish this amazing story had been told just a little bit differently.

Serpent & Dove by Shelby Mahurin (4 stars) – After seeing this YA fantasy romance on about a million top ten lists at the end of 2019, I was fully convinced I needed to pick it up. And although this wasn’t a favorite for me, I did find it a very fun read–it’s a marriage of convenience/enemies-to-lovers plotline, featuring a kingdom divided between witches and witch-hunters. I think that I might have enjoyed it more if it leaned more thoroughly in the direction of either fantasy or romance, rather than straddling the two, but it’s definitely worth picking up, and I’ll be looking for the sequel, Blood & Honey, which comes out in the fall.

Wicked Wonderland by Eva Chase (4 stars) – I’ve been looking out for a good Alice in Wonderland retelling for awhile now; I’m obsessed with the SyFy adaptation of Alice, and have had this hope of somehow finding the book equivalent. With Wicked Wonderland, the first book in the Looking-Glass Curse trilogy, I finally found one that worked for me! Lyssa’s just been cheated on by her boyfriend, and after her aunt passes away and leaves her a house, she moves into the secluded mansion in the forest and discovers an unusual mirror. This being an Alice retelling, she of course falls through the mirror into Wonderland and into the resistance movement against the tyrannical Queen of Hearts–while falling for three very different men she meets. It’s a slow-burn fantasy romance, with the heroine moving in the direction of a poly relationship rather than a love square (which was a refreshing change in a romance, as there isn’t any jealousy or competition, but rather mature people communicating about what they’re looking for in relationships) but the resistance plotline, along with the heroine’s journey towards believing in herself, takes center stage. Definitely recommend if you’re looking for an adult retelling of Wonderland with plenty of action and romance.

Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera (4 stars) – I really loved this contemporary coming-of-age story that focuses on intersectional feminism. The main character, Juliet, is so relatable, as is her search for knowledge about gender, feminism, race, and intersectionality that leads to constant questioning and learning from everyone around her. It’s a book that I really think everyone would benefit from reading.

Wrathful Wonderland by Eva Chase (4 stars) – In the second installment in Chase’s Looking-Glass Curse trilogy, Lyssa finds herself more deeply enmeshed in the resistance movement against the Queen of Hearts, and even more drawn to the three men she met in book 1–and they, in turn, begin to have more and more faith in her ability to save Wonderland.

The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson (3.5 stars) – A very cute, Miss Congeniality-esque book about a nerdy teacher who has to take her twin’s place at a beauty pageant after an allergic reaction renders her twin unable to compete. It was a very fun read that made me want to re-watch Miss Congeniality immediately afterwards.

The Last Book Party by Karen Dukess (3 stars) – I was hoping to like this one more than I did. It’s a summer coming-of-age story set in the 1980’s, following an aspiring writer finding herself wandering down the wrong path, in no small part due to her desire to be a part of the literary and artistic elite crowd where her family summers on Cape Cod. Unfortunately, I felt that although it was a quick, entertaining read, it lacked depth, and I had a big problem with one character’s extremely problematic actions being excused at the end.

 

Here’s to finding some 5-star reads in March!