Review: Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

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My Rating: 5 out of 5 Cups of Tea

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Genre: Nonfiction Essays

Summary: In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman (Sweet Valley High) of color (The Help) while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years (Girls, Django in Chains) and commenting on the state of feminism today (abortion, Chris Brown). The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture.

Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better (via Goodreads).

Things I Loved:

  • Gay’s voice is so clear and unique. She brings you into these essays as a trusted friend, willing to share her personal thoughts, stories, and inner-struggles. Reading this book felt like having coffee with a friend.
  • The ambiguity and nuance Gay allows into her essays left me awe-struck. For so long, I have felt nuance missing from my own discussions on the topics she covers.
  • From feminism to race to the way women present their gender, these topics were covered with such insight, but also caution. Gay recognizes the areas where she can and cannot speak, and she blends these areas beautifully, allowing her opinions and thoughts to shine through, while also making it clear that she recognizes her own limitations. This only heightens the feel of a conversation taking place. It challenges the reader to ask themselves where their limitations are, where their knowledge lies, and what they can do to bridge these two things.
  • The honesty in these essays is breath-taking. Gay recognizes her faults and embraces them, giving them to us as an offering, as a way to better understand not only herself, but ourselves and the way we approach such hard topics as the ones covered.

Things I Disliked: 

  • The fact that I didn’t read this sooner in my life is really disappointing.

Recommend to:

  • Everyone. Whether you identify as a feminist or not, this gives brilliant insight into so many different topics and makes a great conversation-starter and thought-provoker.

 

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January 2018 TBR

Hello everyone!

How is it already 2018? For the last four years, I’ve been looking forward to 2017 because of college graduation, working, and living on my own. It was a year of chaos, but also a year of firsts. This year, I have not planned for. It is the first year of my life that I will not be in school, that I will be working and just trying to better myself on my own. That’s weird.

One of my goals this year is to get through my TBR, which you can read about here.

So, getting a good start on that is important. I would like to read 6 books this month, and they are as follows:

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The Bullet Catcher’s Daughter by Rod Duncan

This was a random find at Barnes and Noble, and the title was what caught my eye. I’m about half-way through this one, so far, and though slow-going, it is super interesting. It’s about a young woman named Elizabeth who, to get on in the world, must dress as her “twin brother” to work and make money. This work, a private detective, is unconventional, though, and often finds Elizabeth in crazy situations. So far, I’m really enjoying this one.

 

 

 

 

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Frozen Tides by Morgan Rhodes

This is the fourth in the Falling Kingdoms series. I love the characters in this series, and there were a few good twists in the last book that make me want to read this one really soon. I’m hoping that some things get resolved/answered in this book, but I know there are still two books left in the series after this one, so I’m sure Rhodes will continue to intrigue with this fourth installment.

 

 

 

 

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

I’ve heard such wonderful things about this collection of essays. I’m not sure what to expect from it, but I have a feeling it will be eye-opening and thought-provoking.

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

I have quite a few classics on my shelves, and I need to get through them. This is a shorter one, and I’m hoping it will get me in the mood to read some more, longer classics soon.

The Fire In Fiction by Donald Maass

I’m already about half way through this book. I started it last year, but never finished it. I want to get through the rest of it this month, and finally take it off my list. It has some really good writing tips, and I’m hoping it will inspire me to write some more this year.

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The Jumbee by Pamela Keyes

I’ve had this book for years. My copy is actually an ARC I got from the publisher when I was just 15 and participating in a writing program in NYC. I’ve had it all this time and have still never read it. It enticed 15 year old me, so we’ll see if 22 year old me likes it.

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I am excited about this year and this month’s reading. I’m looking forward to mucking my way through my TBR pile and eventually having a reasonable list of books. Do any of you have crazy TBR piles? Or are we reading any of the same books this month? Let me know in the comments!

 

Until next time,

Acacia

TBR Takedown Challenge 2018

Last year (which is weird to say), I challenged myself to get down to 20 books on my TBR list. This may not seem like a difficult challenge until I tell you that I started with over 200 books on my TBR list.

By the end of 2017, I was down to only about 80 books on this list. I say about, because I know there are books I purchased in 2017 that did not find their way onto this list. Not many, but enough to make this number not accurate.

In 2018, I want to continue with this challenge, and reinforce/add some new rules to it.

I was surprised to find I was actually pretty accurate last year when first thinking abotu this challenge. I said this about my TBR pile back in January 2017:

Now, I usually average about 80 books a year, including some I reread. So, let’s say I get through 70 books a year. At this rate, it would take me a year and a half or so to get through my TBR. Not bad… Except, I also have a problem buying books. See, I like having a good amount of books to choose from when its time for a new read. I also like keeping up on the latest releases.

This, overall, was pretty accurate. I read 100 books last year, 80 of which were from my TBR list. With how many I got rid of, I ended the year with about 80 books left on my TBR list. So, if I continue unhauling books and reading a lot, I will be finished with this challenge about half-way through this year.

I learned a lot about this process last year, about what worked and did not work for me. For example, having a separate book challenge on Goodreads stopped me from taking the time to read longer books. However, I really enjoyed unhauling books. I loved being able to take these books off my list and feeling less stress about my having to read them if I didn’t want to. I also had problems with the Book Buying Ban I put myself under last year. It worked quite well in the beginning, but I soon was breaking it with no repercussions.

With all this in mind, here are my new and improved rules for the TBR Takedown of 2018:

  1. List EVERY book I get/have.
    • This was a problem in 2017. I would get a few new books, and thinking I would read them soon, did not add them to my TBR. Then I would read something else, and these new books were added to the TBR without my ever actually adding them. So, new rule for me!
  2. Get rid of more books.
    • I did really well with unhauling books this year. At least once every other month, I would go through my books and ask which I was still interested in reading. This took some harsh honesty from myself. Once I got rid of them, though, I felt no regrets. I felt lighter, in fact. So, this year, I’m going to continue this rule, and continue what I’ve been doing.
  3. Book Buying Ban
    • So, as established, I’m not great at Book Buying Bans. Never have been. I was really good this year about book buying though, even when breaking my ban. I spent way less on books in 2017 than I have any other year. With that being said, I’m only going to have two rules for my Book Buying Ban:
    • First, books don’t go in the budget. If I have some extra money here or there and want I, that’s fine, but I can’t budget money for books that I won’t read for a year or more.
    • Second, if I buy a book, I must unhaul a book. This way, though my TBR won’t get smaller when I buy a book, it also won’t get any bigger.
  4. No other reading challenges.
    • I have a lot of large books on my list: Anna Karenina, Middlemarch, Alexander Hamilton (which I’ve been reading for two years now), etc. I am always dissuaded from reading these large books when I have a yearly reading challenge. So, this year, getting my TBR down is my only challenge.
  5. Keep Track
    • I will continue keeping track on my TBR Takedown page. I find this keeps me accountable, but is also a fun thing to show people. I enjoy having it on my blog and updating it whenever I read/unhaul another book.

I’ll be updating you guys in a few months with how these new rules are going for me! I hope you’ll follow along with my TBR Takedown Challenge. If you’d like to participate, I’m always looking to stay accountable with someone, so let me know in the comments!

-Acacia

 

 

2017 Wrap-Up

Another year, another wrap-up.

A lot happened this year, both in the world and in my personal life. I graduated college, got an awesome new job, started dating my wonderful boyfriend, and I even managed, through all of that, to finish my reading goal of 100 books.

I still have three days left in the year, but I have already completed 101 books. I’m planning on finishing possibly another two before the actual end of the year. So, here’s to hoping for 103 books read this year. You can find all of these books here. I will also, below, be listing my top 5 books from this year.

Before doing this, though, I want to talk about my TBR Takedown Challenge. I had an initial goal to get down to 20 books on my TBR by the end of 2017, and to be frank, that did not even come close to happening. Half way through the year, I said, here, that I would get down to 40 books. This is also not close to happening.

I am still quite proud of what I accomplished with this challenge this year. I started with 221 books. I unhauled a total of 79 books this year and read 62 books off my TBR. I now only have about 80 books left on my TBR. I want, in the year 2018, to get this down to 20, which I think is much more reasonable. I will continue to unhaul books, but I will be focusing much more on reading through these books. I will be posting soon an updated TBR Challenge for the new year, which will go through my rules for myself. So, stay tuned.

Now, I read a lot of books this year. A LOT. I read a lot of good books too! Here, not in any order, are my five favorite books that I read in 2017:

In order from left to right:

  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera
  • Turtles All The Way Down by John Green
  • Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Each of these books left me with thoughts and feelings that still have not left me. These are the books I found myself recommending over and over again to every once of my friends this year. were impactful in the best way. They spoke to things I care about, things I struggle with, and most importantly, things I know other people struggle with that I can only come to understand and know through books like these.

I really hope 2018 holds more books like these.

Thanks for a great year guys. Here’s to the next!

-Acacia

Review: Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson

294442My Rating: 4 out of 5 Cups of Tea 

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Genre: Children’s Historical Fiction

Summary: Sent in 1910 to live with distant relatives who own a rubber plantation along the Amazon River, English orphan Maia is excited. She believes she is in for brightly colored macaws, enormous butterflies, and “curtains of sweetly scented orchids trailing from the trees.” Her British classmates warn her of man-eating alligators and wild, murderous Indians. Unfortunately, no one cautions Maia about her nasty, xenophobic cousins, who douse the house in bug spray and forbid her from venturing beyond their coiffed compound. Maia, however, is resourceful enough to find herself smack in the middle of more excitement than she ever imagined, from a mysterious “Indian” with an inheritance, to an itinerant actor dreading his impending adolescence, to a remarkable journey down the Amazon in search of the legendary giant sloth. (Via Goodreads)

 Things I Loved: 

  1. I love Ibbotson’s ability to make historical fiction interesting. No matter what I read from her, she makes historical fiction feel real and timely. This was no exception.
  2. Maia was such a sweet character. You really want her to be happy, and you feel for her when she is not.
  3. I loved the switch-a-roo plot line. The trickery involved, the suspense, the outcome. It was all very well written and really drew me into the book.
  4. Overall, this was just a really fun, sweet read.

Things I Disliked:

  1. There were times when the plot moved slowly. I wish it would have drawn me in just a little bit more than it did.

Recommend to: children’s lit or middle grade lit fans, historical fiction lovers, anyone wanting a cute, fun story full of adventure and trickery

 

Review: History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

30102870My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Cups of Tea 

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Genre: YA Contemporary

Summary: When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life. (Via Goodreads)

 Things I Loved: 

  1. I love how this book handled both sexuality and mental health. It was raw, truthful, poignant, and, most of all, to the point. There was no playing around with these things. Silvera handled them with care, but with a raw honesty that truly comes through to the reader.
  2. The characters in the book, every single one, are dynamic. Silvera has a way with characters that makes them seem real. Each had flaws, strengths, secrets, wants, needs, that were honest and real. They felt like real people.
  3. The way Silvera handled loss was so real. This is perhaps one of the best books about mourning that I have ever read. It is so true to my experiences with loss and mourning.
  4. This book honestly stuck with me for several days after reading it. I was struck by how it left me feeling and the things it had me thinking about. It’s one those books that stays with you long after you put it down.

Things I Disliked:

  1. At times the story progressed slowly, and I wish it could have moved along a bit faster. Other than this, everything about this book was perfection.

Recommend to: anyone wanting a book about loss, anyone wanting a great LGBTQ+ book, anyone interested in how to properly portray LGBTQ+ characters and/or characters with mental health problems.

Review: Matilda by Roald Dahl

39988My Rating: 5 out of 5 Cups of Tea 

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Genre: Children’s Literature

Summary: Matilda is a little girl who is far too good to be true. At age five-and-a-half she’s knocking off double-digit multiplication problems and blitz-reading Dickens. Even more remarkably, her classmates love her even though she’s a super-nerd and the teacher’s pet. But everything is not perfect in Matilda’s world. For starters she has two of the most idiotic, self-centered parents who ever lived. Then there’s the large, busty nightmare of a school principal, Mrs. (“The”) Trunchbull, a former hammer-throwing champion who flings children at will and is approximately as sympathetic as a bulldozer. Fortunately for Matilda, she has the inner resources to deal with such annoyances: astonishing intelligence, saintly patience, and an innate predilection for revenge.

She warms up with some practical jokes aimed at her hapless parents, but the true test comes when she rallies in defense of her teacher, the sweet Miss Honey, against the diabolical Trunchbull.  (Via Goodreads)

 Things I Loved: 

  1. How I wish I would have read this as a child. Matilda would have surely been one of my favorite books and characters. Matilda is such a serious, but silly child, and I think eight-year old me would have really related to her. Especially her love of books and learning.
  2. Roald Dahl has a way of storytelling that is purely magical. His stories suck you in and leave you enchanted. Maltilda was no exception.
  3. Matilda and Miss Honey’s relationship is so lovely. I love how Dahl contrasts bad adult relationships with such pure and good ones.
  4. I seriously love how this book made me feel like a young child again. I never read this book as a child, but I still felt an odd sense of nostalgia while reading it.

Things I Disliked:

  1. Nothing. It was a such a lovely read.

Recommend to: Roald Dahl fans, anyone wanting a good children’s book, anyone wanting to be enchanted by a book and its characters.

Review: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

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My Rating: 4 out of 5 Cups of Tea 

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Genre: Italian Literature

Summary: A modern masterpiece from one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors, My Brilliant Friend is a rich, intense and generous hearted story about two friends, Elena and Lila. Ferrante’s inimitable style lends itself perfectly to a meticulous portrait of these two women that is also the story of a nation and a touching meditation on the nature of friendship. Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighbourhood, a city and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her two protagonists. (Via Goodreads)

 Things I Loved: 

  1. Each character, and there were many, brought a unique and beautiful layer to the novel. Lila and Elena were both fascinating characters that Ferrante took her time developing both as characters and as young women.
  2. I have an obsession with Italy right now. I’m currently learning Italian, actually. So, reading this was both fun and educational for me. Maybe one day, I’ll read it in its original Italian.
  3.  The writing style was different than a lot of books. It had a very Jane Austen feel, but a modern Austen. I’m not sure if this more formal writing style was because of the translation or if it truly depicted Ferrante’s writing.
  4. The beginning chapter really set the scene and tone of the book. I’m pretty sure that without the first chapter, I may not have cared enough to continue through the entire book. The first chapter, though, made me interested to see how these characters got to this future point.

Things I Disliked:

  1. The story sometimes seemed to drag on. It was a slow read, to say the least.
  2.  I wish Ferrante would have come back to where she left off in the first chapter at the end of the book. I know there are more books in the series in which she probably comes back to this point, but I wish there had been more at the end of this book.

Recommend to: lovers of historical fiction, those who like stories about friendships, especially female friendships, and to those who want to learn more about Italy.

August Wrap-Up

August was a crazy month. My car broke down. My glasses broke. I finished up my internship. I interviewed twice, got my dream job, and am now finishing up my last week at my current job. Plus, I’m in the process of moving. So, needless to say, not many books read this month. It’s been crazy. But, here are the books I did manage to read and start in the month of August:

Books Finished

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Cups of Tea e184e-screen2bshot2b2015-04-222bat2b11-54-432bam

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Rating: 4 out of 5 Cups of Tea

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Review Coming Soon

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Rating: 3 out of 5 Cups of Tea

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Review Here

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Rating: 5 out 5 Cups of Tea

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Review To Come

Books Started

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I hope you all had a good reading month! See you Monday with a new book review.

Read, Rise, Resist

I have spent most of my life reading books about the lives of others.

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When I was little, I read books about princesses, castles, adventure.

I read these for fun, for entertainment, for escape.

Now, I find myself reading books about horrors,

Horrors no man should know, yet horrors the world experiences daily.

These stories are real, even when fictitious;

They shake our souls and claw at the windows and offer a different view.

They slap us. They wake us. They hope that we listen.

They hope that we will take what we have learned

To rise up, to fight,

To resist, to conquer.