Genre: Science Fiction | Released: May (what’s funny is this was released on Star Wars day)
I loved The Martian, and I made the mistake of reading the first few sneak-peek chapters of this new release the other day…. It was so good, I am totally hooked, I need more, but Libby says my hold will take OVER SIX MONTHS. It follows a guy who wakes up with amnesia on a mysterious spaceship and must figure out what’s going on and save humanity.
3) The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green
Genre: nonfiction/memoir/essays | Released: May
John Green is a little bit of a hit-or-miss author for me, but I think he is a very smart and interesting person and I am very curious what he’ll bring in this deviation from his stereotypical YA contemporary!
4) The Rose Code by Kate Quinn
Genre: Historical Fiction | Released: March
I haven’t read any books by Kate Quinn yet, but both of her books are on my TBR. I’ve seen this new release all over historical fiction lists recently, and it looks really good.
It seems like a dual timeline with one timeline taking place in England during WW2, following three women working at Bletchley Park (something I know a tiny bit about but not that much about, but am super interested in because it’s about cryptography and that’s interesting) and the other taking place after the war with the characters solving a mystery from their past. Very intriguing.
5) The Women of Chateau Lafayette by Stephanie Dray
Genre: Historical Fiction | Released: March
I’ve seen this one all over historical fiction lists too, and what intrigued me about the blurb is that it follows multiple women over different eras of history: American Revolution and French Revolution, WW1 and WW2. There aren’t as many books about those first three eras, so I am excited to read this one.
6) Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishigaru
Genre: Science Fiction | Released: March
I have not read any books by Ishiguro but this one looks really interesting. I love books that have AI characters, so I can’t wait to read this. I have also seen lots of good reviews for it.
Have you read any of these new releases yet? Are any of them on your TBR?
It’s finally…. FINALLY…. basically summer. And that means it’s time to make a whole new list of goals to use to reset my life and give myself a sense of accomplishment even if I spend my summer doing none of these things after all!
My 2021 Summer Goals
1) Grow my blog to 700 Followers
This is a bit ambitious; right now I have 584, but I might as well aim high right? I’m also trying to post more often, and hopefully you noticed that as soon as AP exams ended and I stopped getting crushed with busywork my posting schedule went from once in a blue moon to my good old summer 2020 Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule.
2) Watch all of Crash Course Chemistry and learn material for school
Yes, I’m one of THOSE people who try to do work in the summer. But listen. I’m taking 6 APs next year and I am trying to keep myself in the right mindset because otherwise the fall will be a fiasco. My friend and I are going to watch all of it together and take brief notes.
3) Learn how to do eyeliner
This seems like a random one, but here is the story: I hate learning how to do makeup and putting on makeup, etc., but I think I look way better with eyeliner on than I do without it when someone helps me do my makeup for a special occasion or something. But every time I try to put it on myself, it looks REALLY BAD.
4) Finally publish the update to my app
I have an app published on the iOS store, but for privacy reasons I can’t say the name on it on here. I’ve been working on a redesign of it, but I keep procrastinating because I have a really unfortunate relationship with programming projects (I won’t want to work on it and procrastinate for months, but then as soon as overcome the barrier to entry I won’t be able to STOP working on it)
5) Start sleeping with my phone outside of my room
I have become acutely aware of how addicted I am to my phone, especially now that school’s over and I don’t have very much work I need to be doing. Every morning, after snoozing my alarm five times, I go on my phone for “just a few minutes” to wake up my brain, because otherwise I physically can’t get out of bed. First I’ll check to see if there are comments on my blog. Then I’ll check Goodreads because it’s sort of productive to think about books. Then I’ll check the weather. Then I’ll check Pinterest (gotta remind the algorithm I’m here!). Then I’ll check my email in case anything important happened. Finally I’ll check Instagram when the last of my self-control runs out. Soon it’s been 30 minutes. I’ll feel guilty and get up to have breakfast, but I’ll still be groggy. I’ll bring my Kindle, but it’s not as interesting as my phone, so I’ll look at my phone while I eat. Then I’ll feel guilty for having spent the first hour of the day on my phone, and spend the rest of the day feeling guilty and distracting myself by going on my phone some more. Soon it’s the afternoon and I feel like a slug.
^^^ Summary of my day yesterday
I need to find my old alarm clock and start using that instead so that I can FINALLY break the using-phone-right-before-bed-and-first-thing-in-the-morning habit.
6) Make a final list of colleges I am applying to
There is a pit of dread in my stomach and it is there because of college applications. I’m going to be a high school senior in September which means I have to apply to college this fall, and I’ve been trying to ignore the looming responsibility of making my final list of schools and starting the essays and all, but now it’s time….
7) Spend more time “monotasking”
This is kind of similar to #5, but I’ve noticed something concerning. My attention span is extremely short. Can’t-watch-a-YouTube-video-without-reading-comments-at-the-same-time, can’t-eat-without-being-on-my-phone, checking-phone-every-five-minutes-while-reading short. As a kid I used to be able to sit and play with my horse figurines or color or, most often, read for hours on end without moving from my spot. Now, I’m lucky if I can read for an hour without getting up and checking my phone. So this summer, I want to spend more time feeling bored.
By that I mean, instead of pulling out my laptop to google random questions on my mind or scroll through x feed again, I want to go and learn a new piano piece, or pick up my book, or take a calm walk without listening to an audiobook or music. Maybe then I’ll be able to get my concentration back.
8) Read the books on my school list
Again, this one is similar to #2 on the list: I want to read the books on my school list so that I’m ready for English next year… and also because I would read them anyway because I’m obsessed with books. Tragically, my class did not get to read any books this year because of online school, so now I have to read all the books we would have read AND possibly the ones we’re going to read.
9) Learn how to make 3 new recipes
I like to tell my family that when I live on my own I will always be getting takeout, because I hate cooking, which is mostly true (because it’s so much work, and then you just get one bowl of food which takes 20 minutes to eat, and then you have to clean it all up) but today I made “TikTok ramen” out of those instant ramen noodles and it was actually kind of relaxing (except when the stove was too hot and my soy sauce started splattering everywhere for a brief minute) so I want to try to become a less-bad cook and learn how to make at least three new recipes because right now I can only make pasta.
10) Work on my blog Pinterest and Instagram accounts
What are you doing on Pinterest and Instagram if you’re horrible at making things look aesthetic? I don’t know, but I have accounts for my blog now so please follow them! My more specific goals are reaching 100 followers on Instagram and 50 followers on Pinterest.
I got my learner’s permit almost a year ago but during the pandemic it was difficult to find time to go out driving, so I haven’t really practiced much. I really want to get my license though so another one of my summer goals is to learn how to drive and get the required practice hours in my state so that I can get my license in the fall.
12) Get into a routine of pre-writing and scheduling blog posts
I’ve been doing this more often recently and it feels amazing! No more pressure to churn out a blog post on every posting day, more time to come up with ideas, etc. etc.
13) Spend time on a new relaxing/creative hobby
I need to find another fun hobby to do. I don’t know what, though. Photography? Knitting? Calligraphy? I don’t know. I’m not very artsy, but I wish I were, so I kind of want to see if I can BECOME more artsy. You know?
14) Buddy-read books with my friends
I’m going to buddy-read Song of Achilles with my friend soon, and I think the idea of reading a book together with someone and getting to discuss it afterwards is so fun. At the very beginning of the pandemic I started a book club which immediately fizzled out when we realized the library and bookstore wasn’t opening any time soon, but now that it’s easier to get books, it should be better.
15) Do a coffee detox
I know. FRAPPES & Fiction, going on a coffee detox? I love coffee so much, but I think our relationship has become toxic. I want to stop having it every single morning for a while and see if it helps fix my sleep schedule.
I have already started this goal, not totally voluntarily (my parents used up all the coffee before I woke up yesterday, and once I skipped one day and suffered the terrible headache, I thought might as well just keep it up and do a total detox for however long)
Okay, that’s it for my 2021 summer goals! What are your goals this summer? Do we have any of the same?
I read MANY different types of books. I’ve never been one to limit myself to a single genre, and I often find myself bouncing back and forth between several different favorites. Today, I decided to share some of my favorite books across the genre spectrum, because I’m sure that’s what you 100% definitely want to read right now.
I’m going to be recommending one book for each of my favorite/most-read genres: historical fiction, sci-fi (soft, hard, and dystopian), mystery (cozy and thriller) and contemporary (no-romance and romance)
(takes place during a historical time period before the 21st century, no supernatural occurrences)
All The Light We Cannot See by ANthony Doerr
Rating: 4/5 stars
One-sentence summary: A blind girl fleeing Paris with her father, a lost engineering prodigy recruited by the German army, a terminally ill Nazi in search of a legendary healing jewel: during the throes of WW2, the paths of these fundamentally different people will collide.
(takes place in the future, focuses on technical and scientific details, technology is feasible)
The Martian by Andy Weir
Rating: 5/5 stars
One-sentence summary: After a catastrophic storm aborts his mission, an astronaut finds himself stranded alone on Mars with no way to contact Earth, few resources and even fewer opportunities for rescue.
(takes place in the future, science is more speculative than realistic with current technology, fewer technical details)
Flowers for ALgernon by Daniel Keyes
Rating: 5/5 stars and on my list of all-time favorite books
One-sentence summary: After participating in an experimental study, a mentally disabled man has his IQ tripled and must grapple with the ethical implications of this revolutionary technology… and its steep price.
(Warning: this one may plunge you into a state of deep depression)
(takes place in the future, usually in an imagined nightmare society)
1984 by George Orwell
Rating: 5/5 stars and on my list of all-time favorite books
One-sentence summary: In an oppressive society where citizens are kept under constant surveillance by “Big Brother”, history is erased and “the Party” is always right, a government worker named Winston begins to question the life he has always known.
(Warning: this one may plunge you into an even deeper depression)
(mystery to be solved, usually focuses on a detective investigating a crime, violence is more tame, set up like a puzzle)
The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by AGATHA Christie
Rating: 5/5 stars and on my list of all-time favorite books
One-sentence summary: After a man named Roger Ackroyd is mysteriously murdered, detective Hercule Poirot is called upon to solve a seemingly impossible case.
(Pretty much any Agatha Christie book fits this category… this one is just my favorite)
(mystery to be solved, relies on lots of suspense, usually more violent)
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
(this one is also soft sci-fi, but I’m putting it here)
Rating: 5/5 stars
One-sentence summary: After waking up with no recollection of his past or his identity, a man realizes he is stuck in a time loop from which he can’t escape unless he can solve a perplexing murder… before anyone else gets to him first.
Contemporary (No Romance)
(takes place in approximately present-day society, no supernatural occurrences, light/no romance)
Turtles All the WaY Down by JOHN GREEN
My rating: 5/5 stars
One-sentence summary: A teen struggling with OCD investigates the disappearance of the town millionaire and ends up learning a lot more about herself.
(takes place in approximately present-day society, no supernatural occurrences, plot focuses on a romance)
Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
One-sentence summary: Two teens with rival family business find themselves embroiled in a Twitter war, before realizing they have feelings for one another.
Those are all of the genres I’m going to do today.
And yes I know I keep talking about the same books, because they’re my favorite books… I’m going to be trying to make more “refreshing” lists this summer….
Let me know if you’d want to read more of these kinds of posts. Thanks for stopping by my blog!
Have you read these books? What did you think of them?
Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.
1) Who’s your favorite book character of all time?
This is one of the most basic answers you’ll ever hear, but Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series. Hermione in the first book was the literary version of elementary school me. (Regrettably)
I also really like Jo March from Little Women and Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird!
2) What’s your favorite book genre?
Mystery and historical fiction. I also like incorporating a healthy amount of nonfiction into my literary diet, usually about history or science. (that’s vague, but trust me, I read a very random assortment of books) I also really like certain kinds of science fiction.
3) If you could pick any food to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Salad. I love it, and there are so many varieties that I wouldn’t get bored. There’s pasta salad, quinoa salad, chicken salad, egg salad potato salad, and all kinds of lettuce salad. (is that cheating?)
4) What’s your favorite blog?
My own, of course. (Just kidding. I couldn’t possibly choose just one!)
5) If you could magically transport to any fictional place, where would it be?
I keep referencing Harry Potter in this post, but I’m going to say Hogsmeade.
6) Do you like dogs or cats better?
I really can’t decide, but I have a dog.
7) What is your least favorite book?
That’s tough. The worst book I read last year was probably Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeiffer. The plot was nonsensical, the main character was unlikeable, the writing left must to be desired, and it featured some very dubious characterizations…. the entire book just left a bad taste in my mouth.
Update: now I’m almost vaccinated and my life is beginning again, and it’s still 2021!
10) What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
Coffee! I didn’t choose my blog name for no reason. This is ironic because I’m currently writing this post on a caffeine surge at 10 PM wondering how I’m going to sleep after making the mistake of drinking coffee at 3 pm.
11) What’s one of your biggest hobbies besides reading and blogging?
I have so many hobbies and random interests that it’s not even funny. One of them that I haven’t talked about too much on here is piano; I’ve been playing since I was 5 and I like finding new songs to learn.
Why is your favorite book genre your favorite?
What is your favorite movie?
What are you looking forward to right now?
What is your biggest bookish pet peeve?
What do you look for in a good blog?
Do you watch booktube? What are your favorite booktubers?
What’s your favorite month of the year?
What is the most intimidating book on your TBR?
What’s your favorite childhood book?
What is one of your blogging goals?
If you had to change your blog niche to something other than books, what would you choose?
I have a huge pile-up of tags and awards and stuff that I haven’t done, dating back to the fall (yes really) and I keep forgetting to post them but don’t want to clog up my feed by posting a million in a row, so that’s why I haven’t posted all of them. I’ll be sprinkling them amongst my regular posts during the summer, since they are a fun way to interact with and get to know other bloggers.
My 100th Post:
Fun fact of the day: this is my 100th post on this blog!
Thanks for stopping by my blog today! What is your opinion on award posts?
Short stories are CRIMINALLY underrated. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever written about short stories on this blog. I do read them sometimes, but definitely not as often as I read full-length novels.
And I don’t think they get enough appreciation.
There’s so much you can do in a short story that just wouldn’t work the same way in a novel. I’ve read a lot of short stories with masterful suspense, shock endings and clever twists that make them impossible to forget. And today, I’m going to be sharing some of them with you!
1)”A Sound of Thunder”by Ray Bradbury
“We don’t want to change the Future. We don’t belong here in the Past.”
Published: 1952 | Genre: science fiction
This is probably my favorite on the list. I still think about this story a lot. It’s about the butterfly effect/chaos theory and it’s so interesting.
On Goodreads I gave “A Sound Of Thunder” 3 stars in 2018– I don’t think I enjoyed the descriptions of bloody T-Rex’s (how do you write plural T-rex?) but I still remember the whole thing and I’m telling you now: it’s good.
It takes place in a future society where time machines have been invented and people can pay to go on “Time Travel Safaris” to travel to prehistoric times and hunt dinosaurs. There’s one catch, though: travelers must never step off the trodden path for fear of irreversibly altering the fabric of time.
2) “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson
“The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green.“
Published: 1948 | Genre: horror
This one everyone knows. And it was spoiled for me. It’s about a town who congregates for the drawing of “The Lottery.” But this seemingly innocuous practice may be hiding something very sinister…
I read this one a few months ago, first thing in the morning (cheerful way to start the day). You can read it for free on the Internet; it’s published in The New Yorker magazine.
I need to read more books by Shirley Jackson. I’m planning to read We Have Always Lived in the Castle closer to Halloween.
3) “The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury
“Nothing ever likes to die — even a room.”
Published: 1950 | Genre: science fiction
This story scared the crap out of my entire 8th-grade English class. It’s about, again, a future society where technology pervades every aspect of life. People live in smart homes where everything is automated, and virtual reality rooms provide an immersive escape from the monotony of daily life.
For the Hadley family, the smart home has everything they could ever want. The children spend all day playing in the virtual reality nursery while parents George and Lydia refrain from discipline. Only, the pull of the Nursery might be getting a little too strong…
4) “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe
“You fancy me mad. Madmen know nothing. But you should have seen me.“
Published: 1843 | Genre: horror
I still remember reading this aloud in our suspense unit in middle school while my entire class looked at one another in horror. This story is SO WEIRD but it’s Poe, so what do you expect? It’s about guilt and paranoia, following a guy describing to the audience how he committed a murder, and… you’ll just have to read it.
(This one’s in the public domain, so you can easily find it and read it legally and for free!)
5) “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
“If a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression—a slight hysterical tendency—what is one to do?”
Published: 1892 | Genre: horror
A classic feminist short story! This one follows a woman whose controlling husband and physician prescribes a “rest cure” to ameliorate her mental health problems. Locked in a lonely room with no company except the sickly yellow patterned wallpaper, her sanity slowly begins to deteriorate.
This one is interesting because it deals with the concept of isolation (pretty relevant to this past year) and because it actually led to a change in public opinion on the common practice of ‘rest cure’ and societal attitudes towards women’s medical treatment.
(This one’s in the public domain too)
That’s all for today! I definitely recommend checking out these short stories. Have you read any? Which ones sound intriguing to you? Let me know in the comments!
Okay everyone: If you’re looking for an accessible classic, this immersive, lyrical and suspenseful psychological thriller is the way to go!
About the Book
Author: Daphne du Maurier
Genre: classics,mystery/thriller, Gothic/horror
Rating: 5/5 stars
“It wouldn’t make for sanity would it, living with the devil.”
Before we begin: our main character has no name, so for convenience and grammatical flow I shall henceforth be referring to her as Sally.
Sally begins the book as a wallflower working for a socialite in Monte Carlo, when she happens to meet a rich and mysterious guy named Maxim whose wife, Rebecca, died the year before. They fall in love and get married, and he takes her away from her terrible job to live with him at his huge estate, Manderley.
At first, seduced by the idyllic whirlwind romance, Sally is happy… but something isn’t quite right at Manderley. Maxim is acting strange, the malevolent head housekeeper of Manderley seems to harbor nothing but ill will for Sally, and most of all, she can’t seem to shake the legacy of Rebecca…
“Rebecca, always Rebecca. Wherever I walked in Manderley, wherever I sat, even in my thoughts and in my dreams, I met Rebecca.“
First of all, I found it interesting that Sally has no name. I spent a lot of the book thinking about this unique stylistic choice, because I don’t think I’ve read a book where the main character wasn’t named. It had the effect of making Sally’s narration feel like your own. Like you, yourself, were monologuing about this creepy house and crazy story and brooding husband.
The writing in Rebecca is incredibly immersive, and I can’t wait to read more books by Daphne du Maurier. Even the most benign scenes in the book were laced with a vaguely unsettling atmosphere, and in the most suspenseful scenes the tension was palpable. This is what made the book so good: every time I opened my Kindle, I felt like I was re-entering the world of the story and got this intense feeling of foreboding at even the most innocuous details.
And as for details, there were lots. Du Maurier writes vividly about the scenery and surroundings of her story, so I could clearly visualize everything that was happening.
There were an underlying themes of jealousy, revenge, being haunted by the past, among others that I can’t really explain without straying into spoiler territory, but it was a really thought-provoking read that will stick with me.
If you’ve already read this book and want to check out my more spoiler-y thoughts on it, find my spoiler-tagged Goodreads review here!
I’d recommend this one to everyone who likes a good psychological thriller, and anyone who enjoys lyrical and descriptive prose.
I thought this was almost like a more exciting version of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, so that’s the read-alike I’ll choose for today’s review.
Thanks for stopping by my blog today! Have you read Rebecca?
Last December, I felt completely alone. In the U.S., cases were skyrocketing and I hadn’t left my house for weeks, even to go outside. I’d stopped going to my extracurriculars a while ago as the pandemic ramped up, and school was still online. Though it was my favorite month of the year, even Christmas music couldn’t cheer me up.
I was spending upwards of five hours a day on my phone, and one day, after seeing yet another post of people breaking COVID-19 restrictions and hanging out and having fun, I finally decided I needed a change. That night, I deleted Instagram and Snapchat from my phone and vowed to stay off them for a week.
To my surprise, I didn’t have trouble taking a break, and I felt my dwindling attention span start to return. At the end of the week, I logged back into Snapchat to let all my “friends” know I was leaving and then permanently deleted my account so I wouldn’t be tempted to come back.
Now that it’s been about six months, I think it’s time to reflect on this somewhat impulsive decision.
Why I Did It
I first got Snapchat in November of 2019, so I only really had it for a year. I used it often during the first few months I had it, but I never got the appeal of streaks and gradually stopped going on it as often. At one point I created a private story and that became the only thing I really used the app for.
Practical reasons for deleting the app:
Very few of my friends had Snapchat, so there were only a couple people I actually wanted to talk to on there
I didn’t use it for much except posting on my private story, which I could do with the Instagram close friends thing anyway
A lot of my motivation was just on principle, though; I decided that the overall culture of the app was stupid. Really. Why am I spending half an hour a day clicking on disappearing pictures of my classmates’ ceilings with “S” scribbled on them?
The Pros of Snapchat-free Life
I no longer spend a lot of time opening streaks or awkwardly and pointlessly responding to people’s snapchats
I’m less tempted to post on my story and stalk the viewers list to see who watched it
Overall, I think deleting the app helped me take a good look at my relationship with social media.
The Cons of Snapchat-free Life
This is an honest reflection on my decision, so I need to also talk about the cons of deleting Snapchat.
First, there are a few people I haven’t talked to as much after deleting the app. One redeeming thing about Snapchat is that it facilitates casual conversations with people, since you can easily add some text to your random picture of your shoe.
The second con is that I sometimes miss the ease of sharing more casual pictures. Instagram, which is a toxic cesspool to explore another day, feels more judgemental. The reason I chose to keep it and delete Snapchat was purely because it has more features and more people I know have it. I also use it for promotional purposes for my tutoring organization and school clubs. (And to repost memes on my close-friends story)
If I were to get Snapchat again, I’d probably just use it as a regular texting app, which was part of why I deleted it. But the truth is, it’s slightly more awkward to randomly text someone you aren’t as close with instead of sending them a message on Snap or replying to their story. I also have one or two friends who only use Snapchat, so now I can only contact them through regular texting. I miss seeing updates on what they’re up to.
Do I Regret This Decision?
Now that life has almost returned to normal where I lived and I’m halfway vaccinated (yayy), I’ve felt the effects of my decision more strongly.
Me: *out doing something*
Devil on my shoulder: Man, I wish you could post this on Snapchat. What were you thinking in December?
Angel on my shoulder: Stop it! Stop it! Do you hear yourself? This is exactly why we deleted the app!
In short, no, I don’t regret the decision to delete Snapchat. I think I made the right choice. It’s kind of pulled me out of the Matrix, so to speak.
I now care less about social media and my “image” on it. I realized how codependent I had been and was able to kind of step away from the obsession.
I don’t plan to redownload the app, first because I’d have to make a whole new account and everything, and second because I think Instagram is enough social media for now.
As for Instagram– I could write a whole new post on that. I guess you’ll have to stayed tuned for part 2.
Thanks for checking out my blog today! Do you have Snapchat? What do you think of social media? Have you even tried to do a phone or social media detox?
I had so much going on, and as things begin to open back up, it feels like my life is slowly coming back. But it’s like there’s a huge gap between now and March 2020 during which time stood still, and I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around the fact that in the fall, I’m going to be starting senior year, applying and (hopefully) getting accepted to college, and turning 17. I feel like my life was on pause and I’m having trouble catching back up to reality.
I didn’t blog so much this month, but it’s okay because I did a lot of other stuff.
I got vaccinated!
Like just about everyone, I listened to Olivia Rodrigo’s new album on repeat and I think I have become a fan. “brutal” just about sums up my life.
I rode a horse! (Childhood dream come true)
I took four out of my five AP exams, and although the physics one (despite being my favorite subject) was the stuff of nightmares, I’m glad I can begin to relax for summer
Even though I’m a junior, I had terrible premature senioritis
I went to the beach for Memorial Day weekend, was inspired by the fresh salt air and once I spent the entire weekend working on personal projects and ignoring school, I realized exactly how burnt out I had been.
Well, I got bitten by the nonfiction bug this month. I read 8 books: 4 fiction and 4 nonfiction.
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong(YA, fantasy, historical fiction)- this book was really hyped, but it wasn’t my favorite. While the setting was super interesting (1920s Shanghai), I didn’t really get the historical vibe from the book and the plot became tedious after a while. I found myself caring less about the characters and just wanted them to hurry up and solve the (very gory, specific and weird) mystery. I just don’t seem to mesh well with YA fantasy, I guess.
The Guest List by Lucy Foley (general/adult, mystery/thriller)- another hyped one. This book was entertaining, but after the third reveal or so, it really was getting far-fetched . It was fine to destress after my exams though. Certain parts were also a bit too risque for me
Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson(YA, contemporary, romance)– it’s that time of year again…. I enjoyed reading this book, but it wasn’t super memorable and I’m not sure what the message was supposed to be; certain things were contradictory.
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman(YA, contemporary)– I actually got this book in December and featured it in my winter book haul. I don’t know why I waited so long to read it because t was great, but probably one of the most disturbing fiction books I’ve read in a while. I don’t know how Shusterman managed to put me right in the main character’s head like that.
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou(business, true crime)– My friend recommended this book to me so I decided to pick it up. It traces the Theranos scandal, a biotech company whose CEO took “fake it till you make it” a bit too seriously and sold completely unreliable blood tests to thousands of patients. I had no idea the tech world was so smoke-and-mirror-y.
We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler by Russell Freedman (historical, WW2)– So, I had this book on my TBR for a while because I watched a Ted-Ed video like six months ago during one of my quarantine YouTube binges about this resistance movement and found it so inspiring and unrecognized that I just had to find out more. This book was technically MG and it was really short and simplified– I wished it were more in-depth, but it took less than an hour to read and I learned things.
Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster by (science, historical)– I can’t remember why this was on my TBR, but it was and I didn’t know that much about Chernobyl, I didn’t live through it, so I decided to read it, and wow– I learned a lot. This was a pretty long book, but it did a good job explaining the history of the nuclear industry, what went wrong with reactor #4, the initial government coverup and all of the aftermath.
Into Thin Air: A Personal Account of the Mt. Everest Disaster by Jon Krakuar– I don’t know if I will ever understand people who put their lives on the line climbing Mt. Everest. This is Krakuar’s memoir of the 1996 ill-fated Mt. Everest climbing expedition and what went wrong. Incidentally, when I mentioned to my mom that I was reading this I learned that she is extremely obsessed with Mt. Everest, has read this book and watched a bunch of documentaries, and then we had a half hour conversation about the commercialization of Everest.
I didn’t blog that much in May, but I have so much to post in June. For once, I actually have a bunch of posts lined up. This month’s posts:
I also started working on my Pinterest to see if I can get blog traffic from there. Here’s my profile! I’ve been going through a Canva phase lately, so I’ve just been playing around making pin images and seeing if they can get clicks. I’m a little skeptical since I’m not very good at making nice-looking graphics, but we’ll see.
Last Month’s Goals:
1) BE MORE POSITIVE
I think I did an okay job with this one. I’ve adopted a new life motto from the quote: “you can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending” because I know I tend to stew over my past mistakes a lot and end up spending lots of time kicking myself for things that are now in the past.
2) GET ORGANIZED
I did a lot to get myself organized this month, but I still think I can do more. It’ll be easy to do a little “life reset” once school ends (just 3 more weeks…)
3) STUDY SMARTER, NOT HARDER
I don’t know about this one… I don’t think I did a great job studying for my exams this year, but again, my new life motto okay.
This Month’s Goals:
1) Do A Detox Day/Chill week
I am going to force myself when school is over to take one day where I do nothing “productive”. No phone, no laptop, no work, no coding, no blogging, no tutoring, no organization for school clubs, no prepping for next year’s classes, no college apps, nothing. I’m going to need to have lots of energy for next year and I need to give myself a break from the endless hustle culture (a post idea for another day) I will just hang out with my family, take a walk, read something (but only if I feel like it), maybe paint my nails or organize my bookshelf or something.
Plus, I find that when I don’t do something for a while, I come back to it with renewed passion but if I force myself to do it when I don’t want to, I’ll get burned out VERY quickly.
2) Spend more time with my family
Quite frankly I spend a lot of time sitting on my laptop and ignoring people, so I want to make it a priority to spend more time with my family this month! And no binge-watching YouTube, which has been a huge time-suck for me this past year.
3) Be more chill
I can be a little too intense sometimes, especially when it comes to school. I have actually gotten exponentially better since the pandemic put some things into perspective, but I still get myself extremely stressed for exams. I’ve been trying to put more energy into things like my blog and my programming projects, especially for the stress-fest that is college application season, right now approaching terrifyingly on the horizon.
That’s it for my May Wrap-up! How was your May? Have you read any of the books I mentioned?
With June quickly approaching, we’re almost halfway through 2021, which seems insane, but at least so far it’s been slightly better than 2020. Right?
Anyway, I decided it’d be fun to write a post about all the 5-star books I read so far this year. (And yes, I know this isn’t technically halfway through the year, but I’m going to post what I’m going to post. It’s the end of spring at least… that counts for something!)
The following list is in chronological order of when I read the books, and I’ll link each title to its Goodreads page.
“Always bear in mind that the person who speaks may be lying.”
Why it got 5 stars: I am a sucker for plot twists and creepy-but-not-too-creepy mysteries, and this book hit the nail on the head! It is Agatha Christie, after all. This is one of her most famous books, and it’s my current favorite.
“If someone asks you how you are, you are meant to say FINE. You are not meant to say that you cried yourself to sleep last night because you hadn’t spoken to another person for two consecutive days. FINE is what you say.“
Why it got 5 stars: Well, in short, I cried at the end of it, which is kind of embarrassing… I was in an emotional mood, I guess. The way Eleanor’s story unfolded through the course of the book, her character development, and the not-romance just made this one really good. I haven’t talked about this book enough on here, so read it please. (Though it is one of the stereotypical mom-book-club books and decently popular)
“To them, equipment failure is terrifying. To me, it’s ‘Tuesday.'”
Why it got 5 stars: I learned a lot from this book, including that I like “hard sci-fi” and am actually really really interested in space travel. What pushed it over the edge into 5-star territory was the sheer dedication and technical accuracy of everything in the book.
“How lost do you have to be to let the devil lead you home? This lost, I decide. Precisely this lost.”
Why it got 5 stars: I thought the whole concept of this book was extremely creative, and it kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I also loved one of the twists at the end and how it turned the book on its head and introduced an almost philosophical perspective– something you don’t see much in your stereotypical thriller.
Note- I’m not sure why the Goodreads blurb is in French, but this book is written in English
Genre: YA, historical fiction
“Mr. Diamant shook his head. ‘Di velt iz sheyn nor di mentshn makhn zi mies,’ he said. ‘The world is beautiful, but people make it ugly.’”
Why it got 5 stars: I still can’t get over the fact that this was about a real person. The writing was immersive and I cried at the end of this one too, at one in the morning after I couldn’t put it down to go to sleep. I can’t remember feeling so empathetic towards characters like this; probably because it was a true story, but it was a great book and I hope more people read it.
“I had build up false pictures in my mind and sat before them. I had never had the courage to demand the truth.”
Why it got 5 stars: Again, this book had gorgeous writing and such a strong, immersive atmosphere of unease and perfectly eerie and mysterious vibes. Perfect for this kind of story. Every time I opened the book, I felt like I was returning to the world of the story. I’ll probably write a review for this one soon.
Those are the seven 5-star books I’ve read so far this year. Have you read any of these? What’s your favorite book of 2021 so far? Let me know in the comments!
As always, thanks for stopping by my blog today. Also, I tried out using Canva to make my post image today, hopefully it doesn’t look too bad. I’m trying to decide whether to start using Canva more or just keep using good old stock photos.
This book has some of the most long-winded and sesquipedalian (I wanted to use that word so badly) prose I’ve ever read, but I somehow managed to finish it in one afternoon, glued to my Kindle the entire time.
(By the way, anyone else love the irony of the word sesquipedalian? It has to be one of my favorite words for that reason)
About the Book
Title: The Picture of Dorian Gray
Author: Oscar Wilde
Rating: 5/5 stars
(This book is in the public domain, so you bet I’m going to drop a million quotes in the review)
“Sin is a thing that writes itself across a man’s face. It cannot be concealed.”
The Picture of Dorian Gray opens with the introduction of an artist named Basil Howard and his fascination with a young man named… Dorian Gray, whom we are told is very, very (very, very, very) beautiful. (It’s implied that Basil has romantic feelings for Dorian, which is actually what made the book controversial when it was published in 1890.)
When Dorian comes to Basil’s studio to get his portrait painted, he meets Basil’s cynical and slightly evil friend, Lord Henry, who enjoys saying oh-so-clever and casually callous one-liners during every lull in conversation.
“Being natural is simply a pose, and the most irritating pose I know.” – Lord Henry, whom I loved despite the fact that he is the villain…
Lord Henry manages to freak Dorian out about getting old and losing all his beauty, tricking him into unwittingly selling his soul (?) for eternal beauty.
That’s right: Dorian will never grow old; instead, his portrait will bear all of the weight of his life choices. Dorian doesn’t realize this at first, but as he falls deeper into debauchery at the encouragement of Lord Henry, the portrait gradually grows more and more hideous, hidden in Dorian’s attic where no one will ever find it….
“There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”
I’d been looking forward to reading this book for while. I had seen it on so many lists of “accessible” classics and best-books-of-all-time, so one day I finally went and downloaded it from Project Gutenberg to give it a try myself.
First of all, though it was slightly more on the long-winded side, the writing was great. While there were one or two places where I was almost tempted to skim through the long descriptions of Dorian’s opulent lifestyle and whatever the walls looked like, I couldn’t bring myself to because the language was just so immersive and quite frankly addictive.
There were also a surprising number of funny one-liners (said by Lord Henry, of course). Speaking of Lord Henry, although he is the obvious antagonist, Wilde writes him in such a way that the audience can disturbingly see themselves in him and almost sympathize with him anyway, an aspect of the book that really stuck with me.
One thing that took me out of the story were certain really dramatic and unrealistic situations that were just too over-the-top for me to take seriously. (the whole thing with Dorian’s fanatical crush was… super melodramatic, but that is characteristic of Gothic literature. I think. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on artistic movements.)
Let’s talk some more about the plot, though. The symbolism of the titular “picture of Dorian Gray” was a fascinating basis for a story, and the book keeps up its momentum through an intense feeling of this-is-not-going-to-end-well. You’re compelled to keep reading, even though it’s obvious that the story isn’t going anywhere good.
The ending was fitting, albeit kind of sudden, but I’m not going to discuss it because this is, after all, a spoiler-free review.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking to read more classics and anyone in the mood for a contemplative and spooky-ish book.
I’m adding a new section to my reviews where I mention other books that remind me of the book I’m reviewing! For this one, I’m going to say it reminded me a lot of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, and the premise is sort of like The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab, which I haven’t read yet (so don’t hold me to that)
That’s it for today’s review! Have you read The Picture of Dorian Gray? Do you agree with my points?