Thank you for 500 Followers! | My Future Blogging Goals

After slightly more than one year of blogging, I finally reached the 500-follower milestone on Friday and I just wanted to pop in and say thank you!

Thanks for sticking around through all of my spontaneous mini-hiatuses and incorrigibly rambling posts. Like most writers, it makes my day to see that people actually read the things I write (if you’re reading this post right now, you’ve made my day) This is one of my favorite hobbies and I’m so glad I picked it up last year.

While I don’t blog for the numbers, and all milestones are arbitrary by definition, it was nice to see this pop up on my dashboard:

To commemorate the milestone, I’m going to make a short list of blogging goals I want to work towards in the future:

Future Blogging Goals:

1) Reach 1,000 followers

Obviously, this is the next numbers goal. It’s pretty self-explanatory. Moving on…

2) Branch out to other online platforms

This blog has no social media presence right now (well, technically I have a Pinterest for it, but I don’t use it and kind of forgot about it). I don’t really like the atmosphere of Twitter which is why I don’t currently have a Twitter account, but I might make one someday. I’ve also though about making a YouTube channel (as, I’m sure, many other book bloggers have because let’s face it, YouTube can be more lucrative than blogging in terms of engagement and audience, but I prefer blogging because I’m better at writing than being on camera)

3) Work on my blog aesthetic

I’m not much of a graphic design or art person and I hate formatting and designing things. I have a pretty basic blog theme and all my post images are stock media with no embellishments; I do think I should try stepping it up in the future. Please leave design tips because I have no idea how to go about this. Everyone has such gorgeous blogs, and then here I am!

I’m also going to put in a feedback poll to see what kinds of posts you all want to see, but I’m not sure it’s going to work right.

Edit: yeah, it doesn’t look like it’s working right.

Feel free to suggest post ideas in the comments if there is something specific you would like to read.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today even though this wasn’t really a “real” post.

I’ve been doing homework all day because my break ends tomorrow and didn’t feel like any of my other 101 drafts were quite publishable. Have a great rest of your week!

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March 2021 Wrap-up: Spring, My Blogiversary, and Lots and Lots of Books

Do you ever get that feeling where you feel like the beginning of the month was just yesterday, but it simultaneously feels like it was a long time ago, and you’re confusing yourself by forgetting how time works and when you did what and how long a month is supposed to be? Me too. But at least I got to read a lot of books.

Photo by David Bartus on Pexels.com

Life Update:

This month was actually really eventful for me.

  • It’s finally spring and my mental health has gotten way better, probably as a result.
  • I caved to my stats nerd side and started tracking detailed reading statistics for 2021 on a spreadsheet so that I can more accurately look at my reading trends.
  • I impulsively got 8 inches off my hair when I got a haircut– and I never want to go back.
  • I finally finished and turned in that huge app development project I’d been working on, and the sense of relief was unparalleled.

Reading

I might just have to restrict my reading from now until my AP exams, because I haven’t really been studying and I have an inconvenient problem: the more stressed I am, the more books I read.

I read 12 books this month: 9 fiction and 3 nonfiction.

Fiction

1.5-2 stars

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green (general/adult, contemporary, sci-fi)- I will always like Hank Green’s work on Crash Course but I have to be honest about this book…. it wasn’t for me.I liked some parts of it and thought the discussions on fame/social media were interesting, but many things about this rubbed me the wrong way. It’s a tongue-in-cheek-ish story about an alien invasion and a 23-year-old nobody who makes first contact.

2.5-3 stars

Sadie by Courtney Summers (YA, mystery/thriller, contemporary)– This book is told partly through a podcast, and partly through a regular narrative, following a girl named Sadie after she runs away to avenge her sister’s death. This was a pretty hyped book, but I actually didn’t enjoy it very much. The ending was very, very open, which I wasn’t a fan of, and there was also not much suspense because of the way the dual-POVs were set up.

Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (YA, sci-fi)– I read this because I really liked Illuminae by the same authors, but this book felt a lot more like your generic YA SFF book– which I guess I’m not that qualified to say because I don’t read those kinds of books often….Regardless, I was really intrigued by the beginning of the book, but it tapered off quickly and the plot became really weird. It follows a ragtag group of teens (I told you, it’s really YA SFF-y) who go on a mission to figure out this mysterious cover-up involving a girl who got magical-ish powers after being frozen for 200 years on a lost spaceship.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (classics) – It pains me to say I didn’t really like this book! I know. Here’s why: I thought it was a bit boring and very preachy, and I didn’t like the resolution for my favorite character (Jo) because it went completely away from her character arc. Though, apparently Louisa May Alcott was forced to end it this way because of pressure from her publisher.

3.5-4 stars

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin (YA, SFF/dystopian/historical)– a really weird mix of genres. This had one of the most unique premises I’ve seen. It’s an alternate history/SFF that takes place in 1956- but if the Axis powers won WW2 and follows a girl with shapeshifting abilities who has been chosen to assassinate Hitler.

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (classics, short story, horror)– I read this short story really, really randomly one morning in bed right after I woke up. It took about five minutes because it’s really short! I already knew the ending, but yes, it was creepy.

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles (general/adult, historical fiction)– Another pretty hyped book! I wasn’t sure about the beginning, but it got pretty good towards the end, which is why I gave it four stars. It is another one of those dual-POV historical fictions, and follows a young librarian named Odile in Paris during WW2 and a teen named Lily in the 1980s who lives next door to elderly Odile. I really did not enjoy Lily’s POV and the pacing was also kind of strange in this book, but overall it was good.

4.5-5 stars

After the Fire by Will Hill (YA, mystery/thriller, contemporary)- I randomly borrowed this ebook from the library after remembering that I wanted to read it a long time ago. It follows a girl in the hospital and in therapy after the cult she was in was burned down. You don’t know anything about what happened and as she begins to open up about her past, you slowly begin to put the pieces together. It’s more of a thriller than a mystery, but it also kind of is a mystery It explores a lot of topics like… well, cults, freedom, brainwashing, etc. I devoured the book in a little under two hours. It is so underrated!

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (general/adult, mystery/thriller, SFF/dystopian, historical fiction)– Everyone knows I have a thing for whodunnits, especially ones that trick me MULTIPLE times. I loved this book! It takes the Agatha-Christie-book feel and throws in a really cool twist on the premise. The story follows a man who finds himself at a 1920s dinner party at this secluded manor house with no recollection of his name, his family, or anything about his past.Soon he learns that he is trapped in some sort of time loop where he gets to repeat this particular day seven times in a different guest’s body each time, and he can only escape by solving a murder which will happen that night.

Nonfiction

I read a really, really random selection of nonfiction books this month.

Astronomy for Dummies by Stephen P. Maran– I’ve recently been going through an astrophysics and space obsession. I literally just Googled “astronomy books for beginners” and this was the first result so I got the ebook on my Kindle and read it cover-to-cover.

Everything You Need to Ace Computer Science and Coding in One Big Fat Notebook by Grant Smith– what a mouthful. This is one of those “middle school notebooks” books; my mom got it from Costco for my sister and I took it to read because why not. Definitely using this as a reference when I finally get around to expanding my language repertoire and learning Python.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass– read for AP English Lang and if I gave nonfiction star ratings in my wrap-ups, this would get 5 stars for sure. Frederick Douglass is a really inspirational person and this is one of the best biographies I have read. A must-read.

Blogging

I had a decently good blogging month in March. I posted more than in February, and I’m really, really close to reaching 500 followers. Thank you all for supporting this blog!

March Posts:

Book Review: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

Book Quotes to Live By

The Meet the Book Blogger Tag

6 Ways To Find Your Next Favorite Book

(and today’s post)

Also, March 25th was my blogiversary and it seems insane that I’ve been blogging for over a year now. So, just for old times’ sake, here are my March 2020 posts (from back when I posted almost exclusively book reviews and had much more generous ratings…)

Book Review: Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott

Book Review: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Book Review: Emma by Jane Austen

Goals:

Last Month’s Goals:

1) Have a healthier routine– Read: go to bed before 1 AM, don’t scroll on your phone for 20 minutes before getting out of bed in the morning. The usual.

I think I did this better than in February. I’ve definitely been eating healthier, at least– I’m no longer having instant ramen for lunch every day, and I’ve been getting up earlier too. I’m still exhausted in the mornings, but I’ve been going to bed at 12 AM instead of 1 AM (baby steps…)

2) Continue to read a wider variety of genresI still want to make it a goal to read more general/adult and non-fiction books. And within fiction too, I want to prioritize reading books of different genres. Why limit yourself to just one type of book?

I think I also did a good job with this goal in March! I actually had a huge variety of books on this wrap-up list.

3) Don’t make blogging a chore- I only want to blog when I really want to (meaning I’ll try to post at the same frequency but try to write my posts throughout the week instead of forcing myself to write one every Saturday)

I sort of did this one. I wrote my posts a little bit more… piecewise. That’s not the right word. I’m still in calculus mode. I can’t think of the right word at this current moment, but I wrote a little on different days before finishing the post and publishing it. I also managed to post more frequently although I took a huge accidental break in the middle of the month when I was finishing that aforementioned app project.

April Goals:

1) Read some more classics

I always feel like reading classics in April, for some reason, so this is going to be one of my goals this month. I really want to read The Picture of Dorian Gray and I’m also about 1/10th of the way through Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, which I chose because it’s the controversial one.

2) Prioritize school

As I mentioned already, I have AP exams coming up in the spring– five of them to be exact, and I also have physics which besides being one of said APs is also one of my hardest classes, although I like the material. Also, I’m going back in hybrid this month, which will be very interesting.

3) Go outside more

I always feel better when I go outside, so I want to make a point to spend some time outside every day now that the weather is getting better.

That’s it for my March wrap-up! Thanks for visiting my blog. Have you read any of the books I mentioned? What did you think of them?

Previous wrap-ups:

February 2021 wrap-up

January 2021 wrap-up

*When you realize the post is almost 2000 words long….*

Well, my tagline doesn’t say “miscellaneous ramblings” for nothing, does it?

6 Ways to Find Your Next Favorite Book

With my (very) extensive TBR, I have a lot to say on how to find new books to read– although I’m not particularly qualified to explain how to pick one to read first.

Exhibit A

1) Browse the library/bookstore

Starting off with the first (and perhaps the most archaic) option: walk into a library (or bookstore) and just peruse the shelves like a good, old-fashioned bibliophile. This one doesn’t need much more explanation.

Now that vaccines are ramping up, this option might be more viable soon (and only a book addict could understand how desperately I have been craving going to the library and bookstore! The day can’t come soon enough!)

When I was younger I could spend hours at the library. I would literally just walk through the YA section in alphabetical order, stopping at any book that looked interesting and reading the summary. It’s a great way to find random backlist books that might just become new favorites.

2) Get recommendations from the book Internet

This one is pretty obvious!

Lots of people on WordPress and elsewhere on the internet make a regular habit of posting recommendation posts. Here are some of my own (sneaky self-promo time):

7 YA Mystery Book Recommendations

Why I’m Addicted to Mysteries|Book Recommendations!

My Top 20 Books of 2020, Ranked

10 Great Classics I Didn’t Read for School

6 Amazing YA Historical Fiction Books

Booktube is also a great place to find recommendations. I often search up “Best books of <insert year>” or “<genre> recommendations” to add bursts of new books to my TBR

(I prefer to keep my TBR as long as possible so I can always comb through it to find the perfect book to suit my mood at the time. This is a discussion post for another day, but I never, ever plan out my reading. Every book I pick up is on impulse; I just have a general idea of books I’d like to read eventually.)

3) Check out Goodreads’ Listopia

Goodreads has an entire section of its website dedicated to user-created lists of books, so if you’re looking for a certain type of tome, this section of the site is your best friend. You can easily find a list of pretty much any type of book under the sun.

4) Find New-Release Lists

If you want to be ahead of the curve in finding the next, hottest thing in the book world, make sure to spend some time looking at new-release lists. Here’s a new-release-appreciative post I wrote a few weeks ago. (I can’t attest to the quality of those books, though, since I haven’t actually read them)

And that’s the difficulty with new releases in general: you won’t quite know what you’re getting into at first. If it’s a really new book, you’ll have to go in with just the premise and a few of the ARC reviews.

5) Book Awards

One fairly consistent way to find good books is to look up the nominees for various book awards.

Looking for a children’s/MG novel? The Newbery Award list is a good place to start. The National Book Award is also pretty reliable. Looking for some non-fiction? Try looking at the YALSA Non-fiction Book Award. There are so many different awards that there is no way I’ll be able to list all of them here, but you get the picture. Oh yeah, there’s also the Goodreads Choice Awards.

Each award kind of has its own feel, if you know what I mean; the Newbery Award is usually given to “serious”, literary, and often depressing kid’s books (I was a heavy Newbery reader in elementary/middle school), while something like the Goodreads Choice Awards usually goes to really-popular-on-the-Internet books.

6) Read other books from the authors of your favorite books

If you have a particular favorite book that had an awesome writing style and a great…. vibe… try researching the author to see whether he or she has written anything else. You’ll probably discover some seriously underrated books. Ex: did you know L.M. Montgomery wrote nineteen other books besides her well-known Anne of Green Gables and hundreds of short stories?

That’s all for today’s post! I’m not sure how helpful that was, but I have a very specific system for finding books to read and this is some of it.

This post might be a little common-sense, but I felt like writing it so… here we are.

Thanks for visiting my blog! How do you find books to add to your TBR?

The Meet the Book Blogger Tag

The saying is “April showers bring May flowers”, but I’ve always said “March showers bring April flowers” is more accurate. Anyway, what better way to spend a rainy Wednesday night than to… write a book tag post? Thank you to Reading by the Moonlight for nominating me for the Meet the Book Blogger tag!

The Rules:

You can nominate 10 other bloggers & should keep the same questions

The Questions:

1) Who is your all-time favorite book character?

I love so many book characters, but my favorite would have to be Hermione Granger from Harry Potter, of course. She’s of the most relatable characters for me… I acted exactly like first-book Hermione all throughout elementary school, which is embarassing, but hey, Hermione turned out awesome by the end of the series.

Another relatable character for me is Jo from Little Women. I unfortunately did not like that book very much, but Jo is so much like me I just had to include her for this question.

2) If you were stranded on a desert island, which book would you take with you? (Survival books do not count)

I hate these questions….. it’s way too hard for me to choose just one book. I agree that I’d want to take a long book, but… which one?

My dad has been telling me over and over to reread The Lord of the Rings, so maybe I’ll use that for this question.

3) What’s your most unpopular book opinion?

I don’t like fantasy or romance. I don’t despise them (who could pass up just one nice contemporary romance on a hot summer day at the beach?) but they are my two least-read genres. The way romance is usually written almost always makes me cringe, and fantasy I just don’t gravitate towards.

All the YA (and adult) fantasy books seem really similar to me (The Blank of Blank and Blank)– of course, I haven’t read very much of the genre, so that’s really an unfounded assumption. Please leave fantasy recommendations because you might be able to convince me to read it.

4) What’s your weirdest bookish habit?

I’d have to go with reading while blowdrying my hair. I have long, wavy/curly hair that takes forever to dry, so I sometimes just read on my Kindle while drying it. This probably makes it take longer, but I get bored really easily and the alternative is blasting music in my earbuds above the sound of the hairdryer, which is probably a bit less healthy.

5) What character would you bring to a family event as your fake partner?

Hmmm…. I really don’t know! (What a lame answer, I know, I’m sorry, my brain is fried right now!)

6) What made you decide to start a book blog?

It’s almost my one-year blogiversary, so this is the perfect question. I really just started it out of boredom and because I talk an annoying amount at an annoyingly fast speed and I decided I needed a place where I could rant and rant without making people run away. I chose to blog about books because 1) I was getting back into reading during quarantine and 2) I figured I’d never run out of content because I’d never run out of books to read. Also because, you know, I like books.

7) What about reading and books do you love the most?

This is hard to answer because reading is such an integral part of my life; I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t “a reader.” Overall, I think the reason I like reading is because it teaches me about the world. I read less for escapism than to gain a better understanding of the world. (I totally meant for that to sound as pretentious as it did)

8) What is your field of study/desired profession/current profession?

I’m still in high school, and I’m not quite sure what I want to do with my life, but I plan to apply to college next year as a computer science major. I don’t have a clear idea of what kind of job I want to have, but it has to be interesting and contrary to the book blogger stereotype, I prefer STEM to humanities– especially considering careers. They seem to change every few months, but my favorite subjects right now are computer science and physics.

9) What are some book recommendations that became your favourites/obsessions?

I was really obsessed with A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder last year; it was one of my top books of 2020, and I picked it up because after I was watching YouTube and Ruby Granger recommended it on one of her “best books of all time” videos.

I also discovered Ruta Sepetys’s books from Hailey in Bookland‘s channel, and if you read this blog last year you’d know I was obsessed with those, and her books still remain my top favorite historical fiction books.

10) What is the book you shove down everyone’s throat?

Oh, there are so many. Sometimes I feel annoying on this blog because I recommend certain books over and over… sorry. Last year I forcibly recommended the AGGTM series as I mentioned in the last question, and also all of Ruta Sepetys’ books. This year, I will be telling everyone to read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.

I also really liked The Martian this year and it helped kick off my huge space obsession that started last month with the Mars rover landing and with me starting physics at school.

My Nominees:

Lost in Neverland

Lattes with Literature

Living, Loving and Reading

Julie Anna’s Books

Woes of Prose

ohsrslybooks

A Bolt out of the Book

Windows to Worlds

Booked Till Midnight

Sunny Side Reviews

and anyone who’s reading this now!

Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Hopefully I’ll be able to post more regularly soon, but I’ve been very busy with school so blogging has been on the back burner. I’ve been reading a lot, though!

Book Quotes to Live By

It’s cliché but true: words are powerful.

If you think about it, language expresses incredibly complex ideas and feelings just using a bunch of random sounds and shapes on paper (or, nowadays, a computer screen), out of which meaning is somehow construed. It’s pretty mind-boggling, and I’m beginning to ramble, but the point I’m really trying to make is… book quotes are amazing. What reader can deny it?

I got the idea for this post from Lost in Neverland’s recent post where she shared a list of book quotes, and I thought, hey, I love quotes and I plaster them all over my reviews to spice them up, so why not compile a list of some of my favorites?

Without further ado, here are some particularly memorable quotes from classics I’ve read.

“Nothing is more deceitful,” said Darcy, “than the appearance of humility. It is often only carelessness of opinion, and sometimes an indirect boast.”

– Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice

“No space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused”

– Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

“Isn’t it splendid to think of all the things there are to find out about? It just makes me feel glad to be alive–it’s such an interesting world. It wouldn’t be half so interesting if we know all about everything, would it?”

– L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

“Never did she find anything so difficult as to keep herself from losing her temper when she was suddenly disturbed while absorbed in a book. People who are fond of books know the feeling of irritation which sweeps over them at such a moment. The temptation to be unreasonable and snappish is one not easy to manage.”

– Francis Hodgson Burnett, A Little Princess

“I see that it is by no means useless to travel, if a man wants to see something new”

– Jules Verne, Around the World in 80 Days

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

– Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Conventionality is not morality.”

– Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

Yes, I know this post was super short, but it was fun to create the list.

As always, thanks for reading my blog! Have you read any of these books? Which quote is your favorite?

Book Review: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

Well, it’s official. And Then There Were None is no longer my favorite Agatha Christie book.

I challenged myself this year to read all of the Hercule Poirot series, starting from the first book, and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd was one my friends hyped up for me so much that I had been looking forward to reading it for a while. And it did NOT disappoint!

(Also… yes, I read this in January but I didn’t post the review until now. Like I said, I need to get my life together.)

About the Book

Title: The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

Author: Agatha Christie

Published: 1926

Genre: classics, mystery/detective fiction, thriller

Rating: 5/5 stars

Book Review

First, the widowed Mrs. Ferrars dies of a Veronal overdose. The next day, the eponymous Roger Ackroyd, whom Ferrars had planned to marry, is found stabbed to death in his office.

Though these unsavory events baffle the small town of King’s Abbot, Hercule Poirot is on the case, and he never leaves a crime unsolved.

But this case is perplexing, even for him, and nothing seems to add up.

“An opened window…. A locked door. A chair that apparently moved itself. To all three I say ‘Why?’ and I find no answer.”

I almost didn’t want to write this review for fear of somehow accidentally spoiling it. Thus, I’m not going to elaborate any further about the plot. And please, please, please never spoil this book for yourself. I’m serious. Don’t look up anything about it!

The first good thing about this installment of the Poirot series is that Hastings– the world’s most annoying narrator– is away in Argentina for all of it. That definitely improved the reading experience for me. (I’m a Hastings hater)

The second good thing is the characterization. Like most of Christie’s books, we’re introduced to an entirely fresh cast of red herrings characters with their own personality quirks and shady behavior.

The most obvious good thing about this book, however, was the PLOT. The mystery was incredible! I’ll admit, the beginning of the book was a bit slow, and it is pretty long, but it was 100% worth it.

I ended up staying up until 2 AM finishing the end after reading nonstop all afternoon, and when I finished I immediately spam-texted my friends because it was amazing. Amazing! I will never stop being impressed by all of the clues hidden in plain sight.

One of the things I don’t like about Agatha Christie novels is the withholding of information until the last chapter and the sometimes awfully stretched plot solutions, but The Murder of Roger Ackroyd had none of these pitfalls.

Okay, it really is difficult to review this book without spoilers (the struggle of reviewing mystery books) so this will have to suffice as my review. Just go read the book!

Book Recommendation

I would recommend this book to anyone who’s in the mood for a good old-fashioned cozy mystery with a great plot.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today– and sorry that today’s review is on the shorter side– but hey, at least I’ve started posting reviews again.

Have you read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd? Do you like Agatha Christie books? Feel free to leave a comment (no spoilers, though!)

February 2021 Wrap-up|Life Update, Books I Read, Blogging Milestones

I’ve noticed a weird effect of quarantine: time seems to pass a lot more quickly when you’re home all day. I don’t know how I feel about that, but at least the most depressing month of the year is over, and I can quite literally feel spring in the air.

I love this picture

What did I do this month…? (Life update, sort of)

  • I spent most of the month working on a group project for making an Android app. I had fun with it, but the deadline is approaching and I’m excited to move on to some new programming projects that have been in the back of my mind for a while.
  • Like everyone else, I’ve been watching WandaVision. It was my first foray into the Marvel universe, and I really like it. I think the concept is super creative, it’s just the right amount of creepy, and it’s really interesting to see the parody sitcom for each decade.
  • I found a new favorite school subject: discrete math! (Physics is also turning out to be really interesting)
  • I finally realized that I need to get my life together because it really has not been together lately.

Okay, let’s move on to what you probably clicked on this post for…

Reading:

February wasn’t my best reading month; I have found myself becoming more and more of a mood reader with every passing day, and I think I’m going to need to bring back reading multiple books at one time. But it’s not just mood reading with specific book genres; I’ve noticed that my enthusiasm for reading ebbs and flows on a weekly/two-week cycle. It’s almost predictable. I guess, like pretty much every other hobby or project I’ve ever worked on, I’m always in one of two modes: 1) complete apathy or 2) complete obsession.

I read 7 books this month, 5 fiction and 2 non-fiction. The ratio is getting a little closer to 50%-50%, so I’m proud of that.

Fiction:

1- 1.5 stars:

Admission by Julie Buxbaum (YA, contemporary)– Yes, this book was on my most anticipated YA new releases post, but the only thing I felt when I finished it was… angry. It wasn’t the lowest of low one-stars, though. More like 1.5.

2-2.5 stars:

The Paper Girl of Paris by Jordyn Taylor (YA, historical fiction, contemporary)– I saw someone compare this book to Code Name Verity and yes, I’d say this is a fluffified version of Code Name Verity and I did not like it very much. There was way too much romance (intense insta-love) and the one of the dumbest main characters I’ve ever encountered. It just felt like a simplified version of a story that could have been really good; I gave it an extra star because I loved the idea.

3- 3.5 stars:

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson (YA, contemporary, mystery)– I’ve been hearing about this book for a while. I gave it 3.5 stars because the timelines were confusing and I didn’t love the writing style. Also, though it’s technically classified as a mystery/thriller, it’s more of a dark contemporary.

4-4.5 stars:

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo (YA, contemporary)– I’ve been hearing about Elizabeth Acevedo for the past year, and I finally jumped onto the hype train and read one of her books. About 5 years ago, depressing free-verse books were my favorite, for some reason, but I hadn’t read one for a while. When I got older I found that many of them were just normal text with pretentious spacing. BUT the writing in this book was really good. I also thought it was really interesting to read a book that was partially set in the Dominican Republic.

The Martian by Andy Weir (general/adult, sci-fi, survival)– I am in awe about the sheer amount of technical research Weir must have done to write this. It’s one thing to write a book with some loosely described futuristic science that’s really more like magic, but apparently most of this was accurate, and it was all very well explained. This is only getting 4.5 stars, though, because the writing was not super great, especially during the third-person sections. It was a lot of telling instead of showing, which made sense at some points considering the technical nature of some of the plot events, but at other points it just became awkward and had strange shifts between perspectives.

Nonfiction:

Every Falling Star: The True Story of How I Survived and Escaped North Korea by Sungju LeeEvery Falling Star is Sunju Lee’s memoir of his childhood in North Korea and how he ended up escaping the country. It was really eye-opening and I’m glad I read it.

The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore– this book was horrifying. It is the true story of the “radium girls”– women who were employed at radium dial-painting plants in the early 20th century and were severely affected by radiation poisoning, and how the tragedy was covered up by the corporations that dominated the industry.

Blogging

Yeah… this was kind of a sad blogging month. But at least I was proud of both posts I published, and I also reached 400 followers at the beginning of the month!

Blog posts:

Discussion: Writer’s Block and Blogging Burnout

5 Reasons Ebooks Are Better Than Physical Books

(and today’s post)

Goals:

Time to bring back my old goals format! (I’m not going to reflect on old goals because I didn’t really set any)

1) Have a healthier routine

Read: go to bed before 1 AM, don’t scroll on your phone for 20 minutes before getting out of bed in the morning. The usual.

2) Continue to read a wider variety of genres

I’m proud of myself for keeping this up pretty well in January and February, but I still want to make it a goal to read more general/adult and non-fiction books! And within fiction too, I want to prioritize reading books of different genres. Why limit yourself to just one type of book?

3) Don’t make blogging a chore

I’ve been frequently lapsing into unplanned hiatuses, for which I apologize, but I also think I have been very burnt out and needed the break(s). This month I only want to blog when I really want to (meaning I’ll try to post at the same frequency but try to write my posts throughout the week instead of forcing myself to write one every Saturday). The fact is that the quality of my posts goes up when I actually feel like writing and I’m not completely overwhelmed– shocking, I know.

Also… I need to figure out what to do about book reviews. I haven’t been writing reviews lately, but my wrap-up posts are pretty much mini-reviews. Maybe I should post weekly mini-reviews. Maybe I should just start posting full-length book reviews again because that used to be my entire blog. So many decisions. I guess I kind of forgot that my blog was almost completely book reviews for most of its life. If I prioritized book reviews again, would you read them? Or do you prefer more general/recommendations/discussion content?

That’s it for February’s wrap-up! Thanks for visiting my blog. Have you read any of the books I mentioned? What did you think of them?

Some self-promo:

5 Reasons Ebooks Are Better Than Physical Books

If you told me this time last year that ebooks would soon comprise 90% of my reading, I probably would have grabbed the nearest paperback, hugged it protectively, and told you you were gravely mistaken. It’s not that I didn’t like my Kindle, but I couldn’t imagine purposefully and habitually forgoing the experience of reading a physical book.

I used to be a library book-paperback person through and through (by the way, paperbacks > hardcovers), but 2020 forced me to dust off my e-reader. Now I don’t know what I would do without it.

I was inspired to write a post like this a while ago by The Reading Addict’s Let’s Talk Ebooks discussion, which got me thinking a lot about why I switched from preferring physical books to preferring ebooks. Without further ado, here are 5 reasons why you should give ebooks a try– although nothing can truly replace the sentimental beauty of a physical book.

1) Ebooks are more comfortable to read

Starting with the most practical reason why ebooks are superior to physical books: it is way easier to hold an e-reader than it is to hold a physical book. Before you call me shallow, think about it: to hold and turn the pages of a physical book, you have to use two hands– and hardcovers can really be a pain. With ebooks, all you need to do is tap the screen.

2) You can find books more easily

This reason is the most relevant right now, when we still can’t leave the house where I live, but ebooks are often much easier to get than physical books. Many libraries use apps like Libby or Overdrive, which you can use to borrow ebooks and then read them on either your Kindle or your phone. It’s easier to get ebooks than to get physical books these days in a literal sense, because you don’t need to go out to the library, but it can also be easier to acquire popular books or new releases because fewer people request ebooks. So overall it’s a win-win situation.

3) You can quickly look up words while reading

This is by far the biggest pro to ebooks for me because I have a weird affinity for learning new words and sporadically putting them into my writing. My vocabulary improves exponentially more when I read ebooks than when I read physical books because it’s so much easier to press on a word and view the definition than to grab a dictionary or look it up on the Internet (I’m a little bit lazy). Also, the Kindle that I have saves a list of the words I look up and even has a flashcard component which you can use to review and quiz yourself.

4) You can take notes and highlight sections

Okay, maybe THIS one is the number one most important reason that I prefer ebooks. It is so helpful to be able to highlight and take notes on sections of books. You can of course highlight and take notes on physical books, but, again, it’s more difficult. (Also, I usually read library books, and I don’t want to lose my library card)

And I love that Goodreads syncs your Kindle notes with your account! I often rely on my Kindle notes and highlights when I’m writing book reviews, and there’ll always be a record of the thoughts I had while reading the book if I ever want to look back or remember what a book was like. Not to mention how much it helps me retain information when I read nonfiction!

5) You can change the font/page formatting to your heart’s content

I’m not super picky about fonts and font sizes (except for the horrible font and font size that WordPress has inexplicably chosen for the editor today. Did I accidentally change a setting, or is this the new automatic font? I may need to start editing my posts on Google Docs instead)

–Back to ebooks. This is another somewhat vapid reason to prefer ebooks, but it’s fun to play around with the fonts and font sizes, and you’ll never need to read a book with an ugly font.

Do you prefer ebooks or physical books? Why? Do you agree with any of the reasons I have listed here? Feel free to leave a comment.

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to Frappes & Fiction. I post about books and whatever other random thoughts cross my mind. As always, thanks for reading!

Discussion: Writer’s Block and Blogging Burnout

How could I let this happen?

It’s twenty minutes before the time my weekly blog post is supposed to go up, and I’m sitting on the couch, staring at the devastatingly empty draft post on my laptop screen. My cursor blinks pitifully against the unforgiving expanse of blank space until I close out of the tab with a plaintive sigh.

Maybe I can touch up one of those posts I started writing a few months ago. Maybe the one about writer’s block, I tell myself. And for the tenth time that day, I click open my drafts folder and scroll futilely through the dozens of half thought-out blogging ideas that I began over a cup of coffee and then promptly abandoned once my self-doubt caught up with my eagerness.

But none of them speak to me, and the time slips away mercilessly. This is pointless.

I close my laptop in frustration and decide to skip this week. Again. I pick up my phone, open YouTube, and jump back into the numbingly comfortable pit of procrastination. My subconscious bitterly reminds me of all those years ago, when I swore off creative writing because of the suffocating, insurmountable hurdle that befell me every single time I picked up a pencil or opened an empty word-processor document…

Writer’s block. The term has become ubiquitous in the blogosphere and in the world of writing in general. But what does it really mean?

Is writer’s block the lack of ideas? The lack of energy? Is it correlated to burnout? How common is it, really? Could the act of labeling your lack of literary loquaciousness only serve to make it worse?

When I was younger, my friends and I would spend months waiting for what we unanimously called inspiration– the elusive and enthusiastic “feeling” that would catapult us into writing twenty pages of a new novel one Saturday morning. Inspiration never failed to dry up after a few days, though, and I was left with hundreds (yes, hundreds) of long-forgotten first chapters collecting figurative dust in cyberspace.

my aptly-named middle school writing folder…

Eventually, I decided I wasn’t good at creative writing, and I haven’t tried to write anything creatively for probably three years. (I still haven’t regained the confidence — or the free time– to try my hand at creative writing, but it’s been in the back of my mind for a while.)

Regardless of the type of writing I focus on, though, I still haven’t changed. I mentioned in my last post that I have 68 draft posts sitting in my WordPress dashboard, and that wasn’t an exaggeration. Probably half of them only have a title and a few sentences. (It’s bad) The majority of my blog posts are written in one sitting, because I like to write them when the ideas are fresh in my mind. When I’m feeling passionate about what I have to say.

It’s kind of like “mood reading”– but that’s a discussion post for another day. The problem with this approach is that it’s really, really hard to write a blog post on a week when I’m not in a blogging mood. Multiply that with the huge workload I’ve brought upon myself and my perfectionism complex, and it becomes nearly impossible to post consistently.

I’ve been struggling with blogging burnout and writer’s block on and off since the fall, which coincidentally was when school started, and the main thing I’ve noticed is that my writer’s block rages the most when I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed. The worst and most paradoxical part, though, is that missing posts or being unable to write anything only makes me feel more stressed. I think it’s fair to claim that writer’s block can absolutely be related to burnout.

What I’m starting to wonder, though, is whether calling this problem writer’s block only makes it harder to overcome.

Has it become a self-fulfilling prophecy? A never-ending downward spiral into substance-less, parched prose?

The longer I think about it, the more I start to believe that the only practical way to deal with writer’s block, unless you’re willing to sit around for potential eons and wait for inspiration to strike you, is to just sit down and churn something out.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. This post has become a veritable river of rambling, but it is the product of me forcing myself to write something. Other times, I can’t seem to get past the ruthless mental block that tells me my daily allotted creativity has run out.

Do you ever experience writer’s block? How do you deal with it? Do you think wallowing in your writer’s block can cause a downward spiral?

Feel free to let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading today’s post!

Everything I Read This Month | January 2021 Wrap-up

Today, I was startled by the realization that I haven’t done a proper wrap-up post since October, despite the fact that the entire point of this blog is to talk about the books I read. (Whoops) So, here is my January wrap-up, featuring everything I read and posted this month!

Like usual, this post will be divided into three sections: Reading, Blogging, and Goals.

Reading:

I read 13 books in January, somehow. (well, I deleted YouTube off my phone. I think that has something to do with it.)

Fiction:

2-2.5 stars

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak ( YA, contemporary)– this book was just very strange… I honestly did not know what to rate it when I finished it.

Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum (YA, contemporary, romance)– this was sitting at the oft-neglected bottom of my TBR, and I decided I was in the mood for a light, quick YA contemporary for a boring Saturday morning. It was entertaining, but the reason I rated it badly was because it had one of the most obvious reveals I’ve ever read. I wasn’t expecting a mystery, so this wouldn’t have been a problem if the main character hadn’t been so painfully oblivious to what was right in front of her for the entire book.

3-3.5 stars

Lord of the Flies by William Golding (classics, adventure, sci-fi/dystopia)– I was supposed to read this for school last year, but the pandemic interrupted. I finally got around to it this year, and it was interesting but I was not a fan of the writing.

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie (classics, cozy mystery/detective, thriller)– I’ve challenged myself to work my way through the entire Hercule Poirot canon, and what better place to start than book one? I rated this installment 3.5 stars because Hastings is one of the most annoying narrators I have ever encountered.

The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie (classics, cozy mystery/detective, thriller)– Book two, featuring Hastings, again, bringing in some unnecessary romance and commentary! This one was really enjoyable, but the plot was convoluted.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman (MG, dark fantasy, horror)– I finally got around to reading Coraline, slightly apprehensively, and I didn’t find it scary. However, I liked the writing style and the atmosphere. (I haven’t read enough horror to be a very reliable judge of much else)

4-4.5 stars

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate (general/adult, historical fiction)Before We Were Yours features the history of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, a dark part of history that I had never heard of before reading this book. Fronting as a charitable orphanage for those less fortunate, the society literally kidnapped children from poor families and essentially sold them to wealthy adoptive parents. This book was pretty good, but there were a lot of loose ends that were never resolved.

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (classics, short story, gothic/horror)– This is a classic short story, published in 1892, about 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 yellow patterned wallpaper, her sanity slowly begins to deteriorate.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (YA, sci-fi, romance, adventure)– I wasn’t sure if I liked this book at first; the humor was meh and the plot was a little confusing, but around 60% of the way through, it started getting really good (and pretty creepy). I especially liked the AI… who knew you could make such a complex character out of a computer?

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (general/adult, contemporary)– This book was really great. I’m still trying to decide between giving it 4.5 stars or giving it 5 stars. There was no unnecessary romance, Eleanor’s characterization and character arc were amazing, and the way her backstory came together was extremely well-executed. Contrary to what some of the cover blurbs say, though, it is definitely not a “funny” book

5 stars

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie (classics, cozy mystery/detective, thriller)– this has officially replaced And Then There Were None as my favorite Agatha Christie book. Whatever you do, DON’T spoil this for yourself. I have never been so happy about the ending of a book. It was brilliant.

Nonfiction:

Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve SheinkinMost Dangerous recounts the story of Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower who released the Pentagon Papers to the public. It follows Ellsberg’s life, the Vietnam War, the Pentagon Papers and the government’s rationale for the war, and even the Watergate scandal. I read this because I loved one of Sheinkin’s other books (Bomb), and it was worth the read. I just regret listening on audiobook, because I couldn’t take notes or highlights (which is what helps me remember what I learn from nonfiction)

Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad by M.T. Anderson– This was one of the most fascinating nonfiction books I have ever read. I was glued to my Kindle, and I learned a lot of things I don’t think I will soon forget. It follows the life of Dmitri Shostakovich, a famous classical composer, intertwining the history of the Soviet Union from the Russian Revolution through World War 2, and focusing on the symphony Shostakovich wrote while living in Leningrad during the siege.

Blogging:

In the spirit of the new year, I managed to revive my blog this month (it was kind of floundering in the fall). I started trying to post twice a week whenever possible, and although I missed a few days, I published seven posts this month:

My Top 20 Books of 2020, Ranked

Reflecting on 2020: Blogging, Reading, Stats and Goals

8 YA New Releases That Went Straight on my TBR

Book Review: The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

The Mystery Blogger Award #2 and the Black Cat, Blue Sea Award

5 Ways My Blog Changed My Life

(… and today’s post)

I’m currently three away from reaching 400 followers (counting email), so I hope that will happen in these last two days of January, but if not, it will be my February goal.

Goals:

Since it’s been a long time since I’ve done one of these wrap-up posts, I’m going to instead update on the reading/blogging New Year’s resolutions that I enumerated in my Reflecting on 2020 post.

1) Read at least one nonfiction book per month

I read two this month, so, so far so good.

2) Read more books that I think I will like, not just what’s popular

This is not the most measurable goal, but I think I am doing better with this than I was last year.

3) Use Goodreads to reflect on my opinions of a book

I have been doing this one! It’s now a habit for me to post a quick mini-review on Goodreads when I finish a book, and it actually has helped me remember a lot more about the books I read.

4) Read 60 books

I’ve actually bumped this up to 100 now, since I realized I’m completely addicted to reading at this point and I was way ahead of this goal in January. If it doesn’t happen, well, too bad.

5) Read less YA

I’m succeeding with this resolution as well! Out of the 13 books I read this month, only three were YA (unless you count the nonfiction, which I don’t. Both of the nonfiction books I read this month were YA nonfiction, but I usually can’t tell the difference between YA nonfiction and adult nonfiction, and I’m only counting this goal for fiction books)

6) Read a wider variety of genres

I haven’t finished enough books this year to really measure this goal, but I think I did a decent job with this in January.

7) Think more deeply about the books I read

Again with the unmeasurable goals!

8) Post more consistently

A sort-of success… I posted more often, although not necessarily more consistently.

Well, that’s all for today’s wrap-up post. Thanks for reading my blog!

Did you read any memorable books this month? Have you read any of the titles on my list? Feel free to respond in the comments!