[Review] Unf*ck Your Habitat – Rachel Hoffman

Title: Unf*ck Your Habitat: You’re Better Than Your Mess
Author: Rachel Hoffman
Genre: Nonfiction/ Self-help
My rating: ★★★1/2

Finally, a housekeeping and organizational system developed for those of us who’d describe our current living situation as a “f*cking mess” that we’re desperate to fix. Unf*ck Your Habitat is for anyone who has been left behind by traditional aspirational systems: The ones that ignore single people with full-time jobs; people without kids but living with roommates; and people with mental illnesses or physical limitations, and many others. Most organizational books are aimed at traditional homemakers, DIYers, and people who seem to have unimaginable amounts of free time. They assume we all iron our sheets, have linen napkins to match our table runners, and can keep plants alive for longer than a week. Basically, they ignore most of us living here in the real world.

Interspersed with lists and challenges, this practical, no-nonsense advice relies on a 20/10 system (20 minutes of cleaning followed by a 10-minute break; no marathon cleaning allowed) to help you develop lifelong habits. It motivates you to embrace a new lifestyle in manageable sections so you can actually start applying the tactics as you progress. For everyone stuck between The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Adulting, this philosophy is decidedly more realistic than aspirational, but the goal is the same: not everyone will have a showcase of a home, but whatever your habitat, you deserve one that brings you happiness, not stress (From Goodreads).

I will admit this is the first self-help book I’ve ever read. I usually look down my nose at people who read these types of things. “You look like a person who would read a self-help book” is in my insult arsenal along with “yo mammy” jokes. However, I have a horrendously messy room. There are heaps of clothes, at least one pop can sits on every flat surface, and candy wrappers litter the floor like confetti. Not to mention the socks. *shudders* Not only does the mess make me not want to be in my room, I’m afraid I’m going to one day break my ankle. So I thought, why not? Also, swear words are fun.

I’m not sure if I really learned anything I didn’t already know (except that maybe my family doesn’t clean the toilet as often as we should), but it drilled into my head that the mess isn’t just going to disappear. Marathon cleaning, which is all I do, doesn’t help you in the long run. I generally get sick of my filth on the weekends and spend half of my Sunday cleaning. Over the week, the mess just accumulates again until I can’t tolerate it anymore. It’s a vicious cycle. This book helped me realize that cleaning is a life style change, and I need to work on changing my bad habits.

If only I had this thing called “willpower.”

Hoffman emphasizes doing 20/10s. 20 minutes of cleaning, 10 minutes of resting. You do however many you need to in order to get the job done. Generally when I clean, I read between tasks. Read a chapter, make the bed. Read a chapter, do a load of laundry. Read a chapter, unload the dishwasher. Read a chapter, read another chapter. Read another chapter, read another chapter, finish the book.

I did like that Hoffman went into the bullshit that is traditional gender roles when it comes to cleaning. I’ve never really experienced this because my dad does most of the laundry, dishes, and cooking. Buuuut it’s nice that she emphasizes that it’s not just women’s work. If you make the mess, you clean it up.

If you’re a slob like me and looking to change that, I’d recommend this. There are also some helpful checklists on the book’s website if you want to check ’em out: http://www.unfuckyourhabitat.com/


[Review] The Forbidden Wish – Jessica Khoury

Title: The Forbidden Wish
Author: Jessica Khoury
Genre: YA Fantasy
Published: 2016
My Rating: ★★★1/2

She is the most powerful Jinni of all. He is a boy from the streets. Their love will shake the world….

When Aladdin discovers Zahra’s jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra’s very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes.

But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity–only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

As time unravels and her enemies close in, Zahra finds herself suspended between danger and desire in this dazzling retelling of the Aladdin story. (From the book jacket). 

I liked this very much at first. Khoury’s descriptions evoked a lot of pretty images in my head. Sand dunes and jewels and Arabian decor. Fighting princesses, ugly ghuls, and monstrous jinn who turn into dark, sexy men. I loved that the princess, who Aladdin tries to marry, surrounds herself with handmaids who kick serious ass.

But towards the end, I just wanted the book to hurry up and end. The romance turned too sappy and the final battle scenes didn’t hold much tension. First person, present tense isn’t my favorite for fantasy novels that are based in an alternate past and there were a few instances where I was flung out of the story. For example, the use of “um” and “man” sounded too modern to me. But hey, man, who am I to judge?

Aladdin wasn’t as swoon-worthy as he could’ve been. I mean, it’s ALADDIN. How am I not drooling over him? He should’ve been an immediate addition to my book boyfriend harem. The Disney version made my heart flutter more. Then again, they drew him quite nicely. He’s got those eyes that just…and that hair. Wow. And his voice…*sigh* (If you didn’t just picture Disney Aladdin rubbing the back of his neck and nearly swooning, you’re doing it wrong.)

I think what bothered me the most was that the jinni didn’t have enough personality. I wanted Zahra to hate Aladdin for being her master. I wanted her to be more spiteful, more conniving, more evil. Like a jinni is supposed to be. I wanted her to make Aladdin’s life miserable until she finally, reluctantly, fell in love with him. But no. She was too good. Too . . . human. Granted, she was human before she sacrificed herself to save her people. Thing is, I don’t enjoy selfless characters like that unless they eventually break. Give me a good anti-hero any day.

Though I have not yet read the original Aladdin story, I think The Forbidden Wish is an interesting addition to the canon. I would not shake you by the shoulders and demand you read this, but I would perhaps nudge it in your direction.

What are your thoughts? Have you read it? Do you have another Aladdin retelling you could recommend?

My Future Book Signings: Expectation vs. Reality

I spend more time fantasizing about my life after publication than I do actually writing. I dream of movie deals, money galore (ha), and fans who make candles that smell like my characters. Book signings are, of course, an integral part of the author-reader relationship. As an introvert with social anxiety, I’ve spent a lot of time pondering how any future events I have will take place.

Book Signing Expectation:

The author strides into the bookstore, black skirts billowing. Golden curls peek from beneath a wide brim hat that obscures her pale, heart-shaped face. Her cheeks are sharp, her lips full, makeup impeccable.

The audience stands as one. They clap. They cheer. They are here for her alone. They have traveled miles to get here and endured hardships at rest-stops strung along the way. Someone tells a tale of clogged plumbing and fly traps. But it was worth it to see this woman.

She takes a seat behind a table and crosses her long legs, pointed heels slicing through the air like a sword. The crowd settles. Moments of eager silence pass until she raises a slender, gloved hand.

It begins.

They bombard her with questions: What are your writing techniques? How do you feel having all twenty of your novels simultaneously topping the New York Times Bestseller List? What is your next project? Will you have my babies?

She doesn’t respond, her demeanor impassive.

Such eccentricity, they think but do not say. They swoon like teenage girls at a boy band’s concert. They knew this would happen and they admire her for it.

I am your biggest fan! someone screams. His face is drowned in tears.

The author sniffs daintily at that. They’re all her biggest fans. She interrupts their adulation with a raise of her hand. The silence is abrupt. The crowd stares, enthralled. What will she do?

She says but one word. It is the only word she will speak that night.


With a flick of her wrist, she beckons them forward. They flock to her, arms shaking under the weight of her books. There is not a paperback copy to be seen. Her publisher would not allow her words to be cheapened so.

Two lines form. One for her, the other for the bathroom. The weaker fans’ nerves are too shot to handle the pressure of meeting her face to face. The sweet scent of her perfume turns their insides. They know they are unworthy to be in the presence of this goddess who humbles herself to be before them. Such benevolence, they whisper to one another.

A fan tries to sneak in a picture. A bodyguard tackles her and escorts her away.

The author does not speak. She does not smile. She does not look up from her work. Using the fountain pen of a long-dead author, she graces her readers’ books with a signature as elegant and refined as her.

They leave, some in tears, some wordlessly starstruck. They will never forget this night. But, as the author boards her private jet to continue her tour in Europe, she has already forgotten them.


Book Signing Reality:

The author stumbles across the stage, projectile vomits on the front row, pees a little, and runs from the room screaming.


February Book Reviews

Hush, Hush – Becca Fitzpatrick

Nora’s new biology partner, Patch, is as dangerous as he is good-looking (and possessive). She gets caught in a feud that stretches back hundreds of years between immortal Nephilim and fallen angels.

My rating: ★★★★

Nora is far too passive for my taste, and she doesn’t have much of a personality. Fortunately, her best friend Vee makes up for what she lacks. As for the love interest, Patch, there’s no denying that he’s sexy. I especially liked the fact that he (spoiler alert) tries to kill Nora throughout most of the novel (sometimes a little part of me wishes he had succeeded). Who doesn’t like homicidal bad boys? On the other hand, I don’t think he’s book boyfriend material and cannot add him to my list.

I’m starting to notice I’ll give four stars to books that I read quickly even if I don’t think they’re that great. Hush, hush didn’t rock my socks or anything, but it kept me up until 1 AM. I can’t ask for more than that.

We Are The Ants – Shaun David Hutchinson

To say Henry Denton has a lot on his plate is an understatement. He’s secretly fooling around with one of his bullies, his grandma is suffering from Alzheimer’s, his boyfriend recently committed suicide, and he’s periodically abducted by aliens. The Sluggers, as he calls them, give him a choice: Press the red button and save the world. Or don’t, and end life as we know it.

My rating: ★★★★1/2

This kid. I love him. He’s such a snarky bastard and he has the same outlook on life that I have. I mean, what’s the point if we’re all going to die anyway? He also thinks babies are parasites. I cannot agree more. With all the shit he puts up with, you just want to hug him and pet his head, assuring him everything will be all right. Even if it is a bald-faced lie.

My only issue is that Henry gets so hung up on his boyfriend Jesse’s death. I get it. It’s traumatic and heartbreaking, but it started to become redundant. He kept asking the same questions over and over. Why did Jesse do it? Was it Henry’s fault? You want to scream at him to move on.

Asking For It – Louise O’Neill

After going to a party, Emma wakes on the front porch of her house, bloodied and bruised. She doesn’t remember what happened, but when explicit pictures of her surface online, she and her small Irish town are shaken by a criminal investigation.

My rating: ★★★★

I don’t like the main character. She steals, she lies, she becomes jealous if she thinks anyone is even the slightest bit prettier than her, and she’s manipulative. She’s the beautiful, popular girl who everyone envies yet wants to be friends with. None of that matters though. The reason I disliked her has to do with the fact that when her friend confides to her that she’s been raped, Emma tells her not to make a fuss about it because she doesn’t want things to change. When Emma herself is gang raped, she tries to pull the same thing and ignore it. Only, she can’t because everyone has seen the pictures.

The astonishing thing is that even with the photos, people blame her for it happening. Despite the fact that she’s clearly unresponsive in the photos, they think it was consensual. When she claims it’s rape, they blame her for ruining the boys’ lives. It’s infuriating that people think this way, that they can blame the victims. “Well, she was drinking, what did she expect? So what if the boys were drinking? How can you hold it against them?”

O’Neill doesn’t hold anything back. It’s gritty and it’s effed up and there is no neat, happy ending. It’s as realistic as it gets. Asking For It should absolutely be required reading in every high school.

Paper Princess – Erin Watt

To keep her independence after her mother passes away from cancer, Ella supports herself through high school by stripping at a local club. That is, until the day the millionaire best friend of her recently deceased father convinces her to live with him and his five sons. The Royal boys hate her on principle, and they will do anything to see her gone. 

My rating: ★★★★

In the beginning, I was leery. I knew it was self-published, so I pushed through the bad formatting–srsly, the text was in two different fonts and there were some paragraphs that weren’t properly indented–and I’m glad I did. Again, this is another 4 star rating that isn’t based on the writing itself, but on how it kept me up past my bedtime. The story is strangely compelling. Perhaps it’s all the smut? It also helps that Ella doesn’t take anyone’s crap and will up and punch the most popular bish in school.

Though none of them are book boyfriend material (alas, the search to complete my harem continues), the brothers are kinda hot. They’re complete dickheads, sure, but there’s something charming about each of them. Could be the money. Could be the dark hair and ripped bods. My favorite is Easton, the one who is the same age as Ella (she unfortunately has the hots for Reed who is a year older and is a complete twit). East refers to her as “lil sis” and I find it oddly cute even though he calls her this after making out with her.


Wintersong – S. Jae-Jones 

Liesl’s music draws the attention of the Goblin King, who she used to play with as a child but has since forgotten. He kidnaps her sister, forcing her to journey Underground where she bargains for her sister’s life with her hand in marriage. 

My rating: ★★★1/2

Jae-Jones writing is as beautiful as I am, which is to say gorgeous. From the first page, I was super excited. I thought I had finally found something akin to Naomi Novik’s Uprooted.

Unfortunately, the search still continues.

I immediately wanted to give Wintersong five stars. The writing and the story sucked me in (I’m all about devilish kings who make innocent maidens marry them). The Goblin King was, of course, dreamy. But about halfway through, the plot began to drag and Liesl got on my nerves. She talked way too much in her head. Like, how many feelings do you need to analyze? Who even has that many feelings? There just wasn’t enough actually happening and, towards the end, I had to fight to get to the last page. It stretched on too long and there wasn’t enough tension to keep me invested. I especially didn’t care for the ending.

As well-written as it is, especially for a debut, I don’t want to dissuade people from reading it. It just wasn’t for me. I needed a quicker pace and less flighty romance, but that’s not to say someone else won’t love it.

This Month’s Haul:

I will one day have Instagram-worthy pictures. Just you wait.

Among this month’s haul is Empress of a Thousand Skies, which I won from a Goodreads giveaway. The Edge of Everything, This Side of Home, and Scarlet were all part of a YA quarterly box that I subscribe to. Also pictured is Resistance by Mikhaeyla Kopievsky, who is one of my immensely talented writing group buddies.

Did you read anything exceptionally good or sucky in February?



Eight Days of Heat Frustration

As I endure this admittedly mild Minnesota winter, I recall last year’s summer vacation, where I spent a week melting my face off in Orlando with my boyfriend (we’ll call him Jerry) and his family. We went in August, which is, in all honesty, the best time to travel to Florida. Any travel guide worth their salt will tell you so.

Day One: Sunday

We arrive at the airport and pick out our rental car. I push for the Camaro, the Mustang, the Charger, the Corvette.

In an Impala, we drive to Jerry’s uncle’s for a quiet, relaxing dinner.

Over fifteen cars are parked in the driveway and along the street. As we slowly clamber out of the car, wondering if we have the right house, a man in a pickup with Alabama license plates jumps the curb and parks on the yard.

We tentatively walk in the house and are bombarded by family we haven’t seen in years. My social anxiety kicks in, but I smell food so I endure.

Because we haven’t had a bite to eat all day, Jerry and I stare longingly at trays of egg rolls, fried rice, and kebabs of lemongrass pork. One aunt tells us to dig in, two other aunts shoo us away, making us wait for the toast.

The toast? I wonder.

That’s when I notice the women in dresses. The men in suits. The cake. The flowers.

In horror, I realize I’ve walked into My Big, Fat Vietnamese Wedding.

The rest of the night is spent stuffing my face in the living room, hoping I don’t stink too much in my stale traveling clothes, and trying to stay awake because humans suck the life out of me.

Day Two: Monday

We drive through a sudden downpour to buy an umbrella at Target.

I’m coerced into doing this. Note: I’m the one laughing her ass off and yelling, “wee” while the other screams in terror.

I have so much fun, I make her go a second time. Note: Her screams are just as shrill and terrified. My laugh is just as maniacal.

Day Three: Tuesday

We go to Daytona Beach. Our practical little Impala holds five, but as more of Jerry’s family arrives, our number increases to six. Four of us try to squeeze into the backseat and, though we are small people, I end up sitting on the floor, praying that we don’t end up in an accident or that a police officer doesn’t spot me looking like a disgruntled pet sitting at my boyfriend’s feet.

At the beach, the water is cold and the waves are rough. I do not go in past my waist because of sharks and jellyfish and riptides and, for all I know, alligators. Though I love to be in the water, being a Midwesterner who has only seen the ocean a handful of times, I am terrified of it. It’s, like, really big or something.

I’m too busy staring at the ocean’s vastness to notice the wall of black clouds that has gathered behind me. Naturally, it isn’t until after I change out of my swimsuit that I feel a drop. And another. And then it starts coming down sideways. Jerry and I make a mad dash for the car, leaving the rest of the family to finish packing tents and chairs and the kitchen sink.

His mother grabs her purse from the backseat and rides off with an aunt so I don’t have to sit on the floor again. It isn’t long before we realize she has the keys.

Trapped in the hot and sticky car with Jerry’s younger siblings, we watch from behind fogged windows as the rest of the family struggles to leave.

A cousin’s car needs a jump start.

An uncle’s rental car takes a nose-dive into the soft white sand and has to be dug out.

The Target umbrella remains dry at the house.

Day Four: Wednesday

I experience all of the feels at Hogsmeade. A Death Eater wand chooses me at Ollivanders. I buy a chocolate frog and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans at Honeydukes. Over a Butter Beer, I try to convince Jerry that I’m a Slytherin. He tells me I’m a Hufflepuff. Vehemently, I hiss, “I eat Hufflepuffs for breakfast!”

As the day progresses, my upper lip begins to feel swollen. Everything, everything, begins to itch. By the end of the day, my face throbs and there’s not a spot on my body that hasn’t turned mottled and bubbly. The culprit? The new sunblock I bought to replace the one I lost in the chaos at the beach the day before.

To make matters worse, my clothes cling to me from the sudden downpours and humidity you can swim through.

The Target umbrella remains dry in the car.

Day Five: Thursday

We use this day to recover. My swollen hands and feet ache. I develop a cough and lose my voice. I fear I’ve caught pneumonia from one of Jerry’s family members, who has been hacking up a lung since the day we arrived. I drug myself, mutter incoherent babble, and sleep most of the day.

At midnight, I wake and have a mental breakdown. I’m hungry and sore and I’m sick of people. I take a walk and chase after tiny lizards. When I’m about to start swinging, I force Jerry to drive me to Taco Bell.

I eat the best damn chalupa I’ve ever had. The fast food, which I had been suffering withdrawals from, soothes me. The murderous rage subsides.

Day Six: Friday

We visit the Kennedy Space Center. I spend most of the time feeling like an insignificant speck because space is, like, huge or something. I watch Jerry marvel at all the science and shit.

It is the one day that doesn’t rain.

The Target umbrella remains dry in my purse.

Day Seven: Saturday

I survive another day of family reunions and engorge myself on pho, which I had been anticipating for weeks. It is amazing and fills my soul–or, rather, makes me feel like I have one.

We pack for the early morning flight. I have to shake my belongings out to uproot the colony of tiny ants that have taken up residence in our room and have been biting us all week. Earlier in the week, we shared the floor with these little devils until we stole an air-mattress from Jerry’s younger siblings. Sometimes being high maintenance and vocal pays off.

There are hugs and heartfelt goodbyes. My farewells are perhaps the most eagerly spoken.

Day Eight: Sunday

Our plane arrives in Minneapolis. After a somewhat awkward car ride with my dad and Jerry’s family, we arrive at home.

My dog wets himself in excitement and nearly wheezes to death.

My mom “accidentally” breaks my Kennedy Space Center souvenir.

My brother steals my Gryffindor keychain.

I get White Castle’s for breakfast and cannot be happier to be home.


January in Review

My goals for 2017 are simple. Workout more, write more, read more. I bought a Fitbit and have been habitually walking in circles to reach my step goals. I posted an unrealistic to-do list above my desk (I intend to write four rough drafts and do at least two rounds of revision each.) And I hope to read 100 books. Last year I read 84, which is the most I’ve ever read in a year.

January Reviews:

The Winner’s Curse – Marie Rutkoski

On a whim, Kestrel purchases a young slave, drawn to his rebellious nature and affinity for music. Her actions set in motion a rebellion by the people her father helped conquer.

I kept seeing this one on Goodreads and in my Twitter feed, but I ignored it because I despised the cover. It doesn’t match the tone of the novel at all  and the paperback versions are even worse. Kestrel is a pacifist who enjoys music. She’s not a natural fighter, certainly, and she refuses to become the soldier her father wants her to be, but she’s a strategist. She’s not some swooning dolt with crimped hair!

While I wouldn’t say it’s a favorite (I’m being more stingy lately with doling out five stars), I read it in one sitting and immediately purchased the second and third books.

The second book, The Winner’s Crime was good, but not nearly as compelling as the first, which is unfortunately why I haven’t dived into the third book.


Between Shades of Gray – Ruta Sepetys

Set in 1941, Lina, a fifteen-year-old from Lithuania, and her family are arrested by Soviets and sent to a labor camp in Siberia.

Prepare to get wrecked. It’s not a pleasant read, but it is a necessary one. I never really learned what happened in Russia during WWII. I had only a vague idea who Stalin was. In class, they focus so much on the holocaust and Hitler that you don’t really learn much about the atrocities that occurred in Russia.

The cruelty is unbelievable. I simply cannot fathom the hatred you would have to feel for someone, or a group of someones, to treat them like this.

I highly recommend the book. I read it in one sitting. It has a semi-happy ending (by which I mean the characters I liked didn’t starve to death), so just try to power through until then.

Passenger – Alexandra Bracken 

Etta journeys across centuries and continents with Nicholas, a “legal” pirate, in order to save her mother. 

It took me a while to get into the story. I didn’t immediately click with Etta but, once we boarded Nicholas’s ship, I was hooked (no pun intended?). However, somewhere along the journey, I started to lose interest. It felt like the author was trying to shove a politically correct agenda down my throat. I understand that now more than ever we need stories with diverse characters (I loved that Nicholas was African-American), but the way she went about it at times felt like an author intrusion or lecture.

Etta is irritated in 18th century America because of the treatment women receive and the clothing they have to wear. She is very vocal and defiant about it. But when she travels to Damascus in the 16th century, she has very little to say about how they treat women and how they are dressed. She is very respectful of their culture. It felt like a double standard. Also, while in Damascus, Etta is kidnapped. Her kidnapper orders one of the hired men to ride on the same horse as Etta. Touching a woman who is not his wife or his kin is against this man’s beliefs. Etta says to her kidnapper something along the lines of, “Well, you shouldn’t have put him in that situation in the first place. That wasn’t very nice.”

And I just thought, who gives a damn about this man and his beliefs? He’s holding you hostage. While I may be a liberal, my tolerance for others and their beliefs only goes so far.

Overall, I want to know what happens next, but I’m not inclined to rush out and grab the sequel Wayfarer. I’ll get to it eventually. Maybe.

The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss

Kvothe recounts the events that led him to become the most notorious wizard of his time. It takes him three days to tell his story. This is day one. 

I heard so many good things about this story, but I had been hesitant to read it because its thick, for one, and I’ve been trying to read quantity lately over quality. And second, when people gush about something, it immediately turns me off.

Ah, but I’m glad I finally read it. Rothfuss certainly knows how to string a sentence together. It’s not overly bloody or dark, but there is a magical, lyrical quality to it that I enjoyed. I loved the academic setting. I’m hesitant to begin reading the second book, though, since the third one hasn’t been published and I have no idea when it will be.

This is a must-read for fantasy fans. Five stars!

Additional Recommendations:

I stopped blogging at the end of last year because I’m lazy. But there are some books I read during that time that I want to recommend because they’re friggin’ awesome.

Across The Universe – Beth Revis

The spaceship Godspeed’s mission is to travel three hundred years across the universe to colonize the planet Centauri-Earth. Amy, a frozen passenger, is awakened fifty years too early. She and the ship’s second-in-command, Elder, must race to find her would-be killer.

So many secrets. So many plot twists and mysteries and unveilings. The entire trilogy keeps you guessing. Just when you think you have a handle on what’s going on, the rug is ripped out from under you.





Falling Kingdoms – Morgan Rhodes 

The three kingdoms of Mytica grapple for power as magic, once drained from the world and long forgotten, emerges in the form of a sorceress and four elemental Kindreds. 

This. series. rocked. my. world. All for one reason–Magnus. My dark, brooding, sarcastic prince. I even overlooked his unnatural attraction to his sister. Ahhh, he’s so dreamy. The tension between him and Cleo throughout the first four books kills me.

I devoured this series within a week. I’m both irritated with myself for leaving Falling Kingdoms to sit unread on my shelf for years, but also kind of glad. It meant I didn’t have to wait a year in between each book. But now that I’ve read the most recent, Crystal Storm, I have to wait another year. Naturally, the ending for the fifth book is the most cruel cliffhanger I have ever read and I CAN’T DEAL.

I’m shaking with frustration.

Wolf by Wolf – Ryan Graudin

Yael’s skinshifting abilities are the result of Nazi experimentation during her time as a death camp prisoner. Using her ability to change faces, she enters the Axis Tour, a motorcycle race from Germany to Tokyo that commemorates the Axis Powers’ victory. Her mission: kill Hitler. 

Wow, where do I start. This was a wonderfully written, furiously paced novel with rich characters you can’t help but love. The sequel, Blood for Blood ripped out my heart, threw it on the ground, and stomped on it with its steel-toed Nazi boots. I just. I can’t. I will never get over it.

This is one of those books that I still think about months later. Just to get more of her writing, I purchased Graudin’s The Walled City.

This Month’s Haul:

I received loads of gift cards for Christmas and I still, if you can believe it, haven’t used them all. I’m trying to expand my reading horizons by branching into new genres.

Do you know how hard it is to get a decent picture in my dungeon of a home?

What did you read in January?


When Your Books Shame You

Every month, after I post brief reviews of the novels I’ve read, I share a picture of the books I bought that month. My highest record so far is seventeen. The average is about ten. I can only read five to eight books in a month, which means my unread shelves are piling up.

In my many poor attempts to curb my book buying addiction, and it seriously is an addiction, I have embarked on the craziest idea yet. One that makes my heart stutter. One that has the OCD part of my brain physically cringing.

Behold, the horror:


Yes, dear readers, I have flipped my 385 unread books so the spines face inward.

I can almost hear them saying, “Hmph. We’re just not important enough to you, are we?”

To which I reply, “It’s not you. It’s me. I want to read you, of course I do, I just don’t have the time.”

“You’ve gotta make time.”

“Honey, don’t be like–.” Okay, maybe I don’t talk to my books (much), but I do rub their spines reassuringly and now I can’t even do that. I’d fondle the pages, but I fear they’d give me a paper cut out of spite.

Books can be so passive-aggressive, can’t they?

I got the idea off a picture I’d seen on Buzzfeed. The woman turned the books she’d read around so that she’d easily be able to pick out the ones she hadn’t read. This would get her reading novels that she had purchased a while ago and had maybe forgotten about.

I decided to change it up a bit and turn around the ones I haven’t read. Sure, it makes it a little harder to locate them (jk, not really; I have my shelves all memorized) but when I did this, it really became apparent that I buy books way faster than I can read them.

When I do finish a book, it’s like a little treat being able to turn it back around. If I ever get closer to my goal of having read 90% of my books (currently at 57%), I can switch them all around so they can be admired in all their glory.

On the other hand, some books have beautiful pages. I Am Number Four says, “Lorien Legacies.” Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom  have black and red edges respectively.

Don’t even get me started with the books that have ragged edges. Oh, how they get my heart a-flutterin’.

My only worry is that I better get through them quickly before the exposed pages begin to yellow from exposure to light. Egad!

Do you have too many unread books? Or are you someone with willpower who realizes they are not a high roller with infinite funds?


6 Horror Books to Read in October

When it comes to Halloween, I’m stuck in an awkward phase. I’m too old to trick-or-treat. I don’t have friends who throw parties. And answering the door terrifies me, especially when there are hordes of drooling, bloodied children clawing at me. I don’t really know what to do with myself besides curl up in front of the fire and read a scary book.

Below are a few books I plan on reading in October.

Doll Bones – Holly Black

I’m a huge fan of Holly Black, so I am excited to read this story about a doll created from the ground-up bones of a murdered girl. The doll haunts a group of children, demanding they bury her where she lived when she was alive lest they be cursed for all eternity.

Shallow Graves – Kali Wallace 

Breezy wakes in her grave with no idea who killed her. She claws her way out and enters a gritty, terrifying world where she can sense those around her who are hiding a murdering past.

Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris

You guys should know this one. I finally watched the movie two years ago and afterward ended up dreaming that my grandma had decapitated her best friend, skinned her face, and turned it into a slipper. Much excite for the book!

The Forest of Hands and Teeth – Carrie Ryan 

A fence protects Mary’s village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Until it’s breached. And then ZOMBIES. Blood. Guts. Braaains.

Bird Box – Josh Malerman

No one knows what it is, but one glimpse of it will drive a person to violence. It left in its wake a ravaged world, one where Malorie still hopes to find a safe place for her and her two young children. Blindfolded, the three of them set out downriver with nothing to rely on but their hearing. And something is following them.

The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe 

You can’t go wrong with the classics. I hope to read a different poem or short story each night.

What do you do on Halloween? What scary books do you recommend?

September Reviews

The Golem and the Jinni – Helene Wecker

The Golem is created to be an obedient wife. When her master dies, she must find her own way as a Jewish immigrant in 19th century New York. Meanwhile, in Little Syria, the Jinni is released from a flask after 1,000 years and must find a way to free himself from his human form. 

I quite liked this book. It wasn’t a fast-paced read, but it had me turning the page to learn more. Wecker did a great job weaving the different stories together, and there’s something to be learned from the two main characters–the Golem, who tries so hard to learn and conform to society, and the Jinni, who doesn’t give a damn what humans think.

I would recommend this to anyone interested in Jewish and Arabian folklore. Or anyone who’s looking for the same magical quality as in The Night Circus. 

Unravel Me (Shatter Me #2)– Tahereh Mafi

War with The Reestablishment approaches and Juliette struggles to find her place in the resistance where she is still feared for her dangerous power. 

Juliette is aptly named. She’s so dramatic. Like, I understand teenagers are like that (even though I never was, of course), but holy balls, get over yourself. I agree with her friend Kenji, who just tells her to shut the shit up and quit being such an insufferable pity party.

Who cares if your touch kills everyone? You gotta own that, gurlfriend! Her powers are wasted on her.

And Oh. My. God. The reveals! Warner, I love you! *fangirl scream*froths from mouth*

A Torch Against the Night (An Ember in the Ashes #2)Sabaa Tahir 

Laia and Elias begin their pursuit to rescue Laia’s older brother from prison. Meanwhile, the Emperor’s new  Blood Shrike, Helene, is ordered to hunt down and kill Elias, her best friend and the boy she loves. 

I read this in only a few hours–just as quickly as I devoured the first book. Because my favorite characters tend to be of the male persuasion, it’s surprising my favorite in this series is Helene. She starts out as a badass–the only female Mask besides the sadistic Commandant (and Elias’s mother)–but as she begins her role as Blood Shrike, she becomes more and more complex. I can’t wait to see how much of a broken, tortured soul she becomes in the next book.



The Frog Prince – Jenni James

Prince Nolan turns himself into a frog to spy on his betrothed, to see if she is the spoiled princess he thinks she is. 

This is a very short novella that I had downloaded for free. It’s marketed as “clean” romance for teens, which means it has teenage characters who have the mental capacity and innocence of a nine-year-old. Nay, I think nine-year-olds have filthier minds. I have no problem with something being “clean,” although I think it’s silly, but I do have a problem with there being no sort of humor or danger or anything thrilling.

I also have an issue with things just happening. We don’t see how he transforms into a frog, but are told that he visits someone who turns him into one. So very telly. Him turning into a frog should be an exciting moment.

I would recommend this to the overly conservative.

Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

Led by criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker, six outcasts attempt to pull off an impossible heist. 

I liked Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy, but I LOVE this duology that takes place a few years after the events of the original trilogy. Her writing is stronger and these characters are so much more complex and interesting (probably because they’re all criminals), although I still have a special place in my heart for the Darkling and Prince Nikolai.

I am so super stoked for the next book. And if you haven’t taken a look at the physical copy of Six of Crows, do so. The edges of its pages are BLACK! And the sequel’s pages are RED and they’re GORGEOUS!

Can you just hear me SCREAMING at you to read this?

The Glass Arrow – Kristen Simmons

Aya lives in a world where women are bought and sold for their breeding rights. Her mother has kept her hidden in the wilds of the mountain, but when Trackers capture Aya, she is groomed to be auctioned. She will stop at nothing to escape and return to her family.

You could say The Glass Arrow is a YA Sci-Fi version of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. And just like Atwood’s story, it is truly disturbing. Women are used again and again for breeding until they are cast off. Few make it to middle age. Few even make it past birth because they destroy their girl babies.

I mean, they can’t even read. How insanely horrible is that?

Despite all that, there is some humor in the story and the MC, Aya, is such a snarky hellion, you can’t help but love her.

I would recommend this to the feminist in you.

This month’s acquired book boyfriends:

I am one of those fangirls who labels their favorite characters as “book boyfriends.” It’s bizarre, I know, but these are the boys I swoon over. Note: they tend to be broken and tortured.

  • Warner – Unravel Me – *still frothing from mouth*
  • Kaz Brekker – Six of Crows – Anyone who can unflinchingly cut out someone’s eye and stuff a handkerchief in their socket is a winner with me. So dreamy.

This Month’s Haul:


I may have gone a little overboard. But next month I will be attending quite a few author signings. Unfortunately, I haven’t read most of those authors’ books, so I’m scrambling this month to collect them (Okay, so only 4 of these will be signed, but shaddup).

Did you read anything notable this month?


My August Reads

Dying of heat frustration in Orlando this month really slowed my reading progress. So far I’ve only read 54 books this year. I’ll never make it to 100 at this rate!

What I Read in August:


Sisters Red – Jackson Pearce

Scarlett March obsesses with hunting down Fenris–werewolves that killed her grandmother when she was a child. Her younger sister Rosie struggles with her duty to help Scarlett and her desire for a normal teenage life. 

I really wanted to like this book. I met the author at a book signing and she was really funny and sweet. I love the cover and the fact that it’s a Red Riding Hood retelling, but the plot and the writing didn’t draw me in. I didn’t care that there were wolves in sexy man-skins devouring beautiful girls. Go ahead and eat them, I say! It’s no skin off my nose.

As I do not have a sister and have never wanted one, I am not inclined to enjoy stories about sisterly relationships (which is funny ’cause I sorta wrote one). They don’t interest me, which is probably why I don’t care much for Frozen.

Yeah, I said it.

Sold – Patricia McCormick

Lakshmi, a thirteen-year-old Nepali girl, is sold into prostitution by her step-father. Trapped in a brothel in India, she makes unlikely friends while struggling to buy her freedom back.

I CANNOT begin to describe how angry this book makes me. The horrifying treatment of these children and the culture’s views toward women is enough to make me scream. For example, Lakshmi’s mother tells her that when she has a husband, she must let him eat first and then eat his leftovers. And when she is done washing his feet, she should drink some of the water.

I mean, how backwards can you be?

The story is written in verse, which I normally despise, but McCormick’s style didn’t bother me. I could read it as I would a normal book.

It’ll piss you off, but you should probably check this book out.

Beauty – Robin McKinley 

After her father’s business goes under (literally, all his ships sink), Beauty and her family move to the forest, where there are tales of an enchanted castle inhabited by a wicked Beast.

I liked this Beauty and the Beast retelling, but I didn’t love it. Published in 1978, it had an old school charm and I enjoyed McKinley’s writing style, but I felt like the story could’ve started much later than it did. I wanted to spend more time with the Beast in his castle. Beauty doesn’t even arrive there until nearly halfway through the story. I also wished the Beast was more of a dick, but you can’t have everything.

As obsessed as I am with Beauty and the Beast retellings, I’ve never actually read the original. I should probably get on that…



Liars, Inc. – Paula Stokes 

Max Cantrell, surfer boy and slacker extraordinaire, runs a business called Liars, Inc. His classmates pay for anything from forged signatures to test answers. But when he’s framed for the murder of his best friend, Max has to find the killer in order to clear his name.

Oh what a tangled web we weave. Liar’s, Inc. is a gritty, fast-paced mystery along the lines of Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers. And if you haven’t read I Hunt Killers yet, go forth, my child, and read it. You must.

Like, seriously don’t even bother with this book until you’ve read Lyga’s trilogy. It’s delicious.



Shatter Me – Tahereh Mafi

Juliette’s touch kills. After nearly a year of being locked up in isolation by The Reestablishment for murder, a young officer releases her to be used as his weapon.

This book is overwritten. No, seriously, this book is overwritten. Weird similes, ongoing metaphors, repetitive sentences. Mafi is an incredibly creative writer, but it’s just too much too much too much. HOWEVER! I loved the main bad guy. I thoroughly enjoyed the story line. He’s so freaking sexy and evil. It’s a fast-paced dystopian. I have serious issues issues issues. As Juliette begins to regain some of her sanity, the taxing strike-through sentences and repetitiveness become less abundant. It was a good read and I’m excited for the next book.

This Month’s Haul:


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(There’s a reason I didn’t go into photography…)

What have you read/bought this month?