Overhyped Books I’ve Read

Hello everyone! I hope you’re all staying safe and healthy. I hope you are all also finding ways to keep occupied as well. I can feel the boredom really getting to me. You know how you have stuff to keep you occupied but you don’t have the energy to engage? Yeah, that’s me right now. I’m still planning on giving you a book review of Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House soon. (I’m about halfway through. It’s a decently sized novel.) Besides that, I just finished a novel for a class of mine and it inspired me to talk about book I read because of the hype and felt let down. Keep in mind that this is my personal opinion. I don’t hate these books but I was disappointed after hearing so many good reviews. Let’s get on to my list.

The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger – I read this novel for my YA literature course in undergrad. While I see why teens absolutely adore this novel, I just couldn’t get behind it reading it through adult eyes (even though I’m in my 20s). I can see the appeal behind Salinger’s most famous novel but I couldn’t stand Holden Caulfield. He was so condescending and “intellectual” in the way teen boys gets when they want to feel different. That could easily be a way to read the book, though. However, since it was through Holden’s point of view, I felt trapped by the pseudo-intellectual ramblings of a teen boy who doesn’t realize his own privilege. I just thought he was a brat at the end of the day.

The Cormoran Strike novels by Robert Galbraith: You all know that I love a good mystery novel. After finding out that JK Rowling has created a series under a pseudonym, I just had to give these a try. I read The Silk Worm and The Cuckoo’s Calling. I certainly enjoyed them but they just weren’t as good as other detective mysteries I have read. I felt the titular Cormoran Strike was too rough and the novel was too congratulatory whenever he was a decent human being to others, especially women. I’m all for a gruff character with a heart of gold but you never got to see the heart of gold part. They are good books for travel, if nothing else.

Americanah by Chimimanda Ngozi Achidie – This the novel that inspired this list. I just got done reading this for a special topics seminar I am currently taking. I knew nothing about this novel going in but I had seen it on many lists of lauded books. I was looking forward to reading this and was sadly let down. I did enjoy the way that the novel addresses the problems that modern immigrant faces as the main character immigrates from Nigeria to America. It has poignant moments and accurate commentary. My biggest issues (and my classmates agreed with me) was that the characters were too flat and a lot of the problems the characters face get “solved” or wrapped up too quickly. Also, the main romance in the novel felt pointless by the end. I just had a hard time enjoying this novel as the characters weren’t compelling enough for me.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold – It has been years since I’ve read this one but I remember picking it up because of the movie adaptation. The book has an interesting premise but it takes a turn into creepy and uncomfortable. The initial plot of the book is about a young girl who was murdered and tries to find a way to move on to the afterlife. Like I said, it takes a bizarre turn when she begins possessing adults who were her childhood friends and takes part in…adult acts. It’s so bizarre and unnecessary. I wouldn’t recommend this novel.

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous – I did a mini-review of this book a while back and I still stand by the fact that it is preachy and exaggerated. It does address important issues but it is so dated.

The Matched series by Ally Condie – I’m going to get a little contradictory here but I actually really enjoyed the first novel of this series. Matched wasn’t half bad but the sequel, Crossed, was incredibly boring. I didn’t even bother reading the last book in the trilogy.

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt – I did a review of this one already and it was a DNF. The writing was good but it was just so slow and took way too long to get to the most important plot points. Go read The Secret History instead.

The Vampire Diaries series LJ Smith – I loved these book as a pre-teen when I was going through my Twilight phase (ugh). These are longer and even more pretentious. I will give the novels credit as there was way more action, adventure, and magic than it Twilight but all of the characters were such Mary Sues. I didn’t even bother with the TV series when it came out.

The Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller – I had to include at least one play on this list. I read this in high school and it was an incredibly frustrating read with characters that range from boring to unlikeable. Also, most of the play is just stage direction and the dialogue itself goes nowhere.

The world must bow before the strong ones: Reviewing Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker

Hello everyone! I hope you all are doing well and staying healthy during this time. My university is moving to online classes at least until the end of March. While it is scary, I prefer caution over anything else. The only bright side I am finding is that I can do some catching up on my TBR pile. Why not combat scary with something scarier? I have mentioned previously that Dracula is one of my all time favorite novels so I was very excited to find this gem amongst the other spin-offs. Let’s talk about Dracul.

As a child, Bram Stoker was bedridden with a mysterious illness and his only company was his nanny, Ellen Crone. Ellen Crone, though, is not what she seems. When mysterious deaths begin to happen around town, Bram and his sister Matilda begin to put together a pattern but their nanny disappears. Years later, Matilda reveals her ongoing investigation into Ellen to Bram. Now, as an adult, Bram must confront the mystery of his childhood and the deeper, darker secrets that put everything he knows and loves in dangers.

I was mostly drawn to this novel as it was co-written by Bram Stoker’s great-great-grand nephew. I am normally hesitant with spin-off novels like these but I was thoroughly impressed with this one. It is equal parts creepy, gory, and suspenseful. The writing is great as it hops back and forth through time, increasing the mystery. The first part of the book does drag on a bit, if you ask me but the ending makes it worth the wait. The novel definitely harkens back to the classic horror I love so dearly. Dracul was thrilling and enjoyable for me and any fan of horror literature. I would definitely recommend giving this one a chance, if you are unsure like me. (Just a heads up, though: There is some serious gore in this book so be wary).

an explainer of my own unique journey: Reviewing Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

Hi everyone! I apologize for my prolonged absence from this blog. I’ve been teaching classes and as well as taking classes. I am cheating slightly because I did read this book for a class but I really wanted to bring awareness about this novel. It is important to me to breakthrough my usual genres and explore more. I want to widen the discussion and become more aware of social issues that exist outside of my realm. That is why I will be talking to you about Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo.

In Evaristo’s most recent novel, she explores identity, intersectionality, feminism, and other social issues through the interconnected lives of her characters. From a radical lesbian playwright, to a gender non-binary influencer, to a ninety three – year – old woman, these stories all involve complex internal and external issues they must face in order to full realize themselves in this heartfelt, charming, and unforgettable novel.

This novel is hard to describe but it is truly incredible. Evaristo plays with form and narration in order to make the novel so much more impactful. I was truly entranced by this novel and the areas it explored. Evaristo includes a very British sense of humor and self-awareness in order to bring you as a reader closer to the story. Since the characters come from all walks of life, it is easy to find someone to gravitate to. The way Evaristo blends together wider social issues with very personal stories is brilliant. It shows that we are all learning and no one is perfect, no matter who they are. I learned a lot from Girl, Woman, Other and it really redefined women’s literature for me. You don’t need to be British or a woman to fully appreciate this novel, which would certainly be a good pick for a book club. I cannot recommend this novel enough as it is perfect for casual or critical reading.

PS: If you had this novel, I would love to talk about it more with you so let me know in the comments.

Life Update/Grad School Update

Hello everyone! I have been ridiculously busy over the last month and have been slowly working my way through my TBR list while still reading my assigned novels. Recently, I did have to re-read Beowulf and I read Amitav Ghosh’s The Shadow Lines for the first time. Neither are of particular interest to me, but I do have more novels coming up soon. I might review some I read for class along with my TBR.

Anyways, I have been teaching a College Composition 1 class for a month now and it has been…challenging. It has been a bit of a struggle. My class is rather quiet. Normally, I wouldn’t mind this but I need them to participate. I’m sure some of you understand, whether you have been the teacher or the student. My other classes have been going well, though. Even if the subject matter isn’t my favorite, I still have found something worthy of talking about. I also have a desk all to myself, so there have been some plus sides. I’m going to be getting into working on my portfolio soon, which is what I need to graduate. I’m worried, but in a healthy way.

This has been my small life update. It is snowing like crazy right now, so I haven’t been able to get out much. I have some shorter assigned novels, which means I can catch up a bit with my casual reading. Hopefully, I’ll be getting you my review of Dracul by Dacre Stoker and JB Barker. In the meantime, thanks for reading this and I hope you are all making it through this rather dreary beginning to 2020.

Fierce, and Powerful, and Terrifying: Reviewing A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab

Hello everyone! I am back at it with another book review. I am back in school next week and I am hoping to post some reviews of the novels I’ll be reading in the near future, among my personal TBR stack. Before I begin talking about this novel, I encourage you to go read my previous reviews of this series. It’s time to talk about A Conjuring of Light.

The connections of the four Londons are beginning to fray as the shadow king Osaron seeks to take over all of the worlds. Kell must protect his brother Rhy and his kingdom against this ancient evil. Lila Bard must learn to control her powers before they control her. With the help of disgraced pirate captain Alucard Emery and other unlikely allies, they must race to find a way to save the four Londons and be ready to make any sacrifices necessary.

I am going to be a little honest: this novel was a bit of a letdown. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed 90% of it but there was a lot that left me wanting at the end. There was still a lot to these worlds that Schwab doesn’t dig into and parts that I honestly didn’t care to know about. I still loved how fully fleshed out the characters were. Their interactions felt natural and honest within this magical world. Everything was believable in its own way. Schwab does an excellent job creating perilous situations with very high stakes. I was certainly upset in some parts. While there were still parts of this novel that I didn’t particularly like, I still enjoyed this series overall and thought that the ending was thoughtful and sweet without being cloying. I would definitely recommend this for fans of fantasy that have officially moved out of the YA genre. I really did enjoy this trilogy and wish I could have more.

To Seeking and To Finding: Reviewing The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Hey everybody! I’m here with my first book review of 2020! I already mentioned I had gotten Morgenstern’s sophomore novel over Christmas and I just became so sucked into it. I reviewed her first novel, The Night Circus, already so feel free to go check out that review. Now, I am incredibly excited to bring you this review as I stayed up way too late finishing this novel. Anyways, here’s my thoughts on The Starless Sea.

When he was a child, Zachary Ezra Rawlins saw a door with a bee, a key, and a sword painted on it. The door called to him, to something unknown. Years later, he find a book in his college library. The book contains fantastical stories of pirates, magical cities, mute acolytes, and…his childhood. The book also has the familiar symbols he saw on the door all of those years ago. Shocked, Zachary goes on a mission to find why he is in this book. He ends up at a masquerade party where he meets two enigmatic strangers, a pink-haired and intense painter named Mirabel, and a handsome and adventurous man named Dorian. The two lead Zachary into a mysterious and wondrous world full of books, parties, and magic. But the fate of this underground world hangs in the balance and it is up to Zachary, Mirabel, and Dorian to learn the mysteries of the Starless Sea and figure out what they are willing to sacrifice in order to save this refuge.

When I read The Night Circus, I definitely fell in love with Morgenstern’s combination of whimsical, fairy tale-eque writing and solid, adult centric themes. The Starless Sea delivered that and more. I absolutely loved the very structure of this book. The chapters alternate between the main story and fairy tale side stories that all tie together in the end. She mixes descriptive, classic prose and the stylistic writing one would expect in fables. It is initially a little confusing to read but it ties together in such a satisfying way. The mechanics or “magic” of the world is just specific and just vague enough at the same time. Morgenstern sets it up so you don’t find yourself wanting to question the magic of the Starless Sea and the Harbor. The characters, in the main plot and side plot, all feel fleshed out even in their magical worlds. I loved Zachary as a main character. This book came to me at a perfect time as he is a struggling grad student who just wants to find a new world to explore. I feel as though I’ve gushed about this book enough. I’ve discovered my new favorite genre is “novels about novels.” I am also loving “new adult” fantasy. Honestly, I liked this better than The Night Circus, but I would still recommend it. The Starless Sea was a wonderful read with beautiful writing and fantastic characters. I had a very difficult time putting down this book and will definitely be revisiting it in the future. I actually really enjoyed how the romances in this novel were handled, as someone who does not typically like romance. I loved the world-building and unique narrative structure of the novel. It is all so involved in the best way. Also, bonus points for including LGBTQ+ characters. I am so glad this is my first official book review of 2020 and I cannot recommend this one enough.

My Favorites of 2019

Hey everyone! I hope you all had a good Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, etc. (or you at least had some relaxing time off). I had a pretty eventful year in general and I mean that in a good way. It is now time for my annual list of favorites across all creative mediums. I got a bunch of new books over break that I will be reviewing soon. I hope for the best for all of my followers in 2020! (Note: these are probably not in chronological order. I know my book list is rather short but I did not consider everything my favorite. Also, leave me your favorites of 2019 in the comments.)

Books

  • The Shades of Magic trilogy by V.E. Schwab
  • This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
  • The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  • The Trials of Apollo series by Rick Riordan
  • The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
  • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  • The Villains duology by V.E. Schwab
  • Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

Movies

  • Captain Marvel (dir. Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck)
  • Avengers: Endgame (dir. Joe and Anthony Russo)
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home (dir. Jon Watts)
  • John Wick: Chapter 3: Parabellum (dir. Chad Stahelski)
  • Zombieland: Double Tap (dir. Ruben Fleischer)
  • Shazam! (dir. David Sandberg)
  • Polar (dir. Jonas Akerlund)
  • Jumanji: The Next Level (dir. Jake Kasdan)
  • Frozen II (dir. Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee)
  • Toy Story 4 (dir. Josh Cooley)
  • Bohemian Rhapsody (dir. Dexter Fletcher)
  • Fyre Fest: The Party that Never Was (dir. Chris Smith)

TV Shows

  • The Mandarlorian, Season 1 (Disney +)
  • Stranger Things, Season 3 (Netflix)
  • Doom Patrol, Season 1 (DC Universe)
  • Swamp Thing, Season 1 (DC Universe)
  • Supernatural, Season 15 (CW)
  • The Flash, Season 6 (CW)
  • Batwoman, Season 1 (CW)
  • Arrow, Season 8 (CW)
  • Supergirl, Season 5 (CW)
  • Black Lightning, Season 3 (CW)
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths: Five Part Crossover (CW)
  • Nancy Drew, Season 1 (CW)
  • Good Omens, Season 1 (Amazon Prime)
  • The Boys, Season 1 (Amazon Prime)
  • The Witcher, Season 1 (Netflix)
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events, Season 3 (Netflix)
  • Jessica Jones, Season 3 (Netflix)
  • Lucifer, Season 4 (Netflix)
  • The Punisher, Season 2 (Netflix)
  • The Umbrella Academy, Season 1 (Netflix)
  • His Dark Materials, Season 1 (HBO)
  • Russian Doll, Season 1 (Netflix)
  • Queer Eye, Season 4 (Netflix)
  • The Umbrella Academy, Season 1 (Netflix)
  • The Haunting of Hill House, Season 1 (Netflix)

Music

  • Norman F*cking Rockwell by Lana del Rey (album)
  • Wasteland, Baby! by Hozier (album)
  • WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? by Billie Eilish (album)
  • Beetlejuice: The Original Broadway Musical (album)
  • Six: The Musical (album)
  • Doom Days by Bastille (album)
  • Blinding Lights by The Weekend (single)
  • Nightmare by Halsey (single)
  • Graveyard by Halsey (single)
  • I’m Too Sensitive for this Sh*t by Hayley Kiyoko (EP)
  • Landfall by Claire Wyndham (single)
  • DEATH STRANDING: Timefall (Original Music from the World of Death Stranding) (album)
  • CHAMPION by Bishop Briggs (album)
  • Cheap Queen by King Princess (album)
  • Hallucinations by PVRIS (album)
  • Don’t Call Me Angel by Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus, Lana Del Rey (single)
  • Destroy Me by grandson (single)
  • FEVER DREAM by Of Monsters and Men (album)
  • Happiness Begins by Jonas Brothers (album)
  • For The Throne (Music Inspired by the HBO series Game of Thrones) (album)
  • Free Spirit by Khalid (album)
  • Sing to Me Instead by Ben Platt (album)
  • Hadestown: The Original Broadway Musical (album)
  • Truth Hurts by Lizzo (single)
  • Artemis by Lindsey Stirling (album)
  • K – 12 by Melanie Martinez (album)
  • The Birth of Violence by Chelsea Wolfe (album)
  • Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief: The Musical (album)

Podcasts

  • The Last Podcast on the Left
  • Red-Handed
  • Wolverine: The Lost Trail
  • Motherhacker
  • RNZ: The Worst Sitcom Ever Made
  • Queer as Fiction
  • Passenger List
  • My Favorite Murder
  • Behind the Bastards

Favorite Events of 2019

  • Seeing Freestyle Love Supreme on Broadway where Lin-Manuel Miranda performed live (!!!!)
  • Getting floor seats to a Jonas Brothers concert and touching Nick Jonas (!!!!)
  • Starting (and surviving) fall semester of grad school
  • Visiting the Mansfield Reformatory (where they filmed the Shawshank Redemption)
  • Seeing my little sister graduate from high school and start college
  • Successfully working two jobs at once over the summer (I know a lot of people do that and don’t have the same luxury as I do of having an optional part-time job but I did not think I would be able to handle it as well as I did)
  • Successfully being a teaching assistant for two courses
  • Not crying that much over things (lol)

Whatever I am, Let it be enough: Reviewing A Gathering of Shadows by V. E. Schwab

Hello everyone! I’m coming at you with (probably) my last book review of the year. I’m planning on doing my annual favorites list after Christmas. I have a stack of books that has grown considerably over the past couple of months. At the university I go to, we have a table where people can put books they want to give away. Obviously, I checked it every day and will continue to do so. All the while, I am hooked on V.E. Schwab’s series, Shades of Magic. Now, let’s talk about the second book, A Gathering of Shadows.

It’s been four months since Kell, Delilah Bard, and Rhy faced off against the Danes in White London. Since then, Delilah had run off with the handsome sea captain, Alucard Emery. Now, Kell and Rhy prepare for the Essen Tasch, a magical tournament created to unite the kingdoms. All the while, something dark stirs in White London and can only return to life by destroying another London.

I absolutely adored the first book in this series and this second one was still enjoyable. The pacing was a little slow in the beginning, as it went back and forth between Delilah and Kell. There was some great world building, along with plenty of action when it was needed. Schwab does an excellent job fleshing out the other cultures without just making them “others.” The plot is still very grounded in Kell’s story, which is endlessly enjoyable. Like I said, the novel was slow for a bit but once it got going, I couldn’t put it down. I am incredibly excited to keep reading this series. I still recommend Shades of Magic if you want a “new adult” series that keeps the balance between entertaining magic and an intriguing storyline.

I Have Built a You in Me: Reviewing This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

Hey everybody! Well, it has been a decent chunk of time since I’ve been on here. Fortunately, I am reaching the end of fall semester so I will be doing a lot of catching up during the winter break. Next semester I will be teaching a class so I will definitely be blogging about that. Thankfully, I was able to get a hold of this novel as I had seen it everywhere and was ever so curious. So, let’s talk about This Is How You Lose the Time War.

Red is deadly, resourceful, and relentless on the battlefield. She comes from a future ruled by the Agency, a post-singularity technotopia. Blue is strategic, cunning, and just as deadly. She belongs to Garden, an omnipotent and omniscient consciousness contained within all organic matter. The two agents are sent by their respective societies to stop the other from changing the future. Red and Blue, however, begin a correspondence that transcends time and space. Soon, they will have to choose between the future of their worlds and their own futures.

I was incredibly intrigued by this novel upon seeing it online and I am so glad I was able to get my hands on it because I loved it. This novel combines the abstracts and language of poetry and the thrill and action of science fiction. It is a fairly short novel at just under 200 pages. I became emotionally invested quickly in the characters. The language of their letters is fascinating. They feel like real people in a sense, the way that Blue and Red express their emotions through humor or angst. I don’t plan on making this review too long as I don’t want to give away too much. I do recommend this novel if you are looking for a quick read that will captivate you with its world building and poetic structure. You don’t have be a huge sci-fi fan either to enjoy this book. Also, bonus points if you wants a book that features LGBTQ+ characters.

To Travel, To Dispel, To Heal: Reviewing A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

Hello everyone! I’m coming back at you with another book review sooner than I anticipated. In truth, it is because I had a really hard time putting this book down. I have reviewed two other novels by Schwab, so feel free to check out those. Now, we are starting a new series and I’m going to tell you all about A Darker Shade of Magic.

Four Londons exist along side each other and only few can travel between them. Kell is an Antari, one of the few who possess the magic needed to travel between these Londons. Officially, he works as a royal ambassador between the kingdoms. On the side, he smuggles magical artifacts across the worlds. When an item from Black London, the fallen London, comes into his possession, he finds himself in much more trouble than he anticipated. While trying to hide this item, Kell runs into Delilah Bard, a professional thief and pirate, who forces him to take her to his London. The two must return the artifact to Black London and keep it out of the hands of those who mean to use it to destroy the boundaries between the Londons.

It has been a minute since I have gotten so invested in a novel from the very first chapter. Schwab excels at world building and this novel is no exception. The action and pacing are steady and suspenseful. The characters are charmingly imperfect. The magic rules in the world are well thought out. This book certainly is violent but not in a gratuitous way. It has the kind of exciting magical duels I’ve only really seen in the likes of Harry Potter. This novel is for the more mature fantasy seeker who is ready to move beyond the magic of YA novels. I highly (highly!) recommend this novel if you are looking for an awesome fantasy and adventure novel with a nice dose of magic. A Darker Shade of Magic delivered on all fronts for me.