Between Always and Never: Reviewing Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman

Hello everyone! I am finally back with another book review. I mentioned in a previous post about how I really enjoyed the movie adaptation of Aciman’s novel. Of course, it was only natural I read the original novel. I’ll give some comparisons in this review for anyone who might be interested in seeing the movie after reading the novel or vice versa. But first, I will give you my review of Call Me By Your Name. 

Everything changed for Elio when a handsome stranger came to stay at his parents’ summer house. The two find themselves inexplicably drawn to each other as they spend more time together. Elio and Oliver must navigate their way through the passion, obsession, and desire as they hurdle towards a romance that neither was prepared for.

Before I begin this review, I wanted to address the one thing in this novel that everyone takes issue with: the age gap between Elio and Oliver. Elio is about sixteen in the beginning of the novel while Oliver is twenty-three. Nothing about their relationship, however, is predatory for either party. In fact, the age gap is actually an important topic in the novel for both characters. With this being said, Call Me By Your Name is a sentimental and thoughtful novel told through the eyes of Elio, an intelligent and self-conscious young man. The novel is written in a stream-of-consciousness style and keeps a romantic tone without glossing over Elio’s complicated emotions. The characters felt very nuanced and unique in their thoughts and actions. Aciman balances between intimacy and passion in a way that doesn’t detract from the serious underlying topics of this novel. I also want to add that the end of this novel is much more satisfying than the one in the movie. Call Me By Your Name is an exploration in love and sexuality that is unlike any other romance novel out there. I would definitely recommend this novel for any fans of romance or someone who may not be a fan of romance. Call Me By Your Name was thoughtful, touching, and it kept me invested until the very end.

How I Learned To Love My Writing (And You Can Learn Too)

Hi everyone! It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted anything. I keep telling myself I’m going to finish my TBR pile soon but then I just want to watch Avengers: Infinity War on repeat until Loki is alive again (spoiler). Also, let’s face it, part of the writing process is just opening your Word document and then your just end up watching YouTube videos for five hours straight. Don’t act like you’re not guilty of doing that. Anyways, I wanted to talk to you about how I learned to eventually learned to love what I write. I made a previous post about my crappy writing habits and I mentioned how I don’t always like what I write. While that is true, I’ve learned more about how to appreciate what I write. I’ve decided to share with you all some of the things that keep me loving being a writer.

  • Accept that it’s not going to be perfect the first time around. We all wish that we could have a brilliant idea during the first draft. That, however, is not true. Chances are that you aren’t going to like how your plot sounds on paper. As someone who has studied editing and publishing, I can tell you that the process to “perfect” a book takes a very long time. The writing process itself may take along time and it may not be perfect even then. As long as you have the commitment and patience, you can accomplish it.
  • Don’t write hoping to impress others. In my sophomore year of college, I decided to start to pursue a minor in Writing. This made sense since I was (and still am) and English major. Once I got into the classes, however, I realized I was trying way too hard to impress my professors and classmates. It got to the point where I would spend way too long even thinking about the story then I would end up writing at the last minute. Most of those stories didn’t turn out great. Don’t forget that your writing is for yourself, first and foremost. Enjoy the solitude that comes with the writing process because plenty of people will come along to go over every detail of your work. Make yourself proud by just fulfilling your accomplishment.
  • Let your imagination run wild. It’s easy to get caught up in the genres. We all want to fit into one specific genre because we love certain authors so much. This, however, shouldn’t limit you. Your ideas are going to sound silly sometimes. Your worlds and characters are going to raise eyebrows but that’s perfectly fine. Get weird with it. Don’t settle for ordinary, regardless of your preferred genre. Let loose once in a while and that might be how you strike gold.
  • Tap into your emotional side. The best stories are the ones that move us emotionally. It’s hard to communicate your emotions. I still have a hard time with it. Don’t let this hold you back, though. Make your story sad. Make your story angry. Make your story joyful. Don’t be afraid to put a healthy dose of “the feels” into your writing. I’ve learned I feel more in tune with my emotions once I put them on paper.
  • Congratulate yourself every so often. If you’re a person with a day job, like me, then you can have a hard time finding time to sit down and just write. You might be too tired or just not in the mood. When you do find the time, make sure to give yourself a nice little pat on the back. It doesn’t matter if you get one page or ten pages done, you still made progress. So give yourself a round of applause for hitting your goals because you deserve it.

So those are the ways I have learned to love my writing. Let me know about how you learned to love your writing as well. I can’t wait to hear from you all.

No Good Men Left: Reviewing Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Hello everyone! I was really hoping to post this review sooner but a storm took out the WiFi for a two days then I had to go out of town for a family reunion. The plus side of all of this was that I was finally able to finish this particular novel. I also got a whole new pile of novels plus Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. Be sure to expect more book reviews soon. For now, I will give you my review of Vicious by V.E. Schwab.

Elliot “Eli” Cardale was on the brink of discovery. With the help of his roommate, Victor Vale, they were able to test the boundaries of human nature and unlock something supernatural. Unfortunately, this discovery leads the two brilliant and calculating young men down a dangerous path that they can’t come back from. Years later, Victor and Eli must face off in a merciless battle for revenge.

Vicious is a fast-paced and violent novel that doesn’t hold back. The characters are incredibly interesting as none of them can really be classified as “good guys.” It’s almost up to the reader to decide who the real protagonist is. Like I said, novel is fast-paced and it actually jumps around in time but it doesn’t lead to any confusion. Schwab excellently handles this non-linear story telling. There is plenty of gore and violence but it doesn’t take away from character development. One of the reviewers describes novel as “comic book-like” and I would have to agree with that. In fact, I would love to see this novel in comic book form. In conclusion, I highly recommend Schwab’s Vicious to any one looking for something violent and addictive to read.

The Best (and Worst) Books I Read in High School

Hello everyone! While I would prefer to have a book review by now, I feel like I just haven’t had the time or energy to continue reading. Closing shifts are the worst. Anyone who has worked retail can relate to how I feel. I mentioned in my last post that I wanted to do something like this. I thought about making this about my required reading in grade school but I really don’t remember much of what I read back then. I do, however, have very distinct memories of my Honors English classes in high school. I had some very interesting teachers who had some interesting teaching methods. I can get more into that in another post if you want. (Note: I’m also going to be including plays I read on this list).

The best books I read:

  • Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (Sophomore Year)
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Junior Year)
  • Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare (Sophomore Year)
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (Junior Year)
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker (Senior Year)
  • The Color of Water by James McBride (Sophomore Year)
  • The Crucible by Arthur Miller (Freshman Year)
  • Lord of the Flies by William Golding (Senior Year)
  • Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare (Freshman Year)
  • Fences by August Wilson (Junior Year)

The worst books I read (with explanations):

  • Anthem by Ayn Rand: I know a lot of people of Rand but I just couldn’t bring myself to enjoy her writing. This book, in particular, is very confusing as it is written without singular pronouns. That is an important aspect of the book as it is a dystopian novel but it doesn’t make it any less confusing.
  • Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom: I just found this book to be way too sappy for my tastes. I understand the sentiment behind the story but it was just too depressing, even for me.
  • Black Boy by Richard Wright: It always sounds bad when I tell people I didn’t like this book but it’s not because of the subject matter. This book is his autobiography and the first half of the book is incredibly interesting. The second half of the book, however, is all about Communism and it just gets super preachy. The end just felt like a let down.
  • The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros: I’m not a huge fan of poetry but I can always appreciate. This book, however, was too abstract for my tastes. Again, I understand the subject matter but I just thought it was so vague.
  • Seven Events that Made America America by Larry Scheikwart: This book was so bad that my teacher decided to not have us even finish it. It’s written from a very Conservative standpoint and also the events weren’t even that important. The entire book is just this guy ranting about the “liberal media.” It was not something that I cared for in high school and not something I care for now.

Let me know if you read any of these books in high school or tell me your favorites or least favorites. I had some odd experiences in high school English so my experience is probably very different that yours. I’d love to hear about it though.

 

Books I Grew Up With

Hello everyone! I’m not going to begin this post with an apology about not having a book review. You’ll get that when you get that. Since I have moved back home, I have had to do some sorting in my room. My book obsession started early so I had to sort through the years of books I had accumulated. As I was going through all of them, I couldn’t help but reflect on how much some of these series or stand alone-novels piqued my interest in writing. I decided to create a list of some of the most important books that got me through the confusing and whimsical time of childhood. (Note: I am talking about the books I read up to eighth grade. I think I might make another post about the best and worst books I read in high school.)

  • Where would I be without the Harry Potter series? It was the first full length novel I ever read on my own. It was my first real “fandom.” It was the first book that showed me a character like myself. I was Hermione for more than one Halloween. I even had a Harry Potter quote on my graduation cap. To this day, my dedication to this series knows no bounds.
  • One thing a lot of people don’t know about me is that I am fascinated with the paranormal. My interest for this topic began when I started reading R.L. Stein’s Goosebumps series. I read so many of these books. I even wrote book reports about some of the novels. Along with this series, I also read the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series. I still remember being terrified and thrilled by both of these series and I still remember a good portion of what I read.
  • As I got older and entered middle school, the vampire craze swept the nation. I soon fell in love with the Twilight series and the Vampire Diaries series. As cheesy as these books are, I loved the romantic aspect of vampires. The books were more “grown up” than Goosebumps and really played into my romantic side. I give these books credit into easing me into more mature books that I read nowadays.
  • As a lot of you know, I’m a big fan of crime/mystery novels. Obviously, this had to come from somewhere and it came from the Nancy Drew series and A Series of Unfortunate Events. I used to love the Nancy Drew computer games. Much like with Hermione Granger, I saw similarities between myself and Nancy Drew. Lemony Snicket, on the other hand, offered such an interesting writing style full of cynicism, tragedy, and intelligence that most people don’t expect to see in a children’s book. I definitely connected with his writing style. (Note: I highly recommend the Netflix adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events.)
  • Another genre I do love is sci-fi. Scott Westerfield’s The Uglies series only fueled my fascination with the genre. In fact, I am excited to say that Westerfield is releasing another book in the series called Impostors. I am very excited to read it as it takes me way back. I was also a huge fan of James Patterson’s Maximum Ride series. I was incredibly dedicated to that series for a long time. I’m almost sad I lost track of that one. I still own a chunk of the series and have fond memories about them.
  • Going back to the fantasy genre, another book series that I loved (and still love) is the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. It was a natural progression from reading Harry Potter. I was always interested in mythology, particularly Greek mythology. I might even go so far as to say that Riordan might have inspired me to eventually study Latin. (In case you didn’t know, I actually took Latin classes in high school and have a minor in Latin.)
  • I’d be silly not to mention some early childhood staples, such as the Judy Moody series and the Junie B. Jones series. I feel like a good majority of girls latched onto those books in grade school. I was certainly no exception as I lived vicariously through these outspoken characters. Looking back, I might think of Junie and Judy as being kind of bratty but, I have to give them credit where credit is due. I was (and still am) way too nice to be as bold as either of them.
  • I distinctly remember reading the Wayside School series as a child. I feel like this series is somewhat obscure but it was essentially about this grade school that was built like a giant tower and all of the students and teachers would get into wacky adventures in the bizarre building that had no 13th floor. I really hope some of you remember this series because I loved how weird it was.

That is the end of my list. There were a bunch of books I didn’t mention, such as the Magic Treehouse series and A Wrinkle in Time. Let me know what kind of book you read as a kid. Maybe there were some I forgot or some I didn’t read fully. Either way, I’d love to know about your favorite childhood books.

The Princess, the Damsel, the Queen, and You: Reviewing The Princess Saves Herself in this One by Amanda Lovelace

Hello everyone! I know I had promised another book review to you earlier but (of course) I get sidetracked with other books because I have no self control. Back to the topic at hand, I am excited to talk to you about Amanda Lovelace’s first collection of poetry, the princess saves herself in this one. I may have mentioned that I’m really not a diehard poetry fan but that doesn’t mean I’m not willing to explore the territory. You can read my reviews on Rupi Kaur’s poetry collections. Before that, please read this review of the princess saves herself in this one. 

In her debut collection of poetry, Lovelace does not hold back from exploring the difficulties that she has faced in her life. Her whole narrative is beautifully tied together with her fairytale metaphors, that help the reader to better understand the situations she is describing. Personally, I felt a deep connection to Lovelace through her poems. She often describes herself as “bookmad” and I think that is a wonderful term. Though the book does cover very heavy topics, such as abuse, self-harm, death, and bullying among others, there is still a message of hope. Modern poets, such as Lovelace, are unafraid to express their fears and hopes, which makes such an impact on the reader. If you are a fan of Rupi Kaur, I highly recommend Amanda Lovelace to you.

Note: Lovelace recently released her second collection of poetry, the witch doesn’t burn in this one. Stay tuned for that review.

Current Favorites: Music Edition (aka What’s On My Writing Playlist?)

Hello everyone! I’m really glad a lot of you enjoyed my review of Children of Blood and Bone. I’m actually still in the process of finishing it and, once I’m done, I’m going to work on reading V.E. Schwab’s Vicious. In between all of that, I’m also working on my writing. I’ve finally settled on an idea and committed to it. I’m feeling pretty confident so I might give you all updated in the future. In the meanwhile, I decided to do another Current Favorites but about some of my favorite musical artists. My taste in music has a pretty large range but I do mostly stick to indie and alt-rock. I have to have music playing while I’m writing in order to focus. I’ll leave links to some of my favorite songs by these artists if you are interested.

I’m going to stop my list there before I just end up giving you all my entire Spotify playlist. I hope that you check out some of this music. I always appreciate when you all take an interest in my opinions. Feel free to leave me some suggestions in the comments.

 

I need advice from editors and publishers!

Hello everyone! In case you didn’t know, I recently graduated college with a BA in English. One of my main goals is to get into the editing and publishing business. Preferably, I would like to start with some freelance work. The problem is that I’m overwhelmed with all of the information online. I knew it wouldn’t be easy but I do have a general idea of how the business works and I have had practice with editing.

The question I am posing to all of the freelance editors that are on this website is: how did you get started? Maybe you took some online classes. Maybe you found a website you use to get your business going. Either way, I would love to know what has worked for you. Feel free to leave any links in the comments below if you have any on hand. You can even advertise yourself on this post. I’m encouraging you this time.

I can’t wait to hear back from you all. I’ll also be happy to take some regular old advice.

We Fought. We Persevered. We Rose.: Reviewing Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Hello everyone! It’s been way too long since I’ve posted anything. I wanted to wait to completely finish this novel before talking about it but, I’m just going to go ahead and tell you my thoughts about it. I’ve had to put this book on hold more than once due to graduation and now work. Anyways, I am incredibly excited to tell you all about Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.

Zelie Adebola was just a child when the king targeted the maji and wiped out all of the magic in Orisha. Zelie lost her mother and was forced to hide her powers from the world. Now, years later, Zelie has the chance to bring back magic with the help of the rebellious Princess Amari. With her brother and Amari at her side, Zelie must race against the bloodthirsty king and ruthless prince in order to bring back magic to Orisha.

There has been a lot of hype about this novel and it has even been promoted by Jimmy Fallon. I am pleased to say that Adeyemi’s debut book lives up to the hype. It has a wonderful balance of world building and character building. It has a very Game of Thrones vibe as the narrative is a similar style with the chapters alternating the characters’ points of view. It also carries the same adventurous spirit as Harry Potter. This book is a journey in every sense and it is a great YA novel as it deviates from so many of the tropes in YA fantasy/adventure novels. Fans of mythology will also enjoy this as it is based in African folklore and mythology. I haven’t read many (if any) fantasy novels that weren’t told from a Western perspective so this novel is particularly unique in that sense. I highly recommend Children of Blood and Bone to anyone looking to an exciting YA novel that you don’t want to put down.

Note: I know that Adeyemi had released that title for the next novel in this series and that she is in talks for a movie adaptation.

Current Favorites: TV Show Edition

Hi everyone! I was really hoping to have my review of Children of Blood and Bone for you  by now but I have recently gotten I new job so that has taken up most of my time. I have to finance my book addiction somehow. The book addiction isn’t the only one I have. On top of being a movie addict, I love my tv shows. It’s nice to have that hour long escape from the world. TV shows give me something to look forward to during the week. For this post, I’m going to do a short list of tv shows (or mini series) I feel are underrated or not as mainstream then I’ll do a longer list of mainstream shows I like. I hope you enjoy both of these.

Legion

Legion (2017 – Present, FX Network): Based on the Marvel comics of the same name, Legion follows David Haller, a troubled young man who is diagnosed with schizophrenia. He soon learns that he has powerful abilities and he must stop dark forces that want to destroy humanity.

Legion is based on the X-Men comics but, trust me, it is not the like the X-Men movies. This show is cerebral, psychedelic, and it always keeps you wondering what is real and what is not. The cinematography is absolutely wonderful as it seems to change with every episode. The show is hard to keep up with at times but it is worth the watch if you’re looking for a unique take on the Marvel universe.

Preacher

Preacher (2016 – Present): Based off of the Preacher comics, this series follows Jesse Custer, a preacher in a small Texas town who is unwittingly given the powers of an Antichrist. He then enlists the help of his criminal ex-girlfriend and a reckless vampire to  hunt for God.

The plot summary is weird and the show doesn’t refrain from embracing its bizarre plot. Preacher is full of dark humor, gory fights, and a surprising amount of heart. It’s not as hard to follow as Legion but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t keep you thinking. I’m a little behind in watching this show but I do still love it. Preacher is hell of a ride and perfect for comic book fans.

American Gods

American Gods (2017 – Present, Starz Network): Based on the Neil Gaiman novel of the same name, American Gods follows Shadow Moon who is recently released from prison only to find out that his wife is dead. When a mysterious man named Mr. Wednesday approaches him with a job offer, Shadow accepts and is thrust into a world where gods fight gods.

I’ve gushed about this book and I’ll gush about the tv show. This show is one of the best adaptations I have seen in a while. I was even satisfied with the changes they did make. If you love mythology then you will love American Gods. The cinematography is great, the cast is fantastic, and the plot points are incredibly relevant to today’s world. I highly recommend you binge this one before the second season.

Gotham

Gotham (2014 – Present (Final Season 2019), Fox Network): Based on the Batman comics, Gotham follows the up and coming detective, Jim Gordon, who learns about the true evil lurking in his city after the wealthy Waynes are murdered.

In case you couldn’t tell by now, I love shows based on comic books so Gotham has been on my radar for a while. It’s a refreshing take on the classic tale of Batman and it shifts the focus onto a broader cast of characters. Not only do you watch the journeys of heroes like Bruce Wayne and Jim Gordon, but you also get to see the journeys of some of the most iconic Batman villains. The cast does an amazing job with these characters. The show is fun to watch as well as intense and heart breaking.

Hannibal

Hannibal (2013 – 2015, NBC Network): Loosely based on the novels by Thomas Harris, Hannibal shows the rise of the infamous cannibal as he forms a dangerous relationship with a young and troubled FBI profiler.

I am still upset this show was cancelled as it was both horrifying and enticing to watch. This one is another example of amazing cinematography. If you thought you wouldn’t find people appetizing then I suggest you watch this show. The cast gives absolutely amazing performances. The plot is full of suspense and chills. I cannot recommend this show enough as it had a short but amazing three seasons.

Lucifer

Lucifer (2015 – Present, Fox Network): Lucifer Morningstar was the King of Hell until he got bored and decided to start a nightclub in Los Angeles. When a murder happens in his beloved club, Lucifer ends up teaming up with Detective Chloe Decker and the two begin an unlikely partnership solving crimes together.

Lucifer is based on comics written by Neil Gaiman so I am biased but I do sincerely love this show. It is funny, touching, and a fun time all around. Unfortunately, it might be cancelled but, hopefully, it will be saved by the power of social media. Don’t miss the opportunity and watch Lucifer. 

Now that I’ve talked about more of the “indie” shows I like, here is my list of mainstream shows I enjoy. Note: Most of these shows are still on the air.

  • Doctor Who
  • Supernatural
  • Game of Thrones 
  • Arrow 
  • Flash 
  • Supergirl
  • Legends of Tomorrow
  • Black Lightning 
  • The Walking Dead 
  • Marvel’s Jessica Jones 
  • Marvel’s Luke Cage 
  • Marvel’s Daredevil 
  • Stranger Things
  • Sherlock 
  • Star Trek
  • The Office 
  • The Twilight Zone 
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events