Old Friends and New Adventures

Hello lovelies and welcome back to the one and Writer’s Bookshelf, where this blonde curls up in her favorite blanket to talk about books! I have definitely dropped off the face of the earth for a little while throughout this spring and summer, but I’ve returned at last. I’m pursuing a degree in creative writing (!!) so that definitely takes up some time, and I got the chance to explore my adventurous side and build new relationships by working at a summer camp. All in all, I’ve gotten to try lots of new things, and it’s been really hard and really amazing at once.

I’ve missed the feel of a real pen between my fingers, or even a laptop balanced across my lap. Books have been stacking up on my bedside table, untouched, but for the first time in a few months I’ve actually knocked some off my TBR. So, since I’ve finally gotten to get through a few books (both new and rereads), here are a couple of reviews/commentaries you can expect in the near future:

House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
Wendy, Darling by A.C. Wise
Dust by Kara Swanson
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

…and whatever I read after! I appreciate those of you who read this blog in all its inconsistencies and I’m looking forward to catching back up on what everyone’s been up to. Are there any reviews you’re particularly looking forward to? What about new releases or TBR picks? If you have any recommendations for me or something you’d like a review on, feel free to leave it in the comments!

Have an adventurous day 🙂

Study & Lifestyle Tips for Spring Semester

Hello my lovelies! Since the spring semester is officially underway for many, or about to start, it’s a great time to share some of the study tips that have helped me the most. Hopefully y’all find something that will help you too, and we can all finesse our way through this school year 😉 If you’re not a student, I’ll also be including some general organization and reading/analyzing tips, so maybe you’ll be able to find something helpful too!

1) Don’t force yourself to take notes the way other people do. Instead, find a style that suits you and your learning type.
I’ve always been the type of person to appreciate a beautiful page of notes- the aesthetic and organization goals are truly the dream. Seriously, I WISH I could reach that level of academic beauty. When I try, though, things just don’t go well. Focusing too much on the beauty of the page makes me forget the information I’m trying to study. So instead, I recommend these few points:
– Try to make your handwriting as neat as possible. If this means going for one of those beautiful, instagram-worthy study sheets, do you and show off your skills. If you’re like me, and that’s not quite an option, try to make sure everything is clearly legible and spaced out well.
– Organize your information in a way that flows naturally according to your thought process. Rearrange the content of a slideshow or textbook chapter if you can’t follow the sequence of information, and get it all written out succinctly.
– Try to use colored highlighters or pens to organize facts. This is one point that I’ve found especially useful, even if it’s time-consuming or frustrating. For instance, I use a blue highlighter for all definitions in my notes, so I can go back and find them if necessary. When a professor mentions that something is important or will be on the exam, I highlight it in yellow and put a star next to it.

2) Your lifestyle habits will greatly affect your academic performance and mental health.
Let’s be honest, eight hours of sleep is not always possible for the average college student, especially as the work load picks up speed. Rather than have a defeated attitude of “why try when it won’t be perfect anyway?”, remember that something is better than nothing and start with small goals. Trying to get to bed before 1:00 am has been my goal this semester, and so is getting up by 8:00. Getting into a consistent routine, even if it’s less than the ideal amount, will help your body keep its circadian rhythm. Consistency can come first, and amount later.
If you struggle to fall asleep, I recommend making your bed a place for nothing but sleep. Don’t study in bed, eat in bed, watch tv, or scroll on your phone. That way, when you finally do lay down at the end of the day, your mind will associate that location with sleep and you’ll have an easier time drifting off.
Buy and eat food that you like! Three meals a day is, of course, ideal, but sometimes that’s just not possible. It’s even worse when the food provided in a cafeteria or campus dining hall is unappealing. I have skipped many a meal simply because the options provided did not sound (or look, or smell…all of the above) tasty at the time. I am speaking from experience when I say that this mindset is not healthy. Keeping food and snacks that you enjoy in your room or bringing them to school is a lifesaver and well worth the extra effort. Replacing rather than skipping meals is going to consistently improve mental health and your ability to learn.
Finally, go outdoors just for the fun of it. Take walks around campus, go on a hiking trip, just enjoy nature in all kinds of weather! Staying inside can keep you too focused on stress and academics. Taking a moment to appreciate the outdoors is a great refresher.

3) Keep track of your assignments and plans either physically or electronically.
In high school, I relied on my memory most of the time for assignments and scheduled plans with friends. As a result, I often remembered things with barely enough time to complete them properly, and found myself being late more often than not. I’ve found a paper planner to be especially helpful for me in remembering dates, activities, and assignments. For some people it’s easier to set electronic reminders, so I recommend finding whichever works for you and keeping up with it. Consistently putting things in a planner will form a habit and help you to be on time. In a professional setting, this is an essential trait to form.

I’ll update y’all soon with more tips, but for now, I hope these comments are helpful reminders. Have a successful spring everyone! Remember to take time for yourself and your loved ones. You’ve got this!

Life Update + Getting Back into the Swing of Things

Hello my lovelies! It has been absolutely AGES since I have managed to post anything, but I’m not here to apologize because honestly I needed the time off. So here we go, quick life update and news about the future of this blog…

Fun Fact of the Day about Blue
I started college this past fall! I am studying Creative Writing (big shocker there) and am SUPER PUMPED to see what God has planned for this chapter of my life. So far I have met the most amazing people and have loved all the things I’m getting to study. This semester I get to take my first creative writing class (!!!!) so I may be sharing some of my favorite assignments from that.

Now about the blog…
I know the few of you who followed this blog consistently might be feeling a little neglected right now. I feel you, and I wish I had more time to spend getting to know y’all. Sooo, from here on out, I am going to *try* and post once a week! The content of this blog might change a little in the process because, as much as I love books, I cannot read for pleasure as much as I used to. I’ll be including study tip posts, stories, the occasional recipe, and whatever I feel like to fill in the gaps! I can’t wait to catch back up with everyone and jump back in to the blogging community. I have at least one amazing guest post in the works, and several more surprises up my sleeve. See you soon!

Fable Book Review

Hello lovely! It has been quite a while since I’ve had a chance to sit down and review a book, and this summer has been crazy! Luckily I am back with a whole list of reviews and recommendations for y’all 🙂 I’ve recently been reading quite a bit, so you can be looking forward to reviews of The Secret History, Daughter of the Pirate King, Dune (hopefully before the new movie releases), and everyone’s booktok favorite, We Were Liars. There are plenty of others in the works too, so hopefully I won’t disappear another few months anytime soon.

Today I’m reviewing a fairly recent duology, Fable and Namesake by Adrienne Young. Pirate stories (books and movies) are a weakness of mine, and this one was no exception. Besides having the initial appeal of an intriguing idea, the covers of these books are crazy beautiful. Seriously, the magic in this design is out of this world.

You can’t tell me these aren’t gorgeous 🙂

Without further ado, here’s my review~

Goodreads Synopsis
For seventeen-year-old Fable, the daughter of the most powerful trader in the Narrows, the sea is the only home she has ever known. It’s been four years since the night she watched her mother drown during an unforgiving storm. The next day her father abandoned her on a legendary island filled with thieves and little food. To survive she must keep to herself, learn to trust no one, and rely on the unique skills her mother taught her. The only thing that keeps her going is the goal of getting off the island, finding her father, and demanding her rightful place beside him and his crew. To do so Fable enlists the help of a young trader named West to get her off the island and across the Narrows to her father.
But her father’s rivalries and the dangers of his trading enterprise have only multiplied since she last saw him, and Fable soon finds that West isn’t who he seems. Together, they will have to survive more than the treacherous storms that haunt the Narrows if they’re going to stay alive.
Welcome to a world made dangerous by the sea and by those who wish to profit from it. Where a young girl must find her place and her family while trying to survive in a world built for men. Fable takes you on a spectacular journey filled with romance, intrigue, and adventure.

Characters
Our main character, Fable, is bold and strong. She is thoroughly confident in her own abilities, but she is also human, and does not always win. I really appreciated this aspect of her story- we see so many perfect main characters who never lose. Fable, though, is a different case. She frequently realizes things she thought she knew are incorrect, and many of her schemes do not go as planned. As the tale progresses, she grapples with her sense of independence and desire to be self-sufficient, especially when she realizes just how much others have helped her out, even when she did not desire them to do so. Her internal debate between being perfectly fine on her own and longing for vulnerable companionship is something many of us can relate to. We get to know Fable and her thought processes fairly well throughout the two books, and we see her grow and change as a person over the course of her adventures.

West, one of our other main characters, is not quite so well developed as Fable. I never did get a full sense of his character. It may just be my personal take on the matter, but he came across as two dimensional. The principle struggle we see him take part in is similar to Fable’s: how vulnerable is he willing to be? Does he ever want to truly depend on someone? While I appreciate the parallels between their arcs and the contrast of their different reactions to the question, I do think he came across as more predictable, flat, and less unique of a character. Some of his actions seemed to come from nowhere, and I never really understood why he behaved the way he did or who he was as a person. His relationship with another character also felt forced to me. Based on the first book, I believed him to be a salty, weathered middle-aged to elderly sailor. However, the end of the first book and entirety of the second book showed him to be quite a young man, which did not at all fit the initial impression I had of him.

Overall, I think Young wrote her main character fairly well, but secondary characters left a little to be desired. I misunderstood many of their relationships and motives. Some were better than others, so in general, secondary characters and their development came across as very hit or miss.

Plot
The plot of this book constantly twisted and moved in surprising directions. I did not anticipate everyone’s true loyalties or their reactions to various situations. However, at times the plot was lost. The books took me longer than usual to finish reading, because I kept feeling like the story was not moving in any specific direction. In the end, everything pulled together, and we got some lovely action scenes and juicy secrets revealed. Getting to that point, though, was more difficult than I would have liked. While I did enjoy the atmosphere and characters, sometimes the lack of direction became frustrating.

Ending
The ending was one of my favorite parts in this book! Character arcs tied up neatly, loose ends came full circle, and all my questions were answered. Young writes suspenseful action and mystery excellently, and her long-term plan for the story and careful mapping of the plot is clear in the last several chapters. I can tell she put work into drawing everything together for the big picture, and I appreciate the effort. It presented itself beautifully.

Content Warning
Fable and Namesake contain very little objectionable language, with maybe a few instances of d*mn or sh*t, if I remember correctly. Violence is not described in excessive detail. There is some sexual content, but nothing especially explicit.

Writing
Young’s writing is fairly typical for the young adult genre. The reading level is fairly low, but still enjoyable, with plenty of description to truly make you feel as if you are experiencing the events of the story. On occasion certain passages can come across as thin, and readers may find themselves feeling distanced from the story, but the writing will surely draw readers back in within a few paragraphs or pages.

Reading Snack
I recommend enjoying some iced tea and imagining yourself on the dock of an island when reading this book. You’ll be longing for the open sea and sunsets on the waves, so you might as well act like you’re in the story 🙂

Fable and Namesake will pull you into a world of adventure, sailing, storms, and danger, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll enjoy every second of it 🙂 Full of secrets and mysteries, the plot unravels slowly, sometimes leaving you with more questions than answers, but always wanting more. If you decide to read these books, I hope you have just as much fun as I did!

Do you enjoy pirate or adventure books? Have you read this one? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Have an adventurous day 🙂

Instructions for Dancing Book Review

Hello beautiful! I received an eARC of Instructions for Dancing through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I have read one book of Nicola Yoon’s before, The Sun Is Also A Star. While I didn’t agree with all of the conclusions she drew about life, I really enjoyed the book and the light-hearted romance mixed with thought-provoking dialogue. I was very excited to be approved for this ARC, and it did not disappoint!

Without further ado, here’s my review~

Instructions for Dancing
Image from Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis
Evie Thomas doesn’t believe in love anymore. Especially after the strangest thing occurs one otherwise ordinary afternoon: She witnesses a couple kiss and is overcome with a vision of how their romance began . . . and how it will end. After all, even the greatest love stories end with a broken heart, eventually.

As Evie tries to understand why this is happening, she finds herself at La Brea Dance studio, learning to waltz, fox-trot, and tango with a boy named X. X is everything that Evie is not: adventurous, passionate, daring. His philosophy is to say yes to everything–including entering a ballroom dance competition with a girl he’s only just met.

Falling for X is definitely not what Evie had in mind. If her visions of heartbreak have taught her anything, it’s that no one escapes love unscathed. But as she and X dance around and toward each other, Evie is forced to question all she thought she knew about life and love. In the end, is love worth the risk?

Characters
I really enjoyed how well we got to know Evie. Her personal struggles with her family and friends, especially as everyone seems to be coupling up, are very relatable for high schoolers. I think some of her decisions/moments of growth were a little rushed, but overall she felt realistic and fleshed out as a character. Her internal debates and discussions over serious and philosophical questions were definitely thought provoking and I liked reading about her thought process.

X seemed perfect as a character, but almost too perfect. I liked him while reading. His traits, however, are very typical for the genre, and I didn’t see much that was unique about him as compared to other teen romance love interests. He always says yes to everything, he wants to live in the moment, he plays an instrument…it seemed a little cliche and contrived. He was still an enjoyable character to read about and his personality was cute, but it did not strike me as especially original.

The main romance was pretty well done, if a bit rushed. Evie insists she doesn’t want to fall in love…and then she just agrees to a date two seconds later.
Evie’s family were strong characters as well, each one complex and unique. Their dynamic was realistic and broken, but you could tell they loved one another, just like a real family.

Plot
While I did enjoy the plot when it came to the characters interacting and their various relationships, I think a few things were glossed over that could have used more detail or attention in general. The magic power Evie is gifted with at the beginning is sort of pushed to the side for most of the book and only referenced when it’s necessary for the plot. It felt a little out of character for this girl who wants so desperately for everything to make sense to not bother to find out more about this power.

I also would’ve appreciated some more detail regarding the dancing and the competitions. They read like a quick movie montage trying to rush you through the process. Spoiler: I also don’t know how realistic it was for two people who have only been dancing for a few months to win a major competition, even in the amateur division. End of spoiler.

Ending
It was amazing, and emotional, and heartbreaking, and perfectly summed up the message Yoon was trying to convey. I do think the dance competition could’ve been better haha.

Content Warning
Some strong language, including f*ck and the use of Jesus’ name as a swear. No actual sex on page, but it is referenced a few times. No violence.

Aesthetic and Colors
This book is very summery! I was immersed in a world of blue skies, fluffy clouds, and orange sunsets. I recommend this as a beach read or a pickmeup book. If you’re looking for a thought-provoking story with complicated family relationships and a good romance, this one’s for you! Fans of Yoon’s other stories will enjoy this one just as much as the rest.

Reading Snack
You HAVE to eat some Mexican food while reading this book. Yoon describes Taco Night so well your stomach will be growling. A smoothie is also a good choice to go with the summery, west coast vibe.

This book was a lovely romance that gave me ALL the feels. Again, Yoon and I have different worldviews, but I appreciated the discussions she brought to the table. Her characters were well written and the writing style, while not the most advanced, complements her subject matter well and works for the story.

Have you read Instructions for Dancing or any of Nicola Yoon’s other books? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Have an adventurous day 🙂

Lost in the Never Woods Book Review

Hello lovelies! I received an eARC of this book a few months back from NetGalley and initially published the review on my Goodreads, but now that it’s out I figured I would go more in depth here since I have since bought a physical copy. The cover was just so beautiful I couldn’t resist!

I’ve heard quite a bit about The Cemetery Boys, another of Aiden Thomas’s novels, but have yet to read it, so this was my first time reading anything by this author. If you’ve been around here for long, you probably know I’m a big fan of Peter Pan and am rather picky when it comes to retellings, so I may judge this a little harsher than I would’ve a story with a different basis.

Without further ado, here’s my review~

Lost in the Never Woods by Aiden Thomas

Lost in the Never Woods
Image from Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis

It’s been five years since Wendy and her two brothers went missing in the woods, but when the town’s children start to disappear, the questions surrounding her brothers’ mysterious circumstances are brought back into light. Attempting to flee her past, Wendy almost runs over an unconscious boy lying in the middle of the road, and gets pulled into the mystery haunting the town.

Peter, a boy she thought lived only in her stories, claims that if they don’t do something, the missing children will meet the same fate as her brothers. In order to find them and rescue the missing kids, Wendy must confront what’s waiting for her in the woods.

Characters
I have to say, I think the characters were the most disappointing aspect of this book for me. I love Peter and Wendy so, so much, and they fell very flat in this story.
Wendy struggles with PTSD and has many emotional issues since the disappearance of her brothers. I wish this aspect of her character had been more explored. She does show a few signs of this, and her family life is very broken, but we really don’t see many other effects. Her character arc is incomplete and I did not feel like we got to know her (or that there was much to know). She did not seem to have any passions, likes or dislikes, or emotional problems. We are told that some of these exist, but aren’t really shown it. I found myself disappointed in this Wendy.
Peter is like a faded version of the mischievous, fun-loving boy we know and love. I did not get much personality from him either, and while I think he had more going for him than Wendy, he, too, felt one-dimensional. There was a lot of missed potential with his character. The most emotion we got from him the whole time was in the climax of the story, right before the final battle, as it were.
Also, their relationship felt weird. I think Thomas tried a little too much to emphasize the romance without really building them up individually as characters first. Peter begins the story in the body of a young teenager, and while he does age, we’re not sure how fast, or how old he is at any given moment. Wendy, however, is 18, and she frequently talks about how attractive he is. The whole thing made me very uncomfortable. Too much time was spent trying to prove they had chemistry, with nearly every side character asking if they’re dating. It sort of felt like fanfic with them just going on dates and Wendy trying to pretend they don’t like each other while secretly falling for Peter.

Plot
In theory, the plot was good. It had a lot of potential, but the execution was poor. I felt like nothing really happened until 65% of the way through, and all the action was crammed into the end. If we had received more clues along the way and we saw more of the villain, I think I would have appreciated the story more. All the dating/cutesy stuff took up too much of the book, especially since that aspect of the story wasn’t done especially well. I think the author had some good ideas, but they definitely could’ve been better implemented. The big twist was something I’ve seen before in reference to Peter Pan, but was still somewhat surprising in context of the story. I also wish we had gotten more hints or reasons to suspect one of our villains.

Ending
The last 30% or so of the book is the section I enjoyed the most. The ending was bittersweet and emotional and I enjoyed it well enough. However, I think the groundwork for some major plot points could have been better (or, y’know, actually present), but overall I enjoyed it.

Content Warning
If I remember correctly, there was a little swearing, but nothing too bad. Definitely some intense scenes and a dark take on the original story. A little romance, but I don’t think there was much, if any, physical interaction in that area.

Aesthetic and Colors
Some parts of this book are very sunshiny and calm, but others are very dark and blue-grey. The cover honestly nailed it with the colors I pictured for this book. I definitely got a lot of imagery in shades of blue and purple. I recommend reading this book on a dreary day, preferably during a thunderstorm with lots of lightning for the intense bits. If you’re looking for a darker take on a classic story, with some fluffy romance thrown in, this is a pretty good choice.

Reading Snack
I recommend ice cream! It’s comforting, will make you feel like part of the story in one scene (you’ll see why), and is the perfect snack for when you’re feeling happy and summery (like in some scenes) or sad and emotional (like some other scenes lol). s

This book was not my favorite as far as retellings go. It lacked the magic of Peter Pan, but I did enjoy the darker twist. I missed Tinker Bell and Neverland. The story, on its own, is fairly entertaining, if a bit slow at times. With a cover as beautiful as that, I’m willing to forgive a multitude of issues 😉 My biggest problems were the romance in general (poorly done, and the age gap was unknown) and the lack of character depth.

Have you read Lost in the Never Woods or any of Thomas’ other works? What did you think? Let’s discuss in the comments!

Have an adventurous day!

Uprooted Book Review

Hello lovelies! It has been quite a while since I’ve had the chance to sit down and post, but I’ve finally found some time. A few minutes ago I finished the book Uprooted by Naomi Novik, and I am excited to share my thoughts with you. I’ve previously read Spinning Silver, a novel she wrote a few years after this one was published. I’ll be comparing the two a little in this review. I may also give away minor spoilers, but nothing too important or that isn’t obvious within the first quarter of the book.

Without further ado, here’s my review~

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Image from Goodreads

Characters
I liked the main character, Agniezska, fairly well. She did have a few annoying attributes, like a tendency to complain, but I appreciated this because it showed that she was flawed. She isn’t 100% likeable, and neither is anyone else. She shows strength and understanding throughout the story, as well as compassion. When other characters allow themselves to be governed by fear, she persists and looks for the reasons behind what is happening. That being said, she is not an especially interesting character on her own. I found her most intriguing in the first third of the book as Novik explored her relationship with Kasia, her best friend.
Speaking of Kasia, she was probably one of my favorite characters. Her life is turned upside down repeatedly throughout the story, but she rarely complains and remains grateful for what she does have. Her relationship with Agniezka is complicated and reminds me of a sibling bond. Their dynamic was probably my favorite in the story. Kasia also grows greatly from the girl she is at the beginning of the story, and her compassion fuels that growth.
The Dragon is our third main character. If the first third of the book is about Agniezka and Kasia, the second third is about Agniezka and the Dragon/Sarkan. He is a neat freak and very structured. Agniezka challenges his worldview and his perception of magic, which can cause him to be lash out. Minor Spoilers: He is not kind to her, and I do not like their eventual romance. It felt rushed and made no sense, since they spend so much time angry or frustrated with one another. There wasn’t even a sense of attraction until all of a sudden they’re doing magic together and he lashes out at her before kissing her. It was very bizarre. End of Spoilers. Sarkan’s arc felt incomplete to me, and I would have liked to see him grow more as a person.

Plot
In this book, the ultimate villain is the Wood, a sort of malicious entity inhabiting the forest surrounding Agniezska’s home. There are many smaller plot lines on the path to battling it. The first part of the book is dedicated mostly to Agniezka’s relationship with her best friend, and her adjustment to learning magic. I thoroughly enjoyed this section and loved Agniezska and Kasia’s complicated friendship.
The plot thickens in part two as the Wood’s plans develop, and our heroine has to learn to control her magic and deal with threats from several areas. I also enjoyed this section, though not as much as the first.
Part three is the most violent section. The Wood’s plans are coming to fruition, and there is quite a bit of death. This bit was my least favorite. The high-risk action did not stop, and eventually became a little boring and repetitive. It felt like nothing major was accomplished or lost, and I felt numb to any deaths that occurred in this part.
The romance plotline is by far one of the worst I have ever read. It came across as haphazard and thrown in just as an attempt to add some spice, even though the story already had plenty going on. The love interest never showed love, neither to our heroine or anyone else.

Ending
I did enjoy the ending to the book. The final battle was somewhat underwhelming after the rest of the book, but I think that was intentional. The answer to the Wood’s secret was not what we, as readers, were lead to believe. I also loved the epilogue-esque chapter where the author showed the aftermath of our main story. It was wonderfully satisfying.

Writing
I was not as impressed with Novik’s writing in Uprooted as I was in Spinning Silver. I loved Spinning Silver because we had multiple POVs with distinct voices. This book was all from Agniezska’s POV, and it grew a little tiring after a while. Novik’s descriptions and imagery are lovely and incredibly vivid. While there was a lot going on, I did not feel overly confused or frustrated with the number of plot points.

Content Warning
I do not think this book had any swearing, which is unusual and should be commended. However, it does have quite a bit of violence and some disturbing descriptions. There are also two (ish? More like one and a half) sex scenes, one interrupted and the other completed. They were uncomfortable and felt very out of place.

Aesthetic and Colors
This book is full of earthy tones, rich greens and browns and the sparkle of light on water. It is shelved in most bookstores as adult fantasy, and I recommend it if you’re looking for a detailed, vivid story full of magic, danger, and the feeling of home. Don’t expect much of the romance, though.

Reading Snack
There is quite a bit of delicious food mentioned in this story, so be prepared with a snack. I recommend a brown bread with a crust and soft center, or, if you’re looking for a full meal, some beef stew and a mug of hot sweet tea.

This book met my expectations in some areas and disappointed me in others. I loved the world in the book, and the different styles of magic shown. Novik does not fail to deliver with the plot twists, imagery, mystery, and strong female characters I love to read about in her books. However, the romance was sub par, and some characters could have been further developed.

Did you read Uprooted? What did you think? Let’s discuss in the comments!

Have an adventurous day!

Turtles All The Way Down Book Review

Hello beautiful! Today I’m going to review my latest read, Turtles All The Way Down by John Green. It’s been a hot minute since I’ve read anything all the way through. Life has kinda been smacking me in the face as of late and I’ve had little to no motivation, which is just ✨so fun✨. I think school has just left me with some burnout issues. Anyway, enough about me, onto the review!

I’m not a big John Green fan to begin with. I read The Fault in Our Stars and Looking for Alaska, and I found the writing a bit pretentious and his plot lines very similar. I can totally understand why people like them, but they’re not my cup of tea. Romance isn’t my favorite genre anyway. That said, I do enjoy the ideas he explores in his books, and the way we get to know the characters.

Spoilers are in white, highlight with your cursor to read 😉

Without further ado, here’s my review~

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green

Image from Goodreads

Characters
I liked most of the characters in this book. The main character, in particular, was especially relatable for more. Her anxiety manifested in ways very similar to mine (except I’m not a germaphobe). Aza’s intrusive thoughts and struggle to find her true self mirrored thoughts and issues I’ve faced. Spoilers: I feel like Aza’s character arc was never completed, though. She never did come to realize the truth, her life only ever seems to be “bad” and “worse.” She isn’t ever truly happy. I know that a lot of us feel this way at times, but I truly believe that happiness (or joy, more accurately) is a choice. Sometimes it’s hard to make that choice, but I think it is possible. Aza never really seems to try and get better, she just wallows in the fact that things are bad. I completely understand how difficult it can be to make those decisions, but I think John Green has a duty as an author who influences his readers to give them hope to overcome mental illness. I don’t think that hope was there in this story. *End of spoilers.*
I never connected or related with any of the other characters. I didn’t even like most of them. Aza’s best friend said some incredibly damaging things, and her reaction to Aza’s mental illness was horribly insensitive and rude. She’s nowhere near a proper friend, and I find it hard to believe that a real person, especially someone so close to the MC, would behave that way.
The love interest was okay. I felt like their romance was boring at best. They just seemed like friends who were trying to distract each other from their lives. His character felt stereotypical, though we did see him being very compassionate with his brother.

Plot
This is where the book really fell flat for me. The plot was supposed to be about a mystery, but it barely got any screen (page?) time. I was uninvested in the outcome and felt like the story’s true plot was supposed to be Aza’s character development. Spoilers: Her personal plot isn’t even satisfying or completed. It’s just very mediocre. End of spoilers.

Ending
It wasn’t satisfying. I’ll leave it at that.

Writing
I do enjoy John Green’s writing style in some ways. He explains emotions and internal thoughts very well. His characters feel fleshed out (well, most of them), and his stories are easy to follow. He brings up some important ideas, like what makes us human and how we know who we really are. However, he sometimes gives me this feeling like he’s trying to be “deep” and “intellectual” when it isn’t necessary. This pretentious attitude can detract from the story for me.

Content Warning
There is some swearing, including s***, d***, and f***. Jesus’ name is also used as a swear word. I remember a few sexual innuendos, but the most we actually read about was heavy kissing.

Aesthetic and Colors
This book felt grey and green to me. It is contemporary fiction, with a little romance, so I recommend if you’re looking for something that will make you think but that isn’t hard to follow. Don’t expect a strong conclusion.

Reading Snack
I recommend chocolate and potato chips, a good mixture of salty and sweet.

This book was less stereotypical than the other John Green books I’ve read, but it left me feeling defeated. It portrayed the world in a hopeless way. I think it just missed the mark for me. The ending was not bittersweet, just bitter. It may have to do with a difference in worldview, but I feel like Green missed a chance to show some truth about the nature of humanity here. Some people may enjoy it, but it wasn’t my cup of tea.

Have you read this book or anything by John Green? Did you like it? Do you agree with any of my thoughts? Let me know in the comments; I’d love to discuss!

Have an adventurous day 🙂

Love,

The Outstanding Blogger Award Nomination #2!! :)

Hello beautiful! I’ve got a few new posts in store for the next few weeks, but in the meantime, the lovely Alicia at A Colorful Bibliophile has nominated me for the Outstanding Blogger Award! Thank you so much Alicia 🙂 You can find her post here.

Here are the rules:

  1. Provide the link to the creator’s original award post. (very important: see why in step 5)
  2. Answer the questions provided.
  3. Create 7 unique questions.
  4. Nominate 10 bloggers. Ensure that they are aware of their nomination. Neither the award’s creator, nor the blogger that nominated you, can be nominated.
  5. At the end of 2020, every blog that ping-backs the creator’s original post will be entered to win the 2020 Outstanding Blogger Award!

Now for Alicia’s questions.

1- Good news! You can now communicate with animals, aside from your pets what animal are you talking to first?
I’d love to talk to a Galapagos giant tortoise. They can live for over a century; just think of all they could have seen! Also, an elephant would be cool. Or something in the ocean, like a whale or a jellyfish.

2- You can make any ONE fictional character (books, movies, video game, etc) come to life, who are you choosing?
This is a tough one. I’ve always been a sucker for a good Peter Pan story, so maybe Peter or Tink, even Hook. Then again, if I’m looking for a friend, maybe Meggie from Inkheart, or Inej from Six of Crows, or Nancy Drew, or Elizabeth Bennet. I think I’ll go with Peter, with Nancy Drew as a followup. Both would be so fun. Peter is the obvious choice if magic comes to life too, but if it doesn’t, I’d have to pick Nancy, because Peter would be devastated without magic.

3- If you were a God/ Goddess what would you be Patron of?
I would be Patron of the Curious. All things strange, all those wanting to know more about those around them, I would bless and guide. It would be an interesting life full of adventure, to be sure.

4- What 3 songs would you use in a soundtrack to your life?
This one’s insanely difficult, because I have no idea what genre my life fits into. I’ll just pick a favorite song from each of my three favorite pop bands and go with that.
Forest by Twenty Øne Piløts (runner-up: Truce)
No Control by One Direction
Wow, I’m Not Crazy by AJR
Again, these are just me choosing from the most popular bands I’m a fan of, and it was still crazy difficult, so answering the original question would be almost impossible for me. At the moment these songs pretty much are my life’s soundtrack anyway.

5- A new species of animal has been discovered, what does it look like and what is it called?
It’s a Neurial, a bioluminescent, transparent animal that lives in the middle of the ocean. They are incredibly ancient and have fins so long and draped they appear to be made almost of gauze or sheer fabric, and their hair is soft and downy as a dandelion. Neurials protect ancient civilizations that fell prey to the ocean, drifting among the drowned cities and scaring away predators with their blue and gold glow.

6- You’ve found an enchanted doorway that can take you anywhere. Where are you going?
This will come as no surprise to my consistent readers.
Neverland, of course!

7- Space Travel is now available to everyone & the first Space Rollercoaster has been invented. Would you ride it?  
Yes ma’am! I love rollercoasters, and if I can convince myself to get on, I would love it!

Here are my seven questions:
1- How would you describe your aesthetic?
2- What book character do you consider yourself most like?
3- What book character do you wish you were?
4- You stumble across a carving in the wall of a cave. It tells a myth about the moon and stars. How does the story go?
5- If you could control one element, which element would it be? What ordinary things would you use it for? (Example: If you chose water, you could say washing the dishes goes very quickly.)
6- What genre of movie or book would you want your life’s story to be in? What genre do you think it’s actually in?
7- What is your exact favorite color at this moment? Where can it be found in nature?

Thank you so much for nominating me, Alicia! Here are my nominees:
Nebulous Reading
Evelyn Brooks
Bottled Tales
The Wanderings of a Bookish Vagabond
Moonlit Books
Aleks and the Books
Obsidian Owl Library
Mirkwood Books
Whispering Stories
Otterly Bookish

I hope you all have time to do this post and that my questions aren’t too difficult.

What do you think of my questions? How would you answer?

Have an adventurous day!

Love,

Reviewing My Bookshelf: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

Hello lovelies! I hope you’re having an amazing week so far. I am currently doing a series where I go through my bookshelf and review books I haven’t already. Today’s book is To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. I only own the first book, but have read the entire series, so I’m going to review all of them while focusing on the first one, if that makes sense.

I may interject with a few opinions about the movies, but this is a book review, so that’s not gonna be a main point. Also, there will definitely be some spoilers, because I need to rant a little. Okay? Okay.

Without further ado, here’s my review!

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Characters
I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t really love any of the characters in these books. Lara Jean is fairly relatable as a “good girl” introvert who loves baking and her family. At times she did feel a little goody-two-shoes or holier-than-thou. Her internal self was familiar, but sometimes whiny. I felt like she did not have a lot of depth. She gets upset over small things or creates drama while simultaneously being angry about drama. However, she is also optimistic and ends up getting the courage to shoot her shot and try to go for what she wants. Overall, her character felt mediocre. She was flawed, like the rest of us, and had her good qualities, but didn’t go much deeper than the surface.
Okay, now I’m gonna talk about Peter Kavinsky.
This boy. Makes me so. angry. Especially in the movie. Boy is TOXIC and RUDE and objectifies women. He’s occasionally romantic in the first book, but he gets angry a lot, upset over small stuff, expects a lot of effort from the girl in his relationships but doesn’t give much himself. It’s just really frustrating to me. He and Lara Jean brought out the worst in each other and their relationships was generally bad. They had some cute moments, and learned from each other, but by the end of book two, they should have broken up for good.
That brings me to the third main (?) character: Josh. Josh does not really have a big role after the first book, but he’s Lara Jean’s best friend and secret crush at first. He’s okay. His role in the book is very sweet, but he’s a bit possessive. He and Lara Jean actually had a fairly healthy relationship, beginning as friends and slowly growing towards something more. Their relationship felt natural. In the movies, he was incredibly vanilla and lacked any depth whatsoever. Anyway, he wasn’t a big deal after book one (which didn’t make a ton of sense), so there’s no use spending more time on him.
And now my favorite character, John Ambrose. John Ambrose (introduced for real in book two) was kind, had a personality, and was actually good for Lara Jean. Plus, they cast Jordan Fisher to play him in the movie, which automatically earns him bonus points. Someone I know was upset because John was blond in the books, but c’mon, it’s Jordan Fisher, how could you possibly be mad?
Honorable mention: I also loved LJ’s relationships with her sisters and dad. They were realistic, far from perfect, but sweet and familiar.

Plot
While not too original, I enjoyed the plot of the first book: girl and boy fake-date because of outside circumstances and end up falling for one another. That’s fine, it’s okay, even if I wasn’t a fan of the relationship all the time. Book two: enter the other side of the love triangle. What changes by the end of the book, though? Nothing. Lara Jean ends up with the same guy, and their relationship isn’t any better. Lara Jean even blames herself for some of his poor behavior. Peter may have been boyfriend material (emphasis on the may), but John Ambrose was long-term, potential-husband material, and Lara Jean just passed that up. Book three: Lara Jean is worried about college. Will she and her boy break up? No, they will not. Nothing changes. Book three felt utterly unnecessary.
So, while the plot was not extraordinary, it did have some fun moments. I liked the first two books well enough, the first for the cheesy romance’s sake, and the second because we get John Ambrose and we get to learn more about their friend group.

Ending
As previously mentioned, I think the entire third book was unnecessary, and I believe she should have ended up with John Ambrose instead.

Writing
This was typical young adult, easy to read writing. Some moments were better than others and helped me really connect with Lara Jean. Overall, it did not feel especially beautiful or awful, it simply sat in the middle, allowing me to enjoy the story for what it was, but not blowing me away either.

Content Warning
There was some language in this series, with one side character being particularly mouthy. I recall a few instances of f*** or some variation, and more frequent use of s*** and the like. I believe the name of Jesus was also used as a swear word at some point.
Violent content was not an issue, but there was some sexual content. One of the major plot points in book one was a recording of LJ in a hot tub with a boy, seemingly having sex (they weren’t, but it looked that way). The major conflict in book three (or one of them, at least) was LJ trying to decide when to have sex with her boyfriend. There was also a bit of innuendo sprinkled throughout the series. I felt like the first book’s sexual content was fairly mild and actually had a reason to be in the story, but the whole debate in book three was unnecessary and made me think the author was grasping at straws in an attempt to find content ideas.

Aesthetic and Colors
This book/series is very bright and summery. I would recommend it as a spring break read, or something to cheer you up in winter. The color scheme is pastels and neutrals. I picture it in shades of pale beige with pops of pink and green with a productive energy. Lara Jean is a dedicated, productive character, and she’s almost always working on something, be it baking, homework, or reading.

Reading Snack
LJ bakes so much in these books, you CAN’T read without something to eat. If you can get your hands on authentic Korean food, I recommend that, but simple sweets are good too, like chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, brownies, cupcakes, or pain au chocolate.

While I had a lot of problems with this series, I still enjoyed it, and it cheers me up when I’m down. It’s very light and fluffy, like cotton candy at a fair. The movies are fun, perfect for a girls’ night sleepover or as a stress reliever when you wake up at two am with period cramps. I may not love all of Lara Jean’s, or Jenny Han’s, decisions, but it’s a cute story and worth the read.

Have you read this series? What did you think? Who do you like better, Peter or John Ambrose? Let me know in the comments!

Have an adventurous day!

Love,

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