My Favorite Stand-Alone Novels!

Hey guys! I hope you’re all doing well. It’s been pouring rain all day today…up until now (around 6PM), when the weather decided to be sunny again. Go figure. Anyway, I thought I would share with you guys my favorite stand-alone novels!

I love a good series, but every now and then it’s refreshing to read a book that has a start and end, cover to cover. This list is in no particular order, sooooo…let’s get to it!

standalones

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Three words to describe this book: magical, atmospheric, and wonderful. Although we technically have two main characters (both of which are magicians/illusionists) Erin Morgenstern includes so many other characters with their own perspectives and is able to develop them SO WELL despite the fact they are not the main focus of attention. They all play a role, however, in this mystical, wondrous place that is the traveling Night Circus. When I read this book, I felt as though I was in a romantic, magical black and white film. I wanted to explore the beautiful European cities the book is set in (for the most part), and then spend an endless night exploring all of the curious tents, all the while being friends with each unique character. This book will forever be one of the fictional worlds I wish I could live in.

Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan

This is a book I had NEVER heard about until I saw a friend of mine reading it, and when I expressed interest in it she let me borrow it. Eventually I had to get my own copy because I wanted to take my time savoring it. It has a somewhat similar feeling to The Night Circus, but it’s definitely more dark and ominous. Our main character has to deal with a dark household (both emotionally and literally), and a mother-in-law who is one of the most evil, magical characters I have ever met. Peculiar fortune tellers, vengeful swarms of bees, unnatural (demon?) babies, a mysterious woman wailing into the midnight mist, and much more strange and magical things are in this novel. I can say with confidence that this is probably the strangest and most unique novel I have ever read.

And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks by Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs

I feel as though this book is an unknown classic. To me it is the epitome of the Beat Generation but in fiction rather than poetry, which is what the Beat Generation is most known for. In this novel, Kerouac and Burroughs fictionalize a real murder that both were involved in (but not directly). It’s a really simple and quick read, but it highlights the atmosphere and feel of the Beat Generation so well, it makes the Beat fangirl in me so happy. Despite the…dank, smoky atmosphere the book gives off. It’s perfect if you want to get a little insight into these writer’s lives. AND if you haven’t heard of the movie Kill Your Darlings, which was based on the book and the actual murder that happened, I definitely recommend it. It stars Daniel Radcliffe and Dane DeHaan (both beautiful, talented actors) and although it isn’t an exact adaption of the book, it does a pretty damn good job. If you’re even remotely interested in the Beat Generation, you gotta read this book. *ad for this book over*

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

(Trigger Warning for self-harm in this book). This is a 2017 release, so not many people may be as familiar with it yet. It has been getting fairly well-known in the young adult reading community, but not as much as it should in my opinion. This is an own-voices contemporary novel following a teenage girl who has extreme agoraphobia, anxiety, depression, and OCD. The reason I love this novel so much is because I am someone who has suffered from all of these things (except the OCD) and can say that this book is not sugar-coated, and it is such an honest and true representation of what people with these invisible illnesses go through every day. Sure, it has the cutesy romance that every YA contemporary has, but it is not the focus of the novel, the mental illness is. I think that’s so important because a lot of books have the love interest fix the MC’s mental illness, and that is just not accurate. That does not happen, and this book showcases that. It shows struggle and difficulty, it shows days where it feels like nothing will get better. But, at the end, it shows hope. And that’s honestly the one thing anyone can ask for when it comes to dealing with a mental illness. The author is such a sweet person, and it’s so great to hear a story that lies in truth; one that people who suffer from these illnesses can relate to.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This is a modern classic. It’s a historical fiction WWII novel that follows our main character Liesel, a little girl adopted by an older couple. She loves to read, write, and steal books. It is heartbreaking, beautiful, and, like I said, a modern classic. I honestly don’t know what else to say about this. I feel like it’s so popular that I don’t need to say much, so I’ll just leave it at that.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

This is another YA contemporary. We see twins Noah and Jude grow up through a tragedy. We see how close they were when they were young and how far from each other they are when they grow up. This novel is beautifully written. Jandy Nelson makes your heart ache for each character, even when one is negatively depicting the other. This book, I think, is the ultimate coming-of-age novel. It explores art, friendships, family tragedy, and the troubles of growing up among peer pressure, unrequited love, and all those things that we deem cliché in YA books but are often rooted in truth. This is my favorite young adult contemporary book of all time, and I’ve read a lot of YA contemporary. Not to sound pretentious (although it will probably come across that way anyway), I think that’s saying something.

A World Without You by Beth Revis

I would say this is a young adult contemporary…but at the same time it’s not. But at the same time it is. It’s confusing and you would probably only understand what I mean if you’ve read the book (hint hint: read the book). A lot of this book feels like magical realism, especially when we’re in our main character’s point of view. However, when we switch from our MC’s view to his sister’s view, things aren’t as they seem. In our main character’s point of view, we are in a boarding school for teens who have super powers. In our MC’s sister’s POV, her brother is in a school for teens with mental illnesses and/or disabilities. Therefore, each POV is very different from the other. This makes the book a tragically beautiful story of remorse and regret, a book of what it means to be mentally ill. It explores the fine line between truth and fiction; reality and imagination. I can’t say whether or not this is strictly contemporary fiction, as the ending of the book leaves the reader questioning that, but it definitely comes in a hard second to I’ll Give You the Sun if it is.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

We’re rounding this list off with a clear-cut fantasy novel. No magical realism, illusions, etc. It takes place in a fictional world with storybook-like settings and characters. The magic in this world is made up of beautiful, non-sensical words and various mystical potions that can either hurt or help you. The villain of the story is a dark forest with unforgiving creatures and trees that hold old secrets. The main character is locked in a tower with a stern magician, who slowly but surely comes to like her and teach her magic. If all of these things don’t describe a classic fairytale story (with just a smidgen of R-rated material), then I don’t know what does. Naomi Novik’s writing is slow and sweet, setting up the ominous dark forest and the hate-to-love relationship between the magician and our main character beautifully. If I could recommend any stand-alone fantasy novel, it would be this one.

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That’s it for this list, folks! Let me know what are some of your favorite stand-alone books. I love getting some good stand-alone recommendations! 🙂

 

Rapid Fire Book Tag!

Hey guys! I thought in order to get to know me a little bit better (in terms of my bookish preferences and opinions) that I would do the rapid fire book tag! This book tag originates from YouTube, on GirlReading‘s channel. Be sure to check it out if you’re interested in doing it yourself.

So…without any further ado, here’s the tag!

E-Book or Physical Book?  Physical

Paperback or Hardback? Hardback for the looks (and if it’s a new release and I just have to have it), paperback for comfort in reading and travelling.

Online or In-Store Book Shopping? In-store book shopping

Trilogies or Series? Series! I think it’s rare for a trilogy to feel complete to me. Only a few have done a good job in my opinion. Perhaps I’ll make a future post on that…

Heroes or Villains? Heroes. Yes, I’m cliché. TOO BAD.

A book you want everyone to read? The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. I believe there’s something in that memoir for everyone.

Recommend an underrated book? Girl Overboard by Justina Chen Headley. It’s an own-voices, YA contemporary that has some really important issues thrown in.

The last book you finished? Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

The Last Book You Bought? Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. I have been waiting FOREVER for this book to come out and I’m so excited it’s finally in my hands.

Weirdest Thing You’ve Used as a Bookmark? Nothing too weird…a tissue, maybe?

Used Books: Yes or No? Yes! If they don’t have writing all over them and aren’t ripped, for sure.

Top Three Favorite Genres? Fantasy (both YA and adult), Contemporary (both YA and adult), and poetry.

Borrow or Buy? Unfortunately for my wallet, buy.

Characters or Plot? Characters. If I love the characters, I don’t care what they’re doing.

Long or Short Books? Long books.

Long or Short Chapters? Short chapters.

Name The First Three Books You Think Of… Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Harry Potter series

The Cinnamon Peeler by Michael Ondaatje

Books That Makes You Laugh or Cry? LORD I have yet to come across a book that has made me cry, so PLEASE if you have any cry-worthy recommendations, feel free to let me know. As for laughing…any book by Ellen DeGeneres, Bossypants by Tina Fey, My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand & co., and pretty much any Rick Riordan book.

Our World or Fictional Worlds? This is tough, because it depends on which fictional world. I would love to live in Narnia or the wizarding world, but Panem? Westeros? No thank you. I think I’ll probably stick to this world.

Audiobooks: Yes or No? Yes!

Do You Ever Judge a Book by its Cover? Of course, who doesn’t? I’m being honest here.

Book to Movie or Book to TV Adaptations? Book to movie.

A Movie or TV-Show You Preferred to its Book?  The movie edition of The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. No one hurt me. Please.

Series or Standalone’s? Series. It allows for so much more character development and world building if the story takes place in a different world. That being said, I think it depends on the genre. Fantasy and sci-fi usually call for series, but contemporary and literary fiction call for stand-alones in my opinion.

Thanks for reading guys! Let me know your answers to some of these questions in the comments! 🙂

All previously written book reviews are up!

Hey guys! All the book reviews I have written in the past are up and running, finally! It took a bit of time to do, but now the book review page is all up-to-date.

A lot of those reviews are quite old, and so they don’t have a set format. In future book reviews I will be creating a format for every book review so everything is more…neat.

I’ll be doing different posts other than book reviews soon, so stay tuned for those! I’m so happy and excited to have this blog up and running. I’ll see you guys in the next post!

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Book Review: Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

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Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Health

Year Published: 2016 (UK) 2017 (US)

My Rating: ★★★★1/2

I received an advanced reader copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This is a non-spoiler review.

TRIGGER WARNING for self-harm and depression.

This was one of my most highly anticipated reads for 2017 and boy oh boy was I right in anticipating this. The reason I was anticipating this book was because the blurb indicated it was a story about a main character with agoraphobia (fear of leaving one’s home or ‘safe space’), OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), extreme anxiety, and depression. These are all things that I have suffered from, so to see a book that was coming out that explored all of these things in one character really had me intrigued. I wasn’t disappointed.

In a nutshell, this YA contemporary follows our main character Norah, a 17 (?) year old teenager living in California who suffers from all of the above mentioned. The reader follows her day to day life and how she deals with the illness she suffers from. It explores her relationship with her mother, as well as her therapist. There is also, of course, the love interest as well. The love interest comes in the form of Luke, a boy who has just moved in next door and is intrigued by Norah: the girl who sits in the open doorway of her house, watching the outside world while her mind keeps her trapped inside her house.

Right off the bat, hearing that there is a love interest to someone who has agoraphobia, or any other invisible illness, may make a reader hesitant. Is this just another book about the love interest fixing the mental illness of the main protagonist? Because that in itself is very unrealistic.

You may think this at first, but this book is far from that. The love interest in this book definitely does not fix Norah’s illness. In fact, she still has a very long way to go by the time the end of the book comes about. What he does do, and what her mother and therapist also do in this book, is help Norah deal with the day to day hurdles she has to jump through. They help her grow.

What really amplifies Norah’s internal struggles in the book is the knowledge that the author herself has suffered from all of these things. This therefore makes it an own-voices book (a book in which the author identifies with the same characteristics of the main character). Norah’s story suddenly becomes all the more real with this piece of knowledge and it really authenticates the story in this way. It authenticates that people with this mental illness think about things such as the following daily:

-Self-harm
-Low self-worth
-Wondering if this illness will ever let them have a life
-Thinking every worst situation possible will happen if they step outside their door
-Overthinking every word a person has communicated to them
-Overthinking pretty much everything in general to the point where it makes them sick

We, the readers, discover that Norah thinks about these things daily. Her struggle with these things, and slowly but surely overcoming them only to find something else blocking her path to recovery, is what this book is really all about. The romance is a cute subplot, but again, it is not the main focal point of the story.

The only thing I would have to complain about this book was that a lot of the pages that contained Norah’s internal thoughts were overflowing with metaphors and similes. A lot of what Norah would be thinking about was compared to something else. I understand that it is hard to write a book that comprises mostly of the narrators thoughts without metaphors and similes, but I feel as though the book would have benefited more if there was less of this.

Other than that, I highly enjoyed this novel. It, in my opinion, should be required reading of any teenager in high school. It really opens up the subject of mental illness and even shows that it is more common than one may think. Students, and pretty much any one of any age, will learn that they are not alone in reading this book…and I think that’s one of the most important things to remember when you have a mental illness: that you are not alone.

Find this book elsewhere: Goodreads Amazon Book Depository

Book Review: Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

milk

Genre: Poetry

Year Published: 2014

My Rating:★★★★☆

This collection of poetry has sky-rocketed in the past year. So, as a person who is an avid reader of poetry and is open to trying the most obscure poets as well as the most popular, I decided to pick up this collection to see what it was all about.

The first thing I noticed was the style in which it is written. The style is very short, free-verse poetry that tends to have one or two very impactful lines within the poem. For example, here is one of the poems from the collection that I particularly liked:

your name is
the strongest
positive and negative
connotation in any language
it lights me up or
leaves me aching for days

-rupi kaur

Now, many people (more specifically, avid poetry readers, especially those who pride themselves on reading the greatest names in poetry) would say this is not poetry. That it’s ‘hipster’ poetry for teenage girls.

I, as a reader of all types of poetry, having studied poetry as an English major at the previous university I attended as well as one I attended abroad (which was one of the top in the UK) strongly disagree with this. I have read the greats and have appreciated them just as much as I appreciated this collection of poetry.

Why?

Because unlike poets such as Yeats, Dickinson, Whitman, Frost, and Keats, this collection by Rupi Kaur is, in a word, accessible.

It is accessible to ALL readers and allows readers who are not as familiar with poetry to read and enjoy this. It opens up a whole new world of reading to them, and maybe somewhere down the line in their new journey of poetry reading they will reach the greats and appreciate them as well.

Moving on from the above discussion, I would like to discuss why I enjoyed the content of this collection.

Kaur has an innate talent of packing a big punch in very short poems. This is not an easy feat. To find the words, and so very few at that, that will make a person look up from the book and think “Wow. This is incredibly true and incredibly raw,” is a huge accomplishment. Not only that, but the author tackles subjects that are very touchy, such as rape. She does it in such a way that makes you want to stand up and join all of those women that were marching this past weekend and protect those who have gone through such horrendous, disgusting ordeals (women and men alike). Her poetry is empowering and puts a lot of thoughts and feelings thousands of people have stuck inside their heads onto paper for all to read and all to understand.

All of this is not to say that this is a perfect collection of poetry. There were some poems that didn’t hit home as much as they were intended to. There were some that could have been left out of the book and not have downgraded the collection by any means. However, that being said, I did still enjoy reading every poem in this collection.

The main reason I enjoyed this was because it did something for me, and I’m sure for many other avid poetry readers, that no other collection has done before: it has opened poetry up to the world again. It has made poetry more popular, and it has made poetry a genre that more people are seeking out. For that, I am grateful for this collection.

Find this book elsewhere: Goodreads Amazon Book Depository

Book Review: Whiskey Words & a Shovel II by r.h. Sin

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Genre: Poetry

Year Published: 2016

My Rating:★☆☆☆☆

This review is a short one, folks. You’ll see why as you read on.

This poetry collection, which I was SO excited for, was way over-hyped. I found it to have the following things, and more, that really irked me to the point of no return: preach-y to women (when the author is a man), likes to romanticize depression and the aftermath of abusive relationships, compares a woman’s sex to a winter jacket, continously says he’s a better man than any other man the women he’s speaking to has been with, and is filled to the brim with over-used themes and contantly eye-rolling cliches.

OH and out of the 150+ poems in here? I only liked 5 or 6 of them. OUT OF OVER 150 poems. Man. I definitely don’t think I’ll be reading any more of this author’s work, which makes me upset because I was looking forward to enjoying his work. Alas, no cigar. Hopefully I’ll be diving into some better poetry soon.

Alright, that’s enough griping of this book. I think I’m just going to leave this review at that.

Find this book elsewhere: Goodreads Amazon Book Depository

Graphic Novel Review: Bitch Planet Vol. 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick and co.

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Genre: Dystopian, Science Fiction

Year Published: 2015

My Rating:★★★★☆

I loved this first volume in this new graphic novel (or comic? I’m still not sure about these labels) series. It takes place in a world where patriarchy rules all…and you may think, wait. Isn’t that the world we already live in?

Yes.

And no.

Because this graphic novel takes place in a world where patriarchy is in the EXTREME. Women who have been “disobedient” or have presented any traits that may go against the male-vision of what they consider to be a perfect woman are sent to what is called “Bitch Planet”. It is LITERALLY a whole planet dedicated to keeping the women they deem disobedient off of planet Earth.

I seriously hope that this is not the future of Earth because although it makes for an interesting read, I would not want this to happen in real life (as I’m sure every other woman wouldn’t want it happening as well).

I don’t want to go too much into the plot, but I will say that it is thought-provoking, funny, and at times, even heart-breaking. We, in an Orange is the New Black type of style, get to know individual inmates on Bitch Planet and how they will play a role in the overall story arc. We also get to see the society of this futuristic universe and how men control every aspect of it, which was pretty sickening.

Overall I really enjoyed this first volume. The art is fantastic and the story is intriguing as well. I can’t wait to read the next volume coming out at the end of this month.

Find this book elsewhere: Goodreads Amazon Book Depository