2016 Year End Wrap Up

2016 Year End Wrap Up

  • 70 books read
  • 42 Books by women
  • 38 Books by men
  • 13 Books by POC ( I did not do well here. I also am making some assumptions from author photos.)
  • 7 Books by LGBTQ identified folks (this one is kind of hard since I don’t always know if an author is LGBTQ unless they have said so.)
  • 23 Audiobooks
  • 8 Graphic novels

3 Favorite Fiction
Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist – Sunil Yapa
The Girls – Emma Cline
The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead

3 Favorite Non-Fiction
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City – Matthew Desmond
Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman –  Lindy West
Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen – Jazz Jennings

Author discovered this year who I will go back and read all of their books: Megan Abbott

Book that made me cry on a plane: Mosquitoland – David Arnold

Book about mental health that I thought depicted depression better than most books: The Memory of Light – Francisco X. Stork (I also met him at BookCon and he was incredibly kind and awesome to talk to.)

Book that I was shocked I liked so much: Tiny Pretty Things – Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton

Highlight of my bookish life: Meeting Ann M. Martin with tears in my eyes because as a kid I never dreamed I’d ever meet her.

I’m not setting any specific goals in 2017 aside from my arbitrary 50 books read. Feel free to leave a comment with book recommendations for me this year. I always love a good cult or commune in fiction!

Interview with Kendra of Reads and Treats


The Book Blogger Blind Date series was created by Jill at Rant and Rave About Books. Her idea was to pair bloggers together to have them get to know and interview each other. Being new to book blogging I thought that this was a great opportunity to meet other bloggers in the bookternet community.

I was paired with the wonderful Kendra at Reads and Treats. Kendra and I were paired by Jill because we both share a love for contemporary fiction. Below are five questions I asked Kendra about her thoughts on books and reading habits…

If you would like to see the questions I answered for Kendra check it out here: http://readsandtreats.com/2016/07/27/book-blogger-blind-date

1. What is the biggest challenge you face when reading? (Time? Procrastination? Indecisiveness?) 

The biggest challenges I face are mostly time and procrastination. My heavy TBR doesn’t leave too much room for indecisiveness (most of the time). Time is a major challenge because in a household of 7 (counting animals), I am always busy. I’m also a college student, so I am always ready a lengthy amount of pages for school. I find it hard to read a textbook (sometimes 300 pages a week), and turn around to read a book for review, or fun. Sometimes, I just want to shut off my brain! Other times, it’s procrastination! Right now, I’m in the middle of a book (about 30% done), and it’s good, but I just don’t feel like reading it. There’s nothing I’m reading in place of this one, so I just keep putting it off. Also, I tend to read the most during the night time. However, that can lead to procrastination by means of sleep. 😉

2. If you could give your younger self a book you read as an adult, what would it be? Why?

Ah, this is a tough question. Mostly everything I have read as an adult (with exceptions, of course), were not available when I was younger. However, I would have to say Tampa by Alissa Nutting. It’s a horribly twisted novel about a female teacher who sexually assaults the boys in her class. It’s a weird thing to relate to myself because I was not sexually assaulted by a teacher. But I was by someone close to me. Because of this, I was able to identify with the victims. I had been in their shoes, and the novel said it was never the students’ fault. For years, I always thought it was my fault. After I read this book, even though I was completely disgusted by what this teacher did, it helped me realize that I had no control over what happened. It was never my fault. If I would have learned this much sooner, my transition into adulthood would have been so much better.

3. What would your ideal reading nook look like? 

My ideal reading nook would be in a corner of the room with most of the wall covered in books. But there would be a window that peers out into a landscape of grass, trees, and flowers. My big ol’ comfy chair would be facing toward the window, and when it rains, that is the only place you would ever find me.

4. Do you like to pair your books with anything (music, drinks, foods, etc)?

I actually don’t. I am terrible with this. I have done a few book tags with this premise, and I always find it is so difficult to find books! Now, I have done it, but after the post went live, I always look at it and think ‘what the hell was I thinking? That book doesn’t match that food, drink, etc’. But of course, I’d never take it down. So I just leave it there, hoping it’s not as bad as I think it is/

5. What book genre would best describe your personality?

Definitely contemporary romance. I am a huge hopeless romantic. If it gives you any idea, my three favorite movies are: Definitely, Maybe; The Notebook; and A Walk to Remember. I have many favorites, but those all scream romance! It’s funny because contemporary romance is basically all I read. I do read other genres, but this one is my go to!

Don’t forget to go visit Kendra at Reads and Treats!

VA State Senator Calls for Firing Librarians


The woman who represents my district in the Virginia state senate, Amanda Chase, is calling for the firing of Chesterfield County Public School librarians. What atrocities did they commit? Surely they were reading 50 Shades of Grey aloud to first-graders. Maybe they strapped a bunch of middle school students to chairs and read the book of Leviticus while performing atonement rituals? No, they simply created a summer reading list with highly popular books. All lists can be found under the 2016 link  at the Chesterfield County Public Schools summer reading list.

It’s quite obvious from the statements Chase made to the Chesterfield Observer reporter that she has not read the books that were questioned by parents (including herself.) Chase called the books on the list, “pornographic” and “trash.” Really? Eleanor and Park is far from either of those regardless of your opinion on whether the book was good reading (and I may be biased as I loved it). I can’t even recall if Eleanor and Park even have sex, because I was too busy reading a story about how people are shitty to poor kids and Asian kids and do anything to ostracize them. I was caught up in how they found each other and had a really kickass relationship. How Park’s parents were there for Eleanor when they found she was a victim of neglect by her own family. Certainly this type of thing never happens in *PEARL CLUTCH* our schools!

I’ve got news for Amanda Chase. I went to Chesterfield County Public Schools from 1986 thru 1998. My librarian in 5th grade called me Blossom because I look like Mayim Bialik but it was also a term of endearment. She showed me where all the ghost stories and got me hooked on Betty Ren Wright and Mary Downing Hahn. When I was in middle school and didn’t want to spend lunch not feeling welcome at any lunch table, I was allowed to hang out in the library and cut the donated Campbell’s soup labels down to size. No one ever questioned my reading choices during that time. I may have been suffering from depression so badly that I disengaged from my education in high school but my English teachers always commented that they wished I would apply myself as they enjoyed my banter in class regarding our reading. I didn’t have the vast amount of young adult fiction that exists today. I reread The Catcher in the Rye sixteen times and felt solace that this kid in New York was experiencing a similar outlook on life. I didn’t feel so alone, and it probably kept me alive during a time when suicide was an option on the table more often than not.

If I had a more vast and diverse library to choose from, I wouldn’t have had to rely on just that one book. If the other kids had a more vast and diverse library to choose from, maybe they would have learned empathy sooner and not yelled, “dyke!” at me when I walked down the hall. Oh does that happen in Chesterfield County Schools? You bet. Fiction is an excellent source to teach kids empathy for those who are different from them. It normalizes the marginalized.

If you are local, I ask you to contact Amanda Chase and tell her to let the librarians do their job.  They know what is happening in their schools and with their students. They know what books their kids need access to. And if there is a questionable book in the stacks, let the parents do the censoring for their own children. You don’t get to censor other children’s’ reading, Senator. Maybe I will include a copy of Fahrenheit 451 with a letter explaining how your comments on the Chesterfield County summer reading list are absurd at least and dangerous at most.

My Wonka-esque Book Experience


I have extremely vivid dreams. They are so strong and detailed that some nights I feel as I’ve gotten no sleep as either a participant or observer of these dreams. When they get to a certain point I have to take Ativan before bed to keep them from waking me in full panic attack mode. It’s been a challenge at times, but whereas a common reaction to, “Let me tell you the dream I had!” is a groan, people I regularly share with can’t wait to hear the next installment of whatever my brain has concocted.

One may think having a book related dream might be rather mundane. You forgot to bring your book to class, you are in the biggest bookstore ever and can’t choose a book, or you get lost in the library stacks.

It starts off that I am at some sort of technology/weird kitschy item expo. As I look around at the booths, one being a company offering business cards and wallets made out of strange materials, a woman approaches me. She kind of looks like Judy King from Orange is the New Black. She asks me if I like to read and if so to come over to her booth on the other side of the aisle. I cross over where she has a sort of lounge chair, almost like a dentist’s chair but more comfortable set up. As I sit, she begins to explain that her product is a collection of short stories. As you read each story you chew a special piece of gum. The gum brings certain tastes and smells as you progress in your reading. I can’t recall any of the specific tastes, but I know that I remember something woodsy and dirt-like. When I got to the second story the woman brought me a cup of very weird rooty tea. On the surface of the tea was foam that was in the shape of small Runt candy like bananas. I had to drink it in order to get to the piece of gum floating around inside.
And that is it. I woke up from this Willy Wonka madness wishing I could invent such a book companion. I suppose for now I will stick with my beer pairings until we level up to Wonka’s vision. As we all know, his gum didn’t have all the kinks worked out yet.

June 2016 Book Brief

Reading stats for June 2016

Cut by Patricia McCormick
Real World by Natsuo Kirino
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings
The Rest of us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
George by Alex Gino
Daring Greatly by Brene Brown
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
The Sunlight Pilgrims by Jenni Fagan

Total finished: 9
Owned: 4
Borrowed from library: 5
Fiction: 7
Non-Fiction: 2
LGBTQ Authors: 4 (Books w/LGBTQ characters: 6)
Women authors: 7
POC authors: 1
Audiobooks: 3
In translation: 1

Favorite: The Sunlight Pilgrims (I’ll be writing more about this one soon.)

In Honor of Orlando: 10 Books That Celebrate Queer Latinx Identity — Read Diverse Books

(Article originally posted on Up ‘Til Midnight; reblogged and edited in light of recent events) If you logged into Twitter yesterday even for 1 minute or followed the news at all, you heard the tragic news about the mass shooting that happened in Orlando, Florida. Hearing about the 50 people who were killed and the dozens…

via In Honor of Orlando: 10 Books That Celebrate Queer Latinx Identity — Read Diverse Books

Summer book bingo time!

Let me start off by saying that I am incredibly sad to hear that Books on the Nightstand is ending their podcast in June after a super long run. Ann and Michael’s thoughts on the book world and their recommendations will be sorely missed. The fact that they announced this on the same day as summer book bingo probably saved a lot of fallen tears as many of us were too excited about downloading new bingo cards to cry for long.

For those unfamiliar with summer book bingo, you can download a card here. The object is to obtain a bingo by reading books that match the categories (open to your interpretation). In the US we have two holidays which bookend our summers, Memorial Day and Labor Day (if you are outside of the US think the last weekend in May through the first weekend in September). That is the time frame in which you have to play.

I am posting my card below. Leave a comment with your suggestions for what I should read in these categories!  Last summer I completed 3 rows, I hope to meet the same goal this year.


Anxiety and Me (and BEA)


Coming from a Polish family, I am excited that Poland is the focus of the Global Market Forum at BEA. Plus, I can get real pierogi in Chicago.

I’m nervous. As Book Expo America approaches in just two days, I am not sleeping as well. This is usual for any big event that I am excited about. However, this is the first time I have ever attended a conference of this magnitude. I am well versed in conferences and conventions, but I’ve never been to this type of event. Mostly I’ve been to atheist/feminist/social justice conferences and seminars where I know lots of folks and have built in friends from all over the country and overseas. I am traveling alone to Chicago, but I do have my friend Sarah of the amazing Book Jawn Podcast who I will be meeting up with. I may need to warn her that if she sees me rubbing my legs that I’m on the verge of an anxiety attack and she should tell me to breathe and take an Ativan.

The thing I am most nervous about is keeping my anxiety in check during BEA. I tend to try to plan out my days and stick to a schedule to keep control of my anxiety. I am going into BEA knowing that my schedule will be changed, potentially at the very last minute. Saying that I have no expectations sounds harsh, like I think I’ll have a bad time. But for me, having no expectations simply means that I cannot count on obtaining certain galleys or getting a book signed by a specific author. It’s cool if it happens, but if it doesn’t that’s fine and it does not mean I wasted my time. I am so thankful to all of the book bloggers who have written excellent posts about their experiences at BEA. In particular, this one at Feed Your Fiction Addiction has been a lifesaver.

What I hope is that between utilizing Insight Timer and the information I’ve learned in Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness For Beginners I can keep anxiety at bay or at least treat it as it bubbles up. If anyone has any ideas on decompressing after a day full of people in Chicago please comment or Tweet at me.

With all of that said, I’m still super excited. I see this as a challenge and something that will hopefully be a way to gather knowledge not just on the publishing industry and bookternet but also myself. If you see me around at BEA (and the bloggers conference) or BookCon please say hi! Small talk, when about books, is always welcome!

Reading Young Adult as an… Adult

GloryOBrienIn celebration of I Read YA week:

I don’t feel old in my mid-30s, but I have aged out of being able to call myself the target audience of young and also new adult. During my time as a teen in the 90s, the young adult genre was only an inkling of what it has become in recent years. In the past, I read a lot of coming of age novels, which were mostly male authored with male lead characters. A few of my favorites as a teen were Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Skipped Parts by Tim Sandlin and Youth in Revolt by C.D. Payne. I was desperate to grasp onto any fictional character who could validate the  mess happening in my brain in my fight to deal with generalized anxiety disorder and depression. I was dealing with thoughts and feelings that I didn’t feel safe divulging to judgemental and gossipy friends, so I turned to fictional friends as an alternative.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve obtained a more trustworthy circle and learned more about the best ways to keep my mental illness in check, some of my old fictional friends aren’t the best to go back to. Just like most toxic relationships, it’s best to cut the cord. So long Holden Caulfield. You have a spot in my heart for holding my hand through junior year, but we’re over. The genre of young adult fiction has exploded in recent years. With that, we’ve seen a slow but growing uptick in diverse authors and thus characters. Where I had to settle for literary friends at one time, I can now seek out heroines and heroes for which I don’t have to compromise. If a character is a misogynist, I can toss them aside and not fret that I may not find someone in another novel with values closer to my own.

To this day, I have to focus on recovery from the traumas and mental illness symptoms I had in my younger years. In addition, my mental illnesses are those that require constant work and treatment in order to live a happy and fulfilling life. What I have found in many current YA titles are characters who are dealing with these same symptoms. These characters are facing traumas that I faced. Not realizing others shared these experiences, I have taken to voraciously reading these novels in adulthood. I have hurts from that time in my life which still need to heal. Recently I read The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork and was absolutely blown away by the way in which he crafted the experience of depression through the main character, Vicky Cruz. Her depression had an air of guilt engulfing it. She questioned why she had suicidal ideations when she came from an upper middle class background. She could see other people had a more marginalized position in society and didn’t understand why depression could exist in her. This was something I struggled with from external sources in my teens. I was thus able to let go of the hurt I still carried from people who asked me why I was depressed when I had what appeared to be a comfortable life.

I find that the gap in my mental health treatment is slowly being closed by meeting new characters in YA fiction. Whether it’s the inspiration to continue working for the betterment of society despite PTSD from Katniss Everdeen, or persevering to fight the bad in our world when having trouble fitting in to a certain societal mold from Tris Prior. When given a fictional character that mirrors our own struggles, we can take cues in how we might heal from the past or conquer the future.

Post 24 Hour Readathon Post


I did it! The conditions weren’t ideal but I participated in Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon. My stats for the day:

Books read:
Tiny Pretty Things (audio)No Mud No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering
The Widow

Physical pages read: roughly 350
Books finished: 1 (but finished a second one on Sunday)
Hours slept: 6
Prizes won: A three month membership to Playster.

SocksUprootedUnfortunately, my brain wasn’t in it for a lot of the day. If you read my previous post, you saw that I had to volunteer at Planned Parenthood in the morning due to nationwide protests. I usually can let the things that anti-choice protestors yell at me slide, but this time a middle-aged man called me “stupid” and it really got in my head.  Of course, I know I am not stupid, and he is gravely misinformed in the “facts” he was spouting off with which I refused to engage. But sometimes that anger can sit with you the rest of the day after this type of activism no matter what self care you perform.

Good news is that I feel much better now.  My sights are set on the blogger’s conference at BEA and then onto BookCon! Also, if you found me from the 24 Hour Readathon, welcome to my fledgling blog!