Unboxing: September Uppercase 

As you may remember, Owlcrate’s September box theme (Mythical Creatures) didn’t appeal to me at all and I opted to skip this month with them. 

But I didn’t want to go a month without a box…especially my birthday month (more on that later) so I opted to try out Uppercase this month, and I was not disappointed!

First of all, how effin’ cute is the packaging?! It’s not bulky and doesn’t take up space in the way other boxes do. I mean I can’t be the only one who for some reason takes forever to throw out boxes, can I?

Inside the cute bag are delightful little treasures!

  • A signed copy of Warcross by Marie Lu
  • A Warcross button
  • Hogwarts house crest coasters
  • An Uppercase exclusive “Book Queen” keychain 
  • An ALA Banned Book Week sticker 
  • A Reading Experience bookmark 

For the price (it’s one of the most affordable book subscription boxes) it’s a great buy! I’m really pleased with it, and actually can’t wait to read Warcross!

I’ll be back on Owlcrate next month for their “Meet Me in the Forest” theme, and I’m debating trying out LitCube’s “It’s Just a Bunch of Hocus Pocus” box.


If You Like… Weekly Read-a-like Post

So, remember when I said I felt like I was on an upswing and would be posting regularly again?

I was wrong.

I went down again… hard. But I am trying to put my stuff back on track, and part of that is working on my RA (reads’ advisory) skills for my job. With that as a goal I’m going to try to do a weekly “Read-a-like” recommendations for popular novels or authors.
So without further ado…

If You Liked The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood…

The Handmaid’s Tale is one of those books that should come in your hypothetical feminist starter pack. It so broadly draws a picture of objectification and oppressive gender roles in society that it would be hard to walk away from reading it without it altering the way you look at the world we live in. In fact, its political and social message have in some cases been deemed dangerous/offensive to the public, and the novel has been a staple on the ALA’s most frequently banned and challenged books list for decades. If you’ve liked A Handmaid’s Tale or are intrigued by the feminist subject matter I have a few recommendations for you.

You Might Like…

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Like The Handmaid’s Tale, The Awakening is largely hailed as a major text in the feminist canon. It deals with the roles women are “supposed” to play in society and what the consequences are for failing to conform to those roles.

When first published in 1899, The Awakening shocked readers with its honest treatment of female marital infidelity. Audiences accustomed to the pieties of late Victorian romantic fiction were taken aback by Chopin’s daring portrayal of a woman trapped in a stifling marriage, who seeks and finds passionate physical love outside the confines of her domestic situation.

The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin

This short novel (really more of a novella) takes women’s fear of objectification and dehumanization and ratchets it waaaaaaay up. It’s scary because Levin sets it in the real world, not some future dystopia. It’s scary as hell.

For Joanna, her husband, Walter, and their children, the move to beautiful Stepford seems almost too good to be true. It is. For behind the town’s idyllic facade lies a terrible secret — a secret so shattering that no one who encounters it will ever be the same. At once a masterpiece of psychological suspense and a savage commentary on a media-driven society that values the pursuit of youth and beauty at all costs, The Stepford Wives is a novel so frightening in its final implications that the title itself has earned a place in the American lexicon.

Bumped by Megan McCafferty

Both THT and Bumped use women’s fear of only being valued for their reproductive capability as a premise. But as a YA title, this one is a bit lighter. 

When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society. Girls sport fake baby bumps and the school cafeteria stocks folic-acid-infused food.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and have never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Up to now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they are searching for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job. Harmony has spent her whole life in Goodside, a religious community, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from. When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.

Only Ever Yours by Louise O’Neill

This book is really upsetting. Seriously. But you should definitely read it.

In a world in which baby girls are no longer born naturally, women are bred in schools, trained in the arts of pleasing men until they are ready for the outside world. At graduation, the most highly rated girls become “companions”, permitted to live with their husbands and breed sons until they are no longer useful. For the girls left behind, the future – as a concubine or a teacher – is grim.

Best friends freida and isabel are sure they’ll be chosen as companions – they are among the most highly rated girls in their year. But as the intensity of final year takes hold, isabel does the unthinkable and starts to put on weight. And then, into this sealed female environment, the boys arrive, eager to choose a bride. freida must fight for her future – even if it means betraying the only friend, the only love, she has ever known.
*The Handmaid’s Tale photograph is an original photo, while all other photos come from Goodreads or Amazon.

**All descriptions from Goodreads

Back to School Books

So, it’s that time of year again, BACK TO SCHOOL. Even if you’re an adult who hasn’t stepped inside a school in ages there is still a very palpable tingle of anticipation/dread in the air. Until this year, the years my life have been divided into school and not school first as a student then as a teacher. This is the first year in my life when I haven’t “gone back to school” and it feels incredibly weird. I feel like something is wrong or missing, like I’m forgetting to do something.

 That thing is school. 
So here’s a list of some Back to School Books to soothe that dull little itch in the back of my (and maybe your) mind.

High School

 Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty

When her best friend, Hope Weaver, moves away from Pineville, New Jersey, hyperobservant sixteen-year-old Jessica Darling is devastated. A fish out of water at school and a stranger at home, Jessica feels more lost than ever now that the only person with whom she could really communicate has gone. How is she supposed to deal with the boy- and shopping-crazy girls at school, her dad’s obsession with her track meets, her mother salivating over big sister Bethany’s lavish wedding, and her nonexistent love life?

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance. When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.

We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

Before the asteroid we let ourselves be defined by labels: The athlete, the outcast, the slacker, the overachiever. 

But then we all looked up and everything changed. 

They said it would be here in two months. That gave us two months to leave our labels behind. Two months to become something bigger than what we’d been, something that would last even after the end. 

Two months to really live.
Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl

Marisha Pessl’s dazzling debut sparked raves from critics and heralded the arrival of a vibrant new voice in American fiction. At the center of Special Topics in Calamity Physics is clever, deadpan Blue van Meer, who has a head full of literary, philosophical, scientific, and cinematic knowledge, but she could use some friends. Upon entering the elite St. Gallway School, she finds some–a clique of eccentrics known as the Bluebloods. One drowning and one hanging later, Blue finds herself puzzling out a byzantine murder mystery.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s twin sister Wren has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?
A Secret History by Donna Tartt

Under the influence of their charismatic classics professor, a group of clever, eccentric misfits at an elite New England college discover a way of thinking and living that is a world away from the humdrum existence of their contemporaries. But when they go beyond the boundaries of normal morality they slip gradually from obsession to corruption and betrayal, and at last – inexorably – into evil.
 I am Charlotte Simmons by Tom Wolfe

Our story unfolds at fictional Dupont University: those Olympian halls of scholarship housing the cream of America’s youth, the roseate Gothic spires and manicured lawns suffused with tradition . . . Or so it appears to beautiful, brilliant Charlotte Simmons, a sheltered freshman from North Carolina. But Charlotte soon learns, to her mounting dismay, that for the upper-crust coeds of Dupont, sex, cool, and kegs trump academic achievement every time. She is seduced by the heady glamour of acceptance, betraying both her values and upbringing before she grasps the power of being different–and the exotic allure of her own innocence.

Boarding School

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

Lee Fiora is an intelligent, observant fourteen-year-old when her father drops her off in front of her dorm at the prestigious Ault School in Massachusetts. She leaves her animated, affectionate family in South Bend, Indiana, at least in part because of the boarding school’s glossy brochure, in which boys in sweaters chat in front of old brick buildings, girls in kilts hold lacrosse sticks on pristinely mown athletic fields, and everyone sings hymns in chapel. As Lee soon learns, Ault is a cloistered world of jaded, attractive teenagers who spend summers on Nantucket and speak in their own clever shorthand. Both intimidated and fascinated by her classmates, Lee becomes a shrewd observer of–and, ultimately, a participant in–their rituals and mores. As a scholarship student, she constantly feels like an outsider and is both drawn to and repelled by other loners. By the time she’s a senior, Lee has created a hard-won place for herself at Ault. But when her behavior takes a self-destructive and highly public turn, her carefully crafted identity within the community is shattered.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter is due to start his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His best friends Ron and Hermione have been very secretive all summer and he is desperate to get back to school and find out what has been going on. However, what Harry discovers is far more devastating than he could ever have expected…

*NOTE* Any Harry Potter book is good for some back to school mood setting. I chose Order of the Phoenix because it actually deals largely with education, how it’s approached and the power that teachers wield—and whether or not they are responsible with it.

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

At seventeen, overachieving Lane finds himself at Latham House, a sanatorium for teens suffering from an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Part hospital and part boarding school, Latham is a place of endless rules and confusing rituals, where it’s easier to fail breakfast than it is to flunk French. There, Lane encounters a girl he knew years ago. Instead of the shy loner he remembers, Sadie has transformed. At Latham, she is sarcastic, fearless, and utterly compelling. Her friends, a group of eccentric troublemakers, fascinate Lane, who has never stepped out of bounds his whole life. And as he gradually becomes one of them, Sadie shows him their secrets: how to steal internet, how to sneak into town, and how to disable the med sensors they must wear at all times.

But there are consequences to having secrets, particularly at Latham House. And as Lane and Sadie begin to fall in love and their group begins to fall sicker, their insular world threatens to come crashing down.

*NOTE* This one is a little John Greeny for my tastes, but it get points for the unique circumstances of the novel.

All photos and descriptions from Goodreads.com.

I did a bad, bad thing…

Waaaaaay back in June I began a “Book Buying Ban” that would end on my birthday (September 11th…Virgos amiright?!). All was going to plan, I was surviving on Book of the Month and Owlcrate and the fact that I work in a library and am literally surrounded by books all day everyday. I felt no reason spend my hard earned money on books I didn’t have time to read…

Then this week happened. Nothing particularly bad  happened, but I fell under a tough depressive episode and when that happens one of my coping methods is buying books. 

I look to books to take me away from myself when I get like this and when the books I have aren’t doing the job I find myself on Amazon with a cart full of books that spark the slightest interest, or in the middle of a Barnes & Noble arms loaded. 

I don’t do it often, but this week…well really the last few weeks…have been particularly tough. And well… this happened:

I broke my ban and bought a ton of books. I’m excited for the new additions to the family, but my wallet is sad.

Also, I know it’s no excuse, but my mental and emotional state have made it difficult to keep up with the blog, but I feel like I’m on an upswing so I should be back to posting regularly fairly soon!

Unboxing: August Owlcrate!

Something wicked this way came… The August Owlcrate! 

Spoilers beyond this point…

This month’s theme is Something Wicked This Way Comes, and the box is filled with wickedly wonderful goodies (though weirdly no Ray Bradbury or Macbeth inspired items). Without any further ado…

My faithful raven Edgar was particularly interested in this box and wanted to be included

I’m kind of in love with the print on this month’s spoiler card!

Poe-ka Dot socks from Out of Print Clothing! I LOVE these! They’ll match my Poe-ka Dot tote bag from the same company. Edgar is delighted.

Ooly provides a “Splendid Pen” a fountain pen with extra ink cartridges… good for penning wicked missives in the dead of night… mostly I’ll just pretend to be Jo March.

Harry Potter inspired “Dark Arts Roast” by Happenstance Coffee… I don’t drink coffee but I’m sure I can find someone who will enjoy it. 

A This Savage Song sticker by Evie Bookish and a Six of Crows bookmark by Treehouse Books. I’m a little ambivalent on these two… they’re pretty but I haven’t read the Monsters of Verity books and I have taken a break from Six of Crows because it got really boring. 

A BEAUTIFUL edition of Sleepy Hollow and Other Short Stories by Washington Irving by Rock Paper Books.

And finally… The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones with an Owlcrate exclusive cover! I knew this would be the book because I stalk Korinna on Goodreads… Other than that I haven’t heard much buzz on this book (not like Gentleman’s Guide)

There it is all laid out and lovely! I’m excited to read this month’s book and try out the items!

Next month’s theme is Mythical Creatures and I have skipped that box, because based on the hints I feel strongly that I’ll have no interest in what’s in it. I’ll probably try out a different box.

Forgive Me Readers for I Have Sinned…

It’s been forever since my last confession… but this one’s a doozy. It’s not a secret that I’m am a passionate lover of books. I devour them, inhale them, drown in them. My love for literature is also very physical. The weight, the smell the paper quality, the feel of a book in my hand is among my chief joys in life. That said… there is a darker side to this declaration of love. In my fits of passion, I confess that I have been guilty of acts of book violence.

The Dog-Ear

Least among my transgressions, is the generally harmless dog-earing of pages to mark my place. I know I should use a bookmark, and I really do try, (I’ve tried all sorts, tradition, cloth, metal, magnetic, post-its, etc.) but I always go back to turning down the corner of the page, There is something uniquely satisfying in the act of folding the page. It’s almost as though I’m making my mark in the book, leaving physical evidence of my journey through that world. Those little creases are my footprints… footprints I couldn’t leave with a bookmark.

The Broken Spine

As with my penchant for dog-earring, my physical relationship with reading has led me to fold my paperbacks to the point that creases and cracks weaken their bindings. There is no excuse for this beyond the fact that I have tiny hands with short thumbs, and for the sake of reading a few more chapters, I allow comfort to supercede my desire for a pristine bookshelf.
The Fling

I am a passionate reader, I love hard and I hate hard. Books that disappoint me (The Marriage Plot  by Jeffrey Eugenides and We Were Liars by E. Lockhart), books that annoy me (The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen, Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen and Ready Player One by Ernest Cline), and and books that infuriate me (Ashley Bell by Dean Koontz, Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer, or anything by Chad Kultgen) tend to meet a grizzly fate. I throw books that betray me. I will throw them across the room, hurl them to the floor, toss them over the side of the loft. If I pour my time and heart into a book, I want something back out of it. I want to be satisfied, fulfilled, at the very least I want to not have my intelligence insulted. I throw books without any care for their well-being, and without thought to how much I spent on them. This has, of course, resulted in torn covers, damaged pages, and on one occasion a broken window. There is catharsis is throwing a bad book… I cautiously recommend trying it out.

The Turnpike

I once so violently hated a book that I threw it out the passenger side window of the car while traveling on the Ohio Turnpike. That book was Ahab’s Wife, or The Stargazer by Sena Jeter Naslund. That book is trash. I have no regrets.    

What bookish sins are you guilty of?

Unboxing: Book of the Month Club

My August Book of the Month box came today!

Unfortunately there was no surprise extra this month BUT I am excited about the books!

The selection was pretty good this month. I ended up choosing the much anticipated YA novel Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert as my primary book.

But because I have no self-control, I chose Clockwork Dynasty as my extra book… I basically had to, it’s on LibraryReads top ten for August…

So yeah, it’s a mini update, but look at the pretty books!

ARC, ARC, and Away!

All my unread unreviewed ARCS… not really but yeah.

As I mentioned in my update post, I’m participating in ARC August this year. I’m setting aside the month of August (along with other book bloggers and booktubers) to read only (or mostly) some of theadvanced readers copies that I’ve been accumulating and get some of that NetGalley feedback in.

I’ve been getting ARCs for a while now, but recently, since I started working at a library, I’ve been getting approved and requested like crazy. My pile of books to read and review is HUGE. So I’m definitely going to take of the ARC August reading challenge. 

Here’s my highly ambitious ARC August TBR List

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

 The Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz

The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

The Visitors by Catherine Burns

There you have it, my ambitious ARC August TBR!

I finished both Little Fires Everywhere and The Midnight Dance between the time I started this post and now… one was excellent, one was terrible. I’ll let you know which was which at the end of the month.

An Overwhelmed Update…

Me… if I were an adorable stock photo.

Okay, so Monday feels like it was a million years ago.

I’m in the middle of a long stretch of uninterrupted workdays (no weekends for two weekends) so I’m a little behind on everything.

Some Quick Updates!

  • I finished reading Moby-Dick for the 33rd time! I don’t know why I can still read it and love it, I just can.
  • My Book of the Month Club box is on its way. So maybe an unboxing soon?
  • I’ll be participating in ARC August. Basically I’m drowning in advanced reader copies (ARCs) and so I’m going to join my fellow book bloggers (and booktubers) in prioritizing reading ARCs this month. I of course came to this decision AFTER I put together my TBR for August, but that’s why pencils have erasers, right?
  • I’m finally reading Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. I’ve been putting it off for a long time so I just decided to make it my non-ARC this month.

I think that’s it for now. Fingers crossed for a decent post on… Saturday? Probably Sunday.

Happy Birthday Herman Melville!

Today is Herman Melville’s 198th Birthday! 

Without Herman Melville I wouldn’t have met my favorite professor, who helped me get into grad school! I wouldn’t have gotten my MA (wrote at least half my thesis on Moby-Dick)! And without my MA I probably wouldn’t have the job that I have! I owe a lot to Herman!

So celebrate his birthday by foolishly claiming mastery over nature! Do something blasphemous! Threaten the Sun! …or I don’t know, read something he wrote… I’m not your boss.