Reading

Protected

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Protected by Claire Zorn is the story of girl who loses her sister in a car accident. It the draw for me to pick up this book. I’ve never read a story like this and I felt like I would identify strongly with it. As it turns out, I did. Hannah and her family is in mourning over the loss of her sister Katie. I lost my sister in a car accident in 2009. It changed my life, and the way I look at life. A small part of me, I know, will never be happy again. “People say stupid, stupid things when someone you love dies. Rubbish. Nothing gets easier Hannah. You just go on with life.page 197. Hannah and her sister didn’t have the best relationship, they weren’t best friends anything, they didn’t even socialize at school. It’s coming up on the one year anniversary of Katie’s death and Hannah is dealing with remembering the hazy details of the accident so she can recount it for their court date. Did her dad cause the accident? Is he the reason why Katie is dead? Or did Hannah cause it? Was everything somehow her fault?

On top of this, Hannah is bullied in school. I’ve read stories about people being bullied, but they’ve never seemed more familiar to me than this one. I feel like the author somehow knew what I personally went through. This could be my story. I could be Hannah. In high school, I was her. She dreads everyday. She’d public bullied and humiliated on the bus, no one stands up for her, or does anything to stop it. People throw food at her, write on her, terrorize her daily. They make up stories and spread them across Facebook and Instagram. They torment her when the teachers aren’t looking and they just teases her relentlessly. It gave me flash backs to cold mornings on the bus with everyone laughing at me. That time they stuck gum in my hair. The name calling, the rumors, the pranks. I feel like this is one the best books to read if you really want to know what school bullying is like. This is it. This is real.

This girl has a lot going on and I felt for her so much. I saw myself in her. Everyone needs to read this book. Also, the cover of this book, I think is perfect. I have a vase full of dead, old, funeral roses. Sad reminders of  people that have died. Love that has been lost. The flower on the cover is symbolic, to me, of loss, sadness, and grief.

Reading

Owlcrate May Unboxing!

The theme for Owlcrates May box was “Comic Explosion!”  If you read my blog at all, by now you know that Owlcrate sends out 1 box a month, featuring a newly released Young Adult book and some bookish goodies to go along with the theme.

The book this month was Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia. It featured an Owlcrate exclusive cover, and we got the book before it’s official release date! I was so excited to find this book in my box. It’s about a socially awkward girl named Eliza who writes a web comic, that is immensely popular. Stuff happens and her identity is revealed. Suddenly she has all this attention on her and her comic and she finds herself unable to continue writing it. I thought this book was fantastic. It took me a minute to get into, but by page 50 I was flying through it. This book also came with a signed book plate, a letter from the author and a print, made by the author, exclusively for Owlcrate!

Also in this months box was a  full sized Funko Pop! – There were 7 different ones that went out in the boxes: Batman, Deadpool, Wonder Woman, Captain America, Loki, Harley Quinn, and Sailor Moon. I received Harley Quinn. I don’t really watch superhero movies and I definitely don’t read the comics, so I didn’t really care about this at all.

Next was an Ink pen from Ooly, that has 6 different colors of ink. Ink pens are always useful.

A zipper pull created exclusively for this box by Owlcrate.

A Wonder Woman mini candle from the Dio Candle Company. It smells like Hawaiian Punch and I can’t stop sniffing it!

Some Coffee Candies from a company called Kafe! Zing! – I gave these to Holly because I hate coffee flavor.

A chapter sampler from AFAR, a new release by Imagine Comics.

And lastly, the Owlcrate collectible button that we get in every box.

Overall this box was not my favorite. I’m not into comic books and felt like the items in the box were just not up to their usual standards. I did love the book and the candle though, so it wasn’t a complete let down. The best part though is the theme announcement for next month! “Make it Out Alive!” It’s a dystopian theme and I’m so excited about it. I love dystopian novels, The 100, The Walking Dead, The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner, I can’t get enough of them, so I’m super excited. Plus June is my birth month and I should get my box just a few days after my birthday!

Reading

Hag-Seed

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood is a modern day retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. I’ve never read The Tempest, but after having read this novel, I feel as if I have. It’s more than a retelling. It explores the original play, delving into it’s themes and characters and plots.

After losing his wife, and his 3 three year old daughter, Miranda, Felix Phillips is unfairly booted from his job. He abandons the life he knows and goes off to the middle of nowhere, where he lives in a shack alone. Except he isn’t alone because he carries the memory of his daughter with him. He judges time by how old she would be. He imagines her playing outside, he’s even, on occasion, heard her voice. He talks to her, teaches her things and to him, she is there, always. He grows bored of his new life and looks for something to do with his time. He ends up teaching a literacy program at a correctional facility. Each year the inmates in the class perform a play.

The Tempest in it’s original form is about a man named Prospero and his daughter Miranda who are stranded on an island. He is set on revenge and conjures up a storm to make his enemies believe that they too, are trapped on this island.

Once Felix finds out that the very people who booted him from his previous position will be coming to the prison to see the play, he knows that the inmates must preform The Tempest. He sees this as his time for revenge and sets to work, plotting against them, with the help of the inmates, of course.

I won’t tell you what happens exactly, but I will say that this book is a twisted read. It’s a book about a play, inside of a play, inside of a play. It would be an excellent companion novel for anyone reading the original play The Tempest. It explores the characters and their motives, and even what they could possibly be doing once the story is over.

Reading

We Stood Upon Stars

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We Stood Upon Stars – Finding God in Lost Places by Roger W. Thompson

I took one look at the cover of this book and wanted to go camping. I knew I needed to read it and ended up devouring it in with a day. It’s all about the adventures of the author as he finds himself, and gets closer to God in nature. Straight from the Acknowledgments: “At the heart of this book lies a love letter to the outdoors.” That sums it up. I love to be in nature, I love to see new places, and beautiful sights. I don’t get to do that as often as I’d like but traveling is something I’ve always wanted to do. I want to see waterfalls, and mountains and the beautiful wonders of the world, or at the very least of the United States.

Each chapter of this book starts with a map, detailing the area, with suggested places to visit, and places to eat. Each chapter is a story of an adventure and what the author learned from it. It starts in his hometown of Ventura, California “because the dust under our feet defines who we are.” He takes us through his life, growing a family with his wife, having kids, and losing a beloved pet, to losing a grandfather who raised him. He talks about his travels and the sights he encountered. He enforces the fact that we need to stop and appreciate nature “We can look up and be shaped by mountains and sunsets. Or we can look down and be shaped by devices and yet another selfie.” “The better place in is the wild, where mountains out problems in perspective and the lack of programs and walls gives us direct access to God.” He urges us to go out and experience nature. See new things and try new things. “If I wasn’t careful memories of the things we did would be eclipsed by regrets of the things we didn’t.

This books is full of great quotes and insights. I marked all of my favorites with page flags as I read. I get what the author is saying. I feel closer to God when I’m outside in nature than I do when I’m in church, because He created the world around us and all of the beautiful things. We should go out and enjoy them, bask in their beauty and grow closer the One who created it all.

I would recommend this book to anyone that loves nature, loves to travel and be outdoors. To anyone who grows bored in church and is looking for a better way to connect with our Creator. So if given the chance, pick this book up, read it, absorb it’s wisdom and then go camping.

anxiety · Reading

Owlcrate April Unboxing!

It’s time again for my Owlcrate unboxing! For those of you that don’t know, Owlcrate is a monthly subscription service. You get a box each month with a newly released young adult book and 4 or 5 bookish goodies. Each month has a different theme, and the theme for April is Head over Heels! Here’s what was in the box:

An Owlcrate button. There is one in every box and it always matches the art on the spoiler card.

A headband from Storiarts, printed with text from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice!

Tea from The Tea Spot, inspired by Anna and the French Kiss. It’s a dessert blend of chocolate and cherry. I’m not a tea drinker, but the packaging is beautiful!

A mini candle from Novelly Yours. Three different versions went out in the boxes, all inspired by a Rainbow Rowell novel. The one I got is called “Baz and Simon” and it smells amazingly like raspberries!

A keychain from BookwormBoutique, featuring a quote from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, by Becky Albertalli.

A print by Evie Bookish with a quote from A Court of Thorns and Roses.

A chapter sampler of Umberland by Wendy Spinale

Lastly, the real star of the show, the book this month was The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli. Along with the book we received a signed book plate, a letter from the author and an emoji sticker. I just finished this book, literally minutes ago. I loved it! 5 stars! I’ve never identified with a character more than I do Molly. She is me. We’re the same and I love it. She’s never been kissed, never had a boyfriend and now she suddenly has multiple candidates. She’s refereed to as fat, though I’m not sure how you would define that. I am not a small girl. I have fat. I’m self conscious and shy and awkward. Molly also suffers from social anxiety and panic attacks and has to take a pill daily, sound familiar? She thinks things that I think and she’s into the same things that I’m into (crafts, Pinterest, that stretch of skin that is exposed when a guy stretches and his shirt raises up a couple inches…) At one point she sends a semi-risky text and then panics at the possible outcomes. I’ve done that. I do that. She plans out what she’s going to say and do. She wears a cardigan in 80 degree weather because she needs a security blanket to hide behind. Seriously, Becky Albertalli, get out of my head!! Molly might be one of my favorite characters ever, because she’s so real. On a different note, Molly and her sister Cassie come from a very diverse family and this story reminds me a lot of the television show, The Fosters. It’s a super sweet contemporary and it reminds us what it feels like to have unrequited love and that it’s a nice feeling to have from time to time: “But you know there’s an upside here. Because when you spend so much time just intensely wanting something and then you actually get the thing? It’s magic.

The last thing in the Owlcrate box is always a sneakpeek card for next month. These cards are always so pretty, I swear. The theme for May is Comic Explosion! and it’s going to include a full-sized Funko Pop. I know nothing about comics. I read the walking dead, but that’s as far as my extent goes. I’m not a superhero girl. So we’ll see how that box turns out. It’ll probably be amazing even if I don’t care about comics. Owlcrate also announced that they’ve lined up special Owlcrate exclusive book covers for their next 6 boxes!! I’m so excited about it. I’m such a nerd, I swear. Book covers are everything.

 

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Reading

Disaster Falls

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Disaster Falls by Stephane Gerson is a real life account of a tragedy. Eight year old Owen was on a rafting trip with his family when he drowned. This book is written by Owen’s father and it leads us through the first 2 years after Owen’s death. Its separated into three sections. Year one, year two, and lastly all the legal business.

I wanted to read this book because I’ve experienced loss and I always wonder how everyone else copes with it. It’s devastating. I’ve never lost a child, but I’ve lost a sibling. This books show us just how differently grieving is for each family member. From Julian, Owen’s older brother, to his mother and father and even his grandparents and classmates at school.

The author talks about how his wife visits the school and talks to the kids. He says that they’ll never leave this town, never move away, because what if one of Owen’s long ago classmates was to drop by unexpectedly. This reminds me strongly of my own mother. When we lost my sister, she spent time with her classmates, they’d seek her out at work or at home, just to check in, to see how she was doing.  Both of my parents, but my mom especially, tries to stay connected to her life. It doesn’t really get easier though, just numb, and there isn’t really anything to say to comfort those that are grieving. This book gives us a glimpse at that grief and confusion. We get to read along as this family tries to put their lives back together.

As for the writing of the book, I will admit, I was bored at times, it seemed to go off course a time or two into other subjects, and for someone who isn’t used to reading this type of book, it is probably really hard to get through. I finished it in just a few days and while it isn’t a book I’d read over and over again, it was insightful and heartbreaking and relate-able in the saddest way. I gave this book a 3 star rating in the end. I wanted to give it more, because I know how much it means to the family, how hard it must have been to write it all down and think about it again and again. But I felt like it could have been better told. Then again, it isn’t my story to tell.

Reading

Young Adult/Children’s books for… Adults

What kind of book do you read? Personally, I read all kinds. My preference though is Young Adult. I also really enjoy Middle Grade and Children’s books. Sometimes books that you would never guess are categorized as a children’s book, (and by children’s book, I do not mean picture book.) The recent popular Thirteen Reasons Why, for example, is a children’s book. If I had to guess, I would have thought it was Young Adult. It just doesn’t make any sense to me, but that’s not really my point with this post.

I was recently browsing my local libraries website and I noticed that they host book clubs. The problem is, the young adult book club is for ages 13-17. Does this mean that I shouldn’t be reading young adult books in my late twenties? Am I just an immature reader? I know that a lot of adults read young adult books. So why is the age range for young adult books so low?

Sure, no one is stopping us from reading these books, but do we get funny looks when we wander into the young adult section at the library and spent our time browsing the shelves? Sometimes yes. Me, not so much because I do not look my age.  I could probably pass as a slightly chubby, awkward teenager if I tried to. What about when we go in the kids sections? I admit, I feel weird going in there without a kid in tow. I’m the kid guys. I like children’s books and young adult books. Will people just assume that I’m not smart enough to read books classified for people my own age. I assure you, I’m not reading at a 5th grade level. I was past that stage before I was even in the 5th grade. I shouldn’t worry about what people think, or about being judged, but that’s just human nature especially in someone with an anxiety disorder.