Monthly Motif: July Update

It’s time for another Monthly Motif reading challenge update! In July, the theme was vacation reads, and I actually went on vacation, so here are all the books I read when I was visiting my mom in Wisconsin! None of these reviews are up yet, but they will be within the next couple weeks.

Books read:

Books not read:

  • I had hoped to read When by Daniel H. Pink on the train ride home, but that didn’t end up happening because all the trains were cancelled. I’ve lived in NJ for six years and the trains are always running! Even in a blizzard! It was the weirdest thing and also super stressful, so I’m glad I’m not planning to take another train anytime soon.

August’s theme is award winners, so please let me know what you think I should read!

Previously: January | February | MarchAprilMay | June

Are you participating in the Monthly Motif reading challenge? If so, what did you read for this month’s prompt? Do you usually get a lot of reading done on vacation? Let’s talk in the comments!

Review: The Pawn by Skye Warren

The Pawn by Skye Warren
Series: Endgame #1
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • Goodreads
Publication Date: December 6, 2016
Source: I one-clicked this one all by myself.

The price of survival…

Gabriel Miller swept into my life like a storm. He tore down my father with cold retribution, leaving him penniless in a hospital bed. I quit my private all-girl’s college to take care of the only family I have left.

There’s one way to save our house, one thing I have left of value.

My virginity.

A forbidden auction…

Gabriel appears at every turn. He seems to take pleasure in watching me fall. Other times he’s the only kindness in a brutal underworld.

Except he’s playing a deeper game than I know. Every move brings us together, every secret rips us apart. And when the final piece is played, only one of us can be left standing.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

THE PAWN is a full-length contemporary novel from New York Times bestselling author Skye Warren about revenge and seduction in the game of love. It’s the first book in the brand new ENDGAME series.

This isn’t a book that I was planning on reading any time soon, but apparently I just let Daniel decide what I’m reading these days. 🤷 Thanks for telling me not to read this on a plane. I might have actually died.

A few things before I get started:

  • I was going to do a mini-review, but I just have too many thoughts.
  • We all know how I feel about dark romance, so I’m not even sure why I own this book.
  • The average rating for this book on Goodreads is 4.14, so clearly there’s a market for it that’s just not me.

Anyway, let’s get into it. Under a spoiler tag, of course, because the last thing I want is to deprive you of the full experience of reading this book. So, full disclosure, tons of spoilers ahead.

Click at your own risk!

Where do I even start? I guess I should say that, overall, the writing isn’t terrible? The dialogue actually feels pretty natural and flows pretty nicely. The descriptions aren’t awful and I’m sorry but those are the only semi-nice things I can say about this book.

So, basically, the entire plot of the book is that Avery is selling her virginity to earn enough money to provide care for her sick father. Very noble, whatever, it’s really just sad but what am I going to do? Not read the book? Of course not. Have you met me? I read the whole thing. I complained the whole time, but I read it.

Some things that happen in this book:

  • Avery’s fake uncle proposes to her, calls her a slut, and then bids on her at the virginity auction anyway.
  • There’s a character named Gabriel who is referred to as “fierce like an avenging angel,” because did you really write a character named Gabriel if you didn’t make at least one angel reference?
  • Avenging Angel Gabriel goes way above and beyond to bid A MILLION DOLLARS for Avery’s virginity and then, just in case anybody was getting the idea to bid a million and one, he growls at the crowd to intimidate them.
  • Avery gave Gabriel a blowjob and he roared with a ferocity that reverberated through the library (he offered to give her a five-star review on Yelp afterward).
  • At one point, Avery referred to herself as a horse and Gabriel as her “virgin whisperer” and I have no other comments than yep, that’s a thing that happened.
  • Gabriel actually, literally, really, I’m not even kidding you, uses chess pieces as sex toys when they finally have sex. The poor pawn. I will never look at a chess board the same way again.
  • A decidedly un-happy ending.

Anyway, let’s recap:

  • The premise? Sad and very much not sexy.
  • The characters? All terrible.
  • The ending? Not even happy-for-now. Just straight up sad.

I also feel like I need to mention the fact that Avery’s dad caught her masturbating when she was younger and punished her by putting chili juice on her fingers every night for a month. Because that’s a thing that sane, reasonable, good parents do. 🙄

Some quotes:

  • “There have to be lights somewhere.” I never had occasion to use them.
  • My knowledge of sex is so limited that I only imagine it at night. That goes doubly so for a strange old man. Uncertainty vibrates through me. “He’d want me during the day?”

  • “I’m not your friend,” he says gently. He’s my enemy.
  • I would feel something if he’d taken my virginity, wouldn’t I? Some foreign texture, some soreness? [side note: FOREIGN TEXTURE????]

This is everything I hate in a romance novel in one book, okay? I guess if you’re super into dark romances, or arbitrary concepts like virginity being auctioned off, or maybe you have a chess fetish, you might like this book. But other than that? Definitely not recommended, unless you’re just reading for the entertainment factor alone.

I would’ve given this book one star, but I bumped it up to two for the sheer amount of times I laughed.

#killingthetbr: 11 months on shelf
Goodreads summer reading challenge: TBRing it

Have you read The Pawn? How do you feel about erotica?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book review: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Rating: ★★★★★
Links: TBDAmazonGoodreads
Publication Date: July 16, 1951
Source: Purchased

The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days. The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it. There are many voices in this novel: children’s voices, adult voices, underground voices-but Holden’s voice is the most eloquent of all. Transcending his own vernacular, yet remaining marvelously faithful to it, he issues a perfectly articulated cry of mixed pain and pleasure. However, like most lovers and clowns and poets of the higher orders, he keeps most of the pain to, and for, himself. The pleasure he gives away, or sets aside, with all his heart. It is there for the reader who can handle it to keep.

J.D. Salinger’s classic novel of teenage angst and rebellion was first published in 1951. The novel was included on Time‘s 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels written since 1923. It was named by Modern Library and its readers as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. It has been frequently challenged in the court for its liberal use of profanity and portrayal of sexuality and in the 1950’s and 60’s it was the novel that every teenage boy wants to read.

Sometimes I think it’s easier to write a negative review than it is to write a positive one. Don’t even get me started on a book I hated. I can talk for hours about everything that’s wrong with a book, but when it comes to a book I loved, I almost always draw a blank. I mean, how am I supposed to put into words everything that I loved about this book? I’ve reviewed close to 600 books over the years, but today, I seem to have forgotten how.

Maybe I should start by saying that I last read this book back in (probably) 2006 when I was a teenager with bad taste. I say “a teenager with bad taste” because, let’s be honest, I thought Twilight was the best thing I’d ever read and I was unimpressed with this book. Thankfully, Daniel asked me if I wanted to do a buddy re-read of The Catcher in the Rye and I said yes. It ended up being a great decision all around. I’d like to issue a formal apology to J.D. Salinger for all of the years I spent thinking I didn’t really like this book. I was wrong.

Why do I love Holden so much? I don’t remember thinking anything about him the first time, but he’s pretty much my favorite literary character ever right now. I love his sarcasm, I love his exaggerations, and I love how honest he is. I love how much he loves his sister. I love how he talks about Jane. I love how he sits down with a couple nuns in a train station and discusses Romeo and Juliet. All I want is to give him a hug and tell him that everything is going to be okay.

Some quotes: 

  • “I’m pretty sure he yelled ‘Good luck!’ at me. I hope not. I hope to hell not. I’d never yell ‘Good luck!’ at anybody. It sounds terrible, when you think about it.”
  • “He was one of those guys that think they’re being a pansy if they don’t break around forty of your fingers when they shake hands with you.”
  • “What I think is, you’re supposed to leave somebody alone if he’s at least being interesting and he’s getting all excited about something. I like it when somebody gets excited about something. It’s nice.”
  • “Certain things they should stay the way they are. You ought to be able to stick them in one of those big glass cases and just leave them alone.”
  • “People are mostly hot to have a discussion when you’re not.”
  • “Don’t tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.”

I don’t think there’s actually anything about this book that I didn’t like.

Have you read The Catcher in the Rye? Do you love it or hate it?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Tag: Would You Rather

Thanks to Marco @ Barely a Blogger for tagging me in this one!


1. Rather read only a series or stand-alone books?
I think I’d rather read only standalones. Most of my favorites are standalones and I really only keep going in a series if I’m totally in love with the first book.

2. Rather read a book whose main character is male or female?
It doesn’t really matter that much to me, but I guess I would choose female if I had to pick.

3. Rather shop only at Barnes & Noble (or another actual bookstore) or Amazon?
I prefer to go to an actual bookstore so that I can look through the books, but this is also an actual disaster since I generally end up buying a bunch of books I hadn’t planned on getting. So generally I end up buying online because I can just buy the one exact book I’m looking for without being tempted by others.

4. Rather all books become movies or tv shows?
TV shows, I think. There’s more opportunity to show everything that happens in a TV show but a lot of things end up being cut out of a movie.

5. Rather read 5 pages per day or read 5 books per week?
5 books per week since that’s usually what I end up doing anyway.

6. Rather be a professional book reviewer or an author?
Professional book reviewer for sure! I don’t consider myself a writer at all.

7.  Rather only read the same 20 books over and over or get to read a new book every 6 months?
I guess a new book every 6 months, provided that during the rest of the year, I would be able to re-read old favorites.

8. Rather be a librarian or own a bookstore?
I would love to be a librarian! I wish that I would’ve done a Library & Information Science degree instead of Linguistics!

9. Rather only read your favourite genre or your favourite author?
My favorite genre! My favorite authors would all fall under my favorite genre anyway.

10. Rather only read physical books or eBooks?
I think I’d have to go with ebooks, just for the space-saving capabilities. As someone who has moved 7 times in the last 10 years, I’m all about packing as few boxes as possible.

I’m tagging anybody who thinks this looks like fun! Feel free to also leave your choices in a comment! I’m on a plane right now but I’ll need something to do on the train ride home. 🙂

Book review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
Rating: ★★★★★
Links: AmazonTBDGoodreads
Publication Date: March 27, 2018
Source: Borrowed

For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

I know we’re basically just a series of texts. But I’m glad that whatever led you to me happened.
This book was so cute and I loved it so much! From the humor to the characters to the extremely quotable lines, it was exactly what I needed and I absolutely flew through it, stopping only to sleep for like five hours before getting up and reading more.

I really like books that I can relate to, and I can relate to this one so much. I was a total teenage rebel, so while the majority of my classmates spent their 18th birthdays getting drunk in a field (remember, I’m from a small town in Wisconsin), I went to see one of my favorite local bands play in a cafe and then headed to a diner for a midnight snack with one of my good friends.

In that diner, I met a guy. We exchanged numbers and spent the next year texting and calling each other constantly. We could call each other in the middle of the night if we needed to talk, and it was amazing. Somehow it’s easier to be yourself with someone you never have to see face-to-face. Unlike Penny and Sam, there was never any underlying romance between the two of us. But still, this book took me right back to those days and made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

I’ve seen a ton of negative reviews of this book that mention how unlikable Penny is. I think that what a lot of other reviewers disliked about her is exactly what made me love her. She’s a real eighteen-year-old. She’s not perfect, she can make some kind of dumb decisions, she’s still learning who she is and how to live her life, and she’s trying her best.

If you’re looking for a cute YA contemporary about heading off to college and finding yourself, I can’t recommend Emergency Contact enough!

PS: I wish I was as good at texting as Penny and Sam.

Have you read Emergency Contact? Have you ever had a friendship like Penny and Sam’s? Let’s talk in the comments!

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