WWW Wednesday

It’s time for another WWW Wednesday post! WWW Wednesday is hosted over at Taking on a World of Words and just involves answering the 3 Ws!

What are you currently reading?

  • The Kitchen by Ollie Masters
    • This really feels more like a collection of plot points than an actual story, but it’s a graphic novel so at least it’s quick.
    • reading challenge: a book becoming a movie in 2019 (popsugar)
  • Roommates by M.E. Parker
    • I can’t really say that I’m enjoying this one, but at least it’s almost done.
    • reading challenge: firestation (romanceopoly)

What did you recently finish reading?

  • Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
    • This was so good! I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.
  • To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers
    • This probably wasn’t the best choice for my first Becky Chambers book. I wish I would have started with one of her novels.
  • The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza by Shaun David Hutchinson
    • Once again, SDH gets me to accept, without a second thought, a completely outlandish premise in a YA contemporary.
  • Seriously… I’m Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres
    • I’d expected a memoir and this was more like a collection of funny thoughts, but it was still a lot of fun!
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
    • Given how much hype I’d seen about this book, I expected more than a racist, biphobic celebration of the manic pixie dream girl.
  • Snug by Catana Chetwynd
    • I love Catana’s comics and I loved this collection!
  • I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
    • I didn’t expect to enjoy a classic so much, but this was a lot of fun.
  • Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin
    • I’ve had this one on my TBR for a very long time and was very relieved to love it.
  • A Warning by Anonymous
    • I wasn’t going to read this one this week, but then it was automatically checked out to me and within about an hour, five more people put a hold on it. It was incredible.

What do you think you’ll read next?

  • Southern Lady Code by Helen Ellis
    • Since I recently moved to the south, I figured I should learn how to behave.
  • Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen
    • I’m just praying that this will be good.
    • reading challenge: uptown (romanceopoly)

Have you read any of these books? Are any of them on your TBR? Did you do your own WWW Wednesday post today? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Changes in my reading life

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Today’s theme is changes in my reading life, and it’s finally a topic that I’m excited to write about! My reading life has changed a lot since I first started this blog, so, without further ado, here are ten of those changes.

I greatly limit the number of ARCs I request

It was way back in the dark ages of 2013 when I found out that you could ask publishers for free books and they’d just… give them to you, with basically no questions asked. I requested everything. Anything that sounded even remotely interesting was good enough for me.

“Oh, I’ve heard of that author!” REQUEST.
“I love that cover!” REQUEST.
“I sort of care about this topic!” REQUEST.
“10,000 other people have requested this, it must be good!” REQUEST.

It was a disaster.

One thing I’ve learned that I don’t think makes a ton of sense is that the more requests you make, the more books you’re going to get accepted for. Maybe it’s Murphy’s Law of Book Blogging? There were plenty of times when I’d be good and just request one or two books in a month. I’d inevitably be denied. But without fail, if I sat there and requested ten books in one sitting, I’d be approved for like eight of them, and they’d all be releasing right around the same time. That is very stressful for me.

So I stopped. I have a few ARCs that I need to get through, but very few are ARCs that I actually requested. Which brings me to my next point…

I also greatly limit the number of ARCs I accept

The first few times I got emails or Goodreads messages asking me to review a book, I was super excited. (And honestly, I still am. It makes me feel really fancy.) I said yes because oh my goodness, an author or publisher knows I exist. Saying yes to every request is a really good way to get really overwhelmed, really quickly. “It’s just a book or two!” I thought to myself. But “just a book or two” adds up really quickly, especially when you take into account ARCs that you’re requesting and other books that you want to read.

So, even though it makes me feel fancy, I decline most review requests now. Not only can I admit to myself that I just don’t have the time, but I also know that if I feel pressured to read a book, I probably won’t enjoy it as much, and that’s just not fair to the author.

I listen to a ton of audiobooks now

Audiobooks and I have a long and complicated relationship. I was really into them for about two minutes when I was in college, because I realized that I could listen to them while I was walking to class. I quickly realized that they were also very expensive, and I’m pretty sure that streaming audiobooks through Overdrive was not a thing in 2010. So I stopped.

I would sometimes listen to audiobooks if the print or ebook copy wasn’t available, or if there was a nonfiction book I really wanted to read but didn’t think I’d have the motivation to actually flip through, but I mostly avoided audiobooks until recently.

Now, I am obsessed. I listen to, on average, four to seven audiobooks a week. They help me focus on my job so much more, which I never would have believed, but it’s true. I’m also a lot happier with my TBR since I’m crossing books off right and left!

I borrow most of my books from the library

When I first started blogging, I was new to New Jersey and didn’t even have a library card yet. I got a lot of books from Goodreads giveaways and bought the rest. (I think I still have some books that I bought back then that I haven’t read yet.)

These days, it’s pretty rare for me to buy a book. I mean, sure, I’ll preorder books from my favorite authors or buy books from authors I really want to support, but most of the books I read are borrowed. I love libraries.

I tend to avoid dystopian novels and hardly read any erotica

If you look at what I read when I started this blog, it’s very different from what I read now.

Some reviews from that first year or so were Red Rising, Kallocain, Under My Skin, and Unwind. While I loved Red Rising at the time and more or less enjoyed the other three, they’re definitely not the type of book that I’m rushing out to find now.

After that dystopian stage, I moved on to erotica. I read a lot of erotica. 2016 and 2017 were The Erotica Years. Some were good, most were bad, and then I just kind of stopped. And I will read the odd erotic novel every now and then, but I really hardly ever pick them up.

I don’t really do blog tours these days

Or, at least, I don’t really do reviews on blog tours anymore. Only in really specific cases. One other thing that’s different is that on the rare occasion that I do participate in a blog tour, it’s with either a guest post or an author interview! The me from six years ago would never.

I’m a lot more honest in my reviews

I’ve done a couple posts (here and here) on books I’d rate differently now, and I think a lot of it comes down to me not being afraid to voice my opinion these days!

I’ve started doing buddy reads with my boyfriend

This is very recent, but it’s something I really love! We take turns reading to each other while we’re doing other things, and there’s a lot of commentary involved. It’s so much fun.

I read (or, I guess, listen to) a lot more nonfiction than I used to

I’ve had nonfiction waves in the past, where I’d read and listen to a ton of books on a specific subject. It was usually politics — I read Hillary Clinton’s What Happened, James Comey’s A Higher Loyalty, and Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury pretty much back-to-back — but I also had runs of books on feminism, celebrity memoirs, and books on linguistics. Generally, though, I’d read a couple nonfiction books a year and leave it at that.

Now, I get at least 40 hours a week to listen to audiobooks, so I’m much more willing to take a chance on something. Worst case scenario, I just use it to drown out the conversation happening next to me, the kids down the hall cheering, or the ten coworkers who are inevitably coughing and sneezing. In just a month or so, I’ve listened to a ton of memoirs, a book of scientific questions, a political book, a book on internet linguistics, and a true crime novel. (By the time this posts, I’ll probably have listened to more.)

I used to read mostly to escape from the stress in my life, and now I just read because I like it

I started this blog back in 2013, and you could say that my life was a little different then. I used to read so much because I’d go home and lock myself in my bedroom with a book (or three) and just try to calm down by losing myself in a fictional world.

I’m really happy to say that my life has almost zero stress now, and I read because I like it.

Did you do your own Top Ten Tuesday post today? Feel free to leave your link in the comments and I’ll check it out! Has anything changed in your reading life? Do we have any of the same changes? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Tag: I Dare You

Thank you to Meghan for tagging me — or should I say daring me? — to do the I Dare You Book Tag! I thought I had done this one before, but it turns out that I haven’t!

What book has been on your shelf the longest?

Of the books that I currently have in my possession, I’m pretty sure that honor goes to The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss, which I have owned since I was approximately… born, and is one of my childhood books that my mom recently sent me.

What is your current read, your last read, and the book you’ll read next?

Current: I’m trying to get my ARC of Snug by Catana Chetwynd to open on my phone and doing a buddy read of Roommates by M.E. Parker with my boyfriend.

Last: I just finished Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews and I hated it.

Next: Probably I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, but I haven’t actually decided yet!

What book did everyone like, but you hated?

Pretty much everything? But no, more specifically… Illuminae.

What book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read, but you probably won’t?

Most of what’s on my physical shelf, honestly. A lot of my Book of the Month mysteries would probably qualify.

What book are you saving for retirement?

Oh goodness. Um. It would have to be something long, like The Wise Man’s Fear, but I’m pretty sure I’ll read that before I retire.

Last page: read it first, or wait ’til the end?


Acknowledgement: waste of paper and ink, or interesting aside?

They’re fine, I guess. I don’t usually pay much attention to them, though.

Which book character would you switch places with?


Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life? (place, time, person?)

Yes, I actually did a Top Ten Tuesday post about this! I can definitely associate books with specific events in my life.

Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way.

My boyfriend gave me Troll as a gift for hitting 1,000 followers on this blog and so that I could hate-read and hate-review it.

Have you ever given a book away for a special reason to a special person?

Like, one of my books? I mean, I’ve lent them out. Or do you mean just giving books as gifts? Because I’ve done that a lot.

Which book has been with you most places?

Maybe Emma? I bought it when I was in high school and it’s moved with me seven times. I still haven’t read it.

Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad two years later?

Honestly, I never had a problem with the required reading in high school. It was college lit classes that really did me in. There were definitely some books I couldn’t finish in those classes that I ended up not hating years later, like Kallocain.

Used or brand new?

Either way, as long as I’m reading. 🙂

Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?

Once upon a time, twelve-year-old Sara heard the hype about The Da Vinci Code and decided to read it. That was more than half my life ago, so I remember almost nothing, but yes. I have.

Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?

Probably. I really don’t watch that many movies, though, so I can’t think of one off the top of my head.

Have you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, cookbooks included?

Yes, most recently Sourdough. I still want to bake some bread.

Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?

There’s no one whose advice I’ll always take, because I have enough books I want to read on my own without factoring in everyone else’s opinions, but I definitely trust my boyfriend! We have the exact same opinion on books most of the time.

Is there a book out of your comfort zone (e.g., outside your usual reading genre) that you ended up loving?

I wouldn’t say it’s outside of my comfort zone, but I don’t typically love books written in verse. That said, I really loved The Poet X!

Please consider yourself tagged if you think this looks fun! Which book are you saving for retirement? What’s the last book that made you hungry? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book Review: Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds

Opposite of Always by Justin A. Reynolds
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: March 5, 2019
Source: Borrowed

Jack Ellison King. King of Almost.

He almost made valedictorian.

He almost made varsity.

He almost got the girl . . .

When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack. Jack’s curse of almost is finally over.

But this love story is . . . complicated. It is an almost happily ever after. Because Kate dies. And their story should end there. Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Beautiful, radiant Kate. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind. Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do—and let go—to save the people he loves.

I’d been interested in reading Opposite of Always ever since I saw it on a list of 2019 debuts, and I was pretty excited when I saw that the audiobook was available through my library. After reading it, you could say I’m angry angry, because this book was some nonsense.

Look, I understand that you need to suspend some disbelief in a lot of novels. I also understand that you need to suspend a lot of disbelief when it comes to time travel novels. But this book? There is not enough disbelief in the entire world for me to suspend and have this book make any sense.

But I’ll get there.

First I want to talk about everything else.

I guess I’m going to start with what seems to be a trend in YA literature these days — romantic relationships between high school and college students. I know that it happens all the time, both in real life and in fiction, but for me, there’s no way around it. It’s creepy. Even if it’s just a one-year difference in age, there is a huge difference in maturity between someone who lives with their parents and someone who is in college, living in a dorm, away from home.

The second thing I want to talk about is the pacing. This book is 464 pages. That is insanely long for a YA contemporary. It’s also about twice as long as it needs to be since so much of the book is repetitive. And I was bored the entire way through. It’s just one irrelevant thing after another happening, and even when relevant things happen, they don’t make sense.

And now we get to my third point — the blatant medical inaccuracies in this book.So, you really expect me to believe that a doctor has the cure for sickle cell anemia just hidden away in his office and the FDA hasn’t come looking for it? You really expect me to believe that a doctor would violate HIPAA just because he feels bad for some random kid who has an emotional investment in a college student’s case? You really expect me to believe that this doctor happily takes calls from this random kid to discuss the specifics of his super secret super expensive sickle cell treatment? That’s not how medicine works, and the way that Kate describes the financial piece of her treatments? That’s not how insurance works. As the former billing manager of a medical office and someone who now literally works for a major insurance company, I think I’d know. I just read the author’s bio and saw that he’s actually a registered nurse and I am even more upset, because he should know better.

So back to what I said at the beginning about suspending disbelief.

I’m not sure what’s going on with the random time travel in YA books recently, but I, for one, am sick of it. What was the point of it in this book? Jack repeats the same three months over and over again so that he, the high school student, can try to save Kate’s life. Because, yes, the high school student is clearly going to save Kate when a bunch of trained physicians could not.

I feel like, if you want to write a book like this, with the love interest being very sick and on the verge of dying, you have to be very careful to not come across as a rip-off of hundreds of similar books that have come before you. Personally, when I see the words “because Kate dies” in a synopsis, I’m already rolling my eyes. This particular plot has been done so many times that it’s going to be hard to make it unique. Similarly, the “living the same day over and over until you get it right” thing has been done to death. There was nothing particularly new or interesting about the time loops in this book, so it really just came across like the author knew that books about sick kids, books about time travel, and YA contemporary romance are selling well, so he decided to combine them all together to make a surefire hit.

Also…When Kate’s dad lectures Jack that he needs to break up with Kate because she’s dying, I did two things. First, I rolled my eyes, because how many times has a YA dad told his daughter’s boyfriend to break up with her because he just didn’t like their relationship? But, second, it kind of came across like, “Yeah, Kate’s dying. Let’s take away this one piece of happiness she has while she’s still on this planet.” Like, honestly. Where is the logic here?

All in all, I felt that this book played out very stereotypically. Everything that happened was predictable, even the twists. The fantastical time-travel aspect kind of comes out of nowhere and isn’t particularly well-done. The book is overly long and I just couldn’t bring myself to care about the characters or what happened to them. There was a ton of odd dialogue and weird choices, like Jack’s best friend’s father being referred to as “the coupon.” (What??)

I was excited about this one, but now I’m just disappointed.

Have you read Opposite of Always? Do you know of any books that did these tropes well?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Weekly Update

In case you missed it, here are this week’s blog posts:

I’ve been reading:

Recently acquired:

  • nothing other than library books!

1 thing this week:

  • I went to a magic show last Sunday and it was so much fun! I would highly recommend that you go see An R-Rated Magic Show if you get the chance!

Song of the week:

I found a playlist of mine from high school and this song was on there. I forgot how much I used to love this song!

How was your week? What’s the best thing you read or listened to? Anything interesting happening in your life? Let’s talk in the comments!

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