Top Ten Tuesday: Settings I’d like to see more of (or at all)

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Today’s theme is settings I’d like to see more of (or at all). I really had a hard time with this topic because, quite honestly, setting doesn’t matter all that much to me. So, like last week, I only have five answers for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday.


Wisconsin (literally anywhere in the state)

It’s my home state, and although I don’t live there anymore, I still love it. Over the years, I’ve found very few books set in Wisconsin, although I did just find a graphic novel series set there that I’d like to read someday. (As a bonus, it’s set in the town I was born in!)


early 1900s New York City

This is a setting that’s kind of been done to death already, but I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of reading about it. Libba Bray’s Diviners series is the first thing that comes to mind when I think of this setting. Something about that time period and a spooky vibe really go well together.


1960s New York City

Am I seeing a trend here? I was thinking about other historical fiction I’ve read set in NYC and The Rules of Magic came to mind. I love the feeling of 1960s NYC.


New Jersey

Compared with Wisconsin, I guess there are a decent number of books set in my new home of New Jersey. But still, I think I’d like to read less about the part of NJ that borders NYC and more about the cute little shore towns or Princeton, which is very close to where I live now.


Peru

When I think of books I’ve read set in other countries, I don’t think that I’ve read anything set in Peru. It’s such a beautiful country! It would be a great backdrop for a story!


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! What settings would you like to see more of? Do you have any recommendations that fit these settings? Let’s talk in the comments!

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ARC review: Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu

Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker & Wendy Xu
Rating: ★★★★★
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: October 15, 2019
Source: ARC from BookCon

A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft.

Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.

One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.

Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.

As soon as I saw this cover at BookCon, I knew that I needed to read this book. I made a beeline for the Lion Forge booth on day two of BookCon and was lucky enough to get a ticket for the ARC drop and signing.

This review is going to be very short because I feel like there’s very little that I can say about this one that doesn’t spoil at least something.

I loved the art style. I loved the characters. I loved the representation. The romance was adorable. There are some more fantastical aspects as well (one of the main characters being a werewolf, for example) that I felt were done really well. The family dynamics were also really great! I loved Nova’s grandmothers and how supportive they were.

I would absolutely recommend this graphic novel. It was just as amazing as I thought it would be. ❤

#mm19: diversify your reading


Have you read Mooncakes? What’s the last book you really loved? Let’s talk in the comments!

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ARC review: We Are Lost and Found by Helene Dunbar

We Are Lost and Found by Helene Dunbar
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Source: ARC via Netgalley

A poignant, heartbreaking, and uplifting, story in the tradition of The Perks of Being a Wallflower about three friends coming-of-age in the early 1980s as they struggle to forge their own paths in the face of fear of the unknown.

Michael is content to live in the shadow of his best friends, James, an enigmatic teen performance artist who everyone wants and no one can have and Becky, who calls things as she sees them, while doing all she can to protect those she loves. His brother, Connor, has already been kicked out of the house for being gay and laying low seems to be his only chance to avoid the same fate. 

To pass the time before graduation, Michael hangs out at The Echo where he can dance and forget about his father’s angry words, the pressures of school, and the looming threat of AIDS, a disease that everyone is talking about, but no one understands.

Then he meets Gabriel, a boy who actually sees him. A boy who, unlike seemingly everyone else in New York City, is interested in him and not James. And Michael has to decide what he’s willing to risk to be himself.

I’ll be honest and admit the the only reason I really requested an ARC of We Are Lost and Found was its cover. I was also pretty intrigued by the setting (New York City in the early 1980s) and the fact that this basically sounded like a YA version of Rent. Well, after reading it, I can say that it definitely isn’t YA Rent, although it was an interesting and well-written book.

So… we’ll start with the good. I loved Becky and James. They felt like they could really be my friends. I liked Michael’s complicated relationship with his brother. I pretty much love anything set in the 80s, so that was a definite plus for me too. I also thought that the book was really well-written.

Things I liked less were the lack of quotation marks throughout the book — it made it very difficult to determine who was talking, if anyone, and really pulled me out of the story — and what felt like a lack of plot. I mean, sure, it’s about a gay boy in 1980s NYC amid the AIDS crisis, but nothing huge happens.

The synopsis of this book compares it to The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which, for once, is a pretty accurate comparison. I had the same problem with that book, so it might just be an issue of me not really connecting with this type of story.


Have you read We Are Lost and Found? Can you recommend any good books on this topic? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Weekly Update

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

  • Review: The Escape Manual for Introverts by Katie Vaz
  • Review: Soppy by Philippa Rice
  • Top Ten Tuesday: Auto-buy authors
  • Review: Little Birds by Anais Nin
  • Tag: Versatile Blogger Award (Take 7)
  • Review: No Ivy League by Hazel Newlevant

I’ve been reading:

Recently acquired:

1 thing this week:

  • I went to NYC last weekend and went to both The Strand and a little used bookstore in Brooklyn (Unnameable Books) and I somehow only bought one thing!

Blog hopping:

  • Jasper & Spice shared relatable sh*t readers say and I think I most related to #5!!
  • Kristi wrote a great discussion post about whether we’re policing books too hard.

Song of the week:

I forgot how much I loved this album until a few days ago. I was obsessed when this album came out (way back in 2008!).


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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ARC Review: No Ivy League by Hazel Newlevant

No Ivy League by Hazel Newlevant
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: August 20, 2019
Source: ARC from BookCon

When 17-year-old Hazel Newlevant takes a summer job clearing ivy from the forest in her home town of Portland, Oregon, her only expectation is to earn a little money. Homeschooled, affluent, and sheltered, Hazel soon finds her job working side by side with at-risk teens to be an initiation into a new world that she has no skill in navigating. This uncomfortable and compelling memoir is an important story of a girl’s awakening to the racial insularity of her life, the power of white privilege, and the hidden story of segregation in Portland.

If you’d pitched this book to me anywhere other than BookCon, I probably would have passed. But the Lion Forge booth was doing an ARC signing and I got a ticket and this book sounded interesting, so I decided to go for it. All things considered, I think it was a good decision.

I think the first thing I want to say is that I loved the art style. The majority of the ARC is in black and white and I can easily imagine the pages being stunning in full color. I think that the graphic novel format helped this book a lot. I don’t think I would have enjoyed it nearly as much as a standard memoir.

The next thing I want to say is that there’s a lot going on in this book. Hazel is homeschooled, sheltered, and privileged. When they take a summer job pulling ivy, they encounter the first real diversity of their life and have to come to terms with their parents’ prejudice and the realization that racism still exists in our daily lives. Hazel also in a relationship with a younger guy, which causes some conflict with their new coworkers, and flirts with a guy who’s fifteen years older, which makes for some really uncomfortable scenes.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, but I think I would have liked it more if it had taken a deeper look at the themes of white privilege and the inherent racism in homeschooling that’s just briefly addressed. I understand that this is a graphic memoir and what happens is what happened, but I felt like something was missing to make this a complete story. Still, I’d recommend it if you’re looking for a good starting point when it comes to white privilege.


Have you read No Ivy League? Do you like to read graphic memoirs?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Tag: Versatile Blogger Award (Take 7)

Thank you to Keri for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award! (And sorry that it literally took two months to get this post up!)

If you want to see the previous versions of this award, you can click here: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6


The Rules

  • If you are nominated, you’ve been awarded the Versatile Blogger Award
  • Thank the person who gave you this award
  • Include a link to their blog
  • Select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly
  • Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award
  • Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself

  1. I recently drove all the way to Wisconsin from New Jersey with my boyfriend! We made stops in Pittsburgh, PA (where we had a great breakfast in a great diner) on the way there and Hammond, IN (where we literally just slept and left) on the way back.
  2. I went to Summerfest and saw both Billie Eilish and Bleachers perform on the same night. Both concerts were amazing, but I think Bleachers was my favorite.
  3. Next up on my TBR are Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi, The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett, and Comics for Choice edited by Hazel Newlevant, Whit Taylor, and O.K. Fox.
  4. I have a membership to a farm near my house and I’ve really been enjoying picking blueberries recently!
  5. Sometimes I overreact to little things, but I’m weirdly calm in a crisis. I’ll probably freak out and cry when it’s over, but while it’s happening, I’m 100% fine.
  6. I’ve decided to decorate my apartment with Ghüs from Saga! I bought some of the single issues of Saga with Ghüs on the cover and I want to frame them and hang them up in my living room.
  7. My neighbor randomly knocked on my door and asked if she could take a look at my floors while I was writing this post.

Since this is my seventh time doing this award, I’m not going to nominate anybody, but if you feel like sharing seven facts about yourself, please consider yourself tagged!

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Book Review: Little Birds by Anaïs Nin

Little Birds by Anaïs Nin
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: 1979
Source: Purchased

Evocative and superbly erotic, Little Birds is a powerful journey into the mysterious world of sex and sensuality. From the beach towns of Normandy to the streets of New Orleans, these thirteen vignettes introduce us to a covetous French painter, a sleepless wanderer of the night, a guitar-playing gypsy, and a host of others who yearn for and dive into the turbulent depths of romantic experience. 

Oh dear. When I found this book in the “old and unusual” section of my library’s used bookstore, I thought it would be something at least moderately entertaining. I guess it was, but more in an infuriating way than anything else. I think this is the least sexy erotica I’ve ever read in my life.

What follows is a brief summary of all thirteen short stories in this collection.

Click at your own risk. 1. Little Birds, a.k.a. “I take the food money my wife leaves me and spend it on pretty birds so I can lure underage girls to my apartment and then flash them.”
Probably the most disturbing of all the stories, this one features a “loving husband” who takes the money his wife earns working at the circus to buy colorful birds. Keep in mind that he’s supposed to be buying food with this money. He creates a whole menagerie in his apartment and eventually lures in some underage girls from the school across the street. Unsurprisingly, he exposes himself to them and they run away, traumatized. In what universe is this sexy?

2. The Woman on the Dunes, a.k.a. “One time I had sex on the beach and then this woman told me about how she got raped at a hanging.”
This one started off well enough, and then we had to get into this really detailed account of the woman attending a hanging and getting raped in the crowd, simultaneously aroused and horrified. It was just very, very odd.

3. Lina, a.k.a. “So boring that I literally forgot what it was about.”
Like… I read this yesterday and I don’t even remember what it was about.

4. Two Sisters, a.k.a. “My sister and I were molested by our brothers while growing up and now I just want to have sex with her husband.”
One of the bigger “yikes” stories in this collection, this one features everyone cheating on everyone with some molestation thrown in for no real reason. I really fail to see the point of this one.

5. Sirocco, a.k.a. “The first of multiple stories where the woman has to listen to her husband having sex with someone else in the next room.”
Not sure what’s supposed to be sexy about this, but at least it’s short.

6. The Maja, a.k.a. “I don’t want to have sex with my wife but I do want to have sex with a painting of her.”
I don’t even know what else to say.

7. A Model, a.k.a. “Everybody wants to have sex with a model, the longest and also most boring story in this collection.”
There’s a whole lot going on in this one — a woman who wants to model but doesn’t want to have random sex with men calling themselves artists (this is somehow a problem), a very misplaced aside about having sex with women in the jungle, and then another misplaced aside about a horseback riding injury possibly breaking her clitoris.

8. The Queen, a.k.a. “Let’s talk about a prostitute dripping semen at a ball.”
This is another one that’s just… not possibly sexy in any possible way.

9. Hilda and Rango, a.k.a. “He’s so manly that even his penis is strong.”
If you enjoy hearing about “charcoal eyes” and “wild hair” while a “strong penis” pounds into someone, you’ll probably enjoy this one.

10. The Chanchiquito, a.k.a. “Fantasies about bestiality.”
Just disturbing, honestly.

11. Saffron, a.k.a. “The super, extremely, no-doubt-about-it racist one.”
A woman wonders why her husband wants to have sex with the servants instead of her and then learns that it’s because he likes the way their skin smells like saffron. This whole story is one cringe after another, but the worst is possibly when the bride’s body is described as several different racial stereotypes.

12. Mandra, a.k.a. “Sex with my married friends.”
Basically, this woman goes around having sex with all of her married friends or just staring at them naked while the husbands are in the other room.

13. Runaway, a.k.a. “Taking advantage of a homeless underage girl.”
Why yes, I would love to read about this innocent underage girl being taken in by two older men who take advantage of her. Thank you.


I expected at least a smidgen more sexiness from these erotic short stories. What little sexiness it actually had was killed by the pedophilia and racism. Definitely not recommended.

#mmd19: a book published before you were born


Have you read Slam? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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