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How We Fight For Our Lives

Author: Saeed Jones

Star Rating: 5/5 ⭐️

Goodreads Synopsis: Haunted and haunting, How We Fight for Our Lives is a stunning coming-of-age memoir. Jones tells the story of a young, black, gay man from the South as he fights to carve out a place for himself, within his family, within his country, within his own hopes, desires, and fears. Through a series of vignettes that chart a course across the American landscape, Jones draws readers into his boyhood and adolescence—into tumultuous relationships with his family, into passing flings with lovers, friends, and strangers. Each piece builds into a larger examination of race and queerness, power and vulnerability, love and grief: a portrait of what we all do for one another—and to one another—as we fight to become ourselves.

Review: I didn’t know what to expect going into this, but I’m officially in love with Saeed’s writing style. It was raw, witty, and so relatable. He found a way to retain gorgeous prose while talking about difficult, but beautiful life events. I also experienced adolescence in the Dallas suburbs and struggled with my grandparent’s relationship with religion. I appreciated how honest and open he was about his sexuality without censoring his language. I could feel his confusion during adolescents, his pain of realization, and his final peace with being an adult on his own living his life his way. I definitely recommend this read when you’re in a mood for an emotional, contemplative coming of age story on a dreary afternoon.

The Flatshare

Author: Beth O’Leary

Star Rating: 5/5 ⭐️

TW:  Gas lighting, emotional abuse, and stalking

Goodreads Synopsis

“Tiffy and Leon share a flat

Tiffy and Leon share a bed

Tiffy and Leon have never met… 

Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time. 

But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…”

Review: I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I know it’s been getting a lot of hype on bookstagram and booktube and I believe it’s well deserved. For a book that seemed like it would be light and airy, it deals with some pretty heavy topics. Between Tiffy’s ex-boyfriend’s abusive tendency and Leon’s family struggles, the book had many opportunities to be oppressively sad, but the outlook Tiffy and Leon have on life kept it light. Because Leon has the flat during the day and Tiffy has it at night, they end up communication via post it notes. I never thought I would look forward to new post it note messages like I did with these two! 

ALERT! ALERT! SPOILERS BELOW!

What I loved most was the way this book handles love after abuse. In the second half of the book, Tiffy is slowly piecing together how unhealthy her previous relationship was while still wanting to move forward with new love interests. She experiences perfectly normal things that you would expect after trauma like clamming up with a new partner or experiencing flashbacks of difficult and sometimes scary memories. I felt that O’Leary did a great job of acknowledging Tiffy’s trauma while still having her progress forward. 

Whisper Me This

Author: Kerry Anne King

Rating: 4/5 ⭐️

TW: Domestic Violence

Synopsis: Maisey has always fallen short of her own mother’s expectations—never married, a bit adrift, wasting her high IQ on dead-end jobs. The only thing Maisey’s sure she’s gotten right is her relationship with her twelve-year-old daughter, Elle…until a phone call blows apart the precarious balance of their lives. Maisey’s mother is in a coma, and her aging father faces charges of abuse and neglect.

Back at her childhood home, Maisey must make a life-or-death decision. Searching for answers, Maisey uncovers one unspeakable secret after another when she stumbles upon a shattering truth: a twin sister named Marley.

Review: I loved this book because it was pretty straight forward. As my grandparents get older, I play a lot of what if situations in my head and the beginning of this book is my worst nightmare when it comes to them. What I loved so much about this book is that it doesn’t try to be something it isn’t. The synopsis IS the story, there aren’t many twists and turns, and it doesn’t try to turn itself into a thriller. Instead, it feels like you know Maisey from high school or maybe you worked together and you’ve had the story explained to you in a sort of life update.

I really enjoyed hearing Maisey’s mother through the journal entries, but for Elle ended up being my favorite character. Much like Elle, I found myself taking care of the day to day duties in my house as an 11/12-year-old so her maturity resonates with me. The ending felt a bit unrealistic, BUT I think that’s entirely subjective and I think that’s the point. We see so little of Marley throughout the book as we’re trying to figure out what happened that we don’t really know her enough to know whether or not the ending was realistic for her character. 

I highly recommend this book, it’s a rather quick read and an enjoyable story. Thanks, AmazonFirst Reads for the free copy of the book. I look forward to reading another Kerry Anne King novel. 

End of Year Reading Plans

Happy November!

With the holidays upon us and only 7 weeks left in the year, I’ve been thinking about what I would like to read and attempting to complete my Goodreads goal. Below are some of the books I’m most excited to read over the next seven weeks.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I’m incredibly excited for this book to come out next week. I’ve been impatiently waiting since the cover reveal in May. I’m hoping for not only great perspective of what the White House was like for her, living through the countless threats on her life and the lives of her family, but also what it was like to persevere through that and to still be thankful and gracious. Michelle has always been more than Barack Obama’s wife, and I can’t wait to read about her.

Sawkill Girls by Claire LeGrand

Sawkill Girls follows three girls – Marion, Zoey, and Val – as their stories come together on the island of Sawkill Rock which is marked by the legend of a great evil that has been taking girls for decades.

That short bit is all I know about this book and all I want to know. When I initially heard about the Sawkill Girls, I was intrigued by the synopsis, but I knew the intrigue would fade the more I heard about it. I’ve avoided reading wrap ups, bookstagram posts, and more to avoid being spoiled about this book. I cannot wait to dive in!

Vicious by V.E. Schwab

V.E. Schwab is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I just finished the Shades of Magic series and I was floored. The world building, the characters, the suspense – it was everything I could hope for and more. When I tell people it’s the only V.E. Schwab I’ve read, I’m immediately bombarded with “You haven’t read Vicious yet?!” and I sheepishly say no. I’m the type of person that hates cliffhangers. I enjoy a good cliffhanger if I can pick up the next book immediately and I won’t take the risk if I can’t. So with the recent release of Vengeful, I’ve decided to FINALLY read Vicious this fall.

Alright, those are my most anticipated reads through the end of the year. I would love to hear what books you’re excited to read in the comments.

The Wife Between Us

Author: Greer Hendricks

4/5 ⭐️

Method: audiobook

TW: Abuse

If you enjoyed: The Banker’s Wife

Synopsis from Goodreads: When you read this book, you will make many assumptions. You will assume you are reading about a jealous ex-wife. You will assume she is obsessed with her replacement – a beautiful, younger woman who is about to marry the man they both love. You will assume you know the anatomy of this tangled love triangle. Assume nothing.

This is the first thriller I’ve read in a while that found a way of proving the narrator to be reliable without giving away too much. It kind of reminds me of Sharp Objects in that way, but with a few more turns and a less tidy ending, but it works for this story. I would like to say more, but I don’t want to spoil anything! I wouldn’t label this a feminist book, but I didn’t find the women completely helpless either. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys domestic thrillers and women finding strength in themselves and each other.

Summer Reading Update

Labor Day weekend is here and the first week of school is over which means summer has officially ended. I’m sad to see it go, but fall is my favorite time for reading! I didn’t quite hit all my reading goals for the summer, but I’m proud of what I have accomplished. Here’s a link to my original goals: https://adventuresinpages.com/2018/07/06/summer-reading-plans

Working on BOTM Backlist…

I did read When Katie Met Cassidy and that’s about it…haha oops. BUT I did get Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine on audio so I can help my problem and I’ve start The Broken Girls on audio as well. It sounds creepy though so I may have to go back the physical copy. 

Unfinished Series Unread Shelf:

I’m still in the same spot of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but in my defense I don’t want the series to end. I know that’s irrational, but it’s my first ever read through and I’m a mess.

I also never got to Thunderhead, but I did finish the Beartown duology. I loved Us Against You so very much. I want to write a review for it, but I feel like I won’t do it justice. 

I did finish A Gathering of Shadows and I’m half way though A Conjuring of Light. I can’t get enough of Delilah Bard and Kell Maresh! I love them so much. My need to know what happens next is currently outweighing my slowly breaking heart realizing that there isn’t another book available in the series, but it’ll be okay! 

I haven’t read Leah on the Offbeat yet. I’m nervous because I loved Simon vs so much that I’m afraid I won’t like Leah as much. 

Three Dark Crowns series continues on Tuesday with the release of Two Dark Reigns and I cannot wait! I’m starting the novella, Queens of Fennbirn, tonight because I’m so excited for this story to continue! 

I kind of threw away the plan…

In all my anxiety and procrastination of this summer backlist, I completely avoid at times. Here’s a list of some of the other books I read this summer…

18 books later and I completed my GoodReads Reading Challenge of 40 books so I’ve updated it to 70 to see if I can reach that by the end of the year. If I do, it’ll be the most I’ve ever read in a year!

That’s all I have for this reading update. What did you guys read this summer? Any new all time favorites? Share your updates in the comments. 

The Summer of Chances

Synopsis: Donovan Jordan is a young and handsome Jazz Band director navigating a career in education in a new and challenging city. Yearning for change (and a few extra dollars), he forms a Jazz/R&B band with his friends. Managing the band, his career and love life with an “on again off again” girlfriend gets intense when a strikingly beautiful co-worker makes her intentions known. Will Donovan realize his purpose through faith and perseverance or choose to play it safe?

Stars: DNF

Genre: Fiction – Contemporary

When Tracey Jackson reached out to me about reading and reviewing her novel, I was excited by the synopsis and the opportunity to support the work of a fellow black woman. As I tried to read The Summer of Chances, I found myself struggling to feel the same excitement with the writing as I did with the initial synopsis. The writing felt forced as if the author was so focused on setting the scene that adjectives became a requirement instead of thoughtfully placed. As I was reading the first few pages, it felt more like a student trying to meet a word limit on a book report than an author trying to build the setting. I also struggling with the balance of internal monologue, dialogue, and setting description. In the bit that I did read, it felt like each was fighting to be the priority rather than the story itself. Ultimately I didn’t not finish this read. Maybe I’ll revisit it in the future, but right now I just don’t feel the motivation to work through it. I can see the framework of the story being interesting and for readers who read with a less critical eye, this would be a great summer read. It’s only 250 pages so its not intimidating in size and the story isn’t too niche so I can see it reaching a wide audience. Ultimately, I wish Tracey the best of luck as she continues this series. 

Summer Reading Plans

I don’t know about you, but I find that I’m a mood reader so creating a TBR for each month doesn’t usually go very well. So I’ve decided to set goals instead. I have two goals I would like to complete this summer. The first is to bust my Book of the Month (BOTM) backlog and the second is to complete all the series I have in possession. Currently I have five unread BOTM books in my possession with a sixth on the way. I also have at least three series on my shelves that I’ve started, but haven’t finished. Here’s a list of my unread shelf for this summer’s goals. Share what your summer reading plans are in the comments.

BOTM Unread Shelf:

When Katie Met Cassidy by Camille Perri

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

The Broken Girls by Simone St. James

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Unfinished Series Unread Shelf:

Harry Potter (this has a caveat because I read along with #WizardTeam podcast, but I need to catch up to where they are).

Scythe duology?- I’ve read Scythe and about 10 pages of Thunderhead.

Beartown duology – I’ve read Beartown and about 50 pages of Us Against You.

Shades of Magic Series – I’ve read A Darker Shade of Magic, and I’m about 75 pages into A Gathering of Shadows and A Conjuring of Light is currently collecting dust on my self. I’m sorry V.E. Schwab!

Dark Crowns – Technically I’m caught up as the third book doesn’t come out until the end of the year, but I do have the novella Queens of Fennbirn on my shelf and I haven’t read it yet!

Creekwood – I don’t know how many books are supposed to be in this, but I just finished Simon vs the Homo Sapien’s Agenda and I physically have Leah on the Offbeat, but haven’t started it yet.

An Ember in the Ashes Series – I just picked up An Ember in the Ashes on sale on my Kindle, but I haven’t read this series as at all, but I’ve heard such great things.

Simon vs the Homo Sapien’s Agenda

I know I’m a million years late, but I finally read Simon vs the Homo Sapien’s Agenda by Becky Abertalli and I fell in love instantly. It’s the feel good novel I was looking for. I gave it a 5 star rating, partly because of the post-read high and partly because Goodreads still doesn’t allow for half stars in the rating system. My true rating would be 4.5 stars. I really enjoyed the plot development and that the I was genuinely surprised when Blue was revealed. I also liked that the side characters weren’t fully developed, but they weren’t entirely flat either. There was a healthy balance of knowing just enough to understand their perspectives when they would give advice or comment on something, but a limited amount of time was spent on them to ensure we weren’t detoured from the main story line. I find this to be really important when parents are apart of YA stories. If we don’t know much about them, it’s hard to understand why the main character is reacting in a certain way, but I felt like Abertalli did a great job of developing the Spier family so that we could understand their dynamic without need a full biography.

I’d like to commend Becky Abertalli on her ability to make a 300+ page book feel like it’s 150 pages. She kept the chapters short, the e-mail portions relevant, and kept the story pace at a good tempo. I felt like I could’ve read the book in one sitting, but I also found that it was easy to figured out when a moment or event was over so I could pause at the right spot. I long for the days when I was able to sit and read for hours a day, but as a person with a full time job and school, I find myself having to put books down because I have to, not because I want to. 

After the wonderful experience of Simon vs., I think I’m going to jump into Leah on the Offbeat next followed by The Upside of Requited. If you’ve read Simon vs or any of the other Creekwood books, let me know your thoughts!

– Rebekah

* I do not own the rights to the featured photo

5 Ways to Get Books on a Budget

If you’re anything like me, you’ll sacrifice good food and “necessities” to purchase books. I’m here to tell you that you can have both! 

Here are some of my favorite ways to get books without crying at my checking account balance.

1. The Library

There are a couple ways to borrow books from the library. The first is the most obvious, go to the library, peruse the shelves, and come home with an arm full of books. If you’re like me and your work schedule and library’s hours don’t mix, using an app like OverDrive or Libby makes visiting the library easy. With both apps available on iOS and Android, you can have access to your library’s eBooks and audiobooks everywhere you go. 

2. ThriftBooks

ThriftBooks is a website, with an app, that gives you access to deeply discounted books. In addition to a wide selection of cheap books, they donate millions of books to help improve literacy and donate to libraries to offer more free books in communities so that you can feel great about ordering a box full of books while staring at your TBR shelf. 

3. Book Outlet

Book Outlet is pretty similar to ThriftBooks. Often find myself searching both for books I’m looking to acquire. 

4. Audible Daily Deals

Audible has a number of options for their monthly plans, but one of the hidden gems of having an Audible account is their daily deal e-mails. Every day an audiobook goes on sale and are usually from $1.99 to $4.99. Although the price may vary, there’s usually one or two books a week I find myself wanting to purchase. What I love most about this is that it’s newer books, backlist titles, and they can be from any genre. 

5. Book of the Month (BOTM)

BOTM is one of my favorite ways to get books when I’m looking forward to a new release! This is a membership service similar to Audible and they give you the option to skip a month when you need to. I love BOTM because they give five unique options for you to choose from every month. They offer a great mix of genres so there’s something for everyone. 

These are some of my favorite ways to purchase books, let me know if you have some favorites that aren’t listed here in the comments below. 

Happy Reading!