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I love coffee, tea, and books.

Where To Buy Bookish Merchandise

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I love to buy bookish items, but sometimes it’s hard to find what you’re looking for. So, to make things convenient, here are a few places to buy bookish merch:*

OwlCrate YA monthly book subscription. Get a themed box with one YA book and extra goodies.

CrateJoy They provide three different diverse monthly book subscriptions (children, YA, and cultural).

The Melting Library Book inspired candles.

MyLitBox A monthly subscription service that sends you a book written by a writer of color as well as a few bookish goodies.

Happy Hello Co. Cute bookish bookmarks found on Etsy.

The Locket Library Book inspired lockets found on Etsy. You can also customize the locket.

Bookworm Boutique On Society6, this person designs super cute bookish items that can be found on sweatshirts, mugs, pillows, phone cases, and more.

Risa Rodil Another graphic designer who sells their stuff on Society6. Book and other pop culture related items.

Frostbeard Studio Book inspired soy candles.

CultureChest Introduce your kids to a different culture each month!

buttermybooks Bookish inspired graphic artist on RedBubble.

thetwirlings Bookish inspired clothing. Created by a booklover for booklovers.

storiesforcoffee Graphic designer of bookish inspired designs on RedBubble.

Blu Bear Bazar Bookish apparel, clothes, and totes.

 

What are some of your favorite websites to buy bookish items?

 

*Disclaimer: I don’t know a lot about the specific people who makes these items so if anyone on this list is problematic please let me know and I’ll remove them right away!

Top Five Least Favorite Tropes

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Sometimes I love tropes. Other times, I hate them. Since I love to complain, I’ve decided to share five of my least favorite tropes:

Love Triangles

OMG this is so overused. I have literally never met someone who has ever been in a love triangle. Ever. So why are all of these MCs so damn desirable!?!?! This is so over played.

The Chosen One

Every MC just happens to be the chosen one, and it’s never actually by choice. Oracles, the government, etc. If the MC wants to be the “chosen” one, have it be their choice, not some third party forcing their hand. Also, why is the MC always a special snowflake. This results in a lot of Mary Sues.

The Missing Parents

For some reason books, YA especially, parents are missing from the narrative. Many are dead, neglectful, divorced, etc. Kids go off to save the world and parents don’t even tell them Be safe!  or even Make sure you’re home in time for dinner! No. They are just non-existent. I want to read books where parents are actually present. I know that many people have grown up with parents being absent, but don’t make all books like that just because it makes it easier to write a novel where the MC doesn’t get grounded.

No School

Schooooooooool’s out for summer. Schooooooooooooool’s out for EVER. Or, at least it is in YA books. MCs skip classes and school days all the time (which FYI they would phone their parents if they did that, but I guess since the parents are MIA it doesn’t matter). Um, excuse me but I think attending classes is more important than risking your life for a guy you just met…

Instalove

If I never had to read another case of instalove then it would be too soon. I totally understand people finding someone attractive the first time they meet, but this whole I’m going to risk my life for him and we are going to be together forever and ever is bullshit. I want to read a book where the two MCs you root for break up. I want to read books where the MC doesn’t date. I want to read books where relationships evolve naturally (Unearthly is a good example of this). Basically, I am so sick and tired of people falling in “love” a day after meeting. I call bullshit.

 

What are some of your least favorite tropes?

 

 

 

Top Five Favorite Tropes

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I’m the type of person who will bitch and moan about authors using the same tropes over and over again. I’ll complain about love triangles and the MC being a special snowflake. But secretly there are some tropes I love. Here are a five of my favorite tropes:

1. The two MCs like each other but each thinks the other person likes someone else.

OMG the angst. I LOVE IT. When the two MCs awkwardly try to hide their affection but are secretly super horny for each other is probably my favorite trope. I love it because the two spend the book pining for someone (they think) they can’t have. I love it because it causes drama, epic reveals, long looks, and happy endings.

2. The villain doesn’t stay dead.

Okay, this is a trope I’ve actually complained about but I secretly love. I love it when everyone is like Oh, yay! We won! The world is saved….just kidding. We’re all dead now. When people come back from the dead (villain or not) I love it.

3. The villain has a redemption arc.

One of my favorite redemption arcs is that of [Avatar: The Last Airbender spoiler ahead] Zuko. OMG so perfect. Another redemption arc I loved is Captain Hook’s in Once Upon a Time. Now, both of those examples are TV shows, but still. It’s my favorite trope and I. Want. More. This kind of also reminds me morally grey characters who are my literal fave.

4. The funny sidekick.

I love books that are dark. But because these books are dark they need some comic relief. As much as I would love a funny MC for some reason the comic relief is my favorite when it comes from a side character (usually the MC’s best friend).

5. The MCs go on an adventure.

Okay, so when characters go on a literal adventure whether that’s to a different country, realm, world, city, forest, I don’t care, but I love it. Whether it’s a road trip or a hike or a space shuttle. Even better if the group of MCs is a band of misfits who all lowkey hate and love each other (think Six of Crows or Starflight). I love the adventure. The road trip. All of it.

 

What are some of your favorite tropes?

 

Recommendations: Audiobooks

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I used to hate audiobooks. The thought of listening to someone tell a story for hours would drive me crazy. But about a year and a half ago I had to start driving a lot. My iPod broke and I hated the radio. So on a whim, I decided to listen to an audiobook expecting to hate it. Instead, I fell in love. Every now and then for a year I would occasionally listen to one. But now, I drive a lot. Most weeks I’m reading three books: an audiobook on my way to work, an ebook before bed, and a physical book to read in between classes. I haven’t listened to a ton of audiobooks, but here are a few of my favorites:

Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older (narrated by Anika Noni)

Okay. If you liked City of Bones then you will love this book. If you love art then you’ll love this book. If you love diversity then you’ll love this book. If you love #ownvoices then you will love this book. Basically, this book was so fun to read. It’s about crying paintings, shadows, family, friendship, spirits, art, and self-discovery.

[tw: racism, cultural appropriation, stroke, death, blackmail, mind control]

Curse Workers Trilogy by Holly Black  (narrated by Jesse Eisenberg)

White Cat, Red Glove, Black Heart

After I finished listening to End of Watch, I went on a six month hiatus from listening to audiobooks. I tried a few, and was let down. Then, in January, I decided to try to listen to the book White Cat solely based on the fact that it’s narrated by a celebrity. Lame, I know. But I really, really liked it. Like with Stiefvater and Shiver, I tried Tithe by Black and hated it. SO MUCH. But White Cat was SO GOOD. It’s basically about a mob boss, blackmail, memory loss, cats, conspiracies, magic, and SO MUCH MORE. When I listened to the first book I didn’t realize it was a trilogy (tbh it could’ve been a stand alone because it was that good) but I’m glad I found the other books!

[tw: spousal abuse, suicide, some very iffy “consent”, memory loss, gangs, prejudice]

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black (narrated by Christine Lakin)

After listening to and loving White Cat, I decided to try another Holly Black book. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown is about vampires. Not the Twilight or The Vampire Diaries or Vampire Academy type of vampires. These vampires are The Immortal Rules type. This is my first audiobook I’ve listened to that was narrated by a girl. And I really loved Lakin’s narration style! That paired with the grittiness of Black’s writing made this audiobook un-put-down-able.

[tw: drugging without consent, self-harm, suicide, brief mention of character potentially being transphobic but is later clarified as not]

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black (narrated by Lauren Fortgang)

After listening to a Holly Black audiobook I decided to try yet another Holly Black audiobook and I loved it! The Darkest Part of the Forest has a similar vibe to The Raven Boys, so if you like that series odds are you’ll like this book too. The two books are similar in writing styles, whimsical-ness, and focus on kissing. Only, in Black’s book the girl kisses “too much” and in Stiefvater’s the girl kisses “too little.”

[tw: neglect, drug use, self-harm, mentions of suicide, spousal abuse, memory loss]

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater (narrated by Will Patton)

The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves, Blue Lily Lily Blue, The Raven King

I tried to read Shiver and hated it. Truthfully, it was on a complete whim that I even tried to listen to The Raven Boys. Within the first few chapters I was entranced. Patton’s narration style mixed with Stiefvater’s whimsical-ness, was the perfect introduction to audiobooks. Yes, The Raven Boys was the first audiobook I’ve ever listened to. It wasn’t long before I quickly devoured the others in the series. The Raven Cycle is basically a series about friendship, adventure, leylines, and dead Welsh kings.

[tw: child abuse, suicide, drug use, mentions of framed child R]

The Bill Hodges Trilogy by Stephen King (narrated by Will Patton)

Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers, End of Watch

DISCLAIMER: This is the most problematic book on this list. I know this book is problematic. I am warning of this before I go any further. Also DO NOT READ if suicide or racism is at all triggering for you as this series heavily relies on both as plot devices.

After listening to Patton’s narration with The Raven Boys I went on a quick google search to find other book’s he’s narrated. Mr. Mercedes just so happened to be the one audiobook that was available instantly on OverDrive. Now, Mr. Mercedes is not a book I recommend to many people. It is very dark. It deals with a serial killer, racism* (including racial slurs), fatphobia, incest, suicide, and more. At times it is super uncomfortable to listen to. I had to use earbuds! But Patton was such a good narrator! Just from how he said the chapter number, I could tell whose POV he was going to narrate.

*There is always the problem of a white author writing about racism. So be forewarned that King has a racist main character whose racist POVs aren’t called out.

[tw: racism, suicide, incest, child abuse, SA, mass murder, generalized anxiety disorder, potential OCD (this is never called OCD in the books and I am not a medical professional but a MC does have some tendencies that are reflective of stereotypical OCD behavior)]

Okay, that’s basically every audiobook I’ve listened to. Ha! Now, there are many, many audiobooks I’ve tried to listen to, but couldn’t get through 30 seconds before screaming NOPE! and turning it off.

What are some of your favorite audiobooks?

 

What Is TOO Young For YA?!?

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Last week I gave a list of  appropriate responses to give people who tell you that you’re too old to read YA. This week I’m discussing what’s too young for YA. I’d love to hear your opinions as well!

There are some YA books that deal with important, but mature themes, for example, r*pe (Asking For It and The Female of the Species come to mind). There are some YA books that are sexually explicit (A Court of Mist and Fury and the Sweet Evil series comes to mind). There are YA books that cover abusive relationships (some obvious like Dreamland, others less so). There are YA books that deal with mental illness (here’s a list). There are YA books that address abuse (child abuse in The Raven Boys, alcohol abuse in Last Night I Sang to the Monster).  Various books about gang life (The Outsiders (FYI S.E. Hinton is homophobic shit who has now ruined the book for me tbh) and Done Dirt Cheap). Books that address important social and racial issues (for example The Hate U Give) There are a lot of YA books that revolve around important and mature themes.

Basically, I think it all comes down to maturity level. I know that I definitely read some books that I wasn’t mature enough to handle at a young age.

Gear up, because we’re about to take a trip down memory lane…

I remember when I was ten I read a book called Killing Brittany. It was a murder-mystery and I was totally able to handle the death, but there were multiple sex scenes I wasn’t prepared for. Hell, we hadn’t even covered sex in health class yet. I remember feeling so uncomfortable reading it. I read Speak when I was ten before I was able to truly appreciate the book. (I know, ten was a rough year ha!). I remember when I was 12 I read a book called Exit Here. that was basically a book full or orgies and drug use. This was before the NA category was a thing. That was another book I wasn’t emotionally prepared to read. Now, on the other hand, I read, loved, and was mature enough to read books like The Face on the Milk Carton when I was ten and The Vampire Diaries when I was twelve. All of it had to do with maturity. (And also probably the fact that my country finds sex taboo and violence a-okay).

When it comes to censoring kids, I’m torn. On one hand, I remember my own experiences where I read books I wasn’t emotionally prepared to read. Books that made me terribly uncomfortable. But on the other hand, once you start to censor books, it becomes and issue of where does it stop? There is an entire website devoted to Banned Books Week.

I don’t think kids should be prevented from reading YA books with LGBTQ themes (middle grade books should be more inclusive of this), but other themes like sex, death, drug use, self-harm, eating disorders, r*pe, etc. might have to be looked at further before being placed into a ten year old’s hands. Then again, my maturity level is different from my best friend’s or my brother’s or my cousin’s or my neighbor’s or my nemesis’ (okay, I lied. I’ve never had a nemesis), so what I wasn’t ready to read at ten, someone else might be and vice versa.

My conclusion: there is no technical minimum age to read YA just like there is no maximum age to stop reading YA. It all comes down to maturity level and interest.

 

I’m curious, what do you think is too young to read YA?

Appropriate Responses To Give Someone When They Tell You That You’re Too Old To Read YA (and yes, I probably should have picked a shorter title)

Okay folks, buckle down (or is it buckle up?) because we’re going down snarky lane. Today I will arm you all with a variety of appropriate responses to give someone when they tell you that you’re too old* to read YA (and yes, I probably should have picked a shorter title).

Don’t you think you’re a little old…

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Shouldn’t you read more adult…

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I really think…

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YA doesn’t even have any smut…

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I think you should really read books meant for your own age…

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How can you even relate…

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Well, I don’t read YA…

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I just can’t believe that you read…

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Wow, you’re kind of rude…

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Have you ever been told that you’re too old to read YA? If so, what are some of your favorite responses to give them?

 

*You are never too old to read YA or to read middle grade or to read children’s books. You’re never too old to read what you want.

BOOK OR MOVIE: Gone Girl

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This is a new segment in which I discuss which version I liked better: the book or the movie’s adaptation of that book. This week I will examine Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

GONE GIRL The Theatrical Trailer (x)

GONE GIRL Synopsis:

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

WINNER:

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WHY:

Okay, I can’t decide. The book is great. The movie is great. It is one of the most accurate book to film adaptations I’ve seen (and at 422 pages, that’s hard to do!). So…both?

VERDICT: 

I read the book and then saw the film and I am so glad that I did that. The book makes you wait in suspense longer than the film does, so depending on your taste that could be a good or bad thing. If you prefer reading, then the book is for you. If you prefer movies, then film all the way. If you love both then read the book before you see the movie!

 

*I apologize for my C-grade shitty clipart images on this post. I will (hopefully) be getting some real photo editing software rather than using word *insert laugh/crying emoji here*

**Did you prefer the book or the movie?

Leave your answers in the comments below!

Book Review: Winter

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Book: Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4)
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pages: 824
Rating: ★★★★ (4.5/5)
Synopsis:

     Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, and despite the scars that mar her face, her beauty is said to be even more breathtaking than that of her stepmother, Queen Levana.
Winter despises her stepmother, and knows Levana won’t approve of her feelings for her childhood friend—the handsome palace guard, Jacin. But Winter isn’t as weak as Levana believes her to be and she’s been undermining her stepmother’s wishes for years. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and win a war that’s been raging for far too long.
Can Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter defeat Levana and find their happily ever afters?

     The Lunar Chronicles is one of my favorite young adult series. Now I know that you’re probably wondering how a series with consistent 4 star ratings can be one of my favorites. The thing is, 4 stars is a good rating from me. It is hard to keep me super excited about a series of books, and Marissa Meyer was able to keep me interested the whole time.

      Winter is action packed and high risked. For a quick refresher of what happened in Cress, Scarlet (after being tortured for weeks by a demon child and being forced to chop off her own finger) is being kept captive by Levana and is now one of Winter’s “pets.” Winter tells Scarlet that she doesn’t use her gift and therefore is going crazy. Speaking of crazy, Wolf is going insane with tension wanting to be reunited with his alpha-mate, Scarlet. Thorne lost his eyesight, but Dr. Eland gave him some drops to help cure it. Dr. Eland contracted letumosis and died shortly after admitting that he was Cress’ father. Cress joined the crew and they all kidnapped Kai. Also, Jacin kind of turned the crew into Sybil who Cinder tortured to insanity. And those are just the highlights from Cress.

     Winter is packed with even more insanity and characters. Loosely based on the story of Snow White, Meyer created a captivating tale about friendship, survival, and trust. I loved all the new characters as well as the old characters we’ve come to know and love.

     Meyer is able to write a series with a diverse cast who aren’t all cookie-cutter images of each other. Each has a distinct personality with various hopes, dreams, ambitions, and fears. And Thorne is still sarcastic and flirtatious as ever.

     I’m not going to lie, I saw a lot of parallels to Fairest in this book. Which makes Levana’s rule so terrible. Other characters have experienced similar things (burning alive, hopeless infatuation, falling for their guard), but yet they didn’t turn out quite so evil.

     Overall, it was a nice conclusion to the series and I’m sad to let these characters go. I’m not ready yet for this series to end!

Some of my favorite quotes:

Page 55:

  • Cress: Is there anything else you need?
  • Wolf: For time to move faster.
  • Cress: I meant more like…food, or something.

Pages 78-79:

  • Wolf: She shot me in the arm once.
  • Narrator: This confession was said with as much tenderness as if Scarlet had given him a bouquet of wildflowers rather than s bullet wound.

Page 80:

  • Kai: They’re incredibly rare. What is it doing here?
  • Cinder: I’m pretty sure Thorne stole it.
  • Kai: Ah. Of course.

 

***TRIGGER WARNINGS: mind control, forced suicide, war, mentions of R, death, murder, imprisonment

I Wish YA Had More Of…

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I love YA. I love the fast-pacing, the quick banter, the important messages, the self-discovery, the adventure. But with no much to love about YA, there are some things I wish YA had more of…

People with food allergies/intolerances

I’ve had friends with severe food allergies. I myself have a large list of foods I can’t eat without breaking out in hives. I’m tired of seeing characters who can eat whatever the hell they want. Or even worse, seeing a the one lone character with a food allergy who then dies because of it. No. JUST NO. I love the diversity kick everyone has been on lately, but it needs to extend even further.

People with STIs

1 in 4 teens contract an STI EVERY YEAR. And no one is talking about it (besides the super anti-premarital sex people). I’ve only ever read one book where a character got an STI and that was from r*pe. Most teens get these from consensual sex. YA books should discuss safe sex and  STIs. Television shows like How To Get Away With Murder show the severity of STIs, the stigma that goes along with it, and still treats is characters with respect. That’s what I want in YA books. Talk about it. Most people don’t hear about these things outside of health class because it’s taboo to talk about. YA can open the floor for all teens to feel accepted.

People who fail. Repeatedly.

I want to read a book where the MC constantly makes mistakes and doubts themselves. I don’t want to read about the same mistake the MC makes over and over again. I want them to fail and then learn from it. Failure is apart of life, it’s who you are after you make a mistake that defines you.

People with disabilities portrayed correctly.

Basically, if it’s not #ownvoices then do your research. Harmful rep is worse than no rep. People want to see themselves represented, but not if it’s harmful. Don’t make things worse. Hire sensitivity readers, but do your research before hand. These people are risking their own mental health to try to prevent harmful material from reaching others. Treat these readers with respect.

POCs in fantasy/science fiction.

Sabaa Tahir, Malinda Lo, and Marie Lu do a great job of this, but I WANT MORE. I love fantasy, and I’m tired of seeing only white/ambiguously described MCs. There is no reason to have so many white people in fantasy books. Even worse, I keep seeing people described as tanchestnut, etc. skin as the slaves in these books and the lighter skins tones as the masters. Yuck.

Healthy relationships.

People start reading YA books at a variety of ages. I know I started reading YA books around the age of eight. They were my first exposure to mature topics including drinking, sex, dating etc. YA books were my first exposure to non-familial relationships. So even though my parents have a healthy relationship, I thought that guys treating girls like dirt, no meaning yes, stalking, etc. was all normal in a teen relationship. My eight year old brain though that stuff was normal. It’s not. YA needs more healthy relationships.

LGBTQ folks. Especially minorities within these groups.

This is something I’ve been seeing more and more lately and it’s great. But I want to see the minority LGBTQ folks too. I want to see nonbinary folks and asexual and aromantic folks too. I want them to be cannon. I want it to be explicit. Don’t queerbait. Don’t make me guess. Don’t come out after the book was released and say Oh, well [insert character’s name here] was actually [insert sexuality/gender identity here] the whole timeUm, bitch please. So many teens need to see that their feelings are valid. Don’t make them guess. Give them representation.

Periods.

WHY DOES NO ONE WORRY ABOUT TAMPONS!?!?! Oh, it’s the apocalypse and I’m on the run, let me grab my cellphone even though there is NO CELL SERVICE and a can of tuna but leave behind my tampons AND toilet paper. Uh, yeah, no. I can count on one hand the amount of times periods are mentioned in YA books. Or, actually, just books in general. I’ll read about teens leave to go trek a few months in the forest and not mention tampons, pads, rags, leaves, etc. Normalize this shit. People bleed.

Less Parties.

Seriously. Where the fuck were these parties when I was in school!?!?! Okay, lots of teens had small gatherings with friends and smoked weed and/or broke into their parents’ liquor cabinet, but I never heard nor saw any wild ragers that are always in teen books. Literally. Where!?! Even my friends from other Unis are all like Uh, no. We didn’t have those either… Like, there are other things to do in high school than party. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just being picky.

 

What are some things you wish YA had more of?

 

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